Sunday, October 23, 2011

Guided Missal 5: Liturgy of the Word

The following from the Second Vatican Council's Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy summarizes the role of the Liturgy of the Word at Holy Mass:

Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony. (24)

Verbum Domini

The only approved translation of the Lectionary for the Dioceses of the USA, is based upon the New American Bible (NAB) of 1970 with the Revised New Testament of 1986. No other translation (that goes for the one approved in Canada) is approved. Let's just get that out of the way, shall we? Because not only has it been true all along, but the example that we would show for your consideration (two pages to the right) is how the First Reading for the First Sunday of Advent will appear this coming November, if it were chanted.

The reading or readings before the Gospel are proclaimed, as a normative practice, if not a common one, by a man who is installed to the Ministry of Lector (generally limited to a phase of candidacy for Holy Orders). In his absence, and in what is the usual practice, the task is performed by a competent laic who is deputized by the parish or celebrant for said purpose.

If the readings are to be chanted, so much the better.

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The tone used for the reading here is similar for any other -- the reciting tone, the mendiant, and the full stop -- and this model would serve as an example for the others. Unfortunately, we could not find an appropriate video clip of an entire reading. But we do have both the announcement for the Gospel, as well as the versicle/responses for the ending of all readings. It is conceivable (if not as ideal) that these parts would be chanted, while the text of the reading itself is spoken.

The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to N.
Glory to you, O Lord.

+ + +

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

(Quietly) Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away.


The Vatican Edition contains seven Gregorian chant settings of the Creed in Latin -- I, II, III, IV, V, VI, and the Credo ambrosiano -- but the most familiar are I and III. The latter is included in the "Jubilate Deo" compilation of Pope Paul VI, but both are included in the video clips here, and in the New Roman Missal. Even in Solemn Traditional Masses with elaborate polyphonic settings, a Credo is not included therein, and so is still chanted by the faithful, inasmuch as it has historically been theirs to proclaim.

The "Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed" (or simply the "Nicene Creed") was the result of the first two ecumenical councils, in 325 and 381 respectively. The opening statement was referred to and elaborated upon in the second installment of our series. We present it here again; the definitive Latin text, the 1973 translation, and the 2010 revised translation.

Credo in unum Deum,
Patrem omnipotentem,
factorem caeli et terrae,
visibilium omnium et invisibilium ...

+ + +

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen ...

+ + +

I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible ...

Please note how the change takes into account that one can be unseen without being invisible. A declaration of faith in these circumstances must be without ambiguity. That we say "I believe" rather than "We believe" makes it a declaration of belief on the part of each person saying it as an individual, not merely part of a collective. That the latter was used in the original Greek text is irrelevant here. At its writing, it was the profession agreed upon by the council assembled. At our Holy Mass, it is the profession by each baptized Christian of his own volition.

Et in unum Dòminum Jesum Christum,
Fìlium Dei unigènitum,
et ex Patre natum ante òmnia sàecula
Deum de Deo, lumen de lùmine,
Deum verum de Deo vero,
gènitum, non factum,
consubstantiàlem Patri:
per quem omnia facta sunt.

+ + +

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
one in Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.

+ + +

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.

God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.

The 2010 revision clarifies two points that were dealt with in refuting the Arian heresy of the fourth century. One is that Jesus Christ is God; who as Creator cannot be made, hence His Son cannot be either.

Another point to consider is how the Latin text defines the nature of God the Son as "consubstantialem Patri." The 1973 translation is rendered: "one in being with the Father." The 2010 translation renders it thus: "consubstantial with the Father" (thus bearing a striking resemblance to its Latin origin, which is one way to ensure accuracy, n'est ce pas?). In other words, the Son is of the same substance as the Father. This is what it means to say "one in being," but with greater precision; the very essence, as opposed to mere existence. And, to say exactly what you meant about the Son in relation to the Father, was a really big deal in the early fourth century, when a heresy that said otherwise was overtaking the majority of the Catholic world.

So to apply the root meaning, as opposed to a less accurate tangent, is all the better to explain the nature of God. And if we pray what we believe, aren't we better off getting it right the first time?

Father Peter Stravinskas has written eloquently on the difference a word can make:

[W]ords are important for they bear meaning. Think, for instance, of this situation: You are living in a house. Does it matter whether you are the tenant or the owner? I don’t know anyone who would respond in the negative. And if that little example from daily life holds true, how much more so in philosophy and theology. After all, the Nicene Creed we pray at every Sunday Mass was the direct result of an apparently "petty squabble" over not a word but a letter – homoousios ["same essence or being"] versus homoiousios ["similar essence or being"]. The little letter "iota," hence, our common expression, "It doesn’t make an iota of a difference."

Except that it did in 325 AD. And words continue to make a difference seventeen centuries later.

Another bone of contention with Arianism was the nature of the birth of Christ Himself. It was therefore necessary to reinforce the role of the Holy Spirit in the incarnation -- both in the original Greek text, and in the 2010 translation today.

Qui propter nos hòmines et propter
nostram salùtem descèndit de caelis.
Et incarnàtus est de Spìritu Sancto
ex Marìa Vìrgine,
et homo factus est.

+ + +

For us men and for our salvation,
he came down from heaven.
By the power of the Holy Spirit
he was born of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.

+ + +

For us men and for our salvation,
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit
was incarnate of the Virgin Mary
and became man.

Granted, the order of wording is not slavishly accurate in the 2010 translation, but preserves the essence of the text while remaining faithful to the Latin. It was not enough for Jesus Christ to be of a divine nature at birth, but rather to have been conceived by Holy Spirit, after which the Virgin Mary carried the Son of God in her womb as the "Theotokos" or "God-bearer." Thus, as both God and man, He was "incarnate" from the beginning, not merely "born" nine months later.

Crucifìxus etiam pro nobis
sub Pòntio Pilàto;
passus et sepùltus est ...

Et in Spìritum Sanctum,
Dòminum et vivificàntem:
qui ex Patre Filiòque procèdit.
Qui cum Patre et Fìlio
simul adoràtur et conglorifcàtur:
qui locùtus est per prophètas ...

Confiteor unum baptìsma
in remissiònem peccatòrum.
Et exspècto resurrectiònem mortuòrum,
et vitam ventùri sàeculi. Amen.

+ + +

For our sake he was crucified
under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered, died and was buried ...

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
With the Father and the Son
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets ...

We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

+ + +

For our sake he was crucified
under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried ...

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is adored and glorified,
who has spoken to the prophets ...

I confess one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The remainder of the Creed is nearly untouched from before, but four relatively minor corrections do not escape us. The first is the change from "died" to "death." Christ did not merely die, but suffered death in order to triumph over it through the Resurrection, thus opening the doors to eternal life for those who believe. The second is the reference to the Holy Spirit being "adored" rather than "worshipped." Again, this is in deference to fidelity to the Latin text. The third is a reminder that we do not merely "acknowledge" our baptism in forgiving our sins, but "confess" it, as in "confiteor." Finally, "exspecto" implies anticipation, so we say that we not merely look, but look forward to the End.

Prayer of the Faithful

This final part of the Liturgy of the Word can be traced to apostolic times. It is mentioned in the writings of Justin the Martyr, who made reference to faithful who would together “offer prayers in common for ourselves, for him who had just been enlightened and for people everywhere.” Eventually it fell into disuse in the Roman liturgy. Following the Creed, the priest would turn to the people ...

Dominus vobiscum. (The Lord be with you.)
Et cum spiritu tuo. (And with your spirit.)
Oremus ... (Let us pray ...)

... and the Mass would proceed, not to the intercessions, but straight to the Offertory Antiphon. All that remained of them was to be found in the Presanctified Liturgy of Good Friday. At the Second Vatican Council, their restoration was called for in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

Especially on Sundays and feasts of obligation there is to be restored, after the Gospel and the homily, "the common prayer" or "the prayer of the faithful." By this prayer, in which the people are to take part, intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world. (53)

These prayers are ideally led by the deacon, or in his absence, a competent layperson.

It would surprise most people to learn, that an appendix of the Sacramentary has up to now contained "Sample Formulas for the General Intercessions." Some are for general use, others for seasons of the year or particular occasions. Given the inferior literary quality of the homemade formulae rendered at the parish level, some at times even broaching errors against the Faith, a wise bishop might consider mandating the use of this appendix in his diocese. To wit, its appearance is retained in the new Roman Missal.

Below is what might be termed the "default" formula for general use. It appears here first in the definitive Latin text, followed by the 1973 translation, and finally the new 2010 edition.

Ad Deum Patrem omnipotentem,
qui vult omnes homines salvos fieri
et ad agnitionem veritatis venire,
tota mentis nostrae, fratres carissimi,
dirigatur oratio.

1. Pro Ecclesia sancta Dei:
ut eam Dominus custodire et fovere dignetur,
Dominum deprecemur.
Praesta, aeterne omnipotents Deus.

2. Pro totius orbis populis:
ut inter eos Dominus concordiam servare dignetur,
Dominum deprecemur.
Praesta, aeterne omnipotents Deus.

3. Pro Omnibus qui vriis premuntur necessitatibus:
ut omnes Dominus sublevare dignetur,
Dominum deprecemur.
Praesta, aeterne omnipotents Deus.

4. Pro nobismetipsis ac pro nostra communitate:
ut nos omnes Dominus hostiam sibi acceptabilem
admittere dignetur,
Dominum deprecemur.
Praesta, aeterne omnipotents Deus.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
qui salvas omnes et neminem vis perire,
exaudi preces populi tui, et praesta;
ut et mundi cursus pacifico nobis tui ordine dirigatur,
et Ecclesia tua tranquilla devotione laetetur.
Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

+    +    +

My brothers and sisters,
God our Father
wants all mankind to be saved
and calls us to the knowledge of the truth.
Let us pray to him with all our hearts.

A. For the holy Church of God:
that the Lord guide and protect it,
we pray to the Lord:
Lord, hear our prayer.

B. For all the peoples of the world:
that the Lord unite them in peace and harmony,
we pray to the Lord:
Lord, hear our prayer.

C. For all our brothers and sisters in need:
that the Lord assist them,
we pray to the Lord:
Lord, hear our prayer.

D. For ourselves and our community:
that we offer an acceptable sacrifice,
we pray to the Lord:
Lord, hear our prayer.

God of love,
our refuge and our strength,
hear the prayers of your Church,
and grant us today
what we ask of you in faith.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

+    +    +

To God the Father almighty,
dear brothers and sisters,
may every prayer of our heart be directed,
for his will it is that all humanity should be saved
and come to the knowledge of the truth.

1. For the holy Church of God,
that the Lord may graciously watch over her and care for her,
let us pray to the Lord.
Grant this, almighty God.

2. For the peoples of all the world,
that the Lord may graciously preserve harmony among them,
let us pray to the Lord.
Grant this, almighty God.

3. For all who are oppressed by any kind of need,
that the Lord may graciously grant them relief,
let us pray to the Lord.
Grant this, almighty God.

4. For ourselves and our own community,
that the Lord may graciously receive us
as a sacrifice acceptable to himself,
let us pray to the Lord.
Grant this, almighty God.

O God, our refuge and our strength,
hear the prayers of your Church,
for you yourself are the source of all devotion,
and grant, we pray, that what we ask in faith
we may truly obtain.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Notice how the holy Church is referred to, not as "it," but as "she.")

While their use is not officially mandated by current liturgical norms (which should not stop a bishop), one can see the advantage of texts that are consistent in style and quality with the rest of the Mass. That such prayers might be joined with others praying in kind around the world, in whatever language, further reinforces the unity of the Church's worship, and therefore the beliefs of her faithful.

And on this note, we end our study of the Liturgy of the Word with respect to the new translation of the Roman Missal. For the coming three Sundays, we will study the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Our next installment will be the first of the three major parts, that of the Offertory, or Presentation of the Gifts.

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