by Frank Klose
Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia delivered a paper at the Napa Institute in San Francisco on Saturday of this past weekend. Chaput’s paper, entitled, “Pope Francis and Economic Justice”, laid out Francis’ approach for the dignity of the human person and the implied need for each individual – lay and clergy alike – to take responsibility to promoting human dignity in their individual time and place.
In doing so Chaput ironically showed a flaw in the dismissal of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal:
“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:” We hear those words at the end of every Mass. We serve the Lord best by serving the needs of others. We love the Lord best by showing his love to others. At the heart of this pope’s thoughts about economic justice is not a theory or an ideology, but the person of Jesus Christ. And all of us who call ourselves Christians should see in that a reason to hope.
However, we no longer hear, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” at Mass.
The average layperson who comes to Mass would indeed benefit from hearing these words, knowing that outside of Mass service does not end.
Instead of a message of sending forth to love and serve the Lord, the new focus at dismissal was the Latin, “Ite, missa est.” The end result of the translation was four dismissals:
“Go forth, the mass is ended”
“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”
“Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your lives”
“Go in peace”
Stating the Mass simply has ended gives the impression that God’s work is done. That perhaps is why I have heard it used the least of the options: the deacons and priests at Mass know it is weak.
Announcing the message of the Gospel is indeed important. But, yet an “announcement” is not the same as to “love and serve the Lord” when the people are not gathered together.
Pope Benedict’s addition, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your lives”, may be the best option of the four. However, in our English, a superficial mind could think that “glorifying the Lord” means getting good grades at school, achieving a sports championship, or getting a promotion at the office. This is about service.
“Go in peace”, is not enough on its own. No, we do not plan to leave and fight with anyone, but it gives the same impression as “the Mass is ended.” It seems to state, “Well, this was fun. Drive safely.”
On the Greek and Latin website, Vocabulary Lesson Plans, a student asks what the best translation of ite, missa est is. The teacher’s response:
There is some debate about missa, however. In late Latin, abstract nouns ending in –io came to be spelled instead with an -a. So it is possible that missa stands for missio. So says the Catholic Church. And so the best translation in ecclesiatical Latin is, “Go, it is the sending (or dismissal).”
This “sending” forth for justice in the world cannot be missed.
Chaput is right: Pope Francis wants all to go forth to love and serve the Lord. Francis’ popularity stems from his ability to deliver simple messages that all can understand and apply to their daily lives. If only the liturgy could speak to people in the same way.
Dr. Francis X. Klose is a parish music director and college professor in Philadelphia, PA. Frank recently completed a doctoral degree from Drew University, where his dissertation focused on liturgical music in the United States since the Second Vatican Council.