Liturgy Training Publications receives many questions regarding the Roman Missal. Here are several of the most frequently asked questions with answers. Feel free to contact us if you have questions not addressed on this page.
Will the revised translation affect the General Instruction of the Roman Missal?
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy [CSL] (Sacrosanctum Concilium) mandated the revision of the liturgical books. “The liturgical books are to be revised as soon as possible; experts are to be employed on the task, and bishops are to be consulted, from the various parts of the world,” CSL, 25. Continuing the instruction on the norms of translation, CSL, 36.4, states: “Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.”
Those territories in which English is the language of a significant proportion of Catholics joined ICEL to prepare English translations of the Latin liturgical books that the member Episcopal Conferences could vote on prior to the final approval that would be sought from Rome. Full membership in ICEL is held by those Episcopal Conferences that have substantial numbers of people desiring to celebrate the liturgy in English: Australia, Canada, England, Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland, South Africa, and the United States.
In addition to the full members are the associate members—the numerous Episcopal Conferences in which Mass and the sacraments are celebrated in English among other languages. ICEL’s associate members are from the following conferences: Antilles, Bangladesh, CEPAC (Episcopal Conference of the Pacific), Gambia-Liberia-Sierra Leone, Ghana, Kenya, Malaysia-Singapore, Malawi, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and the Solomons, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It is apparent that the influence of ICEL is worldwide.Weaknesses in the First English Edition of the Roman MissalIn 1969, the First Edition of the Roman Missal in English was published. To meet the demand by clergy and the laity to celebrate a vernacular liturgy as soon as possible, ICEL rushed the translation of the Latin text into English. In so doing, the English liturgy was often introduced with inadequate catechetical instruction. Additionally, some priests experimented with changes not called for and not allowed by the Holy See and our Bishops. Realizing these problems, the office known today as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued clarifications on the correct implementation of the vernacular in the liturgy. However, the problems experienced with the introduction of the vernacular were deeper than first thought.
Problems in the English First Edition
Weaknesses in the Second EditionIn 1975, the Second Edition of the Roman Missal in English was issued. It was more complete than the first edition. The first edition had needed a revision to put it in accord with the documents and directives issued since the publication of the first edition, for example, the June 29, 1970, Instruction on the Extension of Distributing Holy Communion under Both Kinds and the September 5, 1970, Third Instruction on the Orderly Carrying out of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. However, much of the translation of the Second Edition of the Roman Missal was the same as the rushed translation of the first edition.
The attention of our Bishops in the 1970s was often directed to providing the necessary catechesis on the changes in the liturgy that was not provided prior to the introduction of the reformed liturgy. In addition, there was a pressing need to correct abuses in the celebration of the liturgy. Many will remember the unapproved Eucharistic Prayers that some priests used, the invitation to the congregation to recite parts of the Eucharistic Prayer with the priest, priests and readers changing the wording of the official texts, and a general disregard for the rubrics.
In addition to the need for catechesis on the Mass and the need to correct abuses, the Bishops also had the task of providing catechesis on the sacraments whose texts were being revised. Moreover, new approaches, such as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and the Directory for Masses with Children, needed to be explained and implemented. Training programs for new liturgical ministries needed to be provided. ICEL worked overtime to provide the English translation for all the sacraments and documents coming from Rome. With so many tasks at hand, it was decided that, rather than completely reworking the English text, major weaknesses of the first edition would be corrected.
That decision left the following major problems in the English translation of the second edition of the Roman Missal:
The Third Edition of the Roman MissalIn 2002, Pope John Paul II promulgated the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. More than 15 percent of the texts in the third edition are new, due to the large number of new saints Pope John Paul II canonized and the requests by our Bishops for new texts to address special circumstances, for example, wedding anniversaries and funerals. Since 2002, major efforts have been made to translate this Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal into English. Fortunately, the translation has been guided by several new decrees addressing the questions raised by our Bishops and their consultants regarding the norms for translating Latin into English.
Written by Robert Tuzik, PhD © 2008, Liturgy Training Publications.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments announced recognitio on April 30, 2010.
On August 20, it was announced that the revised Roman Missal will be implemented for liturgical use on November 27, 2011, the First Sunday of Advent.
Liturgiam Authenticam (On the Use of Vernacular Languages in the Publication of the Books of the Roman Liturgy) was approved by Pope John Paul II on March 20, 2001. It took effect on April 25, 2001. Liturgiam Authenticam is the Fifth Instruction of the Right Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.
The new norms in Liturgiam Authenticam supersede all norms previously set forth on liturgical translation, with the exception of those in the Fourth Instruction on the Right Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Varietates Legitimae), which dealt with inculturation. Liturgiam Authenticam explains the considerations that need to be taken in producing a modern vernacular translation of a liturgical text:
Written by Robert Tuzik, PhD © 2008, Liturgy Training Publications.
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