Saturday, August 27, 2011

Offering our best (Sunday homily)

As you know, our bishops, working with the pope,
have prepared a new English translation
of our Mass prayers.

Next weekend, our parishes will begin
using some of the newly translated prayers.
This is with the permission of the Archbishop. *

While we’ll start using all the prayers
at the end of November,
the Archbishop allowed for a few to be used
starting in September.

The three prayers we will begin using next weekend are:
the Gloria, the “Holy, Holy,”
and the new “Memorial Acclamations,”
which are the response when the priest says,
“Mystery of Faith.”

(At 7 am:
even though we don’t always sing these at this Mass,
we’ll still start reciting them so we get used to them.

In your pews, you’ll see this red booklet (hold up booklet).
Let’s look at it together.

This contains all the people’s prayers
that are the same week in, week out.

When Advent comes,
we’ll be using this booklet for the whole Mass;
but we’ll use it for these few prayers to start with.

Let’s take a look together, starting with the Sanctus,
on page 10: it changes only a little.

Instead of “Lord God of power and might,”
it will be “Lord God of hosts.”
You might wonder, why this change?

This is a phrase straight from Scripture.
“Hosts” means “armies”—but here it means
the heavenly hosts: God’s “armies” of angels.

One of the goals with the new translation
was to bring out more clearly the Scriptures
and Scriptural images being referred to.

On the next page (page 11), you can see the three choices
we will have for the Memorial Acclamation.
The first one looks new; but it is actually what was written,
in the new Mass right after the Council.

The reason it’s new to us is that it’s only now
being translated in a direct way.
Till now, what we were using at Mass were loose paraphrases of this.

So the bishops decided we should use this prayer,
and they also reworked two of the ones we’ve been using,
and they are dropping two others.

Now let’s look at the Gloria, back on page 3.
This changes a bit more, and it’s worth looking at
because it helps illustrate the reasons
the Mass needed to be translated anew.

If you look at this—keeping in mind
what we’ve been used to—you’ll notice right away
the new translation puts back in whole phrases
that were left out of the prior translation.

Remember, when the Mass was first translated into English,
right after the Second Vatican Council, they felt the need to move quickly.
Everyone then assumed the translation we’ve been using all this time
would be revised.
No one expected it to wait 40 years!

So, now we’ll be praying the Gloria more closely
with what it says in Latin—and in Spanish—
and in German—and so forth.

Not only that, this revised translation is now much more in line
with what Orthodox and Protestant Christians say when they use this prayer.
You can read more about it in the bulletin.
Now, let me explain two other things
about how we’re going to approach the new translation.

Starting at the end of October,
all the priests will take time, over several weeks,
to address the rest of the translation in their homilies.
We’ll be able to learn and appreciate the Mass better—
which is something a lot of folks want to do.

Also, starting next week, when we sing these prayers,
we’re going to use the simple, chant setting
that is contained in these books.
We are trying to “ramp up” and take this on
piece-by-piece, so it’s not overwhelming.

I do ask that you resist the temptation to “borrow”
one of these booklets. We’re counting on
these staying in church for at least the next year.

If you want a copy, please call the office
and we will happily sell you one for a dollar—
but we can’t have them disappear from the pews!

OK, we’ve been talking about the Mass.

Did you notice, in the second reading,
Saint Paul talks about the importance
of our “spiritual worship”—
and offering our bodies as a “living sacrifice”?
What he is saying is that how we live our daily lives
is a mirror of what we do in our worship together.

On Sunday, we all join the priest in offering
the Sacrifice of Christ—the Mass, the Eucharist.
The rest of the time, we’re spread out, in our community,
being a bearer of Christ to others.

If we came to church today,
and found the tabernacle was gone;
or if we found out there was no Mass;
how would we react?
We’d be broken hearted: we’d ask, where is the Lord?

We come here to meet Christ here;
This parish, each of us, is like a living tabernacle,
so that people know Jesus is with them.

The Mass is the sacrifice the Church offers,
acting as one;
our day-to-day life is the “living sacrifice”
each of us offers as individuals.

In the Mass, Jesus gives us everything,
including his true Body and Blood.
Paul says, we give exactly the same back in return!
We give our body and blood, our lives, our soul,
our choices and decisions, to Christ.

Oh but it’s hard!

What would change, if we truly gave Jesus our tongue?

If these eyes belong to Christ,
would we go all the same places online?

Giving Christ our hands, our feet might mean
we spend more time helping others or spreading Faith.

But this gives a good way to pray:
At this Mass—or later—
we might think about the gifts and talents we have,
in our bodies, in our minds and selves, and asking:
Christ, these are yours.
How shall they serve you today?

* I didn't think it was important, in my homily, to go into the following detailed explanation.

Archbishop Schnurr has given every parish permission to begin using these prayer texts starting September 10-11. I asked, and received, his permission to start a week earlier, because we are doing a series of talks at Mass, at one parish, regarding stewardship, and I wanted to address this subject, in a homily, before beginning to use these new prayers. The opportune time for that was this weekend, not next; and I thought it would be better if the weekend we started using these texts followed right after that homily.


lisa said...

beautiful homily, father. i can't wait to start using the new translation!
i especially like the part about our obligation......

Anonymous said...

your parishioners are lucky ducks.