If Not Ready for the New Missal

And More on Managing Large Books

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ROME, NOV. 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q1: Soon all English-speaking countries will be using the vernacular translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal. Unfortunately, here in the Philippines we are not yet ready for this event, so they asked for an extension (except here our parish priest already has his new Roman Missal). My question is: How will all this affect the missal that we now use? — K.F., Iloilo City, Philippines

Q2: I am the chaplain to a university campus in Papua New Guinea, and we have more than 500 student teachers from all over PNG. We have Mass in English every day, and so I have been using the current English-language missal. With the introduction of the new missal, which I have not seen yet, I wonder how a missionary country such as PNG will be able to get the new missal; there is very little money here to buy these new missals and they are always very expensive. And secondly, with my students coming from all parts of PNG, they already know the responses to the «old» English Mass very well, but come this Advent, no one will know it. And it will be very difficult for me year in and year out having to teach the students on the new responses, as lots of students come from very remote places and would not have been exposed to the new changes or new missal. I would love your comments. — S.D., Wewak, Papua New Guinea

A: As these questions are related I will attempt to address them together. First of all, it is true that in most English-speaking countries the new missal will be in use within a few weeks, but this is not because the date was decided by some central authority. Each bishops’ conference decided for itself.

In this sense it is not technically correct to say that the Philippine bishops asked for an extension because they did not have to ask permission from anybody. Rather, they decided that the particular situation in their country required a longer timeline in order to prepare for the introduction of the new text. As far as I know this has been set for the end of 2012. 

If one parish priest already has a copy, then the proper thing to do is to wrap it up well and wait for next year. It would not be correct to start before the date established by the bishops.

Something similar could be said for Papua New Guinea. If the priest has not yet heard about the new Missal, then it is probably because the bishops might still need more time to prepare for it. For example, they would have to decide whether to adopt the missal of a nearby country or explore the economic feasibility of printing an edition of the missal that includes local patrons such as the martyr Peter ToRot.

They also have to plan a strategy so that people all over the country can learn the new responses and common texts. They need to form priests and other pastoral agents in the reasons behind the changes so that these can explain them to the faithful.

It must also be remembered that English is not the only language in use in the country. At least one source indicated that the bishops might wait until they have also completed a new translation of the missal into Tok Pisin, the other principal language, so as to introduce both texts simultaneously. If that is the case, then the choice falls to them and what they consider as the best pastoral option for their country.

As the bishops clarify their options they will also take their Church’s economic possibilities into account. It would probably be possible to make a contract with a Catholic publisher so as to provide sufficient copies of the missal at a reasonable price.

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Follow-up: Managing a Large Missal

In the wake of our recommendation on the use of a portable «podium» beside the chair to take the weight of the new missal (see Nov. 2), a reader whimsically commented: «Always scrolling first to your both scholarly and pastoral responses, there is my curiosity about how a temporary, portable podium would help. Would not a small, unobtrusive, but tall enough lectern be much more serviceable? (Tongue in cheek and feet on the floor, because a podium is a platform to stand on, airline gate waiting announcements and many other occurrences notwithstanding.)»

Our reader is quite correct, and I thank him. I used «podium» because it was in the original question, but the proper term is, of course, «lectern.»

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Readers may send questions to liturgy@zenit.org. Please put the word «Liturgy» in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

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