Implementation of the New Missal - Dealing with Change
|One of the best ways we can engage with the new texts is by singing them. Photo: Alphonsus Fok & Grace Lu|
By Very Rev Peter Williams VG, Catholic Outlook, April 2011
Despite the fact that many people give the impression they are always looking for new adventures and excitement in life, the fact is most of us are resistant to change.
We become comfortable with routine and with what we know. For many people the “unknown” poses risk and disruption to their lives and can be destabilising.
If this is true about the ordinary things of life, then it can also be true when we come to the formal act of worship. Worship is predicable. We belong to a liturgical Church and the priest and the people don’t have to make up week by week what they pray when they gather for the Eucharist.
In fact, one of the great strengths of a liturgical Church is the fact that we don’t have to invest our energy in wondering what to pray – we can simply pray the texts that the Church has mediated to us over centuries of praying, and pray them for ourselves today as we face the circumstances of our own time.
From Pentecost Sunday we will begin to use new responses and some new forms of prayer at Mass. Some of the texts are almost identical with what we have been using for the past 40 years.
With that, of course, comes a challenge. We often tend to go on ‘remote pilot’ and when we hear a familiar greeting like “The Lord be with you” we are just as likely to spontaneously respond with “And also with you” rather than “And with your spirit.”
It will be tricky and there will be slip-ups by both priest and people. We will all need to concentrate and use the Mass cards or watch the screen. If we attempt to rely on memory at the early stage of implementation it will become disruptive and quite likely disagreeable.
It is likely that many people will miss the familiarity of the old texts – that is to be expected. As one priest said: “They have helped us to pray over the past 40 years.”
The use of a new translation will also have the benefit of making us think about what it is that we are praying. It is an opportunity to think about the content of our prayers.
From 1 January this year, many parishes have taken up the option of introducing the new musical settings to the Mass. Again, whilst there has been little change to the Holy, Holy (Sanctus) and no change to the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) there is a substantial change to the Glory to God (Gloria) and the Memorial Acclamations.
One of the best ways we can engage with the new texts is by singing them. The Office for Worship is conducting workshops throughout the Diocese to assist parish musicians in this task.
The Bishops Commission for Liturgy recommended six settings by Australian composers and each parish will no doubt choose settings that will best meet the needs of their community and are within the range of the musical skills of the parish musicians.
By using one of these settings it is hoped that a standard repertoire will be established so that when we have large diocesan celebrations people will be familiar with the music of the Mass.
The liturgical documents remind us that it is these parts of the Mass, the responses and acclamations, which should always be sung. They are, in fact, far more important than the hymns or songs we might also sing.
Pentecost Sunday is not far away as we are in midst of Lent. Let us be mindful that change is on the way (if it has not already started in your parish) and be prepared for the new responses of the people.Rev Peter G. Williams is Director – Office for Worship
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