The Third Edition of the Roman Missal

The importance of the Roman Missal in the life of the Church

The Roman Missal is the liturgical book containing the prayers and rubrics used in the celebration of the Mass in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. The importance of the Roman Missal in the life of the Church was stressed by Pope Benedict XVI in a recent address to the Vox Clara Committee: "I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication, so that the texts you have worked so hard to prepare may be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the Anglophone world. Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of his people."

Many of the prayers in the Roman Missal originate from the Latin texts of the early Roman Church that were used for celebrating the Mass after Emperor Constantine I ended the persecution of the Church AD 313. These manuscripts were handed down through the centuries and were collected and arranged to form the Roman Missal.

Since the third edition of the Roman Missal* was published in Latin in 2002, the bishops of the English-speaking countries around the world have been preparing a new English translation of the Roman Missal.** This highly anticipated new English translation is more faithful to the original Latin than previous editions. Prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy working in conjunction with Vox Clara, it was approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2009 and granted recognitio*** by the Holy See in 2010.

The new English translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition will be introduced in parishes on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011.

A dignified edition of the Roman Missal

Throughout her long history, the Church has taken great care to ensure the sacred objects used in the liturgy are dignified and worthy of divine worship. Continuing this tradition, Midwest Theological Forum (MTF) has designed its edition of the Roman Missal so that every element is dignified, beautiful, and suitable for divine worship, while also being durable and practical. MTF understands that an altar missal has both a functional and sacred purpose: it should reflect the divine presence and ritual beauty of the sacred liturgy and thereby assist the priest and the faithful in worshipping God. As the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments explained, the altar missal "should be marked by such a dignity that the exterior appearance of the book itself will lead the faithful to a greater reverence for the word of God and for sacred realities" (Liturgiam Authenticam, 120).

For this reason, MTF has devoted considerable attention to the quality of paper and binding; the visual impact of vibrant, full-color illustrations; musical notation; and text fonts in order to produce a dignified altar missal befitting its sacred purpose. MTF believes the publication of sacred books that are worthy of the mysteries celebrated in the liturgy will make an important contribution to building up the spiritual lives of the faithful of the Catholic Church for years to come.

MTF is working with highly skilled printers and binders in Italy to guarantee a high quality of craftsmanship for this altar missal. All choices—paper, binding, ribbons, leather tabs, and more—have been made with ease of use and durability in mind so it will serve everyone for years to come.

MTF will publish two editions of the Roman Missal, which are detailed below.


The Regal Edition of the Roman Missal (Genuine Leather, 8.5" x 11"), a high-quality edition for solemn occasions as well as everyday use, will have the following features:
  • The missal will be bound in genuine leather, bearing the gold-stamped image of Christ Pantocrator to reflect the dignity of the liturgy.
  • The Smyth-sewn binding and robust, embossed endsheets will allow the missal to lay open and hold up to everyday use.
  • Full-color illustrations from the Church's treasury of fine art will adorn the seasons and principal feasts of the liturgical year.
  • The gilded edges will be struck with red and then gold to preserve their beauty even when the book is laid open.
  • The prayers will be printed in black with red rubrics on august cream paper.
  • The 24 tabs will be made of genuine leather and firmly attached to the page to facilitate the turning of pages and prevent tearing.
  • The gold-stamped Florentine edges on the inside of the cover will testify to the attention to detail employed throughout this missal.
  • The six ornate ribbons will be custom-made with a slug so they do not damage the pages or binding.
  • The cream-colored, 60 gsm paper will be thin enough to maintain a manageable weight but sufficiently opaque to ensure the clear legibility of the text. Pages used more often will utilize thicker, 100 gsm paper to ensure their durability.
  • The protective, red, cloth-wrapped box will safeguard the missal from being soiled or damaged when not in use.
The Classic Edition of the Roman Missal (8.5" x 11"), an affordable edition for everyday use, will have the following features:
  • The missal will be bound in a durable, rich, faux leather, bearing the gold-stamped image of Christ Pantocrator to reflect the dignity of the liturgy.
  • The Smyth-sewn binding and robust endsheets will allow the missal to lay open and hold up to everyday use.
  • Full-color illustrations from the Church's treasury of fine art will adorn the seasons and principal feasts of the liturgical year.
  • Gilded edges will be struck with red and then gold to preserve their beauty even when the book is laid open.
  • The prayers will be printed in black with red rubrics on august cream paper.
  • The 24 tabs will be made of bonded leather and firmly attached to the page to facilitate the turning of pages and prevent tearing.
  • The six ribbons will be custom-made with a slug so they do not damage the pages or binding.
  • The cream-colored, 60 gsm paper will be thin enough to maintain a manageable weight but sufficiently opaque to ensure the clear legibility of the text. Pages used more often will utilize thicker, 100 gsm paper to ensure their durability.

* Missale Romanum, Editio typica tertia, 2002.
** Since 1970 this had been published under the name Sacramentary.
*** Official recognition of a translation.

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