Thursday, November 24, 2011


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
23 Nov 2011

Cardinal Pell presents Pope Benedict XVI with a copy of
the new English translation of the Roman Missal

The new translation of the Roman Missal has officially been in use across the Sydney Archdiocese since 1 November, and so far the reaction from parishes and parishioners appears positive.

"It is early days so there hasn't been a whole lot of feedback yet. But what we have suggests that people find it helpful to have the words of the new Missal in front of them on cards during Mass. They also responded well particularly if their priest had explained the reasons behind the changes before the new translation was introduced," says Fr Don Richardson, Director of the Archdiocese of Sydney's Liturgical Commission.

Although as with any change, there are occasional stumbles over a few phrases, Fr Richardson is confident that as parishioners as well as clergy become more and more familiar with the new texts, this will disappear.

"It will take a little while for people to learn the new words and unlearn the old ones," he says.

To help both priests and their parishes with the new Missal, the Liturgical Commission has created some excellent catechetical resources on the change. Included among these is an Australian produced interactive DVD-Rom about the new text. Called "Become One Body One Spirit in Christ" the DVD-Rom was simultaneously released in the US, South Africa, the UK and Ireland as well as across Australia and has proved to be an invaluable support and resource.

In addition, the Archdiocese of Sydney's Mustard Seed Bookshop is also well-stocked with additional resources including the hugely popular, The Australian Children's New Mass Book.

Children's Mass Book One of top 5 best
sellers at Mustard Seed Bookshop

"This beautifully illustrated Mass book for children featuring the new translation of the Missal has been one of our constant five best sellers for the year," says Jesse Mansour, Manager of the Mustard Seed Book at Lidcombe.

Also in heavy demand is an issue of Inform, the bi-monthly publication from the Archdiocese's Catholic Adult Education Office (CAEC) in which Fr Don Richardson explains the new Missal translation. Entitled "The New Mass Translation: Same Mass, Deeper Meaning" it is available for just 50 cents online or in person through CAEC or the Mustard Seed Bookshop. Fr Richardson uses accessible language and a chart that follows the original Latin to the first English translation of the Missal used from 1974 through to today's new translation.

In style, the new translation is reverential and traditional, restoring emphasis on the transcendent and the sacred, and replacing words such as "happy" with "blessed," and phrases such as "this is" with "behold".

Pre-orders are also pouring in for the official Sunday Missal and also for the Daily Missal.

"The new editions are being printed of the new translation by St Paul's Publications with the Sunday Missal available from March next year and the daily Missal in stock at our store and online from June 2012," he says.

The first translation of the Roman Missal from the original Latin into the vernacular was approved by Pope Paul VI in 1969 after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. Quickly translated into English under a committee representing the Bishops of the English-speaking world, while prayers of the Missal appeared in contemporary English, it was also understood that this initial translation would need substantial revision and fine-tuning over the next few decades.

But it wasn't until the third Latin edition of the Missal was published by the Vatican in 2002 as the official standard for the liturgy, that a new English translation of the Missal was sought. To this end, in April that year, Blessed Pope John Paul II had established the Vox Clara (clear voice) Committee of English-speaking bishops and chaired by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, to "assist and advise the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts."

Blessed Pope John II wanted the Missal translation to more accurately reflect the power and tradition of the original Latin and wanted a more exact translation rather than the somewhat "rushed" translation of 1969.

Fr Don Richardson writes about
the new Missal in an issue of Inform
Courtesy of the Catholic Weekly

For the next decade, under the guidance of Cardinal Pell, the Vox Clara Committee met twice yearly and commissioned new translations from Latin and theological scholars following the Vatican's guidelines that emphasised the translation should be integral to the original Roman Missal and exact. The final translation then had to be approved by the Vatican.

In February this year, details on the study text of the new Missal translation were released by the Vatican. This was accompanied by a presentation to Pope Benedict XVI of the new English translation of the Roman Missal by the Vox Clara Committee.

The new translation which will be used by the world's 100 million English speaking Catholics, with US Catholics and several other nations adopting the Missal in their churches from 27 November, the first Sunday of Advent features a return to the more classical style of liturgical language.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell says this gives a "different cadence" to the translation of the Roman Missal that two generations of Australian Catholics grew up with and which many in the Vatican and on Vox Clara believed was "a bit dumbed down."

"The previous translators seemed a bit embarrassed to refer to angels, sacrifice and perpetual virginity and they went softly on sin and redemption," he says.

The new translation returns to the original with an emphasis on Christ's sacrifice and underlines the dependence of individuals on God, and in many instances changing the more general "for all" to the specific "you." For example the consecration in the Mass now specifies that "Christ shed His blood for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins" rather than the previous "for all."

His Eminence says the change reflected the official Latin version of the Roman Missal and that although Christ died for everybody, this served to remind worshippers of the need for personal repentance.

For resources and information about the new Missal log on to

For more resources, copies of Inform with Fr Don Richardson's clear explanation of the new translation of the Roman Missal as well as for the in demand beautifully-illustrated The Australian New Mass Book for Children, log on to

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