Most American Catholics are hopefully aware by now of the upcoming revisions to the Liturgy (the Mass) in English speaking countries starting on the first Sunday of Advent 2011 Nov 27. At St. Matthew’s, we have been placing bulletin inserts regarding the new liturgy for your reading the last several months. We will continue to do so and explain further at Sunday Masses. The changes for the people’s parts are minimal. The parts of the priest at prayer are more extensive. The purpose of the changes is to make the English texts more in conformity with the Latin texts that are the basis for the liturgy in other languages. The new Roman Missal also will raise the language to a higher linguistic level to make it more prayerful and reverent. All change is difficult but change is a part of embracing the paschal Mystery of Christ: to die and to rise to new life. Our Liturgy Committee has decided to enter into the process of preparation in the coming months by offering the community the opportunity to pray the new people’s parts in the coming months in increments. Worship tools will be provided in the form of a laminated card to be found in the pews.
The schedule will be as follows:
- July: The Penitential Rite
- August: The Gloria
- Sept: The Creed
- Oct: The Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
- Nov: The parts of the Eucharistic Prayer
We hope to have the opportunity for a study session for all liturgical ministers in the fall as well. Hopefully, as a parish community, we will embrace this change with a sense of enthusiasm and openness.
AT THE “CONFITEOR” OF THE NEW LITURGY
At the Confiteor, there is the gesture of striking the breast. This is a sign of repentance, of humility, like the parable of the Pharisee and publican in Gospel: But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Lk 18:13)
The words express our repentance verbally. Striking the breast expresses our repentance physically, in body language.
There is an ancient tradition called penthose in Greek, or compunctio in Latin: a profound attitude of repentance for our sins, and not only for our own, but also for those of the whole world. St. Benedict says: “We know that our prayers will not be heard on account of many words, but because of purity of heart, compunction, and tears” (RB 20:3). In another place, he says: During Lent, “let us guard ourselves from every vice, and dedicate ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and to fasting” (RB 49:4). The gesture of striking the breast made carefully and with full awareness, can communicate to ourselves and to others more than mere words can say, that we recognize our sinfulness and publicly declare our sorrow for our sins.
AND WITH YOUR SPIRIT
As we might have noticed by now, as we have begun to review some of the new prayer forms for English speaking Catholics in the new Roman Missal we have replaced “And also with you” to the presider’s invitation to pray with the words “And with your spirit”.
Why in the world is this change taking place? It might seem at first hearing somewhat excessively “clerical”.
The reason for this subtle change is as follows:
The phrase “And with your spirit” is based on the Scriptures in the Book of Ruth and the Book of Revelation. Many of the liturgical changes to come attempt to place our liturgical prayer more in conformity with the Word of God.
- As we address the priest in response, we are recognizing that we are acting in the spiritual realm and this phrase refers to the spiritual aspect of the person.
- To respond “And with your spirit” places the onus on the priest to recognize it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables him to lead the congregation in prayer. It is not his own human ability or education that empowers him to be leader of prayer.
- The words focus on the “spiritual” relationship between the people and the priest” and expresses the sacredness of the moment.
Additional information is avaiable on the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.