Receiving power from on High: The Third Edition of the Roman Missal & the New Pentecost

By Rev. Scott R. Ardinger, S.T.L.

Jesus said to his apostles on the Mount of the Ascension, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8)

Nine days later we see the fulfillment of this promise of the Lord in the form of tongues of fire, rushing wind, shaking buildings, all new languages, speaking in tongues and conversion to the Lord.  The Pentecost moment is the moment when heaven meets earth, when grace is infused into all humanity in a Baptism far greater than that of John the Baptist.  Pentecost is the birthday of the Church and baptism in the Holy Spirit for the first believers.

The renewal of humanity in the Holy Spirit continues to happen in the Church every day at every moment, “so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name” (Eucharistic Prayer III, 3rd Ed. Roman Missal).  In the Eucharistic Liturgy we enter into the fullness of the Paschal Mystery:  the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ.  This liturigical entrance into the Paschal Mystery is also an entrance into the Pentecost mystery. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “On the day of Pentecost when the seven weeks of Easter had come to an end, Christ’s Passover is fulfilled in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit…” (CCC, 731).  It is in the celebration of the Mass that we as members of the Body of Christ, reborn in Baptism, experience a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the words, signs, symbols, music, and the ars celebrandi (art of celebrating Mass by the ministerial priest) and the actuosa participation (active/actual participation of the Assembly) are all essential in order to manifest, experience and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

On the First Sunday of Advent-2011, all the Dioceses of the United States began to implement the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal.  The implementation is the fruit of almost a decade of hard work on the part of dozens and dozens of people, especially those entrusted with the very important task of translating the Latin Typical Edition in English.  Blessed John Paul II both promulgated the Third Edition of the Roman Missal and a document, Liturgiam Authenticam, which gives clear and definite principles for liturgical translations from Latin into the vernacular languages.  The Third Edition of the Roman Missal needed to be completely re-translated in 1973 and 1985 respectively.

The New Roman Missal and its new translation will bring about great renewal in the Church.  The Holy Spirit has guided this process and our actual spirit-filled participation at Mass will more effectively hand on the faith to the next generation.  The most noticeable change will be the language of the liturgy.  The English prayers now convey a deeper sense of humility, God is God and we are not.  The more accurate translations of the Confiteor, Eucharistic Prayers, and Agnus Dei allow for a true acknowledgement of our sinfulness and need for God’s mercy.  This sense of humility and contrition coupled with an openness of spirit will bring all of us into greater communion of mind and heart through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus will be glorified as Savior in a whole new way through the newly translated Mass.

I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the truly inspired new additions to the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, which Pope John II personally added.  There is an Extended Vigil of Pentecost celebrated in a similar fashion as the Extended Vigil, the vigil of all vigils, namely the Easter Vigil.  It will allow the Church to unite for one night of Liturgy, devotion and prayer.  I pray that many communities of faith will take this night as an opportunity to worship in “Spirit and Truth.”

Lastly, this movement of the Spirit contained in the new Roman Missal and the beautiful translation from Latin to English will fulfill the prophecy of John Paul II spoken at St. Peter’s on the vigil of Pentecost 1998.  “Today a new stage is unfolding before you: that of ecclesial maturity.  This does not mean that all problems have been solved.  Rather, it is a challenge: a road to take.  The Church expects from you the ‘mature’ fruits of communion and commitment.”

Fr. Scott Ardinger is a priest of the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Among his ministries is that of the Director of the Office of Worship.  Ordained in 2001, he has been involved in the Charismatic Renewal since 1999.