Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Roman Missal: The Whole Wide World

I've been impressed lately with the way the new missal translation reinforces a sense of the presence and involvement of all creation in the liturgy--and of creation as God's ongoing work. Here are a few outstanding examples:

EP1 (Roman Canon): “Through Christ our Lord, through whom you continue to create all these good things, O Lord; you make them holy, fill them with life, bless them and bestow them upon us.”

EP 3: “all you have created rightly gives you praise, for through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy, and you never cease to gather a people to yourself...”; "We hope to enjoy forever the fullness of your glory through Christ our Lord, through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.”

EP 4 (which recounts the whole history of salvation): With the Angels... “we, too, confess your name in exultation, giving voice to every creature under heaven as we sing, Holy, Holy, Holy...” (currently “in the name of every creature...”); “...grant, O merciful Father, that we may enter into a heavenly inheritance with the Bl. Virgin Mary, Mother of God... there, with the whole of creation, freed from the corruption of sin and death, may we glorify you through Christ our Lord.” (Paul's “all creation awaits the revelation of the sons of God...”).

There are two passages I'd especially like to highlight:

In Eucharistic Prayer 3, the priest currently prays “so that from East to West a perfect sacrifice may be offered...” That sounds like a geographical reference, but with only two of the compass points, so much so that many priests feel they have to add "from North to South" in order to make things right. The new translation says “from the rising of the sun to its setting”: This isn't a geographic reference so much as it means “from sunup to sundown": “nonstop.” It is from the first chapter of the prophet Malachi where God says that “from the the setting of the sun, great is my name among the Gentiles, and they will offer a pure sacrifice to my name.” So this one line is a fantastic example not only of the way creation is evoked in the liturgy, but of how the liturgy itself, in citing Scripture, interprets the very Scriptures that it incorporates. The Eucharistic Prayer is not simply using a Bible quote to express itself, it is actually saying, "Today,  in this very action, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing: This offering, and your priestly participation in it, is what Malachi was prophesying."

In Eucharistic Prayer 4, we currently hear that “Jesus took the cup filled with wine.” It will now be “filled with the fruit of the vine."

The new translation is not only less prosaic, it is more “environmentally conscious”: our attention is drawn not to the human product “wine,” but to the presence of God's original creation with overtones about the Promised Land, and the abundant blessings that bring us joy and give fullness to life: creation, redemption and covenant. The created world itself is made more manifest to us, and when we receive the gifts “back” after they have become the body and blood of Christ, we get a stronger message about the future transformation of the whole universe. So there is a cosmic level that just isn't expressed as richly when we hear the word “wine.”

The heightened "visibility" of creation is another reason I am so looking forward to the new Roman Missal.

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