BY MARK GREAVES AND PETER JENNINGS
CATHOLICS IN England and Wales may be able to use the new translation of the Mass by the middle of next year, it has emerged.
The translation – which will vary slightly in different parts of the English-speaking world – was finally approved last week by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
A taste of the text, which took nine years to complete, will come as early as September when it is used by Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Britain. Its first-ever musical setting is already being prepared by the Scottish composer James MacMillan in time for the Pope’s visit.
In America parishes are expected to adopt the new Missal at the beginning of Advent 2011, the start of the Church year, to fit in with the publication of Sunday Missals.
But Martin Foster, secretary of the bishops’ conference Department for Christian Life and Worship, said he hoped it would be introduced in England and Wales by next summer. He said the aim would be to give publishers six months’ notice and to distribute resources to help with catechesis at least three months in advance.
His comments came after a call by Pope Benedict XVI for the Missal to be introduced gradually, with “due sensitivity”, to avert “any risk of confusion or bewilderment”.
The Pope said he hoped the translation would serve as “a springboard for a renewal and a deepening Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world”.
Cardinal George Pell, chairman of Vox Clara, set up in 2001 to advise on the translation, said doubters would be “pleasantly surprised” by the quality of the new text.
“There is a fullness of theological teaching which will be enriching over the years,” he said. “It is not a literal word-for-word translation of the Latin. It is sophisticated, accurate and often beautiful and powerful.” For older Catholics who had to adjust to the first English translation after the Second Vatican Council, the cardinal said he thought it would be “reassuring”. For young Catholics, he said, he hoped it would cause them to “stop and ponder”. Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the body charged with writing the new translation, welcomed the approval of the text by Rome last week.
He said it had ushered in the “final phase of preparation” for implementing the new Missal in parishes. He said ICEL had produced an interactive DVD, entitled Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ, that would be of “great assistance in the catechetical process”.
The DVD will be available in a month or so and is advertised at www.becomeonebodyonespiritinchrist.org. In an online video, Bishop Roche said the DVD would help Catholics to “grow in faith and to understand the wonderful treasure that the Lord Jesus gave to us in this celebration of the Eucharist”.
James MacMillan told the Scottish Catholic Observer last week that he had already started working on the first ever setting for the new translation.
“We have stolen a march on the US,” he said. His focus, he said, was on trying to write “something simple” that would “make people want to sing”. For several years he has written liturgical music for the Dominican parish of St Columba’s in Maryhill, Glasgow.
About 10,000 copies of the new altar Missal will be published by the Catholic Truth Society in three different sizes: large, medium and hand-sized.
Fergal Martin, the publisher, said the aim was to create a “very beautiful and dignified series of editions with hopefully the best quality of production and design we can possibly make. It’s a real labour of love for us and all those involved in the project.”