by Jack Miffleton
The revised English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal has been completed. The bishops of the United States approved the final sections of the text in November 2009 and the Holy See approved the new translation with the required recognitio in March 2010. The revised text is available only for purposes of study and formation and is not yet intended for liturgical use. A .pdf file of the text can be downloaded at: Official Text.
Children and Change
Children can be deeply affected by changes in schools, homes, and by parental breakups, but from my experience they will adjust more easily than adults to the textual changes in the revised translation of the Roman Missal. Initially they will stumble along with the priest and the other adults until everyone finds a new stride. It will take time and many repetitions for these revisions to take hold in the memory and for the assembly to respond with spontaneity.
“…and with your spirit”
After the new text is promulgated, the first change Catholics will hear in the revised translation of the Order of Mass will be the response to the priest’s greeting: “The Lord be with you.” The new response: “and with your spirit.” This literal translation from the Latin, et cum spiritu tuo, is nothing new for those children and adults who participate in Spanish-English bilingual Masses. Even the children in my school who do not speak Spanish have become accustomed to responding, “y con tu espíritu” if the priest says, “The Lord be with you” in Spanish.
“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts”
These textual changes are, in part, an attempt to follow the 2001 Vatican directive, Liturgiam Authenticam, on the translation of liturgical texts into the vernacular. This document calls for the original texts to be rendered “faithfully and accurately into the vernacular language” (20). The Vatican instruction demands a more literal approach than one would find in translations of literature or in the professional translations from the United Nations. For example, the present text for the first line of the Sanctus is translated as “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.” The phrase “power and might” is not a literal translation from the Latin, “Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus Deus sabaoth.” “Sabaoth” is a transliteration of the Hebrew Tz’vaot meaning “armies or hosts.” The revised version now reads “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts,” which is closer to the rendering of Isaiah 6:3 found in the Douay-Rheims, King James, and New American translations of the Bible.
In addition to the literal translation of the Sanctus and et cum spiritu tuo, the text “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault” has been added to the Confiteor. There are also word changes in the Gloria that are closer to the Latin text and Latin word order (syntax). Also, the translation of the Preface dialogue’s Dignum et justum est is “It is right and just.” Following the institution narrative, the priest will now say: “The mystery of faith.” The assembly will then acclaim one of newly translated acclamations. It should be noted that the familiar “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” (formerly known as Memorial Acclamation A) will not be one of the approved acclamations.
The revised response of the people to the Ecce Agnus Dei, “Behold the Lamb of God” is “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” Many other text revisions concern only the prayers (collects) and ritual words recited by the priest.
Quod Scripsi, Scripsi (John 19:22)
These more formal sounding and literal translations are not without criticism among some theologians and a few US bishops. Some see the new translations as a positive way to fix a kind of “sacred” English for Mass; for others the revisions often seem to slay the English language. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, a biblical scholar and a past chair of the Bishops’ committee on the Liturgy, views the new translations as awkward and often ungrammatical. “American Catholics,” he said, “have every right to expect the translation of the new Missal to follow the rules of English grammar…. Our liturgy needs not a ‘sacred language’ but a pastoral language that will fulfill the mandate of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy for full, conscious and active participation” (Frederick R. McManus Memorial Lecture at The Catholic University of America, Oct. 22, 2009). Bishop Trautman also objects to the Holy See’s prohibition against composing original prayers for Mass in English. Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron defends the new translations and maintains they will offer Catholics “a lost spiritual vocabulary” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.com). On the USCCB web site, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, current chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, avoids the fray, providing information to help with the implementation of the changes and explaining that the new texts are a continuation of the liturgical reform begun at the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). “Some people will not like the translation,” said Cardinal Francis George, OMI, USCCB President, “but in the end it will be the text the Church uses for prayer” (Catholic News Service). The issue is now closed, or as Pontius Pilate said to the chief priests, “What I have written, I have written.”
The Priesthood of God’s Children
Every time I join in the Eucharist with children, I am reminded that liturgy is always more than the sum of its texts. The sacred liturgy, especially with children, should employ every part of us. If not, it shows a lack of preparation or perhaps understanding. We use our ears to hear, our voices to speak and sing, our heads to bow, our bodies to stand, sit and kneel, our hands to fold and clap, our arms to raise, and our legs to move in procession to the Communion table. Through song and symbolic action by the priest and the faithful, God’s word becomes enfleshed in us. Refreshed, we go forth as messengers of Christ. The sacred liturgy thrives on the vigor of the members of the Body of Christ.
Thanks to Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964), these changes do not signal a return to a pre-Vatican II theology of liturgy. Because of the ecclesiology of Vatican Council II and its emphasis on the importance of the priesthood of God’s people (1 Peter 2:9), the faithful have ownership of their worship and by virtue of their baptism are called to participate fully in the priesthood of Christ (CCC 1546). Acknowledging the right and privilege of the faithful to participate more fully in the Eucharist in no way diminishes the role of the ministerial priest.
Preparing the Priests and the Faithful
As mentioned above, the timeline for these changes to begin has been promulgated. Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, OMI, has announced that it will be Sunday, 27 November 2011 (the First Sunday of Advent of the 2012 Church Year). The study text was released to encourage a process of preparation and catechesis for both priests and the faithful. On the USCCB web site one can find detailed information and side-by-side comparisons of the present and revised texts for the Penitential Act, the Gloria, the Nicene and Apostles’ Creed, the Suscipiat Dominus: “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands”, and the changes mentioned above. Simply go to Roman Missal website.
Directory for Masses with Children and the Revised Roman Missal
In liturgies where the DMC is followed and children are in the majority, a celebrant can still choose from the introductory elements of the Mass and, at times, eliminate the penitential act and/or Gloria all together (40). In the new Order of Mass there are textual changes in Form A and B of the penitential act, including the additions to the Confiteor mentioned above. As an introductory element with children, a penitential act would seem appropriate during Lent, the Gloria during the Christmas season and the rite of sprinkling during the Easter season. The priest is also permitted to choose from the Roman Missal presidential prayers more suited to children and may even adapt the text of those prayers to the needs of children (50–51). Children are encouraged to learn the Nicene Creed, but the Directory allows for the use of the Apostles’ Creed when a creed is desired in Masses with children (49). Here is the revised translation of the Apostles’ Creed. The changes are in bold type.
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ,
his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again
from the dead;
he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand
of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge
the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen.
The Eucharistic Prayers for Children are not a part of the new Roman Missal. It remains to be seen if and when they will be revised. Although it is a completely separate liturgical book, the revision of the Lectionary for Masses with Children is in the same liturgical limbo as the eucharistic prayers. In the meantime, both the children’s eucharistic prayers and the children’s Lectionary can still be used. Many celebrants are successful in helping children to focus on the eucharistic prayer by suggesting reasons for giving thanks before beginning the dialogue of the preface (DMC 22).
While DMC (31) allows for children to sing acclamations with words that differ from the official texts, in my experience most choir directors and liturgists who work regularly with children try to use acclamations and Mass settings that are commonly heard in the parish Sunday liturgies. New musical settings for the revised texts will be available when the time for preparation and catechesis begins.
Liturgical celebrations with children should ultimately lead them toward Sunday when Christians of all ages gather as a paschal community. The special adaptations for children’s Masses are provided in the Church’s wisdom so as they journey through childhood, children can participate in worship in a way that respects their age and limitations. Using the Directory wisely during this period of liturgical change can help children learn about the Mass while addressing God with brief but unhurried praise. DMC has rightly given children a role in keeping their church vital. Young voices bring new hope and enthusiasm to a still evolving process of liturgical renewal.
Teachers and catechists can prepare children for some of these changes, but they will gradually become familiar with the new words by repeating them with their schoolmates and with their parents on Sundays. “Even in the case of children, the liturgy itself always exerts its own inherent power to instruct” (DMC 12).
Publisher's Note: You can directly access complete online information about OCP's new and revised Mass settings at OCP Mass Settings.
Jack Miffleton is a teacher and musician, and his songs are sung in classrooms and churches around the world. He is theological consultant and music director for the I Am Special program published by OSV Publications. He teaches music at Saint Jarlath School in Oakland, California, is married and has a grown son.
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