9 February 2014


You know those heart-rending stories one hears after terrorist atrocities? The gunmen  with their submachine guns have slaughtered dozens, but two or three victims have survived by lying down among the corpses and pretending to be dead. Today's Sunday Collect is one of those. As Archbishop Bugnini stood back and with a Clint Eastwood gesture blew the smoke from the end of his gun, he thought he had fifty two corpses in front of him. In fact, two of the fifty two were alive, lying there, motionless, shamming.

The fifty two were the Sunday Collects of the ancient Roman Rite. The two that survived were the only two which were left, in the Pauline Missal, occupying the same Sunday that they had occupied in the rite that came down to us from the Patristic period (Epiphany II and Epiphany V). So today is the last Sunday in this Calendar Year upon which those following the Novus Ordo and those adhering to the Vetus Ordo will be saying the same collect. Perhaps it should be celebrated as a remarkable pignus unionis futurae of the time when the Roman Rite will again be a unity, as Benedict XVI hoped.

You are sitting there scratching your heads. "Impossible", you cry. "Have you not read Sacrosanctum Concilium?  'There must be no innovations unless the good of the church genuinely and certainly [vera et certa] requires them.' And are you not aware that the Council gave no instruction whatsoever about attacking the Sunday collects?"

Indeed. And what makes this act of vandalism worse is that, from the three great Seasons of the Year, not one single Sunday collect survived as a Sunday collect in that season. They were all, apparently, regarded as so truly and certainly [vera et certa] unfit for purpose that they departed, pitiful refugees, taking with them into exile their teaching about the meaning the Roman Rite had historically discerned in Advent, Lent, and Eastertide.

I seem to recall that in his famous letter, sent formally from the offices of the Brentwood Liturgical Commission to The Tablet and the diocesan clergy, Fr Butler (as far as I am aware, he is still in post) made much of the fact that when Sacrosanctum Concilium came up for its final vote, only four Fathers voted against it. The poor silly Bu**er does not realise the actual significance of this truth. I am surprised that as many as four voted against it. The four did not include Archbishop Lefebvre, who had no problem voting for it and adopting the first two, light, revisions of the Ordo Missae that followed the Council (1965 and 1967). The Fathers thought that they were voting for a light and consensual updating of the Roman Rite, not for terrorists walking through the streets shooting anything that moved.
Pedantic postscript: some sixteen of the old After Pentecost Sunday collects did survive, strangely shuffled up and sometimes mutilated, among the Sunday collects per annum. A couple of the Eastertide Sunday collects survived, unhappily reassigned to Sundays per annum. Some of the Advent, Lent, and Eastertide Sunday collects were allowed to survive as long as they submitted to the indignity of serving just one single weekday each and, in some cases, mutilation.


Fr.Nathan said...

Dear Fr. Hunwicke,
Thank you for your very interesting blog. I normally celebrate in the OF, but am also a chaplain for an Ordinariate group that meets bimonthly. Just before reading your entry for today, I was trying to figure out the Ordinariate's collect for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany. "Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins..." It is not the one for the OF on this day, which is the one that you are writing about. Can you, please, help me with this?
Fr. Nathanael

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Father: Thank you. I suspect that the collect you refer to comes from the American Prayer Book. I gather that, sadly, the Ordinariate propers may owe more to that source than to the propers which the Prayer Books of 1549/1552/1662 inherited from the Roman Rite. If so, very sad indeed.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

This excellent post casts light on a problem within Tradition that soi disant traditionalists are loathe to admit,say nothing about confront; and that problem is that the centralising that occurred within Tradition ended-up in a very dangerous place - the place where the Pope, via both ancient praxis and positive law, had the authority to do with the Mass what he willed.

Now, most soi disant trads are Jake with Mediator Dei but forget just how much authority was being claimed by the good Pope.

And so we are now in this brave new Liturgical world where trads are now grousing about what our elders would have quailed at doing - complaining about a Pope doing what he clearly had authority to do.

Now,I do agree with nearly all that you write, Dear Father, but, soi disant trads ought to at some point have the humility to confess - we have met the enemy and he is us.

Anonymous said...

There was a time - not that far ago - when even the Lutherans at least in Germany shared the collects along with the sunday readings with the Catholic church. Today in Germany in Lutheran services usually no collects are read anymore; instead lengthy self-made prayers. If you like to pray once again the classical collects of your Lutheran hymn book, you have to go to the SSPX.

By the way, an excellent study about the changes in the collects and the other prayers of the missal was published by Fr. Anthony Cekada, called "Work of Human Hands".

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

the novus daily missal (a very heavy burden) and the vetus daily missal (a light burden when compared) seem rarely to be in conjunction.

@not sparticus - l'm pretty certain the devil is the enemy. I was only a toddler when a Pauling new rite breached the hull of the barque.

The way I see it; if we think it legitimate to scrap the careful Treasure of old rites, then there's little validity in considering the saints of the pre-novus way, legitimate members of a current Church Triumphant.

Stephen said...

Was it truly all Bugnini's fault? If so, don't you also then have to say that Pius XII and Paul VI were duped? And if so, do people really think that this exercise of the modern Papacy is how it was supposed to have developed? Of a machinery in place that can act with no check from the Bishop of Rome, let alone any other ordinary? And is it your wish that some Pope will emerge who by force of his will right all wrongs? Seriously?

Figulus said...


No, it most certainly was not all Bugnini's fault, although he was the self-declared front man and eager to hoard the credit. And obviously Pius XII and Paul VI were both quite fallible in these matters, if not outright duped. Obviously, all too many people think that this exercise is precisely what was supposed to have developed. And, no, there is no machinery in place that can act with no check from the bishops in liturgical matters.

Righting all these wrongs will require a lot of work from a lot of people, and it would be nice to have some encouragement from Rome. Seriously.

Stephen said...


I've read elsewhere and heard from others that many bishops and cardinals were hesitant and reluctant to implement the changes of the Novus Ordo of Paul VI; but their formation of obedience and great pressure from Rome forced their hand. If that is not machinery of an ecclesial sort, what do you call it?

Figulus said...


You can call it machinery of an ecclesiastical sort if you want to, but you cannot pretend that there are no checks in place for it from the bishops. The checks are there. If they are not used, that is too bad.

Obviously, no bishop’s hand was forced. Most bishops did not act because they did not want to.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

I've read elsewhere and heard from others that many bishops and cardinals were hesitant and reluctant to implement the changes of the Novus Ordo of Paul VI..

Dear Stephen, Prof Mattei avers that a majority of Fathers arrived at the Council exhausted with the Roman Rite and were ripe for change: In those days Bishop Borremeo of Pesaro pointed out "the sourness of almost all the foreign cardinals against the liturgy of the Roman rite and its language and the slackness of the Italians, who hardly react or at least have not yet begun to react P. 185 "The Second Vatican Council (an unwritten story) "

And Rev Cekada, intelligent and well-informed, and the sly and wry priest who is so much fun to read, knocked-out the teeth of the the mythical dragon (endlessly promoted since the rise of the online trad machine) that the Bishops were shocked the first time they saw the Missa Normative Rite (Bugnini celebrating) in the Sistine Chapel on 10/20/65.

Most of the reactions from the Fathers appear to have been favorable..

And Father produces a footnote, 90: Traditionalists particularly Lefebvre, would later claim the opposite, but Bugnini's detailed account (RL, 45-54) puts this to rest.

P. 79 Work of Human Hands

Now, many claim, as does the good Father here, that the Normative Mass was violative of the strictures of S.C. but one does have to presume, (right?) that the Pope of the Council had a rational and right understanding of the Council and produced a Rite in conformity with it.

Stephen said...

Ok, so you are saying that the bishops embraced the changes then? Which means they didn't care much for what they had; which means that their world-view and formation led them en masse to implement joyfully the Novus Ordo of Paul VI?

Well, that is certainly continuity if that is the case. Not just a progressive liberal Pope, not just a scheming Bugnini, not just a pack of Rhinelanders poisoning the Tiber, but all the bishops assembled in council in union with the Vicar of Christ instituted the Novus Ordo.

Wow. Game over if that was the case. If you get a Pope that ever wants to press that issue like Paul VI did with Arch. Lefebrve, you have utterly no defense now for the Vetus Ordo now, do you?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Stephen. The entire Catholic world accepted the Missa Normative pacifically and with religious submission with rare exceptions to that moral unanimity.

But, with the great Pope Benedict XVI's S.P. there is a way to be found for Holy Mother Church to move ahead in addressing what is fit and proper for the Liturgy in the future.

But the changes must always come from the competent authorities but confessing that is now considered a surrender to the putative revolution.

The Rise of the Online Trad machine has not been unsuccessful in its works; just wrong on more than just a few of its claims.

Said otherwise, to whom are we required to submit, the Divinely-Constituted Papacy and Bishopric or a solitary Mons who refused to obey?

Did Jesus establish His Church (that speaks in His name) that are we to remain in union with (local Bishop and Pope) or did He establish a thing called Tradition that has become an existential quicksand towards which many men rush to stake their claim as its legitimate voice.

Whom do we trust when it comes to Tradition? Do we trust the Magisterium or men who repudiate the Magisterium?