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Preparing for The Roman Missal  
Gerald Dennis Gill  
   

"Will we be ready?" Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, asked me, as the director of the archdiocesan Office for Worship, early last fall. The Cardinal’s inquiry was prompted by the summer announcement that the first use of the revised English translation of the third edition of the Missale Romanum would be Advent 2011. With the first use date, then more than a year away, I quickly assured the Archbishop, "Yes, we will be ready!" My confident reply arose from my conviction that our readiness was not only about preparing for the future use of new texts but more from anticipating a new edition of The Roman Missal that would occasion a period of liturgical renewal. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, preparing for The Roman Missal began in September of 2009 with a year of remote preparation. September of 2010 began a year of more immediate preparation. This article tells our story with the hope that it will assist others "to be ready."

The foundation of our archdiocesan efforts to prepare for the third typical edition of The Roman Missal last year and this year is the mystery the liturgy celebrates—the priestly act of Jesus on the cross (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium [SC], 7). This divine event, which cannot be swallowed up in time but rather abides for all eternity—the Paschal Mystery that the liturgy celebrates (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 1085)—is the focus of every major presentation, regional assembly, and small group workshop for priests and people. Preparation for The Roman Missal must look beyond the ritual book with its revised words to foster a deeper grasp and engagement of the mystery of salvation and redemption. This time of pastoral preparation and catechesis in the archdiocese has been, and hopefully will continue to be, a time not only to be ready for a change of words but of hearts and understanding, and a time for enriching faith. Additionally, this time of preparation must allow for the revised edition of The Roman Missal to be received by the Church. This ritual book arranges the celebration for the priest celebrant who says, The Lord be with you, as well as the faithful who respond, And with your spirit. All must be ready!

The Archbishop
Cardinal Rigali, in his role as the chief priest and teacher of this local Church, has made preparation for the revised edition of The Roman Missal a singular priority. First among his concerns about our readiness for Advent 2011 is providing priests with opportunities "to become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy" (SC, 14)—to be prepared for new texts, to enter with greater intensity into the mystery of the liturgy, and to savor anew the gift of the ministerial priesthood. From the outset of our year of remote preparation and now into this year of more immediate preparation, the Cardinal has shown a keen interest in the plan and content of programs for the reception of The Roman Missal. In addition to his careful oversight, Cardinal Rigali intends, with the assistance of our Office for Communications, to make several audio presentations on the Sacred Liturgy and the revised English translation for cable and radio stations in the Philadelphia area. The leadership and example of the Archbishop as to the pastoral significance of the introduction of new texts for the Mass serve as an essential guide for the liturgical formation of the local Church (cf. SC, 26).

The Archdiocese
In a most general way, it has been important to get the word out throughout the archdiocese that we are looking forward to new words for the celebration of the Mass. The slogan, New Words Same Mass, only begins to help people understand that the prayers and responses so familiar for almost 40 years will be replaced now in several months. So, all throughout the year of remote preparation, frankness with the priests and the faithful required that we clearly state the success of our current translation. Very few priests and people pray the Mass thinking that they are using a translation. Rather, the current texts form the language of our worship. The English texts give voice to the Church’s praise of almighty God in the sacramental sacrifice of his Son. So, as a backdrop to the catechesis last year, and continuing into this year, several key facts need to be repeated. Translated liturgical texts bring about in a most diligent way the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy (cf. Liturgiam Authenticam [LA], 1–2). The publication of a new edition of The Roman Missal, the third since the Second Vatican Council, must be translated into the vernacular, and now this translation is governed by a new set of rules as provided by the 2001 document, LA. These rules constitute a shift from previous rules. The new rules do not permit creative innovation, but rather insist on rendering the original texts faithfully and accurately into the vernacular language (cf. LA, 20). Finally, the current translation was intended to be provisional with a need for a future translation "worthy of the mysteries being celebrated" (Vicesimus Quitus annus [VQA], 20).

These same points were in greater relief at the beginning of this year’s program for immediate preparation. In October of 2010, several hundred people assembled for the Liturgical Institute’s Mystical Body, Mystical Voice program at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, with speakers Father Douglas Martis and Christopher Carstens offering the liturgical foundations for the revised texts as the Church takes on the voice of Christ in the liturgical word. More than a thousand people gathered in November for what is called the Catholic Life Congress with the theme "Sacred Mysteries: Ever Ancient-Ever New." Father Paul Turner, in the keynote address, outlined both positive features and some limits of the new translation. Both of these archdiocesan-wide events echoed the points in the paragraph above, building on a year of remote preparation and laying the groundwork for this year of more comprehensive preparation for the revised edition of The Roman Missal.

Priests
The parish priests, already burdened beyond reasonable expectations in many instances, deserve the opportunity to learn about the new texts and how they came about before they become the official texts. This is not only because they are the liturgical leaders of the Sunday assemblies. It is also—and more significantly—because of who the priest is in relationship to the mystery celebrated with the Sunday assembly.

In the fall of 2009, at the beginning of our year of remote preparation, the Archbishop first assembled the priests of the archdiocese over four afternoon sessions. These sessions, conducted by Monsignors James Moroney and Michael Magee, as well as myself, provided the priests with a brief history of the third edition of The Roman Missal and how it was translated, including the roles of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Vox Clara, and the Holy See. A survey of some of the texts, especially those belonging to the priest celebrant, gave the priests a window into the anticipated texts. Throughout the spring of 2011, the priests of the archdiocese will participate in one of four threeday workshops, with Moroney as the principal speaker, focusing on The Roman Missal, with a dual emphasis on its reception and the artful and careful manner of celebrating the Eucharist.

Deacons
The deacons in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as in most local churches throughout the country, are entrusted with a great deal of pastoral activity and are expected to be heroic in their response to the needs of the faithful. Very often, the liturgical formation of the deacon has taken second place to the important dimensions of his ministry to be a Christian servant of charity and instructor in the Gospel.

During the year of remote preparation, deacons were given an opportunity to come together for an evening a week over a month’s time to probe the revised texts with an explanation of their theological and liturgical meaning. Magee, through careful explanation, displayed the deeper meaning of the new texts in their revised form. In addition to the encouragement given to the deacons to participate in archdiocesan and regional assemblies on the revised texts, an additional day in September of 2011, to be conducted by the director of the Office for Worship, is set aside for deacons. This day will review the texts proper to the deacon, and additionally, will continue to form the deacons in an artful manner of carrying out their liturgical roles, especially in the celebration of the Mass.

Liturgical Music Ministers
The 2007 publication of the U.S. Bishops’ Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, prompted the Office for Worship and our local Association of Church Musicians of Philadelphia to plan for a winter workshop on the document itself in February of 2009. This workshop, with the keynote by the director of the Office for Worship, signaled a renewed interest among liturgical music ministers throughout the archdiocese with nearly 300 musicians coming together to hear why we sing and what we sing in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. This successful winter workshop paved the way for a similar experience in February 2010, during the year of remote preparation, for liturgical music ministers to hear Moroney describe how the new texts came about and the need for those who lead song to be among the first to embrace the translation that will be part of the sung Roman liturgy in English. This workshop also saw all gathered sing the ordinary setting prepared by ICEL, with the hope that it would one day be a part of the repertoire of each parish in the archdiocese. The winter workshop for this year of immediate preparation, in February 2011, with Father Andrew Ciferni, OPraem, as the keynote, provided liturgical music ministers with the opportunity to see themselves as animators of renewal and reform, offering guidance and assistance to the pastor and the faithful in the plans and choices to be made with regard to liturgical music and the revised texts.

The Faithful
In addition to the priests of the archdiocese, the faithful as a whole deserve every opportunity for catechesis on the revised texts. The year of remote preparation provided the faithful with regional assemblies in different locations within the archdiocese conducted by the director of the Office for Worship. Many of the people who attended these assemblies had already been aware through a variety of media that a revised English translation of The Roman Missal was on the horizon. The interest was enthusiastic and positive. These assemblies aimed at helping the faithful understand the change in rules for the translation of liturgical texts—from a more dynamic mode with the 1969 Comme le prévoit to the more formal mode with the 2001 Liturgiam Authenticam. Most were unaware of the rules and found this information to be most helpful. Next, the faithful at these assemblies were introduced to the new parent book that was to be translated according to these new rules, the third edition of The Roman Missal, as well as the story of the long translation process beginning in 2002. Finally, some of the revised texts were presented as a sample of the large body of retranslated texts that would fill the expected English edition of The Roman Missal.

This year of more immediate preparation includes again a series of regional assemblies throughout the archdiocese, again conducted by the director of the Office for Worship, as well as a parish-based catechetical program. The regional assemblies, unlike the survey of topics that filled the previous year, have been designed to see the texts of the Mass as sacramental, that is, to see the texts as containing meaning for the faith beyond a new translation. For example, this will include why we will say, "And with your Spirit," instead of responding, "And also with you," with an explanation of the meaning of the word "spirit." All of the dialogues will be exposed for their deeper meaning, including "Pray brethren . . ." and the Invitation to Communion. The Confiteor, the Gloria, and the Profession of Faith, with their new language, are being examined as a way to display a fuller expression of the faith of the Church in the mysteries celebrated by the Church. The goal of these regional assemblies is to help the faithful to pass from the texts as signs of the faith into the mysteries celebrated with these texts so as to live from them. This is certainly a commendable practice for long after we are familiar with the revised texts.

The parish-based catechetical program "Know the Words, Know the Meaning, Know the Mystery" offered electronically through the Office for Worship of the archdiocese, contains 32 topics for reflection by the parish as a whole and in small groups, depending on how a pastor and parish want to make use of them. These topics cover a wide range of issues that examine the Sacred Liturgy itself and the new translation.

Those in Consecrated Life
A special effort has been extended to those in the consecrated life, especially the cloistered communities and the infirm priests and religious, to prepare them for the revised edition of The Roman Missal. Programs have been designed to meet the needs of each of these groups for whom the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy holds a cherished place in their Christian lives.

Last year a diocesan-wide invitation was extended to the active religious to assemble to learn about the revised texts. These same religious are often participants in the variety of programs taking place this year throughout the archdiocese and available to the faithful at large.

Goals of Preparing for The Roman Missal
Participation
There are several aspects of participation that need to be recovered as we prepare to receive the third typical edition of The Roman Missal. The emphasis in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy on full, active, and conscious participation endures; however, the purpose of liturgical participation as "the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit" must be underscored (cf. SC, 14). Pope Benedict XVI, in his papal exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (Sac. Car.), further emphasizes the notion of participation in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy with the important reminder that "the active participation called for by the Council must be understood in more substantial terms, on the basis of a greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life" (Sac. Car., 52).

All the efforts to catechize and instruct the priests and people on the revised edition of The Roman Missal, then, are more than an academic exercise, that is, learning about new texts. These efforts, moreover, will hopefully lead to more complete participation in the Sacred Liturgy—carrying out roles with all that this means externally, as people ordained and baptized uniting ourselves to the priestly offering of Jesus, and shaping our Christian lives on the eucharistic mystery.

Ars celebrandi and Singing
The dignified and reverent celebration of the sacred mysteries is an additional goal of our archdiocesan preparations for the revised edition of The Roman Missal. Perhaps in the past, an artful way of presiding and participating in the celebration of the Eucharist was considered secondary to the core meaning of the Mass. Pope Benedict XVI, again in his Sacramentum Caritatis, helps to situate this discussion.

The primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ars celebrandi is the best way to ensure their actuosa participatio. The ars celebrandi is the fruit of faithful adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness. (Sac. Car., 38)

Singing the Roman liturgy as described by the Church constitutes a significant dimension of the ars celebrandi. Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship clearly highlights singing the Sunday Eucharist when it identifies the duties of the Bishop and priest in singing the Mass texts, as well as underlining singing as one of the primary ways the assembly participates in the liturgy (STL, 26). Several regional singing workshops for liturgical music ministers are in place for this year of immediate preparation for The Roman Missal. The aim is to sing the texts. The sound of the text as a sound provided by The Roman Missal , along with the revised text, is part of a faithful translation of the Latin Missale Romanum into our new English edition.

Priests and deacons, in a separate set of workshops over the next several months, will be instructed in singing their parts of the Order of Mass, with a special emphasis on the dialogues, according to The Roman Missal tones prepared by ICEL. These sessions, in addition to giving a new emphasis to singing the presidential prayers of the Mass, also allow for an alternative way to introduce the clergy to the revised texts.

The Office for Liturgical Music of the Archdiocese, under the leadership of John Romeri, has established a Common Repertoire Committee to promote sung ordinaries for the Mass that will likewise promote the singing of the Eucharist with the revised texts. The objective of the committee is to recommend several ordinaries that will be sung throughout the archdiocese as well as at archdiocesan celebrations, including the Latin and English chants provided in The Roman Missal.

Conclusion
The story of our preparing for The Roman Missal is a full one in many ways, but it can be deceivingly impressive. While our plans and programs attempt to engage every aspect of the local Church, many people will be caught unprepared and uninformed come Advent 2011. We will hear some say, "What happened? We were not ready for this!" What we are learning from these two years of preparation to receive the revised texts of the English edition of The Roman Missal is that this preparation will not end in Advent 2011. It continues with ongoing theological, liturgical, and practical ways to welcome and continue to use the new texts for their ultimate purpose, the worship of almighty God and our sharing in the holiness of God.

Will we be ready? Yes, but there will always be more to do!

Rev. Gerald Dennis Gillan
is the director of the Office for Worship for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He is the author of Music in Catholic Liturgy (© 2010 Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago, Illinois).

 
         
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