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During the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II announced a revised version of the Missale Romanum (Roman Missal) would begin. The Roman Missal is the ritual text containing prayers and instructions for the celebration of the Mass. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal had been published in March 2000 as an introduction to the revised missal. Since then the work of translating the full text of the Roman Missal into various languages has been taking place.

This is the second time the Roman Missal has been revised since Vatican Council II.

The Roman Missal was promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as the definitive text of the reformed liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. The English translation of that Latin text was published in the United States in 1973. Revisions were made to that text in 1975.

This latest edition, which has been received by Pope Benedict XVI, contains prayers for the observances of recently canonized saints, additional prefaces for the Eucharistic Prayers, additional Votive Masses and Masses and Prayers for Various Needs and Intentions, and some updated and revised instructions (rubrics) for the celebration of the Mass. It has updated translations of existing prayers, including some well-known responses and acclamations.

Church officials anticipate that usage of this edition of the Roman Missal will begin in the later part of 2011. Prior to its implementation for liturgical use, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are encouraging a process of preparation and catechesis for both priests and the faithful so they will be prepared with have an understanding of the changes and appreciate the new language of what is being prayed.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Divine Worship has established the website for those interested in learning more about the Roman Missal, Third Edition.

The Catholic Commentator will have articles on the Roman Missal, Third Edition, over the next year to assist Catholics in developing an understanding of the revised text and procedures.

The first books that could be called “missals” were found in monasteries around the 12th and 13th centuries. The first book bearing the name “Roman Missal” appeared in 1474, the same century as the invention of the printing press. Pope Pius V, at the Council of Trent in 1570, promulgated the obligatory use of the Roman Missal throughout the Latin Church. Since that time, to accommodate ongoing evolution and development of the Liturgy, new editions of the Roman Missal were promulgated for use in the church eight more times, including the decree by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

The new English translation of the Roman Missal is seen in Rome April 28. The translation more exactly adheres to the Latin edition promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 2002. It took eight years to produce. CNS photo/Paul Haring