Rorate Caeli

Fontgombault Sermon for Palm Sunday: "In these dark days, an old world is dying -- May a renewed world rise in Christ!"

Palm Sunday

Sermon of the Right Reverend Dom Jean Pateau
Abbot of Our Lady of Fontgombault
Fontgombault, April 5, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My dearly beloved Sons,

We open now the way of Holy Week, a painful week, in the image of the time of epidemic we are going through. For the ceremonies, the churches' doors, as well as the houses' doors, will remain closed.

May the Lord come and visit us, as His disciples after His resurrection, “Januis clausis,” the doors being closed. He will make light of any closed door, if the hearts' doors are open to Him. Far away from the churches, revive your family liturgy by the meditation of the so rich liturgical texts, the Rosary, the practice of a true charity between yourselves. Dioceses and communities make several tools available.

Imitate the Apostles before Pentecost:

Palm Sunday 2020: Anima Christi, santifica me...

Passio Christi, conforta me. O bone Iesu, exaudi me.   Intra vulnera tua absconde me.

Paix Liturgique: the state of the TLM around the world

The first Traditional Mass celebrated in Puerto Rico
since 1970s, reported in Gregorius Magnus

By João Silveira, for Paix Liturgique
Just as we did last year, we are publishing a one-of-a-kind status report on the traditional Mass. Christian Marquant, president of Paix Liturgique, here gives it in an informal presentation. In 2018 he gave three interviews in a row (Letters 102, 103,104) in which he provided, as precisely as possible, figures on the spread of the traditional liturgy over the whole world as well as on the priests and faithful who keep it going.

What were the results for 2019?

Stabat Mater Dolorosa: Dolorous Mother, Protect Us!

Dear Dolorous Mother, protect us from pestilence, famine, and war!

"Meditations on Death" - Part 6: A Lenten Series by Father Konrad zu Loewenstein

Part 6
A Lenten Guest Series by 
Father Konrad zu Loewenstein


a) The Death of the Sinner
St. Francis Borgia helping a dying impenitent (Goya)

‘My life is cut off as by a weaver; while I was yet beginning, he cut me off’ (Is 38.12). How many have been overtaken and cut off by death, while they were arranging worldly projects devised with so much labour. Others are given a time to prepare, by a shorter or longer illness.

Imagine yourself at the bed-side of a negligent Christian, overpowered by a malady with but a few hours yet to live. Behold him oppressed by pains, swoons, and suffocation; by want of breath, by cold perspirations; his reason so impaired that he feels but little, understands little, and can speak but little. We see by experience that such persons think only of their illness, of the physicians to be called to attend them, and of the remedies which may restore their health.

‘They are incapable of having any other thought than that of themselves’ says St. Lorenzo Giustiniani, and none of their relatives or friends has the courage to announce to them the advent of death, and to advise them to receive the Last Sacraments. If some-one does so, the dying man soon grows weary, and begs to be allowed to repose. He complains of a head-ache, and says it pains him to hear any-one speak. Or else he makes some reply, but is confused and knows not what he is saying.

If he does believe at all, what peace can he enjoy when he sees that in but a few moments he shall appear before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, Whose law and friendship he has till then despised? His sins will encompass him around, and say, in the words of St. Bernard: ‘We are your works, we will not desert you’.

To conquer bad habits, St. Augustine had to fight against them for 12 years. How will the dying man, who has always lived in sin, be able, in the midst of the pains, the stupefaction, and the confusion of death to repent sincerely of his past? His mind is darkened and his heart is hardened. ‘He that loveth danger shall perish in it’ ( 3.27). St. Jerome teaches that of 100,000 sinners who continue in it till their death, scarcely one will be saved. St Vincent Ferrier writes that it is a greater miracle that such a one should be saved than to raise the dead to life.

Furthermore the devils will gather together and exert all their strength to assure the perdition of his soul, if indeed it is in doubt. They know that they have little time to gain it, and if they lose it at death, then they shall have lost it forever. ‘Behold the devil is come down upon you, with great wrath, knowing that he has but little time’ (Apoc 12.12). Not just one, but innumerable devils will assail him. One will say: ‘Fear not, you will recover’; another will say: ‘For years you have been deaf to God’s inspirations: how do you expect Him to have mercy on you now?’ Another will ask: ‘How can you ever repair the damage to the character of your neighbours?’ Another will say: ‘Your confessions were all invalid.’

The attacks of the devils, the certainty of his coming death, the thought of being obliged soon to take leave of everything in this world, the remorse of conscience, the time lost, the want of time present, the impossibility of conversion, the rigour of the divine judgment, the thought of eternal damnation: all these things will form a horrible tempest in his heart. And meanwhile his reason wavers, his mind darkens, and his whole frame is assailed by the pains of approaching death and the onslaught of the devils, and thus, full of confusion and terror, the dying sinner will pass into the other world. ‘The people shall be troubled and they shall pass’ (Job 34. 20).

‘Ah my God!’ exclaims St. Alphonsus, ‘Had I died on one of those nights known to Thee, where should I be now? I thank Thee for having waited on me; I thank Thee for all the time which I should have spent in Hell from the first moment that I offended Thee. Give me light and make me aware of the evil I have done Thee in voluntarily losing Thy Grace, which Thou didst merit for me by Thy death on the Cross!’ Amen.

b) The Death of the Repentant Sinner and the Saint

i) Confidence necessary at Death

God, Who is by nature Infinite Goodness, as St. Leo says, has an infinite desire to impart His own happiness to us, and therefore desires not to punish, but to have mercy on, us. ‘Return to Me,’ says the Lord, and I will receive thee’ (Jer. 3.1); ‘Turn to Me... and I will turn to you, says the Lord of Hosts’ (Zac 1.3).

With what love and tenderness does not God embrace the repentant sinner? The Good Shepherd lays the lost sheep on his shoulders rejoicing, and, coming home, calls together his friends and neighbours telling them: ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep who was lost.’ The Father runs from afar to meet and to embrace the prodigal son, and says to his other son: ‘This thy brother was dead and has returned to life; he was lost & is found’(Lk 15).

God, says Origenes, is more solicitous for our salvation than the devil is for our perdition, for the Lord loves our souls far more than the devil hates them. If the devil comes on death to tempt the dying Christian, the guardian angel will resist him together with the man’s his holy patrons; St Michael whom God has appointed to defend His faithful servants in their last combat will come, as also the divine Mother protect her child, and to drive away the devils from him. Above all Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself will come to guard that innocent or penitent sheep for whose salvation He has given His life on the Cross.

At death, the judgment of God excites fear for all, but if sinners pass from terror to despair, the saints rise from fear to confidence. ‘God does not permit us to be tempted above our strength’ (1 Cor 10.13). ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?’ (Ps. 26) ‘The Lord is my helper’ (Ps 29). When St. Bernard was tempted to despair, He said to the Saviour: ‘Thy wounds are my merits’; St. Hilarion, similarly tempted, said: ‘Go forth, my soul, what do you fear? Have you not served Christ for 70 years? And are you now afraid of death?’

But how can any-one be certain that God has forgiven his sins? ‘He can be certain’, replies St. Basil, ‘if he says: I have hated and abhorred iniquity.’ St. Claude de la Colombi`ere held it morally impossible that the man that had been faithful to God during life, should die a bad death; and St Augustine writes: ‘He who has lived well cannot die badly.’ What is true of the saints who have always lived well is also true of penitent sinners who have made a sincere conversion after grave sin. The Church teaches dogmatically that only the mortal sinner will be condemned. To have complete confidence in salvation at death, all that is necessary is, then, to be in the state of Grace.

The Bishops Have Abandoned Us: These Wolves Deserve All Our Contempt and Disdain

The worldwide situation is serious. 

The underlying illness causing the situation is also serious.

But the attitude of most bishops in most affected countries is simply despicable, repugnant, deserving all our contempt and disdain. Not content with having thrown the faithful for decades to the care of sexual abusers, now, in the moment of greatest need, they simply abandon us.

The suspension of large gatherings (including public masses) is quite understandable. But the other measures are abusive, and a sign of the complete disregard of these wolves who pretend to be shepherds for the souls of the faithful. The act of many, apparently most, bishops to close churches to simple individual prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament? And, much worse, to "ban" confessions in the time of greatest need? To "ban" last rites, including the viaticum and extreme unction in the time of greatest peril?

What is the point of the Church at all, of the priesthood, if these physicians of the soul abandon the sick right now? How come Francis mentioned the church as a "field hospital" from day one of his pontificate, and, when the need for actual field hospitals is here, priests and bishops simply do not show up? Do they have to despise the laity that much? THIS is clericalism of the worst kind. 

Note this, bishops who have "banned" confessions and last rites in this time: WE WILL NOT FORGET THAT YOU ABANDONED US IN THE MOMENT OF GREATEST NEED.

Guides for Spiritual Communion and Confession in An Age of Closed Churches (downloadable PDF format)

Deacon Nick Donnelly's Catholic Survival Guide has been very successful since it was first posted here presciently, weeks before the Italian lockdown became a worldwide movement in which dioceses decided to deny regular Sacramental life to Catholics everywhere.

We have it now below in PDF format, in two files (one for the Spiritual Communion and Contrition guide, the other for the preparation for death guide), that can be downloaded and printed for easier guidance during this period.

To download, just click on pop-out (upper right corner) -- it will open in a new window or tab, and you can print or download the PDF file.

1: Perfect Contrition and Spiritual Communion:

Reminder: Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society #MementoMori

SPECIAL NOTE: Over the last nearly 10 years, we have enrolled millions of Souls in the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society. As one special reader, who sends in multiple lists of names daily mentioned recently, now more than ever people should be submitting names. Please send them in! Especially names of people who have died from the coronavirus. Even if you didn't know them, send in their names. You never know who needs the Masses and prayers. #MementoMori. 

Last month, we added an additional 3 holy priests saying weekly or monthly traditional Latin Masses for the Souls, and now stand at 103 priests of the Society

** Click here to download a "fillable" PDF Mass Card in English to give to the loved ones of the Souls you enroll (you send these to the family and/or friends of the dead, not to us). It's free for anyone to use. CLICK HERE to download in Latin and CLICK HERE to download in Spanish

Priests: The Souls still need more of you saying Mass for them! Please email me to offer your services. There's nothing special involved -- all you need to do is offer a weekly or monthly TLM with the intention: "For the repose of the Souls enrolled in the Rorate Caeli Purgatorial Society." And we will always keep you completely anonymous unless you request otherwise. 

How to enroll souls: please email me at and submit as follows: "Name, State, Country." If you want to enroll entire families, simply write in the email: "The Jones family, Ohio, USA". Individual names are preferred. Be greedy -- send in as many as you wish and forward this posting to friends as well.

Latin Mass Society guides to the sacraments under lockdown

St Charles Borromeo ministering to victims of the plague in Milan
The Latin Mass Society has published these short but comprehensive guides to the Sacraments of Holy Communion, Penance, and Baptism, while getting access to priests is restricted or impossible, in light of the Extraordinary Form and the Traditional Practice and Discipline of the Church.

Holy Communion

What is a perfect act of contrition? What value has watching a live-streamed Mass? When would it be justified to baptise infants in the absence of a priest? Is it possible to gain indulgences if one can't go to Communion? What is the ceremony of 'supplying the ceremonies' after an emergency bapism?

Your questions are answered.

Leo XIII -"Man Precedes the State": A State that Destroys Jobs is Destroying the Primary Instinct of Man -- Self-Preservation

At a moment in time in which governments are destroying employment more violently than ever witnessed in the history of mankind (with the best of intentions, as is always the case...), it is urgent to remember the lessons of Pope Leo XIII on the absolute necessity of employment for the preservation of human life -- and of the duty of the state not to prevent man from pursuing, "the right of providing for the substance of his body."

It is surely undeniable that, when a man engages in remunerative labor, the impelling reason and motive of his work is to obtain property, and thereafter to hold it as his very own. If one man hires out to another his strength or skill, he does so for the purpose of receiving in return what is necessary for the satisfaction of his needs; he therefore expressly intends to acquire a right full and real, not only to the remuneration, but also to the disposal of such remuneration, just as he pleases. Thus, if he lives sparingly, saves money, and, for greater security, invests his savings in land, the land, in such case, is only his wages under another form; and, consequently, a working man's little estate thus purchased should be as completely at his full disposal as are the wages he receives for his labor. But it is precisely in such power of disposal that ownership obtains, whether the property consist of land or chattels. Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life.

What is of far greater moment, however, is the fact that the remedy they propose is manifestly against justice. For, every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own. This is one of the chief points of distinction between man and the animal creation, for the brute has no power of self direction, but is governed by two main instincts, which keep his powers on the alert, impel him to develop them in a fitting manner, and stimulate and determine him to action without any power of choice. One of these instincts is self preservation, the other the propagation of the species. Both can attain their purpose by means of things which lie within range; beyond their verge the brute creation cannot go, for they are moved to action by their senses only, and in the special direction which these suggest. But with man it is wholly different. He possesses, on the one hand, the full perfection of the animal being, and hence enjoys at least as much as the rest of the animal kind, the fruition of things material. But animal nature, however perfect, is far from representing the human being in its completeness, and is in truth but humanity's humble handmaid, made to serve and to obey. It is the mind, or reason, which is the predominant element in us who are human creatures; it is this which renders a human being human, and distinguishes him essentially from the brute. And on this very account - that man alone among the animal creation is endowed with reason - it must be within his right to possess things not merely for temporary and momentary use, as other living things do, but to have and to hold them in stable and permanent possession; he must have not only things that perish in the use, but those also which, though they have been reduced into use, continue for further use in after time.

This becomes still more clearly evident if man's nature be considered a little more deeply. For man, fathoming by his faculty of reason matters without number, linking the future with the present, and being master of his own acts, guides his ways under the eternal law and the power of God, whose providence governs all things. Wherefore, it is in his power to exercise his choice not only as to matters that regard his present welfare, but also about those which he deems may be for his advantage in time yet to come. Hence, man not only should possess the fruits of the earth, but also the very soil, inasmuch as from the produce of the earth he has to lay by provision for the future. Man's needs do not die out, but forever recur; although satisfied today, they demand fresh supplies for tomorrow. Nature accordingly must have given to man a source that is stable and remaining always with him, from which he might look to draw continual supplies. And this stable condition of things he finds solely in the earth and its fruits. There is no need to bring in the State. Man precedes the State, and possesses, prior to the formation of any State, the right of providing for the substance of his body.


St Rosalia, St Gregory, St Charles Borromeo: Where have you gone in this time of crisis?

With apologies to our international readers, I continue with my observations vis a vis the world crisis caused by the Corvid-19 pandemic with respect to the Catholic Church in the United States.   But I believe that what is happening in the United States both with respect to the rapid spread of the virus and the deep problems this is causing—and also what it exposes about the Catholic Church in this country-- should be of interest to every Catholic in the world.  I begin with today’s edition of the New York Times, the bête noir of the American Catholic world.  

There are two articles there of relevance to the singular situation in which Americans find themselves, and specifically in which Catholic Americans find themselves.  The first is in the Arts section of the Friday New York Times.  On the first page of this section there is a color photograph of the painting by Van Dyck of “Saint Rosalia interceding for the Plague-stricken of Palermo”.  This painting was to be included in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the near future, but now  is itself in quarantine because of the imposed quarantine imposed on the city of New York on all museums because of the Corona Virus.  The writer of the article comments on the irony of the quarantine of the painting in the present situation. But he explains the origin of the painting during a terrible plague in Sicily in the 17th century, when Van Dyck was in Sicily to paint a number of paintings of St. Rosalia, and how he hunkered down in Palermo during the plague, painted the paintings, and went on with his life.  It was during this terrible plague that, for circumstances that are still not clear, a group of men were inspired to dig up the bones of a 12th century woman hermit known for her holiness named Rosalia, related to Roger II of Sicily.  Those bones were carried through the streets of Palermo and the plague decreased in intensity.  And ever since then the Sicilians of Palermo have a great feast on July 15 in thanksgiving for the intercession of St. Rosalia that stopped the plague.  The writer of the article ends with this:

Rosalia will be there for us when “Making the Met” eventually opens, and in July, we have to hope she will remind us of a Palermo that is finished with lockdowns. “Viva Palermo and St. Rosalia!” they shout every year as the image of the Van Dyke parades through the capital amid a crush of bodies,,,,,(in which) I usually find claustrophobic but now find myself desperate to recover.”

And on the editorial page of the same edition of the NY Times is an op-ed by David Brooks, who is on a journey from Judaism to Christianity.  His piece is entitled “The Moral Meaning of the Plague”. One wishes he were a Catholic bishop in what he writes.  He asks three questions and then concludes with an observation about suffering.

Are you ready to die? If your lungs filled with fluid a week from Tuesday would you be content with the life you’ve lived?
What would you do if a loved one died? Do you know where your most trusted spiritual and relational resources lie/
What role do you play in this crisis? What is the specific way you are situated to serve?

And finally his best paragraph that should have been written by a Catholic bishop or priest but so far has not:

Suffering can be redemptive.  We learn more about ourselves in these hard periods.  The difference between red and blue don’t seem as acute on the gurneys of the E.R., but the inequality in the world seems more obscene when the difference between rich and poor is life or death.. 

Imagine if that had been written by a Catholic bishop! Little chance in the current situation.  CEOs do not write things like that.  Those that are not acquainted with grief in the deepest sense do not write things like that .  Those who value the intellect in growth in faith do not talk like that. This is not, however,  to deny that  there are very fine Catholic bishops in this country indeed.

NBC News announced today that some Roman Catholic bishops around the country are relieving the “faithful” of giving up meat on Fridays since they are already deprived of some food and other pleasures during the coronavirus pandemic.  The Most Rev. James Cecchio, the bishop of Metuchen in Piscataway, New Jersey announced yesterday:  “Given the difficulties of obtaining some types of food and the many other sacrifices we are suddenly experiencing given the coronavirus, I have granted a dispensation from abstaining from meat on Fridays, except Good Friday, which is universal law.”  I will not bother to quote the other bishops who have issued similar statements.

The question is this:  what world do these bishops live in? A world in which they have no idea how the normal family operates with respect to daily food.  What the normal Catholic does is to see what is available at the market for Friday and makes do.  If it is Corn Flakes, that is what the family eats on Friday, with the parents explaining to the children why this is dinner and now in Lent.  And how wonderful this is, because why we are eating something that we do not prefer is part of what the sacrifice of Lent means.  The bishops have not a clue.  Why this is so is a subject for another article.  The short answer is the secularization of the Catholic Church in this country—and in most parts of the world.  St. Rosalia in Palermo  and St. Gregory in plague ridden Rome in the sixth century and St. Charles Borromeo in plague stricken Milano in the sixteenth century would seem to have little relevance to twenty-first century United States.  But instead of streaming (!) Masses and streaming Holy Week services, what about one bishop walking through the streets of his diocese carrying a crucifix and blessing every home and business on his way?  

Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla


New Prefaces and new Saints: Press Release from the FIUV

PDF version here.

Press Release:
CDF Decrees on new Prefaces and Saints for the Extraordinary Form
From the President and Officers of the FIUV
26th March 2020

Yesterday the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), now exercising the functions of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has issued two decrees, one on Prefaces to be added to the 1962 Missal (Quo Magis), and the other on the possibility of saints, canonised since 1962 to have Masses celebrated in their honour (Cum Sanctissima). (English summary here.)

The Federation was consulted on both issues, and we would like to thank the CDF for taking the views of our members into account in developing these decrees.

The Federation welcomes in particular the possibility of making a liturgical commemoration of saints canonised since 1962, without excessive disruption to the Sanctoral Calendar as it has come down to us. We wish, however, to issue some notes of caution.

Canonical Commentary on the New Pontifical Decrees On Saints' Days and New Prefaces in the Traditional Missal (by Fr. Albert Marcello)

Cum Sanctissima and Quo Magis: A Canonical Commentary

by the Rev. Fr. Albert P. Marcello, III, J.C.D. (Cand.)

On 22 February 2020, two decrees, each issued along with a nota praevia, were issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith touching upon the celebration of the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite. The first decree, entitled Cum Sanctissima, deals with the question of the liturgical celebration of saints canonized subsequent to the issuance of the original 1962 liturgical books. The second decree, entitled Quo Magis, makes provision for seven (7) ad libitum prefaces to be permitted for usage in the Extraordinary Form. It should be noted that since the motu proprio of Pope Francis issued 17 January 2019[1], the same Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith enjoys competency for such matters which formerly were under the jurisdiction of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.

Both of these decrees should be seen to respond to the desires of Pope Benedict XVI as noted in Con grande fiducia, the nota explicativa accompanying the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum: “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.”[2] Universae Ecclesiae, the 30 April 2011 instruction which itself offered considerable guidance on the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, decreed: “New saints and certain of the new prefaces can and furthermore ought to be inserted into the older Missal, according to provisions which will be laid down imminently.”[3] Nearly nine years later, legislation has appeared from the Holy See on this matter.

One over-arching principle should be made very clear in discussing both of these decrees: the changes which have been implemented by these two (2) decrees are optional. No forma extraordinaria celebrant is being compelled to make any changes to the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 liturgical books. In a certain sense, the liturgical books of 1962 are being left as they are. This having been said, it is worth recalling, as the nota praevia for Cum Sanctissima likewise notes, up to and including the promulgation of the 1960 Codex Rubricarum, a number of Proprium Sanctorum Pro Aliquibus Locis (PSPAL) were included in the Missale Romanum. These Masses will be referred to in the nota praevia as well as in Cum Sanctissima itself.

1. Cum Sanctissima

De Mattei: Is the Corona Virus “the black swan” of 2020?

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
March 25,2020

“Our Lady asked for something more: the specific consecration of Russia, done by the Pope, in union with all the bishops of the world. It is this act, until now never done, that everyone is waiting for, before it is too late.”

The Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) is a rare bird, of Australian origin, which takes its name from the colour of  its plumage. Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a financial analyst and former Wall Street trader, in his book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, (Random House, New York, 2007) chose this metaphor to explain the existence of unexpected, catastrophic events that could turn collective life upside down.

The Corona Virus has been the “black swan” of 2020, writes Marta Dassù, of the Aspen Institute, explaining that the epidemic is putting the economic activity of Western nations in crisis and “demonstrates the fragility of the global manufacturing chains; when a shock hits one of its rings, the impact becomes systemic” (Aspenia, 88 (2020), p.9). “The second pandemic is on its way – writes Federico Rampini in La Repubblica of March 22 – which also needs to be dealt with and cured. It is called the ‘Great Depression’ and will have a balance of victims parallel to that of the virus. In America nobody uses the term ‘recession’ anymore because it is too bland.”

The world’s interconnected economy is proving itself to be a precarious system, but the impact of the Corona Virus is not only economical and sanitary, it is also religious and ideological. The Utopia of Globalization, which until September 2019, seemed to prevail, is [now] undergoing an irremediable debacle. On September 12, 2019, Pope Francis had invited the leaders of the major religions, and the international exponents of the economic, political and cultural world, to participate in a solemn event which was to take place in the Vatican on May 14, 2020: the Global Compact on Education. Around the same time “the prophetess” of deep ecology, Greta Thunberg, arrived in New York for the U.N. Climate Change Summit 2019, and Pope Francis on the eve of the Amazon Synod, sent a video- message to her and the participants at the summit, manifesting his full consonance with the globalist aims.


Rorate Note #1: They are optional Prefaces
Rorate Note #2: That is it... No one has to use them if not wanted.
Introductory Note (in English), followed by Decree Quo Magis (in Latin):


Note for the presentation of the Decree Quo magis
approving seven Eucharistic Prefaces
for the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite

With the Decree Quo magis of 22 February 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which since January 2019 deals with those matters formerly assigned to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”[1], has approved the text of seven new Eucharistic Prefaces to be used ad libitum in the celebration of Mass according to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite[2].

This Decree constitutes the completion of the work previously initiated by the aforementioned Pontifical Commission in order to carry out the mandate given by Pope Benedict XVI to add some additional Prefaces to the Missal of the forma extraordinaria[3].

The studies carried out lead to the selection of a limited number of texts, to be used for particular occasions such as feasts of Saints, votive Masses or ad hoc celebrations, without making any changes to the celebration of the temporal cycle. This choice was made in order to safeguard, through the unity of texts, the unanimity of sentiments and of prayer that are appropriate for the confession of the mysteries of Salvation celebrated in what constitutes the backbone of the liturgical year. In addition, the historical development of the Corpus Præfationum of the Missale Romanum up until the middle of the 20th Century shows a general movement towards the use of new prefaces for occasional celebrations rather than for celebrations of the temporal cycle.

At the same time, the opportunity was taken to extend to all those who celebrate in the Usus Antiquior the faculty to use three other Prefaces previously approved for certain places. These too are texts for determined occasional celebrations.

Four of the newly approved texts, namely the Prefaces de Angelisde Sancto Ioanne Baptista, de Martyribus and de Nuptiis, are taken from the Missal of the forma ordinaria, and for the most part their central section, known as the “embolism”, appear in ancient liturgical sources. In order to guarantee consistency with the rest of the Corpus Præfationum of the old Missal, in three cases, the standard forms of Preface conclusion of the forma extraordinaria have been used. As indicated, the three other texts (Prefaces de Omnibus Sanctis et Sanctis Patronisde Sanctissimo Sacramento and de Dedicatione ecclesiæ) are Prefaces previously granted to French and Belgian Dioceses, where they were in use before the post-conciliar liturgical reform. From now on, these may be used wherever Mass is celebrated in the forma extraordinaria.

Two of the seven Prefaces will allow to aptly give more prominence to liturgical celebrations in honour of certain leading figures in God’s design, as manifested in the history of Salvation, namely the Angels and St. John the Baptist, which hitherto both lacked a proper Eucharistic Preface in the Usus Antiquior. In the same vein, the Preface de Martyribus will allow to further underline the eminent character of the gift of martyrdom among the other witnesses of Sequela Christi. Indeed, the first Saints recognized as such were the Martyrs. The Prefaces de Dedicatione Ecclesiæ, de Omnibus Sanctis et Sanctis Patronis and de Sacramento, already in use in some places, will appropriately enrich the celebrations in question with a more suitable eucology than the standard Præfatio Communis. Finally, special note should be taken of the Preface de Nuptiis, which together with the long Nuptial Blessing still in use in Masses pro Sponsis, is to be found – with minor variations – in early Sacramentaries such as the Gelasianum Vetus or the Gregorianum. This ancient Preface, already existing in the forma ordinaria, may therefore now be used in the forma extraordinaria as well.

As indicated above, the use or not, in the relevant circumstances, of the newly approved Prefaces remains an ad libitum choice. Obviously, the celebrant is expected to make use of good pastoral common sense in this regard. In addition, it should be noted that the Decree does not cancel any eventual concessions of proper Prefaces granted in the past, and therefore in those particular cases where there already exists, on the basis of preceding permissions, and for the same liturgical circumstance, a different particular Preface, one may choose between that Preface and the newly approved text.
[1] Cf. Francis, Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio on the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, 17 January 2019.
[2] The texts of these Prefaces, with the musical notation according to the various tones in use in the forma extraordinaria, will be available at the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
[3] “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”: Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio Data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970AAS 99 (2007) 798. This mandate was further confirmed and completed in 2011 by the Instruction Universæ Ecclesiæ of the same Pontifical Commission: cf. Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, Instruction on the Application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio, n. 25, AAS 103 (2011) 418.



VERY IMPORTANT - General Principles on Celebrations of Saints in the Traditional Roman Missal, According to Decree of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (and Introductory Note)

Rorate Note #1: The Traditional Roman Missal is alive and well. Thank you, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI!

Rorate Note #2: the new clarifications will allow for the celebration of any saint canonized since 1960 (and those from before without assigned days), according to the new rules on classes of saints now established.

Rorate Note #3: See also: Decree Quo Magis, with new optional Prefaces

Introductory Note in English, followed by the text of the Decree, in Latin, plus the annex of the Universal Calendar:



Note for the presentation of the Decree Cum sanctissima
on the liturgical celebration in honour of Saints
in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite

With the Decree Cum sanctissima of 22 February 2020, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which since January 2019 deals with those matters formerly assigned to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”[1], completed the work initiated several years earlier by that Commission in order to fulfill the mandate given by Pope Benedict XVI to facilitate the celebration of more recently canonized Saints according to the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite[2]. Indeed, since the Sanctoral of the forma extraordinaria is determined by the liturgical books in force in 1962, Saints canonized thereafter were not included therein.

The studies carried out in order to develop a practical solution for the liturgical celebration of more recent Saints in the Usus Antiquior provided an opportunity to address the many issues that this matter raises, such as the density of the existing calendar (particularly as regards III class feasts), the consideration of all the repercussions of any potential changes, the always preferable consistency between Mass and the Divine Office, and the matter of the liturgical texts to be used.
In this context, it appeared that rather than dealing with this or that more recent Saint, it would be more appropriate to lay down a general principle that would enable, within the general rubrical context of the forma extraordinaria, and when the liturgical day permits, the celebration of any Saint canonized after the 1960s, on the date of their proper feast.

Specifically, the Decree broadens the scope of missæ festivæ latiore sensu referred to in n. 302-c of the Rubricæ Generales Missalis Romani (which hitherto only applied to IV class days), to a number of III class feasts and to III class vigils[3] (cf. Decree, n. 1). It is therefore clear that the new provisions will not in any way affect other celebrations, and in particular those of the I or II classes. 

In addition, the Decree specifies that missæ festivæ latiore sensu may be celebrated in honour of Saints canonized after 26 July 1960 (which is the date of the last amendment to the Martyrology of the forma extraordinaria), on their respective liturgical feast day (n. 2).

With this principle in mind, the other provisions of the Decree give the necessary indications that derive therefrom, such as the applicability to the Divine Office, which in such a case is to be celebrated in full in honour of the Saint (n. 3), the requirement to make a commemoration of potentially occurring III class feasts, as the case may be (n. 4), and the rules relating to the selection of the liturgical texts to be used (n. 5). Regarding this particular point, one should note the three successive sources from which texts are to be drawn, namely in the first place the Proprium Sanctorum pro aliquibus locis which already exists in the Missal of the forma extraordinaria, secondly a special Supplement to be published by the Holy See in the future, and finally, should the two former sources be lacking, the existing Commune Sanctorum.

It is noteworthy that the celebration of more recent Saints pursuant to the new provisions is a mere possibility, and therefore it remains optional. Accordingly, those who wish to continue to celebrate the Saints according to the existing calendar of the forma extraordinaria as it appears in the liturgical books, remain free to do so. In relation to this, one should be reminded that the existence of optional feasts in honour of the Saints is not a complete novelty in the Roman Rite, given that throughout the post-tridentine period, and up till the rubrical reform carried out by Pope St. Pius X, the calendar included no less that twenty-five such so-called ad libitum feasts.

The new Decree also opens a further possibility for cases in which whilst following the existing calendar, one wishes at the same time to honour eventual other occurring Saints. Specifically, according to n. 6 of the Decree, an ad libitumcommemoration of an occurring Saint may be made, if said Saint appears in the Proprium pro aliquibus locis or in the future special Supplement.

In choosing whether or not to make use of the provisions of the Decree in liturgical celebrations in honour of the Saints, the celebrant is expected to make use of good pastoral common sense. As regards the particular case of celebrations in Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, n. 7 of the Decree provides some useful clarification. 

The Decree concludes (n. 8) with reference to a list of seventy III class feasts that may never be impeded by its provisions. This list, which is provided as an annex, reflects the particular importance of the feasts in question, on the basis of precise criteria, e.g. the importance of these respective Saints in the Plan of Salvation or in the history of the Church, their importance in terms of either the devotion they have generated or their writings, or the antiquity of their worship in Rome.
[1] Cf. Francis, Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio on the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, 17 January 2019.
[2] “New Saints (…) 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”: Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops on the occasion of the publication of the Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio Data” Summorum Pontificum on the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970AAS 99 (2007) 798. This mandate was further confirmed and completed in 2011 by the Instruction Universæ Ecclesiæ of the same Pontifical Commission: cf. Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, Instruction on the Application of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum of His Holiness Benedict XVI given Motu Proprio, n. 25, AAS 103 (2011) 418.
[3] In fact there is only one such III class vigil in the calendar of the forma extraordinaria, namely that of St. Lawrence on 9 August. On this subject one may be reminded that from 1568 until the Codex Rubricarum of 1960, non-privileged vigils such as that of St. Lawrence were of the simplex rite, and accordingly, when they fell in occurrence with a semiduplex or duplex feast of a Saint, that feast would prevail over the vigil. With the reform enacted under St. Pius X in 1911-1914, in non-conventual Masses the celebrant could, in certain cases, choose between the Mass of the occurring Saint or the Mass of the vigil (cr. Additiones et variationes in rubricis Missalis, n. 1).
[00403-EN.01] [Original text: Italian]