Yesterday evening marked the beginning of a new era in the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Missal, the book containing the rites of worship, has been updated. In the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the words have been changed to more accurately reflect the original Latin, the original language of the Church. This follow blog post is all about the "New Mass," and it's my hope that it can be of interest to both Catholics and those of other denominations of Christianity.
The "New Mass" is not really new at all. In fact, it is the same Mass, only with different words. The words of this "New Mass" present a deeper approach to the prayer that is the Mass, and it allows for its congregation to more fully appreciate the glory that is appropriately due to the Lord. During the translation of the Mass from Latin to English, there were several critical mistakes made in the translation process. For one, the process was greatly rushed, an error that many linguists recognize as the premier danger in translating. Another thing being that the Mass was translated to conform to the vernacular English. In the past, the Mass had been said in Latin, a language that was almost exclusively used in the Catholic Chuch, and there was even a specific dialect of Latin, Ecclesial Latin, that was the foundation of the Catholic faith. The language was reverent and exclusive, allowing the congregation to truly experience the transcendence of the Mass. However, this reverence was lost with the use of the vernacular English. Instead, the Mass became almost "secularized," unrecognizable from any other form of ceremony. The Third Edition of the Roman Missal has renewed this reverence to the Mass by ensuring that the language used is different from every day English. Thirdly, many of the connections between the Mass and Sacred Scripture were lost in the translation, leaving behind the very foundation for the Mass, being Scripture. I don't even feel the need to explain just how important this is, nor can I express my joy at seeing it renewed. Perhaps a smaller aspect
Now that that's out of the way, I'd like to just take a moment to reflect on my own personal favorite parts of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal.
For starters, many congregational responses to the priest have changed. Most notably, when the priest says, "The Lord be with you," the congregation follows with, "And with your spirit." Gone are the days of, "And also with you," what one priest friend of fine referred to as, "The 'right back atcha' of the Catholic faith." I am inclined to agree. The new response is more reverent, and refers more closely to the ontological change of the priest as instilled with the Spirit of Christ, acting in the Person of Christ at the Mass.
My own personal favorite change is in the "Ecce Agnus Dei." In the past, after the sign of peace, the congregation knelt and the priest said,
"This is the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to His supper."
Now, note the reverent diction of the new translation:
"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."
The new translation reflect the Scriptures more accurately with the word "Behold," used by Pontius Pilate in presenting Christ by saying, "Ecce homo," or "Behold the man."
However, though I am overjoyed at this, this is still not my favorite part. Note that the word happy has been changed to the word blessed. In the original Latin, the word for blessed was "beatus." Blessedness is man's highest possible achievement, achievable only through the perfect graces of God alone, and is attained through eternal life with God in Heaven. The Church Fathers taught, and the Church today continues to teach, that this perfect end achieved in life with God in Heaven is called, "The Beatific Vision," in which we see God and are perfectly happy. Get the connections?
God made us, each and every one of us, to be happy. To be blessed. It's the same thing, only now we have a word for the specific kind of happiness, the most perfect kind of happiness there is, that can only be found in God. Amazing.
Needless to say, I am thrilled for the new translation of the Mass. I hope you all are too. I encourage you to comment if you have any questions or...well, comments. This is a perfect opportunity for Catholics to grow in their faith or to begin growing and investing themselves more in the universal Church.
For more on the changes in the Order of the Mass, see this link: http://www.rcan.org/images/worship/assembly.pdf