Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen And Heard

By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY | Published June 23, 2011

The last time our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council met, one of the recommendations that was raised on the agenda for our consideration was the possibility of having more remote preparation time for the new Missal changes that are scheduled to take place on the First Sunday of Advent this year.

While these changes will introduce only a few modest alterations in the responses for the assembly, they will bring with them many new musical settings that will take some time to learn. I understand the need to have a longer period of preparation to help our folks grow familiar with new music and some new phrases. Obviously, I could not authorize the advanced introduction of the new texts for our people all on my own. But evidently enough people raised this same issue with their own bishops—and enough bishops listened to those suggestions—so that now we will have an earlier start time to anticipate the use of some of those musical selections in the fall rather than to wait until the First Sunday of Advent when they will become obligatory for the entire Catholic Church in the United States.

I had to chuckle to myself when I heard of this modified start time for some of these new liturgical changes at our most recent bishops’ meeting last week in Seattle, Wash., as I suspect that many of my brother bishops had also heard from their own people what I had recently heard from our own Pastoral Council. We bishops do listen to our people—in spite of what may often be insinuated. Therefore, sometime in September, we will begin the introduction of the new musical settings for the Mass here in the Archdiocese.

I would like to publicly thank Father Theodore Book and his colleagues for the yeoman’s work that they have already done to prepare for the reception of the new Missal this coming Advent. They have offered (and will be offering) many workshops and presentations that are intended to help celebrants, deacons, choir directors, liturgical personnel, and ordinary folks, to come to understand the changes and the rationale behind making those changes. This new time frame will demand that we adjust our planned programs so that our parishes will have available the musical settings to begin introducing them to our people.

This new Missal has received a great deal of attention, not all of it positive. But as we prepare to begin using this new translation, it is my prayer that we will all find it to be a time of renewal and reflection on the important ritual action that is the Eucharist. I am certain that some of the new words and phrases will appear unfamiliar, and there are bound to be comparisons to the current translation. I am sure that everyone will be able to find something to criticize in the new translation, just as we all can find things to criticize about the current translation, but in the end, it is my prayer that we will grow familiar with the new texts and use them to offer our praise to God as we have with the current text for the past 40 years.

I sense a desire to get about the implementation and to begin to hear and use these new words and sing the new music and settle into a pattern of prayer that will be both enriching and familiar. The very fact that some people have urged us to begin the process of learning the new musical settings is a pretty good indication that our folks are looking forward to beginning a process that will have its bumps but ultimately will lead us to pray together as we encounter the Triune and Eternal God.