As we prepare for the imminent introduction of the
revised translation of the Roman Missal to be used at all Catholic Masses
celebrated in English, an ancient Latin axiom, lex orandi lex credendi,
helps us to appreciate the significance of the revision.
Translated literally, this phrase means: the law
of praying is the law of believing. What this means for us when we gather at
the Eucharistic liturgy is that how we pray actually affects what
we believe. Put another way, what we say at Mass, as well as
how we say it, impacts our faith.
Every word contained in the official prayers of
the liturgy is important. Whether addressed to God or spoken to the people,
liturgical words voice the faith of the Church. As we begin another new
liturgical year with the onset of Advent, the Church is unveiling for us in
the English-speaking world a new and improved translation of the
theologically rich and beautifully poetic prayers of the Mass. Sadly, we
have been subjected to a seriously deficient and inferior version of those
same prayers for the past 40 years.
The recent decade-long "labor of love" by a host
of English-speaking bishops, linguists, theologians and other professionals
offers us an accurate rendering of the official Latin texts of the Mass.
Besides being more faithful to the Latin, the new translation provides for
much easier recognition of Scriptural references that are the source of so
many of our liturgical prayers. Furthermore, we now will have just one
official translation of the Roman Missal that will serve the entire
English-speaking world, whereas previously there were multiple versions to
accommodate a diversity of nationalities and cultures.
Liturgical worship, especially our celebration of
the Eucharist, fulfills a basic human need, which is to find a way that we
can adequately and appropriately express our love of God and our utter
dependence upon Him. When we do this, we need to do it well. It behooves us,
therefore, to participate in liturgical worship with the finest resources
available. We will be better able to do this once we begin using this more
authentic translation of the Roman Missal.
Remember, the way we pray affects the way we
believe. While we normally may find ourselves to be resistant to change,
we can trust that Holy Mother Church has our best interests in mind as she
ushers in a new English translation of the Mass prayers. Perhaps our faith
will be strengthened in the process of learning, and even studying, the
newly revised texts. Such enrichment should result in a greater personal
enthusiasm about the Mass in general.
We are sent out as apostles at the conclusion of
each Mass. The new words of dismissal sound much like an official
commissioning: "Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord" or "Go in peace,
glorifying the Lord by your life." If we take such words seriously, we
hopefully will attract new members to the Church while simultaneously
attracting back to the fold those who have drifted away from the regular
practice of the faith. The possibilities are endless!
The Church has provided for us a magnificent
renewal of the Mass. It is now up to us to help stimulate an analogous
renewal of the masses!
You may reach Fr. Eickhoff at the Office for
at 402-488-2040 or