A Pet Peeve about the New Roman Missal from a Priest Who Otherwise Loves It.

"Missale Romanum"  Original uploader was Lima at French Wikipedia - Transferred from fr.wikipedia to Commons..  Licensed under  CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons
“Missale Romanum” Original uploader was Lima at French Wikipedia – Transferred from fr.wikipedia to Commons.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

I am a big fan of the New Roman Missal. The English is edifying, and rather close to the Latin in both meaning and cadence. At times, it challenges the priest who must carefully prepare to pray it well. But that is good. Reading the prayers of the missal cold is a bad idea, and at least glancing at the collects before Mass is to be encouraged as preparation.

But one thing about the new Roman Missal disturbs me. Where is the Latin? The old “Sacramentary” had the Eucharistic prayers on other common and proper settings in Latin in the back of the book. And this gave the priest the option of praying some of the Mass in Latin when it was deemed appropriate.

A helpful option – I frequently celebrate Mass at the convent in my parish and the Sisters will not infrequently sing the ordinary responses in Latin. In the past, when they sang a Latin Sanctus, I would responding in kind by proclaiming the Canon in Latin. It was easy, all I had to do was flip to the back. But now I’d have to have an entirely different book at hand.

This should not be. Basic Latin settings of the Mass should be in an appendix in the Roman Missal.

Perhaps there is a published version out there does supply this? If so let me know. Remember I am speaking of the altar missal that the Priest reads from at Mass, not a hand missal. Perhaps the Latin is in some super secret place in the books I have? I have looked in four published versions, and with the exception of the Pater Noster, from what I can tell, there isn’t a lick of Latin anywhere in the book.

Perhaps if some of you know a version out there that does supply the Latin texts, great, but another question still remains: Should not any approved version of the English Roman Missal supply the basic Latin prayers, as did the “older” version of the “Sacramentary?”

Again, I like the New Roman Missal. But its lack of Latin options does not serve the Church or the Liturgy well. Perhaps we can desire and ask that future editions be required to supply basic Latin Options. Is this too much to ask?

A funny story about the convenience of having the Latin comes to mind. Back before I was ordained a priest, in seminary years, I worked for a brief time in a parish with an older pastor. And every now and then a rather disruptive woman came to daily Mass who, among other things, insisted on standing, hands extended, and praying the Eucharistic Prayer aloud while the priest was proclaiming it.

After the first incidence he took her aside after Mass and asked her to stop, but she said she had “every right” to exercise her “priesthood” and would continue to pray along with the celebrant aloud.

A few weeks later she returned and adopted her orans posture and began to pray aloud with the opening lines of the canon. The priest stopped, and publicly asked here to refrain, again she refused. So he said, “OK, pray with this.” And he flipped to the back and began to pray the Canon in Latin.

She was twice stymied. Not only was she unable to recite along, but it seemed she also clearly hated Latin and left. The congregation that day gleefully smiled at the charitable but clear way the pastor had corrected the problem. I don’t recall that the woman ever returned to that particular parish.

Any way, just a little pet peeve about the New Roman Missal. Has any one else commented on this? If so, I missed it. In the mean time I have purchased a Missale Parvum (Small or thin Missal) to keep near at hand.


18 Replies to “A Pet Peeve about the New Roman Missal from a Priest Who Otherwise Loves It.”

  1. Dear Msgr. Pope,

    I believe the Second Vatican Council requires that Latin be included:

    See Instruction Inter Oecumenici of 26 November 1964, no. 57

  2. If you ever want to have fun, use Latin phrases from the Mass as your secret security questions with a company. “Okay, Cindy, I can give you access to your account. Let me just ask you your security questions … um …. Dominus … vo bis… cum?” [Me: Et cum spiritu tuo.]

  3. I suspect the issue was the bulk of the new Roman Missal or “sacramentary.” It is already an imposing book, swelled in size by the alternative Eucharistic Prayers and the many saints added to the calendar by Pope John Paul II. While I also love the doctrinal precision and riches of the “corrected” translation, my criticism is precisely the size and weight of the book. Spines are already breaking in certain editions and many young altar servers are straining to hold it at the celebrant’s chair. A number of pastors have thus added a missal stand next to the chair to remedy this problem. It is my understanding that the American bishops requested breaking the Roman Missal into two volumes; however, this request was denied by the Holy See. Similarly, there is no edition which includes only the Collects and Prayers After Communion for use at the chair as there was for the previous ritual book.

    If I have a “pet-peeve” it is the alternating with and without musical settings for prefaces and other prayers. It is enough to have the musical setting without the confusion of the same text inserted without notation. The eye does not know where to look.

    The Latin of the old sacramentary was in microscopic print squeezed into the back of the book. It was handy but tough on the eyes. Fortunately, there is available a Latin version of the Roman Missal, third edition. I would urge pastors to add this book to their sacristy collections for use in full or in part. Speaking for myself, I would like to see a multi-volume English-Latin (side-by-side) edition of the complete Roman Missal.

  4. I agree that it would be a good thing, but my understanding is that the current rules for vernacular translations of the missal do not permit appendices that are not in the editio typica. I can see certain benefits to that policy, but the loss of an appendix with the Ordo Missae is not one of them.

  5. I’d like to see the English and the Latin side-by-side also.–and I do have that since I attend a Latin Mass and the missal has the English on the opposite page.

  6. I had no idea. Learn something new every day. My normal-persons daily missal of course has all the Latin in there (for the order of the Mass, not for the readings), I just assumed y’all had the same thing. I’m cracking up that the laity have the Latin and the priest doesn’t. Too funny.


  7. I agree completely, Monsignor, and for all the reasons you state. Thanks for pointing this out.

  8. Just do it all in Latin, The sacred Language of the litergurgy. I have been going to a Latin Rite Mass for a year now, and it is the most unbelievable Holy event of my week. Vatican II never changed that. Why was it taken from us in the first place???
    To those who say it wasn’t understandable , I say non sense. I do not know Latin, but the Extraordinary form of the Mass speaks to your heart …I have never participated more a Mass, than this!

    1. I am glad you have this experience. But believe it or not, everyone would not agree with your assessment and in fact that vast majority of Catholics prefer a non-Latin Mass experience. I like Latin, but at the end of the day it is a rarefied group that share our view. Hence the vernacular is important.

      1. Polling is tricky. They may not really know what they… could… want. Many don’t even know about the Roman Canon. Denying them Latin is denying them both older tradition, but also the council. It is imperative that we return to the texts of the council, not the prevailing liturgical command economy that prevailed after it. It is imperative the priests lead the people, both in their actions and prayers, as well as by explaining the liturgy to a people who have zero liturgical formation.

        1. Latin is sacred? Latin was not the language of the early Christians for the most part — it was the language of the pagan soldiers who crucified our Lord.
          Latin is an efficient language (good for a military empire), but not a precise language. Our faith requires something more precise. Greek would be a good option as would any of today’s modern languagues.

          1. Your view is a minority opinion, a kind of hothouse plant. Latin long ago earned its place in the halls of sacred language. Greek is great and is there too.

  9. I have the Sunday Roman Missal – Latin/English laity version from the Catholic Truth Society. Take it with me to my N.O. Mass (never been to an EF Mass except when I was a child and Mass was just “Mass in the universal language of the Church”).
    Love the CTS version which I found courtesy FatherZ’s blog and the link someone posted above.

  10. Dear Msgr Pope,

    Beautifully sung. I sing the Latin as well, but I must ad hoc all of it, because I have no notations to follow. Are you following notation? If so, where can I find it?

    [email protected]

    1. That’s actually not me singing. The priest does sing well. There is notation in the back of the Missal and also in a book published by Solemns “Ordo Missae”

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