Breaths of the Spirit

My fellow presbyter, Father Nonomen, has a column in the current Commoweal which begins with a less than enthusiastic welcoming of the new translation of the Roman Missal. But, having delivered himself of some (always civil) lamentations, he takes a turn:

Id rather look for ways to work within the system. And there is always a way. Finding it is a matter of keeping a sharp eye out for those moments of grace when inspiration comes from a most unlikely source

He then recounts a moving and grace-filled visit with a woman who, despite having suffered a stroke, radiated faith and joy . The priest leaves strengthened and renewed in his conviction that:

we must never forget the joy that brings us together to worship in the first place. Such joy remains the most important consequence of trusting that the Spirit is at workeven in our silences, and even in our errors.

Having studied the new Missal for some weeks now, I want to suggest "moments of grace" to savor as we worship. I am especially grateful for the Eucharistic Prayers. I think that the quasi-monopoly of Eucharistic Prayer II will end, because the new translations of Eucharistic Prayer IV and of the two Eucharistic Prayers for Reconciliation have been greatly improved and are much more "pray-able."In addition there are now included in the Missal itself the four variations on the "Eucharistic Prayer for Use in Masses for Various Needs." They had previously been published in a separate booklet, but I dare say that most Catholics in the United States have never heard them.For me these rich prayers, newly accessible, can be true moments of grace -- though their source is far from "unlikely."Their effective use will require attentiveness on the part of priest and people (a challenge in a culture too often marked by attention deficit disorder). They will also benefit from breathing pauses of silence to allow the words to take root in our minds and hearts -- breaths of the Spirit, if you will.

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is a longtime Commonweal contributor.

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