Winding down is the liturgy we have been using these last 40 years. In two weeks time, every county in the world will be using the new Roman Missal. The English version will be used not just by the United States, but also Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, England, and many African countries where English is the first language.
Reviews have been mixed, and dioceses have been spending great effort to help educate us in the whys and wherefores of the changes. We’re moving to a literal and more exact rendering of the Latin; it’s intended to bring about a greater sense of the unity of the Church. At times I chuckle to myself and think, ” Yeah, every single person in the Catholic Church is gonna be confused at Mass on the First Sunday of Advent!”
I have my own feelings and thoughts about the changes. There are a few turns of phrase which deeply bother me for theological and spiritual reasons, and I’m not sure what to do about that just yet. As a speaker and writer, I find many of the priest’s prayers convoluted and way too long (one Opening Prayer has almost 80 words in it, Yikie-doodle!)
One good thing is that we’re going to have to think a bit more about what we’re praying, and that’s good … it’s better than the rote almost mindless recitation we all sometimes do. So we’ll all get jostled out of our comfort zone, especially those who have invested much in the life of the church (and here I might point to this weekend’s Gospel of the Talents).
Change is not always easy or comfortable. We question so easily whether changes are for the better or are we moving backwards? The familiar is, well, familiar, and we are so comfortable with the present words and gestures.
What’s important to remember though is this … while the words and gestures change, the Sacrament of the Eucharist remains the same. The holy meal, the bread and wine, Christ’s Body and Blood, is still there, as it has been since the Last Supper. Centuries of different words and rituals have surrounded this sacrament, and now we take our own part in that ongoing saga of change.
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.