Liturgical Changes

For many people, change does not come easy. Change requires us to stop doing things a certain way in order to do something else. Many people find comfort in familiar routines and known ways of acting. Change interrupts those familiar routines. But change is also an opportunity to stop and reflect on what we are doing and to come to a better understanding of God, who does not change.

Will these changes be noticeable?

In the third edition of the Roman Missal, almost every prayer in the Mass—those spoken by the priest and those spoken by the people—has been re-translated from the Latin to English. Some prayers now recited by memory will need to be relearned, and the familiar language of many prayers recited by the priest will change.

In preparing the new translation, the translators were asked to make the English texts conform more closely to the Latin originals and to retain traditional theological vocabulary that communicates important concepts of the faith. The language that the faithful will hear and pray is more formal and somewhat more complex than the language of ordinary conversation. It conveys rich theological concepts and retains biblical language and images.

Why does the Church change the Liturgy?

In its Liturgy, the Church always attempts to follow the “norm of the holy Fathers.” Th is effort “requires not only the preservation of what our immediate forebears have handed on to us, but also an understanding and a more profound pondering of the Church’s entire past… this broader view allows us to see how the Holy Spirit endows the People of God with a marvelous fidelity in preserving the unalterable deposit of faith, even though there is a very great variety of prayers and rites” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 9).

The Liturgy must, therefore, always celebrate and make present the Paschal Sacrifice of Christ—his saving Passion, death, Resurrection, and Ascension. However, over time, it may become necessary to make certain changes, such as adding prayers for recently canonized saints and adding texts that reflect the needs that the People of God wish to bring to God in prayer. Th e third edition of the Roman Missal makes such additions and provides a fresh translation of the Latin texts of the existing content of the Missal.

What exactly is changing?

Th e structure of the Mass (the order of the elements, the actions of the priest celebrant, and so forth) remains unchanged in the new edition of the Roman Missal. However, the translation of the prayer texts will change to more closely reflect the original Latin texts. In some cases, new options for prayers may be available, and some old options may no longer be present.

How can I prepare?

Th ere are many ways in which you can prepare for the changes in the Mass:

  • Make a conscious effort to participate more fully in the Mass each Sunday and holy day.
  • Take advantage of any special catechetical sessions offered by your parish or diocese.
  • Visit the Roman Missal website (www.usccb.org/romanmissal) to study the new texts and to learn more about the changes.
  • Read the new texts of the people’s parts at Mass. Begin to study them so that you will be able to pray them well when the new Roman Missal is implemented. You can view them here.
  • Pray for a renewal of love for the Liturgy in your parish and in the Church.