Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The New Roman Missal: Here It Comes

So, in about a month the English-speaking Catholic Church will finally take on the new translation of its sacramental prayers. It's hard to get away from talk about it, at least in Jesuit community, and in some ways I'm be glad to just get started with the whole thing, as the waiting only adds fuel to people's anxieties.

I've written about the new rite in some detail in this blog already, and if I'm being honest, I have to admit my comments have been seasoned at times with a light coat of kvetching.  I hope I've been fair to the new translation, I've certainly tried to be, but there are certainly subjects for concern, as well, not least the woefully complicated translations of some of the eucharistic prayers.

But in the last few weeks I've had great conversations on the changes with two of my favorite liturgists.  Each of them had some really cool insights into the new translation that I want to share today and Friday.

Liturgist 1 had been looking into the new final blessings. There's a couple you already know: "Go forth in peace"(which sort of sounds like "Go back to sleep"); and "Go forth, the mass is ended" (which he described as another way of saying, "It's okay for you to leave now".)

And then there are two new options. "Go forth and proclaim what you have heard here", and "Go forth to glorify the Lord with your lives."

Aren't those nice?

Both blessings make it clear, you're being sent. The end of Mass is not like the end of a bowling match or a TV show, where you sort of wipe your hands of what's gone on and move on. At the end of Mass we're meant to see ourselves as propelled out into the world to continue the mission of Jesus.

What makes the latter especially interesting is its sense that our lives are themselves our evangelization, they are the words that we use to express that reckless, extravagant love of God that we have experienced for ourselves.

At the start of the Gospel of John Jesus is called the Word. And that's confusing, because Jesus is not a verb (no matter what we read on a 60s macrame wall hanging).  He's a three-dimensional person. But John's point is that it is only through a human being in all its complexity that God can most fully express his love for us. In all his words and actions, Jesus is what God says to us.

That final final blessing (if you will) draws that idea forward to us.  We follow in Jesus' footsteps. He is our brother. And so we, too, are through our very lives God's loving words.

Which if you think about it, makes our our choices much more important (and intimidating!).

Great stuff, no?

I don't want anyone to panic about the new translation. I really don't. 
I'm just entertained by pictures of people hollering. 

Friday: Liturgist 2, on the "For the many" prayer.

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