19 September 2017

Irreversibly Bye Bye to Vatican II

Fr Zed revealed a week or so ago that the Vatican publishing house had no plans to do a reprint of the Latin text of the post-Vatican II Breviary, the Liturgia Horarum. It is, apparently, out of print and unobtainable.

Unobtainable? But if I go into Blackwells in Oxford, they can rush off, within a fortnight, a one-off reprint of any out-of-print book. And it is very cheap. Yet the Libreria Editrice Vaticana didn't make any such offer to their enquirer. Just: "It's out of print. We have no plans."

Remarkable. Vatican II, in its liturgical decree Sacrosanctum Concilium, explicitly mandated that (except in a tiny number of exceptional cases) the clergy should continue to recite their Office in Latin. 

Is that Conciliar liturgical prescription "irreversible"? You will have to submit a dubium to the current occupant of the Roman bishopric if you want a quick answer to that question. I thought I heard recently that he takes a rather strong view on the "irreversibility" of all the Vatican II and post-Vatican II liturgical stuff. I rather think he even described his own opinions on this subject as "Magisterial", whatever, in this context, that means. But his own Vatican publishers seem very relaxed about the whole business.

I can only draw two possible conclusions from this puzzling episode. Either
(1) hint hint, the clergy are no longer expected to recite the Divine Office; or
(2) hint hint, the clergy are expected to procure copies of the (very much still in print) 1962 , pre-Conciliar, Latin Breviary, and to use that.

Clearly, we have now definitively (irreversibly?) moved out of the dark shadow of Vatican II. If those in Rome whose job it is to render physically possible the observance of what the Council explicitly ordered couldn't care less about it, obviously we lesser men (and all you lesser women too) can now just totally (irreversibly?) forget about it. What was it that Newman and Ratzinger each said about Councils?

I know how to take a hint, and how to take it irreversibly ...


Colin Spinks said...

Father, perhaps to be more charitable, the powers that be are nudging you towards using your lap-top, tablet or iPhone to recite the Offices. There are free downloadable sites where the Liturgy of the Hours in Latin may be found, e.g..http://universalis.com/L/0/vespers.htm

We must be aware of the environmental costs of all this reprinting, y'know!

Ivanmijeime said...

Ratzinger on Traditional Liturgy. Here is what Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1998.
" ... It is good here to recall what Cardinal Newman observed*, that the Church, throughout her history, has never abolished nor forbidden orthodox liturgical forms, which would be quite alien to the Spirit of the Church. An orthodox liturgy, that is to say, one which expresses the true faith, is never a compilation made according to the pragmatic criteria of different ceremonies, handled in a positivist and arbitrary way, one way today and another way tomorrow. The orthodox forms of a rite are living realities, born out of the dialect of love between the Church and her Lord. They are expressions of the life of the Church, in which are distilled the faith, the prayer, and the very life of past generations, and which make incarnate in specific forms both the action of God and the response of man. Such rites can die, if those who have used them in a particular era should disappear, or if the life-situation of those same people should change. The authority of the church had the power to define and limit the use of such rites in different historical situations, but she never just purely and simply forbids them!"

And this:
“Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis, many of them have been just a waste of time. Despite all the good to be found in the texts it produced, the last word about the historical value of Vatican Council II has yet to be spoken.”
—Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987), p. 378.

And,... In 1988 the then Cardinal Ratzinger decried the following fact:
“The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.”

PS. IIVC had to declare the fifth and last marian dogma: "Maria, The Lady of all Nations - Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate"

See also: "Our Lady left behind: The Marian Question in Vatican II"
First part
. . .
Second part

orate fratman said...

Thank you for this insightful post, Father. Whenever I hear someone mention "Vatican II", I immediately think of "Lambeth MCMXXX". It is like a word association test that a doctor might give to a patient, where the doctor says "up" and the patient says "down". The doctor says "red" and the patient says "green". You get the idea. Where SC mandated that (except in a tiny number of exceptional cases) the clergy should continue to recite their Office in Latin. Did not Lambeth MCMXXX say something to the effect that except in a teensy weensy bitsy number of cases, contraception is verboten? Vatican II-Lambeth MCMXXX.

TomG said...

Father, do you think Blackwell's would be able to re-print the Marquess of Bute 1908 Roman Breviary in hard cover at a reasonable price?

Feed Room Five said...

I already cherished my four volumes of the vinyl Liturgica Horarum, which I had recovered with hard backing. It has been my constant companion for the Office for 20
years, first as an Anglican priest, now as a Roman layman. Whatever you may say about it as an Office for the clergy, it is ideal for a layman. I suppose that it will last
me for the rest of my life, since like you, Father, I am on the shorter side of life. But to whom should I bequeath it?

Brian M said...

Perhaps they realize that with the advent of smart phone Breviary applications, there is no need to waste paper on books:


The Universalis app also provides the official Grail psalms, and the second year readings for the Office of Readings.

Just don't tell Cardinal Sarah you plan to use it.

rick allen said...

The Latin Liturgia Horarum is available in America in a larger-print six-volume edition from Midwest Theological Forum. Imprimator is from Cardinal George, the books themselves rather beautifully printed in Italy.

Just because it's no longer printed by the Vatican doesn't mean it isn't available, or cherished by some of us.

Athelstane said...

Well, snark aside, I think the thinking is clear: "All sections of Sacrosanctum Concilium using the word 'Latin' are now considered to be 'overtaken by events.'" Lawyers might simply call it desuetude.

In any event, it may become something of a moot point in many of the most concerned cohorts, since they'll have run out of priests to say the Office in any form whatsoever anyway before too long. The Spirit is breathing a New Church into being, one that doesn't need priests or, for that matter, laity.

Brian M said...

Rick Allen: the MTF edition is out of print as well.

James Bellisario said...

First of all the document does not say only in rare cases that the divine office only be said in Latin. The leitmotif of this document, is "this is the norm", "but" and every "but" is an escape clause to pretty much interpret it anyway you want. So if you read the norms, I listed them below, there are several ways to escape the first norm. Case in point, the second sentence gives an out to almost all clergy today. "the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly." So no, its not a rare exception that the document opened itself up for, its a general rule. The whole document reads this way, "this" "but" and then the escape clause is put in for the vernacular. In my opinion the document was a can of worms from the start. They knew the "buts" would eventually be the norm.

101. 1. In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly. The vernacular version, however, must be one that is drawn up according to the provision of Art. 36.

2. The competent superior has the power to grant the use of the vernacular in the celebration of the divine office, even in choir, to nuns and to members of institutes dedicated to acquiring perfection, both men who are not clerics and women. The version, however, must be one that is approved.

3. Any cleric bound to the divine office fulfills his obligation if he prays the office in the vernacular together with a group of the faithful or with those mentioned in 52 above provided that the text of the translation is approved.

RC Blogger said...

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Thank you

(Divine Worship Missal)

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11am, Saturday 30th September.

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Market Way

Homilist: Fr John Saward.
Music: Byrd’s Mass for 4 voices.

Refreshments will be served after Mass.

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Regular Mass Times:

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Fr John Hunwicke said...

"Individual cases" means that the Bishop can't issue a general norm permitting the vernacular. Presumably, he needs at least to scrawl his signature on a printed dispensation. I wonder how many such dispensations were ever issued. My bet: very few. Because, when itr suited people, they just stopped bothering about the "mandates of V2".

Marie said...

There are currently at least two 4-volume sets available on Ebay right now. One is in Australia and the other in Italy. (A third set is bulked with the Readings of the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin.)

They all cost a small fortune.


And here below is the link to a most excellent site for traditionalists. (Just don't tell Card. Sarah about it.)


God bless.

CE User said...

Given that the copyright holder has no plans to reprint (and thus derive profit), I think that might affect my decision to copy portions for personal use.

Steve Skojec said...

I see a couple of comments here about Cardinal Sarah's recent remarks.

These are legitimate. Reading this in conjunction with those recent comments that priests should not pray the office on electronic devices with apps designated for the purpose, it's feeling like quite the squeeze play.

Prayerful said...


The content of that site is also accessible through the excellent iMass app which allows anyone with this Android or iTunes app to follow the Office or Mass for any given day, including most of the Missal calendar or Breviary revisions (not that of Urban VIII for some reason), and an option to enable or turn off rubrics. In addition a person can watch the Holy Sacrifice of Mass on their phone or tablet. Many Catholics still cannot easily hear the Mass, so this a great mercy, a real mercy. I believe the FSSP now operate it now as an apostolate.

Robert John Bennett said...

Many thanks to Colin Spinks for the link to the Universalis.com Latin Liturgy of the Hours. I wasn't able to find it before.