New Roman Missal Re-establishes Sense of the Sacred, Says Professor

Third Edition Easier to Use, and Includes More Pointers on Music

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ROME, MAY 30, 2002 ( The new Roman Missal for the eucharistic celebration in Latin will foster a sense of the sacred, says a liturgy professor.

Father Edward McNamara, of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, explained some of the most interesting characteristics of the third typical edition of the “Missale Romanum,” which was approved by the Pope and prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments. The missal will be the basic text for all translations.

Q: What are the novelties?

Father McNamara: At first sight the most impressive thing about the new Latin missal is its size. Weighing in at about 6 pounds and costing about $150, it is larger than any vernacular missal now in use.

But this hefty tome is much more than a fine example of the typographer´s craft because its specific characteristics make it a further step toward the fulfillment of the genuine renewal of liturgy proposed by the Second Vatican Council and an instrument that fosters the restoration of a greater sense of the sacred in the celebration of the holy Eucharist.

Q: What has impressed you most?

Father McNamara: Another important feature is that, unlike the former editions of the Latin missal, this version is clearly intended to be used at Mass with an assembly.

The former editions at times gave the impression of being designed more for study than for practical use, sometimes obliging the celebrant to turn a page in the middle of a prayer or sending him to an appendix if he wished to use an alternative formula.

The new Missal is handsomely designed with clear legible typeset, a very practical distribution of the prayer texts and the inclusion of accents so that those priests whose Latin has become a little rusty — or perchance was never burnished at all — can make it through the Mass without any major phonetic blunders.

Q: What are the most important novelties?

Father McNamara: The most important and novel characteristic of this version, and the principal cause of its bulk, is the inclusion of abundant musical settings so as to encourage the singing of those parts of the celebration where singing is recommended.

Thus melodies are provided for the entire ordinary of the Mass, including five different intonations for the “Gloria in Excelsis,” two for the “Credo,” and even settings for singing the four principal Eucharistic Prayers. Furthermore, all of the major feasts include the musical text of the preface. In order to facilitate singing, the major musical texts are located in their proper places in the Missal and not exiled to an appendix.

The fact that the Missal actively promotes and favors singing, both by the celebrant and the congregation, shows that the Church considers that this may be one of the most important means of restoring a sense of the sacred to the celebration.

Other additions have been the inclusion of the 10 celebrations of saints, which have been added to the Church´s universal calendar over the last twenty years, to which the Holy Father decided to make a further contribution just before the new missal went to print by appending another 11 celebrations.

Some of these are new celebrations, for example, recently canonized saints like the Chinese martyrs and St. Josephine Bakhita, a former slave from Sudan who later became a nun. Others, such as the Virgin of Fatima, are especially significant to the Church´s experience of persecutions in the 20th century and, indeed, have a special place in the life of John Paul II.

Other celebrations restore older celebrations from the Missal of St. Pius V, such as the Holy Name of Jesus, the Holy Name of Mary, and St. Rita of Cascia.

Furthermore, many other new prayers have also been added, either taken from ancient Roman manuscripts or recovered from the Missal of Pius V, as well as several new votive Masses in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a new votive Mass “De Dei Misericordia.”

Two Masses for various needs have likewise been recuperated from the Missal of St. Pius V, the Mass “Ad petendam compunctionem cordis” and the formula “ad postulandam continentiam.”

Q: What is the meaning of these celebrations?

Father McNamara: Today´s society has more need than ever for mercy, compunction and continence, and the inclusion of these themes as Mass formulas is a boon for preachers who can use them in homilies and on retreats.

The new missal, both the prayer texts and the renewed general introduction that gives precise rules for the celebration, enhances and enriches the existing body of liturgical norms and merits close study on the part of all priests.

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