Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The New Roman Missal: Starting with the Greeting

On the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, the opening of our new liturgical year, look forward to some changes in the words, music, and gestures of the glorious miracle we know as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

It’s called the New Roman Missal, and it involves the folks in the pews as it does our priests and deacons.

First, let’s dispense with what the New Roman Missal is NOT:

It’s NOT “something coming to us out of the blue.” This particular version has, in reality, been a part of a prayerful process for some 40 years!

It’s NOT “an attempt to reverse Vatican II.”

It’s NOT—and I’ve actually heard this—a “cultural step backward for English speaking people.”

In fact, these changes—and I believe the correct term is “enhancements”—represent a giant leap forward in our reverent and loving worship of Almighty God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Let’s start with the greeting.

The Mass isn’t a chance encounter between friends, and so the greeting is no ordinary “Hiya, how are ya, anyway”/ “fine thanks, and you” sort of thing. Rather, it a ritual greeting and response. When the priest greets us with the words “The Lord be with you” we will respond “And with your spirit.” We’re not saying “hi” to the priest, and he’s not saying “hi” to us. We’re both going beyond that by extending a solemn wish to someone about to undertake a profound undertaking. This exchange takes place at several critical moments during the Mass: as we are about to hear the Gospel proclaimed; as we enter into the Eucharistic Prayer; as we are about to be dismissed. Remember, the name “spirit” refers not to the priest or deacon’s soul, but to the spirit he received through the laying on of hands at his ordination.

This is going to be great! Next, God willing, the Penitential Act. (Note: I said "Act," not "rite." Stay tuned! And do try to find out all you can about this enhanced English translation...and by the way, watch out for "progressives" who turn out to be averse to change! ;-)