Have You Heard of the New Roman Missal?
The Roman Catholic Church has authorized a revised English translation of the Roman Missal – the spoken texts of the Mass.
This booklet has been prepared to provide background information about the Roman Missal to help prepare all Catholics for these changes when they occur. Written in simple question and answer format, this booklet may help you understand and appreciate the upcoming revisions in the Mass.
1. What is the Roman Missal?
The Roman Missal is the ritual text for the celebration of Mass in the Roman Catholic Church. It is written in Latin under the title of Missale Romanum. The text is then translated into the vernacular* for use in local churches. The use of a common book ensures that we are all in unity with the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world. Through this unity, we can come to know Christ
more clearly through our prayer of the Mass. Through our active participation of listening, singing, and responding to the prayers with sincerity, we prepare ourselves more readily to answer the question posed by Christ to his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”.
2. What is found in the Roman Missal?
The Roman Missal contains the following:
[a] GIRM – The General Instruction of the Roman Missal. This document provides details on how the Mass is celebrated.
[b] RUBRICS. Rubrics are particular directions to the priest, ministers and people on what to do at a specific part in the Mass. They are called rubrics
because they are presented in red ink; the word ‘rubric’ is the Latin for ‘red’.
[c] TEXT. This includes all the prayers and responses spoken during Mass – everything we say and hear.
3. Is the Roman Missal the large red book currently used by the priest on the altar?
This red book is currently called a Sacramentary. It contains all the prayers of the Mass. This includes the prayers of both the priest and the assembly. The Lectionary is the large book which is currently carried in the entrance procession and placed on the lectern/ambo. Both the Sunday Edition (which is red) and the Weekday Edition (which is green) contain all the scriptural readings of the Mass, including the First and Second Reading, the Responsorial Psalm and the Gospel. Together, these two books – the Sacramentary and the Lectionary – make up the Roman Missal. From the time of the Council of Trent in 1570, these collections were all together in one large book, but as readings and prayers were added, the book became too large and impractical and was broken up into the individual books we have today. However, the term Missale Romanum is still used to describe the Latin edition of what we have been calling the Sacramentary. When current revisions are completed, this book – the Missale Romanum – will be translated as Roman Missal.
4. How did the Roman Missal originate?
In the early Christian Church, many of the prayers that were said at Eucharist were memorized and handed down orally. Eventually the prayers were collected and written down by scribes. These books were referred to as sacramentaries (book of sacraments). Scripture readings were recorded in other books and the Psalms were written in a book called the Psalter. Throughout the ages, as these manuscripts were passed down, slight modifications and additions were made. Eventually, all the chants, prayers, instructions and scriptures were organized into one book called the Missale Plenum (complete missal). The first book bearing the name Missale Romanum appeared in 1474, the year the printing press was invented. Following the Council of Trent in 1570, Pope Pius V promulgated* an edition of the Missale Romanum that was to be in obligatory use throughout the Latin Church. It was written in Latin and the texts contained in it continued to evolve over the next five centuries.
*promulgate – put into effect by official proclamation
5. How has the Roman Missal changed in recent history?
Since the Second Vatican Council ended on December 8, 1965, there have been three typical editions* of the Roman Missal in Latin. In 1970, the First Edition (editio typica) of the Roman Missal was published. It was translated into the vernacular* throughout the world. In 1975, the Second Edition, or editio typica altera, was issued. It was more complete than the First Edition.
In 2002, the Third Edition (edition typica tertia) of the Roman Missal was published. It is this third edition that is now being translated by English-speaking countries throughout the world.
6. Why do we need a revised English translation?
There are several reasons for a revised translation. Following the Second Vatican Council, a revised Latin edition of the Missal was written. The process of translating this Missal into English was an enormous task but parishes were anxious to begin celebrating Mass in the vernacular*. Therefore, the process of translation was done very quickly and was not necessarily the best translation. It was always meant to be temporary. A revised translation will produce a better translation. The early translations used what is called dynamic equivalence, a process which focused on the wider meaning of what was being said; it was less formal and more conversational. Today’s translations use formal equivalence which pays more attention to the specific words and sentence structure; it is a more literal translation. In this way, we will be more in unity with our fellow Catholics around the globe.
After the year 2000, Pope John Paul II published a third edition of the Roman Missal in Latin. This was necessary becausea number of new prayers for the Mass had been written. Also, because he had canonized more than 480 saints, these prayers needed to be included as well. Therefore, this third edition of the Missal contained many new texts that needed to be translated into English.
*vernacular – the ordinary language spoken by the people of a country or region
7. What was wrong with the less formal, more conversational style we have been using since Vatican II?
A more exact translation from Latin into English is important for several reasons:
8. Can you give me an example of the difference between dynamic equivalence and formal equivalence?
The Prayer after Communion for the First Sunday of Advent goes like this:
“Father, may our communion teach us to love heaven. May its promise and hope guide our way on earth.”
This is an example of dynamic equivalence. Notice the simplicity of the words. It is essentially a paraphrasing of the original Latin. A more literal translation might look like this:
“May the mysteries we have celebrated profit us, we pray, O Lord, for even now, as we journey through the passing world, you teach us by them to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what will endure.”
This is formal equivalence. The words are more poetic, with fuller meaning.
9. Who is doing the work involved in translating the Roman missal from Latin to English?
Many different groups of people are involved in the translation which is one of the reasons it is taking so long. The ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy) is the major body whose job is to prepare English translations of liturgical texts on behalf of the Conferences of Bishops in English-speaking countries. Currently there are eleven Conferences of Bishops that are full members of the Commission: Australia, Canada, England and Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Scotland, South Africa, and the United States.
The ICEL staff and bishops work together to produce a first draft of the Missal which is then sent to each Conference of Bishops. These drafts are called green books. The bishops respond with comments and suggestions to the ICEL. A second draft is issued, which is called the grey book. It is again sent to the Conferences of Bishops for approval. This is then sent to the Vatican for final approval. Once the document reaches the Vatican, it is scrutinized by the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. They give their approval which is called the recognitio and grant permission for the use of the document.
10. When will the revised Missal be available in Canada?
The English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal needs to serve all English- speaking people in the Roman Catholic Church. Because so many countries are involved, this is a complicated procedure and takes a great deal of time.
According to an update released by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on April 1, 2011, “the CCCB has now received recognitio* for all sections of the English translation of the revised Roman Missal for use in Canada. The Permanent Council has agreed that the first Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011, will be the date for the implementation of the English translation of the Missal. “
Before use of the revised Roman Missal becomes mandatory, dioceses will need to prepare parishes for the implementation. Liturgical books, such as the Sacramentary, will need to be replaced. Participation aids, such as missalettes and music aids, will need to be replaced and/or revised. Priests will need to learn new texts. The music ministers and the congregation will need to learn new musical settings for the parts of the Mass. Parishioners will need to learn the new prayers, responses, and gestures.
This will all take time so that all involved will truly understand and appreciate the revisions that have occurred.
The National Liturgy Office is now ready to launch some of the catechetical material it has already prepared. The resource Celebrate and Song, which contains the parts of the Mass spoken by the people, as well as three newly composed Mass settings and the ICEL chants, is now available. This resource contains the texts of Eucharistic Prayers I to IV and 40 hymns not currently found in the Catholic Book of Worship III. Other resources will be available on the website of the National Liturgy Office.
12. What is a Book of Gospels? Does Canada have such a book?
A Book of Gospels is a book containing only Gospel readings. Canada does not currently have a published Book of Gospels. However, it is anticipated that in the future a Book of Gospels will be published.
You may see in some parishes a Book of Gospels being used; this is probably an edition from the United States.
When the Book of Gospels is used, it is the ONLY book carried in procession. In order to avoid liturgical duplication, NO other books, including the Lectionary and/or the Sunday Book of Readings Adapted for Children, should be carried in the procession.
Participation in the Eucharistic Prayer
Preparing: We prepare for participation by our life and prayer during the week and by sharing attentively in the Liturgy of the Word
Responding: We answer the priest at the beginning of the preface (the dialogue), which opens the Eucharistic Prayer
Singing: We sing three acclamations: The Holy, holy; the memorial acclamation; and the great Amen.
Watching: We watch as the priest takes the bread and then the cup and repeats the words of the Lord
Listening: We listen attentively as the priest proclaims the Eucharistic Prayer. It is the prayer of the whole Church, and said in our name and in the name of the Church on earth and in heaven.
Interceding: During the week, we pray for ourselves and for others. In the Eucharist, we join these petitions with the prayer of Christ and his Church to the Father.
Thanking: With Jesus and the whole Church, we give thanks and praise to our heavenly Father.
Offering: We give ourselves to God, ready to obey his will and to live each day for him.
Excerpted from “The Eucharistic Prayer” by the National Liturgy Office, Canadian Conference of Bishops
Glossary of Important Terms Found In This Booklet
*vernacular – native language of the people of a particular country
*promulgate – put into effect by official proclamation
*typical edition – the official Latin text that must be used when translating the Missal into other languages.
* linguistic – relating to language
*adaptation – Conferences of Bishops have the authority to request alterations for procedures at Mass to suit local customs. These are called adaptations.
*catechetical – related to teaching and faith formation