by Michael Podrebarac
I have enjoyed the privilege of offering reflections in parishes on the revised texts of the upcoming Roman Missal. And I have witnessed firsthand the desire that these new words may not encumber us in our prayer at Mass, but rather may help us grow in faith and understanding.
There should be little doubt that, in time, these aspirations will be fulfilled.
Certainly, this Advent will teach all of us the meaning of patience. But the seasons beyond will equally witness a renewal of our faith rooted in “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit.” This alone is worth the burden of change.
And so, as I have said to those who have come to listen and reflect, I say one last time to each of you: I have both bad news and good news. The bad news, if you will, is that the Mass is going to change, and change is hard for many of us. But the good news is that the Eucharist is not going to change. It will always be what it always has been.
Consider these words of the Second Vatican Council on the nature of the Eucharist:
“The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful . . . should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body . . . by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves . . . they should be drawn day by day into an ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that, finally, God may be all, in all” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no. 48).
No change is coming to the mandate that all the faithful participate in the celebration of the Eucharist “with devotion and full collaboration,” a participation which always begins interiorly, and only then bears external fruit.
The Liturgy of the Word remains essential. The economy of the eucharistic sacrifice, in that each of us is called to become an offering to God, will continue to draw us into that one perfect sacrifice offered on the cross for us by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our union with Christ, through the eating of his flesh and the drinking of his blood, will still draw us into that ever more perfect union with God and one another, which Christ himself has made possible. And, finally, God will indeed “be all, in all.”
The Mass is changing. The Eucharist is not. Thanks be to God.