5 Things to Know About New 'Roman Missal'
Beginning next month, Catholics will begin using new missals at Sunday Mass.
“Change is coming, and it is not only the weather,” the St. Dennis Catholic Community newsletter proclaims. The bulletin refers to the new translation of the Roman Missal, which Catholics will begin using in November.
The Roman Missal is an assembly of prayers, chants and directions used to celebrate Mass. The missal, which was originally translated from Latin to English in the 1970s, has been updated. Catholic churches will begin using the new text next month.
The most sensitive of the changes is the translation of pro multis as “for many.” The narrative of the Last Supper, which currently reads, “which will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven,” will be changed to “which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Many see the new wording as some sort of narrowing of Jesus' scope of salvation. On its website, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides a FAQ about the wording.
The Order of the Mass can be found in the attached PDF.
Here are five things you should know:
1. Why change the Roman Missal?
Pope John Paul II initiated the revisions to the Roman Missal in the year 2000. The well-traveled pontiff, who was fluent in many languages, offered Masses around the world and noticed the wording was different from country to country. “Not wildly different, but different,” said Dan McAfee, director of the Office for Christian Worship for the Archdiocese of Detroit.
The new translation will use a more formal language and be closer to the orginal Latin version.
“It will be more biblically connected, more reflective of scripture,” McAfee said. “The new missal will have more actual quotes and be more theologically accurate.”
2. Who came up with the new Roman Missal translation?
The new translation was a worldwide undertaking that took more than 10 years to implement. At the crux of it all was the English translation.
“It’s not because they were picking on the English version,” McAfee said. “They were very picky because smaller countries didn’t have Latin scholars. They had to rely on the English version for their translations. It was important to have the English version be as close as possible so there would be a sense of unity.”
The English version of the new Roman Missal was prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) with representatives from 11 countries that use English as their principal language. “The process was long and arduous. They wanted to be careful,” McAfee said.
The translation process was complicated because word choices among English-speaking nations vary. “What I call a bag, someone else may call a sack," McAfee said. "They had to come up with words that work in 11 countries."
McAfee noted an Italian proverb that says "every translator is a traitor."
“It’s a tricky business,” he said.
3. Will everyone have to use the new translation?
According to the Archdiocese of Detroit, the answer is “yes”:
The "typical edition" of the Roman Missal that Pope John Paul II gave to the Church is the only official text for the prayers to be used at the celebration of the Eucharist.
4. What are examples of changes?
Examples of the new translation can be found in the Nicene Creed. Catholics will now say that Jesus is “consubstantial with the Father," vs. “one in being with the Father,” and that he was “incarnate of the Virgin Mary” rather than "born of the Virgin Mary.”
“The word incarnate replaces ‘born of’ because before Jesus was born he became flesh in Mary’s womb,” McAfee said. “I know that seems like splitting hairs, but it is more specific.”
On the word choice of consubstantial, meaning Jesus was one with God from the very beginning of time, McAfee again said, "it is more theologically precise.”
“The new translation is more formal” than the first English edition of the Roman Missal, which came out in the 1970s, he said. "Back then, it was meant to be as easy to understand as possible," he said. It was more conversational.
The new wording may seem “more formal," but McAfee says it should be. “After all, we are talking to God.”
5. When does the translation begin?
The first Sunday in Advent (Nov. 27) is the date Catholics will begin the new wording, but many churches have already begun practicing the new words and music. When Advent starts, most churches will have pew cards to help parishioners with the new text.
Royal Oak churches prepare for change
Jane McKay of St. Dennis believes the new translation of the Roman Missal is minimal and said her parish plans to cast the new wording on an overhead projector to help ease parishioners with the new text.
At Shrine of the Little Flower, parishioners can expect to see large pew cards that will offer a quick and easy way to learn the revised responses, according to the Shrine Herald newsletter. Smaller cards, which can be carried with a prayer book, will be available for purchase.
St. Mary Catholic Church plans to offer three workshops on the changes beginning this week in the St. Mary Fellowship Center at 730 S. Lafayette:
- 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
- 7 p.m. Nov. 9
St. Mary Pastoral Associate Christine Wagberg admits some of the new words are “a bit funky” but excitedly adds, “no matter what language you speak — whether you are in the United States or Germany — the words spoken at Mass will be as close as you can get to the original Latin."
"We'll all be on the same page," she said. "A true universal church."