WDTPRS REVIEW: Editions of the Roman Missal with the new, corrected translation

Several priests have asked me my opinion about editions of the Roman Missal with the new, corrected English translation.

They don’t know which version to purchase and wanted my insights.

One priest wrote with additional information.

Here’s the list:

Liturgical Press Ritual edition
Midwest Theological Forum Classic and Regal editions
Catholic Book Publishing Co. Chapel Edition
(Note: Link for the Altar Edition didn’t work, but Chapel Edition is the same layout and graphics as Altar, only smaller)
World Library Publications Deluxe Leather edition
Magnificat Altar edition

Actually, after I emailed you I noticed that New Liturgical Movement has a post regarding the different editions of the New Missal that some priests are commenting on.

I purchased the primo $500 Midwest Theological Forum Missal and have received it. It is beautiful, especially the artwork; but after years of using Catholic Book Pub. Co. there are things that bother me about it.

CBPC is formatted better in my opinion: They indent the Presidential Prayers and put the Rubrical words “Collect” “Prayer over the Offerings” “Prayer after Communion” in the left hand margin, which makes each prayer easy to locate on the page.

In contrast, MTF has these words above each respective prayer and everything on the page left justified, which makes all the prayers kind of bunched together. The Proper of Saints Section of CBPC is also much better laid out: saints with 3 proper presidential prayers always start at the top of the page and fill the whole page. In contrast, MTF just has one saints feast day after another, so that the Collect for St. Luke is at the bottom of one page and you have to flip the page to get the other two prayers.

Lastly, while the font is bigger on the MTF (a plus), it is smaller on the Sung Prefaces than CBPC for some strange reason.

I’ve been taking the MTF out of the box and CAREFULLY looking at it (in case I end up returning it) to see if I can get used to it; I think I’m starting to.

I’m finding the whole decision on what Missal to buy rather stressful, as whichever one I choose I will have to live with day in and day out for years, maybe decades to come. Perhaps this is akin to what single people feel like when choosing a spouse to marry!

May I suggest a Latin mail-order “bride”?  Perhaps a little older?

Seriously, for my part, I have seen only one so far, by the Catholic Book Publishing Corp. (CBPC). The pages are laid out pretty much in the manner, look and type-face, of the lame-duck Sacramentary, which leaves me less than edified. It reminds me of the bad old days, but with better artwork.  brrrr

I noted, however, a serious problem. The aforementioned CBPC volume includes no Latin texts for Mass. This is a serious drawback.

In the bad old Sacramentary you can turn to an appendix and find all the basic Latin texts needed to say the Novus Ordo in Latin. The type is smaller and the texts are cramped, but a priest can say Mass in Latin from the bad old Sacramentary.

Not so with the shiny new book. No sirree.

While the new, corrected translation represents a marked improvement in the English language celebration of Mass, the book itself suggests something I suspected might happen may be happening.

Is the determination to exclude Latin from an appendix a signal by the USCCB liturgy committee to suggest avoiding the use of Latin for the Ordinary Form?

“But Father! But Father!”, some of you aging hipsters might be crowing.  “You can always get the Latin edition of the Missale Romanum! There’s no English in that book! HAR HAR!”

Very droll.  No, the real issues is one of identity.  We who use the Roman Missal or the Missale Romanum are members of the Latin Church.  The vernacular book for Mass for the Latin Church ought to have the basic Latin texts as well.  Sacrosanctum Concilium said that Latin must be retained and that modern languages could be used.  The Council Fathers said that pastors of souls be make sure that their flocks know how to respond in both Latin and their own tongue to all the parts that pertain to them.

But the new book, at least from the CBPC, excludes Latin.  Dissonant to say the least.

For years I have complained about the phrase “the Latin Mass” to describe the Extraordinary Form, long-nicknamed the “Tridentine” Mass. That phrase perpetuate a lie, namely, that the Novus Ordo was not to be celebrated in Latin. “The Latin Mass”, to my mind, should have been applied – should still be applied – to any Mass, older form or newer, celebrated in the Latin language. I was worried when Summorum Pontificum was promulgated that some people would widen the gulf between the older form of Mass and the new, post-Conciliar form, but segregating Latin solely in celebrations of the Extraordinary Form.

Are my fears being realized? If so, then the point Pope Benedict made about mutual enrichment in his promulgation of Summorum Pontificum has been subtly undermined by the choice to exclude any Latin texts from the new edition of the Roman Missal.

However, this seems to be an American phenomenon. And I don’t think the American publishers can argue that there is no room for Latin in the book.

The CTS, publishers in England, confirmed by telephone that the 2008 Latin texts are included in their beautiful edition of the Roman Missal. The nice folks at CTS are sending me a copy of their altar missal.  No American company has made such an offer.  If they do, their books will get a fair review.   Considering how many priests read this blog, they might want to get on the stick.  [CORRECTION: I had a note today from the editor of CTS who said that the information given on the phone was wrong.  The CTS edition does NOT, in fact, have also the Missale Parvum in Latin.  RATS!]

Priests may wish to complain to the publishers and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the USCCB’s office for liturgy about the absence of basic Latin texts for Mass in the appendix.

PRIESTS: Chime in with your observations.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I notice that for the new MTF Daily Roman Missal (the hand missal) they say (on its page at http://www.theologicalforum.org):

    “The Order of Mass, Psalm responses, Alleluia verses, and numerous prayers in English and Latin.”

    Though nothing there makes clear precisely what “numerous prayers” means here.

  2. BobP says:

    Good observations, Fr. Z. Perhaps the new translation has been overhyped a bit to the point of definitely-no-Latin, English-or-nothing in the liturgy. Not to sound too crude, but it seems as if Henry VIII rules the Church again.

  3. shedges says:

    Fr. Z, I know that you asked for Priest to comment, but as one of the few lay that love my (worn out) daily missal (both Novus Ordo and 1962), I would also love to read some reviews about Daily Missals. The only one I am aware of is MTF. I even went so far as to write Baronius Press to see if they planned to put out an edition (I am eagerly awaiting their Breviarium Romanum) because they have wonderful attention to the art of book binding. So for us Lay followers, if you or any of your priest followers have reviews on daily missal’s, please pass those on, too. [We are talking about ALTAR missals, not hand missals used by the faithful in the pews. But thanks. Hand missals are important, and eventually we will have to look at them too.]

  4. Ezra says:

    Not to sound too crude, but it seems as if Henry VIII rules the Church again.

    You probably meant Edward VI; the Mass was said in Latin throughout Henry’s reign. In any case, the comparison is pretty ridiculous.

  5. frjim4321 says:

    The publicity pictures of the CBPC showed the color as red, but when the book arrived it was maroon. Sort of “bait and switch.”

    There is an LTP version that is not listed above. The LTP version looks okay but cost a bit more. We tend not to patronize LTP ever since Gabe Huck was so unceremoniously fired from there.

    The overall quality of material from LTP seems to have declined since that time, and I would worry that their sacramentary would fall apart prematurely.

  6. beez says:

    I own the Catholic Book Publishing chapel edition. I picked it up two weeks ago and have been practicing for my Mass of Thanksgiving in June.

  7. ipadre says:

    I chose to get the Magnificat edition. From the choice of paper, binding and images, I thought it to be the best choice. The only regret is that no one offers a Missal with both Latin and English side by side like in the Daily Roman Missal (hand missal). Pictures and information about the Magnificat Missal can be found here: http://www.magnificat.net/romanmissal/roman_missal_altar.asp

    Some of the other versions looked fine and one did look like the same old “Sacramentary”. I would not have that edition for anything.

  8. cuaguy says:

    I am not a priest, but I have, however, seen the USCCB missal. I personally like it, with 2 exceptions. First off, the tabs look like they may easily fall off. Secondly, in my short experience with it, the Ordinary pages probably should have been made of a more sturdy paper, as they are used the most, and looked like they will tear easily. I honestly can see an over-zealous celebrant turning one of the EP pages in a rush, and the page ripping out of the Missal.

    Also, one more positive thing about the USCCB, and I don’t know if it’s this way in all the Missals or just theirs, but the EP’s for Reconcilliation and Various needs and occasions are right behind the ordinary of the Mass, as opposed to separate books or in the back of the Missal. I don’t know many priests who use them, but it looks nicer when the missal is on the Altar to have them there, rather than at the back of the sacramentary. This, of course, is purely aesthetics, but it is a part nonetheless…

  9. frjim4321 says:

    The CBPC ribbons look pretty cheap, and there aren’t many of them – the bare minimum.

    We got the chapel size since some of our altar servers are pretty small. Also, my presbyopia is not yet that bad.

  10. BobP says:

    >You probably meant Edward VI; the Mass was said in Latin throughout Henry’s reign. In any case, the comparison is pretty ridiculous.<

    Was Trent being ridiculous when it attempted to stamp out the all-vulgar liturgy, the pompous hallmark of the Reformation period? Was Veterum Sapientia ridiculous? Is Canon 249 ridiculous? Seems like a whole line of English kings would be proud of the old and new all-English in the Mass.

  11. dominic1955 says:

    I shouldn’t think it would be that hard to just copy the format of the old altar missals. From perusing a number of them, they seem to be well laid out. They are also (at least the ones I’ve seen) are very well bound, have good quality paper, good quality ribbons and tabs, etc. They also have better artwork on the whole than the sacramentaries and missals for the new Mass.

    You would think it wouldn’t be that hard to make a decent book when you have so many good examples from days gone by…oh wait, maybe that is part of it…

  12. Fr Martin Fox says:


    According to comments in a post at New Liturgical Movement, none of the American editions of the Missal will have Latin. I am shocked by this and will complain, once I establish more certainly that it is so.

    I have been so irritated with Catholic Book Publishing over the years, because of the poor quality of their offerings, that I was very biased against their offerings this year. I ordered from Magnificat, but our missal order hasn’t arrived yet. My practical decision was to order several chapel size Missals, and wait to order larger editions, because I have a suspicion the first-runs will have mistakes. I expect to be ordering additional missals next year.

  13. jhayes says:

    Here’s a comparison chart of 15 editions of the new Roman Missal with links to sample pages and sample illustrations.


  14. Speravi says:

    @ipadre: I was in Rome in January and asked someone who worked with the CDW about missals in Latin-English parallel. (I had heard rumors early on that some would be published.) He told me that the congregation was strongly discouraging that (he didn’t say why…and I was in a group, so I didn’t push the issue…). Someone on the NLM thread suggested that the CDW was encouraging a close following of the Latin edition and that this was why they did not have a Latin appendix. I think that this is a very likely and reasonable explanation (even if I might not agree) for discouraging the parallel and omitting the Latin. I highly doubt it is a conspiracy to do away with Latin.
    @Fr.Z: I agree with you that the format of the MTF is not as user-friendly as the old CBPC sacramentary (if I understood you correctly). However, after comparing it with the editio typica, it is clear that the new format is much closer. I also noticed that the font of the editio typica is much easier to read than the font of the MTF edition. I am awaiting copies from a couple of other publishers. Oh, and one other thing: I am sure I will get used to it, but the MTF tabs seemed harder to grab than the old sacramentary tabs (but again, they were closer to the arrangement of tabs in the editio typica).

  15. benedictgal says:

    Back in July, I reviewed the various versions of the Roman Missal offered by different publishing houses. Here is the review:


    I ranked the CTS as the best overall because their version was majestic and kept the ideal set forth by Liturgiam Authenticam. Stateside, the Magnificat was, in my opinion, the best because it combined beauty, nobility and affordability.

    The version published by Liturgical Press ranked low. The artwork was horrible and, after having seen it in person, the binding is of poor quality. Catholic Books also received a very low ranking.

    MTF would have received a higher score, but, the cost was quite prohibitive for a parish on a budget.

  16. benedictgal says:

    Regarding the lack of Latin, I did some research and called ICEL to ask what happened. Evidently, the USCCB asked the Congregation for Divine Worship if they could dispense with including the Latin Ordinary as the Roman Missal was already too huge. Evidently, permission was granted. I will double check to see if I heard this correctly. The ICElL representative, a priest, told me that I could order the Latin Roman Missal from MTF.

  17. Daniel Latinus says:

    I wonder if part of the reason the Latin appendix is being omitted is because these are missals, which contain introits, alleluias, and the other proper chants, as opposed to a sacramentary which will only include the prayers needed by the priest.

    Still, I can see the usefulness of a Latin-English altar missal, or at least an edition with Latin and English for the Ordinary of the Mass.

  18. Bthompson says:

    It would obviously be less than ideal, but perhaps one or more publishers could put out the Latin ordinary as a supplement book for the Roman Missal, just as the Eucharistic prayers for various needs and occasions is for the present Sacramentary. Or, unless there is a copyright issue with the Latin original, one might have a vanity press like lulu.com or others print one for him.

    Though, admittedly, this does not solve the problem that Fr Z mentioned, that it is odd that the central liturgical book of the Latin Rite should lack even so much as an appendix of the Ordinary in its own liturgical language.

    That said, I am eagerly awaiting my Chapel-size Magnificat Missal.

  19. DeaconPaul says:

    I understand that ICEL are ensuring that no “partial works” occur (like the old Sacramentary or Book of the Chair). This would preclude a vernacular Missal with some bits of Latin.

    However the undoubted side effect will be that an OF mass containing some Latin will become even more of a rarity as many parishes will simply not have access to a current Latin text.

    We have an OF mass where the choir sings Latin twice a month and it would be appropriate for the priest to use some Latin but an absence of texts will become, I suspect, a means to prevent this happening.

  20. jbas says:

    We are mandated to use the CBPC version in my diocese. My greatest complaint is that the musical notation is modern, which I don’t read as well. I also suspect these tabs won’t last many years.
    But anything is an improvement over the the missal we have now, which is held together only by duct tape and determination.
    Why are the silent prayers of the priest translated into modern languages? Isn’t the vernacular employed solely to aid the participation of the faithful? I suppose every publisher does this, but why?

  21. Daniel Latinus says:

    Why are the silent prayers of the priest translated into modern languages? Isn’t the vernacular employed solely to aid the participation of the faithful? I suppose every publisher does this, but why? -jbas

    This was how things were with the transitional missals, 1963-1967. Just about everything said aloud, said by the congregation, or to which the congregation was expected to respond, was said in the vernacular, with the Latin text alongside, and in smaller type. All those parts meant to be said by the priest were in Latin, and only in Latin. In 1967, permission was given to have the whole Mass in the vernacular.

    At the time, a book called Our Changing Liturgy, whose author (a priest, whose name I can’t remember) was enthusiastic about the changes being made, and critical of those who opposed them. However, the author reported that most priests he knew were unhappy with the Mass being part in Latin, part in English. The consensus seemed to be, “have it all in Latin, or all in English, but not both.”

    Back in those days, the Vatican required all vernacular missals to have the complete Latin texts. I understand the US hierarchy was an early lobbyist for the abolition of this requirement.

  22. FrPaul says:

    The new missal arrived on October 13 from Midwest Theological Forum. In many ways it is a beautiful upgrade from the Sacramentary. I flipped to the back searching for the appendix in Latin only to find it gone. The secret prayers in Latin which could easily be referenced in the current Sacramentary are not available. And there is no Roman Canon in Latin. Adding an extra 20 pages would not have killed anyone, more or less the number of pages for the texts for the Holy Mass for the Priest without a congregation.

  23. Miseno says:

    I just got my new Missal from CBPC and I too was sad that the Latin was not included in the text. I use the Latin for private masses. However, I am going to make things right by increasing my efforts to master the TLM!

  24. CarpeNoctem says:

    I got mine about two days ago; it is the Liturgical Press chapel edition… I also have a Magnificat on the way for another site I am at, but I have not seen it yet. The LP edition does not have Latin in it either, and I noticed that pretty quickly and was very diappointed with. It is a huge (thick) book, and I am worried about these books holding together over time… it may be that the book companies will be able to sell us more books over the years as they fall apart. That, or, I may invest in a book stand so it isn’t handled as much.

    It does bear a great resemblance to the 2002 MR, which I have and use privately. The formatting and pagination and layout is a big change from the English sacramentaries I have used, so it does take a little bit of re-orientation. This will bug some priests who are set in their ways to no end, but the intentional simliarities between the two nicely emphasize the unity of the two missals (Latin and English).

    The art is simply OK in the LP edition… the layout is OK. I have always used CBPC sacramentaries, but for some of the reasons mentioned here, I wanted to simply stay away from them because I don’t want any baggage/resemblance to the past. I chose LP on a whim, FWIW. It might have been the cheapest from my supplier… I don’t remember why. My plan was to buy the least expensive book I could get my hands on until I could use several different versions and then choose the best one for a grander-sized investment in a year or two… with any luck it will be a ‘corrected’ edition by time I am shopping again, allowing time for the typos and other kludges to be found and fixed.

  25. benedictgal says:

    When I spoke to ICEL, the priest who fielded my query told me that he uses the Latin Missal from the MTF. Although it’s a study edition, it can be used for Mass as it is “chapel-sized”. He added that it’s also on sale. It has been marked down to $120.

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