Implementation of the new Roman missal

At the January 6, 2011 meeting of the Catholic Academy of Liturgy, held on the day before the beginning of the annual conference of the North American Academy of Liturgy, Fr. Edward Foley, Capuchin, delivered this paper as part of a panel on the implementation of the new Roman missal. The oral style of his spoken presentation has intentionally been preserved in this transcript.

“Implementation of the new Roman missal” by Edward Foley, Capuchin


    1. I just read this article and I heartily agree with Paul Ford’s assessment!!
      The quote which sums it all up for me is,”Is God adequately revealed only in a liturgy that conforms to Latin thought patterns, syntax and language?”

      1. Actually-the book the Genius of the Roman Rite says that there was never total agreement on the translation of the Liturgy when the liturgy was translated from Greek into Hebrew, from Hebrew into Latin and Latin into English.

  1. Thanks. Any way we can get the other two presentations?

    Loved his touches:
    – lex orandi, lex textus
    – original latin…better than vernacular
    – collegiality
    – ecumenism both in missal and in lectionary
    – reception;
    – how can youth return home if this has never been their home
    – how do we live with 1973 ICEL, 2010 ICEL, & the EF

  2. A fine piece indeed. But I’d like to see his articulation of WHY, despite all the problems he raises, there is no ecclesially responsible alternative to going along with it. That’s a case a part of me–despite many of the other things I write–is prepared to believe. But I need a version of it that can be accepted with intellectual and moral integrity.

    1. One might consider it an opportunity for solidarity. For solidarity with people in the pews, who have no control over the choices by pope, bishops – and also parish priests – in matters of liturgical form. (Clerics have certain privileges of choice that we layfolk don’t; it can annoy laity to witness clerics whine/whinge about how oppressed they feel by their jobs, as it were, when layfolk can be fired by their bosses for no good reason at all (at least in the USA – where most people work under at-will conditions, and can be fired with no notice and for no good reason.))

      It can also be a form of honesty – and integrity – to allow the consequences of such choices to be revealed in all their naked glory, for good or ill, rather than trying to mask them out of a misplaced need to play the role of fixer. I suspect change can’t really happen without a willingness to do this with trust in the Holy Spirit to shed light where light should be shed, but understanding it’s on the Spirit’s timetable, not ours.

      However, one must take care not to let this be ruddered by an ego need to be seen as prophetic (there’s much too much of that already).

      1. I understand that US priests can be fired from their ill-paid jobs quite easily and arbitrarily too. But do priests whinge and whine all that much? Our complaints about the new liturgy have nothing to do with our own clerical comfort (except perhaps the comfort of our uneasy conscience) and everything to do with the pastoral welfare of the faithful, who are being dumped on again by insensitive hierarchs.

      2. Joe

        Priests aren’t disappeared as fast as layfolk typically are, as a practical matter. Don’t go there.

        And pastoral welfare posturing is more credible when it is preceded by a broad consensus of the flock in whose name it is invoked. Which is much rarer than the posture.

  3. I am caught by the phrase : “I have no right to change these texts.”

    My understanding is that there is a strong argument to be made that under existing Church law, the national bishop’s conferences have the rights to determine the texts, not a Vatican Committee. So how did we get to this point?

    I also ask how did we get to a point in which a tiny minority of members decide for the rest of us what are the laws and liturgy of the Church? That’s a rhetorical question. We have a structure that didn’t work during the Reformation when European Christianity splintered. We now have a structure which is driving away believers by the millions.

    1. Brigid;

      Not being snarky or terse here, really, but when it comes to the liturgy, it is the Holy See that has delegated the power to the Bishop’s Conferences to approve texts, while retaining it’s full authority over all aspects of the liturgy.

      In practice, and I have tried to make this point before, it means that the Bishop’s conferences may propose and approve texts, and they will be approved by Rome so long as they are what Rome wants. It is a rubber-stamp situation. We saw in 1998, and are seeing now what happens when there is discrepancy between what the Bishops propose and what Rome wants. So far, in all cases, Rome gets the final say.

      1. Thanks for the clarification.

        I suspect that if “Rome” continues to insist on getting the final say while running rough shod over everyone else, “Rome” will soon find it is talking to itself!

        Vatican II offered a path for the Church and especially the hierarchy to evolve. I suspect the vigorous suppression of evolution will result in revolution, a far more painful process with many casualties.

      2. Brigid;

        From what I’ve seen so far, this is not really all that unusual of a practice for the Holy See. As for who is offended by such actions, I’m not sure that much will really change. Vatican II actually did little to change the hierarchy of the Church. A lot of imagination has been exercised to try and make it so, but in the end, we have what we have and I think we’re seeing the results.

    2. Actually- ICEL recommends the texts to the bishops conferences, the bishops approve or disapprove of the ICEL texts with changes and submits them to the Congregation for Divine Liturgy and Sacraments for approval, The CDWS can either approve the texts or send them back to the bishops conferences for further changes. Since the Roman Rite is larger than any bishops conferences, the Vatican has the final say.

  4. How do we live with the 1973, 2010 and EF Masses? We might also add the Anglican Usage and the hundreds of other languages that the Mass is offered. I just visited a parish on Miami Beach that has English, Spanish and Portuguese.
    The Church doesn’t want to impose a rigid uniformity on the Liturgy. There isn’t much uniformity today at all, not only in language, but order of liturgy, rubrics, musical styles, etc. All of these are sanctioned and even promoted in the highest places like the Vatican. Evidently the spirit of Vatican II does triumph. I think we can live with it. I appreciate too Fr. Foley’s beginning remarks. It disarms us and helps us to enter into debate knowing we’ll do what is asked of us even if we disagree with it on a personal level.

      1. Joe, Like the 1962 missal, which has never really disappeared from usage, I suspect there will be pockets of dissenters still using the 1973 missal for many more years to come. Others might try to use earlier versions that appeared on the internet as the translation process made its pilgrimage which would be a monumental improvement over their ad libbed prayers. I wonder too if an indult will be given to elderly and infirmed priests to continue celebrating the 1973 version privately. Given the huge number of aging baby boomer priests that could be a significant number of us.

  5. I am completely flummoxed by Fr. Foley’s statement on the new, literal, and accurate translation of the supplices te rogamus.

    Under the heading “Theological challenge no. 6 = Liturgical theology” on page 7, Foley criticizes the new translation of the supplices te rogamus as “arcane”. In his view the supplices “communicate[s] undue emphasis on the transcendence of God.” [my addition]

    The supplices te rogamus has often been interpreted as an ascending epiclesis. Would not the implicit participation of the Holy Spirit in the awesome objective reality of Calvary trump any need for an anthropocentric “participation”? The imagery of the faithful as Church in Lumen gentium 2 does not necessarily imply that the Sacrifice must bow to every human emotion and subjective need. All of us participate in the supplices because we worship and adore the concrete reality of Mass. We meet the sacrificed Son in the Canon on God’s terms. Should the clergy and laity both demand a facile understanding of the texts of the holy mysteries on our terms when this understanding is irrelevant to the ex opere operato Sacrifice?

    1. Jordan,

      I do not “worship and adore the concrete reality of Mass.” I worship and adore God; Father, Son, and Spirit.

      Anything in the Mass that is not useful to that end [and to be useful must be reasonably sensible/intelligible] doesn’t belong there.

      Yes, demanding understanding of the texts is appropriate, lest it become mere magic mumbo-jumbo.

      1. Quite true, Lynn — we are at Mass principally to worship the triune God. Yes, what I have said is idolatrous and quite strange. My apologies to Fr. Foley for a not-very-well crafted and perhaps disingenuous post. I should not use PT as a palette for strange musings.

        My point: if we believe that the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ is made present at each and every Mass foremost through the eucharistic prayer, the re-presentation is objective, and not contingent. I question is Fr. Foley’s notion that translated language has to be “lowered” to a level of immanence. Can a prayer be “too transcendent”? What does that mean? That I do not understand and do not find warranted in the texts he cites.

      2. I’m sure Fr. Foley will forgive you, assuming this even comes to his attention.

        Can a prayer be “too transcendant?” Like you, I’m not sure quite what that means. But, I tend to favor the more concrete in my worship, and much prefer language that I can get some grasp of. Jesus was a very concrete sort of man, just like the fishermen, tax collectors and such that he hung out with. I think maybe we’re getting entirely too full of ourselves with all this elevated, vaporous language. God doesn’t need us to tell Him how great He is, and we can’t begin to adequately describe it for ourselves, so why exactly are we doing it?

        Get together, share the stories, sing the songs, share the meal. Then go out and do our very best to love one another as we were commanded to do. Why must we make so complex and inaccessible the things Jesus made so very simple?

  6. Let’s see…now we have “….ascending epiclesis”. That ranks right up there with “….interpolated adverbial phrase”. And we get to use it 140 times. My only thought – is liturgy made for God? Does s/he really need it?

    1. +JMJ+

      What do you have against “ascending epiclesis”, Bill? There’s been plenty of liturgical terminology tossed around on this blog. Is this term so terrible, or is it just unknown to you? (Just do a Google search for the phrase.)

    2. Bill, does God really need us? Do we need God? God desires to be in relationship with us, and the liturgy is the public manifestation of this relationship. If we view liturgy as being for us, we will end up worshiping ourselves. There is a fine line between allowing our various gifts (as celebrants, homilists, musicians, liturgists, artists, translators) to shine in the service of the liturgy verses showing off our talents to validate ourselves. The difference is the focus of our attention.

  7. The stress on transcendence here is abstact and destructive. The Mass was made for man, not man for the Mass.

  8. “pastoral welfare posturing is more credible when it is preceded by a broad consensus of the flock in whose name it is invoked.”

    Well, there WAS a broad consensus among laity in South Africa that the New Translation was a disaster. How did Cardinal Napier react?

  9. And I very much resent the phrase “pastoral welfare posturing” which shows rather the frivolity and ideological agenda of the one who resorts to it.

  10. In reply #16, I think Lynn Thomas has said more than all of us in many hundreds of postings:

    “Get together, share the stories, sing the songs, share the meal. Then go out and do our very best to love one another as we were commanded to do. Why must we make so complex and inaccessible the things Jesus made so very simple?”

  11. “If church is truly a communio with an option for the poor, then its liturgy in all of its language and gestures and rites must have an option for the poor. Otherwise, it separates itself from the Jesus Table which was option-central for the poor.”

    What on earth is this and the discussion of noble simplicity supposed to mean? Will using more colloquial language in the liturgy put food on the tables of the poor? Do words cost money?

    I happen to be poor right now, although hopefully after completing my doctorate I will be able to earn more money. Is there a language for the poor? Are poor people unable to understand or appreciate dignity and beauty in the liturgy? The kind of statements made by Foley display a demeaning stereotype of the poor, as if the fruits of human creativity (such as artistic beauty in music, architecture, vestments, poetic language, etc.) are beyond their reach. We need simple, childish liturgy for the poor unwashed masses. Here is a thought: maybe the poor are human beings, with varied backgrounds and ideals and desires. Maybe they are not an amorphous mass that we can stereotype and categorize from distant heights of the ivory tower.

    Against demeaning comments like the ones in this presentation, I set all of the varied arts ministries that exist in churches around the country. As a choir director I especially look at children’s and adult choirs which reach out to the community (both in performance and enrollment). Some people minister to the poor by allowing them to experience and participate in the highest fruits of human culture. This is because we believe in their nobility and dignity.

    1. We need simple, childish liturgy for the poor unwashed masses.

      Jared, I hope you mean “childlike” not “childish”.

    2. Jared, you’ve touched on the divide between liturgy as the reality of our salvation on earth or liturgy as a preface to social justice and other anthropocentric goals. Should the woman of Bethany have “wasted” a jar of perfumed oil, worth a laborer’s annual wage, on Jesus’ feet? Or should she have sold it for the more deserving? (cf Mk 14:3-5) On page 3 Fr. Foley echoes Jesus’ critics when he contrasts the cappa magna against the trials of the deep recession. At the top of the following page he calls for communio, an “option for the poor”. Foley’s readers might well conclude from his statements that the option for the poor rejects the nard, the accoutrements of high liturgy, that should not be spilt. Perhaps the opposite is true: commonweal through a false modesty rejects charity because “social justice” must be subordinate to the holy Sacrifice regardless of its adornment.

      The reassignment of the Mass as a narrative of material sustenance and social revolution blinds us from the unbloody Golgotha that saturates the world with the perpetual presence of salvation. The real option for the poor is the imperative for all: the adoration and worship of the actual and tangible saving Lord now in our midst.

      Did Our Lady and St. John the Beloved neglect the Cross for their soup kitchen volunteer job? No. Their lives were utterly reformed by complete and steadfast surrender to Christ’s destruction of death. Without complete surrender to the Sacrifice we also are powerless to render charity.

  12. “The use of “arcane” language could, with an underlying theological anthropology that emphasizes that God is holy and people are not (contrary to the instruction of Lumen gentium, all of chapter 2), communicate undue emphasis on the transcendence of God”

    Um…God is holy and people are not – yet. Although we hope to become holy through His work in us, we are works in progress. We continually sin, and continually ask for forgiveness. Is this news to anyone? Do we need to aim for a Pelagian, all-inclusive, self-affirming language in the liturgy? Is that what this and the “pro multis” controversy is about? The liturgy itself shows us that our sinfulness in the presence of God is a concern. We have a penitential rite in every Mass (assuming the priest has not decided to omit it) – the priest asks to be washed clean of his own iniquities before the Eucharistic prayer. These things and others are already part of the liturgy – does Foley worry that flowery language will send more of a message than the existing penitential rite at every Mass?

    How could one put “undue emphasis” on the transcendence of God? The major historical approach has been to deny the Incarnation or the hypostatic union. I do not see that the poetic language of an angel bearing our gifts to God commits this heresy. Especially not when that kind of language pervades the book of Revelation. Perhaps Foley could have chosen a more pertinent example…

  13. What is the main reason young, educated Catholics are leaving the church? Is it inclusive language? I think not…

    Of course, I am a young and highly educated Catholic myself, so what do I know.

    I do know that many of my friends (I suppose they are young and educated as well because I know them from graduate school or as young faculty members) are insulted by childish and condescending liturgy. They are not attracted to poorly-performed quasi-folk-style guitar music that is supposed to speak to ‘their generation.’

    I also know plenty of young, educated, liberal people who enjoy the ‘high Anglican’ style liturgy, complete with flowery and archaic (and often non-inclusive) language and snooty music.

    But I suppose these facts from the real world experience of an actual young educated Catholic do not mean anything when in conflict with the academic weight of a Foley presentation.

    As a note to this and the above comments, I am not a wide-eyed fan of the new translations. Sometimes, however, confronted with too much spare time between semesters, I cannot refrain from contradicting the wierd and out-of-touch in academic liturgical pronouncements.

  14. Jared.. my vast experience in working with young people is that they are “leaving” or holding the church “suspect” not because of its liturgy, or style of music, as too many tend to believe is the source of their judgments. Nor is it a lack of belief in God, or a lack of a spiritual search. Far from it, the spiritual ache is huge for young people Their issues, primarily have to do with the CHURCH in general – there is a basic sense that it is irrelevant to their lives, and that they feel it is out of touch with the world around them. And these feelings come from young people who are both “liberal” and “conservative.” The institutional structure, its politics, its unwillingness to accept fully the gifts of women in ordained ministry and decision making, its lack of embracing homosexuals, and so forth – these things only scratch the surface, but are some of the common themes that I and others in the youth ministry field hear often, and it can be backed up by empirical data. The liturgy is an expression of a deeper sense of church for them.. their liturgical music tastes are not to be stereotyped – their preferences and tastes are all over the map from chant to choral to pop/contemporary. Another big issue is that they often perceive and experience that the church continually sees them as the “future” and locks them out of a full seat at table here and now. I could go on and on.. but I will stop here.

    1. David, with all due respect, the Episcopal Church which has all of these things and more are not keeping their young either. It has to do with faith in God, right faith, not something that is made up. Faith is a gift that many young are rejecting for something bogus, meaning something that is on their terms, and on their time. They are like Oprah, spiritual, but doing things their way. As one famous priests likes to say, the theme song of hell is “I Did It My Way.”

      1. Exactly,Fr. Allan! Chapter Four of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults points out that Faith is a gift. A challenge to our faith is in large part because the government through their flawed interpretation of “separation of church and state” has created a “culture of disbelief” in the words of the U.S. Bishops.

      2. Tim

        The bishops co-begat that culture. It did not arise, Athene-like, from the brain of the secular Zeus.

      3. “the theme song of hell is “I Did It My Way.”
        Are you condemning kids to hell???
        There’s this story about a prodigal son- ever read it?
        Are you shortchanging God’s generosity and mercy?
        Who lacks faith here!

    2. In my own non-negligible experience of working with young people, and speaking as a former young person myself, I believe what they most often want from the Church, from social relations, and from the world in general can be encapsulated in a single word: Authenticity.

      Young people, searching for the meaning of their lives and pondering the mystery of their existence and their future, resent being patronized. They already know where to find entertainment. They already know where to find companionship, adulation, emotional stimulus, and a thousand different ways to throw their lives away. What they also know is that none of those places offers Truth, unsentimentalized and in plain view — the truth about the world in which they struggle, and about themselves.

      The hunger for authenticity is a disgust with pretense and sham and hypocrisy. It is a hunger to be challenged to a great work. Young people are more than ready to convert to Jesus Christ crucified and risen, if only someone will propose him to them, in terms respectful of the seriousness with which they view the mystery of their existence.

      David is right to speak of a spiritual ache in the young. I believe the reason they ache is because they hunger not for what’s “relevant” to their current way of life (for they suspect their current lives are crap), but something new, for which their current lives have not even given them the words to ask. What they need is not more-of-the-same peddled as “relevance”, but the challenge of an entirely new and unchanging reference point — the Cross — than which there’s nothing more authentic.

      Young people are not aching because they long to be affirmed where they are, but because they long to give their lives away for love, and, valuing their lives, long for a commitment worthy of them.

      1. Precisely because one hungers for authenticity, the inauthenticity of the new translations will be a downer. What sincere young person wants to pray in the following terms?:

        “For through him the holy exchange that restores our life

        has shone forth today in splendor:

        when our frailty is assumed by your Word

        not only does human mortality receive unending honor

        but by this wondrous union we, too, are made eternal.”

  15. David,

    In my vast experience being a young Catholic and interacting with my peers, I would tend to agree with you. There are many issues at work that young people feel strongly about.

    However, your list of concerns and Foley’s concern with the hospitality of non-inclusive texts are both only part of the big picture. Some youth are certainly concerned about these things that you list. My point is that other youth are concerned with and alienated by liturgical experimentation, pedestrian language, ugly or childish (or 70’s era folk-style) music, clerical dissent or heresy, and so on. As with the poor, youth are not easily categorized. Many of my friends have fallen in love with the Church for the first time, when they first encountered her strong teachings (i.e. on sexuality) at my college campus center. Your list of the complaints of youth is also a list of some of the exact things that attract young people to the Church. In a relativistic culture that is supposed to make them liberated and happy, many youth find what they are looking for in the clear, albeit difficult, teachings of the Church. The same goes for liturgy and liturgical language. The ‘reform of the reform’ movement is full of young people – the priests interested in liturgy which is faithful to the Church’s directives tend to be young. If an older Catholic is not aware of these facts and trends, I’m afraid they are out of touch with my generation.

    Of course, my comments only apply to some of the youth, as do yours. What I would object to is any kind of attempt to write down a list of things as the “Concerns of Today’s Young Catholics.” Youth are just as likely to have their own opinions on all of these topics as adults.

    1. Another thing ever to remember is that “high”, “low” and “broad” worship preferences do not neatly align with theological perspectives one might be tempted to assume otherwise align. That’s a special reason not to extrapolate from one arena to the other.

  16. Jared – of course the concerns that I list along with Ed’s are only part of the picture – there are dozens of reasons and factors that contribute to the problem. You are totally right that some are alienated because of what they deem to be, to use your words (not mine), a liturgy that has been filled with too much experimentation or become too “pedestrian.” And others also are alienated because the liturgy and the church is becoming too conservative and not “hip” enough = and everything in between. In this way they are no different than the variety of perspectives of their parents and other adults. I do not believe that I expressed my thoughts as being the final word on the subject, but one that I have experienced and where a lot of data has also supported, as Ed as cited from Kate’s work in this area. I know Kate, and we have talked about this – most of the time (not always) the issues are deeper than liturgical or musical taste – they have to do with spirituality, their faith in God, and their relationship to the Church.

    Fr. Allan – I would be careful about your comments that can sound a bit matter of fact. Most of the young people I know are NOT what you describe as people looking for “bogus” activities that are not about “right faith.” I would really disagree that young people are just “rejecting” faith and looking for something on their own terms. While they sometimes may be initially attracted to something spiritual or religious that appeals to their immediate situation – they also want to be challenged and pulled to something greater than themselves. This has been my overwhelming experience. Liturgy (and music of course) can help evangelize the Good News – but it cannot become the Good News in of itself. They are looking for integrity, and for a church that stands for something that is important to them alongside their initial faith in God. This is where it breaks down sometimes.

    1. David, the young people I know who have remained in the Church are not seeking to overturn centuries of Catholic teaching as it regards the ordained priesthood and moral teachings of the Church. They are looking for strength from the sacraments which also includes the proclamation of the Word to assist them in their daily struggles. They are also looking to the Church to offer them spiritual direction and God’s forgiveness. But for those who are apathetic to our Catholic faith and no longer even attend Mass they must be finding meaning in life in bogus activities and in the “religion” of the “Oprahization” of spirituality and moral ambiguity. I hope the young who stay aren’t looking to the clergy for an example, but to the One they represent, Jesus Christ. All others disappoint. But in a culture driven by the cult of the personality I suspect the cult of the personality is paramount even in the Church for this clique.

  17. Again, these are not absolute beliefs that cover the entire landscape of this issue – but they are there, nonetheless. And the new missal, already, with groups of young people with whom I work, is causing consternation for many, which than triggers their need to vent about the greater issues about Church, control, clericalism, and lack of inclusion.

    Over all – all of these things regarding young people are much in common with the adult community – one of the differences being that young people are more impatient, and more intense in their search – part of the wonderful passion that they bring with their youthful spirit.

  18. I think “authenticity” is key for people of all ages.

    I suspect that some young people are looking for heroism, but they see little sacrifice in church leaders, nor are they always challenged to sacrifice in turn. Traditional religious life and service opportunities, yes. But these are all run by lay people.

    And seminaries? These are hardly challenging places for young men. We still have a dearth of exceptional academic candidates. Practically any lay person with a graduate degree of any kind is better educated than today’s clergy. And yet many clergy, especially some of the younger generation, hide their weaknesses behind bluster and a false sense of superiority.

    I know many alienated Catholic women. I don’t think ordination is the dealbreaker it’s made out to be. But they do see widespread disrespect for women. And that is deeply troubling. Rome’s investigation has done a lot to reinforce this, and is the biggest discouragement to the faith of women since the bishops’ cover-up scandals of the past decade.

    I’m deeply skeptical of the notion of generational exceptionalism, the idea that one generation is any more holy or sullied than another. We have too few Pauls in the Church hierarchy: people willing to preach in season or out, and to preach in such a way so as to evangelize and excite others, not to reinforce belief or excite themselves.

  19. In his final paragraph on “Hybridization” Fr. Foley spoke about part of the reception process for the new translation being a “documenting its graces and its flaws.”

    This is a good idea. So how to do it?

    Alan Griffiths

    1. ‘ … documenting its graces and its flaws.’

      Perhaps the flawed translations could have an alternative text printed opposite them with a translation that makes sense.

      – Perhaps getting off-topic, but would it be better to have translated from the original rather than the latin?

  20. “What sincere young person wants to pray in the following terms?”

    I don’t know if I count as a “young person” since I’m in my late 20s, but I would. Those younger than me whose liturgical preferences I am familiar with tend to prefer more hierarchical/archaic language than used in the present translation.

    Exactly how widespread this is, I don’t know. But based on my experience, it isn’t terribly unusual.

  21. I think you are judging the text I quoted for its content rather than its language — this is not archaic but unidiomatic: “the holy exchange that restores our life has shone forth; not only does human mortality receive unending honor; we, too, are made eternal.” Have you ever prayed to be made eternal? Do you think redemption is about receiving unending honor?

    1. While you may be right, I certainly *think* I’m responding to the language rather than the content.

      I’m a bit confused by the rest of your response though. You seem to be criticizing the content rather than the language.

      This prayer doesn’t seem to be asking that we be made eternal, but praising God for the fact that we are. That’s a rather different thing.

      I don’t think that redemption is *about* receiving unending honor. But I don’t see anything wrong with praising God for honoring us in the Incarnation.

      Could you clarify a bit further what you mean?

  22. Jared said We have a penitential rite in every Mass (assuming the priest has not decided to omit it)

    I’m sorry, but this is typical of the misinformation that permeates liturgical discussions.

    We don’t have a penitential rite in every Mass.

    Think Palm Sunday, funerals where the coffin is received at the beginning of Mass, and any celebration where the rite of blessing and sprinkling of water replaces the penitential rite, just for starters. There are others, too.

    (The blessing and sprinkling of water, BTW, is not, as many seem to think, a penitential rite, and most certainly not on Easter Sunday when it is a recalling of our passing through the waters of baptism to new life.)

  23. It’s not all that clear to me that the blessing and sprinkling of water is not a penitential rite. Do you have an official reference that explicitly says so?

    The GIRM says, “On Sundays, especially in the Season of Easter, in place of the customary Act of Penitence, from time to time the blessing and sprinkling of water to recall Baptism may take place.”

    To me, that seems to suggest that the Asperges is an Act of Penitence, replacing the customary one. They could have written “in place of the Act of Penitence” or “when the Asperges takes place the act of penitence is omitted”.

    Certainly the character of the Asperges is penitential. “Have mercy on me Lord, according to your great mercy.” “Wash me and I shall be made whiter than snow.” Quoting one of the seven penitential Psalms.

    Your example of Easter Sunday is not correct, I believe, because on Easter Sunday itself, the penitential rite is done as “customary” and then the renewal of Baptismal promises with sprinkling replaces the Creed, not the Confiteor, etc. (Perhaps it could legally be done both places, I’d have to double check the references, but that would seem to be poor form.)

  24. Paul Inwood –

    As someone who plays and plans music for liturgies through the year, I am aware that not every single Mass has a penitential rite. You have noted some of the few exceptions. What I should have said is “the vast majority of Masses have a penitential rite (assuming the priest does not omit it).” My point still stands – with just a few exceptions we are used to participating in the penitential rite at Mass. Is the new translation introducing a new concept into the liturgy – i.e. that we are sinful and in need of forgiveness (or less than completely holy)? Obviously not. That was my point. Many apologies if you took my general statement too literally.

    Of course, the argument about the nature of the sprinkling rite goes on. However, I would just note that even if it is primarily a reminder of baptism, baptism is a washing clean from original sin (among other things such as bringing membership in the Body of Christ). So, the majority of the time we explicitly ask for forgiveness at Mass (in the penitential rite). At certain special times – i.e. Easter, this rite is replaced by a ritual reminder of our baptism (the sprinkling rite). Just remember that no matter how you cut it, a reminder of baptism must be in part a reminder of our own need for salvation.

    Also note the renewal of baptismal promises at various times (i.e. for those attending a baptism) – remembrance of baptism in this life involves remembering and renewing our ongoing fight against Satan and all his works. It cannot be entirely limited to thanksgiving for our new life, although that is an important element.

    1. I beg to differ-every liturgy does have a penitential rite or as it is called in the 2002 GIRM-The Act of Penitence. Before we enter into the readings and the prayers of the liturgy, we ask Lord to forgive us of our sins. The penitential rite is a form of forgiveness by absolution which absolves us of our venial sins. This helps us to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion more fully. It is a required element of the Mass. Now, sometimes when there is a more urgent pastoral need, like the baptism of an infant, many times the presider will administer the opening prayers to the baptismal rite and the oil of salvation to the baby to baptized as well as to present the child, the parents,other brothers and sisters and godparents to the parish community at large, the penitential rite is ommitted. Other times, there can be a sprinkling rite as that reminds us of our baptisms. Days like the Baptism of the Lord, where we are reminded that Jesus was baptized but to also remember that we were baptized, we recommit ourselves by renewing our baptismal promises and we are sprinkled with holy water as a symbol of that recommitment.
      I was a bit upset as a liturgy planner as our parish had a call to sacramental preparation for our Confirmation candidates as well as our First Communion candidates on the Baptism of the Lord and there was no sprinkling rite because of that. I objected to that on the basis that they recommit to their baptismal vows before they are confirmed or before they make their First Communion and there would be no greater way to express their commitment to call to sacramental preparation than to recomit themselves to their baptismal vows and be sprinkled with holy water before they committed themselves to their sacramental preparation on the Baptism of the Lord. There was still no sprinkling rite despite my objections, but I planted a seed for future years.

  25. I must add Jared that the presider has the final say on what goes on during the liturgy-not the music ministry coordinator. It might be to your advantage to consult with the presider before the Mass to get an idea of what the flow of the liturgy is. And, read the GIRM which says that there must be either a sprinkling rite or a penitential rite at the beginning of the Mass.

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