Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Two Resources for the Forthcoming English Mass....

A plethora of resources and commentary on the forthcoming English translation of the Missale Romanum are available in both book form and on the web. Two such resources come from Liturgical Training Press (LTP): Mystical Body, Mystical Voice: Encountering Christ in the Words of the Mass and Lift Up Your Hearts: A Pastoral, Theological, and Historical Survey of the Third Typical Edition of The Roman Missal. Both books clearly take the posture that this English translation is well-done, theologically richer, and thus a great gift and benefit to the English-speaking Church. So, in reading these books, one is not going to find debate or dissent regarding the translation process, its level of transparency or whether we should "just say 'wait'" or not. These books look forward and in doing so are fine resources for those in the pastoral trenches who are entrusted in celebrating well the liturgy and catechizing.

The first, edited by Christopher Carstens and Douglas Martis, walks the reader through not just where familiar Mass texts have changed but also through the ritual structure which isn't changing but is still rich fare for reflection. In a sense, the commentary touches on both text and the context.

The work is rich but not dense. The footnotes are helpful but not overwhelming. And the format's clarity persists throughout. The authors explain a particular ritual part of the Mass or a particular text and then write succinctly on "What the Church Wants Us to Know". This overall structure is concluded at the very end of the book with a Question and Answer section.

The book communicates well the beautiful cohesion of text and theology which marks the richness of the Roman Rite.

The next book is a series of essays edited by Robert Tuzik. Here one will find informative pieces which explain much of the "why" and "how" of the translation but is short on "what" deep theology the new translation holds. Unlike Mystical Body, Mystical Voice, Lift Up Your Hearts, in my opinion, will most likely not be a resource to which one continuously returns long after the new translation is implemented. This isn't to say that the text is unhelpful in this preparatory period.

Chapters 7- 9 elucidate the legitimate options presented to priest celebrants and others who prepare liturgies when using Eucharistic Prayers for Various Needs and Occasions, rites of initiation, and Masses in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Familiarity of these brings the potential of a richer liturgical life.

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