Australian Sunday Missal Shoppers: Caveat Emptor!

UPDATE: I’m sticking this update up here so you don’t miss it. By all means read what I have written below, but as a pre-text, I have since been reliably informed that there will be three editions of the Sunday (and presumably the Weekday) Missal available in the new year: one from the Catholic Truth Society (the same as have published the Altar Missals), one from St Paul’s (which will be cheaper), and another one – which I hadn’t been aware of – from Collins). Australian shoppers are advised to hold fire on their purchases until these three hit the stores.

I was very excited to receive in the mail yesterday a copy of “Your Sunday Missal” published by the Redemptorists in the UK. This is the first of the new editions of the Sunday Missal to come of the printing presses and into our hot little hands. But: Caveat Emptor!!

What we call “The Sunday Missal” should not be confused with the Roman Missal that sits on the altar of our churches. It is, rather, a book that combines parts of the Roman Missal with parts of the Lectionary, giving a book which the laity can use to follow the mass in all its parts on Sundays. A similar book, called the “Weekday Missal” does the same for the masses during the week. Now here is the complication: at this point in time there is a universal English translation of the Roman Missal. There ISN’T a universal translation of the Lectionary (as users of iPhone missal apps will have noticed).

And that’s the first place where “Your Sunday Missal”, produced by the Redemptorists, comes unstuck for use in Australia. While it uses the same translation we are currently using for the Lectionary Scripture texts – the Jerusalem Bible – Australian users will get really annoyed at the fact that it uses different Psalm and Gospel Acclmation responses. It might seem a little thing, but these are two things that you actually need to have if you are going to participate in the liturgy of the word (the most commonly printed texts on the front of Bulletins each Sunday).

This fact makes me wary of ordering any other UK version of the Sunday Missal, including the CTS version (which, in truth, sounds very good indeed – see here). Of course, the UK Redemptorist edition doesn’t have the Australian feasts of Australia Day, ANZAC Day, and St Mary MacKillop either. The CTS version of the Roman Missal does, so I will be interested to see what their edition of the Sunday Missal does in this regard.

There does seem to be an Australian publication in the pipeline, coming from St Paul’s, due in March. While I think you can be guaranteed that the texts of this edition will match our Australian needs, there are just a couple of other issues I have with the Redemptorist Missal that you might want to check out in the St Paul’s edition.

1) Does it have the Latin of the Ordinary of the Mass? In an appendix at the back of the Redemptorist Missal, there is a section called “Latin Texts for the Mass”, which gives not only the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei, but most of the other responses you would need to have if the Mass was conducted completely in Latin (only the people’s parts). This is rather nice. That’s more than the English CTS edition of the Roman Missal itself gives. However, the CTS version of the Altar Missal actually incorporates the Latin texts of the Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus Dei (those most likely to be used – they could have included the Gloria, but for that matter, the Roman Missal didn’t even normally include the Gloria text at all so…) in the Order of Mass itself, where they are not only easily accessible but rather pointedly suggested as an option.

2) Does it include the Chants included the Missal? The Redemptorist “Your Sunday Missal” fails dismally here. The 2002 Missale Romanum is full of chant for just about every part of the Mass, and the CTS edition of the Roman Missal preserves this completely in the Order of Mass. “Your Sunday Missal” does not. It gives the chant for the responses at the Gospel, and for the Eucharistic Prayer (Opening Dialogue, Sanctus, Acclamation, Doxology), but nothing else. Score a BIG zero. This is one of the best features of the new Roman Missal, and to leave it out is, let us say, a failure in faithful translation.

So I will be returning my copy of “Your Sunday Missal”.* BUT, and this is the real question, WHICH version of the Sunday Missal should we plebs be purchasing? (I know Perry will chime in here and say “none – leave it till the new lectionary translation is done”, but I don’t think that will realistically be any time soon.) What are the Australian Catholic Bishops recommending? Contrary to recent reports, I am not privy to what goes on in the corridors of the ACBC.

What really concerns me is that we pew-sitters have an edition of the Roman Missal as genuine and beautiful and generally useful as the one that the priest has on the altar. It should not leave out anything that is in the Roman Missal itself – it should include Latin texts where the English Roman Missal includes Latin texts. It should include music for the chant where the English Roman Missal includes music for the chant. It should include – and this is absolutely essential – the current Australian variations in the Lectionary and in the Calendar.

So, dear reader, when shopping for your Sunday Missal: Caveat emptor!

*UPDATE: Actually, after talking to various people this morning, I won’t be returning it. I will keep it as a reference to use for an upcoming review of all available “Sunday Missals”. You might like to hold off purchasing until we get more information about the various editions that will be available. In the meantime, my advice is in the title to this post!

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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10 Responses to Australian Sunday Missal Shoppers: Caveat Emptor!

  1. Peregrinus says:

    You have to ask yourself why you are purchasing a missal at all.

    I have a missal, but I don’t actually use it at mass. I used to for a while, but I found it too fiddly to be constantly switching back and forth between the proper and the ordinary, and between the various combinations and permutations which the ordinary allows for, and then trying to find my place on the page I had arrived at, given that the celebration had moved on while I was shifting coloured ribbons around. Using the missal was distracting me from assisting at mass. So I stopped bringing it.

    But, though I don’t use it at mass, I do use it. When I’m rostered to read, I use it beforehand to read and reflect on the readings for the day, and to prepare in practical terms for the particular one which I will be reading. (Where to pause and where to emphasise, decide how to pronounce unfamiliar names; that kind of thing.)

    It seems to me that, if you actually want to “read along” at mass, then as we’ve discussed before what you really need is an app which will do all the switching and combining and permuting for you, and this is going to be far more use than any paper-based missal (and will cope much better when, e.g., the lectionary translation is changed).

    The right app may not exist yet, but I suspect it won’t be very long before it does. And, notwithstanding that the market for apps is limited to people who own and use the necessary devices, I suspect an app at $1.99 will find a much bigger market than a dead tree missal at $30 to $50.

    The missal is attractive if you want a work of reference – something you can consult again and again, and not necessarily in relation to today’s mass, or this week’s mass. A work of reference should be as comprehensive as is consistent with affordability, so it should include all the bells and whistles that David describes, and perhaps more besides (e.g. an index of lectionary readings, so that if you want to find out when, say, 1 John 1-14 is read, you can). But you’re probably only going to want this if you have an intense interest in liturgy, or if you are involved in a ministry that requires you to take an interest. And, even if you acquire such a missal, I predict that when you are at mass you will still use your app.

    • Schütz says:

      I agree that the page turning can be a pain (the layout of the Redemporist missal is not good in that respect), but I do like to have a book, if only because the people around you don’t suspect you of texting during mass!

      There is a sense in which the Roman Rite IS a book, and not just an action. I know that the action is primary, but it is the book which guides this action. Hence the need for an accurate rendering of the Roman Missal in the people’s edition – especially in regard to rubrics. Many of the people’s editions (including the Redemptorist one) have their own version of the rubrics, and not what is in the Missal.

      I do “read along” with the celebration of the liturgy, even if I know the words. I like to have the text in front of me so that I can ponder some of the deeper meanings of the rite. This goes especially for the Collects, which, without a text, can be difficult to comprehend just on one hearing. I also like to have the text of the readings for the purposes of meditation. I even like to have the greek text of the NT readings to deepen this experience.

      Use of a printed missal also helps one know when Father starts “making it up as he goes along”. I think if more people used missals, they would be aware of just how common this abuse is.

  2. Christine says:

    Well, here in the states we have quite a pot pourri of options. As far as a missal that is beautiful, contains Latin texts alongside the English, etc. one really can’t beat the new Roman Missal published by the Midwest Theological Forum. The new missals published by the Daughters of St. Paul are less expensive and of good quality. Haven’t seen the new missals published by Catholic Publishing Company, hope their art and commentary on the Mass texts have improved over the past ones.

    Then, although not as ecofriendly we have Magnificat and another new monthly option published by the Benedictine Liturgical Press called “Give Us This Day”, actually a fine publication which, like Magnificat not only contains the daily and Sunday Mass orders/texts but, like Magnificat, Morning and Evening prayer as well as weekly commentary on the Mass and thought provoking articles on what they call “Blessed Among Us”, saints old and new.

    I love my Kindle eReader but being a fuddy duddy am not sure if I’m ready for a Mass “App” yet. Perhaps in time. I can certainly understand why it would be attractive to others, though.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I am pondering which missal to buy and have looked at some on line, I came across St Joseph Sunday Missal which I think is the Roman Sunday missal version, it has a zippered cover which I like the idea of but am not sure whether it is available in Australia and would be suitable for the Mass here, I don’t know whether the text varies at all between England, America and Australia and I have only seen them online advertised on American or English websites. Would you be able to enlighten me. Thanks

    • Schütz says:

      Dear Elizabeth 

      There are significant differences between the English American and Australian missals in the translation of the lectionary section of the missal including the psalm response and alleluia verse. In a couple of years, Australia and England will be using a common lectionary but the US will still be different. At the moment the only missal available for Australia is the St Paul’s media edition.

  4. Michel says:

    I know this is a bit too late for this post, but I am going through the same journey, as in searching for the right missal to purchase. While I narrowed down the options to only two (the daily roman missal) and (st Paul sunday missal), I still can’t figure out which one is the one to go for if you are living in Australia.
    Can anyone help me in this regard?

    Thanl you in advance.

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