Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Worst Preface Ever Written

As noted in the first article in this series, the contents of the so-called Leonine Sacramentary date back to a period when there was, as far as we know, no officially approved collection of Masses for general use, and the clergy of individual churches were free to compose their own. The Church did, of course, learn in antiquity the same lesson that it has been forced to relearn over the last 50 years, namely, that giving the clergy and their chosen collaborators broad freedom to make up their own prayers and improvise during the liturgy is an absolutely terrible idea. The Leonine Sacramentary itself contains a perfect (and hilarious) example of why this is so.
In the midst of a section labeled “orationes et praeces diurnae – daily orations and prayers,” which contains 31 Masses, the twentieth is at first not particularly noteworthy. It begins with two collects [1] and a secret, all of them fairly brief.

Collect Exaudi, Domine, praeces nostras, et celeri nos propitiatione laetifica. – Hear our prayers, o Lord, and gladden us with swift propitiation.
Collect Intende, Domine, quaesumus, supplices nos, et pariter nobis indulgentiam tribue benignus et gaudium. – Hearken, o Lord, to us suppliants, and likewise, kindly grant us forgiveness and joy. (The placement of nos after supplices is very clumsy.)
Secret Hostias, Domine, suscipe placatus oblatas, quas sanctificando nobis, quaesumus, efficias salutares. – Peaceably receive the victims offered, o Lord, which we ask that Thou may, by sanctifying them, make profitable to our salvation.
When it gets to the preface, however, it becomes very noteworthy indeed; the author pours forth a torrent of rhetorical abuse against those whom he deems to be “false brethren”, which, even judged by the low standards of modern liturgical improv, is astonishing in its complete lack of appropriateness for Christian worship. Given the brevity of the orations that precede and follow it, one wonders why he bothered with so many Scriptural citations and allusions in the preface, when he could so easily have made do with just one: “I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men.” (Of course, a hearty dish of vituperation can only really be enjoyed if it is generously spiced with implicit self-regard, and on that score, the author does not disappoint.)
Uere dignum: Qui caelestibus disciplinis ex omni parte nos instruens, qualiter a fidelibus tuis falsos fratres discerneremus ostendis, Unigeniti tua uoce pronuntias: ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos. De his sunt enim inflati sensu carnis suae, et non tenentes caput. De his sunt, qui terrena sapientes ideo deprecantium te uerba fastidunt, quia animales atque carnalis (-es), quae sunt spiritus Dei, stulta mente non capiunt. De his sunt reprobi circa fidem, quam, nescientes quae loquantur neque de quibus adfirment, sepe subuertere conati sunt et conantur. De his sunt subdoli operarii, qui introeunt explorare aeclesiae libertatem quam habet in Christo, ut eam secum in turpem redigant seruitutem. De his sunt, qui penetrant domos, et captiuas ducunt mulierculas (h)oneratas peccatis, non solum uiduarum facultates, sed deuorantes etiam maritarum. Isti iam nec iustos appetunt se uideri, nec saltim deforis sunt uel dealbati uel loti, sed palam pudore calcato, de prauis conuersationibus suis etiam gloriantur, et domi forisque spurcitiam contrahentes, non tam referti sunt ossibus mortuorum, quam magis ipsi sunt mortui. Quibus euangelica sententia conuenienter exclamat: ‘Si lumen quod in te est tenebrae sunt, ipsae tenebrae quantae sunt?’ Nam cum in his quae uidentur obscura sint et malae famae nigra dedecore, satis euidenter apparet haec eos in occulto gerere, quae etiam turpe sit dicere. Isti non solum ad tuam gratiam uenientes sui foeditate deterrent, sed etiam intrinsecus fratribus constitutis, pro quibus Christus est mortuus, offendiculum suae peruersitatis opponunt. Tales cauere nos iubes per Apostolum tuum, docens, ‘Separate uos ab omni fratre inordinate ambulantem.’ Et ea nos praecipis operari, quae uidentes cuncti uere fideles tui te caelestem patrem conlaudent adque magnificent, a quo rationabiles conscientiae bonaeque famae donum omne perfectum optimumque descendit. Per…
Truly it is fitting… Who instructing us by heavenly disciplines in every way, show how we may distinguish false brethren from Thy faithful (Gal. 2, 4), (and) pronounce by Thy voice of the Only-begotten, “by their fruit ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7, 16) For among these are they who are inflated in the sense of the flesh (Col. 2, 18), and keep not their heads. Among these are they who, thinking (only) of the things of the earth (Phil. 3, 18), therefore are annoyed at the words of those who pray to Thee, because they are like animals and carnal, and in their stupid mind do not receive the things that are of the spirit of God. (1 Cor. 2, 14) Among these are they who are reproved concerning the faith (2 Tim. 3, 8), which they often try and have tried to subvert, knowing not what they speak of or declare. Among these are workers of trickery (2 Cor. 11, 13), who come in to explore (or ‘search out’, i.e. in order to exploit for their own purposese) the freedom of the Church which it has in Christ (Gal. 2, 4), that they may bring it into base servitude with themselves. Among these are they who make their way into houses, and lead astray young women burdened with sins (2 Tim. 3, 6), devouring the goods not only of widows, but even of married women. (Mark 12, 40) These people [2] no longer even seek to appear just, and are not even whitened or washed on the outside, but, having trampled on every sense of shame, openly boast about their wicked behavior, and bringing filth upon themselves at home and in public, are not so much filled with the bones of the dead, as dead themselves. (Matt, 23, 27) To these does the sentence of the Gospel fittingly cry out, ‘If the light which is in thee is darkness, how great shall the darkness itself be?’ (Matt. 6, 23) And since the things which are seen in these people are shady and black with the disgrace of evil report, it is evidently quite clear that they do in secret those things which it is shameful even to mention. (Eph. 5, 12) These people not only frighten away those who come to Thy grace with their foulness, but also set the stumbling block of their own perversity before their brethren established within (the Church), for whom Christ died. Thou dost order us to avoid such people, teaching us through Thy Apostle, ‘Separate yourselves from every brother that liveth in a disordered way.’ (2 Thess. 3, 6) And Thou orderest us to do those works which all Thy true faithful may see, and praise and magnify Thee, the heavenly Father, from whom come down consciences that are reasonable and of good report, (and) every perfect and best gift. (James 1, 17) Through Christ our Lord...
Many texts which are first attested in the Leonine Sacramentary appear in later liturgical books; some of them are still in use to this very day, while others (with the usual cack-handed alterations) were fished out of it and added to the post-Conciliar reform. No one will be surprised to learn that this bizarre preface is not among them. However, the author did in fact make a lasting contribution to the Roman Rite [3], one which is in fact said every day thousands of times throughout the world. The Post-Communion of this same Mass is found in the Gelasian Sacramentary on the third Saturday of Lent; with the addition of one word and the removal of another, it was later moved to Passion Thursday, and still later, incorporated into the Ordo Missae.
Post-Communion Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, quaesumus, mente capiamus, et de munere temporali, fiat nobis remedium sempiternum. – May we receive with the mind, o Lord, what we have taken with the mouth, and from the temporal gift, may we have eternal remedy.
The Mass concludes with a prayer over the people, a feature which appears in the Missal of St Pius V only on the ferias of Lent, but in the ancient sacramentaries was used much more often.
Over the People Famulos et famulas, Domine, quaesumus, intuere, quibus in te sperare donasti; ac pariter eis et quae tibi placeant postolare, et potius postulata concede. – Look, o Lord, upon the servants and handmaids to whom Thou has given to hope in Thee, and likewise, grant to them both to ask for the things that please Thee, and preferably, the things which have been asked for.
The Corpus Praefationum, a scholarly collection of Mass prefaces with critical notes on their textual variations and use, includes a footnote which cites two opinions on the purpose of this preface. In an article published in 1948, the Belgian liturgical scholar Camillus Callewaert attributed it to Pope St Leo I (440-61), whom he thought wrote it against the Manichees when he discovered a secret coven of them in Rome. Charles Coebergh, on the other hand, writing in 1959, ascribed it to Pope St Gelasius I (492-96), and thought that it was occasioned by an attempt on the part of some Roman senators to revive the ceremonies of a pagan festival known as the Lupercalia.
Apart from the fact that filial piety shudders to think of any Pope, much less a Saint, speaking in such a fashion during the sacred liturgy, these theories seem to run aground on various points. There is nothing about the preface that refers unmistakably either to Manichees or pagan revivalists. If the preface were composed against a specific group within the Church, it is difficult to think why it would be accompanied by five totally generic orations. The events which Callewaert and Coeburgh proposed as occasions for its composition were, in the final analysis, minor and isolated episodes in the history of the Roman Church. There is no evidence that much more notable doctrinal or pastoral problems (say, Arianism) were ever addressed with a rhetorical attack of this kind in the Roman liturgy.
Both theories seem to take it for granted that the Leonine Sacramentary is in fact a sacramentary, an official collection of liturgical texts assembled by or at the behest of the Pope. But the sheer randomness of the choice of material and its arrangement argue strongly against this, as does the inclusion of this weirdly inappropriate text. If, on the other hand, we look at the collection itself as an indiscriminate attempt simply to save as many liturgical texts as possible in the midst of a serious political crisis for the city of Rome, the terribly damaging Gothic wars of the mid-6th century, as I have previously proposed, this preface may be seen as no more than an anomalous act of bad taste, irritability, and lack of charity.
[1] This is a feature which also appears in subsequent sacramentaries of the Gelasian and mixed Gelasian type, and admits of no generally satisfactory explanation.
[2] In all periods of the Latin language’s history, the pronoun “iste” can bring with it a sense of contempt, as it evidently does here.
[3] It is, of course, also theoretically possible that the different parts of the Mass were originally composed by different authors. The compilers of the Gelasian Sacramentary might well have taken the prayer Quod ore sumpsimus from a source other than the Leonine Sacramentary, such as the original libellus Missae from which the author of this Mass also took it.

Tradition is for the Young - A Recent Pontifical Mass in Louisiana

Here’s something very nice which slipped through the cracks of my mailbox, and should have been posted earlier (apologies!): on the first Wednesday of this month, June 2, H.E. Glen Provost, Bishop of Lake Charles, Louisiana, celebrated a Pontifical Mass in the traditional rite at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, to mark the ongoing Year of St Joseph. Wednesday of course is the traditional day to commemorate patron Saints, and since St Joseph is Patron of the Universal Church, his votive Mass is assigned to that day in the Missal of the Extraordinary Form.

Anyone who has ever served this rite of Mass knows that it requires a fair amount of organizing and rehearsal to do properly; the reward is, of course, a ceremony which truly impresses upon one, forcibly and unmistakably, the power and majesty of what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass really is. We can all take encouragement once again from the fact that almost none of the people who are making the effort and committment to put this together are old enough to be doing so from any sense of “nostalgia”; what we see here is a true and sincere love for the richness of our Catholic liturgical tradition. Feliciter! (Photos by Kim and Jason Rhorer; click here to see the full album.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Vesper Hymn of Ss Peter and Paul

As I have noted on other occasions, the specific Use of the Divine Office originally created for the chapel of the Papal court, the ancestor of the Breviary of St Pius V, was very conservative in its use of hymns. A good example of this may be seen in the feasts of the Apostles; although many proper hymns were composed for the various Apostles in the Middle Ages, the only one adopted into the Roman Office is this one for Ss Peter and Paul. Aurea luce, known since the revision of Pope Urban VIII as Decora lux aeternitatis, is traditionally ascribed to a fictitious first wife of Boethius named Elpis; in reality, it is the work of an unknown writer of the Carolingian era.

Aurea luce et decóre róseo
Lux lucis, omne perfudisti sáeculum:
Décorans caelos ínclyto martyrio
Hac sacra die, quae dat reis veniam.

(Light of light, Thou hast suffused all the world with golden light and rosy beauty, adorning the heavens with a famous martyrdom on this holy day, that gives pardon to the guilty.)

Jánitor caeli, Doctor orbis páriter,
Júdices saecli, vera mundi lúmina:
Per crucem alter, alter ense triumphans,
Vitae senátum laureáti póssident.

(The door-keeper of heaven, and likewise the teacher of the world, the judges of the age, the true lights of the world, triumphing, the one by the cross, the other by the sword, are crowned and take possession of the assembly of life.)

O felix Roma, quae tantórum Príncipum
Es purpuráta pretióso sánguine!
Non laude tua, sed ipsórum méritis
Excellis omnem mundi pulchritúdinem.

(O happy Rome, that art adorned with the precious blood of such great Princes, not by thy own praise, but by their merits dost thou excel the beauty of all (the rest of) the world. – This stanza is not part of the original text, but was added to it by the Breviary reform of St Pius V.)

lívae binae pietátis únicae,
Fide devótos, spe robustos máxime,
Fonte replétos caritátis géminae
Post mortem carnis impetráte vívere.

(O ye twin olive trees of one devotion, obtain life after the death of the flesh for those devout in faith, most mighty in hope, filled from the double font of charity. – This stanza is part of the original, but dropped out of use long before the Tridentine reform; it has been restored in the post-Conciliar Liturgy of the Hours. The use of the two olive trees as symbols of the two Apostolic founders of the Roman church comes from the fourth chapter of the Prophet Zachariah.)
The Prophet Zachariah, by Michelangelo, depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-12).
Sit Trinitáti sempiterna gloria,
Honor, potestas atque jubilatio,
In unitáte, cui manet imperium,
Ex tunc et modo, per aeterna sæcula. Amen.

(To the Trinity be everlasting glory, honor, might, and rejoicing, in that unity that ever hath rule from then and now, through all ages. Amen.)

Traditionally, this hymn in its various versions was sung at both Vespers of Ss Peter and Paul. In the post-Conciliar Liturgy of the Hours, it is sung only at First Vespers, but in the original version, with the added stanza O felix Roma, and the restored fourth stanza Olivae binae. (This is the text used in the recording above.) At Second Vespers, the hymn by Paulinus of Aquileia, ca. 800 AD, which provided the stanza O Roma felix, is now sung.

The two stanzas of the traditional hymn of Lauds were originally also part of Aurea luce, placed between Janitor caeli and Olivae binae; the doxology Sit Trinitati is repeated at the end. 
Jam, bone pastor, Petre, clemens accipe
Vota precantum, et peccati vincula
Resolve tibi potestate tradita,
Qua cunctis caelum verbo claudis, aperis.

(Now, good shepherd, Peter, mercifully receive the prayers of those who beseech thee, and by he power given to thee, release the bonds of sin, who by thy word open or close heaven to all.)  

Doctor egregie, Paule, mores instrue
Et mente polum nos transferre satage,
Donec perfectum largiatur plenius
Evacuato, quod ex parte gerimus.

(Renowned Doctor, o Paul, instruct our manners, and work greatly to bring us in mind to heaven, until that which is perfect be bestowed more fully, and what we do imperfectly annulled.)

Sacred Art That Survived the Oppression of the Church in Britain and Ireland Up for Auction

Here is another in the occasional series of pieces by my friend in England, Andrew Marlborough, who worked in the art gallery business for 10 years before joining seminary in England, highlighting pieces coming up for auction. The hope is to encourage people to consider looking at auction houses as possible sources for art and sacred vessels that might still serve their religious purpose.

Andrew writes: Catholic sacred art which survived penal times is of the greatest importance. It is the material expression of the endurance and even flourishing of the faith under persecution. Among these objects, sacred vessels used in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are surely the most significant. Some of you may have read my previous article which included an Irish silver recusant chalice, used by Fr John Barnewall to celebrate Mass during penal times in Ireland in the late 17th and early 18th century. 
Another exceptionally rare Irish chalice is appearing at auction on July 2nd at Duke’s in Dorchester in Dorset, England. This example was made in the late 15th century, shortly before the Reformation, probably in Cork, and would surely have been used during times of persecution. It is incredibly rare for such a piece to come to auction with comparable chalices in major museum collections. The pre-sale estimate is £5,000-10,000 and it may well go beyond that. For someone with the funds, this is a great opportunity to own an important piece of Catholic history, and perhaps to enable it to be used again one day in Holy Mass.
In April this year, a 17th-century English silver recusant Pax appeared at auction. This object was used at the kiss of peace in Mass. It is inspiring to know that this would have been kissed with great devotion by persecuted Catholics longing for the peace of Christ in the midst of great suffering. A more affordable but nonetheless important piece of sacred art, it sold for £220 (plus commission).
Before the Reformation, Nottingham in England was the center of a thriving school of alabaster carving which was famous throughout Europe for its quality. Many of these objects were destroyed but do appear at auction from time to time. A good example was this small piece depicting the Holy Trinity with Saints, which was a popular theme of the school. It sold for £6,000 (plus commission).
Andrew Marlborough is a 5th-year seminarian for Plymouth Diocese in the UK, studying at Allen Hall in London. Before entering seminary he worked for 10 years in the auction and art gallery business.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Piously Discarding Blessed Wax: A Quodlibetal Question

One of the small but still significant changes in my life as a Roman Catholic occurred when I moved to a place where my parish was, for the first time, a dedicated old-rite parish. Although I had participated at other times in usus antiquior liturgies that involved solemn blessings, the people in attendance were not accustomed to life in the midst of such blessings, and the clergy did not think of encouraging the faithful to bring heaps of herbs or wine or water or candles, etc., to be specially blessed. In other words, we did the blessings, but they had not yet spilled over into everyday life. At traditional parishes, on the other hand, the community looks forward to these days, the bulletin reminds everyone of them, and sure enough, families arrive bearing baskets or boxes of items to be blessed. Case in point: Candlemas. Once you read the potent blessing of candles that takes place on February 2nd in the usus antiquior, you want to bring a supply of candles and get them blessed.

However, everyone knows what happens with votive candles, tea-lights, and even tapers: they burn down to a certain point, and then the wick is no more, leaving a chunk of wax residue. Depending on how well or poorly a given candle has burned, there can be a decent amount of leftover wax. For a short time, I was throwing away the remainders, but then I began to have qualms about discarding the wax of candles that had been solemnly blessed. So I asked four theologically astute priests for their opinions on what should be done with these scraps. I was intrigued to receive four answers that overlapped in some ways and diverged greatly in others. Here are the first three:

1. The grave danger of disposing of blessed items, fundamentally, is that they may fall into the hands of those who would use them for the occult or other blasphemous purposes. There’s probably little chance of this in the case of candle hubs. Still, out of an abundance of caution, one could bury them or cast them into a “holy fire.” I do not know if maybe houses of religious sisters would be grateful to receive the remnant to melt back into new candles?

2. Your instincts are right and Catholic! Once something is blessed, it should not be simply discarded with the trash. So from time to time I suggest you make a bonfire in your backyard, and throw the tealights on to it. The waxy residue will burn away, and you can then throw the probably blackened and crumpled aluminum containers into the trash. Sed contra: Beware of scrupulosity!

3. The blessing is for a candle, not the wax. When the object no longer can be considered a candle (e.g. it is a molten mass of wax), it has lost its blessing. Remember that if an altar or church is damaged beyond the point where it can function as what it is, it loses its consecration and would have to be reconsecrated upon rebuilding. What was a candle, if it can no longer serve as a candle, is a candle no more.

The tension between the first two answers and the third prompted me to pose it as a “quodlibetal question” to an English Dominican Thomist, who sent me the following thorough reply, which I now share with readers, as I believe he has offered the definitive answer.

A side table with candles brought by the faithful to be blessed
Respondeo dicendum quod: a thing is a sacramental when it has been blessed for the purpose of signifying some holy thing, so that it may dispose the one who uses it rightly to a greater union with God.

“Now a thing of this kind may signify in two ways, namely in virtue of its substance or in virtue of some accident. In virtue of its substance indeed when this substance is also used in the worship of the Church, for example as the matter of some sacrament; hence the faithful are wont to make use of holy water and blessed oil, even though these are not blessed with the blessing received by baptismal water or by the sacramental oils. A thing is apt to signify in virtue of some accident when by its shape or colour or something of that kind it takes on a resemblance to Christ or to His Cross or to one of the saints.

“Now wax is used by the Church in her sacred rites, not indeed as the matter of some sacrament, but to provide an illumination to accompany her rites in honour of Christ the true light by whom our minds are enlightened in these rites themselves, and therefore it is a substance apt to be used by the faithful in their private exercises of piety, since He is present also to the faithful when they pray to the Father in secret.

“However, that the wax is shaped in a certain fashion, for example as a cylinder or something of that kind, is done not for the sake of signifying something holy, but only on account of a certain utility, namely, that the wick may be elevated and use up the wax efficiently and thus illuminate more widely and for a longer time. Hence it follows that the loss of the form of a candle does not remove the blessing from the wax; whence in the blessing of candles we do not ask that a ‘candle’ be blessed but that ‘a creature of wax’ be blessed.

“Therefore the wax that remains when a candle has been burnt should not be discarded with other off-casts, just as neither should other sacramentals such as scapulars and rosaries, and this not only lest they fall into the hands of unbelievers for mockery but also because they have in a certain way been raised above other creatures by the Church’s bidding. Rather, this wax should be resolved into its elements by means of fire, or left to decay upon the earth.

“However, if what remains is of some notable quantity, then it may even be sent to a guild of artisans or to holy women in order that they may use it to fashion new candles. Nor does it matter if the same portion of wax in consequence be blessed a second time or even more often; just as we ourselves bless our body with holy water repeatedly, even within a single day.

“Hence the reply to the objections is clear.”

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Omission of 1 Corinthians 11, 27-29 from the Ordinary Form Lectionary: What We Know, and a Hypothesis

The recent discussion and vote of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on whether to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist [1] has spurred much discussion online, once again, about the omission of 1 Corinthians 11, 27-29 from the lectionary of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Dr Peter Kwasniewski examined this omission here on NLM some years back, and it is one of the better-known omissions in the Mass lectionary of the OF. [2] The passage in question reads as follows (omitted verses in italics):
Brethren: (23) I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, (24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (25) In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (26) For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (27) Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. (28) Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (29) For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement on himself. (ESV-CE)
As there is a lot of speculation about this particular omission and the reasons behind it, I thought I would share what I have managed to find out in the course of my study and research into the post-Vatican II reform of the lectionary. The picture is not yet complete, but I think there is enough information to form a tentative hypothesis as to how 1 Corinthians 11, 27-29 ended up being omitted from the reformed lectionary.
*     *     *
Vatican II’s Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, asked in no. 51 that “the most important parts/a more representative portion” (praestantior pars) of the Bible be read at Mass “in the course of a prescribed number of years” (intra praestitutum annorum spatium). [3] Coetus XI of the Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia [4] would subsequently be the study group in charge of putting together the reformed order of readings. By July 1967, their work had progressed to the point where a draft Ordo lectionum for Sundays, weekdays and certain Saints’ days was published and sent out for consultation to each episcopal conference, all the participants in the first Synod of Bishops, and around 800 biblical, liturgical, pastoral and catechetical experts. [5] Fr Annibale Bugnini, the secretary of the Consilium, tells us that around 460 responses were received as a result of this consultation, made up of 300 pages of general remarks and 6,650 ‘file cards’ on individual pericopes. [6]

For the feast of Corpus Christi, two sets of readings were provided in the 1967 Ordo lectionum: one designated in die, and one designated in solemnitate. The in die readings are largely similar to the existing ones in the 1962 Missale Romanum, with the addition of an Old Testament reading and responsorial psalm:
  • First Reading: Exodus 24, 3-8
  • Responsorial Psalm: 115[116]:12+14, 15+16ac, 17-18 (R. 13)
  • Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11, 23-29
  • Gospel Acclamation: John 6, 56 [Nova Vg = v. 55]
  • Gospel: John 6, 56-59 [Nova Vg = vv. 55-58]
Ordo lectionum pro dominicis, feriis et festis sanctorum (Schema 233, July 1967), p. 74
It is vital to note that the second reading proposed here is identical to the 1962 Missal’s epistle for Corpus Christi. No verses have been omitted. [7] The Gospel reading is also unchanged from the 1962 Missal, with the first half of the Alleluia verse here proposed as the Gospel Acclamation.

The readings designated in solemnitate are as follows:
  • First Reading: Proverbs 9, 1-5
  • Responsorial Psalm: 22[23], 1-2a, 2b-3, 5, 6 (R. 5ad)
  • Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10, 14-21
  • Gospel Acclamation: John 6, 57 [Nova Vg = v. 56]
  • Gospel: Luke 22, 14-20
Ordo lectionum pro dominicis, feriis et festis sanctorum (Schema 233, July 1967), p. 75
Aside from the Gospel Acclamation, which is the second half of the 1962 Missal’s Alleluia verse, the readings proposed here are new to Corpus Christi. The Gospel is taken from the votive Mass of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest in the 1962 Missale.

We can see, then, that at a fairly advanced stage in the reform, 1 Corinthians 11, 27-29 was still going to be included in the revised lectionary. So, what happened?

As a result of the consultation mentioned above, a number of changes were made to the 1967 draft. In his account of the liturgical reform, Bugnini writes that:
[T]he system was radically revised in January 1968: passages regarded as too difficult were eliminated; missing passages were added; the division into verses was improved; the readings for the Sundays of Lent and some major feasts were changed. The most important changes were made on the occasion of the tenth general meeting of the Consilium (April 1968)… It was the periti to whom the international questionnaire had been sent who suggested that on the major solemnities alternative passages be provided at least for the gospel, without the feast thereby losing its characteristic tonality. [8]
Coetus XI themselves give us a little more information in their schema of April 1968:
The feast of Corpus Christi. For this feast, the Ordo distinguished between readings in die and readings in sollemnitate. Many periti doubted the usefulness of the readings in sollemnitate, and proposed that three complete formularies would be better, according to the three-year cycle. The texts would then appear sufficient and also be of great importance. We accepted this proposition. In this way, it is additionally possible to read the pericope from Mark, which otherwise is heard by the people only on Palm Sunday in the context of the whole Passion narrative. [9]
The readings for Corpus Christi were thus changed for the 1969 editio typica of the Ordo lectionum Missae to the following:

Year A
  • First Reading: Deuteronomy 8, 2-3; 14b-16a
  • Responsorial Psalm: 147, 12-13; 14-15; 19-20 (R. 12a)
  • Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 10, 16-17 [note: this lection is taken from the “in solemnitate” formulary in the 1967 draft, and has been shortened]
  • Gospel Acclamation: John 6, 51
  • Gospel: John 6, 51-58 [note: this lection is taken from the “in die” formulary of the 1967 draft, and has been lengthened]
Year B
  • First Reading: Exodus 24, 3-8 [note: this lection is taken from the “in die” formulary of the 1967 draft]
  • Responsorial Psalm: 115[116]: 12-13, 15+16bc, 17-18 (R. 13) [note: this psalm is taken from the “in die” formulary of the 1967 draft, with some small changes in the verses used]
  • Second Reading: Hebrews 9, 11-15
  • Gospel Acclamation: = Year A
  • Gospel: Mark 14, 12-16; 22-26
Year C
  • First Reading: Genesis 14, 18-20
  • Responsorial Psalm: 109: 1, 2, 3, 4. (R. 4bc)
  • Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11, 23-26 [note: this lection is taken from the “in die” formulary of the 1967 draft, and has been shortened]
  • Gospel Acclamation: = Year A
  • Gospel: Luke 9, 11b-17
Ordo lectionum Missae, editio typica altera (1981), pp. 94-95
With the introduction of the three-year cycle to the feast of Corpus Christi and the changes made by Coetus XI, the traditional epistle reading was thus, lamentably, both shorn of verses 27-29 and relegated to being read only in Year C.

Unfortunately, we are still missing the one last major piece of this puzzle: the 460 responses from the consultation. In the absence of this information, one cannot say for certain why 1 Corinthians 11, 27-29 was removed from the epistle reading for Year C, but I think the existing data allows us to construct a reasonable hypothesis.

I have mentioned previously on NLM the remarks of Dom Adrian Nocent, O.S.B., on “advertising” the lectionary in the context of the debate within Coetus XI: “Some, for example, arguing from modern advertising methods, wanted to have only the ipsissima verba Christi proclaimed in a single sentence. This could have made a deep impression on the hearers.” [10] Although this slightly bizarre idea was rejected by the members of the group, the fact that it was discussed at all would seem to indicate that at least a minority of Coetus XI were generally in favour of shorter rather than longer readings. The group’s early comments on the length of some of the pericopes suggested to them by biblical experts are also indicative of this:
Many have noted that certain pericopes as they have been selected by the biblicists are very long, especially those selected from the Old Testament, while on the contrary others, according to exegetical principles, are divided here or there, and are clearly shorter. […]

What, in our judgement, seems proper according to pedagogic principles?

– if pericopes are brief, there is not enough time for the attention of the listener to be truly established.
– if pericopes are lengthy, they will not sustain the attention of the listener;
– pericopes, especially those intended to explain doctrine, must end with verses which are really attention grabbing, because immediately afterwards the attention wanes. [11]
Coetus XI obviously thought that they had the lengths of readings about right in the 1967 Ordo lectionum pro dominicis, feriis et festis sanctorum, as only seven pericopes in total are provided with optional shorter forms, all on Sundays. [12] After the consultation, however, the number of these drastically increased, and a total of forty-two pericopes on Sundays alone would be given optional short forms in the promulgated Ordo lectionum Missae.

One reason for this is that some readings were combined in order to create space for extra ones. For instance, Ephesians 1, 3-8 and 9-14, which in the 1967 draft were read on Sundays 5B and 6B after Pentecost respectively, were merged into one lection, 1, 3-14, now read on Sunday 15B per annum; this was done to reduce the number of readings from Ephesians and increase the number of readings from 2 Corinthians. [13] To compensate for this, Ephesians 1, 3-14 was given an optional short form, vv. 1-10.

These rearrangements and combinations of pericopes do not explain the majority of the short forms provided in the 1969 Ordo lectionum Missae, however. Thus, even without access to the feedback from the consultation, it seems fairly obvious that a number of the experts recommended that readings be made shorter. I suspect that the minority of Coetus XI who were in favour of shorter readings generally were very keen to highlight these parts of the feedback, which probably played the ‘we told you so’ role in the group’s discussions. I also think it is more than likely that the majority of the ad libitum short forms in the reformed lectionary as promulgated are a last-minute compromise position between those members who felt many pericopes were too long and those on the other hand who were happy with their length. [14]

Further, it also seems obvious that length was not the only consideration in the late edits made to the reformed lectionary. As Bugnini alludes to in the quote above, the experts who were consulted also seem to have suggested the excision of many “difficult texts”. For example, on every occasion in Year A of the Sunday cycle where the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth” appears, the Gospel reading (from Matthew) is given a short form that omits this phrase, a fact I have noted in a previous NLM article.

It seems to me that there are, therefore, two possible reasons why 1 Corinthians 11, 27-29 went missing late in the process of the post-Vatican II lectionary reform:
  1. the verses were removed because some experts, along with members of Coetus XI, thought that they were a distraction from what they saw as the ‘core’ of the passage (the institution of the Eucharist) and that making the lection shorter by dispensing with them would improve the catechetical focus of the lectionary;
  2. they were removed because it was felt that the aspect of “judgement” was too “difficult”; the obvious solution, to my mind, of lengthening the pericope to v. 32 so that it ended on a somewhat ‘positive’ note (“that we may not be condemned along with the world”) was de facto excluded due to the focus on making lections shorter.
In conclusion, as someone familiar with the schemata of Coetus XI, I am fairly confident that my hypotheses here are likely to be close to the truth of the matter. Still, it should be stated that these explanations are not mutually exclusive, and at the moment are only possible rather than definitive, given that we still lack one major piece of information (the feedback from the consultation). Charity would seem to require that malice and ill-will also be ruled out at this stage — as we lack any comments made in the consultation process of the 1967 draft lectionary, there can be no certainty about any ‘good’ or ‘bad’ intentions.

However, even if the intentions behind this omission could be construed as ‘good’ or ‘well-meaning’, it seems undeniable that, over half a century on, the removal of 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 from the Ordinary Form’s lectionary has had catastrophic effects on the liturgical, dogmatic and spiritual formation of the Catholic faithful. It is an omission that, along with many others, urgently needs to be corrected.


[1] To reiterate: this was not a discussion or vote on a document, but on whether the USCCB Committee on Doctrine should even draft such a document in the first instance. The vote passed, with 168 voting in favour and 55 against, with 6 abstentions. For more information, see here.

[2] See, for instance, this recent article on Corpus Christi Watershed. This omission is by no means the only notable one; see Dr Kwasniewski’s foreword to my 2016 book Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite for examples of others.

[3] On the translation of praestantior pars, see Gregory DiPippo, “Sacrosanctum Concilium and the New Lectionary”. For more on the Council Fathers’ suggestions and discussions about the lectionary, see my three-part NLM series “The Second Vatican Council and the Lectionary”: part one, part two, part three.

[4] The Consilium ad exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia was the organism established by Pope Paul VI to carry out the post-conciliar reform of the liturgy. The Consilium was organised into various coetus (‘study groups’), who would each be responsible for drafting particular parts of the liturgical reform; their proposed schemas would be discussed and voted on by the Fathers of the Consilium, adjusted if necessary, and then sent to the Pope for final approval.

[5] Schema 233 (De Missali, 39), July 1967: Ordo lectionum pro dominicis, feriis et festis sanctorum (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1967). In 2018, I compiled a table of readings for this draft ordo; this can be found here.

[6] Annibale Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1990), p. 419.

[7] Though it should also be noted that the epistle reading in the 1962 Missal for the evening of Maundy Thursday, 1 Corinthians 11, 20-32, was shortened in the 1967 Ordo lectionum to 11:23-29, i.e. the same lection as on Corpus Christi.

[8] Bugnini, Reform of the Liturgy, pp. 419-420. The revision of the readings was discussed by the Fathers of the Consilium on 25th April 1968: see ibid., p. 177 fn. 74, and [n.a.], “Decima sessio plenaria «Consilii»”, Notitiae 40 (1968), pp. 180-184, at p. 184.

[9] Schema 286 (De Missali, 49), 6th April 1968, p. 2:
In festo Corporis Christi. Pro hoc festo Ordo distinguebat lectiones in die et lectiones in sollemnitate. Multi periti dubitant de utilitate lectionum in sollemnitate, et proponunt ut potius fiant tria formularia completa secundum cyclum trium annorum. Textus sufficientes adsunt et sunt item magni momenti. Ideo accepimus propositionem. Hoc modo poterit legi etiam pericopa Marci quae, secus audiretur a populo solum in Dominica Palmarum in contextu narrationis totius Passionis.
[10] See Adrian Nocent, “The Roman Lectionary for Mass” in Ansgar Chupungco (ed.), Handbook for Liturgical Studies (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1997-2000, 5 vols.), vol. 3, pp. 177-188, at p. 185.

[11] Schema 148 (De Missali, 18), 31st March 1966, p. 12:
Plures animadverterunt quasdam pericopas prout a biblicis sunt selectae esse plus aequo longiores, praesertim illae quae ex Vetere Testamento sumuntur, dum, e contra, aliae, quae iuxta principia exegeseos, hinc vel inde secantur, breviores apparent. […]
Quid iudicandum vobis videtur de principiis pedagogicis: 
– si pericopa est brevior, tempus non datur ut attentio vera auditoris inducatur; 
– si pericopa est longior, auditor non sustinet attentionem; 
– pericopae, praesertim quae doctrinam explicite intendunt, finire deberent cum versiculo qui attentionem vehementer percutit, quia statim postea attentio deficit.
It is also worth noting that, earlier in the same schema, examples of pericopes that could have longer and shorter forms are given: “Item opportunum videtur ut aliquando celebrans eligere possit inter textum longiorem et textum breviorem eiusdem pericopae pro opportunitate. V.G. Isaiae 6, 6-11 vel 1-11; 1 Regum 8, 22-26 vel 22-53; Isaiae 7, 10-17 vel 2 Regum 16, 1-5 / Isaiae 7, 10-17” (pp. 9-10). The fact that the shorter text is given first, followed by the longer one, could indicate that Coetus XI expected the shorter version to be the ‘default’, with the longer version provided as an option to be used when a priest considered it pastorally beneficial to his congregation.

[12] Namely the following:
  • Matthew 15:1, 7-20 [1, 7-11, 15-20] (Sunday 8A after Pentecost);
  • John 4:5-42 [5-26] (Sunday 3A of Lent);
  • John 9:1-38 [1-13, 24-38] (Sunday 4A of Lent);
  • John 11:1-45 [17-45] (Sunday 5A of Lent);
  • Acts 1:15-26 [15-17, 21-26] (Sunday 7B of Easter);
  • Acts 2:14, 22-32 [14, 22-24, 32] (Sunday 3A of Easter);
  • 1 Peter 2:1-10 [1-5, 9-10] (Sunday 2A of Easter). 
Only the Gospel lections for Sundays 3A-5A of Lent would be kept in place with (different) short forms.

[13] In Year B of the 1967 ordo, 2 Corinthians had only three readings on Sundays 2-4 after Pentecost, and Ephesians had ten readings over Sundays 5-14 after Pentecost. In Year B of the 1969 Ordo lectionum Missae, however, 2 Corinthians now has eight readings from Sundays 7-14 per annum, and Ephesians has seven readings from Sundays 15-21 per annum.

[14] This would also go some way to explaining the rather curious declaration in no. 75 of the Praenotanda to the Ordo lectionum Missae (1981 editio typica altera), which claims that “the editing of the shorter version has been carried out with great caution” (in huiusmodi breviationibus conficiendis magna cautela adhibita est), something that is obviously not entirely accurate!

Friday, June 25, 2021

The Most Ancient Roman Prayers of Episcopal Ordination

At the recent Summorum Pontificum Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, sponsored by the FSSP and Una Voce Mexico, I gave a talk about some historical aspects of the rites of ordination for deacons, priests and bishops. Within the format of an hour-long talk, it was of course necessary to be very succinct, so I have decided to do a series of posts on the topic here on NLM, in which I can go into the matter in greater depth. To begin with, we will have three posts with the oldest forms of the ordination prayers from the so-called Leonine Sacramentary, followed by some explanations of how their use in the liturgy evolved in the Middle Ages, and finally the changes made to them in the post-Conciliar reform.

The so-called Leonine Sacramentary
In very ancient times, individual churches within the city of Rome (and elsewhere) were free to compose their own Masses for specific occasions, and there was not, as far as we know, originally any standard collection of Masses used by all and sundry. The proper prayers of the celebrant (the Collect, Secret, Preface and Post-Communion, plus, where applicable, the variable Communicantes, which was rare, the variable Hanc igitur, which was very common, and the final prayer “over the people”) were written down on a pamphlet called a “libellus Missae – Mass booklet.” Each church had its own collection of these, but they were, of course, also often borrowed and copied by the clergy of one church from the collection of another.
The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary in Verona, Italy. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Lo Scaligero, CC BY-SA 4.0)
The oldest source of liturgical texts of the Roman Rite is a manuscript in the library of the cathedral chapter of Verona in northern Italy (Cod. Bibl. Capit. Veron. 80), commonly known as “the Leonine Sacramentary,” a collection of these libelli Missarum originally made in Rome itself. Its dating and raison d’etre have been the subject of a huge amount deal of scholarly debate; the 1966 critical edition by Dom Leo Mohlberg OSB includes a bibliography on just the question of the dating, with over 80 entries. Broadly speaking, the Verona manuscript seems to be a copy made in the first quarter of the 7th century of a collection made about 40 years earlier. The name “Leonine Sacramentary” is essentially a fancy of its discoverer, a canon of Verona named Giuseppe Bianchini (1704-64), who was in his time a highly respected scholar of Christian antiquity.
The collection is in every way extremely irregular, as are many of the individual Masses it contains, several of which have multiple alternative collects, or two prefaces, while others are lacking various parts. The first three quires of the manuscript are now missing, and so if it ever had a prologue which explained why it was made, and made as such, with less rhyme or reason than one would expect as to both the contents and their arrangement, this is now lost. However, there is a conjecture which I think would well account for its wild irregularity.
For almost 20 years in the mid-6th century, the Italian peninsula was wracked by a terrible war between the Ostrogoths, who had ruled Rome and most of Italy since 493, and the Byzantines under the Emperor Justinian, who sought to regain control of their ancient capital and the heart of the Roman Empire. Beginning in March of 537, the First Rome was besieged for a year, and most of its famous aqueducts were broken. In 546, the city was sacked, and in 549-50, subjected to another siege, at the end of which, a notable portion of the population fled. It is guessed that about fifty years later, when St Gregory the Great was, as Pope, effectively the ruler of Rome and environs under the suzerainty of Byzantium, the population was down to perhaps around 80,000, perhaps rather fewer than that, living in a city built for 1.5 million.
A broken section of the Aqua Marcia, an aqueduct originally constructed in 144-40 BC, near Tivoli; 1832, by Thomas Cole (1801-48. Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)
In such a situation, we may well imagine that the rationale for compiling such a large number of libelli Missarum in so irregular a fashion was simply to preserve as much of Rome’s liturgical tradition as possible, for fear that otherwise, if the city were once again sacked or depopulated, that tradition might well be lost in whole or in part.
If this is in fact the reason for making the collection, it is highly significant that while it has (just to give a few examples) 43 separate Masses for Martyrs in Eastertide, 28 for Ss Peter and Paul, and 31 “daily” Masses, it has only one formula for the consecration of bishops, only one for the “blessing” of deacons (as it is called), and only one for the consecration of priests. It thus becomes even more important to note that these same prayers, although they have in some respects changed form over time, are the same found in all pertinent liturgical books of the Roman Rite throughout the following centuries until 1968, and are still used in the traditional ordination rites to this day. It is not an exaggeration to say that they are among the most ancient, the most consistently used, and most Roman parts of the Roman Rite.
The Leonine Prayers for the Consecration of Bishops
Under the heading “Consecratio Episcoporum – the Consecration of Bishops”, the Leonine Sacramentary has first a Mass, with the three prayers and a proper Hanc igitur (numbers 942-45 in Mohlberg’s edition.) These parts are not labeled with rubrics in the manuscript itself.
Collect Exaudi, Domine, supplicum praeces, ut quod nostro gerendum est ministerio, tua potius uirtute peragatur. – Hear, o Lord, the prayers of Thy suppliants, so that what is to be done by our ministry may be completed rather by Thy power.
Secret Suscipe, Domine, quaesumus, munera famuli tui illius, et propitius in eodem tua dona custodi. – Receive, o Lord, we ask Thee, the offices (or “gifts”) of Thy servant N., and mercifully preserve Thy gifts within him.
Hanc igitur oblationem, quam tibi offerimus pro illo famulo tuo, quem ad pontificalem gloriam promouere dignatus es, quaesumus, Domine, placatus accipias; ut quod diuino munere consecutus est, diuinis effectibus exsequatur. – We therefore ask, o Lord, that Thou peaceably accept this offering which we make to Thee for N. Thy servant, whom Thou has deigned to promote to the glory of the episcopacy, so that when he has obtained by divine gift, he may carry out with divine effects (or “purposes.”)
Post Communion Adesto, misericors Deus, ut quod actum est nostrae seruitutis officio, tua benedictione firmetur. – Be present, o merciful God, so that what has been done by the function of our service may be strengthened by Thy blessing.
In the Missal of St Pius V, the Collect of the Mass for the consecration of a bishop is similar in thought and wording to this one, but not identical; the Secret and Hanc igitur are identical, but the Post-Communion is completely different.
The consecration of a bishop; illustration from an edition of the Roman Pontifical made in France in the first quarter of the 16th century for Louis Guillart d’Épichelière, bishop of Tournai and almoner of King Francis I. (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits. Latin 955, folio 66v.)
There follow two more prayers (946 and 947 in Mohlberg), one short and one long, both of which are found in the Pontifical of Pope Clement VIII and its medieval predecessors. (It is an oddity, typical of the Leonine Sacramentary’s disorganized state, that the prayers of the Mass refer to a single bishop, while the consecration prayers assume that more than one man is being consecrated.)
Propitiare, Domine, supplicationibus nostris, et inclinato super hos famulos tuos cornu gratiae sacerdotalis, benedictionis tuae in eos effunde uirtutem. – Be favorable, o Lord, to our supplications, and having inclined the horn of the priestly grace over these Thy servants, pour forth upon them the power of Thy blessing.
The expression “horn of Thy grace” refers to the horn-shaped vessel in which oil for anointings was kept, as mentioned in regard to the anointings of the kings David (1 Sam. 16, 13) and Solomon (3 Kings 1, 39).
Folio 214r of the Gellone Sacramentary, ca. 780 AD, with the prayer “Deus honorum omnium” in the rite of episcopal consecration. (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits. Latin 12048. In the matter of digitization, Italian libraries are miles behind their counterparts in France, Germany and the UK, and there does not appear to be a single picture of the Leonine Sacramentary available anywhere on the internet.)
The second prayer is considerably longer. The Latinity of it is very sophisticated, and some explanation of the imagery it employs will be given below. The irregular spellings are original; the division of it into two parts is in Mohlberg’s edition, and reflects a division in the manuscript.
Deus honorum omnium, Deus omnium dignitatum quae gloriae tuae sacratis famulantur ordinibus, Deus, qui Mosen famulum tuum, secreti familiaris adfatu, inter cetera caelestis documenta culturae de habitu quoque indumenti sacerdotalis instituens, electum Aharon mystico amictu uestiri inter sacra iussisti, ut intellegentiae sensum de exemplis priorum caperet secutura posteritas, ne eruditio doctrinae tuae ulli deesset aetati; cum et aput ueteres reuerentiam ipsa significationum species optineret, et aput nos certiora essent experimenta rerum quam enigmata figurarum. Illius namque sacerdotii anterioris habitus nostrae mentis ornatus est, et pontificalem gloriam non iam nobis honor commendat uestium, sed splendor animorum: quia et illa, quae tunc carnalibus blandiebantur obtutibus, ea potius, quae in ipsis erant intellegenda, poscebant.
Et idcirco his famulis tuis, quos ad summi sacerdotii ministerium deligisti, hanc, quaesumus, Domine, gratiam largiaris, ut quidquid illa uelamina in fulgore auri, in nitore gemmarum, in multimodi operis uarietate signabant, hoc in horum moribus actibusque clariscat. Conple in sacerdotibus tuis mysterii tui summam, et ornamentis totius glorificationis instructos, caelestis unguenti fluore sanctifica. Hoc, Domine, copiosae in eorum caput influat, hoc in oris subiecta decurrat, hoc in totius corporis extrema descendat, ut tui spiritus uirtus et interiora horum repleat et exteriora circumtegat. Abundet in his constantia fidei, puritas dilectionis, sinceritas pacis. Tribuas eis cathedram episcopalem ad regendam aeclesiam tuam et plebem uniuersam. Sis eis auctoritas, sis eis potestas, sis eis firmitas. Multiplices super eos benedictionem et gratiam tuam, ut ad exorandam semper misericordiam tuam tuo munere idonei, tua gratia possint esse deuoti.
A statue of Aaron by Nicholas Cordier, in the Borghese chapel of St Mary Major in Rome, 1609-12
God of all honors, God of all dignities which serve Thy glory in sacred orders, God, who among other matters of heavenly worship, didst instruct Thy servant Moses in secret and familiar speech about the nature of priestly vesture, and order that Aaron, Thy chosen one, should be clad in mystic robes during the sacred functions, so that following generations might receive understanding from the examples of their predecessors, lest the knowledge of Thy instruction should go wanting in any age, since, indeed, among the ancients, the very appearance of things signified would be an object of reverence, and among us there would be the proofs of the things themselves more certain than the mysteries of figures. For the adornment of our minds is that which was expressed by the outward vesture of that former priesthood, and now, it not the honor of the garments, but rather the splendor of souls that commends the pontifical glory to us. For even those things which then pleased the eyes of the flesh, demanded rather that what they signified should be understood.
And therefore we beseech Thee, O Lord, give bountifully this grace to these Thy servants, whom Thou hast chosen to the ministry of the supreme priesthood, so that whatsoever those garments signified by the shining of gold, the splendor of jewels, and the variety of many forms of work, may shine forth in their character and deeds. Fulfill in Thy priests the perfection of Thy mystery, and sanctify with the flow of heavenly ointment them that are adorned with the ornaments of all beauty. May this, O Lord, flow abundantly upon their head, may this run down upon their beard, may this extend unto the extremities of their whole body, so that the power of Thy Spirit may be fill them within, clothe them over without. May there abound in them constancy of faith, purity of love, and sincerity of peace. Grant them an episcopal throne to rule Thy Church and all the people. Be Thou their authority, their power and their strength. Multiply upon them Thy blessing and grace, so that, being always suited by Thy gift to beseech Thy mercy, they may be able to be devout by Thy grace.
The first paragraph of this prayer is an anacolouthon, which is to say, grammatically incomplete; the address to the “God of all honors” does not conclude with its own verb. Here we see the great antiquity of the tradition by which the priesthood of the Old Testament is seen as a prefiguration of that of the New; this theme also appears in the parallel prayers of the priestly and diaconal ordinations. The idea that the garment of the high priest and the details of its decoration revealed to Moses by God on Mt Sinai (Exodus 28) had a mystical meaning is extremely ancient. Indeed, it is found in the Bible itself in the Book of Wisdom. “For in the priestly robe which he wore was (represented) the whole world: and in the four rows of the stones the glory of the fathers was graven, and thy majesty was written upon the diadem of his head.” (18, 24)
There are no rubrics alongside these prayers, so we cannot be certain as to exactly what ceremonies accompanied them as they were said. In later rites, however, including the early medieval rites which find their way into the Pontifical of Clement VIII, the anointing of the bishop by his consecrator takes place before the words “May this, o Lord, flow abundantly...”; from the context, it seems very likely that this was already the case when this prayer was originally composed. The words “May this, O Lord, flow abundantly upon their head, may this run down upon their beard, may this extend unto the extremities of their whole body”, are a paraphrase of Psalm 132, 2, which explicitly mentions priestly anointing, and the figure of Aaron, the first priest of the Old Covenant. “Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, which ran down to the skirt of his garment.”
The next article in this series will be a brief detour from the main topic, and present an interesting anomaly in one of the Masses in the Leonine Sacramentary.

The Loving Collect of the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Icon of St Peter at the Monastery of St Catherine on Mt Sinai, 6th century

Lost in Translation #58

Because of their usual proximity to the feast of Ss Peter and Paul on June 29, the Fourth and Fifth Sundays after Pentecost make some allusion to the first Vicar of Christ: the Gospel of last Sunday concerned the Barque of Peter, and the Epistle of this Sunday is taken from St Peter’s First Letter (3, 8-15) Today’s Epistle and Gospel both stress the importance of being a “lover of the brotherhood,” a person who, like St Peter, truly loves his brothers and sisters in Christ in spite of everything. Indeed, our offerings to God are suspect if they are tainted by coldness or indifference to our fellow Christians (see the Gospel reading). Today’s Collect, a brief but breathtakingly eloquent prayer, explains why: it is by having a God-given and well-ordered love of the people and things around us that we reach the divine goods that God has promised us, goods that surpass all human desire:

Deus, qui diligéntibus te bona invisibilia præparásti: infúnde córdibus nostris tui amóris afféctum: ut te in ómnibus et super ómnia diligéntes, promissiónes tuas, quæ omne desidérium súperant, consequámur. Per Dóminum.
Which I translate as:
O God, who hast prepared invisible goods for those who love Thee: pour forth into our hearts the affect of Thy love: that loving Thee in all things and above all things, we may obtain Thy promises, which exceed every desire. Through our Lord.
There is a classical distinction between intellectus and affectus that is difficult to translate. Intellectus is an understanding of what is good, whereas affectus is the heart’s appropriation of what is good. It is a feeling but also more than that: it is a disposition, a condition, a state of being. In this Collect the Church asks God for a love that changes our disposition, to make us better lovers.
And the Collect answers what and how we shall love. The Catholic tradition rightly speaks of the virtue of contemptus mundi, of disdaining the world. But disdain is not hate: it is looking down on things that are low, but it is also seeing their true value. That is why St. Hildegard of Bingen defines contemptus mundi as “the radiance of life.” [Ordo Virtutum, 2, 114] How can disdain be radiant? By seeing through the false allures of the world, we can affirm what truly makes life worth living and start living that life. In seeing through the false, we begin to truly live.
But seeing through the false allures of the world does not mean hating all things. As the Collect lays out, the trick is to love all things as the fingerprints of God, and to love Him as superior to what He has created. The prayer reminds me of a quote from the Irish short-story author William Macken:
I will tell you this. There is no use looking and admiring beauty, unless you see what is behind it. Any man will become bored looking at beautiful things if he is just looking at them for themselves. In themselves they are poor things. It is in what they are a reflection of that their true beauty lies. You see a reflection of a wood and a mountain in a still pool. That is good. But look beyond the reflection at the real thing and the reflection at the real thing pales in your eyes. [“God Made Sunday” in God Made Sunday and Other Stories: NYC, Macmillan Co., 1962, 45.]
Finally, the goal of loving God in all things and above all things is to attain something that exceeds our every desire. Our current age is besot with lusts, desires, and unreal aspirations. The temptation is to recoil from this pornographic, polyamorous, consumerist cesspool and become Stoic--numb, immune to desire, unfeeling (I am hearing Simon and Garfunkel's “I am a Rock” in the backroads of my mind). But the Collect corrects this impulse. The problem with us is not that that we desire too much, but that we desire too little. Our Catholic faith does not reduce our desires but increases them: it make us, in the true sense of the word, more erotic. And yet, even so, God will reward us above and beyond these heightened, heavenly desires. The Collect beautifully channels what we already know from 1 Corinthians 2, 9: “That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him.”

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Corpus Christi 2021 Photopost (Part 4)

We finally come to the last of this year’s Corpus Christ photoposts, also including some celebrations of the feast of the Sacred Heart. Thanks once again to everyone who shared these with us!

St Aloysius Gonzaga – Spokane, Washington
Pontifical Mass and Eucharistic procession in the traditional rite, celebrated by H.E. Abp Thomas Gullickson, retired Apostolic Nuncio to Switerland and Lichtenstein, during the recent Sacred Liturgy Conference. Photos by Marc Salvatore.

The Dawn Mass of St John the Baptist

St Augustine notes that John the Baptist is the only Saint whose birth the Church celebrates, apart from that of the Savior Himself, since the feast of the Virgin Mary’s Birth had not yet been instituted in his time. This custom is observed in fulfillment of the Angel Gabriel’s words to John’s father Zachariah, which are read in the Gospel of the vigil, that “Many shall rejoice in his birth.” (Luke 1, 14) In the Carolingian period, the custom emerged by which the Roman Rite celebrated two Masses on June 24th, one to be celebrated early in the morning, after Prime, and another after Terce, as attested in the oldest copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary. These correspond to the dawn and day Masses of Christmas; the greater solemnity of the birth of Christ, of whom John himself said “I must wane that He may wax”, is proclaimed by the fact that it is celebrated with three Masses.

This custom of the two Masses gradually died out, and was observed only in a few places at the time of the Tridentine liturgical reform; the Mass which survived, and is included in the Missal of St Pius V, is the second one, and the older of the two. Here is the full text of the dawn Mass; medieval commentators such as William Durandus noted that the day Mass was the more solemn, since it has more proper texts, while most of the Gregorian chants for the dawn Mass are also used on the feasts of other Saints.

Folio 174v of a 13th century Missal according to the Use of Paris, with the morning Mass of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, beginning in the upper part of the left column, and the day Mass beginning at the lower right. (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des manuscrits. Latin 1112)
The introit is one used in Roman Missal for the feasts of simple Confessors, but the same words from Psalm 91 are also used in the Office of a Martyr.
Introitus Ps. 91 Justus ut palma florébit: sicut cedrus Líbani multiplicábitur: plantátus in domo Dómini, in atriis domus Dei nostri. ℣. Bonum est confitéri Dómino: et psállere nómini tuo, Altíssime. Glória Patri. Justus ut palma...
Introit The just man shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus, planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. ℣. It is good to give praise to the Lord, and to sing to Thy name, O most High. Glory be. The just man...
The three proper prayers of the Mass are all found in the Gregorian Sacramentary, and the Missals of those Uses which retained the dawn Mass until the post-Tridentine reform.
Collecta Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut qui beati Joannis Baptistae solemnia colimus, ejus apud te intercessione muniamur. Per.
Collect Grant, we ask, almighty God, that we who keep the solemnity of blessed John the Baptist, may be defended by his intercession. Through Our Lord...

The Epistle for this Mass varies from one Use to another; in the Parisian version shown above, it is taken from Isaiah 48 (verses 17-19), the chapter preceding that from which the Epistle of the day Mass is taken.

Thus saith the Lord thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord thy God that teach thee profitable things, that govern thee in the way that thou walkest. O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments: thy peace had been as a river, and thy justice as the waves of the sea, and thy seed had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy womb like the gravel thereof: his name should not have perished, nor have been destroyed from before my face.

The Gradual repeats the text of the Introit, with the second verse of the same Psalm.

Graduale Justus ut palma florébit: sicut cedrus Líbani multiplicábitur: plantátus in domo Dómini, in atriis domus Dei nostri. ℣. Ad annuntiandum mane misericordiam tuam, et veritatem tuam per noctem.
Gradual The just man shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus, planted in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. V. To show forth thy mercy in the morning, and thy truth in the night.

In some places, the Alleluia repeats the same words from Psalm 91 a third time, but in others, it was taken from the Savior’s own testimony to the greatness of John, from Matthew 11, 11.

Alleluja, alleluja. Inter natos mulierum, non surrexit major Joanne Baptista. Alleluja. (Among those born of woman, there hath arisen no greater than John the Baptist.)
The Preaching of John the Baptist, by Domenico Ghirlandaio, in the Tornabuoni Chapel of Santa Maria Novella, the Dominican parish in Florence, 1485-1490.
On the vigil, the Gospel, Luke 1, 5-17, tells of the Angel Gabriel’s appearance to Zachariah in the temple, and his prophecy of the conception and birth of John. In the Missal of St Pius V, the story of Zachariah’s doubting of the Angel’s words, and being struck dumb, and the words of Elizabeth about her conception are not read; this was the Gospel of the dawn Mass, verses 18-25.

At that time: Zachary said to the angel: Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years. And the angel answering, said to him: I am Gabriel, who stand before God: and am sent to speak to thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. And behold, thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be able to speak until the day wherein these things shall come to pass, because thou hast not believed my words, which shall be fulfilled in their time. And the people were waiting for Zachary; and they wondered that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, he could not speak to them: and they understood that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he made signs to them, and remained dumb. And it came to pass, after the days of his office were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days, Elizabeth his wife conceived, and hid herself five months, saying: Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he hath had regard to take away my reproach among men.

The Annunciation to Zachariah, by Giovanni di Paolo (ca. 1455-60; public domain image from the website of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.)
The Offertory is taken from the Mass of Confessors.
Offertorium In virtute tua, Domine, laetabitur justus, et super salutare tuum exsultabit vehementer; desiderium animae ejus tribuisti ei.
Offertory In thy strength, O Lord, the just man shall rejoice, and in thy salvation he shall exsult exceedingly; thou hast given him his soul’s desire.

Secreta Munera, Domine, oblata sanctifica; et intercedente beato Joanne Baptista, nos per haec a peccatorum nostrorum maculis emunda. Per...
Secret O Lord, sanctify the gifts offered; and by the intercession of blessed John the Baptist, through them cleanse us from the stains of our sins. Through Our Lord...

The Communion antiphon is one commonly used for the feasts of Confessors.

Communio Posuísti, Dómine, super caput ejus corónam de lápide pretióso.
Communion Thou hast set, o Lord, upon his head a crown of precious stones.

Postcommunio Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: ut qui caelestia alimenta percepimus, intercedente beato Joanne baptista, per haec contra omnia adversa muniamur. Per...
Postcommunio Grant, we ask, almighty God, that we who have received the food of heaven, by the intercession of blessed John the Baptist, may through it be defended from all adversities. Through our Lord...

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