Tuesday 4 May 2010

A long-awaited publication

It is great news that the Holy See has approved the New Translation of the Altar Missal and that the process for catechesis about the Mass can now begin. I have already been introduced to the new Collects - the Opening, Offertory and Post-Communion Prayers, and look forward to being able to pray them in place of the current prayers. The new translations are so much richer, expressing very manifestly what is taking place in the Mass. I have a certain feeling that our congregations have lost the sense of prayer in the Mass; after all, the current prayers are so banal. The new translations however, express that which we seem to have forgotten: the action of Christ in the Eucharist and in us. To my mind, they are prayers which of themselves point to the fullness of the Christian life. They are the prayers of true Catholic spirituality - prayers that you want to enter into and live from.
Speaking about the current translation of such words as "fac", "concede", "da" and "presta", Archbishop Coleridge of Canberra says this:
In the translations we have known, these words are almost always translated as “help”, when in fact what they mean is “make”, “enable’, “grant”. This tends to foster a semi-Pelagian sense that God helps us to a certain point and then we ourselves take over. It’s like teaching a child to ride a bike: you hold on to the bike till you think the child has found his or her balance and then you let go as the child rides off into the future. But that’s never how it is with God and us. If ever God let go of the bike, there would be no bike.
God doesn’t just help us; God enables us to do what is necessary for life, makes us do it, grants that we do it. In that sense, we never reach a point where we are not totally dependent on God. This is what the Church believes and teaches about grace; and that is not trivial. It is at the very heart of the Gospel.

A multi-media resource, "Become one Body, one Spirit in Christ", has been produced to help lead a process of understanding and renewal before and as the new Missal is implemented. I have experienced some of what this DVD contains; it should enable an extraordinary period of renewal and reflection in the Church upon the Mass as the central focus of our lives. This is, of course, something which should have happened forty years ago. The sooner this magnificent resource is made available, the sooner we will have this tremendous new Missal on our altars.

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