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Revised Roman Missal FAQ

The Roman Missal – Third Edition

As you probably know by now, beginning in Advent of this year there are going to be some changes in the language of some of the prayers and responses we will be using during the liturgy. These changes in language are brought about by the issuance of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal  published this year. Each week we will answer questions you may have regarding the translation changes. Keep in mind that even though some of the words have changed, the mass has not changed. Questions and answers will be taken from various sources. If you wish to read further about the translation changes, or to find out what the new response are, visit the United States Catholic  Bishops’ website:http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal/.

Q. Didn’t the Roman Missal used to include the scripture readings?
A.  The Latin Roman Missal did include the scripture readings up until Vatican II. But after Vatican II, the Latin Missal was issued without readings—it’s still called a “Missal”—and there came to be a separate book in Latin, the “Lectionary of the Roman missal.” So, strictly speaking, the Lectionary is part of the missal, but always in a separate volume. All the vernacular languages follow this policy—one book without the readings, another book with all the readings.

Q. Is it true that the name "Sacramentary" is being dropped?
A. Yes. Even though some people think “Sacramentary” is more accurate because the readings are not included, now everyone will follow the Latin Roman post-Vatican usage, so that the big book without readings is a Missal, and the book with readings is the “lectionary,” or technically, the “Lectionary of the Missal.”

Q. Is it true that the Roman Missal does not include the General Intercessions, because they are written locally?
A. This is true. The General Intercessions or Prayers of the Faithful are left for local parishes so that their local needs may be included. It is one of a few elements in which the Vatican defers to the individual parish communities. There is a prescribed form that is followed, but the prayers themselves are collected and composed locally.

Q. In the new translation, why has “This is the Lamb of God” been replaced by “Behold the Lamb of God”?

A. After the Lord’s Prayer and the Sign of Peace, we sing the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”) as the Priest breaks the sacred Host.  The Agnus Dei text remains unchanged, though it is always good to recall its origin in the words of John the Baptist, as he heralds Christ’s arrival at the River Jordan: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

That passage from the Gospel of John is also embedded in the subsequent line spoken by the Priest, while he holds the Host over the chalice: “Behold the Lamb of God…”

The new translation recovers the word, “behold,” which also evokes the words of Pilate to the crowd in presenting the scourged Jesus: “Behold, the man” (“Ecce homo” – John 19:5).  The Holy Eucharist is a re-presentation of that same sacrificial Victim, and our partaking in it is a foretaste of the heavenly wedding banquet of the Lamb (Rev 19:9).

Q. Is the new translation going to be much more rigorous?
A. Yes, in a way. The translation was mandated by a Vatican “instruction,” Liturgiam Authenticam, issued in 2001. It said that,

“The original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet.”

Q. In the new translation, why has “This is the Lamb of God” been replaced by “Behold the Lamb of God”?

A. After the Lord’s Prayer and the Sign of Peace, we sing the Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”) as the Priest breaks the sacred Host.  The Agnus Dei text remains unchanged, though it is always good to recall its origin in the words of John the Baptist, as he heralds Christ’s arrival at the River Jordan: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

That passage from the Gospel of John is also embedded in the subsequent line spoken by the Priest, while he holds the Host over the chalice: “Behold the Lamb of God…”

The new translation recovers the word, “behold,” which also evokes the words of Pilate to the crowd in presenting the scourged Jesus: “Behold, the man” (“Ecce homo” – John 19:5).  The Holy Eucharist is a re-presentation of that same sacrificial Victim, and our partaking in it is a foretaste of the heavenly wedding banquet of the Lamb (Rev 19:9).

Q. Is the new translation going to be much more rigorous?

A. Yes, in a way. The translation was mandated by a Vatican “instruction,” Liturgiam Authenticam, issued in 2001. It said that,

“The original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet.”

Q. Before communion, instead of saying, “Lord I am not worthy to receive you…” we will be saying, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”. Why the change?

A. The replacement of our current, relatively terse “not worthy to receive you” with “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” is a significant change.  The new line comes directly from the Gospels, particularly Matthew 8:8, in which the faith-filled centurion begs Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.”  It is therefore a Biblical text that conveys humanity’s unworthiness on account of sin and our need for sincere humility before receiving the Holy Eucharist.  Indeed, when Jesus encounters the centurion’s humility, he says, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith” (Mt 8:10). Nonetheless, despite these Biblical origins, speaking of “my roof” may seem strange before Holy Communion, since Christ is coming to us in the form of food – not literally entering into our houses.  Certainly, the clear association with Matthew, chapter 8, has a figurative intent, but it may also be helpful to recall that Saint Paul says, “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (1 Cor 6:19).

Q. In the Nicene Creed, why has “one in being with the Father…” being changed to “…consubstantial with the Father…”? Don’t they mean basically the same thing?

A. “Consubstantial” (“consubstantialem” in the Latin text) is an unusual word that will require some catechesis, but it is a crucial early theological term, asserting that the Son is of the “same substance” with the Father – meaning He equally shares the Father’s divinity as a Person of the Holy Trinity.

Although it carries the same basic meaning as “one in being,” the more precise use of “consubstantial” is an acknowledgement of how the Greek equivalent of the word was so important for safeguarding orthodoxy in the early Church.  In the Fourth Century, the description “homoousios” (“same substance”) was affirmed over “homoiousios” (“like substance”).  The reality of who Christ is thus hinged upon a single letter!

Q. Why has “We believe…” been changed to “I believe…” in the Nicene Creed?

A. This Creed was originally adopted at the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 and updated at the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381.  It is therefore also referred to as the “Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.”

The first major change in the revised Creed is difficult to miss: the Creed will now say “I believe” instead of “We believe.”  Other language groups have been using “I believe” in the vernacular, because it is a straightforward translation of the Latin “Credo.”  This offers a recurring opportunity to reaffirm one’s personal faith, just as when individuals respond, “I do,” if there is a renewal of baptismal promises during Mass.     

Q. What will be the language of the new Preface dialog?

A. There will be some slight changes in the Preface Dialog, which is the dialog just prior to the Eucharistic Prayer. There is another instance of “And with your spirit.” Another change occurs in the last line recited by the Assembly: “It is right and just,” which more closely translates from the Latin, “Dignum et justum est.”

Dale O’Brien – Director of Worship

 OLD TRANSLATION       

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks
to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him
thanks and praise.

NEW TRANSLATION

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks
to the Lord our God.
People: It is right and just.

Q. Why make all these changes now?

A. Changed texts are a more or less regular event in the history of the Church. When a new liturgical book is published, there is what amounts to a trial period of a few years during which things are tested out and refined. Our new edition will be the third edition of the book.

The first version was published in 1970, exactly 400 years from 1570, the year when the first version of what we call the Missal of Pius V or the Tridentine Missal (named after the council of Trent) was published. And just like the 1570 Missal, there were changes made after it was first issued.

There was an amended version published in 1971, and then a second edition published in 1975, and then the third edition from 2001. That is the edition that is at the base of the new Roman Missal that we will soon see.

Q. When the priest says “the Lord be with you” will the response be “and with your spirit,” instead of “and also with you”?

A. The text in Latin is Et cum spiritu tuo, so the new translation is a more exact reflection of the original words, literally “and with your spirit.”

Both the greeting and the reply are ancient, their origins hid in pre-Christian times.

. . . the understanding of the translators of the Missal in the 1970’s was that if this was a greeting shared among people in their ordinary lives, an ordinary greeting was in order.Now, as we have said, the desire is for accuracy.

  The Memorial Acclamation

Q. We notice that “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” is not among the new acclamations. Why not?

A. “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again,” became the most popular acclamation, and so has probably had the most scrutiny. It has long been discussed that it has a flaw: it is not addressed to Christ. While the Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to the Father, this acclamation is to be addressed to Christ. If the words had been, “Lord you have died for us,” etc. it would have had a better chance to remain in this latest revision. But in fact even the second form, which does exactly that, is not a translation and so did not make the cut: “Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.”

Q. What will the new memorial acclamations be?

We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection
until you come again.
Or:
When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup,
we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.
Or:
Save us, Savior of the world,
for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.

Q. Why will we sing “Lord, God of Hosts” instead of “God of Power and Might” during the Sanctus (Holy Holy)

  1. A.   Lord, God of Hosts: From the word “sabaoth,” hosts are the invisible powers that work at God’s command over heaven and earth.

In other words, the Heavenly Hosts of Angels. (Dale O’Brien)

Q.  Why is the Opening Prayer now called the “Collect”?       

A.  The word Collect was in use before the term “Opening Prayer” came into use with the switch from Latin to the vernacular. (Dale O’Brien)

 The Collect is the [opening] prayer . . .through which the character of the celebration finds expression” (GIRM, no.54). It is prayer that literally “collects” the prayers of all who are gathered into one prayer led by the priest celebrant.”

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