2 January 2014

Learn it by heart?

Watching, a few Saturdays ago, Fr Daniel Lloyd of the Oxford Ordinariate Group singing the Anglican Use form of the Mass, my mind went back to S Stephen's House and Mass Practices in 1967; you will remember that I was in the last fortunate generation to be taught the Tridentine ceremonial culture before the Iron Curtain of Rupture came thudding down and the lights went out all over Europe.

I recalled how we were required to learn certain things off by heart. These fell into two categories: silent Tridentine formulae which accompanied actions ... principally, the prayers during the Offertory (those Tridentine Offertory Prayers which have now so happily been restored in the Anglican Use). And Anglican formulae which were to be said turning from the Altar to face the People. Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins ... Hear what comfortable words ...

But I had no recollection of being asked to learn the Praeparatio at the foot of the altar ... and then I remembered why. Judica me Deus/Give sentence with me O God was abolished in 1965. Even Archbishop Lefebvre didn't revert to its use until 1974.

I wonder what others, as long in the Sacred Priesthood as I am or longer, can remember about their own pre-Bugnini Mass Practices, whichever side of the Tiber they received their training. This is Oral History, Fathers, which will be lost as soon as you ... er ... that is to say, share it now!

The Ordinariate Mass can be enjoyed every Saturday evening in Oxford in the Church of the Holy Rood; Anglican Catholic Liturgy as it was in the triumphalist heyday of the 1930s, as recalled by Betjeman ... those were the waking days When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.


P├ętrus said...

I have nominated you for a "Sunshine Award"

You can read about it here. All my nominees run Catholic blogs.


God bless you Father.

davidforster said...

Your reference to 'even' Archbishop Lefebvre does, of course, glide over the real situation of Catholic Traditionalism in the early 1970s. The Archbishop was a somewhat reluctant leader of the priests and laity who formed the proto-traditionalist movement, and was never much of a liturgist. Oral history has it that much of the movement, whether working under indult in England, or without indult, was far more liturgically conservative from the start than Econe.

Matthew Roth said...

I know a priest at the Francisvan University of Steubenville, which I attend, who moves his hands at the dialogue at the Preface much like my own pastor does, which is to say the same way (or close enough) in the older form, the form of Mass my own pastor knows well and loves. It'd be fascinating to know how this friar learned to celebrate. TOR Franciscans are not of the same mind as say, Fr. Manelli, FI.

Anonymous said...


Regardless, Bishop Tissier de Mallerai's biography (along with other anecdotes) confirms that Lefebvre used the 1965 rubrics because those were the last "marching orders" so-to-speak before what we saw as the substantial liturgical changes began to take place. No, he wasn't much of a liturgist, but then again, the SSPX -- and Catholic traditionalism -- has always been about a lot more than the Mass. When I read people online nitpicking Society Masses for this-or-that "novelty" or "shortcoming" (which, in reality, usually reflects pre-Conciliar Continental praxis), I have to laugh. Say what you will about the SSPX, but they have never been liturgical fetishists like some traditionalists.

With that noted, of course the liturgy -- specifically the Mass -- matters. What Tissier de Mallerais pointed out in his book (and he noted elsewhere) is that there is a tendency among some, particularly Americans, to absolutize liturgy because they need something to grab ahold of; they lack grounding, in other words. I doubt Lefebvre saw himself as a liturgical conservative/liberal either way. Once 1970 rolled around and it was clear there was no going back, he probably felt freer to go back to the 1962 Missal and rubrics since it became just as "outlawed" as the 1965 rubrics. (I also recall that many of his seminarians wanted to return to the 1962 Missal as well.)

Of course, all that did was set the stage for the liturgical infighting that still plagues traditional Catholicism to this day, including the sedevacantists effectively making use of the pre-1962 books a sign of their "true traditionalism. The result was that the 1962 Missal became a sign of non-sedevacantism, which in some respects is too bad because there was, for a time, an "open field" whereby the traditionalist movement could have done an end-run around some of the unfortunate reforms of the 1962 Missal (to say nothing of Holy Week). Perhaps, had Lefebvre adopted an earlier form of the Missal or discarded Pius XII's Holy Week reforms, Benedict XVI would have cemented that form of the liturgy in Summorum Pontificum. We'll never know.

Rubricarius said...

Mr. Forster makes a very important and, now, much overlooked point.

For a significant, though small, number of clergy 1967 was considered far from 'Tridentine' as they had quietly refused to implement the changes from a decade earlier. One such priest - now sadly departed - told a friend of mine he and and his confreres were of the view 'Pius had flipped'. A priest friend of mine told me of his first Mass on Easter Day 1956 in small church in an Oxfordshire town. When he came into the church the sacristan, a female religious, was moaning incessantly about the PP who 'had made such a mess with his triple candle yesterday.'

An early morning visitor to the Brompton Oratory in the 1970s would be spoilt for choice between several priests all saying what we might now term a 'pre-Pius XII' Mass. One of their brethren followed the 1956 rubrics but not one of them used 1962. Then of course was the great and good Mgr. Alfred Gilbey of blessed memory: he used the pre-Pius XII liturgy until the day before his death.

As to the $$PX the first priest ordained by Lefebvre for the group, the esteemed Fr. Peter Morgan did not celebrate the 'Extraordinary Form' and used the pre-Pius XII rites. His warm and engaging personality soon had something like two-dozen retired diocesan priests working with him, all enthusiastically celebrating the old rite and not the 'EF'.

Then of course the famous Mass at the Carmelite church in Kensington after the 'Agatha Christie' indult. The indult specified 1967 but the Mass celebrated was thoroughly pre-Pius XII.

Sadly, there has been much revisionism of late but one suspects the tide has turned.

davidforster said...


I don't disagree with what you say about the liturgy. My real point was that Archbishop Lefebvre was at the start a reluctant leader, and even tried to keep a distance from the various individuals and groups who were forming the Traditionalist movement. No doubt he was hoping that he would be allowed to run his seminary and Fraternity with official permission - which was not to be.

All ancient news, of course. I think the Angelus did a series of articles on pioneers of the Traditionalist movement, prior to Abp Lefebvre taking centre stage from 1975.

Anonymous said...

I am all for the Church going back to the pre-Pius XII Holy Week order. I do find extremist positions, such as those held by Rubricarius, to be unhelpful. Having come out of the Eastern Christian tradition, I can testify to just how destructive and pointless liturgical nitpicking can get. If people want to see an authentic restoration of now-defunct (or little used) practices, then they should make positive cases for their restoration rather than chucking insults at people who, probably out of ignorance more than substantive conviction, choose to use a different set of rubrics, calendar, etc. As I said, it's unfortunate that use/disuse of the 1962 Missal became bound up with the sedevacantist question. (Though I do recall Fr. Cekada pointing out that there were plenty of non-sedes who use the older forms of the Missal and Breviary.)

All of this would be made easier if these liturgical books were more widely available. I have (and use) a copy of the 1945 Benzinger Brothers Breviary Romanum in 4 volumes with strong binding, Vulgate Psalter, covers worn but intact, marker ribbons in place, clean pages, etc. I came into these books by luck, but if I were to sell them today, I could get between $400-600 for them. (I sold a much inferior set of the same books, with a heavy amount of wear and damaged to the ordinary, for $300 not too long ago.) It makes me wonder why no one has endeavored to reprint these books, even if they have to take a break on quality (e.g., hardcover over leather bound, regular pages, etc.).