I received the following questions from a member of my parish. The odds are, your typical parishioner is not concerned with such things, so it was a pleasant surprise to receive these questions.
Is the Communion Rite considered to be part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, or is it a separate rite?
It is part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal divides the Mass into four parts: Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, Concluding Rites.
I've noticed that the silent prayers (e.g. Lord, wash away my iniquity) are no longer used during Mass. When were they omitted?
These have not been omitted. The priest is supposed to say them quietly to himself, so you may not hear him say these silent prayers, but he definitely still says them.
Why is there always a different preface dialogue of the Eucharistic Prayer (i.e. right after everyone says "it is right to give him thanks and praise")?
For Eucharistic Prayers 1 - 3, there are dozens of possible prefaces for the priest to choose from, depending on the Eucharist Prayer he chooses and the particular feast day or liturgical season we are celebrating.
When did the Song of Praise (formerly referred to as the Meditation Song) became part of the Mass? I never encountered it until I began attending Mass at Blessed Mother.
As far as I know, the “Song of Praise” has always been an option in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 88 says, “When the distribution of Communion is finished, as circumstances suggest, the priest and faithful spend some time praying privately. If desired, a psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the entire congregation.” Typically, Brett Ballard, our Director of Music and Liturgy, decides to include a Song of Praise on holy days of obligation and during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
I heard that a new English translation of the Mass will be coming out soon. Why is this necessary?
In 2001, the Vatican released the document Liturgiam Authenticam, which outlined rules for translating the liturgy into the vernacular. Once this document was released it became necessary to revise our current translation of the Roman Missal. The texts of the revised translation, which should be finished by the end of 2010, are marked by a heightened style of English speech and a grammatical structure that more closely follows the Latin text. In addition, many biblical and poetic images, such as “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…” (Communion Rite) have been restored.
For more information about the new translation, see the helpful website from the USCCB.