Deeper in History, Deeper in Prayer
November 2013By Rosemary Lunardini
Rosemary Lunardini is the author of The Mass in My Life: Cries of the Heart in the Prayers of the Mass (2008). She lives in Hanover, New Hampshire.
We may speak to God anytime in our own words, in as simple or as complex a way as we wish, in personal prayer. This is all to the good. But liturgy is a special case, a language in itself, in which we speak to God in public worship and in a sacramental setting. These words are never our own words, unless we take them into our minds and hearts and allow them to become, in a sense, our own.
In the case of the Mass, we hear and speak prayers that have come down to us through the centuries, even from the mouth of Christ Himself for example, in the Consecration and in the Our Father. Other liturgical prayers date to the early Apostolic period; through the rich variety of the Middle Ages; then the first, second, and now the third universal Roman Missal. They are not, as Mr. Kassel says of changes he does not like in the new missal, a quirk of the hierarchy or a papal preference.
It was Bl. John Paul II who, more than a decade ago, expressed the need and laid down the methodology for a more authentic translation of the Roman missal. And it was Pope Benedict XVI who brought the work of many to fruition in our churches two years ago this Advent. The bishops of the English-speaking world spent several years providing catechesis to prepare priests and people for the introduction of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal. Many Catholic writers, such as Edward Sri, have produced excellent books and guides on the subject. We have been well-served by the scholarship within the whole Church body both before and since we received the new missal in our parishes.
Mr. Kassel is a knowledgeable Catholic himself, so he knows all this. Yet, for some mysterious reason, he persists in his criticism, which, after a while, cannot be helpful to him or to anyone else. The new missal is here to stay, likely for our lifetimes. There is really only one good solution, and that is for faithful Catholics even those who persist in their misgivings to listen and respond to all the prayers of the Mass with open hearts and minds.
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