VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican has prepared three alternative endings for the priest's words of dismissal at Mass, to emphasize the missionary spirit of the liturgy.
Pope Benedict XVI personally chose the three options from suggestions presented to him after a two-year study, Cardinal Francis Arinze told the Synod of Bishops in mid-October.
The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published an interview Oct. 17 with Cardinal Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
He said along with "Ite, missa est," the Latin phrase now translated as "The Mass is ended, go in peace," the new options are:
--Ite ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum (Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord).
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--Ite in pace, glorificando vita vestra Dominum (Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life).
--Ite in pace (Go in peace).
The idea for alternative words at the end of Mass was raised at the 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. Many bishops wanted the final words to reflect a more explicit connection between Mass and the church's mission of evangelization in the world.
Cardinal Arinze said the concern was that, for many Catholics, the present words of dismissal sounded like "The Mass is ended, go and rest."
The cardinal said his congregation undertook a wide consultation and came up with 72 different possible alternative phrases. Of these, the congregation chose nine and presented them to the pope, who chose the final three.
The three alternatives were published in October in the latest edition of the Roman Missal, along with "Ite, missa est," which has not been abolished, Cardinal Arinze said.
The cardinal said the congregation still was studying another suggestion made during the 2005 synod, that of moving the sign of peace to a different part of the Mass.
In 2005, the pope said the sign of peace had great value, but should be done with "restraint" so that it does not become a distraction during Mass. He asked for the study on moving the sign of peace from a moment just before Communion to another time in the liturgy.
Cardinal Arinze said that, after consultation, the congregation had written to bishops' conferences asking their preference between leaving the sign of peace where it is now and moving it to an earlier moment, after the prayer of the faithful.
He said the responses from bishops' conferences were expected to be in by the end of October, and the question would then be presented to the pope for a final decision.
Cardinal Arinze said that in addition to its timing some have suggested that the sign of peace be limited to an exchange between the Massgoer and those in his or her immediate vicinity. He said that in some churches today, the sign of peace is extended to the point that it becomes "almost a jamboree."
Cardinal Arinze said a third suggestion from the 2005 synod, a "eucharistic compendium," also has made progress and is near publication.
He said the compendium would include doctrinal notes on the Mass, as well as prayer texts, passages of papal liturgical teachings, canon law tracts and other explanatory materials. He emphasized that the compendium would propose ideas, not impose them.
Cardinal Arinze said a fourth project of the worship congregation, working together with Vatican congregations for doctrine and clergy, was the drawing up of a list of homily themes that correspond to Sunday scriptural readings and to the church's doctrinal teachings.
"This is not a matter of model homilies, but general indications in which, for each theme, elements are furnished to be able to develop the theme," he said.