“Everything has changed”. From many sides laments of this kind in regard to the liturgy are heard. A certain sense of uncertainty naturally accompanies change in any area, and this is particularly true of a sensitive sphere like liturgy Vatican II has termed “renewal” (“instauratio”: SC 21) and “adaptation” (“aptatio”: SC 37-39) of the liturgy in its pastoral practice and in its theology. Only persons or institutions that are lifeless do not move or change.
Recent months have also brought with them instances of liturgical changes: the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam on the use of vernacular languages in the books of the Roman liturgy; the section (3.) on the Anaphora of Addai and Mari of the Guidelines far Admission to the Eucharist between the chaldean church and the Assyrian Church of the East, the new Martyrologium Romanum; and the third editio typica of the post-conciliar Missale Romanum. A full presentation of each of these documents is feasible only in lengthy studies, but some points of “change” that they convey deserves mention.
The instruction on translation into vernacular languages speaks with authority of the success of the liturgical renewal. It is laudible in avoiding the technical terminology of linguistic science, but the document seems vulnerable to criticism from the aspect of literary and linguistic theory in their relation to any serious endeavor of translating. Liturgiam authenticam seems to disregard too facilely the contributions of the scholars who have studied and formulated the principles for translation on the basis of years of practical experience. Instead of promoting the required dialogue between Latin and locallanguages and cultures – it substitutes a monologue. Is that really the best means to maintain the “substantial unity of the Roman rite” (SC 38)?
When the Guidelines issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity address the question of the validity of the anaphora of Addai and Mari, they broaden the scholastic theology of the Institution Narrative – not present as such in this anaphora – beyond the narrative and literal repetition of the words of Jesus. The necessary remembrance of the story of the Last Supper can also be regarded as present in an anaphora in its entirety, i.e. dispersed in the “succession of prayers of thanksgiving, praise and intercession”. The argument serves as a reminder that a merely formai and mechanical approach to the content and structure of eucharistic prayers is in itself insufficient.
The Martyrologium Romanum of 200 l offers more than a simple hagiographical repertory. It is a liturgical book to accompany the Liturgy of the Hours and to give the authentic historical-critical basis of the liturgical calendar of feasts of the saints. A rite is included for using the Martyrology in or outside of the Divine Office. The publication of this last in the series of post-conciliar liturgical books is an invitation to rediscover in its full sense the “communion of the saints” to which all are called to be part. The liturgy is not just a limited local celebration of the people of God but the worship of the heavenly hosts as well – a theme often underdeveloped in contemporary liturgical reflection. Interestingly, the Cardinal Prefect in presenting the book remarked that corrections may be required in future editions and that the Congregation for Divine Worship “welcomes a criticai examination on the part of qualified scholars of the present edition and submission of observations for future improvements”1 . Such an openness is refreshing.
Although the third editio typica of the Missale Romanum does not represent a major revision of the previous edition, it does have some changes. The General Instruction expands the possibilities for distributing communion under both species. The additional eucharistic prayers for reconciliation, for various needs and for children are included as is also a new preface for martyrs and supplementary texts for the common of Our Lady and for votive masses. The most extensive changes are in the calendar of the saints. What will take time is the new translation of the whole Missal. Yes, change is inevitable and ongoing in liturgy!
1 Notitiae 37 (2001) 389.