Appreciating Parish Liturgy

The Sunday prayers are among the best contributions of the new translation of the Roman Missal. To help people reflect on these prayers, a process of Parish Appreciating the Liturgy has been prepared and is available free of charge to those who wish to hold shared reflection on the prayers for the four Sundays of Advent and the prayers of Christmas day. Reflection groups that do not meet around Christmas time may wish to begin the week of 13 or the 20 November to get in five sessions.

Just as many people have benefited from shared reflection on the Sunday Scripture readings, so too do people benefit from a shared reflection upon the prayers of the Sunday liturgy, because the prayers offer the Church’s response to the Scripture proclaimed. This process of shared reflection has been adapted from the format of “holy reading”, known by its Latin name lectio divina, but it may be adapted by well established faith sharing groups according to their practice.

These materials are prepared by Dom Daniel McCarthy, a regular contributor to The Tablet. He is a monk of St Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, Kansas. The resources are provided in electronic form free of charge to people intending to conduct such a process of shared reflection. For more information and to receive the resources, please contact Eileen Grant, RCIA/Adult Catechist in the Diocese of Aberdeen:

More information available


Introduction for Liturgical Ministers

Introduction for Liturgical Ministers

What’s this I hear about a new Missal?
It’s not a new Missal, but a new translation of the Missal we have now.

Why do we need a new translation?
Because the first one was done in a bit of a hurry, and some corners were cut. Looking back, we can now see that we need to stick more closely to the Latin original text than we have done so far.

Does that mean that our present Mass has been wrong?
No, not at all. It’s a bit like giving your car a good service. The Church now wants us to change the oil and fine-tune the performance. We’re not buying a new car. The Mass will sound different, but it will still be the same Mass. But I’m a welcomer, not a reader. Why should this affect me?

Because everyone who carries out a ministry in the church is also a member of the whole assembly. We will all be affected by new responses and other changes in texts, because we all join together in the celebration. Every ministry needs to be involved in helping us to move forward.

Will I need to change anything I do?
Probably not a great deal. However, the new Missal gives us an opportunity to look at everything we do, and how we do it. Think of it like having the tracking of the wheels on your car checked: not obvious to the naked eye, but if you don’t do it performance may be affected.

So what else do I need to know?
There will be opportunities to explore the new texts and also the way we celebrate. We’d love you to be part of this. Meanwhile, below there are some suggestions of places you could look for more information.

Things to think about
• What sort of preparation do you undertake for your ministry?

• Would you feel uncomfortable if someone suggested a different way of doing things, or would you welcome the opportunity to improve your service to the community?

• How does it feel to be involved in a ministry that is part of a network of ministries? What are the implications of this?

 Useful resources

Our national Liturgy website:

PDF of the revised Order of Mass:






• What’s it like being at Mass in your church? Think of some good points, and some that might need a bit of tweaking.
• Is there anything that particularly stands out for you at Mass? Why?
• Does being a minister help you to pray? How?
• Do you think your ministry helps others to pray? Could you explain? Is it a question of what you do, or how you do it, or both?

The Mass consists of four basic sections:

Gathering rites: we come together to celebrate, and prepare ourselves to listen to God’s Word

Liturgy of the Word: we listen to God’s Word, and we respond. The homily breaks open the readings for us, and in the intercessions we pray for needs and concerns in the light of everything we have heard.

Liturgy of the Eucharist: we bring gifts of bread and wine to the altar (they symbolise us). During the Eucharistic Prayer we give thanks and praise, and our gifts are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus. At Communion, we receive back those gifts so that we too can be transformed.

Sending forth: we are commissioned to go out and change the world as we ourselves have been changed.

• How does your ministry fit into this plan of the Mass? What is your contribution to the prayer life of the community?
• How do you listen to the Word of God? How do you give thanks and praise?
• Do you feel changed by what takes place?
• How does the celebration you take part in affect your life as a Christian?

Different liturgical ministries in the Church

Ordained: Bishops, priests, deacons

‘Instituted’: Lectors, acolytes

Lay: ‘Environment’ (flowers, banners and hangings, cleaners)…
Readers, Ministers of Communion, Servers, Welcomers…
Leaders of Liturgy of the Word with Children…
Musicians (cantor, choir, instrumentalist)…Liturgy Preparation team

Any others you can think of?

Useful resources

Our national Liturgy website:
What happens at Mass
Jeremy Driscoll OSB, Gracewing, ISBN 0-85244-637-3
A discussion document on lay ministry:
DVD Become One Body One Spirit in Christ

DVD Become One Body One Spirit in Christ

This DVD media resource has been prepared to accompany the implementation of the new translation. The DVD features liturgical scholars and pastoral ministers explaining the changes that are present in the new translation and offering the opportunity for us to reflect more fully on our celebration of the Church’s liturgy.




There are five pathways on Become One Body One Spirit in Christ:

Exploring the Mass:

the Scriptural Foundations of the Mass in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus; a timeline tracing the Evolution of the Mass; Theological Reflections on key aspects of the Church’s teaching on the Mass.

Receiving this English Translation:

the principles and guidelines that inform the Translator’s Task; particular Issues of Translation such as revealing the scriptural basis of many of the prayers in the Missal; insights into the Changes to the Text of the Order of Mass; a recognition of the various Challenges and Opportunities that the new translation offers.

Crafting the Art of Liturgy:

an invitation to rediscover the Liturgy as Art; to consider the elements of Liturgical Prayer; to reflect on Liturgical Ministries — ordained and lay; to look at Art in the Liturgy through the use of liturgical space and objects; to participate in the Chanting of Prayer.

Celebrating the Eucharist:

the introduction of the new translation provides an opportunity to develop good practice in liturgical celebrations. As we respond to God’s invitation in the Introductory Rites; listen to his Word in the Liturgy of the Word; offer him thanks and praise in the Liturgy of Eucharist; and are sent forth in the Concluding Rites to glorify him in our lives.

Living a Eucharistic Life:

At the end of each Mass we are sent forth — Dismissal for Mission; through the prayers and action of the Mass we learn that What we Pray and Believe shapes our Lives; indeed every celebration of Mass is a Renewal of Hope that God offers us.

Resources below

  • User Guide from DVD (pdf)
  • Starting with the DVD (pdf)
  • Index of material (pdf)

The DVD is available here for order. Cheques for £14.99 should be made payable to the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland. This DVD is suitable for playing on a computer with a a DVD facility. The DVD will not play on your television set. PLease download the order for below.

DVD Order Become One Body One Spirit in Christ


Starting with Become One Body One Spirit in Christ scotland

Become One Body One Spirit in Christ index

General Instruction of the Roman Missal

General Instruction of the Roman Missal

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal will of course be published at the beginning of the new missal. The General Instruction is of course a foundational text for anyone wishing to understand the missal itself. It is available for download here.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal

Bulletin Inserts for the New Missal

Inserts for Parish Bulletins

Bulletin Insert 1

The New Translation – what New Translation?
Did you know that the translation of the Mass which we currently use is going to change? The texts we have now have been in use since 1970 and in September we will gradually begin to use a new translation. Over the coming weeks/months there will be short articles in this newsletter which will help us to understand what these changes are and why they have come about. There will also be plenty of opportunities provided to learn more about it and become familiar with the changes. This will be a great opportunity for us all to learn more about the Mass and deepen our understanding of the liturgy and its meaning and relevance for us in our lives today. Watch this space!

Bulletin Insert 2

The New Translation – whose idea was it anyway?
Until the early 1960s, Mass was celebrated in Latin throughout the world. Wherever you happened to be on Sunday the Mass would be celebrated in the language you were used to. At the Second Vatican Council, in the early 1960’s, it was agreed that Mass could be said in the language of the country in which it was being celebrated. There would be no fundamental change to the Mass itself, just the language being used. This would enable us to understand more fully what was being said and help us to participate more fully. An English translation was made available as quickly as possible, but it was intended to be temporary. A more considered translation would be issued later. Now, some 40 years has since passed! This translation has at last been agreed by Rome and we will begin using it in parts from September. If you would like to know more about the liturgy document issued by the Second Vatican Council see

Bulletin Insert 3

The New Translation – when and how will it be introduced?
Although we have already received the official approval from Rome, it will still be some time before the new translation is being used in our parishes. In Scotland it is planned we will be able to celebrate various parts of the new translation from September onwards. This gives us plenty of time, over the next few months, to learn something about the changes, about how they will affect us and our liturgy and why the changes have been made. There will be a lot of resources available to help us to do this, both locally and nationally. Please pray that we will all make the most of this opportunity to learn more about the Mass and to deepen our relationship with Christ. If you want to find out a bit more, why not look at the Liturgy Office website:

Bulletin Insert 4

The New Translation – why do we need one?
As we have already seen, until the early 1960s, Mass was celebrated in Latin throughout the world. At the Second Vatican Council it was agreed that the Mass could be celebrated in our own language, and in 1970 Pope Paul VI agreed the official Latin text that would be used. This was then translated into different languages to be used throughout the world. It proved to be a huge task which was completed in a very short time however, because it was done so quickly, some of the richness of the original Latin prayers was, quite literally, ‘lost in translation’. It was seen that a further translation was needed. The new translation would keep the original words, meaning and style of the Latin as far as possible. The new translation also means a new edition of the Missal which will include some additional text such as, prayers for the saints who have been added by the Church to the liturgical calendar.

Bulletin Insert 5

The New Translation – the four presences of Christ
The Second Vatican Council reminded us of our ancient faith: Christ is always present in his church, especially in its liturgical celebrations. So, each time we come to Mass we experience the presence of Christ in four different ways:

1. Christ is present in the congregation – the people gathered together;
2. Christ is present in the person of the priest;
3. Christ is present in the Scriptures that we listen to during Mass;
4. Christ is present in the bread and wine when it becomes Christ’s Body and Blood.

The more we are able to understand and join in the Mass, the more we will come to love it. The new translation will help us to do that because the words we will now use will say more clearly what our faith is teaching us.

Bulletin Insert 6

The New Translation – Biblical influences
As we use the new translation we will perhaps notice more biblical connections than we have been used to. The texts of the Mass are precious to us, partly because they were inspired by the bible. These words have come down to us over the centuries, and most of the words we speak at Mass are rooted in the bible. When we gather for Mass, we are praying with words that have been given to us by our ancestors, who knew the bible well and prayed it well. The revised translation tries to make the connections between the bible and the Mass clearer than it is now. It will also mean that we will have some new music for Mass, to take account of the changes. Over the coming weeks we will be looking at some of the revised words we will be saying and hearing.

Bulletin Insert 7

The New Translation – ‘And with your spirit’
One of the first things we will notice with the new translation is that, when the priest says ‘The Lord be with you’, we now say ‘And with your spirit’. This is much closer to the original Latin. When the Mass was first translated into English we were one of only four languages that did not translate it as ‘your spirit’. It is a very biblical response: Paul concludes four of his letters with a very similar expression. For example, at the end of his Second Letter to Timothy, Paul ends by saying, ‘The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you’. If you think about it, for nearly 2000 years Christians have been greeting each other, ‘The Lord be with you’, ‘and with your spirit.’ So the new translation will bring unity to this response in all the languages of the world – and with all previous Christian generations.

Bulletin Insert 8

The New Translation – ‘The Word of the Lord’
At the end of the readings and the Gospel at Mass, we are used to hearing ‘This is the Word of the Lord’; ‘This is the Gospel of the Lord’. In the new translation, the words ‘This is’ are now left out and we will hear ‘The Word of the Lord’ and ‘The Gospel of the Lord’. One of the reasons is that the Latin does not include ‘This is’. But there is more to it than that. If the priest or deacon lifts the book and says ‘This is’, it can suggest that he is talking about the book itself. In fact, he is talking about the Word of God – which is alive and active. The words at the end of the readings are announcing a great event. They are telling us that God has spoken; that Christ is present. We respond ‘Thanks be to God’, or ‘Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ’ which is our acknowledgement that what we have heard is, indeed, the Word of God. For more about the Word of the Lord, see ‘Verbum Domini’ by Benedict XVI, available to download as a pdf file on

Bulletin Insert 9

The New Translation – The Gloria and the Creed
We will also notice some changes in the Gloria and the Creed. In fact, there is not a great deal of change in the new words that we will pray so we will have to be careful that we don’t slip into the old texts! The first lines of the Gloria itself echo the angels’ message to the shepherds, announcing the birth of Christ (Luke 2:14). Because of these changes, new music is being written so that we will be able to sing the new translation, too. When it comes to the Creed we will notice the first change immediately – ‘I believe’, not, ‘We believe’. We have become used to praying the Creed all together as a parish. The trouble is, when we say ‘we believe’ it could suggest that between us all we believe everything being said. It is not clear that we all believe everything that is being said. To say ‘I believe’ makes it quite clear that each one of us believes everything we are saying.

Bulletin Insert 10

The New Translation – The Mystery of Faith
For Catholics, a ‘mystery’ is not a puzzle that cannot be solved. It is a truth that is so deep that we know we’ll never be able to get to the bottom of it; a truth we’ll never completely be able understand. One example of this is our belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We believe that Christ is truly present but we can’t wholly explain it. The priest shows us the host and then the chalice. Then he genuflects and says ‘The mystery of faith’. We continue with one of three responses. These are all different from the ones we have been used to and they come directly from the New Testament. So when the priest says ‘The mystery of faith’ he is inviting us to welcome this Real Presence of Christ. We then make our response, which we address to God.

Bulletin Insert 11

The New Translation – Lord I am not worthy
As the priest invites us to receive Holy Communion, he will say ‘Behold’, rather than ‘This is’, ‘the Lamb of God’. ‘Behold’ means ‘to look at’ and is our invitation to adore Christ who we are about to receive in Holy Communion. We are used to saying ‘Lord I am not worthy to receive you’ … This will change to: ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed’. This is almost exactly what the Roman Centurion said when he came and begged Jesus to heal his servant. When Jesus says he will come to the Centurion’s house, the man knows that Jesus doesn’t need to do that, that just his word will be enough. The Centurion says: ‘Lord I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word and my servant will be healed’. Our new reply changes only one word of the Centurion’s speech – my servant becomes my soul will be healed.

Missal – Bulletin Announcements- Scotland

The Ministry of Reader

The Ministry of Reader


1. What change will I notice most?
At the end of every reading, instead of saying “This is the word of the Lord” (or, for deacons and priests, “This is the Gospel of the Lord”, you will be asked to say simply “The word of the Lord” (priests and deacons: “the Gospel of the Lord”).

2. Why is this happening?
Several reasons:
(a) The Latin is Verbum Domini ─ the word of the Lord. “This is” does not appear there.
(b) It emphasises that the word of the Lord is what is proclaimed by the reader and takes root in the hearts of the people, not what is printed in a book. Saying “This is the word of the Lord” can give the wrong impression.(You have probably seen priests and deacons raising the book as they say “This is the Gospel of the Lord”. If they are going to raise the book, they should really be saying “This is the Book of the Gospel of the Lord”! Of course, they are not supposed to raise the book at all, and in future they will be asked to say simply “The Gospel of the Lord”, once again emphasising that the Gospel is present in the proclamation of the text, not in the printing on the page. The point is that the book is like a tabernacle of the word: it contains the word, but it is not actually the word itself, in same way that a score of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony contains the musical ‘instructions’, but the music itself only comes alive when the piece is played.)
(c) Most other English-speaking countries have already been saying “The word of the Lord” and “the Gospel of the Lord” for many years. We are simply coming into line with them.

3. What else should I do?
An excellent start would be to leave a good silent pause ─ 10 seconds is not too much ─ at the end of the reading before you say “The word of the Lord”.
(a) This makes it clear that the concluding formula is not part of the scriptural text (it isn’t!). Just tacking it onto the end can also sound silly.
(b) It leaves a silence for people to reflect on what they have heard, and this is something the Church is always asking for (cf. GILM 28 (reproduced in GIRM 45), GIRM 56).
(c) It avoids ‘switching people off’ too quickly, ready for the next thing that happens.
(d) It also gives the reader time to make the reading their own.

If you don’t already do this, it will take a while for you to become used to it. And 10 seconds can seem like an eternity to the reader, though it seems much shorter for the listener. A good tip is to re-read the last two or three sentences of the reading silently to yourself before you say “The word of the Lord”.

4. Anything else?
Well, many readers read too quickly (sometimes this is due to nerves) and start before people are ready to listen. It’s always a good idea to take a couple of good, deep, slow breaths at the ambo before launching into the reading. This gives the people time to focus on the reader after they have sat down, and also helps to calm the reader. Don’t be afraid to look around to ensure that you have everyone’s attention before you start. After all, this is the word of God, the most important word that we can ever hear.

As well as adopting a pace that is a little slower than you might think necessary (remember, this is proclamation, not mere reading aloud), make an effort to vary the tone of your voice sufficiently so that the reading is full of interest for the listener. It’s possible to do this without being over-dramatic. (A good reader’s course can help you with this.)

5. Conclusion
If, in the course of time, you manage all the suggestions above, the people’s “Thanks be to God” response will be that much more heartfelt and full of meaning, and the word will have a chance to grow within them!

Useful resources

Our national Liturgy website:
or the liturgy website for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales especially
A sample set of Guidelines for Readers:
A Handbook for Readers (a practical and liturgical guide)
Marian Tolley, Decani Books, ISBN 1-900314-01-0
A Workbook for Readers (a basic course for readers) — a supplement to the Handbook
Marian Tolley, Decani Books, ISBN 1-900314-14-2
Guide for Lectors
Virginia Meagher and Paul Turner, LTP, ISBN 978-1-56854-607-0 [available from McCrimmons]
Liturgical Ministry: a practical guide to spirituality
Donna M. Cole, Resource Publications, ISBN 0-89390-372-8