Bishops on Mass changes
The bishops of the Southern African Bishops’ Conference have been evaluating the response to the implementation of the new English texts of the Mass. We wish to thank all who have cooperated in the implementation of this first phase which involves by and large the responses of the faithful.
We have attempted to identify the problem areas with a view to facilitating the second phase which will provide texts for the ordinary parts of the Mass which are used by the priest. We have studied the letters and e-mails addressed to us directly as well as those from the readership of The Southern Cross.
We have decided to appeal to the Holy See on the use of “man” and “men” in the Creed and the fourth Eucharistic Prayer. Only the Holy See has the authority to alter the text — no one of us nor any priest has that authority. In the meantime we ask our Catholics to be patient since the process of appeal takes time. For those who find it difficult to use the term “man” or “men” because they feel it to be not inclusive enough, in the spirit of our Catholic tradition we ask them to bear in mind that one text which is meant for universal use will always make some demands on us, and there will always be some give and some take. This is made all the more challenging in that English is the new Latin in the Church.
“For us men and for our salvation…and became man”. In the creed the main intention is to proclaim that Christ, in becoming incarnate, became MAN. He is the new MAN, and, by our baptism, we are all men and women in the new MAN. “For all of you who were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27,28).
“You formed man in your own image …” Similarly in Eucharistic Prayer Four, addressing God, the priest proclaims, “…you formed MAN in your own image”. This carries the meaning of the old MAN redeemed by the new MAN in which there is no longer distinction of male and female, as St Paul taught.
Before we implement the second phase—texts for the ordinary parts of the Mass used by the priest—we would like to give our priests a further opportunity to study the reasons behind certain choices made in the new translation so that they may pass these on to the faithful. Towards this goal, we will issue a series of three further letters and ask them to see that the formation and information is passed on to all our members.
We will make the new texts of the four Eucharistic Prayers available to them — not for use, but for study. The text differs in places from what is contained in the ICEL (International Commission for English in the Liturgy) book issued in 2007. We ask that the period of embargo be respected so as to give everyone the chance to prepare adequately. The date of implementation will be Trinity Sunday.
“And with your spirit.” We once again hear the response to the greetings of the priest. In some of the languages used in Southern Africa this is not strange — “ibe nomoya wakho futhi” is the answer in isiZulu. The reason for the reverting to the old form of the response in English is because it is closer to the scriptural origins of the formulation, as one can read in Galatians 6:18 or 2 Timothy 4:22. It is not the isolation of the soul from the whole person of the celebrant, but rather the recognition of that special character or spirit which the celebrant has by virtue of his priestly ordination.
It would be a misunderstanding to claim that this formulation creates clericalism. Clericalism is a sign of something dysfunctional. What should really be acknowledged is that from within the community one has been called to serve the community with the spirit of Christ. The dictum of St Augustine is appropriate here: “For you I am a bishop [a priest], with you I am a Christian. The first is the title of the office I received, the second is by grace” (Sermon 340, 1)
In the threefold “through my fault” we again revert to the formulation in existence in the Council days. ICEL, in the years immediately following the Second Vatican Council and the introduction of the rite of the Mass in English, interpreted their mandate to remove certain repetitions in formulations found in the Mass. However, when the new rules of translation were drawn up in 2001, it was noted that some of the repetitions were characteristic of the Latin Rite and should therefore be restored. This applies to the “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”.
You take away the sins of the world …you are seated at the right hand… The pattern of threefold repetition also applies to the threefold invocation of Jesus in the Gloria: “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.”
In proclaiming the words of the angels, the new formulation “people of good will” replaces “peace to his people on earth”. The origin of these words is found in Luke 2:14 which in the Latin Vulgate read: “Gloria in altissimis Deo, et super terram pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis”.
In the dialogue introducing the Preface, the response “It is right and just” in answer to the priest’s invitation “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God” may sound incomplete. It will only begin to make sense when the full missal is introduced and the celebrating priest takes up the words of the congregation, expanding on them thus: “Truly it is right and just…”.
An example of renewed theological insight is the greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” The choice of “communion” in place of what has been commonly used up to now, “fellowship”, is because from the outset the liturgy looks forward to the Holy Communion by which we find fellowship with each other and communion with God.
Another example of renewed theological insight is the formulation concluding the penitential rite: “May almighty God have mercy on us and lead us, with our sins forgiven, to eternal life.”
It is important to note that it was one of the principles established in the new rules for translation that the Mass formulations reflect more faithfully the scriptural texts which are used in prayer and proclamation. For this reason one will find “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of Hosts”, which comes from Isaiah 6:3. Also the formulation as was in former times in English: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”, from Luke 7:6-7. This latter is an example of the genius of the Roman Rite which begins with the words of the sacred scriptures and brings them to focus on the person him/herself.
“Consubstantial with the Father” As for “consubstantialem”, the problem arose when there was no agreement from the bishops’ conferences on the use of “one in Being” and “of one Being”. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments maintained that, in the matter of the Christological definitions expressed in the creeds, absolute uniformity throughout the Universal Church was necessary.
Bishop Risi chairs the SACBC’s Deptartment for Christian Formation, Liturgy and Culture. The text was approved at the bishops’ plenary meeting in January.