“For towards the end of this year, a revised English translation of the Roman Missal will come into use throughout the English speaking world and in all the dioceses and parishes of Scotland. The Roman Missal is the book in which is contained the prayers and texts of the Mass. The Revised Roman Missal with its new English translation will come fully into use on 27th November, the First Sunday of Advent, and from that date onwards, the revised Missal will be the only English-language version of the Mass which is authorised for use in Scotland. I want to stress the fundamental importance of this matter, my dear brothers and sisters, because these texts will be our Sunday and daily Mass for the foreseeable future. This is the form of the Mass we will use for the rest of our lives, probably, and which our young people and children will also begin to learn and use very soon.”
Mass of Chrism
St. Mirin’s Cathedral, Paisley
20 April 2011
1. The Mass of Chrism, with its consecration of the oils to be used at Baptism, Confirmation and Anointing focuses our attention on the sacramental structure of the Church through which Christ the Lord efficaciously imparts to us the graces and blessings of the salvation which he won for us through his cross and resurrection and through which the Church expresses the mystery of her own life and mission as the privileged sign and instrument, that is to say, – the Sacrament, of communion with God and of the unity of the whole human race.
2. This evening we are gathered as the priests and deacons and faithful of the Diocese of Paisley. When we celebrate the sacraments, these are celebrations of the whole Church. The liturgy of the Church is the work of whole Christ, of the whole community united with its Head, Jesus Christ. The Sacraments and the liturgy pertain to the whole Body of Christ, even though they touch individual members of the Church in different ways, depending on their orders, their role in the liturgical actions and their participation in them. In fact, at this Chrism Mass, our priests, as the celebrants of the Eucharist and of the Sacraments, are especially to the fore as we remember the Lord’s institution of the priesthood and we invite the priests to renew the promises they made at ordination and their priestly service to Christ and to his Church.
3. I am talking about the liturgy and the sacraments as the activity of the whole Church united with our Lord because there is something we will need to do very soon together as a Diocese, as priests and people, in regard to the greatest of all the Sacraments, the Sacrament to which all other Sacraments are ordered, the Most Holy Eucharist, which the Lord instituted on Holy Thursday on the eve of his passion and death, in which we make present Christ’s one Sacrifice and in which we receive the body and blood of the Lord.
4. For towards the end of this year, a revised English translation of the Roman Missal will come into use throughout the English speaking world and in all the dioceses and parishes of Scotland. The Roman Missal is the book in which is contained the prayers and texts of the Mass. The Revised Roman Missal with its new English translation will come fully into use on 27th November, the First Sunday of Advent, and from that date onwards, the revised Missal will be the only English-language version of the Mass which is authorised for use in Scotland. I want to stress the fundamental importance of this matter, my dear brothers and sisters, because these texts will be our Sunday and daily Mass for the foreseeable future. This is the form of the Mass we will use for the rest of our lives, probably, and which our young people and children will also begin to learn and use very soon.
5. In this new translation, you will see changes both to the peoples’ parts and the priest’s parts, to the proper prayers of the Mass which change from week to week and day to day, and to the Order of Mass which are the common texts of the Mass, such as the I confess, the Glory to God, the Creed, the Eucharistic Prayers and certain responses. For instance, the simplest and best-known response of all, “The Lord be with you – And also with you” will become “The Lord be with you – And with your Spirit”. So, we are all of us, priests and people, going to have to get used to the new texts.
6. For that reason, to help us get used to them, some of the new texts, what we call the Order of Mass, the parts of the Mass that don’t change from day to day or week to week, will start to be used during the month of September of this year, giving us two months to prepare for the entry into use of the full Missal on the First Sunday of Advent. Before that deadline, from now but especially from mid-September to November, we can use the time not just to get used to hearing and speaking different texts and responses, but also to explore why there is a new translation and what the differences mean, and to renew our understanding of the Mass, and even to start to learn the new simple sung settings of the parts of the Mass which are contained in the Missal. And I am asking the priests, as the celebrants of the Eucharist, to lead their parishes in preparing as best they can for the new texts of the Mass.
7. Of course in the Catholic Church, the Mass is always the Mass no matter the language, but the texts we use are there to help us worship God in our own language and to express the nature of the Mass as the sacrament of the Sacrifice of Christ, in which we are sanctified at the table of the Word and of the Eucharist. The texts express and protect the holiness and sacredness of the Mass; they nourish our imagination, intelligence and emotions with direct and indirect allusions to the Scriptures and to the great themes of the mystery of faith. The texts are means by which we participate fully in the Mass and by which the Mass becomes accessible and close to us in our own language.
8. I said the revised Roman Missal is essentially a new translation of the original Latin text of the Missal. As Catholics in Scotland, we are part of the Latin-Rite Catholic Church. Even though we don’t necessarily speak or read or understand Latin any more, nor do we use it very much in liturgy and worship, Latin is our tradition and our patrimony, and it is in Church Latin that the Mass and so much of our sacramental worship is first written down. That is one of the reasons why the new translation is deliberately closer to the original Latin, so as to capture more fully the meaning and especially the spiritual and theological nuances of the original text, which then slowly seep into our minds and hearts, affecting how we assimilate the faith of the liturgy. The great Latin motto and axiom regarding the liturgy is Lex orandi, lex credendi. The rule of prayer is the faith, and the rule of the faith is prayer. That is why getting the liturgy and its texts right is so important to the Church and to her mission.
9. So, my dear brothers and sisters, at the Mass of Chrism the Lord calls us together as a diocesan Church to express and celebrate our unity in Christ. The sacraments are signs and instruments of that unity, and the Eucharist is the sign and instrument par excellence of the unity of the Church. So I am asking all of us to prepare for and welcome in due course the revised Roman Missal with its new texts as a precious and important gift for the Church in which we will continue to celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice as the source and summit of the Christian life. I now invite our priests who are ordained to preside at the Eucharist in the person of Christ the Head and Shepherd of his Church, to renew their ordination promises, and as I do so, I thank them on my own and on your behalf for their generous and dedicated service to Jesus Christ and his Church.