Sunday, September 25, 2011

Guided Missal 1: Prelude

“Lex Orandi,
    Lex Credendi,
        Lex Vivendi.”

The expression is attributed to Saint Prosper of Aquitaine, a fifth-century Christian writer and disciple of Saint Augustine. Closer to the present, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that “[t]he Church’s faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles - whence the ancient saying ... The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition.” (1124)

“The law of praying, the law of believing, the law of living.” As we pray, so we believe, and so we live.

Even in the earliest centuries of the Church, spontaneity in the texts of worship soon gave way to an established formula, as it became apparent after the death of the last Apostle, that errors in teaching could unduly influence the members of Christ's faithful. There is intended to be an understanding among all Catholics, wherever in the world they may be, that there is a common language, a common understanding. The decree of the Second Vatican Council regarding the sacred liturgy, allowing the translation of official texts for use in the vernacular, may have made this a more complex undertaking, but it did not change the need for a common language. Thus the official books of worship in the Roman liturgy have always been in a standard tongue; in the Greek early on, and in Latin soon thereafter and thus for most of the Church's history.

They still are in the present day. The words that we hear at Mass in English are an official translation of an original and authoritative Latin text, the Missale Romanum one that is the basis for all translations around the world. It is assumed that those translations would be faithful to the original. And yet, over the last four decades, this has been found to be wanting, in some places more than others.

In the summer of last year, Catholics of the Roman Rite throughout the English-speaking world, learned of a new official translation of the Roman Mass, one that was approved by the Apostolic See, and was to come into use beginning with the First Sunday of Advent in the year of Our Lord 2011. What will happen late in November is the culmination of nearly three decades of study, preparation, and no small amount of contention.

Starting this Sunday, and continuing through the First Sunday of Advent, man with black hat will embark on a review of its own. We will introduce a brief history of the process that made the revision, and the conflicts brought on by that process. We will look at each part of the Mass and briefly review the changes and why they were made. Finally, we will examine the critical issues that will affect the official liturgical reform, for better or worse, as the worship of the Church continues onward.

We will bring the reader's attention to resources that delve into certain areas in greater depth. These sources have been providing this information for some time, but we will also include insights that are not commonly found in the Catholic press (including the Catholic blogosphere), as this writer has had the opportunity to witness certain developments from his own (we can only hope) unique vantage point.

And with that, stay tuned ...

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