31/7/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part XIV: The Memorial Acclamations

The introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal is not just a chance to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.

While the priest leads much of the Eucharistic Prayer on behalf of us all, there are three points where we add our own voices to this prayer of thanksgiving: the Sanctus (Holy, holy), Memorial Acclamation (“the mystery of faith…”) and the Great Amen.

In the previous English translation of the Missal, we had four memorial acclamations.  In the new translation, there are three.  If you have looked over the revised Order of Mass, you will see similarities between the past and present translations, but notice that the most commonly used acclamation, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” no longer exists.

Each of the three memorial acclamations we have now corresponds with one in the Latin edition of the Missal.  The former acclamation, “Christ has died…” was an additional acclamation, loosely based on the first Latin acclamation.  It was unique to the English edition of the Missal.

The current expectation that liturgical texts be translated according to the principle of formal equivalence (that is, a word-by-word translation as much as possible) means that there cannot be additional texts that do not exist in the Latin edition.  Yet there is another difficulty with the former “Christ has died…” acclamation that should cause us to question its suitability.

The entire Eucharistic Prayer is an act of thanksgiving addressed to God the Father.  In each of the revised Memorial Acclamations (and the former three apart from “Christ has died…”), we acclaim the mystery of faith by praying to God.  The acclamation “Christ has died…” did speak about God, but not to God.  The other former acclamations, as well as all of the new translations, allow our prayer to be directed to God, as is evident in the personal pronouns.  For example:

We proclaim your Death, O Lord,
and profess your Resurrection
until you come again.