Wednesday, March 25, 2020

New Prefaces and Feasts for the EF Missal

Today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, exercizing the authority that came to it with the absorption of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, has issued two decrees updating the Missal of the Extraordinary Form. This been done in accordance with what Pope Benedict XVI said in his letter to the bishops of the world regarding  the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum: “new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal.”

The first decree pertains to a new group of seven prefaces that may now be used ad libitum. Four of these are taken from the Missal of the Ordinary Form: of the Angels, of St John the Baptist, of the Martyrs, and for the Nuptial Mass. The Congregation’s note presenting the decree states that “their central section(s), known as the ‘embolism’, appear in ancient liturgical sources. In order to guarantee consistency with the rest of the Corpus Praefationum of the old Missal, in three cases, the standard forms of Preface conclusion of the forma extraordinaria have been used.” Three others, the Prefaces of All Saints and Patron Saints, of the Blessed Sacrament, and of the Dedication of a Church, are among the group originally promulgated in the neo-Gallican Missals (especially that of Paris) and later approved for use with the Roman Missal in France and Belgium. “From now on, these may be used wherever Mass is celebrated in the forma extraordinaria.” (The decree does not mention the neo-Gallican Preface for Advent, which is generally found in any Missal that includes the others, and is probably one of the best composed among them.)

The second decree, regarding the calendar of Saints, contains the following provisions (my translation):

1. Festive Masses in the broader sense, as specified by the General Rubrics of the 1960 Missal (302) can be celebrated for a good reason (justa de causa) on all festal days of the third class, except those which are listed below (no. 8), and also on 3rd vigils of the Saints.

2. Furthermore, as far as GRMR 302c is concerned, Mass is permitted of any Saint canonized after July 26 1960, on the day on which it has been established that the liturgical memorial of said Saint be kept by he universal Church. A votive Mass of the same is also permitted, in accordance with GRMR 311, in keeping with the other rubrics about Votive Masses.

3. Whenever the festive Mass in the broader sense is said, the whole Divine Office can (my emphasis) be done together with the Mass, as the ordinary Office.

4. The ordinary commemoration of the feast or vigil omitted according to these three provisions is always made, together with other commemorations that occur according to the rubrics. (An example of this would be St Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast is on August 14th, the vigil of the Assumption. This provision specifies that if his Mass is celebrated, the vigil is not therefore to be omitted.)

5. In order to choose the formula of the Mass and Office in accordance with these provisions, if there is no (such formula) in the Supplement for certain places in the Missal of 1962, or the new supplement approved by the Holy See, (said formula) is taken from the Common of the Missal or Breviary. Whenever there are several formulae in said Common, the choice is left to the celebrant. ...

6. Furthermore, an ordinary commemoration can be admitted at the will of celebrant of a Saint or mystery on that day on which it is listed in the Proper of the Saints for certain places, or in the new supplement, both in the Mass and Office, on liturgical days of the 3rd and 4th class. (Again, as an example, one could now add a commemoration of St Maximilian Kolbe to the Mass of the vigil of the Assumption.)

7. In the houses of religious institutes or societies of apostolic life, it is the duty of the superior of the house, not of the celebrant, to determine the manner of putting these provisions into practice in the conventual Mass and in the choral or communal celebration of the Office.

8. Feast days of the third class which cannot be impeded or omitted by these provisions (i.e., which cannot have a new Saint dropped on top of them) are listed in the following table. These feasts can also be celebrated on the third class ferias of Lent and Passiontide, with a commemoration of the feria, according to the rubrics.

(editor’s note: This provision corrects one of the worst mistakes of the 1960 Missal, by which a number of Saints whose feasts always or almost always fall in Lent were to all intents and purposes abolished from the General Calendar, among them Ss Thomas Aquinas, Pope Gregory the Great, Benedict, the Archangel Gabriel, and Pope Leo the Great. The full list is given below.)

The CDF has also issued an note of presentation for this decree.

“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 (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. (my emphasis) 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. (my emphasis) 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 libitum commemoration 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.”

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