I love Advent. I love counting the days to Christmas, but this year I feel like I have been counting down the days to Advent. It's all because of those little changes to the language of the Mass.
About a year ago, I mentioned to my children that the Mass was going to change. The eldest got upset: "Why does everything have to change all the time?" he exclaimed. Young people have a great way to make everything dramatic. But, in a sense, he was expressing what many have been feeling: if it's not broken, why fix it?
I presume that, by now, most of you have been learning about all the specifics about the changes. Certainly, by now you know that the Mass has not
changed -- it is the same Mass -- but the language has changed. For many years we used a translation that was sort of a paraphrasing of the Latin. Now we will be using a more formal language -- a language that is more scriptural. After being through three Masses with the new translation, I am beginning to see how this change will help us enter into the mystery of the Eucharist more deeply.
This is why the Canadian Bishops have taken the opportunity of this revision to the Roman Missal to teach us about the Mass. I've been attending Mass pretty much regularly for over 40 years and it's so easy to get into habits: "and also with you"; sit, stand, kneel; ourfatherwhoartinheaven
... Having a new language will force us to slow down and pay attention to what we are saying. Using different posture will force us to think about what we are doing and why we are doing it.
Because, in truth, most of us have no clue why we sing the Gloria and the Alleluia, or what the difference is between an acclamation and a proclamation. Most of us don't know why the bells are rung during the Eucharistic Prayer or even what the Eucharistic Prayer is. What a great opportunity this change provides us!
And so, starting tonight, Salt + Light, thanks to a partnership with the National Liturgy Office
of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, will be airing several programs to help you understand the Mass. The first, airing tonight and tomorrow night, is Beyond Words
and features Fr. Bill Burke, Director of the National Liturgy Office. This televised workshop is a must for anyone involved in liturgical ministry and is guaranteed to be of interest to anyone who ever goes to Mass.
And to close off the Liturgical year, on the eve of the First Sunday of Advent, we will air The Celebration of the Eucharist for the 21st Century
. This one-hour special will take you through each part of the Mass explaining its purpose and the instructions for the Roman Missal.
Remember that the National Liturgy Office of the CCCB has a ton of great resources on their Roman Missal
site to help you in your liturgical journey. Don't let this opportunity pass. But also, don't just accept it blindly: receive it with the hunger and desperation of someone asking for change on a street corner. I can guarantee you that once received, it will be a great source of nourishment for you.
Remember to tune in for Beyond Words on Thursday, November 24 and Friday, November 25 at 9:00pm ET. The Celebration of the Eucharist for the 21st Century airs Saturday, November 26 at 9:00pm.
And on Sunday, November 27, be sure to go to Mass to begin this year's Advent and the new liturgical year with renewed zeal for this great mystery that we call the source and summit of our Christian life.
Credit: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz