What is this part of the Mass?
As we continue our reflections on the new Roman Missal translation, we next move into the Liturgy of the Word. In the Dialogue at the Gospel, as seen on page 3 of your pew cards, there is one little change to better match the Latin. Let’s read that dialogue together, shall we?
Deacon/Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit”
Deacon/Priest: “A reading from the Holy Gospel according to <insert evangelist here>”
People: “Glory to you, O Lord.”
Nothing will be changing in regard to the Scripture readings, Responsorial Psalm, and Gospel Acclamation. The Profession of Faith, however? Now, THAT’S another story. Perhaps some of the most significant changes will be noticed in the Nicene (NEE-Seen) Creed.
The Nicene (NEE-seen) Creed was formulated at the Council of Nicea (Nee SEE-uh) in 325 AD, which was convened to develop a clear statement of the articles of faith; those things to be believed by all Christians. The Creed was further refined and fully developed at the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD.
What do we say now and what is changing?
The first change that we encounter in the Nicene (NEE-seen) Creed is the changing of We to I—from the plural to the singular. This is not to diminish our sense of community but is simply a more accurate translation of the word Credo (KRAY-doh) –“I believe.” The reciting of the Creed is a communal act; however, each individual in the assembly is called upon to profess his or her own faith just as he or she did in Baptism. Our individual profession is then joined together with the profession of the whole assembly. Just as a married person may renew wedding vows to a spouse after a certain period of time, reaffirming the marriage covenant, it is important for each individual in the Church, the “Bride of Christ” per Revelation 19:7 and 21:2, to weekly profess complete fidelity to Jesus, who is called the Divine Bridegroom in the Gospel of John 3:29.
Next, the words “of all that is seen and unseen” will become “of all things visible and invisible.” There is a difference between something that is unseen and something that is invisible. Something may be unseen for a number of reasons, including an obstacle in our line of vision. Something invisible, however, is clearly unable to be seen with the naked eye. For example, the saints and angels who occupy a place in our worship. They are not just unseen but invisible.
The second part of the Creed, which deals with our beliefs in Jesus Christ, has a number of changes in the new Roman Missal:
“the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages” – the words “Only Begotten” also appear in the Gloria and express our belief that Jesus did not simply materialize as the Son of God but was intentionally begotten by the Father as part of his divine plan. The words “born of the Father before all ages” emphasize that Jesus dwelled with the Father before time began. This is seen in the words of the Gospel in John 1:1-2 and in St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians 1:15.
“consubstantial with the Father” – this replaces the phrase “one in being” in describing the relationship between the Father and the Son. The early Church labored intensely to find the correct words to define Jesus’ relationship with the Father. Consubstantial, while an unusual word in English, means literally “having the same substance,” which is more technically accurate than “one in being.” To be sure, it’s an unusual word, but then again it is describing someone and something unusual and unique: Jesus Christ and his relationship with the Father. Let’s say that word together: Consubstantial.
“and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary” – here, the word incarnate replaces born. To be born describes the moment of birth. To be incarnate describes the moment of conception: the Word became incarnate – became flesh – in Mary’s womb.
“he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” – while the Latin word for suffered implies death, the same is not true in English. As a result, we’ve been using two verbs: suffered and died. Now, we will use only one verb – suffered – while adding the word death to make it clear in English that Jesus indeed died. The word accordance with the Scriptures is simply more precise than the word fulfillment.
In the last part of the Nicene Creed, as we profess our faith in the Holy Spirit, we will say “with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,” which is a more precise translation of the Latin than the words “worshipped and glorified.” Adoration is reserved to God and God alone. A little later, instead of saying “we acknowledge one baptism,” we will now say “I confess one baptism.” To confess, which means “to express belief in,” is a more forceful expression than to acknowledge because it implies involving both the heart and the head.
And last but not least, we will say the words “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead” instead of “we look for…” This expresses eagerness as well as confidence that the resurrection of the dead is indeed going to happen.
The final part of the Liturgy of the Word is the Prayer of the Faithful. New versions of this prayer are included with the new Roman Missal, but the text of the Prayer of the Faithful may be freely composed by the local parish. The Prayer of the Faithful is different every week, but must include petitions in these four areas:
· What are the needs of the whole Church and public authorities?
· What does the world need to turn away from sin and toward God?
· Who is burdened by any kind of difficulty?
· What are the needs of the local community?
Our responses to the petitions in the Prayer of the Faithful remain the same:”Lord, hear our prayer.” Note the singular “prayer” is correct, not the plural “prayers”. This is because all of the petitions, no matter how many are written or offered up are part of one prayer; the Prayer of the Faithful.
Reverence: Since we are making changes in the prayers, how about we also work to put more reverence into the Mass as well? In this part of the Mass, the Credo, we should show more reverence by making a substantial bow from the waist, not a tiny little bow of the head, when reciting the line "and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man." This is the greatest mystery of our faith - that God, through His own power became human.