Wednesday, September 02, 2020

The Prayers of the Season after Pentecost

Since Dr Foley has been walking us through the collects of the season after Pentecost in his Lost in Translation series, I thought I would share some research which I have been doing on them. This is similar to what I did last year with the Sunday Gospels and Epistles of the same season, and with similar results. The earliest sources show a system which is very disorganized, but unmistakably the ancestor of the traditional Roman Rite as we know it today; the material they contain is very quickly organized into something which is almost identical to what we find in the Missal of St Pius V.

Folio 106v of the Gellone Sacramentary. ca 780-800 AD, with the Mass prayers of the current liturgical week assigned to the “14th Sunday after Pentecost”, where the Missal of St Pius V has them on the 13th Sunday. In sacramentaries of the Gelasian type, most Masses, but not all, have two collects; the precise reason for this, and for the fact that many Masses have one, and some have three, is a subject of debate. In the Gregorian Sacramentary, they are reduced to one, and it is almost always the first one that is kept. The Mass also has its own Preface, as was generally the case in the Roman Rite until the end of the 11th century.
The very earliest collection of Roman Mass prayers is the so-called Leonine Sacramentary, a document preserved in a single mutilated manuscript in the library of the cathedral chapter of Verona. The terms “Leonine” and “Sacramentary” are both misnomers. It is not actually a sacramentary, the ancient predecessor of the missal which contains only the priest’s parts of the Mass, namely, the prayers, prefaces and Canon. It is rather a collection of the texts of a large number of “libelli missarum”, small booklets which contained the prayers and prefaces of Masses for specific occasions; it was privately complied in Rome itself around the mid-6th century. Its traditional name “Leonine”, in reference to Pope St Leo I, is no more than a fancy of its discoverer, Fr Giuseppe Bianchini (1704-64), a canon of Verona who later joined the Roman Oratory, and in his time, a well-respected scholar of Christian antiquity.

Four of the Collects of the Sundays after Pentecost in the Roman Missal are found within the Leonine Sacramentary, those of 4th, 8th, 12th and 13th Sundays. It should be noted that the Leonine does not contain any Masses specifically assigned to Sundays, apart from Pentecost itself.

The oldest proper sacramentary, known as the Old Gelasian Sacramentary, is preserved in a single manuscript now in the Vatican Library (Reginensis 316); the book itself dates to about 750AD, but its contents are to be dated about 50 years earlier. The attribution of the type of liturgical book it represents to Pope St Gelasius I (492-6) apparently dates to the 9th century, but rests on no known basis in fact. It is divided into three books, the first of which covers the liturgical year from Christmas Eve to the Octave of Pentecost, with various baptismal rites, blessings and ordinations, and the second the feasts of the Saints. The third book begins with 16 Masses for Sundays, followed by the Canon, daily Masses, votive Masses, and various blessings.

The 16 Sundays Masses at the beginning of the third book are not labelled “after Pentecost”, but their placement and the subsequent use of the material which they contain leave no room for doubt that they were in fact said in that period. (The time after Pentecost ranges from 23 to 28 Sundays in length, but there is nothing in the book itself that explains how the material was arranged relative to this difference.) Of the twenty-four Collects for the Sundays after Pentecost in the Missal of St Pius V, fifteen are found in this group, and two others in Old Gelasian Masses of Eastertide. Relative to each other, the fifteen are said in the same sequential order as in the Missal of St Pius V, and in most cases, they are said with the same Secret and Post-Communion as in the Missal of St Pius V.

By the later part of the 8th century, the gaps in the liturgical year in the Old Gelasian had been filled in, as we find in the Gellone Sacramentary, ca. 780-800, which has 26 Sundays after Pentecost. All twenty-four of the Collects for the Sundays after Pentecost in the Missal of St Pius V appear within it, and in every case, with the same Secret and Post-Communion as in the Missal of St Pius V. The order in which these Masses are arranged is also mostly the same, but not exactly so, and two of the Gellone Masses do not appear in the Missal of St Pius V. This same material then passes into the Gregorian Sacramentary, the redaction of the Roman Mass which carries over through the Middle Ages and into modern times, with almost complete unformity. [note]

The 2002 edition of the post-Conciliar Missal includes all twenty-four of the traditional Collects for the Sundays after Pentecost, although two of them appear in an edited form, and some others with minor variations. (As I have noted before, at least one of these was not in the original edition, but subsequently restored.) Fourteen have been retained on the Sundays which are now called “per annum” or “ of ordinary time.” Six have been moved into Lent, one of which is no longer said as a Collect, but rather as the optional “prayer over the people” at the end of Mass. One is used for a votive Mass, one as a concluding prayer for the Prayers of the Faithful, and two others as optional “prayers over the people.” Not one of them is any longer said with the Secret and Post-Communion that are joined to it in the Gellone and Gregorian Sacramentaries; although many of these latters prayers are retained in the new Missal, not a single one of the Masses after Pentecost remains intact.

[note] The most common variation in the Middle Ages was as follows. In the tradition represented by the Missal of St Pius V, there was originally no Trinity Sunday or octave day of Pentecost. The sequence of Sundays “after Pentecost” therefore began right away on the first Sunday after Pentecost, starting with the Mass whose Collect begins “Deus in te sperantium fortitudo.” In the north of Europe, however, Pentecost had a proper octave day, and the sequence of Sundays “after Pentecost” therefore began a week later; every Mass formula was therefore bumped forward a week, but the group of Mass formulae for these Sundays continued to be said in the same sequential order.

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