The New Missal: Reflections on Change


All Souls Mass at the motherhouse.

by Associate Mary Kay Christian, liturgist for the St. Louis province

There is something about autumn that makes us stop and remember wistfully days gone by. In November, as we recall those who have died and gone before us, we look back and remember fondly the good old days. Or sometimes, the memories of pain and loss become ever more present and may weigh on our hearts.

This year the changes in the English translations to the Roman Missal will bring back memories, both good and bad, for many of us in the pews. It may be the memory of childhood innocent faith and reverence-Et cum Spiritu tuo. Or it may be the enthusiasm and excitement of a new way of being church and a new way of praying together presented to us with the Second Vatican Council. Perhaps it's the uneasy feeling of having to change something so well-known and familiar as some of our responses at Mass will churn up a lot of memories of past hurts and conflict with the church of our youth or even the church of our present-day.

But this autumn, as a new liturgical year begins, we have the opportunity to reflect and reassess our own memories, dreams and hopes for our communion with the church. We can listen more deeply and learn more about the words, gestures and rituals we celebrate together in the Eucharist. Only time will tell where these changes will lead. As I watch the leaves blow through the air, I am trying to trust that I am being carried by the breath of the Holy Spirit to the place where I am called to be. Indeed, I am hoping in faith that God's people, the church, are too.

For more information about the changes to the Roman Missal that begin on November 27, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's Web site.

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