November 22, 2010

SASKATOON — A loving spirit of unity is called for in implementing the new English translation of prayers and instructions for celebrating Mass, says the director of the national liturgy office.

Father Bill Burke called on pastoral leaders to set aside any annoyance and frustration with parts of the new translation to examine it as a whole.

Burke also urged them to appreciate all the translation offers and then to help the faithful understand the changes.

The new translation of the Roman Missal and its revised General Instruction are being implemented in all English-speaking countries.

Different national groups are at different stages in the process, Burke said at Saskatoon diocesan study days Oct. 20-21. The Canadian bishops are still waiting a response from Rome about several requested adaptations.

Burke, director of liturgy for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the CCCB is preparing resources for explaining and reflecting on the changes and on the liturgy as a whole.

Those resources will help to implement the new missal and General Instruction, along with new musical settings of parts of the Mass, such as the Gloria, he said.

Acknowledging there is a diversity of opinions and theologies in the faith community, he stressed the need to keep a respectful perspective.

Burke said through the ages the Church has treasured and guided the celebration of the Eucharist.


"Through the liturgy we are incorporated more deeply into the very life of the Trinity," he said. "We don't go looking for new meanings. We don't invent the mystery of faith. We don't invent the gift of the eucharistic liturgy. We receive it, we celebrate it and we pass it on."

The new document emphasizes transcendence and a sense of the sacred.

In his presentation, Burke explored instructions about the use of silence, more references to the action of the Holy Spirit, an expanded section on the Liturgy of the Word and notes about posture during the Mass.

The General Instruction emphasizes the need for unity, he said. It addresses questions of posture, for instance, with the goal of having uniformity of posture in the assembly.

"The General Instruction talks about reverence expressed in kneeling, in standing, in sitting, in quiet meditation, in participating in the Gospel acclamation," Burke said.

Burke stressed the need for good catechesis, homilies and explanations as the new translation is implemented.


"We are going to find a diversity of reaction to these prayers," he predicted. The extremes being heard in the "blogosphere" about the new translation and the General Instruction suggest that those on both sides are misreading the document. "There has to be a much more respectful dialogue."

The new translation has great richness, he added. Portions of the translation that he at first found awkward, he now finds profound. In the end, the "sacrament of unity" is about more than words, it is about redemption.