New missal preparation to focus on laity

BRAINTREE -- Nine months away from the use of a new Mass translation, local Church officials are now set to begin preparing the faithful in the pews for the changes they will experience at Mass beginning this Advent.

"We are now focusing on efforts on preparing the laity -- namely those who are responsible for implementation in parish communities," said Father Jonathan Gaspar, co-director of the Archdiocese of Boston's Office for Worship and Spiritual Life.

As part of a workshop he hosted for priests and deacons at the Pastoral Center March 15 to discuss the upcoming liturgical changes, Father Gaspar reviewed a timeline for implementation recommended by the U.S. bishops.

The bishops recommended that priests should have begun to study the new translations at the beginning of this year.

By April, they say, priests and deacons should be starting to identify resources that will help catechize the laity and by summer, priests should begin to disseminate the resources to liturgical personnel and begin catechizing parishioners.

Educating parishioners should be in full force by September, the guidelines say, through techniques such as preaching and bulletin announcements.

By mid-fall, the bishops suggest small faith sharing groups, such as what have formed in the Archdiocese of Boston through the ARISE: Together In Christ program, meet and discuss the translations, and then last-minute preparations would occur in November.

The new translation is mandated to take effect Nov. 27, 2011, the first Sunday of Advent.

Father Gaspar also laid out the Archdiocese of Boston's plan for preparing the lay faithful.

Phase I, educating priests and deacons, took place last summer and this winter. To that end, Father Gaspar hosted some seminars during those months. The March 15 seminar was supposed to occur in January but was postponed due to snow.

The second phase of the archdiocese's preparation plan will occur this spring and summer, and will train lay leaders and musicians.

As part of the second phase, Father Gaspar announced a series of workshops the archdiocese's worship office is hosting this spring to catechize lay parish leaders.

Upcoming workshops will be held on:

March 31, Cathedral of the Holy Cross, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

April 4, St. Theresa Parish, North Reading, 1 to 3:30 p.m.

April 6, Pastoral Center, Braintree, 1 to 3:30 p.m.

April 14, St. Joseph Parish, Kingston, 1 to 3:30 p.m.

April 18, St. Francis Parish, Dracut, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

A day-long workshop for clergy and laity on the sacramental meaning of the words prayed at Mass, entitled "Mystical Body, Mystical Voice," will be held at Merrimack College in Andover from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Presenters will be Father Douglas Martis, chair of the worship department at Mundelein Seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Christopher Carstens, the director of the Diocese of LaCrosse, Wis. worship office.

Father Gaspar said the third phase of the archdiocese's implementation plan will occur in the fall for all churchgoers.

"Now, we're beginning a real concerted effort to reach out and catechize the laity," Father Gaspar told The Pilot afterwards.

During the first half of the March 15 workshop at the Pastoral Center, Father Gregory Hoppough, CSS, liturgy professor at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, described the new translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal, which liturgists say more closely resembles the original Latin that was used prior to Vatican II and is Scripture-based.

Father Hoppough also said the new translations will better portray the tenets of the Catholic faith.

"This Roman missal will come as a value, a good to be achieved, because it will better expose our faith and tradition -- what we believe," he said.

Workshop attendees cited benefits of the new translation.

"It's a sign the Church is growing," Deacon John Mannion, of St. George Parish in Framingham, said. "We're getting into more the language of the day."

Deacon Dan Sullivan, of St. Agatha Parish in Milton, said the new translations remind him of his days as an altar boy serving Mass during the 1950s. He recalled the salutation and blessing at the beginning of Mass, where the priest said "Dominus vobiscum" (translated as "The Lord be with you") and the altar boy answered "Et cum spiritu tuo," (translated as "And with thy spirit.")

The original salutation and response will again be heard in the Mass, resulting from the new translation.

Father Clifton Thuma, in residence at St. Mary Parish in Charlestown, said the changes will encourage people to think about the language used in the Mass.

"I think the advantage is it makes everyone, from priests on down, think about what we're saying," said Father Thuma. "It invites thinking about why we're saying what."