Thursday, April 29, 2010

And With Your White Book: The Missal Is Approved

A decade in the making -- and after an oft-contentious process that's been both praised and panned... and, on all sides, pored over intensely throughout -- it's now official: the complete revision of the Roman Missal in English is an impending reality of church life.

Within the hour, a Vatican source relayed definitive word that the new rendering of 2002's third Missale Romanum -- the first vernacular text to be universally employed across the Anglophone world -- has received the recognitio (confirmation) of the Holy See.

The work's final approval for liturgical use given in a decree dated 25 March, news of the move was first shared privately yesterday by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. A formal announcement is expected shortly in the customary end-of-meeting communiqué of the CDW's Vox Clara Committee, the blue-ribbon group of English-speaking prelates which has played the clearinghouse role on edits and revisions to the forthcoming translation.

Intended as a more faithful rendering of the Latin editio typica (the liturgy's binding text), the path to today's move dates to 2001, when the CDW instruction Liturgiam authenticam mandated new norms, overturning the post-Conciliar translation policy of "dynamic equivalence" in favor of an improved adherence to the Latin original.

Though the bulk of the reworked Mass-prayers, including the propers of seasons and saints, is still to emerge in its definitive form (known as the "White Book"), Rome granted recognitio to the new Missal's most familiar and consequential element, the standard Order of Mass (OM1), in 2008, permitting its early publication to provide a grace period to prepare musical settings and catechetical efforts to ease the significant change from the various English translations which've gone essentially unchanged for nearly four decades. (Underscoring the long trail of tensions the project has incited, CDW pointedly granted the OM1 confirmation in the dead of Roman summer, days after the US bishops became the lone body of the 11 Anglophone benches to gibbet a major piece of the new translation; once the Vatican reinforced its support for the project, however, the failed Proper of Seasons was approved on a USCCB re-vote four months later.)

As noted previously, with the Holy See's climactic part of the process now complete, the focus returns to the 11 Anglophone bishops' conferences, each of which is charged with disseminating the finished product within its jurisdiction, coordinating the preparatory programs and, above all, fixing the new Missal's implementation date within their proper territory.

While these will vary slightly from country to country, most observers expect the new book to "sunrise" at or around Advent 2011. And with Vox Clara's major project now handled, the commission is widely anticipated to take on a similar overhaul of another significant plank of English-language worship, with the Liturgy of the Hours or sacramental rites leading the on-deck buzz.

As ever, more as it comes in.

SVILUPPO: ...and here, fresh off the presses, the aforementioned Vox Clara release, with announcement:

The committee members are shown above with B16 following their papal lunch yesterday.