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Welcome to the new translation of the Missal
The generation of Catholics who weathered the changes in the liturgy from the Tridentine Mass to the new Order will have no difficulty accepting those alterations which are to occur in the English translation of the prayers of the Mass.
We adapted our silent form of worship to a more active vocal response, being able to follow every action of the priest and understand every word in every prayer. We love the Church and we readily obeyed the decisions made by the Council. In our parish churches the large number of retirees who attend daily Mass is a witness to our love for the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
The changes to be introduced later this year are welcome for many reasons. Anyone who speaks another language must be aware that there are deficiencies in the English translation. Other countries have a more accurate rendering of the original Latin. The new English translations remind us that we belong to a universal Church. Catholics throughout the world offer the same Sacrifice and the manner in which we express our offering will more clearly show our union.
To the greeting by the priest, "The Lord be with you", our response is to be "And with your spirit". Immediately we are elevated beyond the physical presence of priest and congregation. Our Sunday celebration is not just a gathering of the community. It has a spiritual dimension and we ask God to be in the very mind and soul of the priest who acts on our behalf throughout the Mass.
The words of the penitential rite, "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault", give us a stronger understanding of the grave significance of sin. Sin is always a personal matter. In grave sin it is a rejection of God or a refusal to obey God in important matters.
Venial sins are committed by choosing alternative pleasures which do not make us totally deviate from God but nevertheless impede our spiritual progress. We are all guilty of the occasional lie, of gossip, of self-indulgence in food or drink. The threefold repetition and the addition of "most grievous" might stop us from being too self-satisfied in our righteousness.
The changes which concern the responses by the laity occur mainly in the Gloria and in the Creed. They are neither numerous nor too difficult. It is hard to understand why anyone should object to these on the ground that the English is awkward. A generation which has had no problem mastering a whole new vocabulary in electronic jargon, those who understand the intricacies of iPods, iPads and iPhones, the complexities of megabytes and gigabytes, should be able to cope with ordinary sentences in plain English. The older Catholics, more familiar with the language of adoration, will welcome the restoration of some crucial concepts.
In the Gloria the accumulation of verbs "we praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory" has a powerful rhythmic effect. God alone is worthy of adoration. We have been created to give him glory and we acknowledge this by offering this hymn of praise.
We praise "Jesus Christ, only Begotten Son". The addition of the word "Begotten" makes clear the distinction between Jesus, who is the only true Son, and human beings who are made children of the Father by adoption.
In the Creed, this distinction will again be made evident as we profess our faith in Christ as true God "begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father". Consubstantial means having the same substance, that is, the same nature as the Father. The divine nature of Christ is expressed in this statement. The words "was incarnate of the Virgin Mary" mean that he took on human flesh "and became man". Here we profess our faith in the human nature of Christ.
The statement "I believe" instead of "We" emphasises our personal commitment. Yes, we believe what the whole Church believes, but we need to affirm our own faith as individuals in union with all those who believe the Faith of the Church.
"My sacrifice and yours" restores the notion that the priest is essential. Without a priest we cannot have the Mass. The Sacrament of Holy Orders is a sacrament which empowers the priest to act on behalf of the people and to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, the reliving, the making present the moment when Christ died for us on the Cross. The priest alone can act at the Consecration in the Person of Christ. It is Christ himself who acts to change the bread and wine into his Body and Blood and he uses the priest as his instrument.
The priesthood of the laity means that we too offer ourselves, our souls, our lives. We are spiritually united with the priest and with Christ as we offer to the Father the greatest gift, an infinite gift, His Son. This is how we participate in the Sacrament/Sacrifice aspect of the Eucharist until the moment of union when we receive Holy Communion.
We hear the invitation to Holy Communion and the words "Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb". We are going to welcome God in our hearts. No words can express the infinite riches of this gift. "Blessed" is far more adequate than the former "happy", for "blessed", with its connotations of holiness, implies that the gift is infinitely above anything that could make us merely happy. The answer to the invitation echoes the words of the Gospel scene. Like the centurion our faith allows us to trust in God's merciful love.
Our love for the Mass will be enhanced by a better understanding of this sublime act of adoration and we look forward to the new translation.
Audrey English teaches at the Centre for Thomistic Studies and Holy Family Education Centre in Sydney.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 24 No 4 (May 2011), p. 14
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