You may have heard over recent years of changes proposed to our celebration of the Mass. These result essentially from a revision of the Roman Missal. Eventually, this will mean that a new missal (which has already been released in Latin) will be translated into English, and put into use in Australia and elsewhere, replacing the last missal promulgated (officially approved and released) by Pope Paul VI in 1975.
The missal comes with instructions on how it is to be used. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) sets the guidelines for the celebration of Mass, the requirements for Mass, etc. This has also be revised in Latin, and other parts of the Church were instructed to translate it immediately and put it into use.
In recent months, the new GIRM for the Dioceses of Australia has been approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (the Vatican committee for the liturgy and sacraments). We are now waiting for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to set a date when this new instruction will come in to effect. It will result in a few small changes to the celebration of Mass; most of what we currently do will remain the same.
You might wonder why the Vatican would wish to make more revisions and changes to Mass. Our Church has always strived to celebrate its liturgy in the best possible way. The liturgy, after all, is supposed to be the source and summit of Christian life (Vatican II, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 10). Now that we have had time to evaluate the success of the liturgical reforms stemming from the Second Vatican Council, it is important to review how we celebrate Mass. The ultimate goal is that everybody can participate in a truly sacred encounter with God that speaks of the greatness of the Paschal Mystery – the mystery that is the death and resurrection of Christ.
The whole revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal is available on the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Website. Julie Kelly (Diocesan Officer for Liturgical Formation) has written an article of how the changes to the celebration of Mass will affect liturgical ministers and the whole assembly. You can read it in this month’s Catholic Outlook.