Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Changes Coming to Liturgy

In an age when Facebook changes every 6 months much to the chagrin of over 40-somethings, a new Roman Missal hits pews Nov. 27. The issue for many parishioners and priests is the plain fact most are over 40, probably 60. Change for an aging generation of churchgoers and leaders doesn't come easy at all.

English-speaking countries will begin to use a new translation of the Roman Missal, the ritual text of prayers and instructions for celebrating Mass. International committees of specialists worked under a Vatican directive to hew close to the Latin. After years of revisions negotiated by bishops' conferences and the Holy See, dioceses are preparing anxious clergy and parishioners for the rollout, one of the biggest changes in Catholic worship in generations.

Now, the power of liturgy in worship certainly can't be diminished, but if you rely so heavily on liturgy to encounter the Lord perhaps you need to rethink your spirituality.

I would hazard a guess the majority of clergy are going to be upset with 'new'. Calling it awkward and hard to understand is pretty standard for something NEW. But there are good arguments that there's a disconnect between what the new MIssal accomplishes and where the church is physically. If we're in a very clear religious dichotomy with culture, then big changes are not only annoying, but a challenge to faith as well.

Other factors push obvious Catholic theology, in the Nicene Creed, the phrase "one in Being with the Father," will change to "consubstantial with the Father." As for Holy Communion the priest will ask God for blessings "by sending down your spirit upon them like the dewfall."


What's a dewfall? So much for connecting with anybody under 40.

The new missal grew out of changes in liturgy that started with the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings on modernizing the church that permitted Mass in local languages instead of Latin. Bishops in English-speaking countries created the International Commission on English in the Liturgy to undertake the translation. The panel produced a missal by 1973, but that version was considered temporary until better texts could be completed. In some cases, the commission sought to use language that would be gender neutral.

The work took a new direction in 2001, when the Vatican office in charge of worship issued the directive Liturgiam Authenticam, or Authentic Liturgy, which required translations closer to the Latin. The Vatican also appointed another committee to oversee the English translation, drawing complaints from some clergy and liturgists that the Vatican was controlling what should be a more consultative process.

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