The Third Edition of the Roman Missal

The Eucharist is the central public prayer of the world wide Catholic church.  It is at the heart of our faith, a deeply personal liturgy that has sustained us in good times and bad.  

Before the Second Vatican Council celebrations of the Eucharist were primarily in Latin. Since 1963, over 1.1 billion Catholics in the world have celebrated Eucharist in their own language, including English. The text that is used all over the world for the Mass comes from one common (Latin) text, which is translated into each of our languages. The English text of the Mass, (the Roman Missal), has been translated twice since 1965 and a third translation has been completed. It will be introduced all over the English-speaking world on the first Sunday of Advent 2011.

As we consider the text changes we will be encountering this year; it is helpful to realise that we Catholics are only at the early stages of praying publicly together in our own language. This English translation of the Mass is the 3rd in just over 40 years, and there may well be more to come. Each one is a step on our journey, an attempt to ‘rekindle the amazement’, to get closer to the heart of the mystery of God-with-us.

Let us continue to pray for each other

The following resources are intended to inform parishes, so that each faith community can learn about the new translation, consider its implications for their community and support one another well this Autumn/Winter.

HERE is the new text – the Order of the Mass

HERE is background information on how and why this is happening now

HERE is a flyer for parish groups considering what steps we need to take now.


HERE are weekly bullet points for September - November 2011

HERE is a Q&A format, of information which can be used in newsletters or for personal learning.

HERE is a list of other resources available. These include:

  • Fr Pauls Turners leaflets, which we recommended for parishioners 'Understanding the revised Mass texts'
  • The powerpoint presentation used at Pastoral Area workshops (with notes 'under' each slide for a presenter)
  • Local bookshops and websites.


Some questions you may have:

The Eucharist is the central public prayer of the world wide Catholic church.  It is at the heart of our faith, a deeply personal liturgy that has sustained us in good times and bad.  Since 1963 over 1.1 billion Catholics in the world have celebrated Eucharist in their own language. The text we all use comes from one common (Latin) text, which is translated into each of our languages. As we consider how we celebrate the Eucharist in English this year; it is helpful to realise that we Catholics are only at the early stages of praying publically in our own language. This English translation of the Mass is the 3rd in just over 40 years, there will be more to come. Each one is a step on our journey, and attempt to ‘rekindle the amazement’, to get closer to the heart of the mystery of God-with-us.

Let us continue to pray for each other as we learn



Is the Mass changing?

The structure of the Mass is not changing. The order and the actions of the Mass remain unchanged. The readings at Mass are not changed. However, with the introduction of the new edition of the Roman Missal throughout the English-speaking world, we will all notice a change in how the Mass sounds. The translations of a number of our prayer texts from the original Latin have changed – sometimes by a particular word or in the word order. Prayers that we have become used to reciting by memory now have to be relearned. Prayers that we are used to hearing the priest say will sound different to us.

The style of language we will hear and pray may seem more formal to us and perhaps, in parts, more complex. But over time, with the praying of these texts, the sound of the Mass will again become familiar to us.


Why do we need to change anything about the Mass we celebrate?

Change & development are a normal part of life. The Eucharist that St Patrick celebrated with the early Irish Christians; that our ancestors celebrated on Mass rocks in Penal times; and that we celebrate in our parishes each week, is the same in substance. The language, the words and the hymns have changed over time.

The new edition has been deemed necessary for a number of reasons.

  • Firstly, in the years since 1975 when our current Missal was published, a number of additional texts have been made available for use in the Mass. These include additional Eucharistic Prayers, some new Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Masses for over twenty new Feasts of Saints (for example, St Pius of Pietrelcina/Padre Pio, Edith Stein, Maximilian Kolbe). The new material is to be included in the Missal so that it can be used in our celebrations.
  • Secondly, in 2001 the Holy See issued new directives for the translation of the Latin texts. Translators were asked to make the English text follow more closely the original Latin in its wording and structure. They were also asked to strengthen the biblical language and images in the texts and to reintroduce some theological vocabulary that may have been lost over the years. Between 2004 and 2010 the various segments that make up the Missal were sent to all English speaking Bishops Conferences; reviewed, revised and approved. This process has concluded.

Across the English-speaking world the new edition of the Roman Missal will therefore contain both new material and a new style of translation.


Why are we changing things now:

As Catholics we are united in Eucharist. The world-wide English-speaking Catholic church has diverse pastoral needs and experiences, yet we choose to have one translation of all our English language public prayers. Similarly, we will have one international launch of any change to this text (November 27th 2011)

Background – Timeline

In 1963, at the Second Vatican Council, a document called the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy recommended – among many things – that Catholics be able to celebrate Eucharist in their own language.  An English language commission, ICEL, was set up in 1964 to create English liturgical texts for the world. The first approved English language translation of the Mass was in 1970, the second in 1975. During the late 1980s and 1990s ICEL continued to work on a third edition of the Roman Missal.

In 2000, as part of Jubilee celebrations, Pope John Paul II announced that a new 3rd edition would be prepared and from 2002 – 2010 ICEL have engaged with bishops conferences to produce this 3rd edition. The style of translation in this edition has been strongly influenced by the 2001 document ‘Liturgicum Authenticam', which emphasies a more literal translation.

In March 2010, the final text was recognised by the whole church as the new norm for all English speaking congregation, and at their meeting in June 2010, the Irish Bishops press release stated that they ‘welcomed the recent completion of the translation of the Third Edition of The Roman Missal and its approval by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

This introductory leaflet describes this timeline in a little more detail.


What is the Roman Missal?

The term ‘Missal’ is used to refer to the book that contains all the prayers and instructions for the celebration of the Mass. The Missal is first written in Latin and this Latin text is then translated into the particular language of the people. In this way, while the Mass may be celebrated in many languages across the Roman Catholic world, it is the same core Latin text that is being prayed by the Church. We have been using our current Missal since St Patrick’s Day 1975. It is sometimes referred to as the Missal of Pope Paul VI. Now we have a new edition of that Missal.


Is the Catholic Church in Ireland alone in introducing this new Missal?

No. The Catholic Church in Ireland, along with Churches throughout the English-speaking world, is working towards introducing the new edition of the Roman Missal at this time. This new edition is the English translation of the Latin Missal that was issued by Pope John Paul II in 2002. Since 2002 the Church in its many languages has engaged in the work of translating this Latin text through study, reflection and consultation. This work in English-speaking countries is now complete. In Ireland, as in other English-speaking countries, the new Missal will come into use during autumn 2011.


What are the changes?

There are new translations of the Confetior (I confess …), the Gloria (Glory to God in the highest…), the Creeds, the acclamations in the Eucharistic Prayers, the Lamb of God (Lord, I am not worthy …). A number of other prayers and responses are also very slightly changed; for example, in the Holy, Holy, we say ‘Lord God of hosts’ and in the response to ‘Pray, brothers and sisters’, the addition of one word, ‘holy’ before ‘Church’. The response to ‘The Lord be with you’ will also change from ‘and also with you’ to ‘and with your spirit’.

If you would like to see the changes in full; these websites have the full texts: the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference and/or National Centre for Liturgy Ireland websites. If you would like to see 'the peoples parts', go to the US BIshops website

From September many parishes will have misellettes and congregational cards available which will have all the prayers and responses that are changing.


How are we being supported /prepared for these changes?

The Diocese of Limerick began to consider the impact of these developments last Autumn (2010). Our concern has been to ensure there is clarity, opportunity for dialogue and awareness: that by Spring every priest, and by next September every Mass-going Catholic, in Limerick has access to information about these changes.

In March 2011, our clergy had two opportunities to attend information gatherings about the text.

The Diocesan Liturgy Commission has created some parish resources and, in May 2011, offered seven information gatherings for those who lead parish liturgy. We have also written to partner agencies who will be affected (e.g. funeral directors, cantors, chaplains etc) to inform them of these changes. One further information evening will be offered in September which is open to all. (Contact the Pastoral Centre or see the diocesan calendar for details).

We have asked each of these parish communities or agencies to consider the information offered and their own pastoral realities. We hope that we can all work together this Autumn to ensure Mass goers have clarity about what is happening, and an opportunity to see & learn about the new text, well in advance of the November implementation date.


What differences can we expect at Mass this Autumn?

From September, Irish misellettes will contain the changes in the peoples responses at Sunday Mass. Some congregations will begin to pray the new translation of the people’s prayers at Sunday or weekday Mass. You will not be expected to know these changes in advance – rather, these new texts will be on missalettes and on specially produced ‘congregational cards’ to assist us in becoming more familiar with the new edition.  Our clergy will continue to use the current translation until November 27th.


What differences can we expect in November 2011?

From 27 November, the First Sunday of Advent, congregations and priests will use the texts of the new edition of the Roman Missal for the celebration of Mass. While the structure, actions and pattern of the Mass will remain the same and the readings will be unchanged, the texts of recited prayers will sound different to our ears. Over time, as the new style of language becomes familiar to us, it is very much hoped that we will come to appreciate both the richness and depth of our prayer at Mass.


Why the response, ‘And with your spirit’?

This response ‘And with your spirit’ is one of the very obvious changes as we use the new edition of the Missal. When the priest proclaims ‘The Lord be with you’, the new response from the congregation, ‘And with your spirit’, will replace the wording of the previous response which occurs before the Gospel, at the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer and at the Blessing at the end of Mass.

‘And with your spirit’ is the literal translation of what we find in the Latin text, ‘et cum spiritu tuo’. This translation is already found in other languages, for example, German, Italian, French and Spanish.

Scripture is very much the source for this dialogue between priest and people. In four letters of St Paul he uses the following greetings: Galatians 6:18 – ‘May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit’; Philippians 4:23 – ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit’; 2 Timothy 4:22 – ‘The Lord be with your spirit’; Philemon 25 – ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit’. Similar greetings can be found in the Old Testament.

What does ‘your spirit’ mean? It is not a reference to the Holy Spirit, though it is spoken by people who live according to that Spirit. For St Paul the spirit is our spiritual part that is closest to God. ‘And with your spirit’ is about having the spirit or mind of Christ as your guiding light, as what guides us through the day – a Christian spirit.

While it will sound unfamiliar to us, this greeting and response captures our biblical roots. It is recognition of the spirit that is among us as Christians, a spirit that we must live, and in greeting one another, it proclaims the presence of Christ among us.


What should we, as a faith community, reflect on as we prepare to use the new Missal?

We have been praying our current texts for over thirty-five years. Moving to new texts will be a challenge and will require that we exercise patience and support for one another. Priests and people, musicians and others involved in preparing the liturgy all need to work together to make the change as easy as it can be.

Ultimately we need to remember that the words of our liturgy are crucial – we pray as we believe. But when we pray the Mass we do more than recite words – those words are recited in the context of all the actions, symbols and people of the liturgy. As we work towards implementing the changes, may we keep in mind the bigger task of which the words of the Missal are a part: namely, the Mystery of our Faith, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ made present for us in the Eucharist.


What resources are in place to support my parish and I?

Information flyers:

  • FLYER: The Background - why change, why now, is it definite?
  • FLYER:  Implications for my parish: Some questions for parish groups as well as a list of books, DVDs and other resources available for Ireland
  • INFORMATION for MINISTRY GROUPS: How will this affect what I do and will I have to change? - for sacristans, and various ministries like music, Word, Eucharist, etc.
  • Resources for PRIESTS from the Scottish Bishops website

Bullet Points for newsletters:

Other resources:

  • At our information meetings, we quoted from a booklet by Fr Paul Turner that was - at that time - only available for American and Australian diocese. It has now become available from an English publisher.  Click HERE for information on 'Understanding the revised Mass texts' by Fr Paul Turner.
  • The Powerpoint presentation we use at the May information meetings is available HERE for Limerick parishes who would like to offer this information more locally. (Any problems with opening this - just call us at the centre! -
  • Further resources available in Irish bookshops like Veritas, (Ennis, Cork, Dublin etc),  Abbey bookshop (27 O'Connell St, Limerick) and Knock Shrine bookshop (little Catherine Street, Limerick).
  • Websites offering information include - National Liturgy Office, Ireland - US Bishops Conference - the well known PrayTell liturgy Blog, etc