Yesterday was a momentous day in the American Catholic Church. We began using the third edition of the Roman Missal as we began our new liturgical year. Many have argued that instead of focusing on what is really important we are focusing on words instead of issues. What issues? It depends on who you are which issues you think the Church is avoiding. My point is not to go over all of those but rather to give a perspective that says Mass is what is really important.
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi - We pray what we believe, therefore, what is said at Mass is not just a bunch of words randomly put together on a person's whim but truly what we, as Catholics, believe to be true. Mass is the most important activity we do because we do it in praise and thanksgiving to God. It is our taste of heaven on earth, when time is suspended and we join with everyone else on earth and in heaven to worship the One who has given us everything.
Should these words not be different than what we say to our friends over coffee? Injecting a bit more formality does not mean we cower, but rather that we acknowledge that God is God and we are not. Remember, we are speaking of communal prayer and worship, not private. In private, we can pray as we choose. In community, we need to pray as one body.
And that is one reason why changes were made to the English translation. We have been out of step with the rest of the world. My favorite new translation is "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." Years ago, when attending our parish's Spanish Mass I read that and was so moved; it is just what the centurion said to Jesus. We said "receive you" for years, using an out of use definition of "receive" as in have a guest over to your house. Who says "I will be receiving guests today at 2 pm." anymore? Not anyone who invites me over to visit.
Mother Theresa reminded herself and her sisters always to focus on the "one thing." Our one thing is Mass. If we, as Catholics, were to spend more time praying together and do this one thing so well that it would truly be heaven meeting earth, we could solve so many issues. Even if you do not agree that these changes are right or a good idea or necessary, can we agree to focus on the one thing that can unite us? The Liturgy offered in praise and thanksgiving, for God has given us everything.