25 January 2022

The Preface of the Apostles

Reverend Fathers who said the Mass of the Chair of S Peter at the start of the Chair of Unity Octave, and have today celebrated the Church's greatest Teacher, S Paul the Occupant of the Twelfth Throne, will have used the Preface of the Apostles. I wonder how many of them have ever noticed a difference between the original version of this Preface as found in the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite; and the version provided in the UD (Usus Deterior) of the Roman Rite.

The Authentic form of this Preface goes back (at least) to the Verona Sacramentary, where there are three variants of its phraseology. All of them humbly beg the Lord that he may not desert his flock, but may keep it through his blessed Apostles under endless protection. 

The Deterior form, on the other hand, thanks the Lord because he does not desert his flock, but does keep it through his blessed Apostles under endless protection.

In other words, something which the Church, down to the 1970s, regarded as a boon which the Lord should be asked to bestow, from the 1970s has become something which we take for granted. We no longer ask God for it; we simply thank him for invariably doing it. 

It's just part, doncha know, of the Divine Routine. (And, significantly, the adverb suppliciter has done a runner from the text.)

I don't think these are slight matters.

One of the immense gains of the current pontificate has been to remind us ... so effectively, so vividly, so repeatedly ... that, while the Roman Pontiff cannot infallibly, ex cathedra, teach error, his teaching and his administration are capable of being (and most days are) profoundly flawed. S John Henry Newman realised this when he wrote about "suspense" in the function of the Magisterium.

The bossy brassy baroque pontiffs of the Renaissance period, and even Blessed Pio Nono, were not ashamed that the Church should pray for their Magisterium and their Administration to be kept authentic. When, around 1943, Rome prescribed that the Preface of the Apostles should also be used at Masses commemorating popes, the text of that Preface was left unmutilated. 

Apparently, even Pius XII, not invariably a self-effacing pontiff, could live with its phraseology and was willing humbly to associate it even more closely with the papal Magisterium!

It was left to those who stole power in the pontificate of S Paul VI to decide that begging God for authenticity in the exercise of the Petrine Ministry is somehow insulting to the occupant of the Roman See.


Which of these two is the more truly disordered arrogance: (1) flamboyance, the triregnum, the sedes gestatoria, the flabella and the kissing of the the papal foot ... 

 ... or (2) perverting and corrupting the texts of prayers which have survived the vicissitudes of fifteen centuries? Twisting them so as to make them assert that wall-to-wall papal inerrancy is so assured and automatic a goody that we do not even need to bother the Almighty by praying for it?

When Pope Francis III presents himself on the balcony of S Peter's so humbly wearing a base-ball cap, an umbilical ring, and denim jeans ... O frabjous day ... we shall know for certain that, in an act of unfathomable humility, the Total Inerrancy of the Pope is finally about to be formally defined.

"Not a day too soon!" I hear you cry.


frjustin said...

Callooh! Callay! We now have a far more suitable name for the colorless Novus Ordo. It may now be referred to as the Usus Deterior, and the angels of God rejoice!

Chrysologos said...

At the inauguration of each pontificate (even belatedly in the ninth year of this one) there should be restored the thrice fading flame of the burning flax and the cry, "Sic transit gloria mundi!"

Fr PJM said...

I did not know this. This is infuriating. But, the fact that we asked for the Lord *not* to abandon His flock, and asked Him to endlessly protect that flock, means, logically, that it could happen, if we didn't ask enough, that the Flock would be abandoned in some way, and harmed in some way. Fifteen centuries certainly qualifies, then, as an assertion that is "constantly and very firmly taught". But such teachings are infallible and irreformable (diachronic, universal ordinary magisterium [c.f. Lumen Pentium, 25]).

Fr PJM said...

A false principle from the 1960s: a preface cannot contain a petition.

Albertus said...

A die ordinationis sacerdotalis (anno MCMLXXVIII) usque ad nunc missam celebro secundum formam authenticam Ritus Romani. Quam ob rem textos et ceremonias Usus Deterioris minime cognosco. Quidquid id est, sapio, sicut supra scriptum, necnon in libris variis de "reforma" liturgica post-conciliari scriptum est, Consilium Bugninianum determinasse Praefationem nullam posse petitionem continere. Novi Ordinis Deus non est supplicandus, adorandus, propitiandus! Missa nova celebranda est et celebratur etsi Deus non daretur. Multos horrores in celebrationibus liturgicis secundum Usum Deteriorem vidi, non tantum in Germania, Batavia et America, sed etiam - heu mihi - in Urbe, apud Vaticanum. Quod de principiis novis liturgiae "reformatae" consequitur.

William said...

How come St Paul is “the Occupant of the Twelfth Throne”? Which of the other twelve gave way to him? Or was the Election of Matthias invalidated after a recount?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Fr PJM and Alberte: Indeed ... but a browse through any of the early sacramentaries reveals the spuriousness of the 'rule'. One of the absurdities of the Sixties was the adoption of arbitrary rules which were then deemed absolute.

William: megacongratulations for spotting this. I have often wondered! But it is in the Office AND the Mass of the Authentic Form! Whatever we might say, it is a spiffing example of the fact that the liturgical paradosis is independant of the biblical paradosis. Which is thought-provoking. Well done! (I wonder if there are Byzantine parallels ...)

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Re William’s excellent point - while in Bavaria some years ago for an ordination, and Readers will know that southern German churches preserve the tradition of each of the 12 Consecration Crosses being embellished with the image of an Apostle, I decided to list them as I visited, to see which were chosen, and in what order they were arranged. Pointless! There is no pattern, Paul is usually there, but not invariably, the Holy Apostle who loses out in “musical chairs” seemingly randomly chosen; sometimes Our Lady gets a look in, in which case a second Apostle is left standing.

So I came home empty-handed, with no glorious Bavarian tradition to transplant to our benighted shores…

Sedebitis super sedes, iudicantes doudecim tribus Israƫl!

Moritz Gruber said...

Well, with all due respect to "let's not get in confusion from the spirit of Vatican I beyond what that Council says": to the assertion that the fallible parts of Papal action not only can be but "most days are" flawed, I think the Catholic spirit of the centuries would not agree. (Even though I cannot say they are "demonstrably false on the grounds of Catholic dogma".)

Re the thrones, St. Thomas somewhere has this nice down-to-earth argument that the 12 thrones can't be literal-literal "because otherwise St. Paul who worked more than the others would have nowhere to sit down". (And he does say in some letter with Biblical inspiration that "we are going to judge", including himself in that number; my own addition.)

Anyway, there are seemingly all sorts of coutings. The Bible treats St. Paul as a addition. The Roman Canon treats St. Matthias as addition, so leaves him out in the list of the twelve, but does count him in the seven "Apostles and others" coming after Consecration headed by St. John the Baptist (together with St. Barnabas). What I personally find really nice is the "Apostolic Towers" of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona: of course, that's twelve towers, but they include St. Paul *and* St. Matthias. How so? Well, they leave out not only Judas Iscariot obviously, but also St. Matthew and St. John, because they are also Evangelists (and get their separate Evangelists Towers). Thus, there isn't one man too much, but one man missing in the dozen, and that place is filled by St. Barnabas - after all, he is usually called Apostle even though nowhere else really counted in the Twelve.