15 December 2010

The "1962 line"

"The liturgical books of 1962". That is what Catholics of the Roman Rite are to use if they wish to worship according to the ancient liturgical forms. But, as we hear a little bit too often from some, these books contain the results of the various questionable reforms enacted under Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII in the previous decade or so.

Some of these reforms seem sensible though, such as restoring the time of the celebration of the Easter Vigil to the night before Easter Sunday rather than it being celebrated early on the Saturday morning. So too, directing that the priest listen to the Epistle and Gospel at Solemn Mass, and not read them audibly to himself, seems like the correction of an anomaly. But others are certainly questionable, most prominently the reform of Holy Week decreed in November 1955.

This is not the place to rehearse the details. Suffice to say that some maintain, and not without good reason, that the liturgical books of 1962 enshrine reforms that have jettisoned venerable elements of the liturgical Tradition of the Western Church.

So why "1962"? The fact is that it was a convenient line, hastily drawn in the sand during and after the failed negotiations of 1988 between the Vatican and the Society of Saint Pius  X. It was acceptable to Archbishop Lefebvre (who had already adopted a 1962 policy) and to Rome, without at least the latter thinking very much about it. It is a line which some have blindly idolised since.

But it is true and increasingly clear from the amount of material being published about the reforms that good and bad decisions were made on either side of that line. Few, however, know what to do about it. What are Catholics who love the traditional liturgy to do?

Should we mentally retreat to the liturgical books of a "satisfactory" year and hope that one day the Church will follow our private judgement? In reality, no such year exists, for there have been liturgical reforms throughought history (though none on the scale as took place after Vatican II, the forerunners of which one can find before), and one can always prefer that a given reform did not do something.

No. Our first response ought to be one of obdeience, a traditional hallmark of Catholics to the rulings of competent authority in all things but sin. We may like the third confiteor or folded chasubles and the broad stole, and even rightly argue that they are elements of the Tradition which should not be lost, but it is not a matter of sin not to use them.

For the Pope has liturgical jurisdiction in the Latin Rite. St Pius V's Bull Quo Primum had authority in its day, as does Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum today. So too does Paul VI's 1969 Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum. We may regret the decisions they legally enshrine, but they are valid legal acts of the competent authority.

As the Pope has legislated in Summorum Pontificum that those who wish to make use of the older form of the Roman Rite are to use the Missal and Breviary in use in 1962, and may use the "earlier" Ritual, they are what we are to use. Unless we can successfully argue using classical moral theology that to do so is a matter of formal sin (certainly many did this in respect of the Missal of Paul VI, though very few if any did this in 1962/3, and it is somewhat churlish to try to do so now, based on hindsight), we are obliged in obedience to use the liturgical books of 1962. Otherwise we become 'DIY' liturgists, just as bad as those who do the same with the Missal of Paul VI. We may argue that our motivation is more noble, but we would be wise to recall the words placed by T.S. Eliot on St Thomas Becket's lips in Murder in the Cathedral; "The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason."

So what are we to do? If we steadfastly refuse to have anything to do with the liturgy celebrated according to the books of 1962, and stand aloof, we risk our ecclesial position and our spiritual wellbeing.

But we may, and by all means should, present our case to the competent authority, for a widening or even a rescinding of this ruling, for legitimate deregulation, for a reexamination of the "1962 line", for a recuperation of some things and for the relinquishing of others, for permission to use the unreformed Holy Week, etc.

What better time or pontificate than this, for calm, clear, reasoned and scholarly petitions to be put by manifestly obedient sons to the Holy Father, asking that those unfortunate, even bad, decisions made between 1950-1962 be corrected, or at least as a first step that those communities who wished could use the pre-1962 liturgical books?

What a gift to the Church it would be for a new edition of the Missale Romanum to appear that left behind the dross, recovered the lost treasures, and which also included new saints, the 'Gallican' prefaces, and perhaps one or two other real advances. We may not end up with all that we would personally prefer. In 1570 there were probably those who lamented some of the things abolished in the Missal of St Pius V. But we are not our own pope, and we must accept the authority of the Pope in all things but in sin.

This will take patience and charity, and many of us are not at all good at practicing these virtues, nor nowadays that of obedience. But in reality, if we are to do more than whine and opine in our own insular circles, there is no other way that the path of obedience and patient work duly submitted to the competent authorities.

The "1962 line" is historically and liturgically artificial. But it is a juridical reality. The honourable course of action is to work with this reality as faithful Catholics and to persuade the competent authority that its amelioration is for the good of the Church. To arms!


  1. Pimpernel - I agree with you that we do need to accept it with obedience (until we can find a way of getting it changed). I've written the same thing on my blog several times, usually in relation to my own community's habit in past years of doing the older version of the Holy Week ceremonies!

    All the same, something really does have to be done to fix the problems! Aside from the massacre of the Easter Vigil, the problems are really more acute in the Office than the Mass I think.

    Consider for example the bizarre period coming up that used to be the Octave of the Epiphany but now has a set of canticle antiphons for each day except when it doesn't becasue of a Saturday of Our Lady suddenly creeping in...

    And there are others.

    The 1962 liturgy badly needs a bit of restoration coupled with some calendar reform to incorporate some newer saints (and prevent the currnet tendancy to ad hocery).

    But there doesn't seem to be any way of getting thsi serously looked at, what do you suggest?

  2. Those that disobey on either side of the line, 1962 or 1969, are probably afflicted by the same individualistic philosophy and perhaps a twisted version of prudence: individual reason becomes the ultimate rule for not only applying liturgical principles but even for judging them worthy of application.

  3. Apparently my comments are too long, so they're having to arrive in segments...

    Far be it for me to disagree with the Liturgical Pimpernel…however, I would be remiss if I did not offer a counter-argument--if only for the purposes of playing devil's advocate.

    It is true that, as you say, LP, the "1962 line" is both historically and liturgically artificial. And it is moreover true that it is indeed a "juridical reality." However I disagree that "the honorable course of action is to work with this reality as faithful Catholics and to persuade the competent authority that its amelioration is for the good of the Church." Nor do I believe that "there is no other way than the path of obedience and patient work duly submitted to the competent authorities." I dare say that the "competent authorities" in question are far more part of the problem than the solution. For years now--most especially in the wake of Benedict XVI's "Summorum Pontificum"--it has been the "competent authorities" dragging their feet, trying to prevent any movement of progress towards "freeing up" and making widespread the Traditional Mass, much less making it more traditional than they would otherwise be comfortable doing.

    Having known a number of persons working for the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, I can say that these "competent authorities," with few exceptions, never wanted anything more than tight control over a liturgy that has been viewed by many (both in the Curia and hierarchy) as problematic--a pesky cancer on the Church that attracts crazies and weirdos, and that should have died in 1969. And, knowing nothing about the Church's venerable liturgical traditions, they enforced this "1962 line" with such rabid ferocity that it has been taken by some to be nothing short of dogmatic, almost as if to attempt to cover up their very own lack of true competence in speaking on matters regarding the Traditional Mass.

    While most of those less-than-competent authorities have since moved on to other posts, I still remain unsure that strict adherence to the "1962 line" is the best course of action for promoting positive change in the Mass we all know and love. From an historical perspective, I would suggest that the only tried and true method of changing the Mass (for better or worse) is from the ground up. As one looks at the history of the liturgy, one can see that most changes which were eventually promulgated into the official liturgical texts and rubrics by the Supreme Pontiff were, in point of fact, the result of slow and steady innovations in the particular churches that over the course of many years became an integral part of divine worship. And I am not so sure that this same approach would not be best for solving our current 1962 Problem. Without delving too much into it, for the sake of brevity, I cite the general examples of liturgical music, liturgical vesture, rubrics, and sanctuary movement--all of which have undergone great development throughout our history, and very little of which were introduced to our liturgical praxis by means of Papal decree. Early polyphonic composers did not wait for Papal approval for their music to be used at Mass any more than did the first tailor to shorten a maniple or the first bishop to ask the deacon and subdeacon to hold his elbows while he genuflected because he was too weak to get up on his own!

  4. Part 2

    It is true that we no longer live in an age where the liturgy revolves only around the particular Church. I accept that. And it is true that, from an historical perspective, the Supreme Pontiff wields far more authority over the universal liturgical books than was ever the case in the first 1500 years of the Church--simply because there were no universal liturgical books prior to the reforms of Trent. But I am not inclined to believe that there exists only a singular method of effecting true development and innovation in the liturgy any more than I am inclined to believe that there exists a singular acceptable expression of our Catholic Faith. After all, we are not talking about formally dissenting from Church teaching regarding Faith, Morals, or anything of the like. In fact, the innovations that we seem to be concerning ourselves with have already been put into the crucible of the Faith, and have been found throughout the centuries to be venerable practices that promote the Faith, and that edify the People of God. To suggest otherwise would be to expose centuries of liturgical development to an unnecessarily critical examination as to whether they were true expressions of the Faith.

    In reality, many of the problems with the 1962 Missal are more practical than anything else, and may quickly and easily dispensed with. You cite two of the more absurd alterations yourself: the "third" or "People's" confiteor, and the doubling of the Epistle. The former is an issue of equity for the congregation. They deserve an opportunity to participate fully, consciously, and actively in the Mass, most especially through a communal confession of their sins and a reception of absolution prior to receiving Communion--something that is simply impossible at any form of Mass other than a Low Mass. How any priest could deny the people such an opportunity--even at the risk of violating a rubric (Heaven forbid!!!!)--is beyond me.

    Likewise, the constant moving to and from the sedilia during the Mass is a constant source of angst for many a celebrant. Any effort to simplify these liturgical actions should always be welcomed. If that means that the priest remains at the altar during the Epistle, then so be it. I have seen too many episodes of "The Keystone Cops" performed in sanctuaries as priests and subdeacons engage in an awkward race to the Epistle corner that results in the most hideous and unattractive of liturgical ballets. The result is almost always sloppy and ill-executed. And yet if the priest could merely stay put, so much solemnity and grace of movement could be retained.

  5. Pars ultima...

    Surely the retention of these two actions ought to be regarded by the Liturgical Police as the equivalent of jaywalking or spitting on the sidewalk--infractions of the law, yes, but far less severe than many of the "innovations" seen in various interpretations of the modern liturgy which would be tantamount to far more serious offenses! And would it not send a much more powerful message to the competent authority that such issues ought to be re-examined if already so much of the Church is actively yearning for them to be re-instituted, exemplified by a groundswell of complaints by the Liturgical Police that people are innovating beyond the "1962 line"?

    And if we were indeed horribly, horribly sinful for thinking such things, then what do we say of entire nations who refused to accept the liturgical books of St. Pius V for centuries (e.g., the neo-Gallican churches of France)?

    You are correct that "we are not our own pope, and we must accept the authority of the Pope…" And, yes, the "1962 line" is a valid legal act of the competent authority, as you say. Yet there comes a point at which such ultramontane thinking begins to harm the free flow of ideas and innovation. The Church is most certainly not trampling upon the rights of humanity or of the Christian Faithful in these matters--nor are we seeking to imprison the contemporary likes of Galileo. But so much of the debate about any sort of re-examination of liturgical issues is quickly and violently quelled with the simple phrase "You can't do that in 1962!!!" The dreaded "1962 line" is not just rubrical guideline that all are to accept--it has become a tool of ultramontane quasi-fascists to put down any semblance of thought or investigation, of innovation or devotion. And, in point of fact, the overwhelming majority of these strict 1962 adherents toe this line for one very simple reason: like those who arbitrarily decided the "1962 line" to begin with, the holders of that line simply do not know enough about the liturgical tradition of the Church to form any sort of cogent argument about why our golden liturgical calf should be painted with the number "1962"!

    [An illustrative side story…I was once publicly decried as a formal heretic by a zealous seminarian for referring to the Missal of John XXIII as "the Traditional Mass" and not as "the Extraordinary Form," because "that is the term the Pope has chosen, and that is the ONLY acceptable title for it!" That, my dear Pimpernel, is 1962 Fascism at its worst!]

    In the end, I don't disagree with you in principle, except to say that we obviously have very different opinions about how to go about effecting the innovations to the 1962 Missal of which so many scholars, liturgists, clergy, and faithful alike are in favor.

    You're not wrong, but my own observations lead me to conclude that true liturgical innovation is not made in dicasteries and committee meetings. Rather, that's where inspired liturgical development goes to die, or to be replaced by something altogether neutered and lifeless!

  6. Father DeViese, you do the Sacred Liturgy honour, Reverend Sir, with your extended and reasoned opinions above. They excite the sympathy of any reasonable and learned Catholic.

    With respect, without disagreeing with your sentiment or your examples, there are two matters which, the Pimpernel respectfully submits, there may be need of some further thought.

    The first. Yes, it is true that in the liturgical "innovation" you support there is nothing against faith or morals. We are free to believe that they could be good and proper things to do in the sacred liturgy, without denying any article of the Catholic faith.

    But that is not the point. The point is that, whether I like it or not, the competent authority now commands me otherwise. Because this is not a matter of faith or morals, but a matter of disicipline, we must obey, whether we prefer the discipline or not. Such obedience is a matter of honour for Catholics, preeminently, if I may presume to say so, for Catholic clergy.

    The second is ultramontanism. The suffix "ism" designates excess, in theology usually heresy. It cannot be excess or close to heresy to obey competent authority in matters in which they are competent, such as in saying we are to use the liturgical books of "1962". That is not ultramontanism.

    But you are most correct, Reverend Sir, in decrying as such anyone who believes that the expression "Extraordinary Form" is decreed, required or obliged by the competent authority in any way, or indeed that the fact that we are to observe the "1962 line" precludes us from making arguments for it to be rescinded.

    The Liturgical Pimpernel salutes you, Reverend Sir! Ad multos annos!

  7. Fr DeViese,

    If I might add, while I too sympathise with the examples and history you have cited, the practical difficulty is, on what basis then do we resist the liturgical abuses so prevalent in the novus ordo? Are we not setting up a double standard?

    I would also submit that though still clearly a problem, ultramontanism has been on the decline with the lection of Pope Benedict XVI - those who previously justified their positions on the basis of it have found themselves either having to reverse track or take a broader view of papal authority!

  8. Terra, I deliberately avoided discussion of the Novus Ordo, because are far too many issues to address there. It would be easier to resist liturgical abuses of the modern Mass if the majority of parishes were actually following the rubrics as they are found in the Institutio Generalis and the various commentaries. Sadly, this is not necessarily the case on a universal scale. So, I suppose, yes, there will be a double standard until such time as both forms of the Roman Rite are celebrated with the same degree of faithfulness to the rubrics by (at least) the majority of parishes (discussion of the firm 1962 line aside!).

    As regards "ultramontanism," LP, I have no issue with people obeying the competent authority, namely the Supreme Pontiff. What I do have a problem with is Catholics imposing false piety, overly-strict interpretations of documents and speeches, and a quasi-divination of the Supreme Pontiff, as if anything less would be heretical or modernistic. My usual description of such people would be: if the Pope this morning said it will rain tomorrow, these would be the people who immediately go buy new umbrellas without a second thought. My description of the 1962-ultramontane-fascist is both polemic and intentionally hyperbolic...perhaps I should have referred to them as the Super-Duper-UltraMontanes... ;-)

  9. Thank-you for this post, Pimpernel -

    Good to know one is not alone in Extraordinary Form land (if we're sticking to the Motu Proprio we should appropriate that term at all times, I believe) on the 1962 question.

    I've recently (2009) become an EF altar server - indeed only for that form (although I served OF as a boy in the 70s/80s) - and I encountered the "1962 question" quite early in my "new career". I detected a little frying pan to fire heat.

    You see, for years I'd grown exasperated by the OF and felt like a crank in the attic (a familiar tale?). So I finally jumped ship into the "indult Mass" community in 2006 and felt instantly at home. However, when I decided to become a server (to assist a parish priest who was implementing the Motu Proprio in a different non-indult parish, alongside his existing OF Masses) I again felt "out of step" given the number of people I was suddenly encountering who had "1962" issues.

    I knew of their concerns, of course. I know all about Bugnini et al. Indeed I share and support many of the viewpoints of the "pre 1962" adherents. But, as you say, that's irrelevant: the Motu Proprio was a sandline and we can only hope and trust that Ecclesia Dei will, in time, address the pre and post 1962 debate and other EF matters.

    In the meantime, though: a dilemma. For although I predominantly serve at a "1962" Mass and the PP involved is rubrically punctilious, the reality is that there are precious few EF servers around and consequently I'm prepared to help at other EF locations when needs arise.

    So how does a mere server approach this thorn? For I would never dream of enquiring of a priest beforehand if he is "1962" or stipulating the terms of my service. The fact is, though, that's the blunt truth. Anything pre-1962 and it's "non serviam". How would one know, though, ahead of a Mass in an unfamiliar location where you're helping? You can't exactly march off the altar midway. So, the only way is to "ask the question", something I'm never going to do. Just not gonna happen. Catch 22 or "Catch 1962" as it were!

    Moreover, I've learned how to spot code. E.g. not long after re-donning my cassock I heard of a new national sodality established specifically for EF servers. I was naturally eager (although I have concerns that it's yet another example of separation; and surely the whole point of the Motu Proprio was to re-establish the EF alongside the OF "mainstream" and not to further "ghettoise" it?). However, I noted one of its basic tenets was that membership was confined to those who serve Mass in a form "no later than 1962".

    Well quite. I too won't serve in a form later than 1962. But what about earlier? Hmm. It was left conveniently ambiguous. So I declined.

    I feel very arrogant taking such a principled stance so early in my EF experience. Especially as I know (it's common sense) that it's only thanks to the unstinting dedication of those attached to the EF (the indult communities, the SSPX etc - who were fighting the good fight whilst I was barely out of my crib) that Summorum Pontificum ever came to be. Truly, I am indebted to them all and I hope to continue their work until they find me a wooden box in hopefully four or five decades.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd happily serve a Mass "straight from Trent" if the Pope gave the green light. But, for now, you're quite right Pimpernel. It simply has to be "1962".

    So thank-you for this re-assurance.

  10. Gregory, the answer to your question is simple. If you are helping out due to necessity, and not to make a display of disobedience, and don't know that there will be disobedience, you're in the clear. Responsibility for obedience to the liturgical books is the priest's, not the server's.

    BTW, "that term" as you put it, whilst used by the Holy Father in 2007, is by no means commanded, defined or even, in the Pimpernel's opinion, at all the best one to use. In English it is plain ugly. Father DeViese's comment on those who insist on it (above) hits the mark.

  11. Thank-you again, Pimpernel.

    Your charitable response is much appreciated, noted and accepted. Good guidance.

    A fine blog.

  12. It is worth noting that the third confiteor is used in Rome at very public EF Masses celebrated by officials of the CDW. I have frequently witnessed this. I think that Roman authority is less than literal in its insistence on the precise rubrics of 1962, and tolerates some elements at least of pre-1962 practice. Should one really insist on being more Catholic than officials of the Roman Curia?

  13. I was once (not that long ago) a seminarian and was always nonplussed by people who have some sort of neurotic urge to be "1962" fascists, usually they were the people who weren't into the old Mass anyway. I tend to call the "Extraordinary Form" the "Trad" Mass, "Traditional" Mass, "Old" Mass, etc. because who wants to be bound to some legal name? We all use shorthand or pet names for various people and things, why should it not extend to the "Mass of the Ages"? Those who knew me (and usually shared my views) of course had no problem with this as they new it was shorthand/pet name. Anyone who wanted to challenge my "disobedience" to the MP of the Holy Father or "lack" of historical knowledge was going to get an earful. I was never a fan of people trying to cover up their own lack of knowledge by imposing burdens where none exist.

    As to the "1962 or bust" mentality, I think a two pronged approach should be taken. On one hand, I do believe that we shouldn't just take the line of doing whatever we feel like doing. However, the MP does say the Old Rite was never suppressed, but one cannot say that the Old Rite is only the 1962 books. Obviously many have taken that to loosen up the use of Order Rites (i.e. Dominican and Carmelite) as well as local older usages (i.e. Ambrosian and Bragan). Some have adopted the usage of the'62 books (i.e. FSSP) while some haven't (i.e. ICRSS). Thus, generally it is the '62 books that should be followed, unless there is some other reason to do something else.

    The second point is that it is simply a fact that the 1962 books already contain many "Bugnini-isms" that really need to be done away with. Many scholarly takes on the Old Rite show us these issues. Obviously, to really "restore" the Traditional Mass and Office we need to go back before 1962. Adopting '62 was a political move, and nothing more. There is nothing in those books that enshrines tradition is some special way, actually, they do the contrary.

  14. Also, I do not think it campy or disobedient to appeal to long standing custom in the use of things like folded chasubles or the third confiteor. I would agree with the Reverend Father that liturgical change/restoration cannot depend on Curial fiat and never did. Those who say that priests are being "gravely" disobedient for doing things like the third confiteor are simply being silly and way too rigid.

    Lastly, there is a certain pragmatic issue with the TLM. I think, even though the '62 books are far from perfect and many of the subsequent changes are even worse, this is the best we generally have right now. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush. Those (and they are out there) who rashly decry "1962ism" in the sense that it needs to be sometime-pre-55 or bust are living in a dreamworld. If you want to pout over folded chasubles, certain antiphons, and other arcane liturgical details that is your business, but I fail to see how that helps in any conceivable way.

  15. Tell you what, there are some great labels to collect these days. "Catholic Taliban", "1962 Fascist" etc. Do they come free with Corn Flakes?

  16. Thank Heaven for sensible people like Father DeViese (& others)!

    Do people seriously believe that the 'competent authority' actually knows or even cares about these issues? Even in the 'good old days' the SRC at best could come up with 'let the rubrics be followed' when they didn't know an answer to a query.

    If 1962 is so important why don't people just follow its rubrics? A good example of where they don't can be found HERE. Fr. Henry, who I do not know from Adam, is blogging in his most recent post agreeing with you LP about the need to follow 1962. So presumably from now on he will not be bowing to the Cross at the Gloria in the introit, at Oremus, at Per Dominum nostrum etc in line with the rubrics actually in the 1962MR?

    Bows to the Cross, whilst at the altar corner are not part of 1962 so why have them if being 'obedient' is so important.

    I agree entirely with Fr. DeViese's excellent analysis that stability will only come from a 'grass roots' upwards model.

  17. Thomas: Mtt 23:3 comes to mind.

    Andrew: Custom? That can mean "my preference" and unfortunately often does in sacristies and sanctuaries.

    Rubricarius: Whatever the qualities of the authorities, then or now, they are legitimately in authority. We need to work with them through persuasion not insurrection.

  18. This is my first visit to your blog, and I want to thank you for your sensible comments on MR 1962.I haven't time unfortunately to 'comment on the comments' - have to dash for Compline in ten minutes ! I will say however that there is also a place for legitimate liturgical customs praeter the rubrics ('apart from', on issues not covered by them). Also 'contra' the rubrics : altars being fixed to the 'wall' is a good example. Customs can be created with the intention of them becoming lawful but, in the liturgical sphere, this tends to be frowned upon, and, in the main, should not be encouraged. But customary law is, at best, complicated. Ad multos annos !

    A religious.

  19. Msgr. le Pimpernel,

    I have only one thing to add to this discussion for the moment; the change in time of the Easter Vigil is one of the least correct aspects of the 1955 Holy Week reform. The Easter Vigil, like ALL vigils, was historically celebrated between the canonical hours of None and Vespers; this means it should start before sunset. More or less everyone agrees that the anticipation of it to the morning is regrettable, but celebrating it in the middle of the night is based on absolutely NO historical tradition. If you will forgive the seeming lack of modesty:


  20. I think it is quite legitimate to interpret norms with the same spirit of interpretation shown by the Holy Father.

    I am among those sympathetic but who do not know anything of the issues of the reforms before 1962 the details of which this is not the place to rehearse. Could you provide a link then to a place suitable for them, for my learning?

  21. First of all, many thanks for that article and some of the comments. I would add a few other points.

    (1) The '1962 Missal' was only in force for a short time - I wonder how many parishes ever bought and used one, and to what extent this Missal had been 'dead letter' before being taken up by the SSPX. My (quite limited) experience is that many regular Old-Rite Masses that go back to the time before Summorum Pontificum follow not 1962 but rather a mixture of rubrics. For instance, I never encountered Mass without the third Confiteor in Germany, but there it has been common to have the Epistle read by a lay person in vernacular why the priest says it in Latin, a practice probably based on some Indult from the 1960s. The church I attend in England had a Missal from the 19th century and one from the 1950s - they only bought a '1962' Missal three years ago - the typographically worst of all three. I wonder if one really should try to introduce 'strict 1962' in places that have up to now followed different traditions (although there are quite a few local mannerisms that should be dealt with).

    (2) As an experienced MC I very much agree with Fr de Viese's complaint that quite a few of the 1962 rubrics are actually impractical. To add another one: the 1962 Missal stipulates that the Prayer at the Foot of the Altar is omitted after the Candlemass procession. So far so good. However, the Introit is not to be omitted, and so the celebrant has to stand at the foot of the altar waiting for the choir to finish the Introit but is not allowed to say the prayers he normally says during the time! I believe that it is quite legitimate to ignore the 1962 rubrics if they produce something that is really absurd.

    (3) I very much agree that it is necessary to convince the competent authorities about the fact that '1962' is in many cases just 'badly crafted' and could do with some revision (to stress this point: the Pre-1962 Reforms are nto 'good' because they were supported by Pius XII, nor 'bad' because Mgr Bugnini was involved in them, but merely 'clumsy').

    But, how should one do that? My impression is that most priests who prefer earlier forms use them quietly as far as they dare and are not at all keen to raise that matter in public. Should one collect signatures for a petition? Should one try to have a conference about this topic and publish its results?

    I am not sure about the current role of 'Ecclesia Dei'. It is now part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and hence probably will focus more on doctrinal aspects of the reconciliation with the SSPX than on rubrical questions. They also seem to be rather slow, and it seems now that the long-promised Instructions on Summorum pontificum will be delayed until next year.

    I do believe that it is necessary to act on this matter quite soon, as long as 'Pre-1962' habits are still quite wide-spread, but one should think seriously and speedily about the 'how'.

  22. Rubricarius - it is very hard to contest the veracity and searing precision of your submission. Without faux-humility I can genuinely say that this thread alone has been a steep learning curve for me and, accordingly, I am grateful for your input and those of others.

    Boiling everything down, then, is it a case that, in actuality, we're not really debating the "1962 line" per se; rather that we're shining a light on the usage or not of those very conspicuous rubrical differences between pre and post 1962 (e.g. the third Confiteor and the other more obvious aspects rather than the more esoteric aspects that you rightly home in on above)?

    It seems to me that such is the case and, to borrow and distort a phrase from the innovating classes: are we really discussing the "Spirit of 1962" rather than its precise red lettering?

    I'd be genuinely keen to hear your view.

    Again, thank-you LP for providing this platform.

    Well, one must dash. I'm serving in just over 11 hours and methinks an even earlier rise than usual is in order...given that it's eight inches deep, crisp and decidedly uneven out there!


  23. Gregory, I have seen your pieces on the NLM and am full of admiration. But do you know Robert Amiet’s work La Veillée Paschale dans L’Église Latine (Cerf, 1999)?

    In chapter 1 "L’heure de la vigile paschale" he concludes that there were three main periods in the history of the Easter Vigil:

    1. The second to the fifth centuries, when the Vigil was essentially nocturnal, finishing towards cockcrow.

    2. From the sixth century onwards, when it commenced between 12h00 and 15h00, but when the Mass of Easter still didn’t commence until nightfall.

    3. From the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when people wanted to mitigate the Easter fast, it crept earlier and earlier into the morning of Holy Saturday.
    It seems that you are talking about the second period.

    For me, clinching argument is not what is oldest, or what was done in 1950, 1955 or 1962, or really any other year, but what the Easter Vigil is about from the meaning of its texts and rituals. It seems to me from the rites themselves, pre or post the 1955 reform, that they make much more sense if celebrated during the night before Easter day.

  24. It would seem to this amateur that some points still customarily maintained (such as the Third Confiteor, Benedicamus Domino on days without Gloria in excelsis, and sundry bows and suchlike details) are quite minor - and "de minimis non curat lex" (the law is not concerned with small things).

    The more vexing issues surround the Holy Week changes of the 1950's - having seen the 1962 version only, I must say I was unimpressed and would very much hope the earlier more traditional forms may be permitted.

    However, most serious are those who take, not a strict 1962-only view (which is perfectly legitimate given Papal legislation, if rather uninformed concerning real questions arising about this, as detailed above), but those who take a strict anti-1962 view: it has astonished me recently to come across such bizarre opinions as that the 1962 is "as bad as" the Novus Ordo and ought be avoided, and even that the 1962 is not the Traditional Mass at all but some false rite, a counterfeit. Forgive me for saying so, but I feel that that way lies madness.

  25. Lautensack,

    Where does it say that the celebrant - on the feast of the Purification of the BVM - has to 'wait at the foot of the altar' during the singing of the introit after the procession ? The rubric in the missal says that 'Sacerdos igitur [after putting on the Mass vestments], cum ad altare accesserit, statim illud ascendit et osculatur in medio' - he immediately goes to the altar, and kisses it. Then the altar is incensed. I would humbly suggest that this is 'practical'. But, of course, rubrics are MORE than 'practical', and ought to be studied carefully. They are means to an end and also have a spiritual purpose. Fr. A.M.

  26. Dear Fr A.M.,

    Sorry, I didn't have a Missal at hand. However, the Candlemass problem remains. If the priest goes up immediately to the altar he has kissed and incensed it probably before the choir has even reached the verse of the Introit (which is very long on that day), and then he either has to stand there idly or to go to the Sedilia, and naturally the latter makes it more complicated for the servers.

    To a certain extent the rubrics have a deeper meaning, but quite a few of them have primarily practical purposes, if one follows them normally everyone ends up in the right place at the right time (when I train priests or servers for the Extraordinary Form I always try to give them the feeling that the rubrics are their 'friends and helpers').

    I assume that the reason for the 1962 changes was partially to make the structure of the Mass (or, what was then regarded as the structure of the Mass) more transparent, and so it was decreed that the Prayer at the Foot of the Altar was an 'opening rite' that had to be supressed if another liturgical ceremony had happened beforehand. Why they did not declare the Introit likewise an 'opening Rite' I cannot understand.

    The treatment of the Epistle is similarly illogical. In some uses (like that of the Dominicans, and in all Pontifical Masses) the clergy sit down for the Epistle, but then the Subdeacon also receives his blessing at the Sedilia, and the Gradual etc are recited there (as far as I am aware). This is a logical solution, and I can see little reason why this could not have been integrated into the Roman Rite.

    However, in the 1962 Missal the celebrant has to sit for the Epistle but back at the altar before its end in order to bless the Subdeacon, so he will spend a part of the reading not sitting but but actually walking about. And, if he does not read the Gospel at the Altar, the Missal is transferred to the Gospel side without any apparent reason.

  27. LP,

    It is not about insurrection but following custom and orthopraxis.

    When the liturgical 'resistance' began no one was using the 1962 books. The Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, Geoffery Houghton-Brown publicly rejected the 'Heenan Indult' of 1971 generously (/sarcasm) permitting the use of the 1967 rite. The LMS carried on with the traditional rite - before Quattuor abhinc annos came along thirteen years later.

    As the Old Holy Week rites were being celebrated in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre until the mid-1990s such pre-1962 cannot have been that bad otherwise the celebrants, some of them Cardinals I understand, would all have been excommunicated and their faculties withdrawn.

    What are you going to do Liturgical Pimpernel if the next pope gets rid of Summorum Pontificum? Sacrificing custom for the latest Roman fashion is never a good idea.

  28. Lautensack,
    Thank you for your comments. The priest - as you know - recites the introit and the Kyrie. I really don't see a problem with him remaining at the altar or sitting down (if need be) until towards the end of the Kyrie. Perhaps he should use the opportunity to pray ? Fr. A.M.

  29. Dear Fr A.M.,
    naturally, the priest can pray in private when he has to wait for the choir to finish.

    However, I really wonder if the liturgy has been made more logical by the fact that on Candlemass (and similarly on some other occasions) the priest is not supposed to say the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar but go up and wait there.

    I can see that the Prayer of the Altar is supposed to be suppressed on these occasions because the liturgical action has already started beforehand. So far, so good. However, the Introit is primarily not a text recited quietly by the celebrant but the chant accompanying the Procession to the Altar and the silent Prayer at the Foot of the Altar. So, why is this not suppressed, too? I fear that the Reformers regarded Low Mass as the norm (what it never was, although most Masses are Low Masses) and did not really think of the ceremonial of Sung Mass.

    Here, and in some other situations, the desire for 'logic' actually led to the introduction of more exceptions to what are otherwise general rules (e.g. in this case: Mass always starts with the Prayer at the Foot of the Altar - in case of the sung Epistle: the Sacred Ministers are always escorted to and from the Sedilia by the MC, and they always go there together).

    I do not think that such changes simplify the life of priests who have to teach altarboys that are eager but maybe not the born liturgists.

    I certainly do not regard liturgy as utterly unchangeable, but I believe that some of the Reforms of the 1950s are not really thought through.

  30. It seems that if one wished to celebrate the liturgy as celebrated before the reforms of Pius XII/John XXIII, or at least to re-introduce certain traditional practices, three paths are open:

    1. Submit a petition to Ecclesia Dei or the CDW asking for an indult.

    2. Act on the policy that "it is better to ask pardon than permission" and then quietly celebrate the traditional rite, being disposed to revert to stricter 1962 usages if corrected by the Holy See. (As several people have noted, for years Rome has turned a blind eye to various pre-1962 usages and it seems reasonable to assume at least tacit approval.)

    3. Refuse as a matter of principle to obey the Holy See when it issues an explicit directive.

    I could not imagine following option number 3, but as someone who personally would prefer to use quite simply the books as they stood before 1955, I do not see why option number 2 would be a bad idea. If enough respected liturgists and priests could draw up a calm scholarly petition, then option number 1 would seem best, though (pessimistically) I do not feel that at the current point the Holy See would be inclined to make a PUBLIC act of approval for pre-1962 usages. The irony is that the bureaucrats of the Holy See probably have a less ideological attachment to "pure 1962" than do certain "traditionalists".

  31. Readers may be interested in Rubricarius' reference to the liturgy according to the 1962 liturgical books over on Liturgiae Causa on December 31st as: "that pernicious, filthy, pseudo-rite".

  32. LP,

    And that was being generous about it!