Rorate Caeli

FIUV PP: more on the Lectionary

The Position Papers of the International Federation Una Voce published on Rorate Caeli, are subject to revision in light of comments and fresh information, so the versions accessible on the FIUV website are often slightly different from those originally published. This approach has been our policy from the first, and I am very grateful for the comments, including many on this blog, which have stimulated these improvements.

Today I am publishing an unusually substantial addition to the last Position Paper, the one about the Lectionary. Since publishing it there has been a lot of discussion of related issues, and some newly researched information has been made available. Fr Felix Just's longstanding website on the lectionary is very useful; a new entrant to the debate is the British blogger 'Countercultural Father', whose work on the 1969 Lectionary's missing passages has been very directly useful; a fantastic new resource is provided by another blog, 'Lectionary Study Aids', who has put together a comprehensive table of the 1962 Lectionary; I've also been able to consult the relevant chapter of Fr Cekada's 'Work of Human Hands' (which seems to be available to buy only here).

These are two appendices to the Lectionary paper, which provide some factual backing for the two central points of the paper. These are, first, that the old Lectionary has its own value, and should not be assumed to be inferior to the new one just because it is shorter; and second, the old Lectionary is so closely integrated into the 1962 Missal that the idea that a greatly expanded version, or even just the 1969 Lectionary in toto, could in some simple way be swapped in by way of 'mutual enrichment', is a non-starter.

The full paper, including the new appendices, can be downloaded as a pdf here. The whole series can be seen on the FIUV website here. The collected set of papers 1-13, printed as a short book, is available from Lulu here.

Comments can be sent to
positio AT

On 15th July I will publish a paper on the Proclamation of the Lections in Latin in the Extraordinary Form.

The Lectionary of the 1962 Missal: Appendices
Appendix A: Passages of Scripture found in the 1962 Lectionary omitted from the 1969 Lectionary

By using multi-year cycles, the creators of the 1969 Lectionary aimed to include a much increased quantity of Scripture in the liturgy. It is interesting to note that, despite this, certain Gospel passages familiar to those attending the Extraordinary Form on Sundays are not found in any year of the 1969 Lectionary’s Sunday cycle.

In some cases the 1969 includes a different version of a pericope which the ancient Lectionary has chosen; in others no parallel passage is included. It seems worth listing both cases; the latter are emboldened, and where this is the case it is noted if the passage is not found in the 1969 weekday cycle.[1]

St Matthew:
6:16-21 ‘Fasting: when you fast...’ ‘Do not store up treasures on earth...’ (verses 19-21 omitted from the OF weekday cycle)
8:1-13 Leper healed; Centurion’s servant. (St Mark’s and St Luke’s accounts, respectively, used)
8:23-27 Calming of the storm (St Mark’s account used)
8:26: 1- 13 Caiaphas plotting; the precious ointment (St Mark's account used)
20:16b ‘For many are called, but few are chosen’ (omited from the Gospel of the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, which stops at verse 16a; the parallel verse from Mt 22:14 is optional on 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time)

St Mark:
16:14 ‘Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating;’ he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen (only in St Mark)

St Luke:
8: 4-15 Parable of the sower (St Matthew’s account used)
8:11: 14-23 ‘But if it is through the finger of God that I cast out devils...’ (St Mark’s account used)
8:24-26 The return of the Unclean Spirit (the corresponding passage from St Matthew is also cut) (also omitted from the OF weekday cycle)
8:27-28 ‘Happy the womb that bore you...’ (St Luke only)
8:14: 15-24 The banquet and guests who refuse to come... (St Matthew’s account used)
18: 31-34 ‘The Son of Man to be handed over...’ (cut from St Matthew and St Mark as well) (also omitted from the OF weekday cycle)
18:35-43 Healing of the blind man at Jericho (St Mark’s account used)
18:21: 29-33 The fig tree (St Mark’s account used)

St John:
6:59 ‘He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.’ (Only in St John) 
8:46-59 ‘you are a Samaritan, and possessed...’ ‘Abraham saw my day and rejoiced, Before Abraham was, I AM.’ (only in St John) (omitted from the OF weekday cycle)
14: 30-31 ‘The prince of this world is on his way...’ ‘I am doing exactly what the Father told me’ (only in St John) (omitted from the OF weekday cycle)
16:1-4 ‘They will put you out of the Synagogue.’  (only in St John) (omitted from the OF weekday cycle)
16: 5-11  ‘None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ ...because the prince of this world now stands condemned.’  (only in St John)
16-22 ‘What does he mean: you will no longer see me, then you will see me?...’ ‘You are sad now... your hearts will be full of joy...’  (only in St John)
16: 23-30 ‘Ask and you will receive... the Father loves you...Now you are speaking plainly... the time will come when you are scattered...’  (only in St John)

A much longer list could be made of passages which are optional in the 1969 Lectionary, and of verses omitted from readings of the Epistles.[2] A particularly striking example of the latter is the passage from the First Letter to the Corinthians (11:27-9) warning against the unworthy reception of communion, which is read on both Maundy Thursday and Corpus Christi in the 1962 Lectionary, but is not found anywhere in the 1969 Lectionary.

This list shows that, even in the narrow terms of exposure to the Scriptures, the replacement of the 1962 Lectionary with the 1969 Lectionary involved loss as well as gain. More profoundly, it illustrates the difference in spirit between the two Lectionaries: the ancient Lectionary selects passages on the basis of different principles, and in a number of ways emphasises what the new Lectionary wishes to de-emphasise.[3]

This underlines the general point that each Lectionary is an integral part of its respective Missal, and reflects its spirit and preoccupations.[4]

Appendix B: Relationship between the Lectionary and the Chants

An important factor discussed in the body of the paper in considering any reform or expansion of the Lectionary for the Extraordinary Form is close relationship between the Lections in a given Mass Formulary and the other Propers, particularly the chants. Mass formularies in the Extraordinary Form do not usually present a single, obvious, theme; as has been noted the cycle of Sunday Epistles is independent of the cycle of Sunday Gospels, and the various propers are too concerned with their liturgical function—as processional chants, as the Secret Prayer introducing the Oblation, and so on—to appear as a unified, didactic group. Nevertheless, they contain many cross-references, and can often serve as commentary upon one another.

This is most clearly the case when chants take their text from one of the readings.[5] Although the great majority of chants are taken from the Psalms, the exceptions frequently take their inspiration from the lections of the day. A brief review of the Sunday cycle reveals that on six occasions the Communion Antiphon is taken from the Gospel of the day: the 1st and 2nd Sundays after Epiphany, Palm Sunday, 2nd Sunday after Easter, and 3rd and 14th Sundays after Pentecost. The Communion is taken from the Epistle (Acts) on Whitsunday (Pentecost). The Alleluia verse is taken from the Gospel on 5th Sunday after Easter. Such cross references, whether actual quotations or not, are still more frequent in the formularies of feast days and on Ember Days. Similar close connections exist between the Sunday Gospels and the antiphons of Lauds and Vespers.

A more subtle and all pervading relationship is described by the great German chant scholar Dom Dominic Johner, in relation to the Gradual and Alleluia:

The early Church utilized these chants as a means to impress on the hearts of the faithful the lessons inculcated by the Epistle, and to make them the more readily susceptible for the Gospel. Clergy and laity should, without further ado, be enabled to devote themselves entirely to the contemplation of the chant and its import.[6]

All things considered, it would be impossible to change the Lectionary of the Extraordinary Form substantially, without seriously compromising the coherence and integrity of the Missal.

[1] With thanks to the blogger ‘Counter Cultural Father’ (
[2] A more comprehensive survey is made by Fr Anthony Cekada Work of Human Hands: A theological critique of the Mass of Paul VI (West Chester, OH: Philothea Press, 2010) pp299-272. Reference to this work does not imply agreement with the positions defended in it.
[3] The Oratorian priest and schola Fr Jonathan Robinson, in criticising the multi-year cycle of the 1969 Missal, remarks: ‘I think the diversity, rather than enriching people, tends to confuse them… This may be because the selections, as has been noted by others, were drawn up more to satisfy the sensibilities of liturical scholars than on traditional liturgical principles.’ The Mass and Modernity: walking to heaven backwards (San Fransisco: Ignatius Press, 2005) p332
[4] Fr Adrien Nocent, who collaborated on the 1969 Lectionary, wrote that is was ‘destined in the long run, but inevitably, to change the theological mentality and very spirituality of the Catholic people.’ ‘La Parole de Dieu et Vatican II’ in P. Jounel, R. Kaczynski and G. Pasqualette, eds, Liturgia, Opera Divina e Umana: studi sulla riforma liturgica (Rome: Edizioni liturgiche, 1982) p136; quoted in Cekada, op.c cit. p273.
[5] The connections noted below are of course the result of various historical processes.
[6] Dom Dominic Johner Chants of the Vatican Gradual (English edition: Collegeville, MN: St John’s Abbey Press, 1940) p6. (First published in 1934; reprinted on


poeta said...

I had understood that the whole "abomination of desolation" prophecy was omitted from the 1969 Lectionary, but I may have been misinformed.

Alan Aversa said...

"Abomination of desolation" appears in Daniel 12:11, 9:27, 11:31; Matthew 24:15; and Mark 13:14. This doesn't appear anywhere in the post-Vatican II lectionaries, according to Fr. Just, S.J.'s Catholic Lectionary Website, but it is in the Roman Missal for the Twenty-fourth & Last Sunday after Pentecost.

New Catholic said...

It also appears in Machabees.

Joseph Shaw said...

Matthew 24:15-35 ('When you shall see the abominationn of desolation...'), Gospel of the Last Sunday After Pentcost.

You're right, it's not in the 1969 Lectionary anywhere; nor does the parallel in Mark 13 appear, nor do the Daniel mentions, and 1 Mach doesn't get a look in. I'll add it to the list, thanks very much.

Athelstane said...

A particularly striking example of the latter is the passage from the First Letter to the Corinthians (11:27-9) warning against the unworthy reception of communion, which is read on both Maundy Thursday and Corpus Christi in the 1962 Lectionary, but is not found anywhere in the 1969 Lectionary.

Indeed, I noticed this and more when I attended a TLM solemn high on Thursday, followed by...a Mass using the three year lectionary on the transferred external solemnity on Sunday.

Not only is the final passage of I Cor. 11 warning against unworthy reception excised, but the entire institution of the Eucharist narrative of John 6 is removed and replaced with...the feeding of the 5,000 from the Gospel of Luke.

There are few instances that better show just how strikingly different the theological agendas between the two lectionaries really are.

Angelo said...

Pope Benedict XVl spoke of the New Mass as being done too quickly in a "Hazardous manner". This Year of Faith has not ended. I have heard many times of the greatness of Vatican Council ll. The fact is that the Council has yet to be implemented. What we have gotten is the "Imaginary Vatican Council lll" as Pope John Paul the First called it. If we are celebrating the beginning of the Council 50 years ago, then justice must be done to the Council. It must be re-studied and followed correctly. Pope Benedict XVl as Cardinal Ratzinger in an interview stated that, "What was said at the Council, and what was done after the Council are two totally different things". Its time to re-visit the Council and look at what the Council said and weed out all that was erroneously done in the name of the Council. One example, which is very serious to the extreme, is that the Council said, "Latin is and will remain the official language of the Church", "SOME vernacular MAY be used in the Mass". It is only obvious that the complete opposite has been done. Its time to take what the Council actually said in a most serious manner! Its time to abolish the so called "spirit of Vatican ll" and return to the Church of before and during the Council. The breaking away from the Council is what has caused grave damage to Christ's Church. History is being repeated. At one time the Arian heresy took almost complete hold of the Church. So much that a Pope excommunicated a Saint for opposing it. Today we have the officially condemned heresy of modernism. Which has taken almost complete hold of the Church. This I recognize as being a situation worse than the Arian heresy. Christ will purify his Church, this I trust, but we all must do our own part in the purification.

Magister Lundmark said...

Thank you, FIUV, for these position papers.

Regarding the traditional lectionary, is there an intentional relationship (thematic, spiritual, or otherwise) between the Gospel and Epistle? Can the other proper readings appropriately be read and understood in the light of a unifying message for the Mass of a given day?

I have lately considered preparing for Sunday Mass by using the preceding week to read and synthesize the various proper texts used throughout the Mass. However, I'd like to know whether there is in fact an intentional relationship among these readings, or if I would run too much risk of forcing an interpretation onto the texts that is not intended by the liturgy.

Anywhere you could point me for a good answer would be much appreciated.

Joseph Shaw said...

No: the cycles are independent of each other. They are both appropriate to the season, of course. This is true in the OF as well.

It is different with feasts, commons, and Votive Masses of course.