Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 50

Vatican website translation:

50. The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.
For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.

Latin text:

50. Ordo Missae ita recognoscatur, ut singularum partium propria ratio necnon mutua connexio clarius pateant, atque pia et actuosa fidelium participatio facilior reddatur.
Quamobrem ritus, probe servata eorum substantia, simpliciores fiant; ea omittantur quae temporum decursu duplicata fuerunt vel minus utiliter addita; restituantur vero ad pristinam sanctorum Patrum normam nonnulla quae temporum iniuria deciderunt, prout opportuna vel necessaria videantur.

Slavishly literal translation [kindness of Jonathan Day]

50. The Order of Mass is to be reviewed and revised in such a way that the particular plan of each of its parts, as well as the connection between them, may become more clearly accessible, and that the devout and active participation of the faithful may be more easily restored.
To this end the rites, with due care to preserve their substance, are to be made more simple; those things are to be set aside that, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated or were added with little advantage; the many things that suffered the injuries of time are truly to be restored to the original [old-time] standard of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.

Having articulated the rationale for reforming the celebrational structure of [Roman Rite] Eucharist in arts. 47-49, art. 50 begins a set of reform decrees dedicated to that end. This article is the most far-reaching, with subsequent articles concentrating on particular aspects of reform of the Order of Mass.

Notice that Jonathan Day’s translation of “recognoscatur” as “reviewed and revised” helpfully encompasses the directives entrusted to the reform bodies: the history of the Order of Mass is to be explored for its fundamental structure and its celebrational structure is to be changed on the basis of some overarching principles. First, the “singularum partium propria ratio” [rendered by Mr. Day as “particular plan of each of its parts”] and their “mutual connexio” [“the connection between them”] are to be made “clarius pateant” [“more clearly accessible”]. Second, this review and revision is directed so that the “pia et actuosa fidelium participatio” [“devout and active participation of the faithful” might be “facilior reddatur” [“more easily restored/given back/returned/achieved”].

At the risk of underlining the obvious (and possibly causing a firestorm among Pray Tell readers), this initial decree suggests that the Council Fathers had judged that the Order of Mass as celebrated according to the Missale Romanum 1962 did not clearly manifest the structure of its component elements nor the connections between those elements. They further held that making that structure and connections more evident to worshipers could or would enhance their participation. I see nothing in the article that suggests that the Council Fathers believed two celebrational forms of Roman Rite Mass should co-exist: one reformed to make its structure and the interrelation of its components more clear for the sake of the faithful’s participation and one judged defective in its structure and the interrelation of its components.

To guide this general review and revision of the Order of Mass, the Council Fathers then propose the following:

1) Without losing the substance of the rites, a simplified form of the Order of Mass should be produced. Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate this change is to compare the rites prior to the Epistle in the Missale Romanum 1962 with the Introductory Rites in the Missale Romanum 1970ff or the rites following communion in the former with the Concluding Rites in the latter. I suspect there are great differences of opinion among Pray Tell readers about what constitutes “preserving the substance of the rites” and to what extent simplicity in the execution of the rites corresponds the human exigencies of ritual behavior.
2) Duplications and questionable additions were to be removed from the Order of Mass. An example of removal of duplications added over the course of time would be the reduction of multiple signs of the Cross made during the recitation of the Canon of the Mass according to the Missale Romanum 1570-1962 to a single sign of the Cross over the elements made during the recitation of a Eucharistic Prayer according to the Missale Romanum 1970ff. An example of removal of a questionable addition would be the elimination of the Last Gospel in the Missale Romanum 1970ff. I suspect that there may be great differences of opinion among Pray Tell readers about what constitute “duplications and questionable additions” in the Order of Mass. It would be interesting to try to discover what principles guided the coetus a studiis who proposed the reformed Order of Mass and how those principles play out in practice in the light of a half century of experience with the reformed Order of Mass.
3) Finally, as may seem useful or necessary, elements in the Order of Mass that have fallen into desuetude are to be restored. Examples might be the use of vernacular languages or the re-introduction of the Universal Prayer/Prayer of the Faithful or an increase in the number of Eucharistic Prefaces. I suspect that there might be differences of opinion among Pray Tell readers about what elements of past Eucharistic celebrations (e.g., lavish use of sequences) might be appropriate for restoration.


  1. Musically, there was a clear structure to the Old Mass:
    Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei which could have been sung by the people.
    A Series of dialogs that could have been sung by the ministers and the people.
    Introit, Gradual, Offertory and Communion which were mainly sung by the choir.
    However often the people sang little or nothing in either High or Low Mass.

    Musically it is not clear what is the structure of the New Mass:
    At its best there is a sung Eucharistic Prayer. For this alone I think it is potentially better.

    However, usually the only things that are sung are the Sanctus, Agnus Dei and the four hymns!
    Maybe the Dialogs, Kyrie, the Gloria, the Credo, the Prayers of the Faithful, the Preface and the Lord’s Prayer will be sung or maybe not or whatever combination.

    Most of the Old Mass musical structure could be sung in the New Mass but it isn’t.

    The New Mass structure musically and otherwise has great potential, much greater than the Old Mass but little of that has been realized.

    While this article on simplicity and interconnected structure clearly is a central article in SC, implementing this simplicity and interconnected structure musically has not gone well in the past fifty years.

    Music is key since it is the largest part of active participation by the people. Even if one does not sing onself, other people singing is an important factor.

  2. Since it says “Ordo Missae”, we can assume that they are not merely talking about the Gallican repetitions in the rites outside of the Ordo Missae, such as the multiplication of blessings. I personally like the multiplication of blessings; it is understandable, given the character of the modern world, that those should be simplified. I would have hoped in their simplification that the Gallican heritage had not been obliterated.

    The Ordo Missae. The two principles are sound and beautiful although it is hard for me to see how the rites in use in 1962 do not already accomplish them. Since I was born in the late ’80s, I have no experience of the Older Mass prior to the Council. Discovering it in 2003, I, and the vast majority of my friends, have been moved especially by their “ratio partium”–by the notion behind and intelligibility of their parts. Our experience is that this was less clear in our upbringing in the Novus Ordo.

    Questions abound for me: Which parts of the Ordinary do they wish to be made more simple? Which parts have been duplicated in the course of time (the “little canon” of the offertory prayers? yet who would wish to give those up? You mention the signs of the Cross..). Who is to judge what is of lesser value? How does the principle of restoring these parts to their pristine norm differ from archeologism? Which rites are called to be restored? The paragraph is filled with a frustrating ambiguity. The Concilium interpreted these paragraphs one way, taking great latitude; I would have interpreted them another way, giving the developed rites the benefit of the doubt until they were shown to fall short of the notions of SC.

    The council clearly never envisioned two forms of the Mass, but then the Council didn’t envision so radical a break. We never would have had Summorum if the Concilium had not edited virtually every prayer and the calendar, thrown out the lectionary, and altered every rite of every sacrament and sacramental. The two forms exist to effect internal reconciliation.

  3. For what it’s worth, I take “quae temporum decursu duplicata fuerunt” to refer especially to duplication of the parts that pertain to the choir by the priest, “minus utiliter addita” to be more ambiguous, but, perhaps, to refer to the prayers at the foot of the altar, which were late and often ommitted, or even to the last Gospel, “quae temporum iniuria deciderunt” could be especially a reference to the Kiss of Peace, which had become restricted to the clergy, and “prout opportuna vel necessaria videantur” could include the Universal Prayers, which seem to respond to a legitimate aspiration among the People of God.

  4. Michael Joncas: “I see nothing in the article that suggests that the Council Fathers believed two celebrational forms of Roman Rite Mass should coexist.”
    Could he make a stronger claim: “I see nothing in the article that suggests that the Council Fathers believed two celebrational forms of Roman Rite Mass COULD coexist”?

  5. The ‘Declaratio’ from earlier versions of the article provided to the Fathers to aid in understanding the article, might be helpful. It uses several of the terms but expands on them in a fuller sense. A scan (in Latin) may be found here ( from the Acta. [Perhaps Fr. M, you could arrange to host it more permanently somewhere?]. I hesitate to attempt a translation both in view of the length of the document and my weak skills compared with other members, but perhaps someone may wish too? A summary of what the document suggests follows.

    1) the separation of the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist in terms of location i.e. former at the chair and ambo, the latter at the altar.
    2) the change of several (“gallico-germanic”) elements as follows:
    a) reduction of the numbers of signs of the cross, genuflections, bows, etc.
    b)simplification of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar
    c) readings toward the people
    d) revision of the Offertory in terms of both rite and prayers. The call for the prayers to better express ‘the sense of the oblation of gifts later consecrated’ would seem to rule out some of the more highly proleptic Tridentine prayers.
    e) increased number of Prefaces, responses (“Amen”) by the people in the Canon; again call for reduction of the number of times the sign of the cross in made.
    f) recitation of the ‘Libera nos’ around, and moving of the fraction.
    g) changing the sequence of the fraction and the sign of peace
    h) removal of restrictions on Communion of the Faithful for certain Masses
    i) Shorter form for distribution of Communion
    l) ending the Mass with the dismissal
    3) revision of rubrics and ceremonies, solemn Mass with only a deacon, etc.

  6. Regarding the ‘substance of the rites’: when flipping through the Acts of the Council, I came across an interesting response to a modification proposed in the schema of this article. The proposal was to make an explicit mention in the article that the Roman Canon was to retained intact (“expresse dicatur ‘semper intacta forma ipsius Canonis’ “). This was rejected but the reason given was it was suggested/hinted at/intimated by the wording on the substance of the rites ( “hoc autem aliquo modo iam innuitur verbis schematis ‘probe servata eorum substantia'”). Evidently some interpreted ‘substance’ to mean the retention of certain textual features. This reminds of the discussion that came up here on PTB (I think it was Dcn. Fritz) on what constitutes the “substance” of the Roman rite.

  7. Acknowledging that the Fathers and the Consilium called for the reduction of duplications, perhaps it might be useful to re-evaluate what role duplications (even verbal) can play in ritual language, and whether the position on duplications has been a little too stringent in the modern Latin liturgy? What makes a duplication “useless” (or maybe “less useful”, to avoid the negativity of “useless”) and when does duplication obscure a particular aspect of the liturgy? S

    Sometimes, some of the rationale for certain changes (e.g. removal of sanctoral reference in the Embolism of the Lord’s Prayer) seem to artificially construct certain boxes around various elements in the liturgy (e.g. we can only commemorate the saints in the Eucharistic Prayer, and the embolism is a duplication).

    In addition, sometimes the changes don’t always strike me as consistent. For example, I have never understood why both the Pauline and the Petrine salutations are options for the Greeting at Mass, when they are practically identical, yet are not considered duplications.

  8. A couple of things stand out to me – first of all, the exact phrasing “more clearly” or “more clearly accessible”. It should be obvious, from the very fact that SC exists, that the council Fathers thought the liturgy should be reformed. However, some would take the further step of characterizing the preconciliar liturgy as defective. There is a difference between something that can be improved upon, and something that is inherently flawed and defective. In this case, many consider the preconciliar liturgy defective in its conveyance of grace to and formation of the faithful. So Fr. Joncas’ comment could be more nuanced:

    “this initial decree suggests that the Council Fathers had judged that the Order of Mass as celebrated according to the Missale Romanum 1962 did not clearly manifest the structure of its component elements nor the connections between those elements. ”

    “Did not clearly manifest” suggests defect. It would be more accurate to echo the language of the document and say “could be improved to more clearly manifest”. I think many arguments and hurt feelings could be avoided by acknowledging the need for improvement without discounting a ritual system that did, in fact nurture the Church and countless saints for centuries. Of course, there are those who would deny that the 1962 missal could possibly be improved on – in which case the council itself would be defective and unnecessary. I don’t think more nuanced language helps with those folks.

    Second point – I second Joshua Anthony’s assessment of repetition as referring (among other tings) to the priest’s duplication of the Ordinary and Proper sung by the choir. This requirement was quietly removed in the 1964 document Inter Oecumeni, articles 32-33 and 48. It is an important change to acknowledge that the priest does not need to repeat these integral texts (presumably uselessly) that are sung by the choir or choir and congregation. What an elevation of the ritual importance of the choir and congregation!

  9. It would be good to have someone who knows classical rhetoric weigh in here, because I really do not. My untutored impression is that Latin would draw a distinction between ‘duplicating’ and ‘repeating’ – duplicatio vs repetitio, in Greek ἀναδίπλωσις vs ἀναφορά.

    The former – which means repeating a word at the start of a clause – can be put to comic use, though it need not be. The latter involves repeating a phrase or theme throughout a passage, and is almost entirely for emphasis.

    So applying this metaphor of rhetorical use, “duplicated” material would truly be surplus to requirement, material that had accumulated to no positive end. Not at all the same as repetition of an idea.

  10. Re: Jared Ostermann’s comment at #8. In fact I carefully chose “did not clearly manifest” because, from the point of view of article 50’s first sentence (which, of course, is not the only way in which to evaluate it), the Order of Mass found in the Missale Romanum 1962 was defective in its structural deployment and the relationship of its various components. The hope was that by reshaping its structural deployment and making more clear the relationship of its component elements a reformed Order of Mass might promote the participation of the faithful. Of course this doesn’t say a word about whether or not the Order of Mass found in the Missale Romanum 1962 might exhibit many other virtues, but from the point of view found in the first sentence of article 50 it was defective.

    I frankly bent over backwards rhetorically to come up with the phrase “did not clearly manifest” in order to try to be sensitive to the very readers for whom you show concern. Nowhere have I suggested that the Ordo Missae in the Missale Romanum 1962 was “inherently flawed and defective”; insofar as the Church has used that Ordo Missae in its official worship I would not make that claim. But I also do not think it is beyond critique (just as I do not believe the Ordo Missae in the Missale Romanum 1970ff is beyond critique, or that found in the Missa Illyrica is beyond critique).

    I further believe that it is helpful to make clear in these conversations what the basis of the criticism is. I tried to do so in as non-polemic terms as I could find in commenting on the first sentence of article 50 while being faithful to my understanding of what the Council Fathers intended by the text.

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #10:
      I may be reading too much into the word “more”, but to me “more clearly” implies a change in degree; while a bare “clearly” implies a change in kind. This kind of thing comes up in teaching all the time – it would be much more constructive to say to a piano student “you could articulate this passage more clearly”; rather than saying “please articulate clearly.” The first way implies that the student’s initial efforts were not devoid of clarity.

      Liturgically speaking, I believe that this is an important nuance in article 50. If you want to say that the liturgy was ‘defective’ in the sense that it could benefit from ongoing reform and renewal, that’s fine (and again, witnessed by the existence of the document itself). However, this is different from an implication that the component parts of the liturgy were not stitched together clearly (at all) before the council. The phrase “more clearly” implies that there was at least some clarity in the structure of the preconciliar liturgy. This should not be surprising, given that the 1570 Missal was intended (among other things) to increase the clarity of the liturgy by removing some medieval accretions. Ritual clarity was not a new idea, applied to the liturgy for the first time at Vatican II.

      1. @Jared Ostermann – comment #15:
        And to be more clear 🙂
        I am not accusing Fr. Joncas of polemics here. However, I do think it is important to see the ways a simple “more” affects one’s casting of the historical narrative. “More” seems to place the reforms of Vatican II in a historical continuum of ongoing reform. This nuance seems, to me, to work against an overly simplistic dichotomy of preconciliar (bad!) and postconciliar (good!) liturgy.

  11. With regard to the introductory rites, I think I am coming to the view that, at least from the assembly’s perspective, the reform only made things more complicated. At least in a sung Mass, the pre-conciliar Mass’s movement from Introit to Kyrie to Gloria to greeting to collect has a smoothness that I find very appealing. The current introductory rite strikes me as bumpy and chatty.

    That said, this paragraph seems to make it clear that those who claim that SC only mandated a few changes are…well…wrong.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #11:
      “That said, this paragraph seems to make it clear that those who claim that SC only mandated a few changes are…well…wrong.”

      I am not sure that it is as clear as that. The changes described may be as little as removing a few repetitions, the confetior comes to mind, and restoring some lost elements: Solesmes suggests some pieces of Gregorian chant. I think that you are right in saying that something more is envisaged but not that this is clearly set out here.
      Just as in the paragraph on the position of the altar I think that this paragraph hints rather than setting out precisely what is intended.

      If the changes to the Mass are only those described here then the description of the OF and EF as two forms of the one rite is easy to support: the substance of the EF is preserved in the OF. In saying that I am not suggesting that Fr Michael is wrong about two forms. I doubt that this was envisaged and hence not mentioned.

  12. In terms of the Ordinary Form of the Mass, I would like to see the free-standing Kyrie recovered and only two options for the “penitential act” that of the Confiteor and the revised “Form B” “Have mercy on us, O Lord…” with the absolution and free-standing Kyrie following.

    This would recover the EF’s technical start to the Mass, following the prayers at the foot of the altar, with the chanting of the Kyrie.

    I’ve noticed at Vatican Masses, that when there is a rite that replaces the penitential act, that the free standing Kyrie is not omitted. For example the Mass for the Presentation of the Lord, with the blessing of candles, led to the procession into the Church, with the official chanted Introit and immediately into the Kyrie following the Introit. The same was true of Pope Francis outdoor Mass on Easter Sunday with the blessing and sprinkling of Holy Water, the free standing Kyrie was chanted following the “absolution”.

    I would hope also that the free standing Kyrie would be return to the Funeral Mass, following the sprinkling of the body, the procession and prior to the Collect. I find it odd that after the processional hymn, once at the chair, the priest immediately launches into the Collect. A Kyrie prior to that would make it smoother and would return the Kyrie to the Requiem Mass.

    The same would be true of the Nuptial Mass, the new missal explicitly states that the penitential act is omitted, but the Gloria is sung or said. It is awkward going from the “Sign of the Cross” and greeting directly to the Gloria, it would seem that the Kyrie should be chanted also and not viewed as a penitential act.

  13. Re: #5, if no one else intends to translate this, I’m happy to provide a translation, but my work schedule would prevent me from doing it until tomorrow. Let me know if there already is one/if someone else intends to do it.

  14. Re: ## 5 and 13: I am grateful to Joshua Vas for his link to the Declaratio. I honestly don’t know how to make a more permanent link to it on this blog, but perhaps the editor and his assistants may do so.
    I will also be grateful to Joseph Anthony if he would wish to translate the Declaratio. No one has contacted me with an offer to translate it. (I seem to remember that it appears in Bugnini’s massive volume about the reforms, but I only have the volume in Italian, so that wouldn’t be helpful in this instance.)

  15. I hope I will not upset Joseph Anthony by posting my own “down and dirty” translation of the Declaratio posted by Joshua Vas in Latin at #5 over the next few comboxes.

    [Declaration] at Art. 37 [now 50] of the Schema [of SC]

    The present Order of Mass, which has developed over the course of the centuries, is to be retained. However it would seem that some things here and there would be reviewed and even emended, through the work of studies that, especially in our age, have been undertaken both concerning the origin and the evolution of the individual rites of the Mass, so that the nature and significance of each of its parts might be places in clearer light, and that the active participation of the faithful might be restored more easily and more immediately.

    For example, the two parts of the Mass, that is the liturgy of the word and the Eucharistic liturgy, could be more clearly distinguished: which would especially be obtained by the separation of each to a more appropriate place.

    For the proper place for the Eucharistic part [of the Mass] is the altar, upon which the Sacrifice of the Cross is represented in an unbloody fashion; and from which, as if from the table of the father’s house, one consumes his own part, communicating in the Body and Blood of the Lord.

    Indeed for the Liturgy of the Word, especially in Masses with the people, a more apt place could be assigned at the chair and at the ambos, as is done in the pontifical Mass; for by such an placement the nature of the liturgical action is more clearly manifested, and the stages and parts of each ministry is expressed in a more evident way.

    Indeed among the individual parts of the Order of Mass, it would seem that those most to be reviewed would be those celebrated at the beginning, at the Offertory, at Communion and at the conclusion, above all when then Roman Rite was adopted in Francia and edited into a new form according to the Franco-Germanic culture, which was later adopted by the Roman Church.

  16. Declaration at Art. 37 [now 50] of the Schema [of SC] Part 2:

    Among others, these might be proposed for review:

    a) That the signs of the cross, kissing of the altar, genuflections, bowings, and other actions of this sort might be made less frequent.
    b) That the prayers at the foot of the altar might be reduced and recast into a simpler form.
    c) That the readings might be proclaimed facing the people, to whom they are directly addressed.
    d) That the Rite of the Offertory be so described and adapted that the participation of the people might appear in a procession of the gifts which could be done on solemnities, whether by the people themselves or by their representatives (as in the Ambrosian Liturgy). Likewise the prayers which are recited over the offering be so reviewed and revised that the might correspond more to the sense of offering gifts to be consecrated later. The importance of the prayer over the offerings might be restored, reciting it aloud.
    e) That the number of the Prefaces might be increased (for example, for Sunday, for Advent, for the feast of Corpus Christi, for the Mass of the Dedication of a Church). In the Canon, certain prayers, or at least the final doxology, be recited aloud, so that the people could respond, “Amen;” which at least ought to be done at the end. The signs of the Cross in the doxology might be omitted; and reduced in the rest of the Canon.
    f) That the embolism of the Lord’s Prayer might be recited aloud, as is done on Good Friday, without a fraction at its conclusion.
    g) That the fraction of the host and the peace be arranged more appropriately.
    h) That the restrictions by which the faithful are prohibited from receiving Holy Communion in particular Masses might be removed.
    i) That the formula for the distribution of Holy Communion might be made briefer, as for example “The Body of Christ. Amen.” as according to St. Ambrose in the Ambrosian Liturgy.

  17. Declaration at Art. 37 [now 50] of the Schema [of SC] Part 3:

    l) That the Mass might be completed with the blessing of the priest and the formula of dismissal: “Go, it is sent [or “the Mass is ended.”]

    To this revision, whether of the entire Order of Mass or of its parts, other questions more of a rubrical and ceremonial character, often proposed by experts and now also more strongly by bishops, could be brought up. From these two proposals as an example might be given: that is say, the reduction of the rites of the pontifical Mass in general and the restoration to practice of the Ordinary of the solemn Mass with a deacon, as was done in the restored Order of Holy Week.”

    I hope this is helpful in our discussion. (And for Jared Ostermann’s sake I hope is is luminously clear that I’m sure I have missed some nuances in this quick translation, if not perhaps mistranslated something here or there, but it was the best I could do in the time I gave myself :-).)

  18. In the 1970s I had already pointed out, in the course of an article in the Clergy Review, that one noticeable area where the reforms did not eliminate duplications was in the Presentation of the Gifts. (The article was entitled “Whatever happened to the Offertory?”)

    Using the numbering of the current Missal:

    Para 26: With humble spirit and contrite heart
    may we be accepted by you, O Lord,
    and may our sacrifice in your sight this day
    be pleasing to you, Lord God.

    Para 29: Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters),
    that my sacrifice and yours
    may be acceptable to God,
    the almighty Father.

    Para 30: (The Prayer over the Offerings).

    In three different ways consecutively we say in effect “Lord, please find this sacrifice acceptable” (yes, I know para 29 is addressed to the people, but the net effect is the same). Perhaps only one would be enough.

  19. Si “”hodiernus Ordo Missae, qui decursu saeculorum succrevit” retinuisset, even if the other changes had been made as they are suggested here, I don’t think we’d be experiencing the necessary tension between the new and the traditional; there would have been less need for a legally “extraordinary form”, because there would have been less fraction between the new and the old. The Ordinary is not the only part of the Roman Rite. The Calendar, Lectionary, and Orations are also important. The Ordinary, however, is the most noticeable part of the Mass, and I would be very comfortable with the Ordo Missae depicted in the schema.

  20. Joseph Anthony’s excellent questions in #2 and fine comment in #23 lead me again to the risk of starting a firestorm among Pray, Tell readers. I think it would be instructive to reflect on the “Missa normativa” that members of the Consilium constructed in trying to be faithful to the principles articulated by the Council Fathers.
    We haven’t really talked about the principle of recourse to the “pristine norms of the Fathers,” but that really put some of these difficulties in high relief. Even if we take Justin Martyr’s evidence from his _First Apology_ 65, 67 as representing just one pattern of eucharist at a house church in Rome ca. 165 and not THE eucharist of the Roman Rite, it doesn’t give us any information about the Introductory Rites; maybe there were none in Justin’s day. What evidence we have for a Latin language liturgy coming from North Africa ca. 426 suggests that there was no entrance song, but just a greeting to the assembly by the presiding celebrant and then the Liturgy of the Word started. We don’t get evidence for an Introit chant for the Roman Rite until Ordo Romanus Primus (8th C) and we don’t get the actual Introit chant texts until the dates of the cantatorium and antiphonale miss arum manuscripts that Hesbert edited. OR I does mention a Kyrie litany (but not with a fixed number of invocations), a Gloria in excelsis (if its the season for it and remember this is a papal Mass), a greeting of peace, and then the Dominus vobiscum and opening collect.
    So what to do? If they strictly follow the earliest historical evidence, they would have proposed a non-ritualized assembling followed by the Liturgy of the Word (Justin) or just a priestly greeting and the collect (Augustine) or the Introit as the ministers enter, a priestly greeting and the collect (from a scholarly retrojection of the post-basilical Roman Introductory rites before the OR1) or OR1 (which is what we presently have, by and large). [cont.]

  21. So, if I remember correctly, for the “Missa normativa” they proposed an Introit, a silent Sign of the Cross, a spoken Trinitarian Greeting, and a collect as the “standard” Introductory Rites into which other elements could be added on occasion depending on the character and solemnity of the feast (much as they had been added over time historically). When the assembled bishops actually celebrated it, they felt such a radical treatment of the Ordo Missae made the Introductory Rites too bare and would prove a stumbling block to the piety of the faithful who were used to the Kyrie eleison and (sometimes) the Gloria in excelsis.
    But excising the even later additions to the Introductory Rites as found in the Missale Romanum 1570-1962 (e.g., Psalm 42 + Confiteor [done twice] = sacristy prayers that “migrated” to the foot of the altar; two “apologiae” that the priest says walking up to the altar seeking pardon for our and his sinfulness [which had already been ritually engaged by the Confiteor] and ALL of this before the priest recites the Introit [which, of course, in a sung Mass would already have been sung by the choir as the ministers came to the foot of the altar) seemed both the the members of the coetus a studiis working on the Ordo Missae reform and the bishops who oversaw their work to be quite in line with what the Council Fathers asked for in article 50.
    Notice their judgments: The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar were not Introductory Rites so much as prayers of private preparation for the priest celebrant and his ministers; the “apologiae” were not so much Introductory rite as acts of private preparation for the priest AND they were ritual duplications (seen as unnecessary) of the dual Confiteor). Since I don’t have all my notes on the “Missa normativa” at hand, I’ll be happily corrected by anyone with the texts, but I think the general outline of what I’ve presented is correct.

  22. Thank you for your willingness to dialog with me. I recognize that I’m stepping into a community of knowledgeable people who may have a different background than I do. That’s been beneficial to me too: I’m learning many things.

    “they proposed an Introit, a silent Sign of the Cross, a spoken Trinitarian Greeting, and a collect as the “standard” Introductory Rites into which other elements could be added on occasion depending on the character and solemnity of the feast (much as they had been added over time historically).”

    That’s what I remember from Bugnini’s book. If memory serves, Paul VI personally asked that the Signum Crucis be audible. I’m in agreement with you on the prayers at the foot of the altar, Father, which, though beautiful, have never seemed to me to be integral to the rite. I have noted in the past that the reform seemed to add “introductory rites”, whereas, as you said, the “prayers at the foot of the altar” were more preparations for the Mass. This seems to be an innovation, albeit a relatively unimportant one. Perhaps more important to me, and correct me if I make a mistake here, is that the litany of Kyries was transformed into part of the new Penitential rite. I can see no trace of a penitential character to the Kyries in history. Even the development of the music seems to indicate this. Can the melisma of jubilation at the end of the final Kyrie be interpreted as penitential in character? It seems to me that the Kyrie expresses joy. God’s mercy is His covenantal love that lasts forever (Cf. Ps. 136). I wonder if the supplications for mercy, like the final supplication for peace in the Agnus Dei, are not more than acts of penance, or if their character hasn’t been altered by inserting them into a penitential rite.

    Re: restoration to the norms of the Church Father, I think said restoration cannot ignore the development of the historical ratio partium Missae or treat it like the gentle guidance of the Holy Spirit ended with the Church Fathers.

  23. “Can the melisma of jubilation at the end of the final Kyrie be interpreted as penitential in character? It seems to me that the Kyrie expresses joy. God’s mercy is His covenantal love that lasts forever (Cf. Ps. 136). I wonder if the supplications for mercy, like the final supplication for peace in the Agnus Dei, are not more than acts of penance, or if their character hasn’t been altered by inserting them into a penitential rite.”

    My training indicated that the original idea behind the *penitential* rite was to celebrate God’s mercy rather than focus on individual sinfulness ….i.e. Lord has mercy or the three part addresses should be about God’s mercy, love, forgiveness rather than a litany of wrongs, shame, etc. Yet, there are three forms that can be chosen including a communal act of penance which again seems to focus on individual sinfulness.

    But, in reality, very few presiders seem to convey this….suggest that it has lost its original purpose and intent.

  24. We just had the story of the woman anointing Jesus from Luke 7, with it’s concluding “she who love much is forgiven much.” Doesn’t that make the point that penitence is about great love? That blurs the line between penitence and praise at least enough that the Kyrie can teach us about real penitence.

    I am interested that Joseph says that “I, and the vast majority of my friends, have been moved especially by their “ratio partium”–by the notion behind and intelligibility of their parts. Our experience is that this was less clear in our upbringing in the Novus Ordo.” Is this ‘ratio partium’ less clearly manifested now than before? I say it is much clearer now, with some of the reforms suggested here, eg distinct places for prayer, scripture and sacrifice. I am curious what others think.

  25. Jim, Re: #28, I am also interested to know what others think. I meant to describe a state of affairs, rather than making any universal claims. The story is that I discovered the older form in 2003, when I was a Junior in Highschool. I introduced it to my friends over the next few years. During that time we were at Franciscan University. We had no particular fondness for the liturgies on campus, and my friends were eager to drive to Pittsburgh for the older Mass from time to time. I started assisting there every week. Since we were college students with lots of leisure, we had numerous conversations about the Mass. A love for the Mass was kindled like I, at least, had never in my life experienced. The more we assisted at the older form, the more we wished to talk about it and study it. This love bore fruit on campus, and it has born fruit since, but perhaps it has born fruit for me most in my own life. It is just a fact that, though a committed Catholic, I did not understand the rational of the parts of the Mass until I began to pray the older form. Many of my friends had similar experience. As a matter of fact, the older form helped me to //understand// and //pray// the revised rite. I’m open to the possibility that there is greater intelligibility in the revised rites– I would have to hear those arguments first. My experience colors my perception.

  26. Joseph, i meant only to contrast your remark with the first sentence of the paragraph we are discussing: The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested. if it was through study that you learned the rationale for the parts of the Mass, then you understand the problem the Council Fathers were addressing.

    In the revised form, the parts of the Mass are more evident. Scripture was given it’s own place to make clear that this is a moment of God’s presence. The priest turned toward the people to make clear that God is present among us in the liturgy, not far away on the other side of a wall. (I can imagine situations where the opposite changes would be appropriate, but to implement SC these seem most important)

    Once you have internalized these messages, that God is among us, speaking to us, the EF will be approached in a manner very different from how I was taught as a child. The bells and incense signal God’s presence in a very physical way, but not as clearly as the newer rite does without them IMO. Moving about at the altar does not convey the differences between hearing God’s Word and being involved in God’s saving actions.

    I really do not have any adult experience of the EF, so I cannot provide much more in the way of contrast. Anything else i might say will be even more of a caricature than these remarks.

  27. I wanted to chime in that I had a similar experience to Joseph Anthony. My understanding of the Mass was made far clearer, and my love for it was deepened, when I started going to the EF. It has a logic, flow, and noble simplicity that I never experienced in the OF, and that now colors how I view the OF. There’s more a sense that the parts of the Mass are connected and come together to form a cohesive whole while still having a distinctive character.

    I was never taught that God is distant, but rather that he is everywhere and always with us, so I never read that he is “on the other side of the wall” into the ad orientem posture. Instead I saw it as indicating the priest is leading and praying with us.

    I think perceptions of liturgy are colored by our experiences outside of Mass as much as the experiences we have when we attend it. I was raised with a very positive outlook towards God, Our Lady, and the saints, and how they interact with us, and I took that outlook with me when I discovered the EF. I wasn’t taught too much about what the parts of Mass mean, so I typically had to take it all at face value.

  28. #31 expresses my sentiments well. I would not say, as it was suggested in #30, that it was study that gave me an understanding of the parts. The study followed a more connatural understanding present in praying the Mass. I have learned more about the Mass from praying the Older Form Mass than I have by my studies. I just returned from a week vacation with the friends I mentioned. I raised these points. They said the same thing: It was encountering the Mass itself that brought about the love for the Mass and the sense of its nature.

    I’ll illustrate my experience. What makes the Ratio Partium clearer? One difference is that the “opening rites” are said at the chair rather than the altar. But Ratzinger argues in Spirit of the Liturgy that the crucifix on the Eastern Wall represents heaven, isn’t it most appropriate that these be prayed toward our mystical heaven? This is also done at the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, where the priest stands at the altar during the prayers, and the Deacon incenses the Iconostasis. The directedness of the prayers to the Father was less present to me. I loved the saying of the prayers at the Altar and before the Crucifix.

    The altar, moreover, is the symbol of Christ, our Victim and Priest. But the Eucharist is not the only sacrifice of the Mass: the praise, thanksgiving, and prayers also have a sacrificial aspect, thus we call the Psalms a “Sacrificium Laudis”. The sacrificial dimension seems better drawn out by these prayers taking place at the altar. I understand this is not the authentic tradition of the Pontifical Mass, but it seems to bring out an aspect of the rationale of the parts that is more hidden by the Chair. The Chair represents authority. It seems especially appropriate for when a Bishop preaches or instructs. The altar and the crucifix and the facing of the same direction seem important for when we pray, praise, and sacrifice. It provides a visible unity to the Mass.

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