The new edition of the Roman Missal is set to debut in just a few weeks — many parishes will begin using new music settings next month — but a lot of people, evidently, are still in the dark:
A new survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University indicates that more than three in four adult Catholics in the United States are not aware that aspects of the English translation of the Roman Missal are about to change. She is not even alone among regular Massgoers, as the survey estimates more than four in 10 weekly attenders have not heard that the words and prayers at Mass will be changing.
Respondents were asked if they had heard “that parishes in the United States will soon be implementing changes in the words and prayers at Mass at the direction of the Vatican.” Seventy-seven percent answered “no.” This is equivalent to more than 44 million adult Catholics who don’t know about the changes that will occur throughout the English-speaking world beginning Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent.
Much has already been written, primarily in the Catholic press, about the upcoming changes to the English-language liturgy. Not only will the words and prayers of the priest change — from the greeting to the dismissal and some of the prayers in between — but the responses of those in the pews will change as well. The changes are the result of a new English translation of the Roman Liturgy instructed by the 2001 document, Liturgiam Authenticam from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
In recent months, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been concentrating on rolling out the specifics of these changes to leadership, clergy and parish ministers with the publication and distribution of the “Parish Guide to Implementing the Roman Missal” (USCCB Publishing, $9.95). A campaign to make parishioners more aware of the changes is slated for the fall. For more information on the new translation and implementation of the Roman Missal, the USCCB has established a website with an overview of the changes and resources for parishes (www.usccb.org/romanmissal).
Attendance at Mass makes a big difference in awareness. Fifty-seven percent of respondents who attend Mass at least once a week expressed awareness of the upcoming changes. Awareness drops significantly among those attending less than weekly.
Thirty-four percent of “monthly” Mass attenders, those saying they go “almost every week” or “once or twice a month” know about the upcoming changes. One in 10 (9 percent) of the so-called “C and E” (Christmas and Easter) Catholics, who are in the pews “a few times a year” or less often, know about the upcoming changes.