Fr Stephen McGrattan is now the Secretary to the National Liturgy Commission. He can be contacted at St John the Evangelist, 92 Glaisnock Street, Cumnock, KA18 1JU and at firstname.lastname@example.org. All correspondence should be sent to this address.
Fifty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Church can better gauge the scope of this event and the import of its texts, which profoundly marked her life and her relation to the world at the turn of the third millennium.
Blessed John XXIII set two main goals for the Council: to bring the presentation of the Church’s doctrine up to date and to promote the unity of Christians. These two objectives were intended to renew the Church’s relation with the modern world and thus to revive her universal mission.
In order to attain these objectives, the Council Fathers undertook a fundamental reflection on ecclesiology, in the hopes of better defining the Church’s profound nature, her essential structure, and the meaning of her mission in a world increasingly emancipated from her influence and tradition.
For full text click here.
Recently added to this website is a Guide for Composers. Musical settings of missal texts must receive an imprimatur from the Bishops’ Conference in whose territory they first seek to publish. This document offers information for those who seek to publish musical settings for liturgical texts in Scotland.
On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland Bishop Toal writes,
NOTIFICATION ON POSTURES DURING THE CELEBRATION OF MASS IN SCOTLAND.
With the introduction of the new English translation of the Roman Missal approaching the Bishops of Scotland wish to introduce the following changes in posture at Mass in all the Dioceses of Scotland.
1) The Faithful are to rise as the celebrant says “Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours……”. They are to remain standing until the end of the “Holy, Holy……”. They are to kneel through the rest of the Eucharistic Prayer as is the established custom in Scotland; following the same custom they are to kneel for the period before communion after the singing or saying of the “Lamb of God”.
2) When the Post-Communion Prayer is introduced by the words “Let us pray” the faithful are to rise and remain standing until the end of Mass.
3) On Sundays, and on other occasions, when announcements are made after the Post-Communion-Prayer, the faithful are to sit for the announcements and then stand again for the blessing and dismissal. Special Collections, or Second Collections, are to be taken up at this time – between the Post-Communion Prayer and the Blessing. Collections should not be taken up during the Sacred Silence after Communion.
These changes in posture are to be mandatory from 1st Sunday of Advent 2011.
+ Joseph Toal
President of the Scottish National Liturgy Commission.
The changes made are to ensure uniformity of practise across Scotland, thus avoiding the variations which have become evident in recent years, between and within our Dioceses. They follow The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, while retaining part of the established custom in Scotland in regard to kneeling during Mass.
No. 42 of the General Instruction expresses and encourages a uniformity in posture during Mass as a sign of our unity in the Body of Christ:
“a common posture, to be observed by all participants, is a sign of unity of the members of the Christian community gathered for the sacred Liturgy: it both expresses and fosters the intention and spiritual attitude of the participants.”
We will begin and end Mass standing, and we will also stand for the three presidential prayers – the Collect, the Prayer over the Offerings, and the Post-Communion Prayer. We will continue to kneel through the Eucharistic Prayer after singing or reciting the “Holy, Holy….”, and for the moments of reflection and humble petition before the Lord’s Body and Blood as we prepare for Communion. It should be noted that if we cannot kneel at these times the proper posture is to stand rather than to sit.
“By now you will be aware that from the First Sunday of Advent, a new Missal will grace our altars, the text of which will, in some instances, be unfamiliar. This new Missal contains new translations into English of the original Latin texts. Every effort has been made to render them more faithful to those scriptural allusions which have sometimes been overlooked in the familiar texts to which we have become accustomed…”
(To be read and/or distributed at all Masses in the Archdiocese of Glasgow on the weekend of Sunday 28th August 2011)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
By now you will be aware that from the First Sunday of Advent, a new Missal will grace our altars, the text of which will, in some instances, be unfamiliar. This new Missal contains new translations into English of the original Latin texts. Every effort has been made to render them more faithful to those scriptural allusions which have sometimes been overlooked in the familiar texts to which we have become accustomed. There has also been an attempt to dignify the language we use at Mass by a return to words which might be judged as more literary, and thought by many to be more becoming for public prayer.
My concern is to encourage you to accept these changes in language, to be patient in doing so and to share my conviction that this is a marvellous opportunity for us to revisit our celebration of the liturgy, to see its great beauty, to love it as an expression of our Catholic faith. Throughout the world and throughout time we have been prepared to make sacrifices in order to show not simply our unity of purpose in our worship, but also our harmony of expression.
I have looked to this Sunday’s liturgy to find some inspiration in addressing you and have not been disappointed. St Paul in his letter to the Romans, from which today’s epistle is taken, says: “Think of God’s mercy my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God”.
This immediately suggests to me that our worship not only be thoughtful – the result of our engaging our minds and hearts with the uplifting prayer of the Church – but that it should also engage our bodies, through the postures we adopt in the course of the Mass, by the reverence we show during it, and also before and after our celebrations, recalling that the church is the house of God, not a market or a place for idle conversation. As Jesus said: “My house is a house of prayer”.
Today’s psalm expresses beautifully my intentions in coming to Mass:
“O God, you are my God, for you I long;
For you my soul is thirsting…
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
To see your strength and your glory…
And so I will bless you all my life
In your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
My mouth shall praise you with joy”.
It is in that spirit that I as a priest will greet you at the beginning of Mass: “The Lord be with you,” and you will respond: “And with your spirit”.
What I want to say to you is summed up in the document of Pope Benedict published in February of 2007 at the conclusion of the gathering of bishops which addressed the subject of the Holy Eucharist in the life of the Church:
“The Second Vatican Council,” wrote the Holy Father, “rightly emphasised the active, full and fruitful participation of the entire people of God in the Eucharistic celebration. The renewal carried out in these past decades has made considerable progress towards fulfilling the wishes of the Council Fathers… It should be made clear that the word ‘participation’ does not refer to mere external activity during the celebration, in fact the active participation called for by the Council must be understood in more substantial terms, on the basis of a greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life… The faithful take part in the Eucharistic liturgy not ‘as strangers or silent spectators’ but as participants ‘in the sacred action, conscious of what they are doing, actively and devoutly’… They should give thanks to God.” (cf Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, Feb 22 2007)
And in words which reflect St Paul’s words in today’s liturgy the Holy Father wrote: “Offering the immaculate victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also together with him, [the faithful] should learn to make an offering of themselves. Through Christ, the mediator, they should be drawn, day by day, into an ever more perfect union with God and each other.”
If this is what our liturgy intends for us – what indeed the Lord himself provided for us by the institution of the Holy Mass at the Last Supper and at Calvary – then we must take this opportunity, priests and people, to renew our devotion and to respond with generosity to what is now being offered to us, and to receive with open minds the instructions and explanations our pastors give us.
In the months which remain before the new Missals are placed on our altars, we have an opportunity, week by week, to become more familiar with the texts, particularly the common parts of the Mass in which there are changes.
Cards have been made available in each parish and it would be helpful to you in coming to Mass to make sure that you have a copy of them and can follow them in the recitation of the Gloria, the Creed and in your various responses.
There are also new instructions with regard to our postures during Mass which reflect the universal custom of the Church as set down within the Missal itself. We have been more used to kneeling than standing during some parts of the Mass, whereas in most other countries, the tradition of standing has been adhered to more faithfully. Standing is of course a sign of respect in our Western culture, and it is from a standing position that we will kneel in adoration in the period following the Sanctus up until the Pater Noster.
It is also from a standing position that we should make our sign of reverence before we receive Holy Communion, approaching the altar in a dignified procession. The option of genuflecting before receiving Holy Communion is also allowed, though we recommend the acceptance of the option which has become commonplace, namely of bowing our heads before receiving Communion, as this is less likely to interrupt the flow of people and is more sensitive to the fact that there are many in our congregations who would find it difficult to genuflect without having something to hold on to.
This communion procession beautifully expresses the way in which we are a people journeying towards the Lord, for whose land and company, as the psalmist says, our “body pines, like a dry, weary land without water,” for us to be refreshed on that journey by the Holy Eucharist – Christ Himself.
When we return to our places after receiving Holy Communion we can sit or kneel but what we cannot fail to do, surely, is to address in the most intimate sanctuary of our hearts, the Lord, who through the sacrament, becomes our guest. With the centurion, whose faith the Lord commended, we will repeat what we have already said in answer to the priest: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
We should spend time after communion praying for what St Paul calls in our second reading a “new mind” on which our lives are to be “modelled”.
“This,” we are reminded, “is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.”
In all things we struggle for perfection. “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” said Jesus to his disciples. In liturgy also we have the same endeavour.
With my warmest blessings,
Yours devotedly in Christ,
Archbishop of Glasgow.
At a catechesis I attended during the recent World Youth Day Archbishop Robert Rivas from the Caribbean described himself as a Missionary Bishop. In explaining what he meant he told how his appointment as a bishop to a small group of poor scattered islands had meant he had to leave behind the comfort zones he had built up for himself during his priestly ministry and, entrusting himself fully to the Lord, go into new territory physically, spiritually and pastorally. Using the same terminology the introduction of the new English translation of the Roman Missal encourages us to leave behind some of our liturgical comfort zones and challenges us as worshipping Catholic communities, and priest-celebrants, to take a good look at how we celebrate the Church´s Liturgy and ask ourselves if there is need for improvement. It is both a challenge and a necessity for us all.
We are Catholics of the Roman Rite and, as such, we celebrate a Liturgy which has developed through many centuries – the most recent development being the celebration of the Liturgy in the vernacular. This has meant translating the texts from Latin into the diverse languages of the world´s peoples, in our case into English. We have grown used to our present texts but are being asked by the Church to accept and learn a new translation of these texts. We are now beginning this learning process in our parishes and communities, and we are committed to doing it as best we can, so we will continue to celebrate and pray the Sacred Liturgy as the Church asks us to do.
We are very aware that the Liturgy is the Church´s participation in Christ´s offering of Himself to the Father, and its holiness and worthiness comes from the Lord himself and the mysteries of his saving Passion, Death and Resurrection. In celebrating these mysteries the Church wishes to use all the means we have as humans to express our faith in the Lord Jesus and to make present his saving grace in Word and Sacrament. Not only are the words used meant to express the truth and the depths of our faith, but the actions and gestures of the priest and people, the liturgical books, the musical accompaniment, the vessels, furnishings, vestments and décor help our understanding of the sacred rites being celebrated and our active and fruitful participation in them. It is important therefore that we take a close look at how we celebrate the Liturgy and recommit ourselves to doing so as best we can in accord with the Church´s norms.
These norms are given in full in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and will be printed at the start of the New English Missal. The General Instruction merits our attention and is the guide through which we should examine our own celebrations of the Sacred Liturgy, and is the instrument which will prompt us out of our local or personal “liturgical comfort-zones” towards a more faithful celebration of the Roman Rite. It is difficult at times to change the way we do things but if it is not the right way we should be humble enough to admit this and to re-learn how the Church asks us to celebrate her sacred rites. Yes the Liturgy is ours as members of Christ´s Body, and we participate in the self- offering of Christ Our Head, but it can never be the personal property of any of us, whatever position we hold in the Church. We, therefore, have a corresponding sacred duty to celebrate it as the Church asks of us and not according to our own likes and dislikes. Celebrating the Liturgy in our own language has led to more possibility of variation and diversity, and the introduction of the new English translation affords an opportunity to strive for a celebration of the Eucharist with less of our personal or local additions and omissions. An obvious example is to stop the exchange of “Good Mornings” at the beginning of Mass.
This renewal does mean that bishops, priests and deacons in particular need to know thoroughly the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and have the courage, if necessary, to change some of their own “personal” practices in celebrating Mass. It means also changing habits in parishes, where people like to do things their way, and giving the necessary instruction in what is the right way. It is important also that the lay faithful who carry out ministries at Mass are fully instructed in what is required of them and do it properly – these include altar-servers, readers, musicians, choirs and cantors, extraordinary-ministers of the Eucharist, pass-keepers and collectors.
The ministry of each person, well prepared and well carried out, enhances the quality of the celebration and allows the dignity and beauty of the Sacred Liturgy to be expressed and appreciated by the whole worshipping community. As Catholics we love to see things being done well, and we know too that visitors to our churches greatly appreciate our liturgies when that is the case. It is encouraging to hear those attending funerals, and other liturgies, commenting in this vein. In our worship we want the real thing, the full message, and when the noble simplicity of the Church’s Liturgy is offered, with the full and active participation of the believing community, we feel the Lord’s presence with us and are inspired to carry Him from the Mass into every aspect of our daily lives. We are all missionaries, fed by the Lord’s Word and Sacrament, and ready to witness to Him in all that we do and say.
As we begin our preparation this weekend for the full introduction of the new English Missal on the 1st Sunday of Advent I ask you all to renew your love for the Church and her ancient traditions, and to participate fully and enthusiastically in learning the new words and in undertaking the fuller renewal of liturgical practice expected of us. May the Spirit of the Lord be with us “for our good, and the good of all his holy Church”.
+ Joseph Toal
Bishop of Argyll and the Isles