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Home : Faith/Spirituality : Living Faith
11/16/2011 11:54:00 AM
New missal a consultative process, a catechetical opportunity
Catholic News Service photo
Literature is displayed during workshop in Melville, N.Y.
Catholic News Service photo
Literature is displayed during workshop in Melville, N.Y.
Bishop Ronald Herzog

ALEXANDRIA, La. — This multi-year project has benefited from the most extensive consultative process of any liturgical book. The translation is a good one. Is it perfect? Translations never are, but the text approved by our conference offers many improvements to the existing text and brings it into closer conformity to the criteria of Liturgiam Authenticam.

Throughout this translation process, the Holy See has benefited from the input and advice of a committee of bishops and advisors from the English-speaking conferences known as Vox Clara (Latin: “clear voice”). The task of these advisors has been to review the texts submitted by episcopal conferences and make recommendations to the Vatican.

When the previous edition was promulgated more than four decades ago, in-depth catechesis did not occur. We learned of the changes in posture and language, but we missed the opportunity to study and reflect on the sacred mysteries themselves. In many places we simply adapted to external changes. With the lengthy process of the translation of this third edition, there has been an extraordinary effort to develop materials to prepare the people in our parishes. This involves much more than just highlighting the relatively few textual changes. The materials provide comprehensive catechesis for priests, catechists, and all members of the assembly. It is the most comprehensive effort I can recall to help people probe the depths of the eucharistic celebration.

One excellent resource for catechesis and other information is a special website created for this purpose by the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference: www.usccb.org/romanmissal.

Another excellent resource recently published by Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, entitled With One Voice, contains a series of four articles by Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Father John Foster, Viatorian Father Mark Francis, and Father Paul Turner (www.ocp.org/30103947). The International Commission on English in the Liturgy has published Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ, a series of five essays by scholars from several countries (http://tinyurl.com/2cc5a7l). And the USCCB has published Parish Guide to Implementing the Roman Missal, Third Edition (www.ocp.org/30103945), with practical tips for creating a parish implementation plan. These resources offer a broad background and more in-depth examination of issues relating to the new edition.

The new translation goes into effect on the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27. We have seldom had so much time for true catechesis and formation. If we do our work well, this new translation can serve as a true catalyst of renewal for the source and summit of our faith. We will have the tools to create more vibrant worshipping communities that have the power to transform not only themselves but the world around them.

The writer is bishop of the Diocese of Alexandria, La. Before becoming a bishop, he was a priest of the diocese of Biloxi, Mississippi, where he served as the director of the office of worship for seventeen years. Bishop Herzog was a chaplain in the Army National Guard and has been a member of the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship.

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