The New Translation – been there, done that, what’s next?

Ok, so we have started using the new translation of the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal. It is a great improvement over the now defunct “Sacramentary”. It has not been easy to make the shift. Although I am fully supportive of the new translation, the change has been/ is a lot of work. And I’m not talking about all of the preparation that I did in my parish. What I’m talking about is what we, both priests and faithful, put into the Holy Mass each day with the new translation. On the first weekend after using the new translation, I was totally exhausted, and I’m sure many priests were. It was kind of like going through a final exam, you just want to do everything right. The slow recitation of the prayers, the care and concern to make this a prayerful experience is good but tiring work.

So back to my point, What’s next? We all know the mind of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Although he is a great theologian and doing great things to help bring about Christian unity, the issue most close to his heart is the “Spirit of the Liturgy”. For Catholics, the Liturgy is the focal point. Without the Mass, we cease to be Catholic. It is “the source and center of the Christian life.”

The Holy Father keeps talking about the “hermeneutic of continuity”. And, since he gave us the gift of “Summorum pontificum”, the Holy Father and some high ranking Vatican officials have talked about the “mutual enrichment” the should take place between the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form. Just what does mutual enrichment mean? We are told by the directives that the priest, nor the bishop is to impose anything on the Liturgy.

Let me give one example. Since I began to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, I have experience the Mass in a whole new way. The EF has shown me a new depth to the Mass that I did not know before. During the Roman Canon in the EF, the priest is the make the sign of the cross a number of times over the offering both before and after consecration. It seems to me, that removing these symbols, that spoke volumes about the meaning of the Mass could do a lot to restore some solemnity and reverence to the Church’s worship. Yet, I am not able to impose that on the Mass.

We often hear it said that the Holy Father as chief Liturgist of the Church is giving example, rather than imposing through decrees. Pope Benedict’s Mass is beautiful and inspiring and a model for all bishops and priest to follow. However, you will not see many follow his example, because it is not be decree. How many altars do you with with the Benedictine arrangement (six candles and crucifix on the altar)? How many places offer the ability for the faithful to receive Holy Communion kneeling? In fact, in many places, people are scolded by the priest and some bishops for disrupting the Liturgy and drawing attention to themselves.

A few days ago, I read an article posted on The Chant Café. In the article, Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth was asked if he thought the new translation would be around for 40 years, just like it’s predecessor. “Though he declined to say precisely how long he believes the new Missal will survive, he pointed out that the first translation was only intended to last five to 10 years.” I suggest you read the whole article here. My feeling is that if the Holy Father has a vision for the Mass and seeing us go from two forms of the Roman Missal to one, he really needs to spearhead this work and provide us with another, now hear this, not new translation, but a new transitional Missal so as to get the process moving.

What will the next step of the New Liturgical Movement take, I don’t know. I think we all have our ideas of what we would like to see, but we need our model to take the next step for us all.