Monday, July 13, 2020

Roundup on the CDF Decrees on New Saints and New Prefaces for the TLM

St Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn (martyred 1845); St Charles Lwanga (martyred 1886)
The decrees from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cum Sanctissima and Quo Magis — the former opening up the possibility of celebrating saints canonized post-1960 with the traditional Roman Missal, the latter introducing into that missal seven prefaces, of varying degrees of authenticity — have generated a fair amount of discussion.

For the convenience of NLM readers, here is a roundup of all of the articles I have noticed, with an attempt to categorize them across the spectrum of opinion. If I have missed anything at other blogs, please let me know in the comments.

Decrees and Official Commentaries

Decree Cum Sanctissima [Latin] (February 22, 2020; released March 25)
Decree Quo Magis [Latin] (February 22, 2020; released March 25)
Vatican Presentation of Cum Sanctissima [English]
Vatican Presentation of Quo Magis [English]
(Curiously, there seems to be no English translation yet of either decree.)

Texts of the New Prefaces

These may be found in various places; Rorate’s post is probably the most useful.

(Unfortunately, I have not yet seen the Prefaces set to chant notation. If there is an enterprising Gregorio programmer out there who has mastery of how the Preface tones work, it would be immensely helpful to produce sheets with at least the common and solemn tones, in a format that would allow their ready insertion into altar missals. Please send PDF and JPG to Gregory DiPippo or me, and we will post them at NLM.)


Christopher Wells, “Recent Saints and new Prefaces added to 1962 Roman Missal
Hannah Brockhaus, “CDF issues new Eucharistic prefaces, optional saint feasts for extraordinary form of Roman rite

(There are other news reports, but they all say basically the same things.)

Canonical Commentary

Fr. Albert P. Marcello, III, “Canonical Commentary on the New Pontifical Decrees On Saints’ Days and New Prefaces in the Traditional Missal

Enthusiasm for the Decrees

Fr. John Hunwicke, “‘New’ Saints in the Old Calendar
Idem, “Old Mass: New Decrees: Prefaces (1)
Idem, “Old Mass: New Decrees: Prefaces (2)
Idem, “Old Mass: New Decrees: (3) The Calendar

Acceptance with “let’s wait and see”

Peter Kwasniewski, “Vatican Issues Two Decrees: More Prefaces and Recent Saints in the TLM
Dom Alcuin Reid, “The older form of the Roman rite is alive and well
Anonymous (FSSP), “Bede, Augustine, and Gregory on 21st Century Liturgy

Concern / skepticism

The International Federation “Una Voce” Press Release


Brian McCall, “Vatican’s New Attack on the Old Mass: Take Your Hands Off Our Liturgical Lifeboat
Andrea Grillo, “Open Letter on the ‘State of Liturgical Exception’
Concerning Grillo: Peter Kwasniewski, “‘Cancel the Decrees!’: High Dudgeon from Progressive Liturgists”; idem, “Limericks on Liberal Liturgists

Analysis of Seven Prefaces

NLM’s editor Gregory DiPippo has recently completed a series of in-depth analyses of the seven new prefaces:

The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 1: The Preface of the Angels
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 2: The Preface of St John the Baptist
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 3: The Preface of the Martyrs
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 4: The Preface of the Nuptial Mass
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 5: The Preface of the Blessed Sacrament
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 6: The Preface of All Saints and Patron Saints
The New Prefaces of the EF Mass, Part 7: The Preface of the Dedication of a Church

See also Sharon Kabel, “How New Is the New Traditional Wedding Preface?

Tentative Judgments

I think it is fair to say that the decree allowing the celebration of saints canonized after 1960 has been widely accepted in the traditional world as rectifying a truly strange situation where it was not possible to celebrate Mass in honor of many saints who spent their entire lives worshiping with the old Roman rite or some analogous traditional use or rite, and, if priests, celebrated it themselves — and I include in this category not just saints who lived more recently, such as Padre Pio, but also those from centuries ago whose canonizations were not completed until recently.

There is, needless to say, anxiety that either a well-intentioned but clueless celebrant or a clever and subversive cleric might try to use this provision as a “Trojan Horse” by which to force upon traditional congregations the veneration of putatively canonized individuals whose sanctity is surrounded by controversy and scandal. Only time will tell whether or not this is a real threat and how it will be dealt with “in the wild.”

Reception of the decree allowing seven more prefaces has been decidedly more ambivalent. While no one questions the legitimacy of adding a preface from time to time, in practice the Roman rite has been characterized for many centuries by a limited number of prefaces and an extremely conservative mind when it comes to expanding the repertoire. Adding seven at once is an upward bump with no historical parallel. Moreover, the sources of the texts have been tampered with, as compared with their actual ancient precedents — some more so than others, as Gregory DiPippo demonstrates in his article series.

It seems to me that the use of the prefaces will have to be a matter of ongoing theological and pastoral discernment. In any case, the utmost caution may be recommended: it would not do to take all of the prefaces on board at once, and whenever any such preface is to be used, it seems advisable to make the Latin text with a translation available as a handout, incorporate it into a worship aid, or print it in the bulletin.

A more refined objection to the two decrees concerns their “ad libitum” status. It is often said, and indeed I have said it frequently, that the old Mass is characterized by a stability, fixity, and objectivity that leaves no room for sacerdotal arbitrariness or subjectivism. This is quite true, but we should not forget that there is a tightly-defined sphere within which choices are allowed and indeed required. The old liturgy is a foe to creativity or spontaneity, but not a foe to ordered liberty. As this matter is of some importance, I will be dedicating next Monday’s article to it.

Visit Dr. Kwasniewski’s website, SoundCloud page, and YouTube channel.

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