Friday, December 23, 2011

The Revised Mass Prayer Translations – a mystagogical conversation

Father Patrick Beidelman (Director, Office of Liturgy and Worship, Archdiocese of Indianapolis) and I join once again, this time, in a 3-part podcast discussing the current experience of the revised English Mass texts of the Roman Missal. I term these podcasts “mystagogical.” Mystagogy is a term that the Fathers of the Church (100 AD – 750 AD) used to describe the reflection on the Mysteries. The term itself means to “break open” or “unfold” the Mystery or Mysteries. As used by the Fathers of the Church, Mystery (singular) refers to the life of the Most Holy Trinity and Mysteries (plural) refer to what we (in the West or Latin Church) now call Sacraments. The Fathers of the Church held that authentic catechesis (formative theological education) in the Mysteries (Sacraments) requires first and foremost participating in or experiencing the Sacraments as encounters with Jesus Christ, Who in the power of the Holy Spirit, reveals His Heavenly Father. Listeners familiar with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults will know “mystagogy” as the timeless period that unfolds the meaning and power of Baptism, Confirmation and the Most Holy Eucharist.
Father Pat and I contend that even though we have only been using these revised Mass texts for 4 weeks, the Church’s experience already provides ample reflection to prepare us for the celebration of Our Lord’s Nativity.
Followers of my blog and tweets know that I normally posts podcasts (when available) one week at a time. Given the richness that is already being experienced throughout the English-speaking world with these revised Mass texts, I want to make all 3 podcasts available at once.
In the first podcast, we discuss some of the challenges and blessings associated with the arrival of the revised Mass texts.
Then in the second podcast we discuss the generous reception the texts have received thus far in parishes. “You hear the echoes of the Latin,” not as Latin for the sake of Latin, but in service of an elevated language that assists in the worship of the Triune God: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, recognizing who we are as human, created beings before the Lord Who is Creator. This expresses, according to Father Pat, “a restored verticality” … and “profound Divine intimacy that breaks through the prayers.”
The final podcast initially examines what is going well with the revised translation of the Mass texts and the work that is yet to be done. Father Pat and I converse about some of the specific words and grammatical structures highlighted in the revised translation. It is clear and Father Pat re-inforces the point that these are not words for the sake of words, but words in the service of worshiping the Triune God.

1 comment:

  1. From Fr. Joe Feltz:

    I want to thank you for the three recent podcasts on taking a mystagogical look at the New Roman Missal (or as Fr. Pat says, the new English translation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal!)
    I thought you would be interested in my experiences here at St. Malachy. First we have used a ministry of Commentator since the First Sunday of Advent. Although they use a wireless microphone, their visual contribution (stepping forward and motioning to the people when a changed response is about to occur), is more helpful to the people. As Advent progressed, the people were becoming more and more comfortable and thus were responding louder. I agree with Fr. Pat in that those that know the responses are "leading" those who are hesitant. I was pleasantly surprised that the responses during our Christmas Masses (we had an estimated 3,700 people attend over the four Mass schedule) were strong and NOT mixed with old responses. In fact the people's responses during those Masses were quite vibrant. I have already decided when this liturgical ministry schedule is over, end of February, we are not going to use the Commentator ministry.
    Bishop Christopher, you touched on something that it critical. I believe that the success we experienced here was partially due to myself and Fr. John preaching and teaching about this in a positive light. There was no "eulogy" for the Sacramentary although we did process out with it at the end of all the Masses on Christ the King. There was no frustration concerning the changes. I admit to making more mistakes than the people ("previent", tripped me up as well!), but as I told the people in my latest pastor column, "In the near future we will become comfortable with the changed responses and then we will be able to reflect on their meaning and thus make our celebration of Eucharist more prayerful."


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