29 August 2021


I reprint this piece from 2014 because of its relevance to the Feast today of my Patron S John Baptist. The 2020 CDF Decree on Prefaces renders this slightly out of date.

I am moved by the great fear that many traddies have of the slightest change to the Missal of 1962. 

Truly, people have been wounded.

(1) S John Baptist, whom we celebrate today, is at least as great a Saint as S Joseph. One could even argue that, in popular devotion, recent centuries have seen S John Baptist overshadowed in the Western Church by S Joseph. Now ... if it was OK to give S Joseph a preface in 1919, why would it be completely beyond the pale for S John Baptist to be given a Preface in 2019?
(2) In fact, this has been done already. There already is a "Gallican" preface for S John Baptist, authorised before 1962. In the SSPX French language ORDO, it is marked as ad libitum. Are those who oppose any change to '1962' arguing that somebody should go round and tear this preface out of all the SSPX missals in France?
(3) Why, in any case, is '1962' so sacrosanct? It is at least arguable that the 'Conciliar period' began with the election of Pius XII, who commissioned Annibale Bugnini and others to effect the extremely radical 'reforms' which came on stream in the 1950s. And feasts galore of our Lady were added in that Pontificate on impulse, rather as if a child were randomly playing with a rubix cube. Before Pius XII, for example, May 31 was in very many places the Feast of our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces; a fine and edifying Mass which would benefit us all by being brought back and made universal. This feast was displaced by our Lady, Queen ... which would be very suitably observed on the Octave of the Assumption ... etc etc..
(4) After S Pius V promulgated his recension of the Roman Missal, in every generation the feasts of 'new' Saints were added to the Calendar and the Sanctorale. Every pontiff did it. Just have a look at any pre-1962 Altar Missal preserved in any Sacristy throughout the world: you'll discover the 'new' masses glued in by the parish priest as they arrived hot off the press from Rome. Glue was an essential liturgical accessory in the pre-Conciliar period. The fact that no addition has been made since 1962 is thus, in itself, paradoxically, very profoundly untraditional. This does not mean, by the way, that every saint canonised was promptly added to the Universal Calendar. Quite the contrary. Accretions were gradual and cautious.

I feel that informed traddies do have a duty gently and sensitively to educate the more fearful. Complete, rigid, preservation of the very unsatisfactory Missal of 1962 is far from ideal. It would be best for a representative commission to take the status quo of 1939 as its starting point and then, very very gently, discern the sort of extremely light and gradual and organic developments which could have occurred if Pius XII had not ushered in an era of violent 'reform'.


Atticus said...

In the changes that will come (and come they will, absent a special Providence), how long, do we suppose, will it be before the old kalendar gets a feast of San Paulo Sesto crowbarred into it? It could be jolly handy, you know - a new Test Act, if you like. Accept it and you're left alone (for the time being); demur and... well, your maniple's on a shoogly peg (as we say in Athens Borealis).

Fr J said...

Dear Fr Hunwick, thank you for your excellent blog, and insights. I find them very helpful.

If you will indulge me, I do have a question regarding the private use of different editions of the Roman Missal relating to TC and its legal ramifications. Does the faculty given by a bishop (and the pope) regulate the private use of an edition of the Missal? Or only the public use of that edition of the Missal? Ordinarily under SP, any priest in good standing was given the faculty to offer the TLM, always in private, and under certain conditions, in public. If a priest wanted to offer Mass according to the 1955 edition, for example, he would have to ask permission, even for private use, I believe. Is this correct? That is my understanding. Given that TC has restricted use of the 1962 Missal, and given the regulation to the local Bishop, does that mean that a priest must also ask for the faculty to use that edition of the Missal, even for a private Mass? Hope that makes some sense. Fr J

Anita Moore said...

The explanation I have heard about why Archbishop Lefebvre chose to stick to the 1962 Missal is because, though it had problems, it was the last one that was acceptable from the point of view of tradition. As he was acting in self-defense and defense of the Church, he could not use greater force than necessary to accomplish his end, and in the circumstances, he did not think he could legitimately go back further than 1962.

Ansgerus said...

The reality was much more prosaic. One major reason for the introduction of the version of 1962 simply was that the Archbishop could get about 300 breviaries and missals of an edition of Mane following the 1962 rubrics from a bookseller around the time when the first generation of seminarians should be consecrated. The priest who told me that story was consecrated priest in Econe 1976. But he also told me that in Germany that edition was completely unusual, and even mid of the 80the it was common to use the elder 4 volume efitions of the breviary. Moreover, as FSSPX ordos from mid of the 80th still indicate the ranks of the feasts in the pre-1962 manner, it can be supposed, that also elder missal editions were still in use at least in Germany. The Archbishop in general was not that interested in liturgical details. In the initial time after the start of Econe, he even continued the use of 1965 without the Last Gospel etc. which was widely applied in France.