Roman Missal – keep an open mind says Archbishop Dew

The Archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand has asked people to keep an open mind about the new English Translation of the Roman Missal.

“There are some critics of the new translation,” he says “let’s prayerfully keep a perspective on the changes and an open mind that this is, as we have been saying for a long time, ‘New words, deeper meaning, same Mass.’ We will discover a ‘deeper meaning’ only when we give ourselves a fair go and approach these words prayerfully.”

The full text of Archbishop Dew’s Letter to Parish Priests, Lay Leaders and School Principals:

It is not only the new road rules which come into effect this Sunday, this is also the day when the Revised Roman Missal becomes the official text for all Masses celebrated in New Zealand.

There has been a great deal of ink spilled, emails written and words spoken, over the new English translation of the Mass, that is, the new edition of the Roman Missal, which will become the only approved text to be used in New Zealand as from this Sunday. There have been many discussions surrounding the new translations and the process that led to their approval. Depending on who you read — it’s a beautiful translation that preserves the majesty of the original Latin; or it’s not much of a change at all; or it’s an overly literal translation that sounds awkward and clumsy.

It’s probably unfair to judge until a few months have passed, and the priests and people have had the chance to hear and speak and pray with the changes. Over 12 months ago people were confused and upset over the change from “and also with you” to “and with your spirit.” But people seem to have become used to that now, and are appreciating the biblical source of that phrase. Now some are concerned about the translation of the Our Father we will use at Mass – at all English Masses around the world.

As one priest wrote “This is still the Mass: We are still celebrating Christ who is in our midst… We must not let anything get in the way of that.” We remember that we are coming together as one people to pray as Jesus taught us.

Many of the prayers are different, it will take us some time to become used to them, but the Church’s prayer and Liturgy is never about our personal preference, but about what Christ is doing for us. As many priests will tell you, it takes a while to move from saying the prayers of the Mass to praying them. From feeling like you are performing to praying with the congregation. And at some point I know we will feel comfortable with the new English translation.

There are some critics of the new translation; let’s prayerfully keep a perspective on the changes and an open mind that this is as we have been saying for a long time “New words, deeper meaning, same Mass.” We will discover a “deeper meaning” only when we give ourselves a fair go and approach these words prayerfully.

One of the things I would encourage Clergy, Lay Pastoral Leaders, and teachers in our schools to do is to read and become familiar with the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) which is at the beginning of the Missal. The GIRM gives the principles and guidelines for our liturgies, which when prayed with and reflected on, will enable us to lead people in prayerful and well celebrated Liturgies.


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