Saturday, July 23, 2022

The Post-Vatican II Reform of the Proper of Saints in the Missale Romanum – As Told by Fr Carlo Braga, C.M. (Part 5)

This is the final part of my translation of Fr Carlo Braga's 1970 article in Ephemerides Liturgicae about the reform of the Proper of Saints in the post-Vatican II Missal. The previous four parts, published over the last few days, can be found here: part one, part two, part three, part four

In this part, Braga writes about the "recovery" of various texts and parts of texts that were considered "sound", i.e. good, solid texts, which were "still capable of offering a starting point for the prayer of today", from saints that had been removed from the General Roman Calendar.
Braga then concludes his article with the claim that the reformed Proper of Saints is "one of the most successful parts of the [reformed] Missal... faithful to the best tradition", and that the the prayers in various diocesan and religious Propers, because they were "created or revised in truly unhappy times as far as liturgical literature is concerned", should also be revised using the same criteria the Consilium used in their reform. I will leave the reader to judge whether or not these concluding remarks are accurate, or desirable.

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[p. 425] Recovery of Sound Liturgical Texts 

In the various aspects of this work of restoration or creation in the sanctoral repertoire, we must not forget a last note on all the labours, one which we could define as a “recovery operation”, which consists in reusing, in place of those texts derived from the Commons and therefore greatly exploited, other texts that following the disappearance of some feasts from the universal calendar would otherwise have disappeared from the Proper of Saints. Generally speaking, these are ancient texts which date back to the tradition of the Roman Sacramentaries, and that deserved to be saved due to their euchological, liturgical and literary value. Alongside these prayers recovered in their entirety, we should also mention that parts of prayers, also from feasts suppressed from the universal calendar, have served to correct or improve others.
    [p. 426] a) Among the texts recovered in full, the following seem worthy of mention: [29]
    Saint Blaise uses the collect of Saints Marius, Martha, Audifax and Abachum (January 19):

Exaudi, Domine, populum tuum cum beati Blasii martyris patrocinio supplicantem, ut et temporalis vitae nos tribuas gaudere pace, et aeternae reperire subsidium.

[Hear, O Lord, the supplications your people make under the patronage of the Martyr Saint Blaise, and grant that they may rejoice in peace in this present life, and find help for life eternal.]

Until now, his Mass used the collect from the Common: Deus, qui nos… annua solemnitate laetificas.
    For Saints Nereus and Achilleus, the collect of the Forty Holy Martyrs (10 March) is recovered:

Praesta, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, ut, qui gloriosos martyres Nereum et Achilleum fortes in sua confessione cognovimus, pios apud te in nostra intercessione sentiamus.

[Grant, we pray, almighty God, that we, who know the great courage of the glorious Martyrs Nereus and Achilleus in confessing you, may experience their loving intercession for us in your presence.]

Saint Pancras, on the same day but with a separate celebration, reuses the collect of Saint Agapitus (18 August):

Laetetur Ecclesia tua, Deus, beati Pancratii martyris confìsa suffragiis, atque, eius precibus gloriosis, et devota permaneat, et secura consistat.

[May your Church rejoice, O God, confident in the intercession of the Martyr Saint Pancras, and by his glorious prayers may she persevere in devotion to you and stand ever firm.]

Until now, these three martyrs, to whom Domitilla was also joined, enjoyed a more generic text than the ones now attributed to them.
    Saint John I (pope) adopts, with a short introduction derived from the collect of Saint Apollinaris (23 July), the conclusion of the collect for Saint Venantius (18 May):

Deus, fìdelium remunerator animarum, qui hunc diem beati Ioannis papae martyrio consecrasti, exaudi preces populi tui, et praesta, ut, qui eius merita veneramur, fìdei constantiam imitemur.

[O God, who reward faithful souls and who have consecrated this day by the martyrdom of Pope Saint John the First, graciously hear the prayers of your people and grant that we, who venerate his merits, may imitate his constancy in the faith.]

[p. 427] Saints Marcellinus and Peter receive the collect of St Theodore (9 November):

Deus, qui nos sanctorum martyrum Marcellini et Petri confessione gloriosa circumdas et protegis, praesta nobis ex eorum imitatione proficere, et oratione fulciri.

[O God, who surround us with protection through the glorious confession of the Martyrs Saints Marcellinus and Peter, grant that we may profit by imitating them and be upheld by their prayer.]

Saint Dominic takes up, with some slight corrections, the super oblata of Saint Peter of Verona (29 April), in which mention is made of the work of preaching:

Preces, quas tibi, Domine, offerimus, intercedente beato Dominico, clementer intende, et, huius sacrificii virtute potenti, propugnatores fidei gratiae tuae protectione confirma.

[Attend mercifully to the prayers we offer you, O Lord, by the intercession of Saint Dominic, and through the great power of this sacrifice strengthen by the protection of your grace those who champion the faith.]

Saint Januarius reuses the collect assigned up until now to Saint Symphrosa (18 July) and Saint Sixtus II (pope) and companions (martyrs) (6 August): 

Deus, qui nos concedes beati Ianuarii martyris memoriam venerari, da nobis in aeterna beatitudine de eius societate gaudere.

[O God, who grant us to venerate the memory of the Martyr Saint Januarius, give us, we pray, the joy of his company in blessed happiness for all eternity.]

Saints Cosmas and Damian are given the prayers that until now were used on Thursday in Week 3 of Lent, when the Lenten station gathered in their basilica:

C: Magnificet te, Domine, sanctorum tuorum Cosmae et Damiani veneranda memoria, quia et illis gloriam sempiternam, et opem nobis ineffabili providentia contulisti.

[May you be magnified, O Lord, by the revered memory of your Saints Cosmas and Damian, for with providence beyond words you have conferred on them everlasting glory, and on us, your unfailing help.]

SO: In tuorum, Domine, pretiosa morte iustorum, sacrificium illud offerimus de quo martyrium sumpsit omne principium.

[In honour of the precious death of your just ones, O Lord, we come to offer that sacrifice from which all martyrdom draws its origin.]

Saint Callistus I takes up the text of the collect for Saint Marcellus (16 January):

Preces populi tui, quaesumus, Domine, clementer exaudi, ut beati Callisti papae meritis adiuvemur, cuius passione laetamur. [*]

[Graciously hear the prayers of your people, O Lord, we pray, that we may be aided by the merits of Pope Saint Callistus, in whose passion we rejoice.]

[p. 428] A text from the Gregorian Sacramentary (Lietzman, 198) has been attributed to Saint Gregory the Great: one of the orations In natali papae, in which the expression regimen disciplinae recalls his Regula pastoralis.

Deus, qui populis tuis indulgentia consulis et amore dominaris, da spiritum sapientiae, intercedente beato Gregorio papa, quibus dedisti regimen disciplinae, ut de profectu sanctarum ovium fiant gaudia aeterna pastorum.

[O God, who care for your people with gentleness and rule them in love, through the intercession of Pope Saint Gregory, endow, we pray, with a spirit of wisdom those to whom you have given authority to govern, that the flourishing of a holy flock may become the eternal joy of the shepherds.]

On the other hand, Saint Leo the Great, the major commentator of Tu es Petrus, is attributed a text from the Leonine Sacramentary (cf. n. 975), also In natali papae, but the appropriate adjustments so that the invocation is directed to the Father:

Deus, qui adversus Ecclesiam tuam, in apostolicae petrae soliditate fundatam, portas inferi numquam praevalere permittis, da ei, quaesumus, ut, intercedente beato Leone papa, in veritate tua consistens, pace continua muniatur.

[O God, who never allow the gates of hell to prevail against your Church, firmly founded on the apostolic rock, grant her, we pray, that through the intercession of Pope Saint Leo, she may stand firm in your truth and know the protection of lasting peace.]

This text had already been used in the previous Missal, for the second prayer in the Common of Popes.
    b) Among the parts of prayers used to a greater or lesser extent in centonisation, in order to construct new texts, we mention the following:
    Saint Fabian has a collect built from the fusion of the collect and postcommunion for the Mass of Saint Donatus (7 August):

C: Deus, tuorum gloria sacerdotum, praesta, quaesumus... [O God, glory of your Priests, grant, we pray...]

PC: ... ut, intercedente beato Donato... eiusdem proficiamus et fidei consortio et digno servitio. [... that by the intercession of Saint Donatus... we may make progress both by communion in the faith and by worthy service.]

1970 MR: Deus, tuorum gloria sacerdotum, praesta, quaesumus, ut, beati Fabiani martyris tui interveniente suffragio, eiusdem proficiamus fidei consortio dignoque servitio.

[O God, glory of your Priests, grant, we pray, that, helped by the intercession of your Martyr Saint Fabian, we may make progress by communion in the faith and by worthy service.]

Saint Paulinus of Nola is well characterised in his action of love for the poor with the use of the collect for Saint Gregory Barbarigo (17 June):

Deus, qui beatum Gregorium, confessorem tuum atque pontificem, pastorali sollicitudine et pauperum miseratione clarescere voluisti, concede propitius, ut, cuius merita celebramus, caritatis imitemur exempla.

[O God, who made Saint Gregory, your Confessor and Bishop, outstanding in poverty and pastoral care, graciously grant that, as we celebrate his merits, we may imitate the example of his charity.]

Deus, qui beatum Paulinum episcopum paupertatis amore et pastorali sollicitudine clarescere voluisti, concede propitius, ut, cuius merita celebramus, caritatis imitemur exempla.

[O God, who made the Bishop Saint Paulinus of Nola outstanding for love of poverty and for pastoral care, graciously grant that, as we celebrate his merits, we may imitate the example of his charity.]

[p. 429] The previous text [for Saint Paulinus], insistent on abandoning everything in the world to follow Christ, is more suited for religious than for the imitation of the faithful in general. Furthermore, the final part (terrena despicere) needed to be corrected in light of the new vision of earthy things.
    Another text applied well to a new figure, with the effect of stating it better than the previous text that was rather verbose and full of strong expressions, is the collect for Saint John of Sahagun (12 June), now attributed to Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, and which specifies her role as peacemaker:

Deus, auctor pacis et amator caritatis, qui beatum Ioannem confessorem tuum mirifica dissidentes componendi gratia decorasti, eius meritis et intercessione concede, ut, in tua caritate firmati, nullis a te tentationibus separemur.

[O God, author of peace and lover of charity, who adorned Saint John your Confessor with a marvellous grace for reconciling those in conflict, grant, through his merits and intercession, that firmly rooted in your charity, no temptations may ever separate us from you.]

Deus, auctor pacis et amator caritatis, qui beatam Elisabeth mira dissidentes componendi gratia decorasti, da nobis, eius intercessione, pacis opera exercere, ut filii Dei nominari possimus.

[O God, author of peace and lover of charity, who adorned Saint Elizabeth of Portugal with a marvellous grace for reconciling those in conflict, grant, through her intercession, that we may become peacemakers, and so be called children of God.]

As can be seen, the conclusion is modified in order to better apply it to the works of charity performed by the Saint: not, therefore, a static vision of charity, which inseparably unites it to God, but a dynamic vision which, by performing good works, allows us to truly be children of God.
    Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori, presented in the previous Missal above all else as the founder of a religious community, now appears in the light of a zealous pastor for the salvation of those entrusted to him. This is due to the recovery of part of the collect for Saint Andrew Corsini (4 February), from which some elements have been inserted that give more colour and better define the text and figure of the Saint.

Deus, qui in Ecclesia tua nova semper instauras exempla virtutum, da populo tuo beati Andreae confessoris tui atque pontificis ita sequi vestigia, ut assequatur et praemia.

[O God, who constantly raise up in your Church new examples of virtue, grant that your people may follow in the footsteps of Saint Andrew your Confessor and Bishop, so as to attain his rewards.]

Deus, qui in Ecclesia tua nova semper instauras exempla virtutum, da nobis in zelo animarum beati Alphonsi ita vestigiis inhaerere, ut eius in caelis assequamur et praemia.

[O God, who constantly raise up in your Church new examples of virtue, grant that we may follow so closely in the footsteps of the Bishop Saint Alphonsus in his zeal for souls as to attain the same rewards that are his in heaven.]

The collect of one holy prince who has disappeared from the universal calendar provides the text of the oration for another prince, himself a martyr. This is the case for Saint Hermenegild (13 April), who gives the text of his collect to Saint Wenceslaus.

[p. 430] Deus, qui beatum Hermenegildum martyrem tuum caelesti regno terrenum postponere docuisti, da, quaesumus, nobis, eius exemplo caduca despicere atque aeterna sectari.

[O God, who taught your Martyr Saint Hermenegild to place the heavenly Kingdom before an earthly one, grant us, we pray, after his example to despise transitory things and pursue the things of heaven.]

Deus, qui beatum Venceslaum martyrem caelesti regno terrenum postponere docuisti, eius precibus concede, ut, nosmetipsos abnegantes, tibi toto corde adhaerere valeamus.

[O God, who taught the Martyr Saint Wenceslaus to place the heavenly Kingdom before an earthly one, grant through his prayers that, denying ourselves, we may hold fast to you with all our heart.] 

It should be noted, however, that the ending is much more positive and concrete than the previous text. It is always a question of corrections that lead to an evangelical plan, and thereby underline the attainment of holiness in a more accessible form, rather than a generic phrase valid for every type of holiness.
    As a final example of the centonisation of texts, we refer to the collect of Saint Raymond of Penyafort, constructed using elements derived from the collects of three Saints who have disappeared from the universal calendar: Saint Thomas of Villanova (22 September), Saint Peter Nolasco (28 January), and Saint Raymond Nonnatus (31 August). Of these, the last two belong to the Mercedarian family, also associated with Saint Raymond of Penyafort.

1962 MR: Deus, qui beatum Thomam pontificem insignis in pauperes misericordiae virtute decorasti … ipsius (Petri Nolasci) nobis intercessione concede, a peccati servitude solutis … ut, a peccatorum vinculis absoluti, quae tibi sunt placita, liberis mentibus exsequamur.

[O God, who adorned the Bishop Saint Thomas with the virtue of outstanding mercy for the poor ... grant us, through his (Saint Peter's) intercession, released from slavery to sin  that, released from the bonds of sin, we may carry out in freedom of spirit what is pleasing to you.]

1970 MR: Deus, qui beatum Raymundum presbyterum insignis in peccatores et captivos misericordiae virtute decorasti, eius nobis intercessione concede, ut, a peccati servitute soluti, quae tibi sunt placita liberis mentibus exsequamur.

[O God, who adorned the Priest Saint Raymond with the virtue of outstanding mercy and compassion for sinners and for captives, grant us, through his intercession, that, released from slavery to sin, we may carry out in freedom of spirit what is pleasing to you.]

These are examples of how an attempt has been made to gather what the tradition has produced, making use of the elements that are still usable and, albeit in another context, still capable of offering a starting point for the prayer of today.


We have sufficiently reviewed the most interesting parts of the Proper of Saints that exists in the new Missal. And, in conclusion, we can say that it is also one of the newest and most successful parts of the Missal. A comparison between the style of texts typical of the preceding Missal, many of which are generic and common, [p. 431] and the [new] series of texts characterised with regard to both the figure of the Saint and the actual petition, can only be favourable. The result is a new page in the history of Roman euchology, built with the care of the evangelical paterfamilias, and that “brings out of his treasure what is old and what is new” [Matthew 13:52].
    In fact, although fundamentally renewed, the Proper of Saints is faithful to the best tradition, both in its concept and form: it is a new chapter, which continues the history of its age-old formation.
    One desire remains to be expressed: that a similar work of research, revision and, when necessary, new composition should also be done with regard to the Propers of the various dioceses and religious families. It is in them, above all, that texts even less sound than those of the previous Roman Missal have been handed down, because they were, for the most part, created or revised in truly unhappy times as far as liturgical literature is concerned.
    And these texts thus renewed may, in turn, also rejuvenate the spirituality and prayer of the People of God, giving them a new impetus towards that holiness offered to them as their goal, difficult and often distant, but still possible to reach.


[29] Of the texts referred to in this section, as we said at the beginning, we do not indicate the sources. They are all in the previous Missal. The research and inspection of their sources is easy, using the work of Bruylants, in which the various prayers are listed in alphabetical order.

[*] This prayer was changed in 2002 MR to the following: Deus, qui beátum Callístum papam, ad Ecclésiæ servítium et pietátem erga christifidéles defúnctos suscitásti, eius fídei testimónio, quǽsumus, nos róbora, ut a servitúte corruptiónis erépti, incorruptíbilem hereditátem cónsequi mereámur — O God, who raised up Pope Saint Callistus the First to serve the Church and attend devoutly to Christ’s faithful departed, strengthen us, we pray, by his witness to the faith, so that, rescued from the slavery of corruption, we may merit an incorruptible inheritance.

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