September 9, 2011

Religious Education Supplement

New words for the same beautiful Mass

What can change about our Catholic faith, and what about it is eternal and unchanging?

This question will be on the minds of many people when they arrive at Mass on the weekend of Nov. 26-27, the first Sunday of Advent this year, and hear slightly different words as Mass is celebrated.

God loves you so much that he reveals information about himself—eternal, unchanging truth in the form of Catholic teaching, drawing on both sacred Scripture and sacred tradition.

But doctrinal and moral teaching—which has traditionally been called the deposit of faith—aren’t exactly the same as that area of Church life often called discipline and practice.

In the realm of discipline and practice, the Holy Spirit often prompts Church leaders to make adjustments so that a Catholic life is more accessible and engaging for people of various times, places and cultures.

That’s exactly what is happening with the revised translation of the Roman Missal—a phenomenon you may have heard about and are anticipating.

Father Patrick Beidelman, archdiocesan director of liturgy, explained at recent business meetings for parish administrators of religious education, youth ministers and principals in central and southern Indiana why these changes are happening.

He explained that, over the course of several years, two popes decided that the English translation of the Mass could be rendered significantly better. Therefore, we will hear some adjustments at each eucharistic liturgy starting during Advent of this year.

Father Beidelman noted that this development is important for Catholic education leaders in two related ways.

First, we must help prepare the faithful to use some new words at Mass when these changes are implemented this November. In a sense, this first need is relatively easy to do.

The second need runs deeper in the experience of Catholics throughout the months ahead. We must help God’s people grow in appreciation, understanding and enthusiasm for what Mass really is.

It’s not just a nice ceremony with pretty vestments and catchy music. It’s not merely a chance to hear a good talk about how some Bible readings relate to everyday life.

Mass is an irreplaceable opportunity to be in the presence—the Real Presence—of Jesus himself in his body, blood, soul and divinity. Mass is a serious obligation that, like all the demands God makes of us, helps make us whole, holy, healthy and happy.

At Mass, we experience time and space suspended—kneeling at the foot of the Cross—offering our lives and ourselves to our Creator who, by his Holy Spirit, helps us taste divinity and experience a foretaste of our ultimate destiny—eternal life in a place none other than heaven.

Yes, changes are coming to the words we use to celebrate Mass. What the Mass is, though, doesn’t change because who we encounter at Mass is the same yesterday, today and forever—none other than Jesus Christ!

(Ken Ogorek is archdiocesan director of catechesis.)

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