During 2011 the Catholic Church around the English speaking world will introduce some language changes to our Missal. Some Dioceses will introduce these changes at Pentecost, while others will wait till the end of the year when the English Missal is available. Printed material, as well as Powerpoint material, will be provided for these changes to be smoothly implemented.
While there are many changes to the translation of all the prayers and texts, they will mainly involve the celebrant. The congregation will only have some six changes to cope with.
All this is to do with fidelity to the Latin text of the Missal. The Latin text is the base and sometimes the full meaning has been lost in the translation.
These changes have their importance. What is more important, I believe, is our understanding of and love for the Eucharist. This includes our full participation in what we are celebrating as well as our living out that Sunday Mass during the week.
Almost fifty years ago when the Vatican Council undertook to renew and update our Church, it began with the Liturgy. If we are to renew our lives and influence our world the Bishops said it was important to begin with the Liturgy. The Liturgy is the public worship of the Church and our Spiritual powerhouse. It is through gathering for public prayer, celebrating the Eucharist and Sacraments that we are best able to live out our baptismal calling.
In particular, the Fathers of the Vatican Council highlighted the Eucharist, the centre point of the Liturgy. In a statement so rich and so often quoted, the Bishops said that the 'Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life.' Our whole lives lead into the Mass and flow from it. In other words, the Eucharist and our lives are intimately entwined.
The Mass is a profound Mystery. It is so deep we can never get to the bottom of it. The further we go into it the more there is to discover, appreciate and love.
While we have achieved much in fifty years we have still much more to do. In certain aspects we have allowed the sacred to become common place.
At our Oceania Bishop's Conference last year we had a speaker at the end of a special dinner one evening. This person, Robyn Moore, was an entertainer and hosts a children's radio programme in Tasmania. She spoke of her special experience as a young woman at a Christmas Mass with her boyfriend. This experience led her eventually, after marriage, to become a Catholic. Now in her fifties at times she is still overwhelmed with emotion during Mass. Some fellow Catholics say to her 'Aren't you over that yet?' She said to them and to us emphatically 'I never want to get over it!' What an attitude and encouragement for us all to go more deeply into the Eucharist.
In June last year our Priests, Religious and some Parish Lay Leaders attended a three day Liturgy Conference. It was a little about the new translation but mostly about the history and theology of the Mass as well as our involvement and living the Mass.
We were given a wonderful resource 'Become One Body One Spirit In Christ'. I have purchased a copy of this DVD for each Parish. At our Sunday Eucharist in the first five weekends of Lent we will sample this resource in our churches.
There are other resources that we can use as well. The people in our Catholic Resource Centre in Geraldton are only too ready to help you. I saw another book advertised recently entitled 'The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition'. It was co-authored by Cardinal Wuerl of Washington and Mike Aqilina. Cardinal Wuerl has said 'Many Catholics never learned what was really happening at the Altar. Once you realise and experience that, you want to be there'.
Another recent book 'Spirit and Life' by Scott Hahn says-
'Where does Jesus set our hearts on fire today? (as He did on the road to Emmaus) - In the Mass, where He opens up His heart. In the Mass, where He opens up the Scriptures. That's where we're most perfectly conformed to the image of God. That's where we become one, in the closest communion, with the eternal Son of God. We live His life - all of it. We burn with His fire. Afterward, we open our hearts, wherever we go, to give living water to the people, all around us, who are thirsting with a thirst as big as almighty God - a thirst that only God can quench...It doesn't matter whether we're lay people, priests or consecrated sisters or brothers. Our giving must be complete.'
I therefore call on our Priests, Religious and Parish Leaders to share this DVD resource and other resources with our people. Let us make this year a special time to value this treasure, this priceless pearl of the Eucharist.
Each time we gather to 'do this in memory of me', we are also missioned to go and carry the fruit of this gift to the world. We are challenged as we have been changed, to go and change the world.
JUSTIN JOSEPH BIANCHINI DD
Bishop of Geraldton