Much work ahead before new US missal published

The new English translation of the Roman Missal is seen at its presentation to Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican April 28. (CNS photo - Archbishop Terrence Prendergast)

WASHINGTON -- Even though the U.S. implementation date for the new Roman Missal has now been set, don't expect to find an English translation of the missal for sale at your local Catholic bookstore any time soon.

"There is a tremendous, tremendous, tremendous amount of work still ahead of us" before publication of the missal that will go into use on the first Sunday of Advent in 2011, said Msgr. Anthony Sherman, director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship.

As the final version of the missal received from the Vatican is laid out in galley form for publication, Sherman and Fr. Richard Hilgartner, associate director, will have to go over each page to ensure that all of the U.S. sections are integrated with the universal text, that no sections are missing or repeated and that the translations from Latin in each section are consistent with the other sections.

At more than 1,000 pages, it will be the largest Roman Missal ever published in the United States.

"Even if we had a super-genius robot, people will still discover something missing," Sherman said.

When discrepancies are found in the final editing process they will have to be resolved by the Committee on Divine Worship, headed by Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Paterson, N.J. diocese. There may even be a need to confer with the Vatican in some cases, Sherman said.

Although the Vatican has provided guidelines for publication of the missal, questions might arise about artwork to be published with the text or other matters, he said.

Seven U.S. publishers "have expressed some interest" in publishing the new missal, although none has committed to the work yet, he added.

Hilgartner said that in the current age of quick communication by e-mail and instant messaging, people might expect instantaneous publication of the missal would be possible.

"But it's not that simple," he said. "All of the parts aren't together in one place."

Mercy Sr. Julia A. Upton, provost and liturgy professor at St. John's University in New York and a consultant to the divine worship committee, praised Sherman, Hilgartner and Serratelli for their years of work on the missal.

"It has been a monumental work, a monumental effort," she said. "There was so much input that they have had to synthesize."

But she said the period leading up to implementation of the missal in Advent of 2011 provides a unique opportunity for U.S. Catholics to renew their understanding "of what we do when we gather for liturgy."

"I think sometimes we find ourselves on automatic pilot and not as attentive to the words as we should be," she added. "This is a great opportunity for the church, and I hope it is an opportunity we seize."

Stories in this series on the new Roman Missal:

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