Mass won't be the same for Roman Catholics in a few weeks.
"The Mass won't look any different, but it will sound very different, said Monsignor Robert C. Mazur, director of the Office of Liturgy for the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
The changes will begin with Advent when Catholics in 26 English-speaking nations begin using the third edition of the Roman Missal or liturgical book that contains instructions and texts for the celebration of Mass throughout the year. The missal only been changed only three times in the history of the church, dating back to the 1500s.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski) Monsignor Robert C. Mazur, rector at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, will be among the Catholic priests throughout the English-speaking world who will celebrate Mass using the new Roman missal beginning with Advent
The second missal was introduced after Vatican II in the 1970s, when Masses, which previously had been celebrated in Latin were translated in the languages of the nations.
In 2000, Pope John Paul II promulgated the third edition of the missal with additions and revised instructions. Most of the world has been using the new missal since 2002, but the missals for the English-speaking countries had variations in their translations from the original Latin text and lacked uniformity.
The changes are being made "to express our unity better," said Mazur who is also rector at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.
He said the changes in the Mass, which take place Nov. 26 and 27, make the worship more sacred.
"The wording of the Roman-style prayers is more majestic. It stresses the majesty, the omnipotence and love and mercy of God," he said. "We the people are humble recipients of God's love and the prayers will stress this more strongly."
To help parishioners adjust to the new liturgy, new music for several parts of the Mass was introduced in September with the approval of Bishop Mark L. Bartchak, chief liturgist for the diocese.
Perhaps the part that parishioners should devote the most attention to is the "Gloria" which won't be sung or said during Advent.
"We will sing it for the first time Christmas day," Mazur said. Because worshippers have previously become familiar with it, "we will be able to sing it and make it prayful."
The new "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Mystery of Faith" also are being introduced.
Although many Catholics have only become aware of the changes in the past few months, Mazur and the diocesan Liturgy Committee have been learning about the new missal for the past three years. Mazur, who earned a master's degree in liturgical studies at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., said he did a lot of research and received a lot of information from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In an effort to keep the people updated, the Cathedral has included information about the new missal and what it means in the weekly bulletins. Booklets called, "Understanding the Revised Mass Texts" will be distributed at Cathedral Masses Nov. 12 and 13 and Mazur will talk about the changes Nov. 19 and 20.