Translations of Marian Masses

And More on the Elevation and on Eucharistic Prayer IV

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ROME, MAY 15, 2012 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: My question regards the use of the collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary in English. I recently read that we will be able to use the old translation of this collection of Masses as long as we use English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal for: 1) the words of institution during the consecration; 2) all of the congregation’s responses and acclamations; and 3) the new text of the Order of Mass, as well as the concluding formulae of the orations. The question I have is concerning the prefaces. Would it be appropriate or even allowed to insert the new translation of the beginning text of the preface (that is, «It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation …» instead of «Father, all powerful and ever living God, we do well always …»)? It would seem that this would be an important change to make to bring these prayers more into conformity with the new translation. I hope that a new translation of this collection of Masses comes out soon. — F.H., Morse Bluff, Nebraska

A: This theme is related to the broader one of how and when to apply the new missal translation to other rites and celebrations.

An initial response has been made to this question by the Office for Divine Worship of the U.S. bishops’ conference. Since these indications were also vetted by the Holy See and are grounded in liturgical common sense, they could also be applied outside the United States.

The principal adaptations are:

— Every occurrence of «And with your spirit,» including, for example, the dialogue between the confirmand and the bishop in the Rite of Confirmation;

— The Confiteor;

— The prayer of the priest and the assembly at the invitation to Holy Communion («Behold the Lamb of God» and «Lord, I am not worthy»);

— The dismissal at other rites;

— The prayers of the deacon or priest in preparation to proclaim the Gospel.

The bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship suggests that the following adaptations can be made to other liturgical rites in light of the Roman Missal, though these do not constitute obligations:

— The blessing of water and the renewal of baptismal promises at the celebration of baptism can be taken from the Roman Missal;

— The nuptial blessing at the celebration of marriage outside Mass can be taken from the Roman Missal (note that the Latin texts of the nuptial blessings have been modified, so the texts of the nuptial blessings in the Roman Missal are not merely re-translations);

— In the Funeral Liturgy outside Mass, one can make use of the various collects found in the collection of Masses of the Dead;

— In the Liturgy of the Hours (individually or communally), one can make use of the proper collects from the Roman Missal.

In applying these criteria to the collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary we must remember that what are specific to this collection are the proper texts of each Mass.

The texts of the Mass as such belong to the missal. The fact that the collection also contains the common Mass prayers is just a practical help to facilitate the celebration. Indeed, the translations of this collection promulgated by some bishops’ conferences do not include the ordinary of Mass, so that it is always necessary to use two books when one of these Masses is celebrated.

Therefore, I would say that, pending the publication of a new translation of these Masses, it is better to use both books — the collection for the proper Marian texts and the new missal for all the rest.

With respect to the proper preface I would say that, in line with the above indications, the initial protocol («The Lord be with you,» etc.) should be from the new translation. The replacement of «Father, all powerful and ever living God, we do well always …» with «It is truly right and just, our duty and salvation» is probably advisable in order to maintain the text’s literary coherence; but I do not think it is obligatory. The current text continues to be an approved translation until officially replaced.

In the particular case of the Mass for Our Lady, Mother of the Church, the Mass and preface should be taken from the section on votive Masses found in the new translation.

* * *

Follow-up: Elevating the Host and Chalice

In the wake of our comments on elevating the host (see April 30) a Washington, D.C., priest commented:

«I would like to offer some comments regarding your column on the showing/raising of the sacred species.

«1. I don’t see how raising the host or chalice ‘above the priest’s head level’ facilitates his own gazing more naturally. Having them at eye level would seem to do this. More apropos, however, would be that the size of the church might sometimes determine how high the elements must be raised in order for all in the church to see them.

«2. It would seem that since the second elevation is specifically designated as an elevation, or raising (and not a showing), that this should certainly be raised the highest of the three. Theologically, this would seem to be the case because it is the moment of consummate offering of the sacrifice back to the Father, a raising, so to speak, of all the offerings of those gathered, now united with the supreme offering of Christ, to the Father for his acceptance. I have never experienced difficulty in singing the doxology because I raised the elements above my head.

«3. My understanding of the reason for the option of raising either the paten alone or the paten and chalice together at the ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ is not a matter of ‘aesthetical’ concern, but rather dependent on whether holy Communion will be offered under one species or under both. The text itself, after all, is the invitation to Communion.»

Regarding points 1 and 2 I have little to add. Since there are no precise norms, neither what I said in my original article nor the view expressed by our correspondent is necessarily right or wrong. There is also some degree of flexibility, depending on the priest’s physical makeup, since what is ungainly for one could well be elegant for another.

In referring to raising the chalice just above head level, I tried to convey the idea that the people would be able to clearly see the host and chalice while the priest could look at them with just a slight elevation of the head instead of having to crick his neck backward.

I agree with my correspondent that there is usually no difficulty in raising the elements above the head for the doxology elevation; indeed, this is my own usual practice. The original question, however, addressed the case of a priest raising them as far as possible, which is not so common a gesture.

Regarding the third point I would beg to differ from our reader. Nothing in the rubrics suggests that the possibility of elevating the host above the chalice is connected to offering Communion under both kinds.

I would say rather that it is far more likely that this possibility was introduced into the missal as a means of restoring to the ordinary form a beautiful symbolic gesture that is present in the extraordinary form, precisely as the conclusion of the doxology in which the priest raises host and chalice together.

This gesture of the host held above the chalice, so often found in paintings and devotional images, had completely disappeared from the Mass. I believe that this, and not a distinction between reception under one or both kinds, was behind the possibility offered in the third edition of the missal.

Another reader, from Southampton, United Kingdom, suggested I had made a mistake in my previous follow-up regarding the possibilities for using Eucharistic Prayer IV:

«You say that because EP IV has its own preface — as it does — it can only be used in ordinary time. I think this is incorrect. EP IV cannot be used
on a day which has its own proper preface. So, for example, it can’t be used on the Assumption or Immaculate Conception. However, it can be used on days which only have a seasonal preface (Advent, Christmas, Lent except for the Sundays with proper prefaces, Easter). In that case the preface of EP IV replaces the seasonal preface, because EP IV can only be used in its entirety. I admit it would be a highly peculiar pastoral decision to use EP IV on, say, Christmas Day or Easter Sunday, but theoretically there is nothing wrong in that, as those days don’t actually have proper prefaces.»

Our reader is correct in saying that a seasonal preface can be replaced with Eucharistic Prayer IV. This is why I mentioned its use on Sundays of ordinary time as there are some writers who deny that this prayer can be used at all on a Sunday.

I would question, however, if the use of seasonal prefaces on the Sundays of the principal liturgical seasons is in quite the same category. These Sundays have a higher place on the liturgical calendar even than solemnities and their texts cannot be replaced by any others. For example, if a wedding or a priestly ordination takes place on one of these Sundays, then the Mass texts of the Sunday take precedence over those of an ordination or wedding.

If such a celebration takes place on a Sunday of ordinary time or Christmastide, then the Sunday liturgy can be replaced in its entirety unless it coincides with a scheduled Mass for the people.

Given this general rule of precedence, I would say that on such days the indication of the use of the seasonal preface in the rubrics binds more strongly than on the Sundays of ordinary time.

Likewise the rubrics are also sometimes very specific. For example, on Easter Sunday and during the Easter octave the rubric specifically indicates Easter Preface I and not just any Easter preface. Therefore in this case Easter Preface I is the preface of the day and not just a seasonal preface. Christmas Day offers a choice of three Christmas prefaces, but one of these must be chosen.

The Sundays of Eastertide and other strong seasons specify that a seasonal preface must be chosen, whereas for the Sundays of ordinary time the rubrics make no suggestion as to preface whatsoever. I believe that this fact shows a clear distinction between the two periods with respect to the choice of preface and, as a consequence, the possibility of using Eucharistic Prayer IV.

* * *

Readers may send questions to 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation