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.
ARROGANCE OR HUMILITY?
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.