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The Paul VI Roman Missal at 50: ‘Redeemably Awful’

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Some momentous events have clear anniversaries, others are more difficult to pin down. The adoption of the current form of the Roman Missal, promulgated by Pope St. Paul VI, belongs to the second category. While there are multiple possible dates that could be chosen, such as the adoption of the new ordo missae (1969), the publication of Latin typical edition (1970) or of the first full English translation (1973), we are now at a distance of about fifty years since the adoption of the current missal and thus at an opportune time to take a few moments and examine the results. Therefore, I have decided to write a series of uncomfortable articles to help us take stock of the manner in which the liturgy is celebrated in many Irish parishes. My premise is that there is still a lot of work that we need to do to bring our liturgies into line with the vision of a liturgy that facilitates the active participation of the faithful as proposed by the Council. Indeed, taking inspiration from a speech of the recently-departed American liturgist I entitle the series “redeemably awful,” as I believe that many of our liturgies leave a lot to be desired, but on the other hand many of the issues can be resolved by simply celebrating the liturgical rites as they were designed to be celebrated.

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