Ever Ancient, Ever New: Preparing for the Revised Roman Missal

There is a lot of hype these days about the Roman Missal. If you do a search, you can find several resources that are designed to help diocesan and parish leaders prepare for the implementation of these changes. As we know, some are excited about these changes, others are frustrated, and some are not even aware this is coming. In any case, it does provide us with an opportunity to catechize people about the liturgy and hopefully journey with them to a deeper appreciation for our communal prayer of thanks and praise.

So I am here to present one more opportunity for study and formation.

The Southwest Liturgical Conference hosts an annual conference every year. We just had a wonderful study week in Houston, which discussed multicultural issues and the liturgy. In 2011, the study week is going to be held in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. I want to invite you to join us for a week of study and reflection on the revised texts.

This study week is open to everyone (assembly members, liturgists, musicians, liturgical ministers, priests, and deacons). We hope to provide some opportunities to look at liturgical history and cultural implications for change. We will engage in mystagogical reflection with the new texts and liturgical rituals and renew ourselves in prayer around the Eucharistic Table. The study week will also provide workshops on liturgical catechesis, renewal for liturgical ministers, sessions for RCIA team members, and a special clergy track.

Come join us in Salt Lake City February 2-5, 2011.

When more details are available, I will post them. Please check out the conference website.

In Christ,



  1. I am certain that the celebration of the new English Missal translation will assume a wide range of liturgical styles. The past fifty years have demonstrated an almost infinite variety of liturgical practices. Will the new translation foster bonds between competing liturgical schools?

    The paraphrased and colloquial style of the soon to be superseded Sacramentary has offered many opportunities for deviations from the text. This new literal translation will not afford as many ad libs given its high degree of conformity to Latin grammatical constructions. The strictures of a more literary Missal might draw diverse Masses closer together through greater adherence to the text and rubrics.

    Progressive liturgy associations certainly hold the right to propose their vision of the new Missal. However, this new chapter in vernacular liturgy offers an opportunity for liturgical liberals and liturgical conservatives to work together. I hope that progressive conferences will consider conservative voices, and that conservative groups will honor progressive voices. Both groups will likely walk away preserving most of the “liturgy war” status quo. Unity through the prayers of the Mass might provide tendentious links to connect Catholics of sharp liturgical differences.

    The introduction of a new translation should not be a time for further balkanization of the Catholic polity.

  2. Timothy,

    Thanks for the info. on the conference for next year. I’m glad to see catechetical opportunities becoming available (e.g., what you offer here and the Notre Dame videos mentioned elsewhere on the blog).

    I think a lot of this talk about the coming changes is overwhelming: people are either for it or against it–and they feel strongly. For those of us who are not experts in liturgical theology, this can make it difficult to enter the conversation about the changes.

    It will be helpful to have time to simply sit with the texts and pray with them.

  3. We recently had a Diocesan-wide liturgy in Fort Wayne, at which Fr. Ted Hesburgh concelebrated. He is, for all intents and purposes, blind now. I couldn’t help but think that he wouldn’t be able to celebrate Mass once these new translations become official (at least the Ordinary Form). Is there some consideration for that kind of situation?

    1. I hope there is consideration for situations such as this. My understanding of church law is that it can’t possibly cover every situation, and the wise and faithful minister sometimes has to do what is right for a situation though it is outside the law. I once heard Cardinal Schoenborn say exactly this.

      I wonder about my ministry at the county jail, where there is not necessarily adult reading literacy among the participants. But here I think we just have to make the changeover, however difficult, because some will have heard the new texts before they got to jail.

      Another exception I’ve thought about (because of my aging parents) is a Mass at home or in the nursing home where the old translation is known by heart, and the new one just came in to force but the old person can’t really read along with it. For sure I’d use the old translation in that case.

  4. I don’t believe there was specific legislation, but I could be wrong – I was young then, but I remember having to learn the Mass and other prayers twice. The Church does not command the impossible. If Fr Hesburgh were the principal celebrant at a Mass attended by the Holy Father, and he lapsed into the current translation, I doubt the Holy Father would even think of correcting him or forbidding him from doing likewise in the future.

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