The following is the first in a series of articles regarding the new Roman Missal, which will be used in the United States beginning on Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent.
“Lift up your hearts!”
These are pivotal words in the Mass, words spoken by the celebrant to the congregation during what is referred to as the “preface dialogue.”
They are pivotal words not only because they form an integral part of the liturgy, but also because they encapsulate beautifully the meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and serve as a clarion call to that full, active and conscious participation in the liturgy that is our delightful duty as believers.
We are summoned by Christ to offer up our hearts in union with his own sacrifice — a sacrifice made present on the altar.
They are words meant to prompt devotion, remind us of love and call us to communion. Let our response be bold and zealous: “We lift them up to the Lord!”
This call to communion, a summons to offer up our lives to the Father in union with the total gift of self offered by Christ on the altar, lies at the very heart of the meaning of the whole Mass.
This meaning has always been found at the foundation of the liturgy of the church and must be the rock upon which we build any authentic understanding of the church’s prayer.
On Nov. 27 this year (the First Sunday of Advent), many of the words used at Mass to summon, remind and form us will be changing, but the foundation remains the same, as it always will.
It would be difficult to overestimate the importance of good catechesis during the months ahead as we prepare for the reception and use of these new words at Mass.
This catechesis is important not only because we need to know what to say on Nov. 27 and why we say it, but also because every time these sorts of changes occur, it is a privileged time to re-examine the Mass and the liturgy as a whole and to take a serious look again at our own devotion to the Mass and to the sacraments.
Change is often difficult, but it can also be immensely fruitful. Indeed, change, even difficult change, is most often necessary for life and real growth.
Beginning with this edition of The Catholic Spirit and continuing until Nov. 27, I am pleased to announce that Catholic Spirit readers will be encouraged to get to know these new texts, the reasons behind them, and some of the history of the Mass itself through a series of articles composed by writers from around the archdiocese and the English-speaking Catholic world.
I hope and pray that all who read these articles will find them helpful and be encouraged to truly pray the Mass.
In addition to these articles, parishes and pastors will be receiving practical guidance from the Office of Worship as to how to implement and prepare for these changes in the many communities of faith throughout this local church.
I encourage all who have not already done so to visit the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and to examine the page the conference has produced on the new texts (http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal).
Many marvelous resources are found there, and the common questions asked about the new texts are answered. The site is simply the best resource out there on the new texts.
May God bless us all during these months of preparation and waiting for the historic changes to the words of the Mass.
May the Blessed Mother, who is the image of the church and a model of prayer, intercede for us and teach us how to truly pray with mind and heart renewed.
And may we all, clergy and laity alike, take this opportunity to refocus on the immutable meaning of the Mass, a summons to communion with Christ in the sacrifice of our hearts to the Father of all.
Lift up your hearts!
Father John Paul Erickson is director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship.
» May 12: “Why a New Missal?” A brief background on where the new missal is coming from. We’ll trace its documentary history and its close connection to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
» May 26: “The New Translation is a Plus for Catholics.” An article explaining what will be gained in the new translation and the opportunity it affords us as praying Christians.
» June 9: “New Kids on the Block.” In addition to new words, the new missal brings with it the memorials of new saints.
» June 23: “The Lord be with you — and with your spirit.” Perhaps no other change has received more attention than this brief exchange. Why is it changing and what does the change mean?
» July 7: “The Act of Penitence.” Why is it important to acknowledge our sin as Mass begins? What is changing about the wording of this rite?
» July 21: “The Gloria.” It’s appropriate that our first liturgical exposure to this retranslated text will not be Nov. 27, but rather at the Vigil Mass of Christmas, when we will gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Why? Because the new words sound an awful lot like the hymn of the angels at Bethlehem.
» Aug. 4: “The Creed, part 1.” Why does the Creed matter, and why is it changing from “We believe” to “I believe”?
» Aug. 18: “The Creed, part 2.”
» Sept. 1: “The Preface Dialogue.” It is right and just.
» Sept. 15: “The Roman Canon, part 1.” As a way of examining the Mass itself, we’ll explore the first Eucharistic Prayer, often called the Roman Canon. Many rich symbols and references are found within this ancient prayer, and by paying attention to the scriptural and traditional imagery, we can learn much about just what it is we are doing through, with and in Christ at the Mass.
» Sept. 29: “The Roman Canon, part 2.”
» Oct. 13: “The Roman Canon, part 3.”
» Oct. 27: “The Roman Canon, part 4.”
» Nov. 10: “Q&A.” As the implementation of the new missal becomes imminent, we will try to answer any remaining questions about the new texts and their use.
» Nov. 23: “Q&A, part 2.”Catholic Spirit