WASHINGTON - Nearly six years after beginning the task, the
U.S. bishops hope to conclude their work on the English
translation and U.S. adaptations of the Roman Missal first
introduced in Latin in 2002.
The final five action items related to the missal will come
before the bishops at their fall general meeting Nov. 16-19
in Baltimore. Each must be approved by two-thirds of the
Latin-rite members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops, then must go to the Vatican for confirmation.
The first drafts of the missal translation, prepared by the
International Commission on English in the Liturgy, arrived
at the bishops' conferences of English-speaking countries in
2004. The current English version of the Roman Missal was
adopted shortly after the Second Vatican Council.
The items to be debated and voted on in Baltimore are:
- The proper of saints, a collection of specific prayers to
each saint included in the universal liturgical calendar.
- The commons, a collection of general prayers for
celebrating saints listed in the "Roman Martyrology" who are
not included in the universal calendar.
- The Roman Missal supplement, which provides additional
prayers and formularies for recently canonized saints as well
as the order for an extended vigil for Pentecost.
- The U.S. propers, a collection of orations and formularies
for the feasts, memorials and commemorations particular to
the U.S. liturgical calendar, including two sets of prayers
for Independence Day.
- U.S. adaptations to the Roman Missal which are included in
the current Sacramentary but need to be approved again with
the new text.
"These five items will conclude the work of the U.S. bishops
on the Roman Missal," said Msgr. Anthony Sherman, executive
director of the USCCB Office of Divine Worship, in a news
While awaiting Vatican approval of all sections of the
missal, the U.S. church will begin "a process of catechesis,
... so that everyone is ready to move along when we get the
final text from the Vatican."
To help both priests and the people prepare for the changes,
the USCCB has posted catechetical materials at
Once the revised missal is in use, both priests and people
will have to get used to changes in the Mass.
The Nicene Creed, for example, will read in part: "I believe
in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible, and in one Lord Jesus
Christ, ... begotten not made, consubstantial with the
That section of the Nicene Creed currently reads: "We believe
in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and
earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord
Jesus Christ, ... begotten not made, one in being with the
In the Agnus Dei, the people will say, "Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed." At present they say: "Lord, I
am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I
shall be healed."
Although the ICEL translations have been heavily amended by
the U.S. bishops, controversy continues over some elements of
Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., who headed the
bishops' liturgy committee when the approval process began,
recently criticized what he called the "slavishly literal"
translations from the original Latin.
He said in an Oct. 22 speech at The Catholic University of
America in Washington that the "sacred language" used by
translators "tends to be elitist and remote from everyday
speech and frequently not understandable." The new missal
could lead to a "pastoral disaster," he added.
"The vast majority of God's people in the assembly are not
familiar with words of the new missal like 'ineffable,'
'consubstantial,' 'incarnate,' 'inviolate,' 'oblation,'
'ignominy,' 'precursor,' 'suffused' and 'unvanquished.' The
vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average
Catholic," Bishop Trautman said.