HoH_Listecki3-ColorOn Friday Feb. 25, the Cousins Center was teeming with representatives from every part of our archdiocese. As I approached the center, the roadway was filled with cars. The parking lot spilled over on to South Lake Drive. One could tell just from the sheer number of cars that something significant was taking place.

Inside the center, there were pastors, associates, religious priests and sisters, deacons, parish directors, pastoral administrators, youth ministers, directors of religious education, music ministers, catechists and seminarians. They were all there for one purpose: to learn about the new Roman Missal. This was part of the year of education in preparation for the new translations which will take effect this coming Advent.

Related story

How to prepare for changes in Mass

Dean Daniels, the coordinator of our worship office, oversaw this presentation in conjunction with the Liturgical Institute and Liturgy Training Publications. The daylong study provided insight into the new translation in preparation for the implementation. There was no need to motivate the participants in the importance of the day. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has a long and proud tradition of quality liturgical and sacred music ministries which serve our parishes.

However, change is difficult for all of us and some have approached the new translation with skepticism. But the new text has arrived and it becomes important for all of us to understand the words in order to be able to pray the great mystery that is offered in the liturgy.

The day emphasized teaching, praying and practicing the faith. When we reflect on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are dealing with the most essential aspect of the practice of the faith. There is no single act which draws more participation than Sunday worship. This action identifies us as Catholic, fulfills our obligation to worship God above all else and calls us into the “ecclesia” (the assembly) of our brothers and sisters to share in the Lord’s paschal mystery. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the church, namely Christ himself our Pasch” (1324). 

Many of the participants pulled themselves away from other duties, and some participants sacrificed free time to learn about the new Roman Missal and the actions of the liturgy.

The presenters, Fr. Douglas Martis and Christopher Carstens, kept everyone alert by presenting the material in a lively exchange, peppering the presentation with personal experiences, a Power Point presentation and common readings of the new texts. It was a wonderful pedagogy that slowly joined theological insight with prayer.

The centrality of the mystery of the Trinity was emphasized by the presenters. We direct our prayers toward our God who is a Trinity of persons. We begin our liturgical action: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. God himself is speech, a dialogue of loving persons.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the ‘hierarchy of the truths of faith.’ The whole history of salvation is identical with the history of the way and the means by which the one true god Father, Son and Holy Spirit, reveals himself to men and reconciles and unites with himself those who turn away from sin” (234).

It was interesting to note that as we examined the text, we prayed with a sense of the direction that the liturgy intends, always pointing to Jesus who is priest, prophet and king. He is the mystical voice that restores the dialogue of love lost by sin.

We were offered a brief history of the current liturgy post-Vatican II and a review of the significant ecclesial works that brought us to this point. It’s interesting that our new translation will bring us into conformity with the major language groups in the world that have already implemented many of the changes. Some of the changes in wording will present difficult moments, but it is obvious that with patience and understanding we will quickly adapt and grow to appreciate the expressions.

Since last Friday’s program, many people have approached me at the various parishes and events that I have attended and thanked me for the ability to study the new Roman Missal. One person said it was like a mini day of recollection on the sacrifice of the Mass. Another person said they didn’t realize how biblically rich our liturgy was and still another said that his eyes were opened to theological insights that were present but hidden.

I compared the day to a couple who is happily married or a priest who loves his vocation and now steps back and is given an opportunity to explore the great mystery being lived out in their experience everyday and in every way. How our lives are enriched through this examination! The routine becomes profound. The church is offering us a blessing in the new Roman Missal, an ability to examine the mystery of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a prayer which calls us to enter into the life of Christ here and now and in the life to come.