Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turning the Page

And so, folks, after ten years... Lord knows how many wars... and more hyperventilating among the liturgical crowd than over the preceding two millennia of Christianity combined (and that's saying something), the day has arrived: come dusk, the full implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal in English will be completed across the Anglophone world (except Hong Kong, where a year's delay has been taken).

Of course, the stem-to-stern reworking of the Mass book has attracted no shortage of reactions -- ranging from the church's "gift to our generation" to "Vatican vandalism" -- which have only increased in the run up to this First Sunday of Advent.

Still, the all-out battle for perception (and, for some, comprehension) now fades to the background -- tonight, the text is literally in the people's hands, the rubber now hits the road... and, well, anything can happen.

The story of this weekend in the trenches has always been the core angle and most-anticipated variable of the years-long Missal project, and that'll be the focus of these days here. So once the Vigil Masses are over and all through tomorrow, keep it here as reports come in from the field -- i.e. you, gang -- on how everything went.

One thing to keep an eye out for in your travels: what ensues when the assembly gets to the "C"-word.

To aid anyone who'd find them useful, the worship arm of the bishops of England and Wales has provided downloadable and printable cards of the People's Parts (which, given the text's uniformity across the English-speaking church, can be used anywhere)... for the celebrants among us, meanwhile, suffice it to say, break a leg.

At the same time, it's worth noting that, according to a recent guidance from the Holy See, any part of non-Mass liturgical celebrations -- the sacraments, Communion Services and the like -- which employ a text found in the Missal (e.g. "The Lord be with you" and its response, deacon's blessing before the Gospel, Nuptial Blessing, dismissal, etc.) will, from this Implementation Sunday, be expected to use the form laid out in the new translation of the Mass. An option remains in the Liturgy of the Hours for use of either the Collects in the Breviary or the new renderings; the option does not apply to any other part of the Office, however, where a new Missal exchange would supersede the current text.

All that said, when in doubt -- especially in cases of ministering to the elderly or disabled -- the advice of the USCCB Worship Chair, given to the bench last week in Baltimore, bears recalling: "The guideline is to use the new translation, but pastoral practice may dictate to be more flexible in that in certain circumstances."

Again, to one and all, deep breath, good luck and, above all, early wishes for a Happy New Year -- and, this time, Smooth New Book.

PHOTOS: Mazur/