Thursday, June 25, 2020

The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 7: The Preface of the Dedication of a Church

The first article in this series contains a history of the preface as a feature of the Roman Mass to which the reader may find it useful to refer.

The final preface of the seven recently permitted for optional use in the Mass of the Extraordinary Form, that for the Dedication of a Church, is one of the group originally composed for the neo-Gallican use of Paris and promulgated by the reform of Abp. Charles de Ventimille in 1738. As noted previously, when the neo-Gallican Uses were gradually suppressed over the course of the 19th century, some of their features were retained by being incorporated into the French supplements “for certain places” in the Roman liturgical books, this preface among them.

His Excellency Fabian Bruskewitz, then bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska (emeritus since 2012), draws the Latin and Greek alphabets on the floor of the chapel of the FSSP seminary of Our Lady of Guadalupe during its dedication in 2010.
VD: Qui hanc oratiónis domum, quam aedificávimus, bonórum omnium largítor inhábitas, et Ecclesiam, quam ipse fundasti, incessábili operatióne sanctíficas. Haec est enim vere domus oratiónis, visibílibus aedificiis adumbráta, templum habitatiónis gloriae tuae, sedes incommutábilis veritátis, sanctuarium aeternae caritátis. Haec est arca, quae nos a mundi ereptos diluvio, in portum salútis indúcit. Haec est dilecta et única sponsa, quam acquisívit Christus sánguine suo, quam vivíficat Spíritu suo, cuius in sinu renáti per gratiam tuam, lacte verbi páscimur, pane vitae roborámur, misericordiae tuae subsidiis confovémur. Haec fidéliter in terris, sponso adiuvante, mílitat, et perénniter in caelis, ipso coronante, triumphat. Et ídeo…

Who being the giver of all good things, dwellest in this house of prayer which we have built, and sanctifiest the Church, which Thou didst found Thyself, with unceasing work. For this is truly the house of prayer, represented by visible buildings, the temple wherein dwelleth Thy glory, the seat of unchanging truth, the sanctuary of eternal charity. This is the ark, which rescueth us from the flood of the world, and bringeth us unto the port of salvation. This is the beloved and only spouse, which Christ got with His own blood, even she whom he quickeneth with His Spirit, in whose bosom we, being reborn through Thy grace, are fed with the milk of the word, strengthened with the bread of life, and fostered with the aid of Thy mercy. Faithful doth she strive upon the earth with the help of Her Spouse, and triumpheth forever in heaven as He crowns Her. And therefore...

It is not difficult to see why this particular preface was not taken into the post-Conciliar Missal. The “negative” image of the world as a flood, and of the Church as an ark which delivers us from it, hardly fits in with the naive optimism about the modern world so much in vogue in the 1960s. In passing, we may note that the story of Noah’s ark and the flood was deleted from the Easter vigil in 1955, and not restored in the post-Conciliar reform. (It is read on two days in the sixth week of Ordinary time, year 1.) Likewise, the words “we renounced ... the world, which is the enemy of God”, originally included in the renewal of baptismal promises added to the vigil in 1955, were deleted in 1969. Expressions like “unchanging truth”, “only Spouse”, “strive” (“militat”, as in “the Church militant”), and above all “triumph”, clash mightily with the much-vaunted “Spirit of Vatican II”, even that Spirit that killeth, where the letter giveth life. I remember a pastor of mine, who had lived and suffered through the very worst of the post-Conciliar crazy days, once saying, “Back in the ’70s, the very worst sin you could commit was to triumph over something, and you could get away with almost anything if you could label its opposite ‘triumphalism!’ ”

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