Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on introduction of Roman Missal

Pastoral Letter from the Catholic Bishops of New Zealand written on the occasion of the introduction to Aotearoa New Zealand of the Roman Missal (Third Edition)
“New Words. Deeper Meaning. Same Mass.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We are a priestly people. Christ’s work has made us so, through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. It is our vocation to gather Sunday after Sunday in the presence of God, on behalf of the world, to celebrate Mass, the treasure at the heart of our life as Church.

The ritual text that draws us into this liturgy and our participation in the paschal mystery is the Roman Missal. On 30 April 2010, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments gave its final approval (recognitio) to the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the new English translation of the Prayers of the Mass. Now we are working towards the printing of this new liturgical book for the Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.

It is our desire that we will be able to pray these new texts on the First Sunday of Advent, 28 November 2010.

We are ‘a community of memory’1, a people who has become deeply familiar with the texts of the Mass we have prayed with for almost forty years now. It is rare for ritual language to change. It will not be easy to let go of the words that we have said, heard, and sung at Mass and receive the words that are changing. Bishops, priests and people alike will need to learn again how to use these words for our prayer - ‘to praise, bless and thank God, to ask for God’s help in our need’2.

In the months that precede the publication of these new texts, we invite you to join us in making use of the different opportunities that will be offered in each diocese to look once again at how Eucharist is being celebrated in our parishes, schools and communities; to give prayerful and thoughtful consideration towards our liturgical practices; and above all, to make time to explore the new texts. We are convinced that by paying close attention to both the demands and the delights these new texts will place upon us, we will inevitably be drawn “more fully into the beauty of liturgical prayer.”3

It is fitting that such a new and significant unfolding of the prayer life of our Church begins with the Season of Advent, in the company of Mary, the Mother of God. For God will surely make present amongst us a new birth in our liturgical life and grace us in the weeks and months ahead with a new way of Becoming One Body, One Spirit in Christ.

In Christ.

+ John Dew
Archbishop of Wellington

+ Pat Dunn
Bishop of Auckland

+ Denis Browne
Bishop of Hamilton

+ Colin Campbell
Bishop of Dunedin

+ Peter Cullinane
Bishop of Palmerston North

+ Barry Jones
Bishop of Christchurch

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
18 July 2010

1 Mark Searle, Barabara Searle and Anne Y. Koester, Editors. Called to Participate. The Liturgical Press 2006 .
2 Fr Tom Elich. “The new translation: Dread or Delight?” Liturgy News. March 2010.
3 ibid.