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Catholic Voice
CURRENT ISSUE:  December 12, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 21   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
2012: year of important events
Livermore Christmas display delights, challenges for 29th year
The “why” behind changes
in the Roman Missal

As I write this we have finished the first week of the New Roman Missal. There were a few stumbles, both on the part of the priest and the people, but all in all it was a smooth transition, new pew card, new hymnals and a New Roman Missal on the altar.

By Monday morning of the second week the daily Mass crowd very easily made all the responses. I think people were prepared for the changes they had to make, but were amazed at the changes the priest had to face. It was during the Eucharistic prayer when people really began to notice the significant changes that had come to the liturgy.

When I asked people what they liked, they responded that the new prayers were overwhelmingly beautiful, and the changes made us pay attention more closely to the Mass. What they did not like was the stumbles, when they went along like normal and made the old responses. But the overwhelming response was on how rich and beautiful the prayers had become.

Following my article in the Nov. 21 issue of The Voice, let us look at a few more of the changes:

“That my sacrifice and yours”

This is how you participate fully in the Mass. You offer it. Yes, the priest stands in persona Christi [in the person of Christ] and has the awesome responsibility to offer the blood of Christ to the Father for the salvation of the world in the name and the person of Christ, but the people, too, bring their struggles and sacrifices to the offering as well and they join them with the sacrifice of Christ. The new translation of the First Eucharistic Prayer has a text that makes this explicit: “For them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise, or they offer it for themselves.” All of this makes more explicit our dignity as baptized members of Christ’s Body. This action is interior, but is essential to any exterior action as a lector or extraordinary minister or choir member. The principal role is not as a lay minister, but as a member of the Body of Christ offering the sacrifice in communion with the priest.

“God of hosts”

Deus Sabaoth used to be translated “God of power and might.” “Power and might” tends to indicate qualities that God has, but “hosts” indicate that God is surrounded but a powerful army of angels, vaster and grander than any army on earth. And all those angels gather, here, now, at this Eucharist, to worship the Lamb of God as it is described in the Book of Revelation. The second chapter of Luke opens with the name Caesar Augustus who lived in the finest house and commanded the world’s finest army. But as the chapter progresses the real action is taking place in a manger in Bethlehem, “And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God.” Hopefully this new language will give us a greater knowledge of the Scripture, and a sense of the mystery in which we are immersed.

“For many”

I think we must learn a bit more about ancient languages and what they understood about “the one and the many.” This change may lead us to think that Christ did not die for all, but that is not the point. Christ did die for all, but salvation is not automatic or mechanistic. We are called to respond and to willingly participate in the sacrifice of Christ, not simply take it for granted. “Qui pro vobis et pro multis” is best translated as “for you and for many.”

“Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.”

Monday of the first week of Advent presented one of the graces of this new Missal as I was able to preach on this text that was the Gospel of the day. (Matthew 8:5-11). This pagan centurion had faith in the power of Jesus’ word. He knew that Jesus carried within his person the healing power of God and that by His word he could effect this healing. When God speaks, it is: when God created the World, when Jesus spoke firmly to the raging sea, when Jesus said, “this is my Body.” Now every day we get to identify with the strong faith of this centurion. Now every day this passage of Scripture will become real for us as we seek greater faith.

There are many more changes; some are easier to understand than others. I pray that this time may give us an opportunity to understand the richness and beauty of the Sacred Liturgy and come closer to the one who humbled himself to come close to us. For my parish I created a site where many questions can be answered: http://stedwardcatholic.org/newromanmissal. There are many resources on the U.S. Bishops’ website: http://old.usccb.org/romanmissal.

Advent is such a rich and beautiful season. May the new words we use for prayer lead us to appreciate in wonder the great mystery of his incarnation and birth and the salvation that has been won for us in his coming.

(Father Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS, is pastor at St. Edward Parish, Newark.)

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