New Mass dismissals meant to help people live the Gospel

The new options for dismissal at Mass are meant to help worshippers connect the liturgy with the missionary call of the rest of their lives, explained a liturgist with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

Chosen by Pope Benedict XVI himself, the closings were created to help the faithful see that the "transformation that takes place in the Eucharist ... ultimately helps to transform us as those who receive the Eucharist," said Father Richard B. Hilgartner, associate director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship.

However, U.S. Catholics are unlikely to hear the new forms of dismissal at Mass until 2012 or later, when the new English translation of the Roman Missal is introduced.

Father Hilgartner said the new options are meant to reflect "several transformations" that occur during the Mass.

"The bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus, and as the faithful share in the body and blood of Christ the prayer is that we become more the body of Christ, which has to do with how we live," he said.

The options were outlined by Cardinal Francis Arinze of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments at the Vatican, in an interview published in the Oct. 17 issue of L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. Along with "Ite, missa est," the Latin phrase now translated as "The Mass is ended, go in peace," he said the new options are:

-- "Ite ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum" (Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord).

-- "Ite in pace, glorificando vita vestra Dominum" (Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life).

-- "Ite in pace" (Go in peace).

"It's our understanding that the Holy Father had a desire to find ways to express more clearly the connection between what's celebrated in the liturgy and how the faithful live their lives beyond liturgy, that movement from the altar to the world," Father Hilgartner said in an interview with Catholic News Service.

The closing options will be included in the new English-language translation of the main constant parts of the Mass, which was approved, or given "recognitio," by the Vatican in July.

The new dismissals will be part of the revised Roman Missal, which will include modified interpretations of many of the common acclamations and prayers.

The U.S. bishops will take up the second of the 10 sections into which the Roman Missal has been divided at their fall general meeting Nov. 10-13 in Baltimore. The 700-page section failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority for approval after several long discussions during the bishops' June meeting and a subsequent mail ballot.

The second section governs the translation of proper prayers for Sundays and feast days during the liturgical year.

Father Hilgartner said if the process stays on schedule the bishops are expected to approve all 10 sections by the end of 2010. Each section also must be confirmed by the Vatican.

Once approved, he said, it will likely be another year before the changes make their way into the liturgy in order for the necessary catechesis to take place in dioceses and the revised missals to be printed and distributed.

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here