RMopenmissalUse of the new Roman Missal begins this Advent.With the implementation of the new Roman Missal scheduled to begin the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, more than 500 clergy and parish personnel who will be instrumental in instructing Catholics over the next nine months about the revisions received catechesis themselves Friday, Feb. 25, as they attended “Mystical Body, Mystical Voice” at the Cousins Center in St. Francis.

The daylong program, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s office for worship, featured a detailed, step-by-step examination of Scripture’s relation to liturgy; the church’s liturgical history and tradition,

Resources on new Roman Missal

For groups and individuals,
there are a number of resources
regarding liturgy in general
and the new Roman Missal
in particular. Each of these site and publications may also
provide further resources.

Web sites:
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
Office for Worship

Mystical Body, Mystical Voice

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Books and documents:
The Second Vatican Council’s “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy”

“The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition” by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl and Mike Aquilina – Read a review.

“Understanding the Revised Mass Texts” by Paul Turner

“The Spirit of the Liturgy”
by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

including instructions of popes and the church’s liturgical documents; the Roman Missal, including the general instruction that is part of it; and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Fr. Douglas Martis, a priest of the Diocese of Joliet and director of the Liturgical Institute, and Christopher Carstens, director of the office of sacred worship for the Diocese of La Crosse and a visiting lecturer at the Liturgical Institute, not only provided participants with a detailed examination of the Mass prayers, but encouraged them in how they should prepare themselves and the Catholic faithful for the changes.

It’s going to take time

While Catholics have nine months to prepare for the changes, Fr. Martis doesn’t expect that everyone will be ready come Advent.

“Be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lifetime to get into these liturgical practices,” the priest said. “The Roman liturgy is written in such a way as to be for those who are in it for the long haul.… We have to be patient with it. It’s not like on Nov. 27 everybody’s going to know everything that they ever need to know about the liturgy. We get it bit by bit over the course of time. This is the wisdom of ritual.”

Fr. Martis asked the laity present to “have a lot of compassion for” the clergy when it comes to the changes.

“Because every word for them changes. There are only about seven things that change fundamentally for the faithful,” he said.

It’s about more than words

While much discussion has centered upon what words are being changed, the presenters emphasized that it is not about words.

“Much has been written about the words of the Mass, but too little has been written about what this has to do with my life and the Trinity, what this means for the life of grace, what this means for my transformation into Jesus Christ,” Carstens said. “The words of the Mass, when heard fully, consciously and actively, transform us.”

As they spoke about the words and the Word, the liturgists emphasized that those studying liturgy use a “sacramental approach,” which they termed “the most pastoral approach because Jesus Christ is still living and working and active in the church.”

“We receive rites of the church and celebrate them in the best way we can and further ask how is it that these prayers and rites communicate what the church believes?” Fr. Martis said.

“Show them how Jesus lives in the sacrament today and how we encounter him,” Carstens said about a couple who brings their child to be baptized, adding, “The words we sing, hear, pray, say are all sacramental signs of the Word, who is Jesus.”

The “sacramental approach,” according to Fr. Martis, involves teaching the faithful “how to see and perceive the liturgy sacramentally.”

“You don’t need to read a theology book to understand this,” he said. “All you need to do is pay attention to what it is the church says and does when she prays, because it is all there if we would learn how to interpret it.”

Carstens said the mission is not to “move the liturgy” in a particular direction, but rather to receive the church’s rites and to celebrate them to the best of one’s ability.

It’s not a discussion about what the words could say or should say or might say; it’s about what they say,” he said. “And what’s the best way we can understand those words and help those in our care understand them as well.”

Words that matter

Throughout their presentation, the self-described “liturgy nerds” emphasized the importance of understanding “the Word made flesh” in the words that are prayed at Mass.

“One of the things you’ll notice in the translation is that prayers that are already familiar to us and Scripture passages that are already familiar to us will have more of an echo in the prayers of the Mass,” Fr. Martis said, noting that 90 percent of the Mass is rooted in Scripture.

RMhistoryThey also delved into the minutiae of the Roman Missal, e.g., why “many” instead of “the many” is used in a particular prayer. Throughout the presentation, their etymology included English, Latin and Greek.

Carstens noted that the attention to such detail was important to understanding the liturgy.

“To be familiar with the language is to be familiar with the culture,” he said.

The duo dissected every part of the Mass. For example, the priest will no longer say, “Let us proclaim the Mystery of Faith.” Rather, he will say, “The Mystery of Faith.” The change, according to Fr. Martis, reflects “the awe” one experiences with the mystery. The congregation’s response will be one of three:

  • “We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection until you come again” (based upon 1 Cor 11:26);
  • “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again” (1 Cor 11:26); and
  • “Save us, Savior of the world, for by your cross and resurrection you have set us free” (John 4:2).

“Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” will no longer be an option.

Carstens explained, “It is not in the Latin typical edition (on which the English translation is based) nor has it ever been in the Latin typical edition … These three are addressed to Christ, the mystery of faith that is now before us. ‘Christ has died’ is spoken about Christ but not to Christ. There are some very explicit scriptural explanations that these three have that ‘Christ has died’ does not have.”

For the dismissal, the priest will be able to use one of four options:

  • “Go forth, the Mass is ended.”
  • “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.”
  • “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
  • “Go in peace.”

Referring to Matthew 28 and the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, Carstens said the congregation is being told, “Don’t just stand there, go. Go out and do what you were told to do. These words speak to our mission out in the world. As Pius XII said, ‘We are to be on the front lines of Christian life out there in the world.’”

Fr. Martis added that “ite” is a Latin imperative for “go” thus each of the dismissals begins with that word.

Keys to successful implementation

The presenters recommended ways Catholics can help the implementation of the revised Roman Missal go smoothly.

“We have to be patient with it. It comes in time. It comes with God’s grace. We do our part and we let the liturgy work on us,” Fr. Martis said.

Carstens suggested that the faithful be mystagogoues from the Greek “mysta” (closed, secret) and “agog” (to lead).

“Our prayers should be a refulgent mystagogue leading people into the brilliant treasure, the great beauty and wealth, going ever deeper into the mystery the Mass contains,” he said.

Carstens said that the faithful must “prepare for and celebrate the liturgy carefully.”

“There’s an axiom: ‘The best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself celebrated well.’ That’s the fundamental thing. Careful execution of the Mass is a fundamental thing,” he said, adding,  “It is going to be difficult for priests, and deacons, too. It’s not going to be preparing five minutes before Mass starts and moving the ribbons around after Mass starts. It’s going to take a great deal of preparation.”

He suggested that one make “deliberate connections between liturgy and catechesis.”

“One of the greatest opportunities that the new missal offers us is the new opportunity for liturgical catechesis based on the biblical narratives,” Carstens said. “The first thing we have to do in order to enter into these texts is to be able to retrieve the biblical narrative that is there; it underlies our liturgical prayer.”

Fr. Martis said that it is imperative to “integrate liturgical prayer and daily activity.”

“Liturgy is not something we do that is shoved away in a box,” the priest said. “The whole idea of this liturgy we celebrate is that it becomes part and parcel of the way we live, not simply what we celebrate.”

Discounts available on pre-orders of new Roman Missal

WASHINGTON (CNS) — USCCB Publishing is accepting pre-orders for the altar and chapel editions of the third edition of the Roman Missal, with 25 percent discounts available through June 30.

Both the larger altar edition and the more compact chapel edition will be beautifully designed and bound, consistent with USCCB versions of previous liturgical books, and will feature four-color artwork from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

With the 25 percent discounts, pre-ordered altar editions (No. 7-100) will cost $126.75 each and chapel editions (No. 7-192) $86.25 each. (Discounts cannot be combined.) After June 30, the missals will sell for $169 and the chapel edition for $115.

The new Roman Missal ritual books, which go into use in the United States on the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, will begin shipping Oct. 3.
The USCCB Publishing editions of the Roman Missal may be pre-ordered online, using discount code RM-0311. Pre-orders can also be placed by telephone to (800) 235-8722; by e-mail; by U.S. mail to 3211 Fourth St. NE, Washington, DC 20017; or by fax to (202) 722-8709.

Preparation essential for understanding

“Have docility to receive what is offered in the liturgy. There will be something in this translation for everyone in this auditorium to dislike. Just like there is probably something in the current translation for everyone in this auditorium to dislike,” Carstens said.

He said that “I like it” and “I don’t like it” are the “two most popular liturgical principles,” but he termed them “disastrous.”

“We celebrate liturgy the way we do because the liturgy is a gift from the church. And it’s part of the universal church. This takes some docility to receive what’s there,” Carstens said. “It’s a spiritual orientation; it’s about changing us, not about changing words. The end game is changing ourselves to reflect Christ.”

For priests, Fr. Martis specifically recommended that they be mystagogues and that that they pray with the liturgical texts.

“Know what you are doing … recognize the significance and the deep value of these mysteries that we are celebrating,” he said

He reiterated Carstens’ call for humility and docility.

“I guarantee if you go into your parish and say what I might have done at one time, ‘This is the stupidest thing I ever heard but we just have to do it because the bishop is making us do it,’ you know what the people are going to say? ‘Yeah, this is the stupidest thing I ever heard,’” he said, noting that approach will be counter-productive.

Fr. Martis suggested that priests study Mass texts and their origins, consult resources and commentaries on the Mass, and read the Bible and their Office. He said one way priests could learn the Mass texts was musically.

“When we do them musically we’ll pay closer attention to what’s there; we’re less likely to say words we used to say,” Fr. Martis said.

He recommended they work with other priests and deacons to improve ars celebrandi, i.e., the manner in which they celebrate the liturgical rites.

“We’re not simply talking about rubrics. The church is talking about celebrating itself as a kind of art, and art is a powerful thing that can help us get in touch with the sense of mystery,” Fr. Martis said.

In addition to suggesting that priests be attentive to what they say and do “so that what you say and do are consonant with one another,” he told them to consider “liturgical preaching.”

“Because the Scriptures are woven into the Mass texts, there are frequently opportunities for us to preach and make a connection between the Mass text and the readings of the day,” Fr. Martis said, adding they should also use opportunities outside of Mass, such as sacramental preparation, as times for liturgical catechesis.

How laity can prepare

Carstens suggested that the faithful’s spiritual preparation should include praying over the Mass texts.

“Mass is a prayer. This is a spiritual event, not an academic one. Place yourself in the narrative. Imagine yourself standing in the field of the barley harvest and Boaz saying to you, ‘The Lord be with you.’ Dwell and abide in these texts; pray with them,” he said, emphasizing the need to “cultivate a sacramental perspective.”

He said spiritual preparation should include reading explanations of the Mass texts, joining Catholic Bible study groups and attending Roman Missal study session.

“Every Catholic who wants to know something about the words of the Mass will have the opportunity to do so. I hear people say, ‘Fifty years ago we showed up for Mass one weekend and everything was different. And we didn’t know why and the priest didn’t know why, and we didn’t ask any questions,’ he said. “The same sort of thing can’t happen this time. Everyone who wants to know about this should have the opportunity to learn more.”

Fr. Martis offered what he termed a “simple prescription” for embracing the changes to the Roman Missal.

“Take the words, learn to understand them. Make the connections. Listen to the biblical narratives,” he said. “The texts of the Mass were not put there by some malicious committee looking to trip you up. These texts resound with the voice of God’s own words.”

(Editor’s note: Between now and Nov. 27, your Catholic Herald and www.chnonline.org, in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Office of Worship, will be publishing and posting articles regarding specific aspects of the new Roman Missal.)