Rorate Caeli

The Mass of the Council * The Mass of the "good Pope"

Pope Blessed John XXIII
December 1962


  1. We have much to thank Papa Roncalli for and at the top of that list is his using the Roman rite of Holy Week at the Vatican!

  2. We can also thank Papa Roncalli during the first session of the Council for including the name of St. Joseph in the Canon of the Mass, which was just about the most radical liturgical innovation that he ever imagined.

  3. Anonymous6:13 PM


    I tried that argument over on 'Pray, Tell' and Fr Ruff observed that one could see it the other way around, i.e, that the Pope intended to show that if even the Roman Canon could be altered then nothing was inviolate. I wonder, is there any (reliable) documentation of JXXIII's real purpose in making the change to the canon?


  4. Anonymous7:21 PM

    One story about Pope John XXIII I found supremely amusing, because it showed that he was anything but a radical, and anything but a liturgical wreckovator.

    Shortly after his election, while he was preparing for his coronation, the Masters of Pontifical Ceremonies were asking for his imput for the ceremonial and decorations, keeping in mind that Pius XII had kept the pomp and ceremonial to a minimum, and even had discarded some ancient practices.
    John XXIII, when asked about the lavishness and Baroque Papal pomp apparently said "the more, the better..."

    Also, in his first Papal consistory to create new Cardinals, John XXIII abolished Pius XII's simplifications as to Cardinal's cappa magnas and the long trains, allowing a complete return to the 20 ft. red silk trains the Cardinals wore....(abolishing Pius XII's directive to cut 6 ft. from the trains)!
    John XXIII also allowed for the use of choir trains for ordinary priestly cassocks, and those also for monsignors...which Pius XII had supressed.

    Also, it is know that while Pius XII (who was a great Pope) wanted nuns to simplify their religious habits, John XXIII loved the elaborate and colorful old habits of nuns....and said as much on more than 1 occasion.

    I think that had John XXIII lived 4-5 more years than he did, Vatican II would have been shorter, and would have come out differently. We would still be celebrating the Tridentine Latin Mass, except for tiny, minor allowances for the vernacular.

    There would have been no Novus Ordo, no Communion in the Hand or standing, and no altar girls.
    There also would not have developed habitless Orders of nuns.

  5. Giles, it was indeed quite a radical step. Pope Sarto as a young priest favored the introduction as well but never changed the Holy Canon whilst pope (though he did of course completely rewrite the Office Psalter, a change as grave and to a rite which is even more ancient than the Canon).

  6. The Canon had traditionally been considered untouchable. Even Bl. Pius IX refused a petition to add St. Joseph's name to the Canon because he was 'only the pope'. Arbitrary tinkering with the liturgy in pre-conciliar times by St Pius X and Pius XII are overshadowed by what followed, but it's true that it paved the way.

    All things considered, John XXIII was a good pope --- and outshines any of his successors (the reigning incumbent included).

  7. Anonymous8:09 PM

    I'm of the opinion that Blessed John XXIII was a better pope than many traditionalists give him credit for being and Pius XII was not as good. I don't see anything negative about adding St. Joseph, who helped raise Our Lord, to the Canon. The radical changes to Holy Week on the other hand...

  8. felapton8:14 PM

    Modernists interpret that his prediction for the Council to end until winter was a joke, a reflection of his humouristic spirit - obviously there is no stronger ground for this save mere speculation; R. Amerio points out that the Pope was in the same sense pretty unreal, too optimistic, also in his predictions regarding the Roman Sinod.

  9. The Roman Canon actually had been "touched" so to speak, when the inclusion of the name of the Holy Roman Emperor (and the King of France in France) were allowed by indult to be mentioned and published in the missals for those affected regions (the Pro Rege Nostro clause).

    Also, the inclusion of St. Joseph's name in the Canon was a process that began in 1815 wit the first petition to the Sacred Congregation of Rites.

    Both Popes Leo XIII and St. Pius X would eventually sign petitions for this to occur (at separate times), thus showing that this was not radical or liberal at all.

    Pope St. Pius X did not introduce St. Joseph's name to the Canon not because he "dared not to", but rather he had bigger fish to fry (and in a very short amount of time): the restoration of Gregorian chant and the laity's active participation, the codification of Canon Law, the reform of the missal (not published until 1920) and the massive (and rather radical one) of the breviary, the restoration of the Lenten ferials, etc., etc., etc.

    Also, we must make the distinction of a "change for good" and the benefit of the Church (which adding St. Joseph's name was) and a "change for bad" which the revolutionary New Mass is - nor can the two be compared by the wildest imagination (okay... some have tried!).

  10. Lets not forget John 23rd's encylical on the Latin language which tells more where his mind was on that. I think the error John 23rd made was not disclosing the 3rd secret of Fatima. Apparently it must have a date cause he said it was not for his time.What could have been avoided if he had listened to Our Lady released the Secret and did the Consecration of Russia.instead of worrying what the Communists would think , he started something which hurts the church today , putting secular/political concerns ahead of what God teaches.

  11. Anonymous10:19 PM

    Thank you, Romanitas Press, for your sound post.

    It should also be noted that Pope Blessed John XXIII added to, rather than slash and burn the Roman Liturgy.

  12. For those who defend adding the name of Joseph, why was it good? Why not add other names of saints like Anne and Joachim?

    Just because certain popes who lived well before the council wanted to add his name does not justify adding his name. There where many unfortunate liturgical changes which predate "THE COUNCIL".

  13. Anonymous11:50 PM

    I do not know if those things mentioned in this blog suffice to redeem the fact of summnoning an unnecessary Council and stoking modernist hopes with the "aggiornamento" moto. This was most untimely and there was no critical subject to be dealt with, except it were condemnation of rampant modernism of the epoch, but it seems that no matter how good Pope John was he was naïve enough to permit periti at the Council who had been under investigation by the Holy Office, because of their heretical ideas. At any rate he quickly foresook his Encyclical Veterum Sapientia, which was openly ignored by the bishops attending the Council, and in which the Pope stressed the importance of ancient principles and tradition inside the Catholic Church.

  14. Anonymous12:50 AM


    It was good because St. Joseph was (and is) the saint whose life desperately needs to be emulated in these dark times...a responsible father, a loving husband, and a hard worker. In addition, I think it is fitting that the man who cared for Christ in his childhood deserves a place in the canon.

  15. Andre2:30 AM


    Then we should add more saints to the Canon. I think St. Anne would be another great motherly example.

  16. Peter2:32 AM

    Wasn't it the case that only martyrs were named in the Canon aside from Our Lady?

  17. Gratias2:35 AM

    CM mentions above the timing of the V2 Council. In 1962! By 1968 the world was turned upside down with the Catholic Church leading the charge. In retrospect John XXIII had very poor judgement. Was it not during his watch that the Modernists took control? (I am asking so that others might educate me).

    One thing is certain, we do not need another Council for many generations until the Church has recovered from the disastrous convocation of Vatican II.

    I was of the view that J23 had initiated the Aggiornamiento that opened the gates of the Vatican to the Freemasons.

  18. Anonymous2:44 AM

    Thank you Edward for bringing up that little matter of Fatima. The "good" Pope John's failure to act on our Lady's specific request will cause how many souls to perish in the time ahead?

    I don't mean to sound like chicken little here or a prophet of doom but this is REAL and it's coming our way.

  19. Andre, well said!

    Romanitas, you said:
    > Pope St. Pius X did not introduce St. Joseph's name
    > to the Canon not because he "dared not to", but
    > rather he had bigger fish to fry...

    Given that (i) as a priest young Sarto supported the introduction of St. Joseph's name, (ii) as Pope it would have taken nothing more than a penstroke to introduce it, and (iii) as Pope he did not introduce it, I think there is something to the "dared not to" line of reasoning. Further, given the trivial amount of time and trivial expenditure of energy required to introduce it, I doubt he was too busy "frying other fish" to enact such a thing if he had wanted it.

    Of course, the prime counterexample against the "dare not" line of reasoning is that in 1911 he entirely rewrote the Roman Office Psalter thus suggesting he did not believe liturgical rites to be sacred and untouchable--even the most venerable and ancient rites of Rome.

    Perhaps one day we can ask him!

  20. Peter4:00 AM

    Perhaps a better way to honor St. Joseph would have been to restore his Octave abolished in 1955.

  21. Wasn't it the case that only martyrs were named in the Canon aside from Our Lady?

    St. John the Evangelist was not a martyr, though he did suffer for the Faith (so he was a white martyr).

    Besides the simple principle that such a venerable tradition should not be tampered with, another argument against the addition of St. Joseph to the Commemoration of the Saints in the Roman Canon is that is disturbs the biblical imagery and poetry of the prayer. The Commemoration invokes Our Lady, and then 24 apostles and martyrs: the 12 apostles, and then 12 martyrs of the early Roman Church. This is an intentional echo of St. John's visions of heaven and the heavenly court, in which he saw a Woman clothed with a sun, and a choir of 24 presbyters before the throne of God giving Him worship. Introducing St. Joseph obscures the biblical motifs.

    There is a comparable poetic balance in the Roman Canon's later invocation of the holy apostles and martyrs: the list begins with St. John the Baptist, last of the Old Testament prophets and herald of the Messiah, and then continues with 14 martyrs: seven men and seven women. So, in the first case we have Our Lady and then 24 (12 x 2) apostles and martyrs, and in the second case we have St. John and then 14 (7 x 2) apostles and martyrs. By adding St. Joseph, the first list is prefaced by two powerful saints, but the second list is still prefaced by just one holy martyr -- so the poetic symmetry of the canon formerly present in these passages has been lost.

    This isn't to say that the pope doesn't have the authority to introduce St. Joseph into the canon, nor that the Church doesn't need the prayers of her patron -- just that there are valid reasons for believing that adding him to the canon wasn't necessary the best idea.

  22. In answer to a variety of questions:

    1. Why St. Joseph? First he is the foster-father of Our Divine Lord -that is sufficient enough I think. But secondly, he is thus also the Protector of Universal Church. Thus it is very appropriate to invoke his name during the most sacred part of the Mass. By the way, the petitions initially requested St. Joseph's name to be added not just in the "Communicantes", but also in the Offertory's "Suscipe Sancte Trinitas" and during the "Libera me".

    2. Why didn't St. Pius X introduce himself? Well, why didn't Pope Leo XIII either? Or any of the other popes after Pius X, who were equally well aware of the movement to raise the dignity of St. Joseph? It is indeed a mystery, but again, when one considers the full spectrum of liturgical reforms that were being worked on (some dating from the Council of Trent as it only spent 2 years reforming the missal, but 6 on the breviary), it is easy to see how this was pushed to the back burner (alone with Fatima, which Pius XI and Pius XII also neglected to do).

    3. The Church has never considered the liturgy as a fly tramped in amber, as history bears out very well. I think that Pius XII's 1948 admonition for establishment of the Liturgical Commission is a very good standard - it was likewise Trent's.

    4. I personally believe that adding St. Joseph's name to the Canon was a great idea that has enormously benefited the Church. To argue the opposite simply plays into the hands of the sedevacantists, who typically oppose anything prior to 1955 (if not earlier). Their only leg to stand on is that it was Pope John XXIII who made the decision to finally enact this wonderful addition to the Canon and that it occurred in 1962 - which for them is "dangerously close" to the time of the New Mass; but this is another example of the false proposition: "post hoc ergo propter hoc" (after which therefore because of) - a "Back to the Future" scenario if you please!

    The ultimate litmus test is: can anyone in their right mind equate this inclusion of St. Joseph's name in the Canon with the Modernism of the New Mass. Resoundingly the answer is "NO!", particularly as one is comparing apples with oranges - one was a change (and a good one at that), while the other was a revolution that affected doctrine, and thereby essentials.

  23. Peter5:06 AM

    I certainly have no (doctrinal) sympathy for sedevacantists, but I think that "Romanitas" has presented a caricature of their liturgical critiques. Father Cekada, in the postface to his new book, explains the accidents of history which led to the 1962 missal as being enshrined as THE traditional missal. It was essentially an arbitrary decision on the part of Archbishop Lefebvre in the context of internal politics in the SSPX in the 1980's.

    The 1962-cutoff critique offered by Romanitas applies much more justly to traditionalists who look to this missal simply because it is the last edition of the missal before the changes of Vatican II, as if the preceding changes were of no consequence. Why huff and puff about Act II of Bugnini's reform in 1969 while ignoring Act I which he slowly prepared in the 1950's? All the principles of the liturgical reform are already there in germ.

    Looking critically at the reforms of 1951, 1955 and 1960 on their own merits does not play into sedevacantism. It is simply a form of intellectual honesty.

  24. Peter, honestly and with all due respect for him, Father Cekada, as a man intimately related to the events of the 1980s mentioned by you (on the opposing side, that is), does not seem the most disinterested source for this sweeping conclusion.

    There were and are many good reasons for having had the last versions of the liturgical books before Sacrosanctum Concilium retained, including the most important fact that they were the last versions before Sacrosanctum Concilium... (The Mass pictured here, by the way, took place on Pope Blessed John XXIII's last Christmas - the very last Christmas before Sacrosanctum Concilium.)

    It is insulting to the memory of events, and to the memory of Lefebvre himself (and of others), to reduce this momentous decision, also officially proclaimed by the Holy See when first defining the 1962 books as the standard, in 1984, to an "arbitrary" decision and to the "internal politics" of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X.


  25. Peter6:01 AM


    You are certainly right that Father Cekada is not an entirely disinterested source on this matter, but that does not invalidate the critiques that he - and others, including non-sedevantists - have made of the pre-Vatican II liturgical reforms, especially that of Holy Week.

    Did you read the postface of the book in question? Unless Father Cekada has manufactured his history, one must accept that in the beginning even the SSPX did not insist on 1962 absolutism. The Anglo-Saxon districts of the SSPX tended to favor the pre-1955 books, whereas in France (and at Econe) a somewhat post-1962 version was used. After the events of 1983 Archbishop Lefebvre insisted on using the 1962 books. Here I agree that it would be wrong to call this decision "arbitrary": he wished to remove sedevacantists from the Society and therefore asked his priests to use a missal (John XXIII) which sedevacantists clearly could not accept. That does make sense. Also it seems when negotiations began with the Vatican only the 1962 books were on the table. I am not sure why the Vatican officials cared one way or the other. So, yes, the archbishop's decision - which overturned the decision of the SSPX 1976 general counsel which permitted the use of the older books or those of 1962 - was not entirely arbitrary. It is just that it was not based on LITURGICAL principles as such, but rather as a practical gesture.

    Now that 'Summorum pontificum' has made it clear that the old rite is here to stay, I guess we have the right to ask ourselves whether it is worth "freezing in amber" a liturgy whose architects saw it is a bridge. If you don't believe me read what Bugnini wrote about the rubrical reform of 1955. Paul VI himself in the bull promulgating the New Mass, says the new Holy Week was the most important step in the liturgical "renewal". I must disagree with you that "before 'Sacrosanctum concilium'" is a sufficient principle for deciding which books to use. Why not adopt the reform of 1964 or 1967? Because Bugnini was already at work? But that was already the case.

    Certainly no one wants to just draw a line in the sand and say "1962 is perfect" or "1939 was perfect" or whatever. But it is not insulting to Archbishop Lefebvre or anyone else to ask whether certain aspects of the traditional rite - Holy Week, First Vespers, proper last Gospels, Octaves, etc. - are worth bringing back. That is all I am saying. Pope Benedict's liturgical renewal has happily depoliticized the problem of the reform to some extent and so we can now discuss these questions openly and intelligently. The work of Mr. di Pippo and Father Carusi comes to mind here.

  26. The field is open for debate, Peter. I just think it is irrelevant, and that the 1962 reference enshrined in Summorum will not be changed - and, as I have argued with you before, that is excellent, providing the stability that the rite needs for decades to come. You are free to consult the Pontifical Commission if you wish to discuss special allowances for previous rubrics and texts.

    On your point that, "I must disagree with you that 'before Sacrosanctum concilium' is a sufficient principle for deciding which books to use. Why not adopt the reform of 1964 or 1967?"... what can I say?... I do not like Sacrosanctum Concilium; I am still not sure of what were all the intents of those responsible for all details in it; the Fathers themselves in their great majority almost certainly would not have approved of a new Rite, if they new that was what was coming...but can we deny that it was the most consequential liturgical document ever? If there is one single temporal reference that can be used for our rite, Sacrosanctum Concilium seems certainly to be the best one available.


    P.S. I will not be able to respond to anything else in the next few days.

  27. Pope John XXIII was a traditional through and through, although at that time he could only be seen as normal with orthodox Roman Catholic values & mores as a pope. Since then this has become a relative statement since the liberals were able to use the conciliar door he opened to implement their aggenda which has assumed the forms of post-conciliar modernist liturgical and pastoral paradigms. If he can be accused of anything it was perhaps a certain naivete.
    Nevertheless, he did open the window to let in some fresh air though, as I have stated many times, he did not tell everyone to jump out of it. It was his successor who did that.

  28. It is at best disingenous to suggest that supporters of pre-1962 liturgy are sedevacantists.

    There are plenty of non-sedevacantists who celebrate and prefer the more traditional forms on their own merits. To give two examples Fr. Finigan at Blackfen is not a sedevacantist yet celebrated traditional Palm Sunday as can be seen here. The Latin Mass Society National Chaplain also celebrated old Palm Sunday and the Sacred Triduum and he is not a sedevacantist either.

    Sedevacantists would not be interested in the pre-Pian liturgy anyway as their position would dictate following the liturgy as it was in 1958 or, for others, as it was in 1963.

  29. "It is at best disingenous to suggest that supporters of pre-1962 liturgy are sedevacantists."

    Absolutely. I still use St Andrew's Missal no matter what TLM I attend and I remember the prayers. So far, nearly all of them follow the format I have in my book (apart from the the inclusion of St Joseph in the Canon some). At the same time, I believe Pope Benedict XVI is pope even though I am very critical of his more than evident liberal modernism. Certainly too, he is not interested in propagating the TLM further than he has done already. In contrast, Pope John XXIII was truly orthodox in the traditional sense whereas Benedict XVI is not.

  30. I forgot that Archbishop Lefevre was the most liturgical man of the twentieth century. Maybe that's why there was the 1965 missal at Econe and a few years later he celebrated ordinations for Fontgombault saying the New Mass.

  31. Was it on Rorate that there was, some time ago, a post about the Synod of Rome?

  32. Yes:

  33. @New Catholic: Many thanks! For some reason the search function didn't come up with it.

  34. Jack B.9:54 PM

    I am most grateful to Bl. John XXIII for using the pre-Bugnini Holy Week, thus establishing a precedent for all who wish to do so:


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