The CDF, which now has competence with regard to the Old Mass, has recently issued two decrees. I will refer to them as 2020.
They were approved in audientia by the Roman Pontiff on December 5 last year; they were promulgated on 23 February; and came into force ... in secret! ... on 19 March; and are now, since Wednesday, on the Internet. Although, last time I looked, the full texts promised seemed not to be there. Interesting delays. I wonder if they are now being published because newsgatherers are otherwise preoccupied ... I say this because there are some very good features in these events!
Firstly ... that there is movement with regard to the Old Rite. Some will find this paradoxical; do we really need change? But there never never never has been, in the Roman Rite, as long a period as 1960-2020, in which there have been no changes. A Liturgy set immutably in granite is profoundly untraditional! And these Decrees make clear that the Old Mass really is here to stay. I suspect that this fact will infuriate many trendies. Furthermore, all the provisions now being made are optional; nobody is being bullied; and so the Gamaliel Principle will be allowed to prevail.
And one at least of the 'new' Prefaces goes directly against the "Official Theology" (Professor Tom Pink's neat term) which has prevailed since the 1970s.
(1) In 2015, some confidential proposals went round from Ecclesia Dei, recommending seven new Prefaces; and, rather more tentatively, suggesting seven more. I shall refer to these proposals as 2015A and 2015B.
(2) There has long been a group of Prefaces called colloquially the Neo-Gallican Prefaces, found (among other places) in the Paris Missal of 1738. One of these was commandeered in 1919 by Benedict XV as the Preface for the Dead; a group of them has long been authorised and used by Francophone dioceses given the faculty to do so. The French missions of the SSPX have used this group and, according to their ORDO, still do. I will refer to these 'Parisian' Prefaces as 1738..
Now for the new Decree. I will list the seven prefaces it promulgates.
(a) the Blessed Sacrament;
(b) All Saints and Patrons;
(c) the Dedication of a church.
All three of these are 1738, and currently in use by the SSPX.
(d) for Weddings. This is not in the group used by the SSPX, but it is a very fine preface found in 1738 and coming ultimately from the Hadrianum and the Gelasianum vetus. I can see no reason not to welcome it with open arms. Only a bigot would spurn it because it had the misfortune also to appear in the Novus Ordo.
(e) the Angels. From the Novus Ordo. It is a retouched version ("ritoccata" is the word people use in Rome) of a Preface in the Verona Sacramentary. It seems to me commonplace. I doubt if I shall use it.
(f) S John Baptist. Now ... here's an oddity ... neither 2015A nor 2015B contained a preface for this most important Saint. I could never understand why.
You see, the group of Neo-Gallican Prefaces used by the SSPX does contain a Preface for S John from 1738. In fact, it goes back well beyond 1738, being found in the Verona Sacramentary and the Supplementum.
The Preface now (2020) provided is a Novus Ordo revision of this ancient formula.
I have been using the 1738 Preface. But I think I will accept this new version of it instead. After all, when the Preface for S Joseph was authorised by Benedict XV, it was a completely new composition. If Benedict XV could do that in 1919, I don't see how I can refuse Francis I the right to do this in 2020. Neither theoretically nor practically am I a sedevacantist.
(g) Martyrs. A Novus Ordo Preface cobbled together from three old ones. (It appeared in 2015B.) I dislike this characteristically 1960s way of carrying on. I shall not use it.
What about the Prefaces commended in 2015A? That list contained (a), (b), (c) and (e). Also, a Novus Ordo one for Saints which has now happily vanished. Also, an Advent Preface (1738) and one for the Gesimas (Novus Ordo retouching of a very old and elegant Preface). I will discuss the interesting non-appearance of these two in 2020 in my next section.
To be continued.