Rorate Caeli

FIUV Position Paper: Prefaces

Today I can publish the FIUV Position Paper on the subject of Prefaces. Apologies for the delay of a few days from our usual schedule.

The possibility of adding 'new Prefaces' to the 1962 Missal is mentioned in the Letter to Bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. There have been ultramontanist voices telling us, since then, that any suggestion that Papal desires may incline in a particular direction should be taken an iron law for all subsequent time, and that even discussion of this question is therefore illegitimate. But the Holy Father does not agree with such an analysis himself. For in that letter, which is not, of course, a legislative text like the Motu Proprio itself, he calls for 'study of the possibilities', and consultation with 'bodies devoted to the usus antiquior'. Far from it being presumptuous of the FIUV, therefore, to express an opinion on this subject, we would contradicting the expressed will of the Holy Father if we failed to do so.

We offer the following paper, therefore, as a contribution to the study and consultation mandated by the Holy Father, conscious of our scholarly limitations, but not wishing false humility to prevent us from carrying out our obligation to give what assistance we can to the PCED, and the Church as a whole. To adapt  the recent phraeseology of a Prince of the Church:

We express these thoughts with all due respect for the wisdom of the Holy Father on the subject. Nevertheless, because of the responsibility that rests with us, as an international body representing those attached to the Extraordinary Form, in the context of the Holy Father's desire that our views be taken into consideration, we have had to express ourselves in the fullest and highest way, on something so important to the life of the Church.

This paper is available as a pdf here; the full set can be dowloaded from here.

Comments can be sent to positio AT

The next paper, on silence in the liturgy, will be published on or around 1st July.


FIUV Position Paper 8: Prefaces

       In the Letter to Bishops accompanying the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum (2007), the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI refers to study of the ‘practical possibilities’ of adding Prefaces to the Extraordinary Form, and to consultation of ‘bodies devoted to the usus antiquior’ on this question.[1] This paper is a response to that call for study and consultation. The discussion needs, first, to be informed by the history of the question, and secondly by an understanding of the criteria of organic development.

The Historical Question

2      Our information about the Missals in use in Rome (or elsewhere) before the 9th century is very patchy, and what documents exist cannot be assumed to be exhaustive. The classical, and most influential, representative of the Roman Rite of this early period is nevertheless the 8th century ‘Hadrianum’,[2] which had fourteen Prefaces (see Appendix, 1). 

     By contrast, many other Missals and collections of liturgical texts from 7th to the 11th centuries include a great many Prefaces.[3] These clearly had the function of giving a Mass a very specific intention; they might be regarded as ‘proper’ prayers. The definitive modern collection of Latin Prefaces, the Corpus Praefationum, has 1,674 in total.[4]

4      Nevertheless, a small body of Prefaces began to become standard in the 11th century, quite probably in response to the ‘false decretal of Pelagius II,’ which authorises only nine, presumably in addition to the Common Preface. This document, while presenting itself as a late 6th century decretal, is probably from the 11th century.[5] Regardless of its origin, it was included in later canon law collections.[6] It suggests, quite possibly correctly, that the ancient Roman practice was to have a very limited number of Prefaces.

5      To the list given by the ‘false decretal’ the Preface of the Blessed Virgin Mary was added in the late 11th century (though this itself was based on an 8th century Preface). These, plus the Common Preface and the Preface in the Missa sicca for blessing the palms on Palm Sunday, are the only Prefaces found in the Roman Missals of 1474 and 1570. Of these, seven are found in the Hadrianum, and three derive from ancient Frankish sources (see Appendix, 3).

In this later period other Rites and Usages of the Latin Church sometimes had a few additional Prefaces. Exceptionally, eight Prefaces not found in the Roman Missal were included in the Paris Missal of 1738 (see Appendix, 4), which was an attempt to preserve a distinctive Gallican Rite in the Latin Church. These probably include new compositions.

7      Between 1919 and 1928 four Prefaces were added to the Roman Missal. One, the Preface for the Dead (1919), came from the Paris Missal of 1738; the others, for St Joseph (1919), Christ the King (1925), and the Sacred Heart (1928), were new compositions. Each was introduced in the context of wider liturgical developments: the revision of the liturgies of All Souls[7] and the Sacred Heart,[8] the creation of the Feast of Christ the King,[9] and the development of devotion to St Joseph.[10] The 1955 revision of Holy Week used an ancient Preface for the new Chrism Mass (while the Preface for the ‘Missa sicca’ for the blessing of palms disappeared). Particular editions of the 1962 Missal include Prefaces authorised for particular places or religious orders; the best know are the four ‘Gallican Prefaces’, authorised for countries of Gallican heritage (see Appendix, 7).

8     A decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites of 1968 introduced eight further Prefaces.[11] One is (almost unchanged) of ancient origin; the others are either significantly redacted or are new compositions. This decree also added new Eucharistic Prayers. The 1970 Missal included 82 Prefaces; the majority are new compositions, with a variety of texts as their inspiration. Some Prefaces found in the 1962 Missal and the 1968 decree were abandoned or re-written.

The Question of Organic Development

      The Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, sets out criteria for authentic liturgical development. After noting the importance of historical research and pastoral considerations, it says:
there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.[12]
These are necessary conditions for any liturgical development, not merely considerations among others. Bearing these in mind, we can make certain observations.

  A relatively small number of Prefaces may be described as characteristic of the ancient liturgical tradition of the Roman Rite. As noted above, the Hadrianum had fourteen; from the 11th Century until 1919 there were twelve; four more were added in the early 20th Century. This accords with the general character of restraint and austerity characteristic of the Roman Rite, reflected also in its limited lectionary, single Eucharistic Prayer, and so on. In style, also, the Prefaces of the Roman Rite are restrained and austere by comparison with those found in Gallican and other sources. As the liturgical scholar Adrian Fortescue expressed it:
The chief note in the Roman rite has always been its austere simplicity. That is still its essential note, compared with the florid Eastern rites. It is surely worth while to preserve this note externally also, to repress any Byzantine tendencies in our ceremonies.[13]
Contrary, perhaps, to Fortescue’s critical tone, it should be emphasised that what is of value in one liturgical tradition does not necessarily correspond to something defective in another. The same ultimate ends—the worship of God and the salvation of souls—can be served by distinct means. What is to be emphasised here is simply that the simplicity and austerity of the Roman liturgical tradition is a means to those ends which is worthy of preservation, as is everything which has developed under the guidance of Providence in the Church’s liturgical traditions.[14] This simplicity has practical advantages, notably in making possible Missals which are both comprehensive and easily portable,[15] and in facilitating a thorough familiarity with the texts of the Missal by the laity, with important implications for liturgical participation.[16]

1    There is little precedent for adding Prefaces to the Roman Missal. None were added between the 11th Century and the 20th, although these centuries saw many important new feasts and devotional developments. The importance of stability in the liturgy should also be stressed: it enables the faithful to continue to use the same books, and grow in familiarity with the Missal over a lifetime, united in their liturgical experience with their predecessors and successors.

  It has often happened in the development of the Roman Rite that long-established local usages have become universal, and this principle could be applied to the Gallican and other local Prefaces, or those authorised for religious orders. The question remains, however, as to the urgency of such a development, in the context both of the need for stability in the liturgical books of the Extraordinary Form, as they are just beginning to establish themselves in wider usage in the Church, and the difference of spirit between the Gallican and the Roman styles. It seems entirely appropriate, by contrast, that the Gallican Prefaces continue to be used in countries of Gallican heritage, and by parallel, that other Prefaces authorised for particular places or religious orders for special reasons continue in use in those places and orders.

   The most cautious course might seem to be to make them universally optional; however, it should be noted that it is part of the character of the Extraordinary Form that options are generally minimised;[17] indeed, there is no precedent for optional Prefaces in modern times.[18] A multiplicity of options both makes it harder for the faithful to follow the liturgy, and tends to subject the liturgy to the personality of the priest. The Holy Father has written about the danger of liturgical ‘creativity’:
God is less and less in the picture. More and more important is what is done by human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a “pre-determined pattern”.[19]

  The possibility of introducing Prefaces composed for the 1970 Missal into the Extraordinary Form presents the difficulties just mentioned, and another particular difficulty, which is the change in the role of the Preface between the two Missals.

  One reason for this is that the ancient Latin liturgical tradition has many points in common with the ancient Rite of Alexandria, especially when it is recalled that the Preface and Roman Canon predate the insertion of the Sanctus.[20] In these traditions, the Preface has an intercessory, and not just a eucharistic (thanksgiving) role. The Missal of 1970, by contrast, employs Eucharistic Prayers mainly derived from (or modelled on) those other Eastern Rites, in which the intercessions are part of the Eucharistic Prayer and not the Preface.[21] Thus, like many ancient Latin Prefaces, the Preface of the Apostles in the 1962 Missal is ‘deprecatory’: it entreats the Lord ‘do not desert Thy flock’.[22] In the 1970 Missal this Preface has been re-written to remove its deprecatory character.[23]

1    Again, the Prefaces in the 1970 Missal were designed for use with Eucharistic Prayers II and III,[24] which are much shorter than the Roman Canon, to complement them, and, as Cardinal Lercaro noted at the time, the reform aimed
to make the Eucharistic Prayer more of a single unit that includes the preface, Sanctus, and anamnesis.[25]

  Such considerations rendered the great majority of ancient Latin Prefaces unsuitable for the 1970 Missal, despite their great abundance.[26] It would seem logical that the reverse would also be true: that the Prefaces of the 1970 Missal are not appropriate for the 1962 Missal.


  At the heart of the issue is the preservation of the authentic spirit of the ancient Latin liturgical tradition,[27] by reference both to general principles of organic development, and to the desire of the Holy Father
to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.[28]
It is interesting to note, in this regard, the decision of the Holy Father, wishing to replace the Prayer for the Jews in the Good Friday liturgy, not to insert the equivalent prayer from the 1970 Missal, but to compose one more conformable to the liturgical context. In relation to Prefaces, this tradition is characterised, for good reasons, by a particular Latin style, by a very limited number of Prefaces, and by a very limited number of options.

1    Our final conclusion is in favour of a moratorium on new Prefaces. It does not seem to us that there is any urgency about adding new Prefaces, or that the criterion of Sacrosanctum Concilium, that the ‘good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires’ a change, has been met in this case. It must be recognised that after a period of unprecedented liturgical change over a short period of time, which has caused such confusion, long term damage, and suffering,[29] a period of tranquillity would seem practical and indeed essential, particularly in relation to anything which might seem a novelty. We may end with the words of the Holy Father:
A more important objection is of the practical order. Ought we really to be rearranging everything all over again? Nothing is more harmful to the liturgy than a constant activism, even if it seems to be for the sake of genuine renewal.[30]


1. Prefaces in the Sacramentary of Pope Adrian I (the ‘Hadrianum’): 14 in total

Common                                             Nativity

Epiphany                                             Easter

Ascension                                            Pentecost

Apostles                                              in Natali Papae

For ordination of a priest                    For consecration of an altar

Nuptial Mass                                       for St Andrew
Two for St Anastasia (one of which is really an extra one for the Nativity)

2. Prefaces mandated by the ‘False Decretal of Pope Pelagius’: 10 in total

From the Hadrianum:

Easter                                      Ascension

Pentecost                                 Nativity

Epiphany                                 Apostles

From Frankish sources:

Trinity                                     Cross


(the Common Preface seems to be taken for granted)

3. Prefaces found in the Roman Missals of 1474 and 1570: 12 in total

Included in the False Decretal:
the Cross
Plus the Common Preface

Added in the 11th Century: Blessed Virgin Mary

Also: Preface for the Missa Sicca of Palm Sunday

4. Prefaces of the Paris Missal (‘de Vintimille’) of 1738: 19 in total

Advent                                                 Nativity
Epiphany                                             Lent
Cross                                                   Easter
Maundy Thursday (& votive for the Blessed Sacrament)
Ascension                                            Pentecost
Trinity                                                 Blessed Sacrament and Corpus Christi
Dedication of a church                        Blessed Virgin Mary
Apostles                                              SS Dionysius, Rusticus & Eleutherius
Patrons and Titulars                            Nuptial Mass
Common Preface                                For the Dead

5. Prefaces added to the Roman Missal from 1919 to 1928: 4 in total

For the Dead
St Joseph
Christ the King
Sacred Heart of Jesus

(The Preface of the Dead was found in the Paris Missal of 1738, but probably derives from ancient sources.[31])

6. Effect of the Holy Week Reform of 1955: 1 added and 1 removed

Preface of the Missa Sicca of Palm Sunday, lost
Ancient Preface used for Chrism Mass, added

7. Prefaces for use pro aliquibus locis and by religious orders in 1962.

Without giving an exhaustive list, religious orders tend to have prefaces for the feast of their founders. These include

St Benedict                                                                 St John of the Cross*
St Augustine                                                               St Teresa of Avila*
St Francis de Sales                                                      St Elias*
St Norbert*                                                                 Our Lady of Mount Carmel*
St Dominic*

*approved in or after 1919                                        

The Fransiscan Missale Romano-Seraphicum has extra proper Prefaces for the feasts of St Francis, St Dominic, and St Clare.

A number of French dioceses have proper Prefaces, deriving from the neo-Gallican tradition (see Appendix, 4), notably Lyon, which not only has some for some saints, but also for

Advent                                                                         Corpus Christi
Maundy Thursday                                                       the Dedication of a Church

The dioceses of Spain have a proper Preface for the Feast of St Teresa of Avila.

In all the dioceses of France and Belgium four Prefaces from the Neo-Gallican Missal of 1738 are authorised:

Blessed Sacrament
All Saints/ SS Peter and Paul
Dedication of a Church

[1] Letter to Bishops accompanying the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum (2007) ‘the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal.  The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard.’
[2] The Sacramentary sent by Pope Adrian I (772-795) to Charlemagne at the latter’s request, which formed the basis of Alcuin of York’s reform of the Frankish liturgy.
[3] The Leonine Sacramentary (Sacramentarium Veronense, ed. L. C. Mohlberg, Rome, Herder 1966)  from about the beginning of the 7th century, contains more than 240 Prefaces (the exact number depends on how near-duplicates are counted; it may be as many as 268; furthermore, it is arranged calendrically, but the period from January to mid April is missing). However, while including Roman material this is a collection from many Italian sources, and is a collection rather than a book to be used in a specific church or diocese. The ‘old’ Gelasian Sacramentary, containing Roman, Frankish and other material and produced near Paris c.750, (Liber Sacramentorum Romanae Aecclesiae ordinis anni circuli, ed. L. C. Mohlberg with L Eizenhöfer and Peter Siffrin, Rome, Herder 1960) has 53 Prefaces; the Angoulême Sacramentary contains about 219 Prefaces (this figure includes some near-repetitions, but there are also some lacunae). St Gall 348 had 48 different Prefaces in its original version, to which the re-worked version added a further 175.
[4] The collection includes new Prefaces published up to 1969.
[5] That this text is an invention by Burchard himself is reasonably suspected by B. Capelle, 'Les origines de la Préface romain de la Vierge', Rev d’histoire Eccl 38 (1942) 46-58 at p. 47.
[6] Corpus Iuris Canonici (Decretum Gratiani III 1,71 (Friedberg, I 1313); cf Durandus, IV, 33, 35),
[7] It follows the reform of the liturgy of All Souls by Pope St Pius X, which created a complete Office for the feast for the first time, raised its rank, and permitted priests to celebrate three Masses.
[8] The formulary of the feast of the Most Sacred Heart was thoroughly revised, with specially written chants, in 1928.
[9] The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pius XI’s encyclical Quas primas in 1925.
[10] The liturgical honour given to St Joseph presents a continuously developing history. His feast is not found in the Roman Missal before the 15th Century; the feast of St Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary (‘Iustus et palma’, 19th March), found in the Roman Missal of 1570, was made a Holy Day of Obligation by Pope Clement XI in 1714.  A feast of St Joseph Patron of the Church (‘Adjutor et protector’) was created by Pope Pius IX in 1847; this was moved from the third Sunday after Easter to the third Wednesday after Easter by Pius X, who added an Octave. This latter feast disappeared from the calendar, while being retained as a Votive Mass for use on Wednesdays, in favour of a new feast of St Joseph the Worker (‘Sapientia reddidit’), which was created by Pope Pius XII in 1955, for the 1st May. Bl. Pope John XXIII inserted St Joseph into the Canon of the Mass in 1962. The promulgation of a Preface, to be used on his feast days and votive Masses, in 1919, is part of this wider development.
[11]  Preces Eucharisticae, Notitiae, 40, May-June 1968, p.156
[12] Sacrosanctum Concilium 23
[13] Adrian Fortescue ‘Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described’ (London: Burns Oates, 1936) p.xix
[14] Recalling Pope Benedict XVI: ‘It behoves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.’ (Letter to Bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, 2007); cf. Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 61, on liturgical development over time: the ‘Holy Spirit… assists the Church in every age even to the consummation of the world. They [sc. rites developed over time] are equally the resources used by the majestic Spouse of Jesus Christ to promote and procure the sanctity of man.’
[15] Both Altar Missals (such as those used by military chaplains) and the pocket-sized handmissals for the laity.
[16] See Positio 7, ‘Latin as a Liturgical Language’
[18] Prior to the Decree of 1759 which mandated the Preface of the Trinity for green Sundays, there seems to have been some variation in practice between the use of Trinity Sunday and the Common Preface for those Sundays. This needn’t imply a free choice for the priest, however, rather than different local customs. The provision of multiple Prefaces for a given Mass, in the liturgical books of the earlier period noted in paragraph 3, in some cases does suggest such a choice, though in others it may again simply record local customs.
[19] Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger) ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy’ (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000) pp79-80: ‘Now the priest ... becomes the real reference point for the whole liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing. Not surprisingly, people try to reduce this newly created role by assigning all kinds of liturgical functions to different individuals... God is less and less in the picture. More and more important is what is done by human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a “pre-determined pattern”.’
[20] The Sanctus appeared in the Roman Rite probably in the 430s.
[21] This is confirmed by the discussion of intercessions by the 'General Instruction of the Roman Missal' (2002), 79
[22] Preface of the Apostles: ‘It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, suppliantly to entreat you, Lord,
that you, eternal Shepherd, do not desert your flock, but that through your blessed Apostles you watch over it and protect it always, so that it may be governed by those you have appointed shepherds to lead it in the name of {as representatives in/substitutes for} your work. And so, with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominions, and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven, as we sing the hymn of your glory without end we acclaim.’ (‘Vere dignum et iustum est, aequm et salutare: Te, Domine suppliciter exorare, ut gregem tuum pastor aeternae, non deseras: sed per beatos apostolos tuos continua protection custodias.’)
[23] Preface of the Apostles, 1970 Missal, 2011 English translation ‘It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God. For you, eternal Shepherd, do not desert your flock, but through the blessed Apostles watch over it and protect it always, so that it may be governed by those you have appointed shepherds to lead it in the name of your Son. And so, with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven, as we sing the hymn of your glory without end we acclaim:’
[24] Eucharistic Prayer IV, in the 1970 Missal, has a fixed Preface. See (Archbishop) Annibale Bugnini ‘The Reform of the Roman Liturgy (1948-1975)’ (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1990) p458.
[25] Bugnini, op. cit., p450, quoting a 1966 memorandum of Cardinal Lercaro.
[26] See note 3 above.
[27] See also Positio 6: Liturgical Pluralism
[28] Letter to Bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum
[29] Pope Benedict XVI, Letter to Bishops accompanying the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum (2007): ‘I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.’
[30] ‘The Spirit of the Liturgy’ p83
[31] The phrase “vita mutatur non tollitur” occurs in SG 908 (6th-7th century Visigothic), and 1738 may have got the whole text from some such source.



  1. Lautensack8:39 AM

    An important weakness of many of the Post-Vatican-II Prefaces is that they drastically shorten the references to the choirs of angels, thus failing to show the parallels between earthly and heavenly liturgy.

    If new Prefaces are to be introduced, they should keep the traditional introductions and conclusions.

    By the way, I am a bit puzzled by the statement that the 'Gallican' Prefaces can only be used in French-speaking countries. I found them in some Mid-20th-century English Pew Missals.

  2. Lautensack: I wonder if the Gallican Prefaces' presence in many books intended for the English market from that era is connected with the fact that these books were usually printed in Belgium.

    They aren't in my 1961 Altar Missal (Marietti).

  3. My advice is to leave well alone. We do not need any changes to The Latin Mass of All Time. The Holy Mass is perfect as it is in its pre-1962 form. What we do require is for the pope to encourage appropriate inner dispositional attitudes by all of us at The Holy Mass.
    The conciliar penchant for liturgical fiddling, tinkering and wholesale alterations should stop immediately. We do not need any more thank you.

  4. On the general subject of prefaces, I wish they had not ceased using the Preface of the Nativity for Corpus Christi. To scrap this connection seems anti-Incarnational in spirit.

  5. Exactly, LeonG. Unfortunately, those in charge love nothing more than to meddle and fiddle. In their new Religion of Man, it is they, not The Sacred Heart in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

  6. John L11:35 AM

    This is a strong paper. It is good that it addresses the preface point, since the Pope's reference to the possibility of adding new ones makes the topic urgent. Its discussion helpfully illuminates the general point of what a bad idea such revisions are, as well.

  7. LovingDissenter12:22 PM

    Bravo! An excellent position paper. Clear, precise, intelligent and to the point. Moratorium.

  8. Mihovil12:51 PM

    The FIUV comment on the need of tranquiliity is the strongest point, in my view. The Summorum Pontificum being opposed and/or sabotaged by an overwhelming majority of bishops, not to mention the liturgists, any change in the ritual can only result in weakening of the Tridentine movement, and lead to destruction of the 1962 Misal.

    Furthermore, any new preface will inevitably affect the frequency of the Preface of the Holy Trinity, which is the clearest articulation of the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and is muted in the Creed. There, He is not explicitly referred to as God (the "Lord" can be differently understood); He is not, like the Son, referred to as "God from God", "true God from true God", "constubstantial with the Father" and the Son, "through whom all things were made"....although He is all that.
    So, the new prefaces would inevitably lead to weakening of faith in the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

    Quite recently, a practising Catholic intellectual has asked me what is the Holy Spirit, and was surprised to learn that He is God, as the Father and the Son are. Although a pre-Novus Ordo man, he has forgotten the Trinitarian Preface, and couldn't find an answer in the new liturgy from which any explicit mention of the Holy Trinity in the regular Sunday Mass is missing.

  9. They aren't in my 1961 Altar Missal (Marietti).

    Which may not a genuine 1962 missal, since presumably it was printed before the five Gallican prefaces were inserted separately in late 1962. They are included in the (genuine 1962) Benziger altar missal (as well as in the Baronius hand missal). (Many 1961 missals also lack the reference to St. Joseph in the Communicantes.)

  10. Mihovil12:57 PM

    The FIUV comment on the need of tranquiliity is the strongest point, in my view. The Summorum Pontificum being opposed and/or sabotaged by an overwhelming majority of bishops, not to mention the liturgists, any change in the ritual can only result in weakening of the Tridentine movement, and lead to destruction of the 1962 Misal.

    Furthermore, any new preface will inevitably affect the frequency of the Preface of the Holy Trinity, which is the clearest articulation of the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and is muted in the Creed. There, He is not explicitly referred to as God (the "Lord" can be differently understood); He is not, like the Son, referred to as "God from God", "true God from true God", "constubstantial with the Father" and the Son, "through whom all things were made"....although He is all that.
    So, the new prefaces would inevitably lead to weakening of faith in the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

    Quite recently, a practising Catholic intellectual has asked me what is the Holy Spirit, and was surprised to learn that He is God, as the Father and the Son are. Although a pre-Novus Ordo man, he has forgotten the Trinitarian Preface, and couldn't find an answer in the new liturgy from which any explicit mention of the Holy Trinity in the regular Sunday Mass is missing.

  11. More than adding prefaces, I was concerned that there was talk of adding "modern day saints" to the 1962 missal. No thanks. I would not like to see that happen! Saints they may be, but it is not necessary. Besides, who would make the call as to the worthiness of one modern day saint over the constellation of others?

  12. Anonymous1:15 PM

    Poeta, your point about the Preface for Corpus Christi having once been (very appropriately) that of the Nativity resonates with me. David Jones, the great (Catholic) poet and artist, made the point at the time of the change and noted sadly that something thereby had been lost.

    Mike Hennessy

  13. I agree with those who 1) appreciate the beauty of the Gallican prefaces and the 1964 prefaces (Advent, etc.); yet, 2) oppose inserting them into the 1962 missal at this time.

    We need a liturgical time out.

    Get the traditional Latin Mass into every parish (as called for by Pope Benedict XVI, according to Cardinal Hoyos, remember?) before any 1962 missal tinkering gets discussed.

    This is not the time for tinkering. This is the time for getting the traditional Latin Mass in every parish, starting with Sunday mornings and holy days. High Masses, scholas of men singing Gregorian chant, quality vestments, skilled servers, trained sacred ministers and full pews. That ought to be the priority right now, not more liturgical novelty.

  14. Thank you for this paper.

    Looking at the prefaces added from 1919 to 1928, one notices that they all correspond to an enrichment of the liturgical year. They adorn new or newly elevated feasts at the heart of the temporal cycle. Given that St. Joseph's special relationship to the very life of Christ and the Blessed Mother, the same might be said of the fourth preface. It corresponds less to the sanctoral cycle (cycle of saint feasts) than the temporal (cycle of Sundays and feasts more closely related to the mystery of Christ).

    They are not new prefaces for the sake of new prefaces.

    As a matter of prudence, I agree that there should be no more tinkering with the traditional missal. The 1962 Missal itself has undergone tinkering not in accord with the Gregorian spirituality of "contemplative participation," but in the direction of a more modern spirituality of "active participation." This distinction is not understood or respected in such a way that would allow for proper development. If this distinction is appreciated, the Missal will be restored to its 1948 condition as a starting point.

    On the level of principle, however, we might ask whether any feast has been added or elevated in such wise as to warrant a new preface. One might try to make a case for "Divine Mercy Sunday" (the second Sunday of Easter), but this would involve a distortion of the concept of the Easter Octave. So I think the answer must be "no." On the level not of prudence but principle, there are no feasts that have been added or elevated in such a way that would warrant adding a new preface.

  15. "[Sacrosanctum Concilium] says: 'there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.' These are necessary conditions for any liturgical development, not merely considerations among others."

    I'm sorry to be a wet blanket, but this isn't right. The "organic" principle is not presented here as necessary but advisable. And historically, it is not at all certain whether early liturgical development was always organic. It very may well be the case that St. Damasus I, in an effort to heal the schism in Rome at the time of his election, reformed the liturgy in comprehensive and often inorganic ways.

    The problems of the liturgical reform of Paul VI (and of Pius XII to a far lesser extent) are less the METHOD of reform than the CONTENT, and, specifically, a noticeably flawed ideology among the reformers. Most especially, the reform was tainted by an ecumenical predisposition that led the reformers to dilute the strength of the theology in the rites. They were trying to make Catholic rites as attractive as possible to the separated brethren.

    The text not of Vatican II but of the Council of Trent remains far more authoritative in determining the criteria for liturgical reform: "this power has ever been in the Church, that, in the dispensation of the sacraments, their substance being untouched, it may ordain,--or change, what things soever it may judge most expedient, for the profit of those who receive, or for the veneration of the said sacraments, according to the difference of circumstances, times, and places" (Session XXI, Chapter 2).

    It is certainly prudent and advisable to proceed organically, but strictly speaking it is not necessary. Moreover, to assert that it is NECESSARY leads dangerously close to a denial of what Trent here declares. This text is particularly authoritative. A dogmatic Council is "declaring" on a "power" that has "always" been in the Church. Let us approach reverently.

    Moreover, the traditional Roman Mass itself may very well be an organic growth from an inorganic original by Sts. Damasus I, Ambrose and others. I am not asserting this historical supposition as CERTAIN, but as POSSIBLE. The possibility should frighten us away from supporting this new, entirely novel doctrine that authentic liturgical developments "must" and "always" be organic.

    To be clear, although it is quite possible that Sts. Damasus and Ambrose created the original seed of the traditional Mass in just as inorganic a way as Paul VI created the new Mass, THE ANALOGY STOPS THERE. All the work of Damasus/Ambrose was endowed with a richly Catholic and uncompromisingly orthodox theology that was largely absent from the work of Paul VI.

  16. Speaking of Una Voce, is there still an American branch? The website -- -- is usually down.

  17. Kumquat4:05 PM

    As any student of the Holy Liturgy knows, all of them have constantly been enriched by newly composed prayers and feasts and hymns, as well as borrowings from other rites.

    When any Liturgy ceases to change, it is moribund. Example is the Gallican Liturgy of St. Germain, which has not been changed since the 7th century--by which time it had ceased to be used. (Must have been a pretty bad liturgy if it were rejected that early.)

    Whether such enrichments are needed in the 1962 missal is justly debatable, but cannot be rejected out of hand.

  18. "unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way...."

    Language like this favours liberals who just love a flexible opeing for change....and, of course, the new NO was good for the church "in some way" it was ambiguous enough a phrase to permit anything.

  19. Lily

    You have understood well............prefaces added; saints altered on the liturgical calendar; universal use of "dialogue" form of Mass; changes to the Epistles and Gospels; add on a "kiss of peace" and this is how liberal minds work; lay readers (and perhaps a woman will be allowed also). One change leads to another and it will never stop. This is why the alterations in the 1950s and 1962 should be reversed as they were unnecessary.

  20. Anonymous5:24 PM

    We do not need new prefaces! Really bad move!

    Permission to celebrate (as an option) those saints, raised to the Altar since 1962 and those Beatified since then, using the appropriate and already existing Commons, makes more sense.


  21. Peter5:30 PM

    I couldn't agree more with all those commenters who say that there should be no tinkering with the 1962 Missale Romanum.

    There is no need for it. It is highly undesirable. It is totally unnecessary.

    Change in such an important area as the liturgy should be almost imperceptible. But once the Committee for Liturgical Reform was founded under Pius XII, change was inevitable.

    First, came the Holy week changes introduced ad experimentum in 1951. Then, came the fairly drastic revisions of 1955. By now, things were on the slippery slope : more tinkering, the new simplified calendar of John XXIII in 1960, culminating in the new editio typica of 1962.

    Even so, the editio typica of 1962 is, if I am right, only the sixth edition of the Missale Romanum of 1570 which went through new editions in, I think, 1604, 1634, 1884, 1920 and 1962. With minor emendations, that is more than enough !

    Meanwhile the novus ordo Missale Romanum promulgated by Paul VI in 1969, re-issued in 1975, and again in 2002, is already in its third edition and was recently emended by the present Pope. Despite this, it is still showing its age, rather like a badly designed, badly built house which constantly needs expensive new improvements, but will never begin to equal the quality of the older building.

    In fact, I'm glad I used this building analogy. It brings to mind the builders' old adage : "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    And how very true that is !

  22. Richard M. Sawicki5:33 PM

    Lily said:

    "More than adding prefaces, I was concerned that there was talk of adding "modern day saints" to the 1962 missal. No thanks. I would not like to see that happen! Saints they may be, but it is not necessary. Besides, who would make the call as to the worthiness of one modern day saint over the constellation of others?"

    One of the accusations often leveled at lovers of the the Traditional Mass is that they "want to go back in time" or "freeze the Church in 1962".

    Comments like these only serve to help the enemies of Tradition by making it seem as though they might be right. ("A-ha! See they don't want to acknowledge that there are newly canonized saints")

    While I agree that there is a need for a "Liturgical Time Out" to allow the Traditional Mass to get back into the mainstream of parish life, the issue of these additional preferences will need to be addressed eventually.

    With regard to recently-canonized Saints (whose "worthiness" as compared to to the "constellation" of saints of antiquity seems to me to be an odd concern at best - a canonized saint is a canonized saint), the Common prefaces can certainly be used. But one would think that with, for example, the Holy Father's significant decision to extend the liturgical cult of St. Hildegard of Bingen to the Universal Church as well as proclaiming her a Doctor of the Church, that proper liturgical texts for her Mass might be forthcoming at some future date, no?

    When Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and Mother Marianne Cope are raised to the Altars later this year (Deo Gratias) I doubt that all the Saints who have gone before them will be comparing "arrival times" with each other. They'll just join in the Heavenly Worship at the Throne of Divine Majesty.

    I am confident God is still in charge of the Church, and these issues regarding Liturgical Prefaces will eventually work themselves out in the way that is ultimately pleasing to Him.

    Gaudete in Domino Semper!

  23. Kumquat - I respectfully disagree with the view you've expressed here, that an unchanging liturgy is, for reason of its unchangingness, "moribund." Let me be clear that this is a view I've found among liturgical scholars who I immensely admire (e.g. Adrian Fortescue) and even even venerate (e.g. Bl. Ildefonso Schuster).

    My problem with the view, however, is that it just isn't true. The Eastern liturgies are not moribund for their unchangingness, and many Gallican, Neogallican and, of course, the new Mass, have proven immensely "moribund" despite seeming to change faster than the seasons.

    The truth is the "vitality" or "moribundity" is not related to change but to the richness (or poverty) of the practices and the quality of liturgical catechesis. The traditional Mass can certainly SEEM moribund to who have not benefited from the excellent liturgical catechesis contained, for example, in the works of von Cochem, Gueranger, Gihr, Fortescue, Schuster, de la Taille, G. Lefebvre, and Parsch. Liturgical changes can enrich the liturgy, but they certainly do not do so automatically, and "usually" it is best to leave well enough alone.

    I weary of analogy between the liturgy and a plant. A liturgical form, unlike a plant, can continue unchanging for thousands of years and not lose one bit of its youthful vitality.

  24. P.K.T.P.8:48 PM

    Who is clamouring for Prefaces from NewMass? Certainly not anyone who attends the Mass of the Ages. Only bureaucrats in the C.D.F. feel this urge; only they feel this need. Not one word in the Ordinary of the Mass was changed from 1474 to 1962, and the typical editions of 1570, 1607, 1637, 1884 and 1920 were very minor. So why the need for this inorganic change? The answer is simple. To the liberal, every traditional practice and even every traditional term must be 'touched' by the Revolution. That's why extra mysteries were added to the Rosary. It's why every aspect of Catholic culture was overturned and alienated.

    Our local Latin Mass celebrant has agreed not to say the Prefaces from NewMass if they are made optional in a coming 2012 (or later) Missal. As for me, I would not agree to be M.C. or even to be present in the sanctuary were they to be imposed.

    In the French Revolution, they tried to change even the names of the days of the week and the months of the year; in the Russian, the forms of address. In the Conciliar Revolution, even all the liturgical terminology was altered (e.g. Mass of the Catechumens becomes Liturgy of the Word; Offertory versicle becomes Prayer over the Gifts; Collect becomes 'theme'). They mean to intrude prayers from the New Mass so as to begin a process of poisoining it in baby steps. The aim is the 'merging of the Missals'. If you combine the good with the bad you get something which is characterless and sterile, something which is neither fish nor foul. Let's not go there.


  25. I think that a new edition of the Extraordinary Form should include newer prefaces which correspond in form to those of the previous editions of the Missale Romanum. The publication of a new edition, with the new prayer for Good Friday, additional prefaces, provisions for the reading of the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular at Low Mass, and the new Sanctoral calendar would be a statement that the Extraordinary Form is here to stay.

  26. I agree with you, Clayton. It should also come with the optional use of the new Eucharistic Prayers, optional use of the New Lectionary and tips on how the priest can take part in Liturgical Dance.

  27. Peter9:45 PM


    I really cannot see how a few minor changes (new prefaces,etc.,) would call for a new edition. This has never happened before.

    Even the sweeping (and I would say, mistaken) changes of 1955 did not call for a new edition.

    No. An editio typica emendata would be more than sufficient. At some time in the future this may happen.

    But a new edition ?
    Why, for heaven's sake ?

  28. Clayton, you seem to think it in the power of the Magisterium to prevent the Extraordinary Form from being "here to stay. It isn't. It seems to me that every effort was made to suppress it and God and hundreds of thousands of the faithful had something else to say about it. More and more, the popes seem to be taking the advice of Gamaliel: "If this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it of God, you will not be able to overthrow them" (Acts 5:38-39). This can be applied both in the case of the traditional Mass as well as in the case of SSPX, which are very closely related to one another.

    The Church should correct the new Mass and leave the traditional well enough alone. If the pope wants to expand access to an older Missal more representative of the Gregorian spirituality at the heart of the traditional Mass, GREAT!

    Not until the new Mass has been thoroughly corrected and the spirituality of the traditional Mass is truly appreciated and understood will it be appropriate to discuss making any changes to the traditional Mass. But we'll probably all be long dead and not have to worry about it one bit. Our job right now is to love the traditional Mass, search its depths, ponder its meaning and pass on this love to others, especially those younger than ourselves.

  29. P.K.T.P.11:33 PM


    Actually, the typical editions of 1607 and 1637 had very minor changes, only orthographical and formal changes; and those of 1884 and 1920 were quite minor.

    Why a typical edn. for 2012? Simple: it's the 50th anniversary of the 1962, and this Pope would love to leave behind a first step in the merging of the Missals. The first opportunity for this, in terms of ideal dates, comes this Saturday, which is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the 1962. That timing would likely not be good, however. Another possibility would be soon after any deal is struck with the S.S.P.X.


  30. P.K.T.P.11:35 PM


    One more thing. I see your point but the plan is not only to add Prefaces but also to update the calendar of saints.


  31. P.K.T.P.11:39 PM


    Well put. I would only add that the aftermath of a Revolution is the very worst time to tinker. You don't consider prudential changes until the revolutionaries are dead and unable to affect the outcome. There was not even a comma changed in the Ordinary from 1637 to 1884, a period of 247 years, It has not even been 47 years since the New Mass was promulgated. Now is not the time. Why the rush?


  32. Richard:
    I agree with some of what you said. I would call your attention to the decision immediately following Vatican II (some say it is the first act after Vatican II) which was to remove St. Philomena from the calendar, citing "not enough evidence for her placement." Oops! Bad decision. Many churches in the U.S. named St. Philomena, rose up in great protest. So they re created a space for her on the calendar but only in certain places. So, one of saints revered by pope after pope and was an enormous influence on one of the great saints, John Vianney, was gone in a reckless act at Vatican II. Again, who will make these choices? I will stick with my position which was to vote no.

  33. Prof. Basto3:30 AM

    I agree that this is a strong paper.

    It needs to be submitted to the Holy See (and input from traditionalist groups was requested by the Vatican itself) as soon as possible.

    The quote from Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy, art. 23, is precious. It makes one's mind fly away from the subject of Prefaces, and one wonders: what is the connection between this norm of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Novus Ordo that was produced? No change except when the good of the Church clearly demands it... no alterations but developments that are organically formed out of existing forms... One realises that the Novus Ordo is so bad that it cannot even claim a conciliar mandate.

  34. Gratias6:09 AM

    It is wonderful that in Rorate Una Voce, FSSP, and SSPX come together to promote the Latin Mass. These Position Papers are very useful.

  35. Fr Adrian Fortescue was writing when The Holy Mass was a stable Latin Rite. Now we are beset by liberal thinking that is obsessed with tinkering and mutilating. Une changement peut en cacher une autre: avertissement!

    The Latin Mass does change every time it is said or sung - vestments, proper and so on. The fact that its form does not change does not make it "moribund". This is illogical thinking. If we go to Holy Mass with the right preparation and inner disposition every Mass is different from an interior perspective. These provide several reasons why when I was a young Roman Catholic Altar Server and chorister I loved going to Mass as often as possible.
    Then the liberals came and destroyed almost everything.

    This is not the time to make any chnages at all - there are too many opportunists waiting with their liturgical agendas.

  36. NIANTIC1:12 PM

    I agree with the paper. We need an extended period of time of stability. There is absolutely no reason for additions. The theology and orthodoxy of the current crop of theologians and Curia officials is highly suspect. They are a disaster for the faith and should be prohibited from even touching the Traditional Missal. They have their NewMass, be happy with that and leave us alone.

    As far as their "new evangelization" is concerned it is, in my opinion, certain to fail unless the Holy Father mandates that the TLM be offered in each parish where there are two or more Masses scheduled on a Sunday and Holy Day.
    I am tired of all the "new" nonsense from these modernists. Catholic they are not.

  37. RC said, "For in that letter, which is not, of course, a legislative text like the Motu Proprio itself, he calls for 'study of the possibilities,' and consultation with 'bodies devoted to the usus antiquior.'"

    Praying for level-headed calm on my part...

    Now is not the time even to consider the possibility of adding or changing anything in the Tridentine Missal. As many have said here, there needs to be a period of stability and quiet wherein the Usus Antiquior needs to seek its own use and level.

    This ticks me off beyond reason but I have to remind myself while this was mentioned in the letter to the bishops (yes, not legislative), there is no actual effort or discussion under way at the moment for changes. Different groups mention this at different times, but I have not yet heard of any effort forming here and now.

    It's also irrational there are no efforts at changing or adding anything to the Novus Ordo even though the Holy Father speaks endlessly of it. Okay, so it got a language upgrade. Wooh! Several years ago the Holy Father suggested to the CDW the idea and feasibility of moving the Sign of Peace. NOTHING came of that, and there was no other further discussions on it. If they can't even reform the "reformed," why bother to mess around with the Tridentine Missal? One can only conclude a liberal/modernist agenda.

    After Summorum Pontificum's release, we were bearly able to get the candles lit when the Holy Father changed the Good Friday prayers for the Jews. That was lightning speed for the Church, totally. Funny, too, no committes, no endless discsussions or voting, blah blah. Just got changed. When it comes to the Novus Ordo, however, agony, agony OVER YEARS only to end up with the dotting of an I of an already needless word!

    These Una Voce papers are very interesting and also gives one points to discuss and contemplate because it is so important to the life of the Church."


  38. We need a liturgical time out.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Wolfe.

    The Roman Rite was not meant to be frozen in amber, and it never was. But this is the least propitious time possible for any revisions.

  39. Carl,
    The question as raised by the motu proprio has never been whether or not the Magisterium has the power to suppress the traditional Mass, but whether or not it actually did so. The motu proprio rejects the prima facie argument that, in fact, the traditional missal was never suppressed, and instead shows that it was, instead, supplanted as the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. While I would very strongly argue that the Magisterium has the authority to suppress the traditional form, I would argue equally that the Holy Father, or the Church in general, also has the authority to extend or to protect the traditional mass as an extraordinary usage of the Roman Rite.

    That is all beside the point. More salient to my reasoning is that NO usage of the Church can function liturgically without legitimate authority CONSTANTLY regulating and supervising it. Take, for example, the Sanctoral calendar. The Sanctoral Calendar is not in the Missal because there is something so great about a particular sequencing of dates, but because the Mass of the day is to reflect the Church's universal veneration of particular saints at particular times. I have argued before that, certainly, there is very little harm in having two different sanctoral cycles at operation in the Church, but even so, it would seem prudent to recognize in particular cases that the veneration of a newer saint has surpassed an older one in public devotion, or vice versa. This is why changes to feast days have been almost continuous throughout history. I think, in particular, of St. Pius X's unfortunate decision to displace the feast of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, one of the most ancient feasts in the Church, with that of his particular favorite, St. Thomas Aquinas. He had his reasons, though they were later reversed in the new Sanctoral calendar.

    Administrative changes are also, from time to time, required to represent certain developments in devotional practice, or in the availability of resources, or in updated scientific knowledge (think, for example, of the adoption of the Gregorian calendar), or to represent changed rubrical decisions that had already been made and had only been partially implemented, as for example the changed Good Friday prayers. In all these cases, the liturgy is not merely something that can be derived from a book, but rather the books that govern the liturgy are derived from the current norms of the Church.

    What I would argue, regarding the new Prefaces themselves, is that only those which are clearly in accordance with the function of the Preface in the Extraordinary Form should be included. But I feel fully confident in leaving that to the judgment of those to whom this moto proprio entrusts administrative oversight of the extraordinary form.

    Since the liturgy requires some administrative oversight to remain functional, I would argue that the publication of a new editio typica would serve several ends. It would show that the extraordinary form is on an equal legal basis with the ordinary form. It would encourage a renewal of research and discussion of the traditional usage of the Roman liturgy in seminaries and scholarly circles. It would offer the Church with the opportunities to correct some of the inconsistencies and errors in the 1961 edition of the Roman Missal. It would allow communities to celebrate newer saints using propers that correspond to the feast, rather than the current situation of using commons for all new saints.

    This should not just apply to the Mass. Anyone who recites the traditional Roman Breviary knows that the John XXIII changes are simply insufficient, e.g. the absolute destruction of Matins. Certainly if all the changes were made which have been indicated in the motu proprio, reform to the Breviary will be required.

  40. Errata: bearly. Barely. Doh!

  41. Clayton - The practical question of "suppression" is different from the juridical controversy, which is a matter of fine technical distinctions. In actual practice, virtually every effort was made by the pope, curia and overwhelming majority of bishops and priests to annihilate the traditional Mass. I don't want to dispute such an obvious fact. But if we get into the technical aspect, I don't agree that the traditional Mass was either suppressed or supplanted.

    I wrote not that the pope hasn't the "authority to suppress the traditional form" - I would defend the opinion that doesn't - but that he doesn't have the "power to keep it from being here to stay." There is absolutely nothing he can say or do to actually prevent traditionalists from offering the traditional Mass. The Society will keep on going with the 1962 Missal, the plurality of Sedevacantists will keep on going with the Missal as it was before the Pian reforms, Ecclesia Dei priests and faithful will be fractured into various camps. In any case, no matter how he might try (and Paul VI tried about as hard as he could), the pope cannot extinguish the traditional Mass from the face of the earth.

    I don't think you are giving adequate consideration to the relationship between the calendar and the two liturgical spiritualities. I would argue that the Gregorian spirituality of "contemplative participation" is better served with a heavy sanctoral, with more numerous octaves, with a longer and more difficult Holy Week, with Ember and Rogation days, stricter absitences, many more fasts. Likewise, the Pian spirituality of active participation (even once it is purified of the grotesque abberations that are still all too common) requires differences in the Calendar. Some attempt should be made (and is being made) to put the new Calendar into greater conformity with the old. The new Calendar must be (and is being) purged of its Enlightenment rationalist abberations.

    ANY attempt to change the old Calendar in order to better resemble the new is a mistake. I am not speaking of gently ADDING a few new memorials (e.g. Sts. Pio, Maximilian Kolbe, Juan Diego, and Faustina all come immediately to mind) - that would be fine - but I am speaking against any rearranging or composition. Indeed, my fear of committees and congregations getting cute makes me hope they do absolutely nothing.

    The Breviary is a big, big problem and it has been for a very long time. A reform was needed but, starting right with St. Pius X, none of the actual 20th century reforms have been good. It's just gone from bad to worse to pitifully worse to abominably worse. The Liturgy of the Hours is like the Quinonez Breviary on steroids. It is a complete, unmitigated disaster. The new breviary makes the new Mass look like it was composed by heavenly choirs of angels and doctors of the Church. That's. Not. Good. I think those two books by Dobszay give a relatively good indication of what needs to be done to fix this mess.

  42. "Quite recently, a practising Catholic intellectual has asked me what is the Holy Spirit, and was surprised to learn that He is God, as the Father and the Son are.

    "Although a pre-Novus Ordo man, he has forgotten the Trinitarian Preface, and couldn't find an answer in the new liturgy from which any explicit mention of the Holy Trinity in the regular Sunday Mass is missing.

    Wow! I have never met such an adult Catholic.

    I guess that he had never encountered the following at Novus Ordo Masses:

    (Prior to last year's new translation.)

    "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."


    "We believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

    "With the Father and the Son
    he is worshipped and glorified.
    He has spoken through the Prophets."


  43. The magesterium cannot suppress The Latin Mass because Pope St Pius V Papal Bull "Quo Primum" guaranteed the right of all Roman Catholic priests to say this Rite of Holy Mass "in perpetuum". This document reinforces The Roman Rite in Latin with infallible doctrinal guarantees. The fact that Pope Paul VI did not explicitly abrogate The Latin Mass is significant of itself. Any pope who attempted to abrogate or obrogate by any means The Latin Mass of All Times would immediately place himself in very deep trouble. He would be trying to overturn sacred liturgical tradition which has perpetual papal guarantees.
    Even more significantly, prior to "Quo Primum", the Council of Trent solemnly declared anathema -that is a heresy - to pretend that any pastor in the Church has the power to change the traditional rite into a new rite. This is found in Session 7 Canon 13 on the Sacraments in General:

    "If anyone says that the received and approved rites customarily used in the Catholic Church for the solemn administration of the Sacraments can be changed into other new rites by any pastor in the Church whosoever, let him be anathema."
    For some six hundred years, the Popes made a solemn profession at their Coronation, a public and solemn profession, that they did not have the power to alter the liturgy in any way. Then they invoked the wrath of God upon themselves if they should dare to change it or allow anyone to change it.

    When we study completely the mess and chaos inflicted on The Church since 1969, graphically demonstrated in the chief indicators, it is self-evident that liturgical deconstruction and protestantisation have brought incalculable disaster on the church. Our eccelsiastical hierarchy of late have ignored the earlier admonitions of the magesterium where the liturgy is concerned. Pope St Pius X warned us too but the liberals have tried to fossilise this great Holy Father and his warnings as well.

    Rather it would be wiser to restore what has been lost and return the liturgical 'status quo ante bellum' while encouraging in parallel appropriate interior dispositions at Holy Mass. Then The Church will again experience a marvellous restoration with increasing vocations and growing religious houses with The Holy Mass in its proper authentic language once again available to us all in proximity where ever we live and work. This is the very divine blessing the enemies of The Church have sought to destroy with the liberal modernists as their useful but appallingly misled allies.

    Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos said everything we need to know where this latter point is concerned when in 2001 he admitted ".. we recognize that the old Mass is not abrogated and is legitimate, but we cannot say it publicly because there will be too much of a rebellion, and difficulties with the bishops. We cannot say it publicly."

    Ladies and Gentlemen, anyone who believes that the church can manipulate the Sacred Liturgy for The Latin Rite Church as it wishes is seriously mistaken.

    The last 43 years are a poignant illustration as to why it cannot. Consequential abomination of desolation in the sacred places has led to an abandonment of the red lamp and the Real Presence in countless once sanctified lieus. Indeed, and all of this because the post-conciliar magesterial basis is a new paradigm based on personalism, collegiality, ecumenistic horizontalism and endless interrelgious dialogue at the expense of doctrinal clarity, pastoral harmony and, worst of all, traditional liturgical unity based on the wise precepts of the pre-conciliar magesterium that covers 1,500 years since The Latin Rite liturgy was codified.

  44. Anonymous1:37 PM

    In the 1962 Missale Romanum, I miss the Preface of The Blessing of Palms on Palm Sunday, and wish it to be restored. Also, i should like to see the Preface of the Apostles restored to its former much wider use. However, I should like to see the XXth century creations - the prefaces of St. Joseph, Christ the King and Sacred Heart - removed from Missale Romanu. They are innovative in wording, and, esp. the last two, in length, making them unroman. The Preface of the Dead is an ancient preface, its happy addition being consonant with liturgical Tradition. The few other authentic, old prefaces of Advent, The Dedication of a Church, Consecration of an Altar, for example, could well be added as legimitate recuperations of ancient Tradition: in my altar missal the are lacking, but i hear that they are included in an appendix to the 1962 Missal. The Preface of Nativity is still used on Corpus Domini, and should definitely continue to be used. We do not need a Eucharistic Preface at all. As for this paper, i too agree that a moratorium of additional changes should be in force for the near future. If anything should be done in the future to our present Missale Romanum, i should hope for a return to the Missal as it was at the beginning of the XXth century. With the addition of the ancient PRefaces of the Dead, and of those found in the MR Hadrianum but missing in later editions.

  45. What about restoring the cruciform at Unde et memores, and restoring blessing of items and self, before the consecration, with first three fingers instead of full open palm.

    Also maybe arrange the liturgy so that the priest doesn't read the Gloria, readings,Creed and propers if the schola sings them but that he sings along. The Carthusian Rite is like that(codified in 11th century).

  46. In an email to Carl, Joseph Shaw7:35 PM

    Hullo there,

    You misunderstand the force, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, of the phrase 'care must be taken'. It is presented as necessary, not for the validity or liceity of the resulting liturgical rites, but in the sense of it being morally incumbent on the reformers to act in this manner. Similarly, 'there must be no innovation unless...' is not a limitation on the absolute power of the Church, but a strict obligation in the moral sphere on those charged with exercising that power.

    I certainly wouldn't claim that all liturgical developments in the history of the Church have been organic. On the contrary, I'm more inclined to the view that some have not been. But to cite Pope Damasus I as a 'possible' example, on the basis that we know precisely nothing about the circumstances of his reforms, is absurd.

  47. Thank you for your thoughtful response.

    "et adhibita cautela ut novae formae ex formis iam exstantibus organice quodammodo crescant" (SC 23).

    Looking at the key proposition in Latin, I think you might find that you're overestimating the force of the statement. It's only that "caution has to be used" (which I think is a little bit more accurate translation of "adhibita cautela" than is "care must be taken"). In either case, it is not implied that there cannot be good reasons for setting aside this caution. If we say, "Care must be taken that we cross the street safely," it doesn't mean circumstances cannot justify unsafely crossing the street (e.g. a child on the other side is wandering into the street).

    The liturgical reformers, as you probably know, make the case that dramatic historical changes, liturgical stagnation since Trent, and the particular characteristics of "modern man" (Gaudium et Spes 6-9) necessitated a more dramatic, less organic reform. They will also make the case that a continuity of some general structural elements and a number of some specific elements satisfied the criteria for "organice quodammodo," the reform was, in their opinion, "in some (very, very loose) sense organic." And, in this argument, they are right because "quodammodo" really means the proposition can mean anything. What is the criteria for calling something "organic"? "Quodammodo" can mean "just about anything."

    This argument is like saying "I crossed the street as safely as I could, given the circumstances." Likewise the reformers would say, "we reformed the liturgy as organically as we could, given the circumstances." I strongly disagree with this opinion, but I must admit that their opinion is no less in accord with SC 23 than mine. Indeed, we should all admit that SC 23 can mean absolutely anything when it comes to practical application.

    With all due respect, I didn't actually tell you my "basis" for supposing that Sts. Damasus I and Ambrose effected a "root and branch" reform of the Roman and Milanese Masses in the mid to late 4th centuries. Much more is known and the arguments are much stronger than you think. If you are interested in learning more, I can lead you through the arguments, which are drawn variously from the scholarship of Probst, Bickell, Fortescue, Cabrol, Jungmann, Botte, King, Bouyer and others more concerned with the general history of the pontificate of St. Damasus I. I assure you that the case is NOT at all "absurd," but is actually rather "probable." I consider it by far the best explanation for connecting Italian and Alexandrine liturgies as they appear in pre-Nicene sources to the Roman and Milanese liturgies as they appear in the mid to late 4th century and into the 5th (and beyond).

    Given your belief (which, following from the modernists Duchesne and E. Bishop, remains the common opinion among historians of the liturgy) that our knowledge of the history of the liturgy is so very fragmented and imperfect - that "we know precisely nothing" about the development between Justin Martyr, the Apostolic Constitutions and the Leonine, Gelasian, Hadrianic and Gregorian Missals - isn't this all the more reason to be all the more careful in not making doctrinal claims that developments in historical knowledge might reveal to be untenable? If you hold that "root and branch reforms" are immoral, you might very easily one day find yourself to have been attacking the very basis of the traditional Roman Mass that we all love so very much.

    Again, I thank you both for your original paper and for your response.

  48. Joseph Shaw, in reply,5:46 PM

    Just a couple of points. We know nothing about the *circumstances* of Pope Damasus's reforms. The authors you mention can make a case for the relationship between his books and various others. But of the circumstances of the reform we know nothing; we can only speculate. The relevant documents were all destroyed.

    I'm perfectly happy with the translation 'caution has to be used'; it makes no difference to my argument.

  49. I agree that the translation makes little difference to your argument EXCEPT that if there was added textual emphasis of a command, rather than a mere grammatical MOOD, your case about the FORCE of the statement would be much stronger than it is. This is why I think "has to" is better translation than "must." It gives a better sense of a generic imperative than a strict requirement. But either way, as I tried to show, the statement permits the modernist reading: "We reformed the liturgy as organically as we could, given the circumstances."

    The record suggests that somewhere between Jerome/Hippolytus and Ambrose, the Roman liturgy underwent a root and branch reform. Indeed, as you probably know, there is more evidence for the Old Roman liturgy than just these two. The normal opinion is that this occurred quickly but gradually, even though there is absolutely no evidence for an "in between" state. What's worse, this theory (more informed by 19th century evolutionary ideologies than by empirical facts) expects us to believe that the Roman See, renowned for it's conservatism, underwent not one root and branch reform, but a series of MANY root and branch reforms. The documentary record and the character of the See demand that we look for one period of systematic change.

    Actually, if we look at 1) the circumstances and politics of the pontificate, 2) the things we know that Damasus did do, 3) the liturgical implications of St. Jerome's Vulgate (i.e. the patristic relationship between scripture and liturgy), 4) the remarkable connections between the Jerome's style of Latin and that of the Mass, 5) carefully analyze de Mysteriis and de Sacramentis of St. Ambrose (as well as some evidence in St. Augustine of a renewal underway), 6) carefully analyze the connections between Alexandrine and Italian liturgies, and then 7) analyze the differences between the Milanese and Roman liturgies, we might discover that there is much, much more documentary evidence than we think. I can say a great deal more about what each of these points tells us, but let me cut to the chase. St. Damasus, as part of a program for unifying the Roman Church around the Petrine principle rather than the Imperial principle, dramatically reformed the Roman Mass, relying heavily on Alexandrine sources (derived from Peter via Mark), and on the intellectual capital of the surrounding Sees, especially Milan and Aquileia, Greek elements were eliminated (including the Kyrie, which was to be later restored by St. Gregory I), the original Canon was composed, the liturgical year and calendar were given their foundation and outline, the lectionary began to develop. In a word, F. Probst was more correct than even he thought. B. Botte demonstrated that between de Mysteriis and de Sacramentis, it was not the AUTHOR, but the LITURGY that changed. And, that there, that's the smoking gun.

    Put most succinctly, the general history of the Roman Church and of this particular pontificate UNIQUELY furnishes motive and opportunity, the liturgical documents of St. Ambrose furnish the smoking gun.

    All historical science is "speculative," rarely can historians produce metaphysical certainties, but this theory is stronger than many theories that we commonly accept as certain. And it certainly stronger than the absurd common opinion that the Roman Mass gradually evolved from Hippolytus into the Leonine Missal. Again, the Damasan theory is NOT absurd. As Fortescue says, it was abandoned not because of any weakness in Probst's scholarship, but because the modernists didn't like his confidence, personality and writing style.

  50. Mihovil8:39 AM

    Says Tom: "Wow! I have never met such an adult Catholic.I guess that he had never encountered the following at Novus Ordo Masses:"

    There follow the quotes from the NO, which prove my point: there is no reference to the Holy Spirit as explicitly "God", and nothing that is in the Creed said about the Son is attributed, in the NO quote, to the Holy Spirit.

  51. Mihovil - The sign of the Cross is sufficient to prove the equality of the Divine Persons. But there is still Trinity Sunday, and this year, you would have heard the following collect in the new Mass:

    "O God, who sending the Word of truth and Spirit of sanctification into the world have revealed your wondrous mystery to all men; grant us, in confession of the true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and to worship the Unity in power of majesty."

    Your adult Catholic is so obscenely ignorant that reinserting the Suscipe Sancte Trinitas (spoken silently in Latin), could hardly be expected to correct his deplorable obtuseness. What he needs is not a liturgical reform but a remedial, first grade Catechism lesson. His deficiency is not liturgical but catechetical.

  52. Mihovil10:31 AM

    Sorry Carl,
    but there is no explicit reference to the Holy Spirit as God in your new quotes either. “Lex Orandi” is the best catechism of the “Lex Credendi”. Nowhere you show that the Holy Spirit is “God from God”, “true God from true God”, “one in substance with the Father” and the Son, “through whom all things were made”.

    Nor would it be, apart the feast of the Holy Trinity, mentioned that He “cum unigenito Fillio Tuo …unus est Deus” (‘with Thine only-begotten Son’ is ‘one God’). Neither will it be mentioned that “quod… de Tua gloria, revelante Te, credimus, hoc de Filio tuo, hoc de Spiritu Sancto” (‘what…we believe about Thy glory, the same (we believe) about Thy Son and the same about the Holy Spirit’). Nor that “in confessione verae sempiternaeque deitatis, et in personis proprietas, et in essentia unitas, et in majestate adoretur equalitas” (‘by professing the true and eternal Godhead, we adore distinction in persons, unity in essence (substance), and equality in majesty’.

    That all will be out in most masses with the introduction of new prefaces in the TLM, as it is already the case in the NO.

    My friend badly needs catechisation – that is true, but the catechisation (who reads catechisms?) alone hasn’t helped him thus far to realize that the Holy Spirit is God. And the NO did not help him; nor would the TLM if the Preface to the Holy Trinity is downgraded. As for his criticizer, he seems to read into liturgical texts what isn’t there, but what is in his catechisms.

  53. Don't apologize Mihovil - The point remains that the Trinity is explicitly mentioned in the ordinary form during a regular Sunday Mass (contrary to your earlier claim). Moreover, I suspect that if we studied the matter more thoroughly, we would find that the orations also contain formulae indicating the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

    Let me be clear: I support restoring traditional prefaces to the ordinary form, and I oppose adding new prefaces to the traditional Mass. But I have a problem with this strained argument that you seem to be making: that without the Trinity preface, it is natural for a person to doubt whether the Holy Spirit is truly God.

    "Catechesis" is the word you're looking for. Your friend needs catechesis. The liturgy does not (and should not) impart a systematic instruction of the deposit of faith. The liturgy should be in accord with the faith, of course, and should contain robust expression of the faith, but the purpose of the liturgy is LATREUTIC, not DIDACTIC. The Church didn't compose liturgical texts to instruct but to worship. The Church composes catechisms to instruct. Your friend doesn't need a different set of prefaces, he needs a catechism: Roman, Baltimore, or the modern 1997 edition, pick a catechism, any catechism.

  54. Mihovil3:37 PM

    My contention is that, with the Preface of the Holy Trinity downgraded, the EXPLICIT reference to the Holy Spirit as EXPLICITLY God, or ONE or CONSUBSTANTIAL or EQUAL-IN-GLORY or MAJESTY with the Father and Son, will practically disappear. Neither the Sign of the Cross nor the reference to the Holy Trinity will make good for it.

    The purpose of the liturgy is both lautretic and didactic, most people learn the doctrine exactly from it, and do not bother about catechisms. That is why the Reformers changed the liturgy. The liturgy is basically a collection of signs, sacraments or sacramentals, which articulate what we believe, and affect it: if it is defective – and there is no doubt that with the Preface of the Holy Trinity downgraded it will indeed be defective – the faith in the divinity of the Holy Spirit is bound to be undermined.

    The first conciliar Creed, that of Nicaea, ended with “in the Holy Spirit”. It was followed by the Macedonians’ (pneumatomachi) denial of His divinity. Thereafter, the Niceno-Constantinopolian Creed was composed, in which the divinity of the Holy Spirit was affirmed in a muted fashion as we have it now. Although done to avoid provocation of the pneumatomachians, it has remained unchanged. In the Tridentine Mass it is supplemented with the, now threatened, Preface (in the NO downgraded already); while in the Byzantine Liturgy it is introduced with a brief exchange:

    Deacon: “Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess…”

    People: “…the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, the CONSUBSTANTIAL and undivided Trinity.”

    Thanks for comments. I have to stop now.

  55. Mihovil - I agree with virtually every word of this posting. In saying the liturgy is not didactic, I meant not PRIMARILY didactic, that the primary purpose is latreutic and the didactic purpose is merely correlative. Liturgical texts and actions cannot replace the need for catechesis or accomplish the ends of catechesis.

    I'm not sure Pope John Paul II ever wrote anything more accurate than the following: "sacramental life is impoverished and very soon turns into hollow ritualism if it is not based on serious knowledge of the meaning of the sacraments, and catechesis becomes intellectualized if it fails to come alive in the sacramental practice" (Catechesi Tradendae 23).

    I agree with you that replacing or watering down the Preface of the Holy Trinity by proliferating more and more prefaces is a mistake.


Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.


(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!