Msgr. Harbert’s Blog: “Missal Notes”

Msgr. Bruce Harbert, former Executive Director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), has a wonderful new blog on the texts of the Roman Missal:  Missal Notes. Warning: wonkish.

See you there!

awr

 

45 comments

  1. Many thanks to Msgr. Harbert for so generously sharing with the wider public his erudition. I look forward to reading the rest of his commentaries.

  2. I had my wife borrow “The Prefaces of the Roman Missal: A Source Compendium” (Cuthbert and Ward) for me, but it was not as helpful as I’d hoped it would be.

    Msgr. Harbert’s blog, however, looks promisingly helpful.

  3. Yes, this does look very promising. Msgr Harbert was most helpful once when I was attempting to trace the ancestry of baptismal acclamations, and this site appears to have the same quality of scholarship.

    If only we had quality English translations that matched the heritage of these prayers.

  4. We did, Todd, 1998….not perfect but used this historical information to arrive at translations with increased poetry; more connected to scripture; etc.

  5. I acquired and have been reading Patrick Regan’s “Advent to Pentecost – Comparing the Seaons in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite” (Pueblo/Liturgical Press, 2012), and while he offers useful comments on the collect etc, Msgr Harbert’s blog looks as if it will prove a useful supplement. Wonder could he put up his comments for the coming Sundays a little earlier, could be a great help in preparing the liturgy.
    Both Fr Regan and Msgr Harbert help us realize how the renewal of the liturgy since Vatican II has helped us reclaim the rich resources available in tradition, something not possible with the Roman MIssal that came out of the immediate post-Trent era.

  6. Just came from Monsignor’s blog. I’m a parish priest and I don’t know what use to put his erudition. The collects have historical pedigrees? I’m afraid I can’t relate to the underlying assumption: the language of medieval ecclesiastics–whose understanding of the Mass was underdeveloped to say the least–must dictate the way we pray what the church believes.

  7. Jack Feehily : I’m afraid I can’t relate to the underlying assumption: the language of medieval ecclesiastics–whose understanding of the Mass was underdeveloped to say the least–must dictate the way we pray what the church believes.

    Sorry, but this just comes across as modern arrogance. The idea that Thomas Aquinas or Bonaventure or Scotus or Bernard or Francis or Catherine of Siena or Julian of Norwich had an “underdeveloped” understanding of the Mass is simply false — unless “underdeveloped” simply means “not exactly what I learned in seminary.”

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #12:
      On the other hand, I think that the era of composition did not end when these prayers were fashioned in Latin centuries ago. Today’s prayers should be judged by the best of this tradition, and such composition should be encouraged. Let’s make sure we all avoid the fault of arrogance.

  8. You’ve got to be kidding, Deacon Fritz. The fact that those individuals were spiritual and or theological giants has little to do with how the Mass was understood in their day. Rescuing souls from purgatory with a purchased Mass? Rare reception of holy communion? Little or no understanding of an assembly of priestly people offering the Mass? Priests barely able to read the missal? Priests gathered at multiple altars saying private Masses? People wandering around from shrine to shrine until they hear the bells signaling the time to watch the consecration?

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #14:

      You seem to be confusing a number of things here. The understanding of the mass held by the saints and doctors of the Church in the Middle Ages has nothing, but nothing, to do with the Latin literacy of Parish Priests.

      It was not iliterate Priests, nor confused laity, who wrote the Latin prayers after all.

      Indeed, these saints and doctors often decried the abuses in the practice of the Church. The Venerable Bede, I seem to recall, promoted more frequent reception of Holy Communion.

    2. @Jack Feehily – comment #14:
      Jack,

      More or less what Scott Smith said. No kidding whatsoever. I know that for several decades the Middle Ages were a favorite whipping boy among theologians (and especially liturgists), which was perhaps an understandable overreaction to years of the the-thirteenth-the-greatest-of-centuries approach that preceded. But I think as a general principle that great swaths of the past should not be chucked into the bin because they don’t live up to what we judge to be an adequate view of the Eucharist — unless, of corse, we just want to be the Church of What’s Happening Now.

    3. @Jack Feehily – comment #14:
      And what will people think of our/your understanding of the liturgy, centuries from now? I recall a month ago, in the “No More Agnus Dei Tropes” post, you expressed confusion over the repeated prayers for the acceptance of the offering in the Roman Rite: “Why on earth priests should pray … and then ask the people to pray … and then pray … is beyond me.” (comment #70) I raised the issue (comment #84) about the repeated prayers for peace and for mercy.

      I agree with what Scott Smith said. And I certainly don’t detect within the ancient orations anything having to do with rare reception of Communion, multiplied private Masses, etc.

  9. It is important to consider how the Missale Romanum of 1969 was complied. Orations were chosen from three possible sources:
    – the ancient Sacramentaries of the first millenium
    – centonized prayers based on a re-worked phrase or idea from an older oration.
    – newly composed prayers
    It is reasonable to presume that the selection of prayers is guided by the understanding of the celebration of the Eucharist that emerged in the years immediately following the Council in response to Sacrosanctum concilium and is in that sense both contemporary and in harmony with tradition.

    1. @Msgr Andrew Wadsworth – comment #16:
      Msgr. Wadsworth comment as well as what Msgr. Harbert is doing is to help us to understand the Collects that we have had in Latin since the revised edition of the Roman Missal was issued by Pope Paul VI and we actually got the complete product I guess in 1973.
      It hasn’t been until this past liturgical year that as a Catholic layperson and as a priest that I’ve really come to appreciate those collects as the 1973 English translation of them did not do them justice. So, for the first time this past year, we are actually hearing the 1973’s Latin version put into English that captures the Latin missal’s intent.
      What I would like to see more discussion of is how these collects which in some cases are contemporary but certainly also in harmony with tradition differ from the Collects that preceded them. Certainly the 1973 Latin Missal has Collects that are more positive and focused on God whereas, if I’m not mistaken, the 1962 Missal collects seem to focus more on our sinfulness and Satan’s influence over us.
      As far as prayers go, I think the 1973 Latin Missal and the 2012 English version of them bring us a richer fare compared to the 1962 Missal. I hope this comment is on topic.

      1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #35:
        It would be interesting to also see where the theological approaches in the1973 & 1998 sacramentaries converge and depart from the theology contained in the 2012 English/Latin RM’s collects.

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #35:
        Sorry, Fr. Michael…didn’t mean to go down a blind alley.

        Allan – is it really correct to state: *….the first time this past year, we are actually hearing the 1973′s Latin version put into English that captures the Latin missal’s intent”?

        If nothing else, Fr. Anthony and PrayTell blog has laid out the history, process, and resultant product of Advent 2011 (US). LA/RT and the 2nd ICEL/VC took the Missale Romanum (1973 Latin Missal? is this correct) which was defined as the *original latin*? Thus, the foundation would be the latin missal used for 1962 – they worked to produce an english translation for 2011. 1973 was the first ICEL using a different translation method and process (keep in mind that ICEL always stated that this was interim and needed to be developed/refined which was 1998).
        Per PTB history, we know that the 2011 made many errors in the translation effort which were only noted when the english translation was reviewed (which says what about the ability/competency of the translators and puts your statement – *captures the latin missal’s intent* in serious question. Intent – wouldn’t this have to be with the translator; not an inanimate object, latin missal?).
        There were also some indications that the 2011 translators mistranslated some of the *original latin*e.g. subject, verb tense, object confusion; latin word that actually meant something different in the original.
        Would suggest that if a translation process is valid; then, the goal is to produce accurate translations (per LA, this is fairly literal word for word process). If this is the goal, then, not sure that you can deduce a *more sinful/Satan influence* in comparing the two? Either the translation is accurate and stands on its own or you are attributing meanings/interpretations that are not there.
        Your last paragraph – isn’t this more about the inner consistency; poetic language and images; tone; and word flow when judging prayers to be *richer fare*? Or is *richer fare* only judged if the literal translation preserves the original latin?
        Fr. Michael – did not respond to Fr. Jack’s comment but would suggest that Msgr’s repository can only be helpful. (agree, tho, that other resources should also be used) My comment would be, tho, that these historical sacramentaries, collects, etc. are also present in the documentation and process of the first ICEL (their notes, deliberations, etc. are documented and transparent e.g. explanations on why they chose to translate certain words/phrases the way they did) and the same is try for the 15 year process leading to 1998. Some think this repository is something new – would ask – where and what do you think the first ICEL used in the interim 1973 missal? It may not be organized in this fashion – that is the difference.

  10. Fr. Jack Feehily writes, “Rescuing souls from purgatory with a purchased Mass? Rare reception of holy communion? Little or no understanding of an assembly of priestly people offering the Mass? Priests barely able to read the missal? Priests gathered at multiple altars saying private Masses? People wandering around from shrine to shrine until they hear the bells signaling the time to watch the consecration?”

    While all that may have been true of some, especially the “unwashed, un or undereducated” clergy and laity of that period, at least they had a sense of Catholicism and of the real presence and a need to pray for and offer Mass for the faithful departed as they are purified after their death. But all that he describes is a stereotype and caricature, which all such depictions carry some element of truth, but radically partial truth.

    Let me make clear that I rather like the OF Mass when celebrated properly and in a traditional setting. But with that said, the Extraordinary Form Mass could accomplish the panacea that Fr. Jack sees with the current OF Mass, if it were in the vernacular, and built upon the type of “actual participation” that now, considering Msgr. Harbert’s explanation of its meaning, seems woefully inadequate.

    I am actually quite smitten with Msgr. Harbert’s interpretation of active participation as “receiving a share” by one’s presence at Mass or other liturgies. That has some nuances that could move us in the right direction both in the EF and OF celebrations of the one Roman Rite.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #18:
      Of the things I read on Msgr Harbert’s site, I confess I was singularly unimpressed with his citation of SC 30, and his glossing over the explicit description of what the council bishops had in mind–no interpretation needed.

      However one may attempt to spin SC 30, the 1962 Missal continues to come up woefully short, as far as liturgy is concerned. Now, as a spiritual substrate for theatre and as a concert venue, that’s another thing.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #19:
        Todd, you’d have a lot more clout concerning this, if for example, you actually directed a schola or choir for the EF Mass and participated in one over the course of months prior to making sweeping generalizations. Your “receiving a share in it” would help your argument even if you came away feeling disenfranchised still.

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #23:
        Todd, but the problem is that, like our young correspondent who loves the EF but gets the basic facts about it wrong, showing that he has little experience with it, there’s nothing empirical backing up your assertion that:

        However one may attempt to spin SC 30, the 1962 Missal continues to come up woefully short, as far as liturgy is concerned. Now, as a spiritual substrate for theatre and as a concert venue, that’s another thing.

        It’s armchair liturgizing or parroting of other people. Furthermore, you’re denigrating other people’s lived liturgical experience in their presence!

      3. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #24:
        Hardly. The 1962 Rite does not emphasize participation as explicitly described in SC 30. (Not to mention elsewhere.) Where is the expanded Lectionary? Catechumenate rites? Vestments of simple quality? The excision of needless repetitions? Everything else the bishops explicitly judged as part of the universal reform of the Western Roman Rite?

        The Low Mass certainly falls short, and indeed, expectations of it continue to pollute efforts at furthering the authentic reform of the mainstream Roman Rite in many parishes around the world.

        Unlike many conservatives, I don’t need to parrot Fr Z or the guru-of-the-month to state my case against the unreformed Roman Rite.

        As for other people’s lived liturgical experiences, I would submit that in many instances, we’re talking about their experience with a devotional life, not actual liturgy as the Church provides. I think it is very possible to have fruitful religious experiences, even outside the Catholic Church, and even outside worship as such. But we need to acknowledge the continued indulgence for the 1962 Rite for being tainted with ideology, politics, and many practitioners themselves actively denigrating a very wide swath of brother and sister believers. The lived witness, words, and actions of many (though easily not all) traditionalists is very lacking in obvious fruits of the Spirit.

      4. @Todd Flowerday – comment #26:
        SC 30 is from a pastoral Ecumenical Council and therefore, in this instance, not dogmatic or immutable. We’re in a new day and age liturgically and accessing the pastoral decisions made in the 1960’s. We are also speaking of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass that will not again become the Ordinary Form, but the Ordinary Form may very well become more like the Extraordinary Form but maintaining some of the pastoral sensibilities of SC 30, but adjusted and properly evaluated–in other words SC 30 isn’t infallible, never was and never will be. Don’t make it into a super dogma please.

      5. @Todd Flowerday – comment #26:
        As for other people’s lived liturgical experiences, I would submit that in many instances, we’re talking about their experience with a devotional life, not actual liturgy as the Church provides.

        I would submit that you just don’t know. That’s OK in itself. But it’s not OK for you to go around telling people that it’s bad when you don’t have any experience.

        Unlike many conservatives, I don’t need to parrot Fr Z or the guru-of-the-month to state my case against the unreformed Roman Rite.

        Given your lack of experience with it, you’re doing exactly that. The “experts” continue to make laughable errors in writing about the 1962 rites. Pray Tell with its editorial board can publish something that says “Gone are the days of ‘three-priest Masses’ where an entire liturgy could be celebrated without a word spoken to the assembly or any interaction between assembly and presider,” a blatantly false description of the Solemn Mass. (And one profoundly misleading for someone trying to assess the EF vs. SC.)

        Liturgical Press meanwhile puts out a book, Advent to Pentecost by Abbot Patrick Regan that says, “When the choir and congregation sing the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, or when other ministers discharge functions pertaining to them, the priest is not affected. He does what he would do even in their absence.” Which isn’t true, the priest’s role changes quite a bit in a Solemn Mass.

        That’s why people need experience, because the “experts” are so often wrong.

        The lived witness, words, and actions of many (though easily not all) traditionalists is very lacking in obvious fruits of the Spirit.

        Tuquoque is a fallacy, Todd. If some traditionalists denigrate what they don’t know that doesn’t make it OK for you to do.

  11. Todd – catch the *pastoral Ecumenical Council* (ROTR speak that VII was less than Trent, Nicea, etc.)

    Sorry, Allan, but ecumenical councils do have much more authority than you imagine in your comment. (in fact, your comment suggests that you have an outdated view of church authority even if any one pope can do whatever he wants; it is not necessarily a good thing)

    *we are in a new day and age liturgically* – sounds very 1970ish?
    Thought your mantra was that pastorally and liturgically we develop or reform in continuity….your comment sounds more like *rupture*

    *EF will not again become the OF but the OF may very well become more like the EF….* Only in your alternate universe (as caricatured by your new jargon e.g. *maintaining some of the pastoral sensibilities but adjusted and properly evaluated* (by whom? Fr. Z?)

    *SC 30 isn’t infallible; never was and never will be..no super dogma*

    Sorry, but JPII, B16 and their MPs are not dogmas either – never were and never will be. These are contingent, papal opinions that can and will easily change with successive popes, councils, etc.

    Don’t make up things about church authority, liturgical matters, etc. please.

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #28:
      I am glad you agree with me on papal authority and that each pope can exercise it within the bounds established by Scripture, Tradition and canon law, and yes, we are seeing and have already seen a reform of the reform within continuity with this pope. Will the next pope continue that, stay tuned, but be assured he’ll have the authority to continue it or walk it back. I hope you accept that.

    2. @Bill deHaas – comment #28:
      “Sorry, Allan, but ecumenical councils do have much more authority than you imagine in your comment.”

      So, why again is SC above reproach and debate, but Canons 68ff of Lateran IV can be safely ignored?

  12. I honestly don’t know how to call for a change in direction in discussion, mostly because I watch other threads at Pray, Tell and other blogs get diverted from what I would think might be the central topic. Perhaps that is natural to this medium of expression. I thought the topic here would be on Msgr. Harbert’s “Missal Notes” but we seem to have left that rather far behind since about Msgr. Wadsworth’s comment. Fr. Feehily’s comment at #11 seems to me something that might spark some interesting conversation about how certain literary forms (e.g., the collect structure) help to construct a liturgical tradition, and what the limitations of those forms might be. I hope I’m not offending those who are carrying on another conversation, but could we return to a discussion related to Msgr. Harbert’s “Missal Notes” here and have you perhaps start another line for your discussion?

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #31:
      Ah but Father when there is a topic that can be examined from 360 different degrees and we have only looked at from 120 of these that leaves plenty of degrees to explore. As Private Eye would say: continued on page 94.
      By contrast comments on some of your posts on SC seem like those list of ten points that ends with:
      5 Er…
      6 That’s it.

      As for Fr Feehily’s point I fear that he is right. If a sermon is related to the readings the congregation are lucky. Any explanation of the other prayers is so rare as to be memorable. Yet these surely are a treasure to explore and this new blog looks like a valuable resource.

    2. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #31:
      Caught! Danged if I wasn’t going to try to keep things on track in the (new) liturgical year.

      Let me suggest on another angle that perhaps a thorough examination of the writings of the saints, especially the doctors, might also provide a wealth of spiritual insight for the Scriptures and the liturgy. Why should we be concerned about medieval collects exclusively. Isn’t there something in Cardinal Newman, in Hugh of St Victor, in Hildegard of Bingen, in Ephrem the Syrian, and in the more lyrical passages of the saints that wouldn’t be exemplary material to fashion new collects, perhaps better linked to the Scriptures of the day, that would bear richer fruit in the reformed Roman Rite. Why should we be satisfied with the leavings of Trent alone?

  13. Todd Flowerday : @Samuel J. Howard – comment #24: But we need to acknowledge the continued indulgence for the 1962 Rite for being tainted with ideology, politics, and many practitioners themselves actively denigrating a very wide swath of brother and sister believers. The lived witness, words, and actions of many (though easily not all) traditionalists is very lacking in obvious fruits of the Spirit.

    I would argue that you probably don’t have a clue whether or not “many” traditionalists are lacking in obvious fruits of the Spirit. Perhaps you mean “a few bloggers I don’t like” or something – a tiny minority – unless you spend a lot of time at EF Masses mingling with the people there. If we are to judge the fruitfulness of liturgy by reading blogs, then I would say the OF is a rather dismal failure tainted by ideology and politics too.

  14. From what I have seen of Mgr Harbert’s blog so far, I would find it much more useful if he would, as well as the historical data, add the material (or a digest of it) that Xavier Rindfleisch, Daniel McCarthy and others have contributed to this blog and in other places (e.g. The Tablet) concerning the accuracy and methodology of translating these prayers In other words, if he could tell us not only where each prayer came from but what intelligent consensus opines about the form of words which will best translate what the prayer is really saying in a language that is actually English. That would be a real service to the Church.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #39:
      If that’s what you want, Paul, and you aren’t satisfied with what has been done by the other authors you mention, then why not do it yourself?

  15. Bruce,

    That was not a criticism, but what in some quarters would be described as a “friendly suggestion”. I merely hoped that your excellent work could be rendered even more useful by additions along the lines I suggested. I am sorry if this was not clear.

  16. I’ve got to ask the “progressives” on this blog like Bill deHaas and Paul Inwood why you generally address the priests by their first names? I did notice that Bill is more than willing to address Father’s Joncas, Ruff and Feehily with their priestly title, but calls Father McDonald “Allan” and now Paul Inwood addresses Monsignor (or Father) Harbert as “Bruce”. I would have no issue if any of you are PhD’s or MD’s by addressing you as “Doctor”, whether or not I agree with your opinions. It’s a simple matter of respect for these men who have committed their lives to the service of God and his people.

    1. @Randy Schreiner – comment #42:
      They respond to me with Mr. when commenting. Try to match what each is comfortable with. I have also commited my life to the service of God and his people – what is your point?
      Sorry, no PhD; only three master degrees – all useless. Progressive – some of my friends would say that I am old, stodgy, and a Texas red neck (thus, conservative). (my daughter would add – and has bad habits.)

  17. No, there’s no pattern, it varies widely for many regular commenters on this blog.
    No, I’m not offended when people increasingly use the social conventions of today’s world.
    In the Middle Ages I don’t believe people had last names… we still refer to “Augustine” and “Thomas” and no disrespect is inferred.
    For the most part I think this is a non-issue.
    awr

  18. One of my favorite essays is the Ph.D. Octopus by William James

    http://grammar.about.com/od/classicessays/a/The-Ph-D-Octopus-By-William-James-Classic-Essays.htm

    But are we Americans ourselves destined after all to hunger after similar vanities on an infinitely more contemptible scale? And is individuality with us also going to count for nothing unless stamped and licensed and authenticated by some title-giving machine? Let us pray that our ancient national genius may long preserve vitality enough to guard us from a future so unmanly and so unbeautiful!

    Poor William James. He wrote this in 1903. Look at what higher education has brought us! I think this essay needs to be read at the beginning of every academic year.

    Also I think Jesus had something to say about titles, too.

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