Tuesday, 12 May 2009


This is an unpublished paper by the late Dom Charles Fitzsimons. I publish it without comment or modification. It contains much information that might prove useful to liturgical students.

In the Apostolic Constitution "Divino Afflatu" (Nov 1st, 1911), by which he promulgated a new arrangement of the Psalter, Pius X was quite consciously setting out to reform the Breviary and Missal of Pius V. He therefore did not consider them irreformable or that he was going beyond his powers in setting out to do so. Nor did Pius XII in his restoration of the Easter Vigil and Holy Week, which Paul VI recognised as "the first step toward adapting the Roman Missal to the contemporary mentality". (DOL 1357) No one claimed that they did.

Likewise, Vatican II did not think the Missal of Pius V was necessarily the ultimate shape of the Roman liturgy «ne varietur». It decreed a reform of the Mass in article 50 of "Sacrosanctum  Concilium" and in the following articles specified: more readings from Scripture, necessity of the homily, restoration of the  Prayer  of  the  Faithful, possibility of communion under both kinds and concelebration. 
Two stages in the application of the reform can be distinguished. The first, which was essentially temporary, consisted in simplifying the existing Missal. 
The following documents belong to this stage: 

"Sacram liturgiam" of Jan 25th 1964 
"Inter oecumenici" of Sep 26th 1964 
"Ordo Missae" of Jan 27th 1965 
"Tres abhinc annos" of May 4th 1967 
"Variationes" of May 18th 1967

The second stage consisted in creating entirely new elements in the Mass. The first of these, of course, was Concelebration, together with Communion under both kinds, March 7th 1965. 
On May 23rd 1968 three new Eucharistic Prayers and eight new Prefaces were promulgated. 
It was on April 3rd 1969 that the Apostolic Constitution "Missale Romanum" was signed by Paul VI and on March 26th 1970 that the new Missal was promulgated and imposed as obligatory as soon as the local Ordinaries had approved vernacular editions but it was stated that this should be before November 28th 1971.
Thus, several years before the new Missal was imposed, two important changes had been made in the "Tridentine" Mass.
The more significant of the two was the introduction of the new Eucharistic Prayers. There had been no general demand for new canons before or during the Council. At the most some minor adjustments to the existing one, to make it more suitable for recitation aloud, were expected. Most Catholics were unaware of experiments being carried out among Protestants (on these see the articles by E. Moeller in QL( = Quéstions Liturgiques), 1968-69), and the private experiments by Catholics in some countries had scarcely crossed the frontiers. However, two books published in 1966 raised the question.

One of these books was "Eucharistie. Théologie et spiritualité de la prière eucharistique" by Louis Bouyer. The other was "Il canone della messa e la riforma liturgica" by D. Cipriano Vagaggini, which was published in an English translation in 1967 and which contains a useful bibliography on pp. 20-21. 

Vagaggini writes:

"Since the second half of the fourth century, when the Church of Rome finally adopted the Latin language for liturg- ical use and began to employ fixed forms of prayer, it has never known, so far as we can gather from history, more than a single canon at any one time. The canon used today is the result of the changes that the primitive Latin canon of the Roman Church underwent between the fifth and seventh centuries; since the time of Gregory the Great it has undergone no further changes of any real importance... Thus the canon used by the Church of the city of Rome from the period between the fifth and seventh centuries (and possibly before), has been the only canon of the entire Western Church since the eleventh or twelfth century; in many countries it had already been adopted long before. This fact alone makes the suggestion that this canon should be simply abandoned a foolhardy one." (English translation pp. 84-85)

Vagaggini goes on to list both the merits and the defects of the Roman Canon and, after criticising the corrected versions suggested by H. Küng and K. Amon, proposes two projects of his own for an alternative canon.

In Worship for Jan, 1969, Aidan Kavanagh wrote: "As late as ten years ago, for one to have spoken of an audible canon was avant garde: to have suggested modest reforms of it (such as shortening the lists of saints or eliminating signs of the cross) was to have approached offending pious ears. [He refers here to Reinhold, pp.63-71]. But the Council thawed so many glacial assumptions that the situation began to change with increasing rapidity during the sixties." So by 1966 the desire to hear the whole canon of the Mass said aloud had increased among the faithful but it soon became evident that parts of it (e.g. the "Supra quae" and the "Supplices te rogamus") would be difficult for people with no great familiarity with the Bible; and that children, in addition, would find it too long.

A project for several alternative formulae was drawn up in the Consilium and it was presented by Cardinal Lercaro to Pope Paul who approved it on June 20th 1966. The  Consilium was given authority to compose or find two or three eucharistic prayers for use in addition to the Roman Canon which would remain unchanged. Work on this began in the autumn and at the eighth plenary session of the Consilium (10-19th April 1967) four formulae were submitted for consideration, two old and two new:

1) an adaptation of the anaphora of Hippolytus
2) a Latin translation of the Alexandrian anaphora of St Basil 
3) a prayer for daily use, with no fixed preface
4) a prayer developing at some length the history of salvation on the Antiochene model

This project was approved by the Consilium on April 14th but, because of objections made from a pastoral point of view to its use in the West, the anaphora of St Basil was shelved without being abandoned altogether. (See Maison Dieu, 94, pp. 39-40.

The new eucharistic prayers were promulgated on 23rd May 1968, and could be used from the feast of the Assumption that year and during the time between then and the introduction of the new Missal no one questioned their legitimacy or orthodoxy. However, controversy had started over an experiment in October 1967. 

At the Synod of bishops held that month a project for an "Ordo Missae" was put forward to which the name "Missa normativa" was given. On October 24th Fr Bugnini celebrated a Mass according to this rite in the presence of the bishops gathered in the Sistine chapel. It lasted fifty-five minutes.

On October 25th four questions, three of them on the eucharistic prayer, were put to the vote of the bishops:
Did the bishops think it opportune to add to the Latin liturgy, in addition to the Roman Canon which would remain unchanged, three new eucharistic prayers? - Placet: 127; non placet: 22; placet juxta modum: 34.
Did they agree that in the new eucharistic prayers the formula for the consecration of the bread should run: "Hoc est enim corpus meum quod pro vobis tradetur" instead of "Hoc est enim corpus meum"? - 110; 12; 61.

Did they consider it opportune to remove from the formula for the consecration of the wine the phrase "Mysterium fidei"? - 93; 48; 42.

Did they judge it opportune to give the episcopal conferences the faculty of deciding whether to replace the Nicene Creed by the Apostles' Creed? - 142; 22; 19.

On October 27 eight questions were put to the vote, four concerning the Mass:

Does the general structure of the "Missa normativa" have the approval of the bishops? - 71; 43; 62.
Would they approve of a penitential rite at every Mass, variable in form and according to the liturgical season, in which all the faithful would participate? - 108; 23; 62.

Would they agree to every Mass having three obligatory readings for an experimental period so that, after the experiment, the question of the number of readings may be settled satisfactorily? - 72; 59; 41.

Would they approve of the Introit, Offertory and Comm- union antiphons being replaced by suitable and approved chants? - 126; 25; 19.

Note that placet juxta modum is a favourable vote. 

The Consilium took some of the reservations into account and, for example, not every Mass has a penitential rite and, when it occurs, it is not varied according to the liturgical season; there are not always three readings and episcopal conferences can dispense with one on Sundays and Solemnities; the phrase "Mysterium Fidei" was retained but after the consecration of the wine.

Fuller details will be found in Notitiae No 35 for November 1967, pp.354-370 and in Worship for Feb 1968, p.113sq.

Many people were confused by the title "Missa normativa" and misunderstood it. Notitiae No 35 published, as one of its Studia, an explanation on pp.371-380. The name was used principally for the work of the Consilium and was intended to mean simply that this was the basis for all forms of the Mass from the pontifical Mass with singing down to the recited private Mass. It was not meant to convey the idea of precept or obligation. On pp.372-373 is printed a table comparing the "Missa hodierna" and the "Missa normativa".

Towards the end of this document there ia defence of the "Missa normativa" against the criticisms of a doctrinal nature that were already being heard.

It was being said that the "Missa normativa" was asserting in the field of liturgy the errors being spread by the new theology, as though by means of it the power of the ministerial priest would be minimised in the minds of the faithful by concentrating attention on the idea of the sacrifice offered by the community.

This charge is baseless and untenable. The "Missa normativa" by following article 28 of SC brings out more clearly the priest's unique functions as President of the congregation and ministerial priest.

The prayers he pronounces aloud, including the eucharistic prayer, the ministry of the word, the consecration and distribution of the sacrament, all show him to be the minister of Christ, of the word, of the sacrament and of the Church gathered to offer the sacrifice with him. 

In QL for April-June, 1968, Bernard Botte published an article entitled "Où en est la réforme du canon de la messe?" which was obviously written before, but came out after, the new canons were promulgated. He referred to the prevailing state of affairs as anarchy: "c'est bien l'anarchie qui règne pour le moment" (p.140). He goes on to express his astonishment that so many priests consider themselves capable of composing new canons when so many are incapable of producing a decent sermon. He refers to a certain Dutch canon for which the only criterion seems to have been beauty of language, and doctrinal content the last consideration. The liturgy is the expression of the faith of the Church and not the expression of personal feelings or prejudices. The faithful are already the victims of poor preaching and should not, in addition, be deprived of sound doctrinal content in their liturgical prayer.

Few texts, he says, have been submitted to as much sifting as the Roman Canon and the critics have thoroughly enjoyed pointing out an impressing number of defects in it. He admits that it has its defects but not as many as the critics make out.

Vagaggini lists the following defects in the Roman Canon and it must be remembered that although it has been retained in the new Missal it has been tidied up. All the conclusions that used to occur throughout it have been removed. It was their presence which largely, though not entirely, contributed to the first defect, namely the impression it gave of a patchwork of prayers with no apparent unity. 

Following from this was the lack of a logical connection of ideas. The Te igitur and the Hanc igitur imply a connection with what immediately precedes them but the connection is not clear. The Communicantes "is suspended in mid-air, since it is not at all clear to what it refers." - p.94

In other traditions the prayers of intercession are all together at one point in the anaphora but they are scattered throughout the Roman Canon: for the Church and the hierarchy in the Te igitur, (there is an article by Botte on una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro in QL, 1968, p.303) for those present in the first Memento and in the Hanc igitur, for the dead in the second Memento and for the ministers in the Nobis quoque.

He then notes a similar repetition, in the canon as well as at the offertory, of the idea of the offering and acceptance of the gifts; also the number and disorder of epiclesis prayers while at the same time there is no mention of the part played by the Holy Spirit in the sacrifice.

In the institution narrative he considers it a serious defect that Hoc est corpus meum stands entirely alone without any of the other scriptural phrases which express its sacrificial meaning and one or other of which is found in most if not all other liturgies. From the point of view of the sign of the Eucharist this is serious because it suggests that the sign is simply the Real Presence whereas, as Vagaggini says: "in actual fact the sign given by Christ in the Eucharist is not simply that the bread means his body and the wine his blood, but that the broken bread signifies his body broken for us for the remission of our sins, and the wine poured out means his blood shed for us." - p.102. In addition, the Roman Canon alone inserts in the middle of the consecration of the wine the phrase Mysterium fidei which is not scriptural, is of uncertain origin and "anything but clear".

Then there is the obscurity of the Supra quae and the Supplices, especially the latter, with its much-debated phrase: iube haec perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu maiestatis tuae and its not very clear connection with what follows. What follows, however, looks like an epiclesis over the communicants.

The two lists of saints, in the Communicantes and the Nobis quoque also lend themselves to a great deal of criticism.

Finally, there is the lack of an overall presentation of the history of salvation as in the anaphoras of the Eastern liturgies. "Certainly there are the movable prefaces, with all their merits, but when put side by side with the Eastern anaphoras (those of Antioch, for instance) the present canon is found wanting." - p.106.

Nevertheless, Vagaggini maintains that the Roman tradition of variable prefaces should not only be maintained but expanded and he says: "Any attempt to revise the present canon merely by way of rearranging it, cutting it, or simply patching it up, will inevitably lead to an awful mess." - p.122.  

In view of all this it is understandable that, as Botte says, the various corrections of the Roman Canon which were proposed satisfied nobody. For some they were too timid, for others they were too bold. - QL, 1968, p.139.

Vagaggini held that the solution should be based on the following propositions:

1) That the Roman Canon be retained with minor modifications.
2) That the Roman liturgy be given another canon with a variable preface to be used ad libitum.
3) That it should be given a third canon with a fixed preface which would give a synthetic exposition of salvation history before the institution narrative on the model of the best Eastern tradition. - pp.122-123.

Reading through his two projects for new canons one can see that he has not only been influential in the solution adopted but also in the phrasing of the final texts. 

The Roman Canon, therefore, was retained as Eucharistic Prayer I. However, when the new Eucharistic Prayers had been published and the work of translation had to be done the Pope agreed, on Nov 6th, 1968, to the request made from many quarters that the words of consecration should be identical in all four canons. (Cf DOL, p.619, no.245). As a result quod pro vobis tradetur was added, Mysterium fidei was removed and Hoc  facite  in  meam  commemorationem  replaced  Haec quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis.

The transference of Mysterium fidei has clarified its meaning. In its original position it suggested that the mystery of faith was the Real Presence but why, in that case, should it have been associated with the chalice rather than the host? Also it originated at a time when the Real Presence was accepted without question, both in the East and in the West. The mystery of faith is that Christ shed his blood as a sacrifice for our sins and in order to seal by his blood the New Covenant. That refers directly to the Passion but the Passion is inseparable from the Last Supper. - B. Botte, quoted in Maison Dieu,  1968, No.94, p.75.

The new acclamations after the Mysterium fidei express this in various ways.


C. Braga, De Novis Precibus Eucharisticis Liturgiae Latinae. EL 1968, p.216; P. Jounel, La composition des nouvelles prières eucharistiques. Maison Dieu, 1968, No.94, p.38.

In the guidelines issued on June 2nd, 1968, to assist in the catechesis of the new Eucharistic Prayers the basic structure common to all was described thus:

1) Preface ending in the Sanctus.
2) Transition from Sanctus to consecratory epiclesis.
3) Consecratory epiclesis.
4) Institution narrative and consecration.
5) Anamnesis of Christ's redemptive work.
6) Communion epiclesis.
7) Commemoration of the saints and intercessions.
8) Final doxology.

This rearrangement is modelled on the Antiochene tradition and differs from the Roman Canon in grouping the commemoration of the saints and the intercessions in the second half of the canon but it maintains the Roman tradition of the consecratory epiclesis before the institution narrative.

This canon is an adaptation of that found in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome which "would seem to give us the usual structure of the anaphora in the early Church, before the different groups began to emerge during the fourth century and later." - Vagaggini, p.25; he prints the text on the following pages.

Several phrases have beeen changed, e.g. instead of per dilectum puerum tuum Iesum Christum we have per Filium dilectionis tuae Iesum Christum. The phrase in Hippolytus recalled Acts 4:27; its replacement recalls Col 1:13. Instead of Verbum tuum inseparabile per quem omnia fecisti we simply have Verbum tuum per quod cuncta fecisti.

Dom Bernard Botte has a note on the phrase: extendit manus cum pateretur in QL,1968, p.307. It is an allusion to Is 65:1-2: I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that did not call on my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices.

Botte points out that the spreading out of the hands was the gesture of prayer to God cf Ps 88(87):9 & 143(142):6 but here it is God who pleads with his people. In his letter to the Romans (10:20) Saint Paul quotes the passage from Isaiah and applies the first part to the Gentiles who had accepted Christ and the second part to the Jews who had rejected him.
It thus became part of Christian apologetic but it acquired a new significance when it came into contact with Greco-Roman culture where "stretching out the hands" was a phrase used to
designate crucifixion, and it seems to be used in that sense in Jn 21:18-19. Not surprisingly, then, the early Fathers saw in the text of Isaiah a prophecy of the Cross. It is understood in this way by Barnabas, Justin, Tertullian & Cyprian.
Another euphemism for crucifixion was "to be lifted up" used several times in Saint John's gospel cf 3:14; 8:28; 12:32-33.
With its mention of drawing all men this last text completes the allusions behind the phrase in Canon II so that it calls up the image of Christ lifted up on the cross stretching out his hands in appeal to his people and in welcome to all men.

The conclusion of the preface is an addition, based on the Missale Gothicum; it leads into the Sanctus, which Hippolytus did not have. This in turn leads into the Vere Sanctus which is borrowed from the Mozarabic liturgy.

Hippolytus had an epiclesis after the institution narrative. Canon II has inserted one before it and adapted the one after it.

The institution narrative is an expansion of the version found in Hippolytus. His lacked some important ideas, such as novi et aeterni testamenti; pro multis;in remissionem peccatorum in the consecration of the wine. On the other hand his emphasis on Christ's voluntary undergoing of the passion has been retained though it has been re-phrased. Notice that the text of Hippolytus has voluntariae as an adjective governing passioni not as an adverb, as it appears in some editions of the Missal. This phrase recalls Jn 18:4; Is 53:7. 

Botte has a note in QL, 1982, p.223 on the phrase in the anamnesis: adstare coram te et tibi ministrare. He points out that in the Apostolic Tradition Hippolytus' canon is given as part of the description of the ordination of a bishop who is reciting this canon together with the whole presbyterium over the gifts brought to the altar by the deacon. Ministrare refers to the act of offering the eucharistic sacrifice and one can imagine that the phrase would have a special significance for someone newly made a bishop but it is not to be taken as a personal prayer of the bishop. It is a thanksgiving of the whole presbyterium for the privilege of offering the eucharistic sacrifice. This note of Botte's seems to have been occasioned by changes made by some priests on their own initiative but he does not say what they were.

Jounel's note on this phrase includes the royal priesthood of the people of God and he compares it with the phrase: Nos servi tui sed et plebs tua sancta in the Roman Canon. - Maison Dieu, No.94 (1968), pp.50-51.
Finally, prayers of intercession and the commemoration of the Saints have been added and Hippolytus' doxology has been replaced by the traditional Roman one. Jounel points out that it is a new thing in each of the new canons that intercession is made for all the dead and not only for the baptised, as hitherto. - p.52.


This canon is a simplified and more concise version of Vagaggini's project for a second canon. Jounel says it is full of biblical and patristic echoes, together with reminiscences of other liturgies and that the documentation given by Vagaggini for his project is a useful commentary on the revised version.

Jounel draws attention to the following: 
The phrase et merito te laudat omnis a te condita creatura, which is based on the Mozarabic liturgy, introduces into the Roman liturgy a theme which is rarely heard. The theme of universality runs through the whole of the Vere sanctus. Not only is everything created by God but through his Son and the Holy Spirit he vivifies and sanctifies everything and he does not cease throughout history to gather a people to himself, a priestly people to offer up a pure sacrifice from one end of the earth to the other. This is a reference  to Mal 1:11 which  was given a eucharistic interpretation already in the Didache, 14,3 and in St Justin Tryphon, 41. See also St Augustine De Civ Dei, CSLC 48 p.629.

The Supplices ergo te, is clearly an epiclesis, with its explicit invocation of the Holy Spirit. It is also the only one of the canons which inserts before the consecration, as many other rites do, Our Lord's command to repeat his action.
All the canons quote his command at the end of the consecration. Note what Jounel writes at the end of his comments on this prayer.

On the words of institution which are identical in each canon he notes that the three new canons vary the introduction to them. Canon II follows Hippolytus, III St Paul, 1 Cor 11:23, IV St John, 13:1. Canon I retains its own introduction but varies it with the Ambrosian formula on Maundy Thursday: Qui pridie, quam pro nostra omniumque salute pateretur...  

In the anamnesis St Paul's words in 1 Cor 11:26 are echoed by: sed et praestolantes alterum eius adventum. This mention of the second coming is absent from Canons I and II but is present in Canon IV.

The phrase: in oblationem Ecclesiae tuae in the second epiclesis  is from Hippolytus but  there it gives the impression that the Church's offering is something independent of the offering of Christ. Its context in Canon III makes it clear that the Church's offering is none other than
the unique sacrifice of Christ. As Jounel writes: "L' unicité du sacrifice du Christ est fortement affirmé: le sacrifice eucharistique ne fait pas nombre avec celui de la croix, et le Père peut reconnaître dans le sacrifice sacramentel la Victime de Golgotha."- p.57.

The second part of the epiclesis is a reminiscence of 1 Cor 6:17 but indirectly, through a quotation from the Alexandrine anaphora of St Basil.

The phrase: ut cum electis tuis haereditatem consequi valeamus also comes from the anaphora of St Basil, while nos tibi perficiat munus aeternum is based on a prayer over the offerings which was said in the old Roman Missal on Monday in the octave of Pentecost.

The most notable thing about the intercessions is their emphasis on universality: proficiat...ad totius mundi pacem atque salutem; Omnes filios tuos ubique dispersos; omnes qui, tibi placentes, ex hoc saeculo transierunt; per quem mundo bona cuncta largiris. This last phrase is based on the Missale Gothicum, no.57.
Note also the echo of Hippolytus in the phrase: huius familiae, quam tibi adstare voluisti.


This canon is inspired by Eastern models of the Alexandrine and Jerusalem type. It is sometimes said that it was originally composed in French. I have found no confirmation of this and if Vagaggini had anything to do with it (and he was Cardinal Lercaro's personal theologian) Latin must have been its original language. On page 147 of his book he says: "The anaphora is a particular literary genre. To endow the Roman liturgy with a new canon it is essential that it should first be written in Latin."

In fact there are echoes in Canon IV of the sequence of thought and some of the phrases in his alternative project for a canon with a fixed preface which, of course is the case with this canon. For example:
qui ab initio hominem formasti de terra ad imaginem et similitudinem tuam: ut...dominaretur, vicario munere, omnibus quae creasti... ut te quaerere non cessaret;
Et sic mundum, Pater sancte, dilexisti ut Unigenitum
nobis mitteres Redemptorem...Qui de Spiritu Sancto et virgine
Maria conceptus...Quin et nos in finem usque dilexit.
Unde et alium, Pater, a te misit Paraclitum, qui nos
cuncta doceret et omnem sanctificationem compleret in mundo.
eodem Spiritu Sancto copiosius repleamur et unum corpus
et unus spiritus efficiamur in eo.

Some other phrases from this project are to be found in Canon III but this is enough to show Vagaggini's influence on both canons and that IV was probably originally composed in Latin.

This canon gives the fullest summary of the history of salvation and although it appears long it is still shorter than the Roman Canon. According to C. Braga it shorter by 150 words, see Eph Lit, 1968, p.224 where he also points out that Canon II is about a third of Canon I, while III is a little more than half. 
Its vocabulary is more biblical than the others, so much so that it would be tedious to give the references here for every echo of Scripture.
But it also borrows or adapts  phrases from other liturgies, notably the Liturgy of St Basil. The passage beginning: Et cum amicitiam tuam is based on the following in the anaphora of St Basil: Cum vero transgressi essemus mandatum tuum per deceptionem serpentis et excidessemus vita
aeterna, expulsisque essemus ex paradiso voluptatis, non abiecisti nos usque in finem, sed assidue visitasti nos per sanctos tuos prophetas. 
And a few lines further down: Qui ex Spiritu Sancto et ex sancta virgine Maria incarnatus et
factus homo... - cf Vagaggini, p.52.

Jounel points out that no eastern anaphora refers to the teaching  of our Lord  as Canon IV  does in: salutem evangelizavit  pauperibus, redemptionem captivis, maestis corde laetitiam. This, he says, reflects the major concerns of our own time. - p.67.

The structure of the Vere sanctus is Trinitarian, ending with the mention of the sanctifying mission of the Holy Spirit and thus leading smoothly into the consecratory epiclesis, in which there is another adaptation from St Basil: Reliquit autem nobis hoc magnum pietatis mysterium, but also with something reminiscent of the anaphora of Addaï and Mari which has: Commemoramus et celebramus mysterium hoc magnum et tremendum, sanctum et divinum.

The two allusions to the Gospel of St John,17:1 & 13:1, in the narrative of the institution give this canon a distinctive and more solemn character. 

As in Canon III the anamnesis mentions the Second Coming but also the descent into hell (1 Pet 3:19) and the enthronement at the right hand of the Father, frequently recalled in other liturgies but not explicitly in any of our other canons. Universality is again emphasised by the phrase:
sacrificium tibi acceptabile et toti mundo salutare. 

The idea of giving to God what he has given to us, expressed in the Roman Canon by the phrase: de tuis donis ac datis, is present in Canon IV in the phrase: Hostiam quam Ecclesiae tuae ipse parasti. The phrase in the Roman Canon was Luther's principal objection to it (see Wor. 1980,

In the intercessions the note of universality is again emphasised with: omnium, qui te quaerunt corde sincero and: omnium defunctorum, quorum fidem tu solus cognovisti.

The conclusion before the Per ipsum alludes to such New Testament texts as: Rom 8:21; 1Cor 15:26-28. 



H. Ashworth, The New Prefaces. CR, 1968, p.839.
P. Bruylants, Les préfaces du Missel Romain. Maison Dieu, 1966, No.87, p.111.
A. Dumas, Les nouvelles préfaces du Missel Romain.
Maison Dieu, 1968, No.94, p.159.
Until the introduction of these new Prefaces there were only sixteen or so in the Roman Missal.
A. Ward & C. Johnson, The Prefaces of the Roman Missal (Vatican 1986)

The most ancient group, deriving from the tradition of the Gregorian Sacramentary, consisted of the Prefaces for Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the Common Preface. The Prefaces of Lent, the Cross, the Trinity and Our Lady were added later from the Gelasian tradition. In the first decades of this century the following were added: the Prefaces of the Dead and of St Joseph (1919) of Christ the King (1925) of the Sacred Heart (1928).  

Of the earliest group it is the Preface of the Apostles which is out of step, being really a prayer of petition rather than a proclamation of praise and thanksgiving for God's mighty works. It was one of more than twenty which came to be the only one through its choice in the Gregorian tradition for the feast of St Peter. The Preface of Lent is entirely ascetical and says nothing about baptism and the Paschal Mystery for which the season is a preparation. 

With such a small number of prefaces in the Missal monotony was inevitable and was even aggravated by the use made of them in practice. Since there was no preface for Advent and none for the Saints, the Common Preface, which is really only the outline of a preface, was said every day outside the seasons de Tempore and the feasts of Our Lady, St Joseph and the Apostles. The Preface of the Trinity was said on all ordinary Sundays and on the Sundays of Advent. What made matters worse was that since most of the intentions given to priests were for the dead the Mass of the Dead tended to be said on practically every day it was permitted, which was often, so that the Preface of the Dead was in practice as frequent as the Common Preface.

Originally the Preface seems to have been improvised and varied for each celebration. The earliest document we possess after the period of improvisation (the Sacramentary of Verona also known as the Leonine Sacramentary, compiled in the sixth to seventh century) contains no fewer than 267 prefaces. The Gelasian Sacramentary in its original form contains 56 and the Hadrianum of the second half of the eighth century has only 14, of which 8 are the prefaces de Tempore retained in the Tridentine Missal. The Gallican Sacramentaries from the eighth century onwards increased the number once more, taking some from the ancient sources and composing others. The Sacr amentary of Gellone, for instance, has more than 200, that of Fulda in the tenth century has 320 and the Anglo-Norman tradition has almost the same number. - Bruylants, Maison Dieu, 1966, No.87, pp.112-114.

The principles which guided the Consilium in choosing, adapting and composing the new Prefaces are explained by D Antoine Dumas and D Henry Ashworth in the articles cited above. 

Dom Dumas points out that the two Advent prefaces are inspired by the Leonine, L 184 & 179 for the first and L 1241 for the second. The old preface of Lent was all about fasting which was never observed on a Sunday and no mention was made of baptism or the Paschal Mystery. The new Preface for Sundays in Lent, inspired by the ancient Gelasian, rectifies this. The two Prefaces for ordinary Sundays are likewise inspired by the ancient Gelasian and the first, especially, brings out the Paschal character of Sunday in accordance with SC 106.

Until the first simplification of the rubrics in 1955 the Preface assigned to the feast of Corpus Christi was that for Christmas. This seems to have been the case since the institution of the feast and it is certainly the case in the first printed Missal of 1474. (Bruylants, Maison Dieu, No.78, p.120) Dom Dumas says that since the institution of the Eucharist is the central theme of the Canon Rome was wise in not having a special Preface for the feast, only making specific mention of the institution on Maundy Thursday in the Hanc igitur and Qui pridie. The new Preface is in response to a demand from some quarters. It avoids anticipating the institution narrative and is inspired by two Ambrosian texts.

As noted above, the Common Preface was merely an introduction and a conclusion, making no mention of any mystery and thus proclaiming no motive for praise and thanksgiving. The first of the new Prefaces for ordinary days consists of a series of quotations from the New Testament: Eph 1:10; Col 1:19; Eph 3:19; Phil 2:8; Col 1:20; Heb 5:9; Jn 1:16. The second is simply the old Common Preface with a brief ins- ertion inspired by the Ambrosian Missal. 

The number of Prefaces was to be greatly increased in the new Roman Missal which would contain eighty-two formulae in addition to the invariable Preface of Canon IV. 
The first step towards the publication of the new Roman Missal was taken on April 3rd, 1969 when Paul VI published the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum (DOL No 202, p.458). In the concluding paragraph of this document as published in AAS, 1969, pp.217-222 there is the following sentence: "The effective date for what we have precribed in this Constitution shall be the First Sunday of Advent of this year, 30 November." 

The fact that this sentence did not appear in the first printing of the Constitution as it appeared in the editio typica  of the Ordo Missae was used by the reaction to claim that it was a doubtful law and therefore inexistent. This is untenable since publication in AAS is sufficient promulgation and Paul VI made it quite clear in that last paragraph that he intended to legislate. (cf.  Oury, p.17sq)

However, the difficulties of putting the new Ordo Missae into practice in the time provided led to a request from many bishops for more time before it became obligatory. An Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship dated October 20th, 1969, decided that the Latin text of the Ordo Missae could be used from November 30th, that the Bishops' Conferences would decide the date when it could be used in the vernacular, but this was not to be later than November 28th, 1971. The same rulings were to apply to the texts of the new Missal as soon as they were published. By June 14th, 1971 it was evident that the deadline would not be met in many places so another Notification from SCCD was vague about a definite date for the whole Church but made it quite clear that once the texts had been translated and promulgated by the Bishops' Conferences only the revised Missal would be allowed, with the sole exception of aged or sick priests who found it difficult to use the new books, and then only in private celebrations. 

The Missal of Paul VI was published on Maundy Thursday, March 26th 1970, but the first copies only began to come from the Vatican Press at the beginning of June. Paul VI, however, inaugurated its use on Whitsunday, May 17th, at a Mass in which he celebrated his golden jubilee of priesthood  by ordaining 278 priests. To each of these new  priests  he presented a copy of the new Missal to take to his native country and a few days later every bishop in the world received a copy from the pope.  Maison Dieu, No.103, p.16.  

But already before the Instruction of October 20th conservative opposition had been voiced. On September 25th, 1969 Cardinal Ottaviani addressed a letter to Pope Paul VI to accompany: A Critical Study of the New Order of the Mass (Novus Ordo Missae) By a group of Roman Theologians. Ottaviani ended his letter with a plea to the Pope: "not to deprive us of the possibility of continuing to have recourse to the fruitful integrity of the Misssale Romanum of St Pius V." 

The theologians were anonymous and whether Archbishop Lefebvre was involved is not clear but Ottaviani's letter mentioned liturgists and pastors of souls besides theologians and it is worth noting that, according to Cardinal Villot as reported by Gustave Wenger, Lefebvre actually delated the Pope to the Holy Office in 1969. It was then that Paul VI asked Père Lécuyer, Superior of the Holy Ghost Fathers, to remove him from Rome so he moved to Fribourg and began his movement.

First among the points these theologians made was that at the 1967 Synod the voting showed considerable opposition to the Missa Normativa, namely 43 non placet, 62 juxta modum and 4 abstentions out of 187 voters. By carefully omitting the word placet before juxta modum they were suggesting that juxta modum was a negative vote and that there were 105 votes against and 4 abstentions out of 187, a majority. But, as already noted, placet juxta modum is an affirmative vote. One only has to translate the words to see this: Placet means It pleases, placet juxta modum means it pleases up to a point or with reservations, non placet means it does not please. These theologians don't mention the placets at all, which numbered 71 and taken with the juxta modums make a majority of 133 out of 187. 

Equally tendentious is the way they have of invoking the venerable antiquity of the Roman Canon as a demonstration of the venerable antiquity of the Roman Missal of Pius V. In a footnote they quote Adrian Fortescue and Louis Bouyer on this point but they give no references.

A comparison of the following sentence with the first paragraphs  of Missale Romanum is instructive: "in the Apostolic Constitution, it is stated that the ancient Missal promulgated by St. Pius V, 13th July 1570, but going back in great part to St. Gregory the Great and to still remoter antiquity, was for four centuries the norm for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice for priests of the Latin rite...Yet, the present reform, putting it definitely out of use..." Missale Romanum says that Pius V's Roman Missal provided  priests with norms, not with the norm, for the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice, and that the prayer texts, in large part, not the Tridentine Missal, owed their arrangement to St Gregory the Great.

Missale Romanum said: "Since the beginning of this lit- urgical renewal, it has also become clear that the formularies of the Roman Missal had to be revised and enriched. A beginning was made by Pius XII..." But the Roman theologians thought that Pius X gave the church all the liturgical reform it needed. Pius X is thus seen as an end and not a beginning and no significant advance in the understanding of the liturgy is thought to have occurred since his time. 

The invocation of Pius X is significant in view of Lefebvre's adoption of him as his patron. But Pius X is a two- edged sword in this matter of liturgical reform. The usual argument against reform is the appeal to the Bull Quo primum tempore by which Pius V promulgated the Tridentine Missal on July 14th 1570 and in which he declared that it was to be valid in perpetuity and was to replace all Missals other than those which had a prescription of two hundred years. No modifications were ever to be made in it, and nothing was to added or removed. Apart from the fact that modifications were made to it in 1604 by Clement VIII, in 1634 by Urban VII and several other Popes before the twentieth century, Pius X himself began the reform of the Missal by making some minor modifications which were incorporated into the Additiones et variationes in rubricis Missalis which Benedict XV had inserted in the new Editio typica of the Missal published in 1920. 

Pius V had also declared that his reformed Breviary must never be changed either in whole or in part, and not only did later Popes modify it, but Pius X introduced one of the most sweeping changes of all, abolishing the existing arrangement of the Psalter and substituting a new one.

The Roman theologians don't take up the reference in Missale Romanum to the reforms of Pius XII, much less to the principle he enunciated when he reformed the Rite of Ordination. He said that if, in the past, the handing of the chalice and paten to the ordinand was to be considered by the precept of the Church as necessary for validity, it is well known that what the Church has decreed the Church can change or abolish.

So much for the appeal to Pius V's Bull and it would be interesting to see how many changes to his Missal are in fact being used in Lefebvre's Tridentine Masses and other rites. Does he, for instance, use Pius XII's reform of the Rite of Ordination or go back behind it?

It would be too laborious to deal with the theological objections made by the Roman theologians to the new Ordo Missae one by one, especially since they were addressing theological objections to a document which was intended to replace previous codes of rubrics. The new Missal's doctrine on the Eucharist is to be found in the Institutio Generalis in its final form which, however, seems to have been influenced by the criticisms. It came out in several editions and in the Missal chapter I, with which the Ordo Missae opened, is preceded by a long doctrinal Prooemium. (For details of the various editions and changes cf EDIL, p.467.)

But before the new Missal became obligatory Paul VI, in two Addresses to general audiences (DOL, p.538, No.211 and p.540, No.212) publicly defended and explained the changes. These were on November 19th and 26th, 1969. On February 17th, 1970 Cardinal Ottaviani wrote a letter to D Lafond, Abbot of Saint-Wandrille, thanking him for a copy of a Note Doctrinale sur le nouvel Ordo Missae. He congratulated him on its objectivity and then went on to say that he only regretted that a letter he had addressed to the Pope and had never intended to be published had been abused by being prefaced to the Critical Study. He continued by saying that he had rejoiced on reading the two addresses of Pope Paul and he felt that no one now could be sincerely scandalised by the new Ordo Missae.
Later there were two important letters from the Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Villot, after the Missal had been published. One was dated August 30th, 1971 (DOL, p.546, No.217), the other dated October 11th, 1975 (DOL, p.550, No. 220). In the first he wrote; "The preliminary and introduction to the new Missal is the Institutio Generalis. This general Instruction is not a mere collection of rubrics, but rather a synthesis of theological, ascetical, pastoral principles that are indispensable to a doctrinal knowledge of the Mass, to its celebration, its catechesis, and its pastoral dimensions." - DOL 1780. This is what distinguishes the Institutio Generalis from the Rubrics preliminary to the old Missal. These were simply rules and regulations, and very detailed ones at that, whereas those in the new Missal not only give instructions on the rites of the Mass but explanations of their meaning as well. 

The Prooemium opens with a reference to the "large upper room furnished" which the apostles were told to get ready for the last supper (Lk 22:12) and says that the Church has always considered this order to concern her in her celebration of the Eucharist, that she must prepare everything with care, the place, the rites, the texts and above all the participants. The new rites are in that tradition and are a witness to her unchanging attitude of faith and love towards the Eucharistic mystery.  

The next paragraph points out that the sacrificial nature of the Mass which was solemnly defined by the Council of Trent was re-asserted by Vatican II in SC,47 and that it is given explicit expression in several phrases of the new Eucharistic Prayers. Thus in the new Missal the «lex orandi» corresponds to the Church's constant «lex credendi» by which we are taught that the Mass and the Cross are one and the same sacrifice, only the mode of offering being different, and so the Mass is at the same time a sacrifice of praise, of thanksgiving, of propitiation and of satisfaction.

The doctrine of Trent on the Real Presence was also re- asserted by Vatican II as well as by other documents of the Magisterium and is proclaimed in the Mass not only by the words of consecration but also by the reverence and adoration shown towards the sacrament. The special adoration to which the faithful are exhorted on Maundy Thursday and on Corpus Christi is also a witness to the Church's faith in the Real Presence.

The special nature of the ministerial priesthood is also clear enough in the new Mass by the priest's presidency and by his acting «in persona Christi» at the consecration. But it is more clearly brought out and explained in the Mass of the Chrism on Maundy Thursday. 

This, however, does not derogate from the priesthood of all the baptised because the celebration of the Eucharist is an action of the whole Church in which each member performs wholly, but only, that function which belongs to his position in the Body of Christ. This is why the new Mass pays more attention than formerly to certain aspects of its celebration which had become obscured.

The Prooemium goes on to show that the new Missal simply takes a stage further the reform inaugurated by Pius V and on the same principles. In the Bull Quo primum tempore Pius V  said he had commisioned certain learned men to revise the Missal and, after consulting the manuscripts in the Vatican Library and the works of previous writers on the liturgy, these had "restored it to the primitive norm and rite of the Holy Fathers". In fact the Missal of 1570 differs very little from the first Missal to be printed, that of 1474, for two reasons. Firstly, because of the attacks of the Reformers it was safer to make as few changes as possible, and secondly, the manuscripts of the Vatican Library at that time did not enable them to go much further back in their researches than the Middle Ages.

Four centuries later the ancient norm of the Fathers is much better known and understood as a result of numerous discoveries and studies in the field of liturgy and patrology so that, if we continue to be faithful to Trent's principle, further development is inevitable.

Trent had recognised the catechetical value of the Mass but had been unable to draw out and put into practice the implications of this, particularly in the matter of the vern- acular. Many at the Council had advocated its adoption but, because of the circumstances of the time, it had seemed more important to assert the traditional doctrine that the Mass is above all an action of Christ irrespective of how the faithful participate and it anathematised anyone who condemmned the Roman rite for saying the Canon silently or who maintained that it should be said only in the vernacular. - cf DS, 1749, 1759. Trent, however, recommended that catechesis and explanations in the vernacular should be made during Mass.

Vatican II looked more closely at the didactic value of the Mass and recommended various ways by which more use could be made of it (SC 33-36) including a wider use of the vern- acular (36). The Prooemium notes that no Catholic doubts the legitimacy of the Mass in Latin but agrees with the Council that the vernacular could be very useful and endorses the Council's permission for its use. But it also insists on some decrees of Trent which were being neglected in many places, namely explanations in the course of the Mass and above all the homily (cf 52). 

It then points out that Vatican II's recommendation that the faithful should communicate at Mass (55) is a repetition of another desideratum of Trent (DS 1747). As for communion under both kinds there is no reason why it should not be allowed since no one now doubts the validity of communion under one kind only.

After mentioning the aim of the new Missal to direct the prayer of the Church expressly to the needs of our times by introducing new texts which combine the old with the new and changing some expressions which are out of tune with modern attitudes, for instance today's more positive appreciation of the good things of creation, the Prooemium concludes with a claim to continuity with Trent and all attempts at reform since Trent:

"In short, the liturgical norms of the Council of Trent have been completed and improved in many respects by those of Vatican Council II. This Council has brought to realization the efforts of the last four hundred years to move the faithful closer to the sacred liturgy, especially the efforts of recent times and above all the zeal for the liturgy promoted by St. Pius X and his successors."  

At this juncture it is worth considering briefly the relationship between the Roman Missal of 1962 and the revised Roman Missal of the Second Vatican Council.
It is a little irresponsible to place the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal in absolute contrast with the revised edition of 1970. The 1962 text represented the final stage of development in a thrust towards liturgical reform that had made itself felt from at least the dawn of the modern age, and which is indeed an inherent aspect of the Church's dynamic. The Missal of 1570 was itself a fruit of that movement and within the stable and dignified juridical framework that it provided the liturgical rites had been reformed with quickening pace over the the first half of the twentieth century century. The 1962 edition summed up the gains that had been made by the eve of the Second Vatican Council and its existence facilitated the further steps which were to take developments to a fuller reform yet. While at the Council's behest further texts were to be added in order to reflect better the riches of the Church's tradition and in response to the needs of the people, and while some existing texts were to be corrected to reflect more accurately the gains of textual scholarship, the lines and substance of the Missal of 1970 remained unmistakably those of 1962. The Missal of 1970 is the Missal of 1962, reinvigorated, enriched, and endowed with new lustre, like a precious stone whose perennial beauty is enhanced by being ensconced in a new setting. 

1 comment:

Susan said...

Wonderfully illuminating. Thank you.