Thursday, October 28, 2021

Change for Change’s Sake? The Orations for Ss Simon and Jude in the Traditional and Reformed Roman Missals

Today’s feast of Saints Simon and Jude, inscribed in both the traditional and reformed Roman calendars on October 28th, provides more insight into the general spirit of the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms, as well as the freedom the members of the Consilium ad exsequendam felt they had when it came to changing the liturgy. In a comparative index of first lines, it would appear as though no changes were made to the prayers of this feast in the course of the reform. However, as we will see, this is far from the case.

The source for today’s Collect in the usus antiquior is as follows: [1]
Deus, qui nos per beatos apostolos tuos
ad cognitionem tui nominis venire tribuisti, 
da nobis eorum gloriam sempiternam
et proficiendo celebrare et celebrando proficere. (CO 1906)
The Mass of Ss Simon and Jude in a Missal produced in the mid-11th century, and long used at the Abbey of St Denis in Paris. This manuscript represents an intermediate stage between the more ancient sacramentaries and the later medieval missals; the Gregorian propers have been integrated into the text alongside the prayers, but the Scriptural lessons have not. Note the interesting way the neume of the Communio strays into the margin. (Bibliothèque nationale de France. Département des Manuscrits. Latin 9436, folio 110r)
This prayer, extant since at least the eighth century, has been used in Masses of the Apostles (seven manuscripts) and, more frequently, specifically for Saints Simon and Jude (thirty-eight manuscripts, twenty-six of which insert Simonem et Iudam after apostolos tuos). [2] Its textual transmission is remarkably stable, with the only recorded variations being as follows:
  • two manuscripts of the seven where this prayer is used in Masses of the Apostles omit the word tuos;
  • one manuscript where this prayer is used for Saints Simon and Jude reads tui sancti nominis instead of tui nominis;
  • twelve manuscripts where this prayer is used for Saints Simon and Jude lack any specific mention of the two apostles.
These are all very minor variations. The text as it appears in the 1962 Missale Romanum also differs in one other very minor way from its source, reading agnitionem in place of cognitionem. This change seems to have been consolidated at the time of the first printed Missals. [3] It should be noted, however, that cognitionem is the better-attested and original reading. So, in the course of a reform of the liturgy that claimed to be a “restoration”, [4] one might have expected agnitionem to be adjusted back to cognitionem. Not only did this not happen, but the prayer was changed by the Consilium in a way unknown in liturgical history. 
As it appears in the 1970/2008 Missale Romanum, the Collect is as follows: 
Deus, qui nos per beátos Apóstolos 
ad agnitiónem tui nóminis veníre tribuísti, 
intercedéntibus sanctis Simóne et Iuda, 
concéde propítius, ut semper augeátur Ecclésia
increméntis in te credéntium populórum.
Far from restoring this particular oration, Coetus XVIII bis of the Consilium decided to completely rewrite the second half of the prayer in an entirely novel way, loosely based on Acts 5:14 (Magis autem augebatur credentium in Domino multitudo virorum ac mulierum…) and also adding the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, who have been moved to slightly further on in the Collect. Curiously, the Consilium decided to omit tuos, following the Gelasianum Vetus (probably the earliest manuscript to contain this prayer), but did not restore agnitionem back to cognitionem. Like we see in many other places in the reformed Missal, the best textual witnesses have only been half-used.
More curious, perhaps, is the change to the second half of the prayer, where the striking (and rather lovely) chiastic phrase et proficiendo celebrare, et celebrando proficere has been replaced with what is, in my opinion, a substantially less striking paraphrase of Acts 5:14. This changes the Collect’s petition somewhat: in the traditional Missal we ask, in a symbiotic way cooperating with God’s grace, to be made more holy through our own participation as members of the Church in today's feast day. It is perfectly possible – indeed, in order to cultivate a proper balance between ‘private’ devotion and ‘public’ prayer, it is necessary – to interpret this petition in both an individual and corporate sense. In the reformed Missal, on the other hand, everything is subsumed into the wider Church: we ask “that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you” (2011 ICEL), but there is now little sense in the revised Collect that this actually requires anything of us as individual Christians. 
Suffice it to say, there is nothing in Sacrosanctum Concilium that justifies the Consilium’s novel changes to this well-attested and textually very stable prayer. In fact, the intention of Coetus XVIII bis, at least to begin with, was to keep the traditional Collect for today’s feast intact, along with its Secret and Postcommunion. [5] 
Schema 287, with the proposal for the unchanged propers
for Saints Simon and Jude highlighted 
Speaking of which, how did these other prayers fare in the reform? Well, the source for the 1962 Missal’s Secret prayer is as follows:
Gloriam, domine, sanctorum apostolorum
perpetuam praecurrentes,
quaesumus, ut eandem, sacris mysteriis expiati,
dignius celebremus. (CO 2711)
This prayer is extant in six manuscripts for Masses of the Apostles, and in forty manuscripts for the Mass of Saints Simon and Jude. [6] In the 1962 Missal, tuorum Simonis et Iudæ has been added (as variously in seventeen manuscripts [7]), praecurrentes has been changed to venerantes (as in twelve manuscripts), and eandem changed to eam (as in seven manuscripts). It should be noted that there is no extant textual variation in this prayer’s concluding clause, sacris mysteriis expiati, dignius celebremus.
In the reformed Missal, the first half of the super oblata is identical to the 1962 Missal, but the second half of the prayer has been changed to read ut vota nostra suscípias et ad sacra mystéria celebránda nos digne perdúcas. We now ask the Lord to “receive our prayers and lead us to worthily celebrate the sacred mysteries” (2011 ICEL), rather than asking to be “purified by these sacred mysteries”. This change, without precedent in the manuscript tradition, was made by the Consilium presumably as part of the general drive to get rid of any “anticipatory” sacrificial language from the offertory. [8]
The source for the Postcommunion in the usus antiquior is as follows:
Perceptis, domine, sacramentis, suppliciter rogamus, 
ut, intercedentibus beatis apostolis tuis, 
quae pro illorum veneranda gerimus passione, 
nobis proficiant ad medelam. (CO 4200 d)
The Corpus orationum records eight different variants of this prayer (CO 4200 a-h). The ultimate source (CO 4200 a) is the Leonine Sacramentary, where it is a postcommunion for the June feast of Saints Peter and Paul. From there, it is used quite widely for Masses of apostles generally and individually, especially Saints Andrew (CO 4200 cA, and 4200 h), and Saints Simon and Jude (CO 4200 dA). It is also attested as being used for St Benedict (CO 4200 g). The variant for Saints Simon and Jude is extant in thirty-three manuscripts, with fifteen of them adding Simone et Iuda after tuis, and six reading exoramus in place of rogamus, as the 1962 Missal also does. There is no attested variation in the end of this prayer (nobis proficiant ad medelam) when used for Saints Simon and Jude; in fact, across all its different variations and uses, this postcommunion ends with either nobis proficiant ad medelam or nobis proficiant ad salutem.
In the post-Vatican II Missal, this postcommunion now reads as follows:
Percéptis, Dómine, sacraméntis,
súpplices in Spíritu Sancto deprecámur,
ut, quæ pro apostolórum Simónis et Iudæ
veneránda gérimus passióne,
nos in tua dilectióne consérvent.
A completely new ending has been given to this prayer: nobis proficiant ad medelam from the 1962 Missal is changed to nos in tua dilectióne consérvent, a change without precedent in its entire manuscript history across its many and varied uses. I am at a loss as to why this particular change has been made; possibly medelam was considered to have ‘negative’ connotations, but this vocabulary is used elsewhere in the reformed Missal [9] (although nowhere near as often as in the 1962 Missal). The new ending could be seen as an exceptionally vague reference to Jude 21 (vosmetipsos in dilectione Dei servate, exspectantes misericordiam Domini nostri Jesu Christi in vitam æternam), though I think this is a bit of a stretch. Mention of the Holy Spirit has also been added, and the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude deleted, both further changes that are completely without precedent in the liturgical tradition.
All this means that today's feast is, sadly, yet another example of questionable, novel changes being made to long-standing prayers, as part of a claimed “restoration” of the Roman Rite that the evidence increasingly points towards being nothing of the sort. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that what we have for today’s feast is change for change’s sake, something that cannot be justified in any way by the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (see especially n. 23: Innovationes, demum, ne fiant nisi vera et certa utilitas Ecclesiae id exigat…).
[1] In what follows, the abbreviation CO refers to E. Moeller, J.M. Clément, B.C. ’t Wallant & L.-M. Couillaud (eds.), Corpus orationum (CCSL 160-160M; Brepols, 1992-2020, 15 vols.).
[2] There is an overlap of three manuscripts where this prayer is used in both of these ways.
[3] See, for example, the 1474 Missale Romanum Mediolani (ed. R. Lippe; HBS 17; London: Harrison & Sons, 1899), which reads agnitionem.
[4] For example, see Schema 186 (De Missali, 27), 19 September 1966, p. 2; English translation from M.P. Hazell, The Proper of Time in the Post-Vatican II Liturgical Reforms (Lectionary Study Press, 2018), pp. 220-227, at p. 222:
Permulti textus, decursu temporum, vitiati sunt.
Non agitur hic de aliquo archaeologismo, quo lectio antiquior, ipso facto melior aestimaretur. Sed quibusdam mutationibus textus antiqui, sub aspectu theologico vel pastorali, reapse imminuti vel corrupti sunt…
Placetne Patribus, ut, sensu quo modo de his locuti sumus, textus orationum recognoscatur, vel in casu, emendetur? 
[Many texts, over the course of time, have become corrupted.
There is no question here of any archeologism, where older readings are considered better by that fact alone. However, certain alterations of ancient texts, carried out for theological or pastoral reasons, are in truth impairments or corruptions…
Does it please the Fathers that, in the way indicated about which we have spoken, the text of orations is to be revised or, in certain cases, amended?]
[5] See Schema 287 (De Missali, 50), 11 April 1968, p. 35.
[6] There is an overlap of two manuscripts where this prayer is used in both ways.
[7] Five manuscripts add only tuorum, another five add only Simonis et Iudæ, and seven add both.
[9] Namely: the Postcommunion for Ash Wednesday; the Collect for Monday in Week 2 of Lent; the super oblata for the Easter Vigil; and the super oblata for Saint Luke (18 October). It also occurs in the second option for the priest’s prayer before Communion in the Order of Mass (Percéptio Córporis et Sánguinis tui, Dómine Iesu Christe…), as well as in the hymn Crux fidelis on Good Friday.

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