Sunday, August 04, 2013

Book Notice: Lauren Pristas’ “Collects of the Roman Missals”

For the last ten years or so, the research of Dr Lauren Pristas (Professor of Theology, Caldwell College, New Jersey) on the post-Vatican II revisions of the collects of the Mass has thrown much light on the theological suppositions and policies of revision that underpin the Missal of Paul VI. The first half of the previous decade saw the publication of four well-received essays by Pristas on the subject:
  • Missale Romanum 1962 and 1970: A Comparative Study of Two Collects,” Antiphon 7:3 (2002) 29-33;
  • “Theological Principles that Guided the Redaction of the Roman Missal (1970),” The Thomist 67 (April 2003) 157-95;
  • “The Orations of the Vatican II Missal: Policies for Revision,” Communio 30:4 (Winter 2003) 621-53; 
  • “The Collects at Sunday Mass: An Examination of the Revisions of Vatican II,” Nova et Vetera 3:1 (Winter 2005) 5-38.
I am pleased to note the recent publication by Bloomsbury T&T Clark of Pristas’ much-anticipated book, Collects of the Roman Missals: A Comparative Study of the Sundays in Proper Seasons before and after the Second Vatican Council. This latest volume of the "T&T Clark Studies in Fundamental Liturgy” Series examines the collects assigned to the Sundays and major feasts of the proper seasons in the Roman Rite’s ordinary and extraordinary forms. The original Latin collects assigned to each day in the missals of John XXIII (1962) and Paul VI (1970/2002) are compared and contrasted both with their respective sources and with each other. Pertinent discussions and decisions of the Consilium study groups responsible for the revisions of the Roman calendar and Mass collects are also presented and considered. The goal of this study, as the book’s flyer explains, is “to determine whether the two sets of collects present the same picture of the human situation, approach God in the same way, seek the same things from him [sic] and, where they do not, to identify significant changes in theological and/or spiritual emphases.”

The necessity and magnitude of a liturgical “reform of the reform,” as well as the validity (from a liturgico-historical perspective) of the notion of “one rite, two forms,” depend largely on the question whether the reformed liturgical rites—in this case, specifically the orations of the Missal of Paul VI—are in substantial continuity with the preceding liturgical and theological tradition. The results of Pristas’ important research, taken together with related theological analyses (e.g., that of Fr Uwe Michael Lang on the reform of the section on blessings in the Roman Ritual) merit serious attention.