A Defining Step Toward Authentic Liturgical Reform

November 2010By Rosemary Lunardini

Rosemary Lunardini, who writes from Hanover, New Hampshire, is the author of The Mass in My Life: Cries of the Heart in the Prayers of the Mass, published by iUniverse and reviewed in the January-February 2010 NOR.

The world’s English-speaking Catholics will soon have a new Roman Missal that will provide a new translation of the Order of the Mass and all other prayers of the Mass throughout the liturgical year. The Church sees the new missal, which was formally approved by the Vatican this March, as a continuation of the renewal of the liturgy called for by the Second Vatican Council. With the decade-long process of translating the missal from the original Latin, the English-speaking bishops have taken a major, defining step toward an “authentic liturgy” envisioned by Pope John Paul II. The missal is a mix of the old and the new; although it draws out some phrasing that exists in the Tridentine Mass, it is by no means a copy of it.

The new General Instruction of the Roman Missal (Third Typical Edition) will be seen as a legacy of Pope John Paul II, who announced it in 2000, although the Latin text would not be available for another two years. The Vatican’s 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam set forth directives for the translation of missals (and Bibles), calling for a formal, exact translation to replace the looser, idiomatic translation style used in the 1970 and 1975 missals. Liturgiam Authenticam explains:
In order to take full advantage of the experience gained since the Council, it seems useful to express these norms from time to time in terms of tendencies that have become evident in past translations but which are to be avoided in future ones. In fact, it seems necessary to consider anew the true notion of liturgical translations in order that the translations of the Sacred Liturgy into the vernacular languages may stand secure as the authentic voice of the Church of God. (no. 7)
Among its many directives, Liturgiam Authenticam calls for biblical references in the Mass prayers, a style that befits the sacred liturgy, a richness and variety of vocabulary and imagery, clear theological distinctions, and certain grammatical and poetical ways of drawing out the beauty inherent in the prayers.

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Many of us who attended the Tridentine Mass for dozens of years, still scratch our heads as to why the Traditional Mass was not simply kept and the vernacular used. Why did it have to be a complete rewrite and our Church sent into upheaval. Preserving the "Sacrifice of the Mass" instead of turning it into a "celebration" or "Sacred Meal" would have prevented some of the silliness now used. Better yet, in multilingual parishes, the Latin would go a long way in bringing cultures together. The view from the pew is not "Harvard' enough, I suppose. Posted by: ndbooster
November 15, 2010 11:51 AM EST
It is good at long last to see these changes in the Novus Ordo Mass. It would have been nice if, 40 years ago, the Bishops would have used the same amount of care and deliberation (instead of haste) in making their radical alterations to the Traditional Mass. Perhaps much of the resulting "Protestantisation" of the Holy Mass could have been avoided. Most of these proposed changes seem to be a conscious move toward bringing back some of the grandeur and reverence that was lost since the late 60's, and that is a good thing. The parish I attend will not be making any of these changes. It won't need to: we are blessed to have a Traditional Mass parish in our town. I pray that these few but welcome liturgical corrections will result in a renewed sense of the sacred among those who still practice their Catholic faith. Lex orendi, lex credendi. Posted by: mjtridentine
December 30, 2010 09:15 AM EST
I agree totally with ndbooster above. But why did the Mass need to be "renewed" in the first place? What was wrong with it? Okay, perhaps the parishioners could have been more involved by saying (more of) the prayers aloud. Granted, the Low Masses could often have been more inspiring. But, the text of the Mass was magnificent. I miss the Psalm at the beginning as well as the other Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. And, the 2-fold Kyrie instead of the original 3-fold (Trinity, anyone?) was a very stupid change to make. I think this new translation attempt is a step in the right direction, but it's almost like putting a band aid on a gunshot wound. Posted by: tradgirl
December 01, 2010 10:38 AM EST
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