Select Sunday>Roman Missal FAQs

Logo The Center for Liturgy


Roman Missal FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions about the New Missal Translation

  Note: we will be adding questions/answers continually, but we need you to send in questions!
Please make them short, and send them to liturgy@slu.edu
 

Q. What prompted this missal re-translation project?
Q. Will this involve changing the words of the Mass?
Q. What is this “Roman Missal” you speak of?
Q. Why make all these changes now?
Q. Isn’t the new translation going to be much more rigorous?
Q. But why such strict rules? What is wrong with the translation we already have?
Q. When the priest says “the Lord be with you” will the response be “and with your spirit,” instead of “and also with you”?
Q. What Is a “Memorial Acclamation”?
Q. We notice that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” is not among the new acclamations. Why not?
Q. What will the new acclamations be?
Q. How will the changes in the people’s part affect the music we are used to singing?
Q. Have there been controversies concerning the new translations?

NEW:
Q. Didn’t the Roman Missal used to include the scripture readings?
Q. Has the Sacramentary ever included the Scripture Readings?
Q. Is it true that the name "Sacramentary" is being dropped?
Q. Is it possible that there will now be two types of Roman Missals—the complete Missal and the one used at the altar?
Q. So the Lectionary contains all the Scripture readings, and is typically provided in several volumes, for the different cycles, etc?
Q.Is it true that the Roman Missal does not include the General Intercessions, because they are written locally?
Q. Lately, after some further objections about many recent changes to the texts after so many have already worked on them, there have been rumors that the Advent 2011 date for the change may itself be changed. Any comment?
Q. I have a question to all the changes. I wonder what Jesus would say?
Q. Why is the New Zealand church introducing the new translation in Dec 2010, when we have had no preparation, only a few texts are ready, and there is general dissatisfaction with the whole process? I understand that other national churches may wait till Dec 2011.
Q.The texts of the responsorial psalms in the new missal – will they be from the new Grail psalms?

 


Q. What prompted this missal re-translation project?

A. This project is part of a larger movement within the Church. Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II before him have expressed their desire to restore greater mystery, transcendence, and reverence to the celebration of the Mass.

The General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) was revised earlier this decade toward this goal, including stressing the unique role of the priest celebrant.

The pope has stated his preference for people to receive Communion on the tongue while kneeling and has encouraged greater use of Latin in the liturgy, particularly in the canon of the Mass.

Other voices are calling for the restoration of Gregorian chant and choral polyphony while limiting the use of contemporary music.

While we do not know which of these proposed reforms may be enacted, there is clearly a movement toward a more transcendent expression of worship. This is affecting the new translation of the missal, music, architecture, artwork, vestments, and many other aspects of liturgy. (SP)

Top


Q. Will this involve changing the words of the Mass?

A. Yes it is true. As of now the distribution date is to be Advent of 2011. The revision includes all the content of the Roman Missal, but not of the readings. (JF)

Top


Q. What is the Roman Missal?

A. The Roman Missal, called Mass Book for short, includes all the texts (antiphons, prayers for the day, Eucharistic Prayers, blessings, and prayers for the special services of Holy Week) that are needed for Mass. The priest reads from it everything except the homily. The scripture readings have their own book, called the Lectionary. Please see below for more information on the Missal. (GB)

Top


Q. Why make all these changes now?

A. Changed texts are a more or less regular event in the history of the Church. When a new liturgical book is published, there is what amounts to a trial period of a few years during which things are tested out and refined. Our new edition will be the third edition of the book.

The first version was published in 1970, exactly 400 years from 1570, the year when the first version of what we call the Missal of Pius V or the Tridentine Missal (named after the council of Trent) was published. And just like the 1570 Missal, there were changes made after it was first issued.

There was an amended version published in 1971, and then a second edition published in 1975, and then the third edition from 2001. That is the edition that is at the base of the new Roman Missal that we will soon see. (GB) MORE

Top


Q. Is the new translation going to be much more rigorous?

A. Yes, in a way. The translation was mandated by a Vatican “instruction,” Liturgiam Authenticam, issued in 2001. It said that,

“the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet.” (JF)

Top


Q. But why such strict rules? What is wrong with the translation we already have?

A. The Office of Divine Worship in Rome prescribed “formal equivalence” as opposed to “dynamic equivalence.” The latter is an attempt to transport the meanings into the vernacular language using the idioms, structures and typical ways of speaking of that language. The present translations use this method. But many felt that a great deal of the original meaning was lost and even contradicted by using this method. Thus the switch from dynamic equivalence to formal equivalence, which attempts to match the Latin grammar, meanings and word order more or less exactly. (JF)

Top


Q. When the priest says “the Lord be with you” will the response be “and with your spirit,” instead of “and also with you”?

A. The text in Latin is Et cum spiritu tuo, so the new translation is a more exact reflection of the original words, literally “and with your spirit.”

Here is some background by the great Jesuit liturgist, Joseph A. Jungmann:

“Both the greeting and the reply are ancient, their origins hid in pre-Christian times. In the Book of Ruth (2:4) Booz greets his reapers with Dominus Vobiscum. The salutation was thus part of everyday life. It is met with several times in Holy Scripture (Luke 1:28, cf. Judges 6:12, 2 Chronicles 15:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:16). The reply of the reapers to Booz’s greeting was: Benedicat tibi Dominus. [May the Lord bless you.] We employ a phrase which means almost the same thing: Et cum spiritu tuo, a formula which betrays its Hebrew origin and has many parallels in St. Paul (2 Timothy 4:22, cf. Philemon 25; Galations 6:18; also Philippians 4:23). (The Mass of the Roman Rite, Vol. 1, p. 363).

His point, and this seems to be the understanding of the translators of the Missal in the seventies, was that if this was a greeting shared among people in their ordinary lives, an ordinary greeting was in order. Now, as we have said, the desire is for accuracy. (GB) MORE

Top


Q. What Is a “Memorial Acclamation”?

A. Here is a history of it. Before Vatican II there was only one Eucharistic Prayer—called the Roman Canon—which many people know today as Eucharistic Prayer I in the current Sacramentary. As the longest prayer of the Mass, it presented special challenges when the revisions to the Order of Mass were being considered.

Before the revisions the Eucharistic Prayer would be prayed in a way that no one could hear it, and of course it was in Latin. When the changes were made to praying the prayer in an audible voice and in local languages, the question of how to make this prayer more participatory was also addressed.

Two solutions were accepted: the first was to introduce several other prayers, and so we have multiple Eucharistic prayers to choose from today. The other was to add an acclamation to the current prayer, and so we have the memorial acclamations. (GB) MORE

Top


Q. We notice that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” is not among the new acclamations. Why not?

A. “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again,” became the most popular acclamation, and so has probably had the most scrutiny. It has long been discussed that it has a flaw: it is not addressed to Christ.

While the Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to the Father, this acclamation is to be addressed to Christ. If the words had been, “Lord you have died for us,” etc. it would have had a better chance to remain in this latest revision.

But in fact even the second form, which does exactly that, is not a translation and so did not make the cut: “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.” (GB) MORE

Top


Q. What will the new acclamations be?

We proclaim your Death, O Lord,
and profess your Resurrection
until you come again.

Or:

When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup,
we proclaim your Death, O Lord,
until you come again.

Or:

Save us, Savior of the world,
for by your Cross and Resurrection
you have set us free.

Top


Q. How will the changes in the people’s part affect the music we are used to singing?

A. Publishers are approaching this problem in several ways. First, they have commissioned new settings from chosen composers. They hope these new pieces will at length catch on with the people, just as Mass of Creation and The St. Louis Jesuits Mass did. Secondly, they have asked composers of some favorite acclamations to change their melody just enough to accommodate the changes. (JF)

Top


Q. Have there been controversies concerning the new translations?

A. The most general objection has been that people will not be able to adapt to the new language of the Mass. This may not turn out to be a big problem, since the transition is being planned for with care and concern by the Bishops.
For more information on this welcome process, see http://usccb.org/romanmissal/

Others believe that the process has been too messy, with too many last minute changes—some still in progress. But it is a massive job to translate such a huge number of texts (including not only the parts that stay the same—e.g., dialogs, Lord Have Mercy, Holy, Mystery of Faith, Amen, Lamb of God—but also the prayers that are particular to each day and each Sunday.

At the Center for Liturgy we, like other English-speaking Catholics, pledge to loyally adopt the new translation when it comes. For interest, we, like others, have looked in some detail at objections that have arisen along the way. For readers who are similarly interested, a closely reasoned, scholarly argument against the translation process can be found in the book, Translating Tradition: a Chant Historian Reads Liturgiam Authenticam by Peter Jeffery (Collegeville: Liturgical Press). An ongoing discussion of pros and cons can be found at the web site, http://www.praytellblog.com/. None of the objections, of course, change our loyalty to the final result. (JF)

Top

 

NEW:

Q. Didn’t the Roman Missal used to include the scripture readings?

A. The Latin Roman Missal did include the scripture readings up until Vatican II. But after Vatican II, the Latin Missal was issued without readings—it’s still called a “Missal”—and there came to be a separate book in Latin, the “Lectionary of the Roman missal.” So, strictly speaking, the Lectionary is part of the missal, but always in a separate volume. All the vernacular languages follow this policy—one book without the readings, another book with all the readings.
(AR)

Top


Q. Has the Sacramentary ever included the Scripture Readings?

A. “Sacramentary” is the term some have preferred in English because it means “a missal without the readings.” This is the term we have used in the U.S. up until now. But in England, for example, since Vatican II they have called the exact same book, with English prayers, the “Missal.” Since Vatican II, “Missal” and “Sacramentary” mean the same thing, in effect: the altar book without the readings. (
AR)

Top


Q. Is it true that the name "Sacramentary" is being dropped?

A. Yes. Even though some people think “Sacramentary” is more accurate because the readings are not included, now everyone will follow the Latin Roman post-Vatican usage, so that the big book without readings is a Missal, and the book with readings is the “lectionary,” or technically, the “Lectionary of the Missal.” (AR)

Top


Q. Is it possible that there will now be two types of Roman Missals—the complete Missal and the one used at the altar?

A. No. The “complete” Missal, which exists in both Latin and English, now consists of two volumes: the Missal and the Lectionary of the Missal. Rome is very strict in not allowing anyone to change the Roman usage. And even if Rome were more flexible, it wouldn’t be possible on practical grounds. The new altar Missal (without readings) will barely fit in one volume, and it will probably be too big and heavy to be very practical. Some want us to split it into two volumes just so the poor altar server can carry it, but Rome is resisting this. There is no way on earth you could fit the whole missal with readings into one book. Whether a publisher can publish a non-altar missal for people in the pews in one volume is a separate question. (AR)

Top


Q. So the Lectionary contains all the Scripture readings, and is typically provided in several volumes, for the different cycles, etc.?

A. Yes. The lectionary is in 4 volumes in all, including weekdays. (AR)

Top


Q. Is it true that the Roman Missal does not include the General Intercessions, because they are written locally?

A. Correct. These are left for local parishes so that their local needs may be included. One help for parishes is the model petitions provided every Sunday by the Stroble Center for Liturgy’s Sunday Web Site.
(AR)

Top

Q. Lately, after some further objections about many recent changes to the texts after so many have already worked on them, there have been rumors that the Advent 2011 date for the change may itself be changed. Any comment? (TA)

A. There have been many changes, ins and outs, approvals/re-approvals of the new translation along the way. Therefore a rumor did arise that the deadline, i.e., Advent 2011, could not be met because of the long process that will be needed after approval: editing and printing by the publisher(s), distribution, etc. But as of November 18, 2010, assurance was given by Bishop Arthur Seratelli, Chairman of the Bishop’s Committee on Divine Worship, as follows:

There is a final text. It has received a recognitio. As the work of editing and assembling nears completion, there is assurance that the published text will be available in more than ample time for implementation in Advent 2011. It is good to note also that the catechetical preparation for implementation is already underway and has proceeded with much enthusiasm and wide acceptance by both clergy and laity.

This is the latest word we have. (JF)

Top


Q. I have a question to all the changes. I wonder what Jesus would say? MB

A. Michelle, people use this form of question often nowadays, but unfortunately it bypasses the central teachings of Christianity and the Church. You can ask Jesus now what he says. Jesus was not here for thirty-some years only to go away forever. Far from it. He promised that he would be with us till the end of time in the person of his and the Father’s Holy Spirit. That Spirit is God, and it brings us all together with God as the “body of Christ.” So, if you want to know Jesus’ opinion on all the changes, ask his Church throughout the world, or in other words, all of us, organized under the church structure. (JF)

Top


Q. Why is the New Zealand church introducing the new translation in Dec 2010, when we have had no preparation, only a few texts are ready, and there is general dissatisfaction with the whole process. I understand that other national churches may wait till Dec 2011. (PK)

A. We in the United States know little about this, except that the newly translated Ordinary of the Mass is now in use there in New Zealand. Someone there would have more knowledge about this matter. (JF)

Top

Q. The texts of the responsorial psalms in the new missal—will they be from the new Grail psalms? (PH)

A. The Revised Grail Psalms have received an official recognitio from the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. This final approval, dated 19 March 2010, makes The Revised Grail Psalms the official English-language liturgical Psalter for the United States. These Psalm texts will thus be the ones used in all future editions of liturgical books published for the United States, and, as it happens, for most other English-language countries as well.

This revision of the 1963 Grail Psalms was undertaken by the monks of Conception at the request of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (now the Committee on Divine Worship), under the direction of Abbot Gregory Polan. In a process taking over ten years to complete, the Grail Psalms were revised (and re-translated where necessary), bringing them in line with up-to-date principles of Scripture scholarship, with sensitivity toward the prior, much loved Grail psalms.

After four years an initial draft was completed and brought before the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship in November 2002. It was there approved to undergo the rigorous process that would deem it an acceptable translation. The full assembly of the USCCB approved the use of The Revised Grail Psalms on 11 November 2008, in a vote of 203-5. The text was then sent off to the Vatican for final approval, which it has now received.

Much information about the new Grail Psalms can be found here. Copyright permission will be handled by GIA Publications, who also will provide printed versions of the psalms. If you would like to look at the translations, just press here. (JF)

Top

Note: we will be adding questions/answers continually, but we need you to send in questions! Please make them short, and send them to liturgy@slu.edu

 


(GB) Glenn CJ Byer has served as professor of liturgy at Kenrick School of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. He taught three years for the Paul VI Catechetical Institute, also in St. Louis. Glenn has worked on the liturgy commissions of three archdioceses, Edmonton, Baltimore and St. Louis. He received a master’s in liturgy from the University of Notre Dame in 1987 and a sacred liturgy doctorate (SLD) from San Anselmo in Rome in 1994.

(JF) Fr. John Foley, S. J. is the director of the Stroble Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University. He holds a PhD in liturgical theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. In addition to writing a weekly reflection on this website, he has written much liturgical music while teamed with the “St. Louis Jesuits” coalition, and continues to write and publish today. He received a PhD in Liturgical Theology from the GTU in 1993.

(SP) Scott Pluff is a liturgical musician and pastoral liturgist. Experienced in both traditional and contemporary music, he is an active organist and director of choirs, ensembles, and handbells. In his role as Director of Development at the Stroble Center for Liturgy he invites people to join their mission of renewing Catholic liturgy. Scott also serves as Director of Music Ministries for Epiphany of Our Lord Church in St. Louis. He holds an M.A. in Theology with a concentration in liturgy from the Aquinas Institute of Theology.

(AR) Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, is a monk of St. John's Abbey. He teaches liturgy, liturgical music, and Gregorian chant at St. John's University School of Theology-Seminary. He is widely published and frequently presents across the country on liturgy and music. He is the author of Sacred Music and Liturgical Reform: Treasures and Transformations, and of Responsorial Psalms for Weekday Mass: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter.



   

Copyright © 2010, 2011, The Stroble Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University. All rights reserved.
Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.