From a reader…
I recently heard a priest say: “We should go back to the [previous] version of the Missal, because I never had to change any wording. But now I have to change it all the time in the collect, for example. I don’t use the word ‘beseech’ in my daily speech, so why would I use it in Mass?”
I know the rule is “do the red, say the black.” But this made me wonder, how much latitude does the celebrant have to change the wording given in the Missal? Is the specific wording from the Missal less critical in, say, the collect than the Eucharistic prayer? What about some of the older priests who (for example) edit wording to make it more gender-inclusive, etc.?
Here’s some other words that Father might not regularly use: nincompoop, narcissist, nanocephalous….
The 2004 Instruction from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Redemptionis Sacramentum 31 states clearly,
[Priests] ought not to detract from the profound meaning of their own ministry by corrupting the liturgical celebration either through alteration or omission, or through arbitrary additions. For as St. Ambrose said, ‘It is not in herself…but in us that the Church in injured. Let us take care so that our own failure may not cause injury to the Church.’
There are a few places in the Missal itself where the priest is given an option, such as choosing between different penitential rites.
Nothing in the Missal permis the priest to, on his own authority, alter the texts that are given to him.
Sacrosanctum Concilium 22,3, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, establishes the principle that
“no person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”
Father may not regularly use the word beseech in his day-to-day language, but the Church does in hers.