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Roman Missal


On November 27, 2011, the English speaking Church in the USA will begin using a new translation of the prayers used at Mass (The Roman Missal). A series of quotes explaining the parts of the Mass from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) will be posted here. These explanations are meant to help the reader participate more fully in the Sunday Mass.
Please check here weekly.

The Importance and Dignity of the Eucharistic Celebration

The celebration of Mass, as the action of Christ and the People of God…is the center of the whole Christian life for the Church both universal and local, as well as for each of the faithful…It is therefore of the greatest importance that the celebration of the Mass…be so arranged that the sacred ministers and the faithful taking part in it…may derive from it more abundantly those fruits for the sake of which Christ the Lord instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood…

This will best be accomplished if…the entire celebration is planned in such a way that it leads to a conscious, active, and full participation of the faithful both in body and in mind, a participation burning with faith, hope, and charity, of the sort which is desired by the Church and demanded by the very nature of the celebration, and to which the Christian people have a right and duty by reason of their Baptism. (GIRM 16, 17, 18)

The Missale Romanum

What exactly is the Missale Romanum? Missale Romanum is the title of the Latin book approved and published by the Vatican containing all of the texts used at Mass. The current English translation of this text in the United States is titled the Sacramentary. When the new translation is published, it will likely no longer be called the Sacramentary but will be given the title Roman Missal, the literal translation into English of the Latin title Missale Romanum.

The Latin phrase tertio editio typica is often associated with the latest edition of the Missale Romanum, meaning that this is the “third typical edition.” Why the third? Because there have already been two previous editions of this book. The first edition was published in 1970 shortly after the Council; the second appeared in 1975 and is the one in use at Mass today. The third typical edition was promulgated in Latin in 2002 and is the text currently undergoing the translation process.

What is the difference between the first, second and third editions of the Roman Missal? Not much, actually, but there have been a few changes to the forthcoming third edition. For example, when a new saint is added to the calendar, new prayers for his or her feast are added to the Roman Missal. Also, in order to provide more options, new prayers are occasionally added to the Mass. At times, more specific directions (rubrics) for the priests and ministers of the Mass are added. There were also some minor changes in translation with each edition, but not as significant as will be seen in the third edition.

Once a new text is officially created in Latin, it is up to the different conferences of bishops around the world to translate them into their own languages. It is a painstaking process, but they want to make sure it is done correctly. The initial translation into English is done by ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy). The bishops of each English speaking country then review it before giving their approval and sending it to Rome for final confirmation.

Naturally, the approval of the new translation does not happen at one meeting. In the case of the Roman Missal, because it is so lengthy, it was reviewed in sections by the US bishops and approved one segment at a time. There are also various groups at the Vatican who have to review it before the Holy Father gives it his final approval for publication. It can easily take years from the time a new text appears in Latin until an English text is ready and available for use in the liturgy. The third typical edition of the Roman Missal was promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 2002, but it is not scheduled to appear in English until Fall of 2011, nine years after it was published in Latin.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal

At the beginning of the Roman Missal, there is a document entitled the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). This document provides explanations for the various parts of the Mass and gives directions as to how they are to be celebrated. Over the next seven weeks, quotes from this document will be included in the parish bulletin. Be certain to read them each week to learn about the parts of the Mass. Learning about the Mass can help to increase the people’s participation in its prayer, ritual and music.

Ancient Prayers, New Translation

Translating the Mass

It is no secret that the English speaking world is anticipating some changes in the liturgy. A new translation of the Mass is on its way and it will affect the way English speaking Catholics pray the Mass. But why is this happening now and what is the thinking behind these changes? To answer these questions, we need to go back to the reform of the liturgy which began at the Second Vatican Council (1962 - 1965).

When Pope John XXIII assembled the bishops of the world for the Second Vatican Council, his primary goal was to renew and update the Church. Because the faith of the Church is most clearly expressed through its liturgical celebrations, the first thing the bishops did was to renew the liturgy. This process began with the first document promulgated by the Council: The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Even though it was written over 40 years ago, it still stands today as the most authoritative document on the liturgy in the Church. It called for a new approach to liturgical celebrations centered on the desire to engage those present at the liturgy in full, conscious and active participation.

Fewer and fewer people have a living memory of the Mass before Vatican II, but certainly one of the most recognizable differences since then is that it is no longer required to celebrate the Mass in Latin. The Mass may now be celebrated in languages such as English. Allowing liturgy to be celebrated in the language of the people was one significant way of encouraging fuller participation at Mass.

It was a massive undertaking after the Council to both reform the liturgical texts and to translate them from Latin into contemporary languages. First, changes had to be made to all of the liturgies of the Church to simplify them and bring them closer to their origins. Secondly, these new texts, which were composed in Latin, needed to be translated into the local languages of the world.

The English speaking bishops at the Council decided to create an organization called the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). It was (and continues to be) their responsibility to translate all of the liturgical books of the Church into English.

Translating liturgical texts is a complex process; it is not just translating words, it is translating concepts and ideas. Sometimes words in one language do not convey the same meaning when they are translated into another, and no two languages are structured the same way in terms of syntax or grammar. How could these complex elements be handled by the translators of the liturgical texts?

To guide the translators, Pope Paul VI produced a document entitled Comme le prevoit in 1969. He based this document on a principle of translation known as dynamic equivalence. Essentially this means that it is not as important to translate words from one language to another as it is to translate ideas from one language into another. This was the basis of the translations made by ICEL from Latin into English in the 70s, 80s and into the 90s.

In 2001, Pope John Paul II revisited the topic of translations and promulgated a new document entitled Liturgiam Authenticam. This document changed the principles for the translation of liturgical texts. It called for the use of formal equivalence which means that the translation from Latin into English needs to be more literal. This is different from what we are currently used to, so when new translations are published, they will sound different to the ears of English speaking Catholics.

Over the next seven weeks, there will be a series of Questions and Answers on the new translation printed in the parish bulletin. Please take some time each Sunday to read them. They will help readers to understand why and how this new translation came about.

Questions and Answers on the Mass Changes

June 5, 2011

The Importance of Singing

The Christian faithful who gather together as one to await the Lords coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (cf. Col 3:16). Singing is the sign of the hearts joy (cf. Acts 2:46). Thus Saint Augustine says rightly, Singing is for one who loves. There is also the ancient proverb: One who sings well prays twice.

Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, with due consideration for the culture of the people and abilities of each liturgical assembly. Although it is not always necessary (e.g., in weekday Masses) to sing all the texts that are of themselves meant to be sung, every care should be taken that singing by the ministers and the people is not absent in celebrations that occur on Sundays and on holy days of obligation. (GIRM, 39-40)

May 29, 2011

Reading and Explaining the Word of God

When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his own word, proclaims the Gospel. Therefore, all must listen with reverence to the readings from Gods word, for they make up an element of greatest importance in the Liturgy. Although in the readings from Sacred Scripture Gods word is addressed to all people of every era and is understandable to them, nevertheless, a fuller understanding and a greater effectiveness of the word is fostered by a living commentary on the word, that is, the homily, as part of the liturgical action. (GIRM, 29)

May 22, 2011

The General Structure of the Mass

At Mass - that is, the Lord’s Supper - the People of God is called together, with a priest presiding and acting in the person of Christ, to celebrate the memorial of the Lord, the Eucharistic Sacrifice. For this reason Christ’s promise applies in an outstanding way to such a local gathering of the holy Church: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt 18:20). For in the celebration of Mass, in which the Sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated, Christ is really present in the very liturgical assembly gathered in his name, in the person of the minister, in his word, and indeed substantially and continuously under the Eucharistic species.

The Mass is made up, as it were, of two parts: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. These, however, are so closely interconnected that they form but one single act of worship. For in the Mass, the table both of God’s word and of Christ’s Body is prepared, from which the faithful may be instructed and refreshed. There are also certain rites that open and conclude the celebration. (GIRM, 27-28)

April 17, 2011

7a. Do these changes mean that the old translation was not valid and orthodox?

The current translation was approved by the conferences of bishops and confirmed by the Holy See. Until the new text becomes effective, the current translation remains the valid ordinary form of the Liturgy in the Roman Rite. The revised translation attempts to address some inadequacies in the present translation by introducing a more elevated style of language and by retaining many poetic texts and scriptural allusions. The current translation fostered the faith of two generations of Catholics and retains a valid place in church history.

7b. What opportunities does the new Missal offer the Church?

Implementing the new Missal will give the Church an opportunity to take a fresh look at its liturgical practice and to renew its celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, which is the “source and summit” of Christian life (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church [Lumen Gentium], no. 11). The faithful, encountering the Liturgy anew in the new text, can deepen their sharing in Christ’s sacrifice, offering their lives to the Father as they worship “in Spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23).

April 10, 2011

6a. What will the new Missal mean in my parish?

In the months before the revised translation is implemented, parishes will have to do many things. The parish will have to replace liturgical books and participation aids. Priests will practice proclaiming the new texts and will prepare homilies helping the faithful to understand the new translation and to deepen their appreciation for the Liturgy. The music ministers and the people will learn new musical settings for the parts of the Mass (such as the Gloria and the Sanctus). Catechists and teachers will help parishioners learn the new prayers. Parishes may also use this opportunity to undertake a thorough reexamination of their liturgical practices.

6b. If my parish likes the old translation better, can we continue using that one?

Now that the Holy See has granted the recognitio to the revised translation, the USCCB has established a date for first use and a date for mandatory use. No parish may continue to use the current translation after the mandatory use date. Parishes will need to use the period before the mandatory use date to help parishioners renew their love for the Sacred Liturgy, to understand the changes, and to develop an appreciation for the revised translation.

April 3, 2011

5a. Can we start using the texts approved by the bishops immediately?

The translation of the Missale Romanum could not be used in the celebration of the Mass until the complete text was confirmed by the Holy See. Now that the translation has received, the recognitio, the USCCB has established the first day on which the new translation may be used. Use of the revised text requires preparation and catechesis for both priests and the faithful. When the time comes to use the texts in the celebration of the Mass, priests will be properly trained, the faithful will have an understanding and appreciation of what is being prayed, and musical settings for the liturgical texts will be readily available.

5b. What will the process of implementation look like?

Now that the recognitio has been granted, final preparation and publication of the Missal will commence. Catechesis on the new translation and on the Liturgy itself will become even more important. Training for priests, music ministers, and other liturgical leaders (liturgy committees and liturgical commissions), as well as formation for all Catholics, will help to ensure the successful implementation of the new text.

March 27, 2011

4. What is the timeline for the approval and implementation of the Missal?

After the Latin Missale Romanum was published in 2002, ICEL began its work of preparing a draft English translation of the text. ICEL presented the first section - the Order of Mass, which contains the fixed prayers of the Mass, including the people’s parts - to the English speaking conferences of bishops in 2004. The USCCB approved the final version in 2006, and the Holy See confirmed this section in June 2008. The remaining sections were approved between 2007 and 2009. The USCCB completed its approval of the Missal in November 2009. The Holy See granted the final approval of the text in the spring of 2010. Cardinal Francis George, OMI, president of the USCCB, announced that parishes may begin using the revised translation on November 27, 2011.

March 20, 2011

3. What's new or different about the revised translation?

The style of the translation of the third edition is different. In accord with the rules for translation established by the Holy See, the revised translation follows the style of the original Latin texts more closely, including concrete images, repetition, parallelisms, and rhythm. The English used in the Mass texts is more formal and dignified in style. Where possible, the texts follow the language of Scripture and include many poetic images.

In addition, the third edition contains prayers for the celebration of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Masses and prayers for various needs and intentions, and some updated and revised rubrics (or instructions) for the celebration of the Mass.

March 13, 2011

2. Who is doing the work of translation?

The process of translating liturgical texts from the original Latin is a highly consultative work done by several groups. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) prepares English translations of liturgical texts on behalf of the conferences of bishops of English-speaking countries. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the other member conferences receive draft translations of each text and have the opportunity to offer comments and suggestions to ICEL. Then ICEL proposes a second draft, which each conference approves and submits to the Vatican for final approval. Each conference reserves the right to amend or modify a particular text.

At the Vatican, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments examines the translated texts, offers authoritative approval (recognitio) of the texts, and grants permission for their use. Currently the Congregation is aided by the recommendations of Vox Clara, a special committee of bishops and consultants from English-speaking countries. The translation and review process is guided by the guidelines in Liturgiam Authenticam, issued in 2001, an instruction from the Congregation that outlines the principles and rules for liturgical translation. In 2007, the Congregation also issued a ratio outlining the specific rules for translation in English.

March 6, 2011

1. Why is there a need for a new translation?

Pope John Paul II issued the third edition of the Missale Romanum (the Latin text of the Roman Missal) during the Jubilee Year in 2000. This new edition included many new texts requiring translation. In addition, the experience of the years after the Second Vatican Council gave rise to a desire for more formal and literal translations of the original Latin texts. This new translation will employ the best of what we have learned about translation and liturgical language in two generations of celebrating the Liturgy in the vernacular. It will provide an opportunity to reflect ever more deeply on the eucharistic celebration that lies at the heart of the Church’s life.

Quotes from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal

The Duties of the People of God

In the celebration of Mass the faithful form a holy people, a people whom God has made his own, a royal priesthood, so that they may give thanks to God and offer the spotless Victim not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him, and so that they may learn to offer themselves. They should, moreover, endeavor to make this clear by their deep religious sense and their charity toward brothers and sisters who participate with them in the same celebration.

Thus, they are to shun any appearance of individualism or division, keeping before their eyes that they have only one Father in heaven and accordingly are all brothers and sisters to each other.

Indeed, they form one body, whether by hearing the word of God, or by joining in the prayers and the singing, or above all by the common offering of Sacrifice and by a common partaking at the Lords table. This unity is beautifully apparent from the gestures and postures observed in common by the faithful. (GIRM 95-96)

The Eucharistic Prayer

Now the center and summit of the entire celebration begins: namely, the Eucharistic Prayer, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. The priest invites the people to lift up their hearts to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving; he unites the congregation with himself in the prayer that he addresses in the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the meaning of the Prayer is that the entire congregation of the faithful should join itself with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of Sacrifice. The Eucharistic Prayer demands that all listen to it with reverence and in silence. (GIRM, 78)


It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lords Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice, so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated. (GIRM, 85)

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

Christ took the bread and the chalice and gave thanks; he broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, and drink: this is my Body; this is the cup of my Blood. Do this in memory of me. Accordingly, the Church has arranged the entire celebration of the Liturgy of the Eucharist in parts corresponding to precisely these words and actions of Christ:

  1. At the Preparation of the Gifts, the bread and the wine with water are brought to the altar, the same elements that Christ took into his hands.
  2. In the Eucharistic Prayer, thanks is given to God for the whole work of salvation, and the offerings become the Body and Blood of Christ.
  3. Through the fraction and through Communion, the faithful, though they are many, receive from the one bread the Lords Body and from the one chalice the Lords Blood in the same way the Apostles received them from Christs own hands. (GIRM, 72)
A New Sound to the Mass

What will the new translation sound like?

Because of the more literal approach to translation from Latin into English, the third typical edition of the Roman Missal will sound noticeably different than what we are currently used to. It will be particularly challenging for priests who are accustomed to the current prayers and may have memorized many of them over the years. Practice will be required for the clergy to be able to pray the texts and not just read them at Mass.

The assembly will also need to pay special attention to the prayers being prayed at Mass. This will certainly provide an opportunity to refocus on the words that are used at liturgy; to reflect more deeply on what we are saying and who we are saying it to. It will raise everyones awareness of the meaning of the words rather than simply repeating them by rote.

Most church-going Catholics are understandably curious as to what will change for them. Some of the changes are quite significant. Instead of responding, And also with you, as they do now, they will respond, And with your spirit, which is a literal translation of et cum spiritu tuo. During the Gloria, the people will sing Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will instead of the current Glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth. The Creed will begin I believe instead of We believe and will make use of the word consubstantial instead of one in being (with the Father). At the invitation to Communion, the people will now respond, Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

On Sundays, many of the peoples parts containing the changes are normally sung such as the Gloria and the Holy, Holy. Singing these parts will make it easier to get used to the changes.

The US Bishops Committee on Divine Worship has established a website to assist with the implementation of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, which includes a section worth visiting with all of the specific changes for the people at Mass. (See www.usccb.org/romanmissal/ or www.RomanMissalNewark.org) The website also has the translation of the four main Eucharistic Prayers which Mass-goers are encouraged to review before they are put into regular use at Mass.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli, the chair of the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship, has worked tirelessly to explain the forthcoming changes and assist dioceses in preparing for the implementation of the new translation. In a recent article on the subject, he writes: The texts may be unfamiliar now, but the more one understands their meaning, the more meaningful their use will be in the liturgyTo pray with and reflect on these words will help us all to open our hearts to the mysteries the texts express.

Catholics ought to take some time now, to look at these texts, so that when they are ready for use in the liturgy, they will be able to participate in the Mass fully, consciously and actively without being distracted by the initial unfamiliarity of the texts.

Over the course of the next seven weeks, excerpts containing the changes to the peoples parts will be printed in parish bulletins. Please check back weekly to familiarize yourself with the new responses for use by the people. These new texts will also be printed and made available in churches for people beginning November 27, 2011, until everyone gets used to the new language and commits it to memory.

Excerpts of the peoples parts from the Roman Missal

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.

Penitential Act (Confiteor)

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.


Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.

Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Nicene Creed

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

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
He suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is
seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end.

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 through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess
one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the
Resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the
right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Preparation of the Gifts

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands
for the praise and glory of his name,
for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

Preface Dialog
Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right and just.
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Memorial Acclamations

Priest:The mystery of faith.
People:We proclaim your death, O Lord,
and profess your Resurrection
until you come again.


When we eat this Bread
and drink this Cup,
we proclaim your death, O Lord,
until you come again.


Save us, Savior of the world,
by your Cross
and Resurrection,
you have set us free.

Communion Rite

Priest:The peace of the Lord
be with you always.
People:And with your spirit
Priest:Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away
the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called
to the supper of the Lamb.
People:Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.
Concluding Rite
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit.

Copyright 2010, USCCB, Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved.


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