This 2-page spread shows the prayers for the solemnity of Mary the Holy Mother of God.


This 2-page spread shows the prayers for the solemnity of Mary the Holy Mother of God.

June 13, 2011

There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ.”

These words of Pope Benedict inspired the archbishop of Edmonton to launch a series of presentations on beauty; I have had the opportunity to listen to some of these and have been impressed by the wonderful variety that exists in the way people appreciate the beautiful.

In these exciting days here at the Publications Service of the CCCB, I want to assure Canadian Catholics that I have been truly moved by the beauty of the printer’s craft, by the attention to every detail in font and colour selections, by inspired page designs, by the talents of proofreaders, and by a concern for readability and avoiding odd page turns, all in service of the new edition of the Roman Missal.


The art of binding such a large book (1,480 pages) for durability is also an amazing thing to consider. In addition, I have marvelled at the skill with which our artists and craftspeople have been able to use two-colour printing processes to create a number of breathtaking images for the book.

Just the other day I saw a test rendition of the Last Supper by Tissot that left me speechless. I also want to assure everyone that bishops have been involved in every stage of this process, ensuring that the choices being made will reflect the preferences of clergy from across the country, and of the CCCB.

But in the end, all of this pales in comparison to the encounter with the Gospel. There is nothing more beautiful than the contents of the antiphons and prayers.

The instructions we received from the Vatican made it clear: illustrative art in the Missal needs to be in service of the liturgy. The words of Jesus at the Last Supper, the quotes from the Psalms and the allusions to the Scriptures: these are the stars of the book, not an abundance of colour plates.


I believe that this is the vision from Rome which has been reflected to us by the leadership of the CCCB. What we are producing is in accord with Vatican directives and follows the example of the Latin Missale Romanum.

On a personal level, I feel that hundreds of colour plates on glossy paper would distract from the words of the prayers; our use of two-colour art on the same paper as the rest of the Roman Missal actually supports and enhances the words on the page.

There is a more practical reason why this edition of the Roman Missal is good for Canada: it is Canadian. From the designers and layout team, to the harvesting of sustainable wood for pulp, to the paper manufacturers, to the printers, to the binding, tabs and ribbons, to the boxes and the shipping, the entire process is Canadian, providing work for Canadians and supporting Canadian industry. I suppose that there is a beauty in this too.

Finally, I am happy to say that because we are the publishers of the book for all of Canada, we have been able to take our time in producing the full-size and chapel editions.


The missal is not to be used before Nov. 27 of this year. To rush the publication would not have served the project. We have been able to focus on the whole transition from the Sacramentary to the Roman Missal.

We have been working hard to keep costs down while serving the needs of the Church in Canada, and so we have no need for any unofficial spokesperson promoting one of the American publications to try and do what common sense and Church law prevents.

Liturgical books are approved for specific territories. They suit that territory and are not to be used elsewhere. In a word, we don’t need foreign-made missals on Canadian soil. Two beautiful editions are being prepared for Canada. This I know, because it is happening before my eyes.

(Glenn CJ Byer, SLD, is director of the Publications Service of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.)