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5 Things to Know About the New Roman Missal

Later this month, Catholics will start using new missals at Mass. The Chicago Archdiocese has been aiding local churches with the transition. A Chicago Heights pastor talks about the change.

5 Things to Know About the New Roman Missal

It has been a process over a year in the making, according to Todd Williamson, director of the Chicago Archdiocese's office of divine worship, who hopes local Catholics are ready for some of the changes to the new Roman Missal.

The Roman Missal is an assembly of prayers, chants and directions used to celebrate Mass. The missal, originally translated from Latin to English in the 1970s, has been updated. All Catholic churches will begin using the new text later this month.

Williamson says that the initial translation was never intended to be permanent. 

"That most important thing, the Mass, is going to have some profound changes for the first time since 1975," Williamson said. "It is pretty momentous in the life of the church in this country." 

Today, Patch provides a brief explanation of some of the changes and why it's all happening. Here are five things you should know:

1. Why change the Roman Missal?

Pope John Paul II initiated the revisions to the Roman Missal in the year 2000. The well-traveled pontiff, who was fluent in many languages, offered Masses around the world and noticed the wording was different from country to country. 

The new translation will use a more formal language and be closer to the original Latin version. Prior translations relied on a method that searched for the meaning of the text, while the new translation is a more literal one, Williamson said. 

2. Who came up with the new Roman Missal translation?

The new translation was a worldwide undertaking that took more than 10 years to implement. At the crux of it all was the English translation. 

The English version of the new Roman Missal was prepared by the  International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) with representatives from 11 countries that use English as their principal language.

3. What are examples of changes?

Examples of the new translation can be found in the Nicene Creed. Catholics will now say that Jesus is “consubstantial with the Father," vs. “one in being with the Father,” and that he was “incarnate of the Virgin Mary” rather than "born of the Virgin Mary."

"A number of the responses are changing," Williamson said. 

When the priest says, "The Lord be with you," the response will change from "and also with you," to "And with your spirit."

A major change is the translation of pro multis as “for many.” The narrative of the Last Supper, which currently reads, “which will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven,” will be changed to “which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

On its website, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops provides an  FAQ about the wording.

4. When does the translation begin?

The first Sunday in Advent (Nov. 27) is the date Catholics will begin the new wording, but many churches have already begun practicing the new words and music. When Advent starts, most churches will have pew cards to help parishioners with the new text.

On Sept. 26, Cardinal Francis George blessed all of the new missals before they were sent to the Chicago Archdiocese parishes that had ordered them. 

5. What are parishes doing to help everyone make the transition?

The Chicago Archdiocese has a section on its website devoted to explaining the changed. Workshops have been held all across Chicago and the surrounding suburbs

"The whole first six months of this year we had daylong workshops all over the archdiocese," Williamson said.

Those workshops were tailored to various groups including pastors, liturgical musicians, catechism teachers and principals and any interested Catholics. 

"The work that we have been doing goes beyond just the words," Williamson said. "We have been looking at the new texts and doing some breaking open and helping people make some connections around them."

Local churches are also taking steps to prepare for the change. The Rev. John Siemianowski of St. Agnes in Chicago Heights, said his congregation has gotten a head start on the new missal.

"We actually started this weekend," Siemianowski said. "Some of the sung parts of the Mass, we began this weekend. We purchased the new hymnal, and they’ll have three or four weeks before the official starting weekend."

Although this is the first change in decades, Siemianowski said the adjustments won't be that jarring, although parts of the missal aren't that easy to get through.

"Some of the translations are a bit awkward and some are very good." he explained. "We’ve been doing it one way for 40 years now, and now we just have to get used to the new wording."

The reverend said the biggest hurdle is the natural aversion to change, adding that he knows the congregation will manage to adapt.

"It’s not even that the change is that big, but people don’t like change," Siemianowski said. "Last Sunday we did some of the sung parts and people did a good job. It’s going to require people holding a book more, as opposed to when they have it memorized."

Other Catholic churches in the area experiencing the change in missals include:

Patch also featured St. Agnes in September. Visit the original story, to see what the Rev. Siemianowski had to say about the church.

Michael Sewall and contributed to this report

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