It's January 11, 2011, T-11 months and 16 days until the implementation of the revised translation of the Roman Missal. Are we ready?
For over a year, the USCCB has had its Roman Missal implementation website up and running. Many dioceses have posted links to the site. Some parishes, including my own, have ordered booklets designed to prepare the faithful for the coming changes. Publishing houses and independent composers have already released their revised Mass settings (in some cases, writing new ones), all in anticipation of the big change. Even ICEL has done its part by releasing an impressive setting of its own, to be included within the actual Roman Missal itself.
However, despite the preparations and the workshops that the USCCB has hosted throughout the country, the closest to me being the one held in San Antonio last October, there are, sadly, some areas where the faithful are not yet made aware of the coming changes. While some efforts have been made to provide formation to the choirs and pastoral musicians, even this has been a sort of mixed bag. More often than not, the ones who come and make the presentations are composers affiliated with one of the big Three publishing houses or with a group like the National Pastoral Musicians Association. Having been to a couple of these presentations, these have left me with rather perplexed. Instead of listening to a presentation on the importance of following the authoritative documents of the Church, the discourses center on what is new and trendy. The seminar often ends with the composer pushing his work and his publisher's material, rather than providing substantive training on what the Church calls for in the Mass. The choirs and pastoral musicians are not exposed to things like the ICEL settings nor are they given any sort of direction based on documents such as Musicam Sacram and Sacramentum Caritatis.
If the choirs are getting short-changed, the faithful are receiving next to nothing concerning formation and information on the coming changes. It is not enough to say that folks can simply read the missallettes. John and Mary Parishioner should be given at least some rudimentary catechesis as to why we are going to be praying "I believe" in the Creed instead of using the word "we" and why we will soon be responding "and with your Spirit." At least in South Texas, we can use a different approach and simply inform the faithful that we have already been using similar language when praying the Mass in Spanish. However, the faithful also need to have the opportunity to go over the texts and pray with them. They need to be exposed to the texts.
Granted, the transition will probably not be a smooth one. It will be bumpy. However, it would be in everyone's best interest to at least try and prepare the faithful so that when the change comes, it won't take them by surprise. I don't think that we should have to wait until mid-afternoon November 26, 2011 to tell folks that these changes will take place in a few hours.