The Inside Story – Publishing the Roman Missal, part 1

Mr Fergal Martin holding the CTS Study Missal

Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent 2011, when the complete new translation of the Roman Missal comes into use for the first time in churches and chapels throughout Great Britain. In the first part of this special interview given to journalist Peter Jennings, the General Secretary of the CTS Fergal Martin gives an overview of the ups and downs of this massive publishing project.

Peter Jennings: Speaking as a layman so closely involved in the work of publication, how has this influenced your understanding of the importance of this new English translation of the Roman Missal?

Fergal Martin: “I was only reflecting on this recently and I think that in many ways it has helped me to rediscover the beauty, richness and central importance of the prayers of the Mass themselves. The Liturgy of the Word is aimed at me but the prayers said by the Priest I have often felt less involved in. Now, having seen the care taken over the translation and the ancient resonances of every collect I am much more attuned to the gems hidden away in every part of the Mass.”

Peter Jennings: Some people are a little confused by hearing of various editions of the Missal published by the CTS. It would be helpful if you could explain what these are and give something of the background to each.

Fergal Martin: “Well, there is what is called the ‘Ritual’ Editions, the definitive and complete texts, used during the liturgical celebration – that is the large Missal or ‘book’ which the priest uses. I think we are the only publisher who offered this book in three sizes. Our research indicated that a large Altar’ edition for use in every Church was the primary need.

There were also other environments and liturgical settings where a smaller ‘medium sized’ replica of the same book might be necessary, such as convents, monasteries and schools. There was definitely a need for something more portable, easy to bring to for a celebration elsewhere – thus the ‘Chapel’ edition was born.

“Also there was a requirement for a handy small desk volume of the Missal, for reference, liturgical preparations, ideal for the presbytery bookshelf or parish desk. So what CTS call the ‘Study’ edition has also been produced.

“Then we have what are known as ‘People’s editions’ – that is the Sunday Missal and the Daily Missal – which many Catholics will have at home or bring to Mass with them. These contain the Order of Mass and the Lectionary Readings. in the Sunday and Daily Missals we’ve decided to take an original approach. We have put all the prayers of the Mass in both Latin and English in parallel double columns, so that people can more easily see where these new translations have come from.

CTS has also produced a number of smaller, inexpensive little booklets of the Order of Mass, which take people through the Mass with the new translation – and these have proved very popular over the months of preparation leading up to the First Sunday of Advent 2011.”

Peter Jennings: Which particular CTS publications will you and your family use for Sunday Mass and why?

Fergal Martin: “I know we will want a Study Ritual edition, and probably a Daily and a Sunday Missal. My wife Carmen and I like to prepare for Mass with the children beforehand, by looking at the readings, and even one of two of the prayers that might provide a key to the liturgy of that week. I have always been greatly helped by what a priest once told me: ‘the Church believes what she prays, and prays what she believes’: so that’s a great help.”

CTS General Secretary Mr Fergal Martin presents the Missal to the archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols earlier this year

Peter Jennings: How did the CTS go about the mammoth task of publishing the Roman Missal, the most challenging and complex project in its 145 year history?

Fergal Martin: “Technology today makes such projects far easier than for our predecessors: I think of all those publishers in the past who had so many amazing challenges to face and met them all with skill and tenacity in order to produce beautiful books. Piero Finaldi, our Project Manager on the Missals, felt keenly we should emulate that tradition, that heritage. Without any exaggeration: by invoking the Lord’s help and inspiration every day; and giving it endless thought and preparation. We were researching models and possibilities for over a year before we were even invited to tender, along with other publishers.

“The team here dissected every edition of a Missal they could find – like taking a bicycle apart to see how it all sticks together- what made it beautiful, what it lacked. We knew we needed to engage the skills of a top class printer and binder: the Ritual editions are in one sense essentially highly technical ‘assembly’ jobs, drawing together paper, leather, bindings, ribbons, tabs, texts, art and music and assembling them into one elegant volume.

“On the other hand editorially it is a labour of love, choosing the art, the colours, the design elements, the page layout, the subtle interweaving of design and elements of the liturgical year: and above all meeting the highest standard that the Church herself lays down for such liturgical books, and their translation. Even the line-breaks within a sentence are subject to rigid guidance and copyright.

“We even wanted our publicity for the Missal to reflect something of the beauty of the final book itself – we tried our best there, and I think it was appreciated.”

Part two will look at the biggest technical challenges we faced on the Missal project here at CTS.

Please note:

All orders for Sunday Missals placed with CTS up to 8 November 2011 will be despatched this week 24-26 November 2011. Standard (RM06), Burgundy Presentation (RM10) and White Presentation Editions (RM09)

Orders placed after 8 November will be despatched on 13-15 December 2011, or earlier if stocks allow.


Of related interest:

RM01 Altar Missal – The standard ritual edition of the Missal for use in England and Wales, Scotland, and Australia.
RM03 Chapel Missal – CURRENTLY REPRINTING, AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 2012 – The standard ritual edition of the Missal for use in England and Wales, Scotland, and Australia, in a reduced size for chapels, use at the chair, etc.
RM02 Study Missal – The standard ritual edition of the Missal for use in England and Wales, Scotland, and Australia, in a scaled-down reference edition for reference, study and liturgical planning.

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3 comments on “The Inside Story – Publishing the Roman Missal, part 1

  1. Wife & I want a new Sunday Missal. You describe current offering as containing the existing 3 year cycle of readings. Our priest told me the there will be new translations of these readings and suggested we wait until these are included. I suspect that this may be years away. Please can you advise the likely timescale? If years away, I may well replace our battered old missals (i.e. well used!).
    Chris J

    • The new lectionary is on the cards but, as far as we know, it will be at least 5 years if not much longer. So I would say it’s worth getting hold of some new ones.

    • The new Roman Missals with the new translations are due to hit the shelves in South Africa in Lent 2012. If UK are 5 years behind us, I suggest you come to SA on holiday and buy the new ones here!

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