20 June 2022

The Prayer Book Society

Perhaps not many readers of this blog are using, today, the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. But ... any who are ... are using very ancient and venerable formulae which are missing elsewhere. They would have every right to quote the words of Benedict XVI about "what has been sacred ...".

The Collects, Epistles, and Gospels of all the Sundays after Trinity in the BCP were taken ... with only one or two tiny fiddlings ... from the propers used in the Sarum Use (and other medieval English 'rites'). And while these readings represent the same Epistles and Gospels as the Missal of S Pius V, they are shuffled around rather. And these BCP readings are not some proddy Reformation confection; they represent the Lectionary system used all over large parts of Northern Catholic Europe before the Reformation and the subsequent widespread adoption of the Pian Missal. In effect, they are are a variant but authentic form of the Roman Rite; and stretch back to the Seventh Century.

Next point.

Those wise people who make use of Matthew Hazell's fine comparison between the Missal of S Pius V and the Novus Ordo, will be familiar with the following fact: the Novus Ordo omits scriptural readings which Modern Man of the 1960s regarded as objectionable (this applies not least to the Corpus Christi Epistle). Bad!!!

But today gives us an example of S Pius V, to superficial appearances, doing the same thing!!

Today's Gospel, repeated from yesterday, offers the parable from Luke 16, of the Rich Man and the Beggar Lazarus. And this is absent from the Sunday Lections of the S Pius V Missal.

I wonder why. This is a genuine question!! I don't know!

This pericope does appear on a weekday in the S Pius V Missal: on the Thursday in the Second Week of Lent. But, as the sharp among you will be aware, Thursday used once to be an aliturgical day in the Roman Rite. It appears to have been Gregory II (715-731) who established the Thursday liturgies, and put together propers for them. And it is on one of these Thursdays that the parable of Lazarus makes its only appearance in the Authentic Roman Rite.

I wonder if there is a connection.

This parable is, perhaps, one of the neatest and sharpest and most damning of the Lord's parables. Just think about its concluding observation: If they will not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not listen even if one should rise from the dead ... well, one did rise from the dead ... and they didn't ... still haven't ... believed. And, as the Lord observed, all those who fail to believe will end up in that Place of Torment.

I'm not suggesting that a deliberate policy of bowdlerisation has been at work, as it was in the 1960s committee rooms where the Novus Ordo Lectionary was misbegotten. 

I am genuinely wondering if there might be something interesting and illuminating happening here. 

Or is it just a coincidenc?   


PM said...

Duffy also pointed out that, except when his Protestant neuralgia over terms such as 'merit' got in the way, Cranmer's translations of the Latin collects and other prayers from the old Missal were far superior to the bowdlerized versions of the 1970s ICEL.

frjustin said...

In his commentary on Acts, the late F. F. Bruce said:

According to Cornelius a Lapide, Thomas Aquinas once called on Pope Innocent II when the latter was counting out a large sum of money. “You see, Thomas,” said the Pope, “the church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” “True, holy father,” was the reply; “neither can she now say, ‘Rise and walk.’”

Could the revisers of the Pius V Missal, at the height of the Reformation, have feared that if Catholics heard Luke 16 on a Sunday, they might identify the Rich Man with the Pope?

Voice from the roof top said...


Thomas Aquinas lived in 1225-1274. He could not have called on Innocent II who was Pope from 1130 to 1143.

Pulex said...

This surely has nothing to do with Pius V and the Tridentine revision. The Pre-Tridentine Missal of Roman Curia, e.g., edition 1474 has the same Gospel on this Sunday as 1962. Should this mean that before Gregory II the Romans never used the Gospel pericope about rich man and Lazarus? Maybe. Why? Who knows...

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I never said, nor supposed, that any of this did have anything to with the Pian edition.

I might have added that the other occasion when the Northern European Lectionary differed radically from S Pius's Southern European set of readings was on the Last Sunday after Trinity.

Somewhere on my blog I wrote extensively about this.

frjustin said...

My comment referred to Bruce as a biblical scholar who cites Cornelius a Lapide (1568-1637) as a source of the story. In his biography of St Thomas, Chesterton ascribes it to a "Spanish friar":

"St. Dominic, even more than St. Francis, was marked by that intellectual independence, and strict standard of virtue and veracity, which Protestant cultures are wont to regard as specially Protestant. It was of him that the tale was told, and would certainly have been told more widely among us if it had been told of a Puritan, that the Pope pointed to his gorgeous Papal Palace and said, “Peter can no longer say `Silver and gold have I none'”; and the Spanish friar answered, “No, and neither can he now say, `Rise and walk.'” -G.K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox, p. 23

Peter Kreeft ascribes the story to "a Renaissance Pope" in "You Can Understand the Bible", p. 211.

But any connection of this story with the Pian edition of the Missal is one which only occurred to my mind, and not to anything which Fr Hunwicke wrote in this post.

William Weedon said...

Our Lutheran Church read that very Gospel this past Sunday (as we always do on the first Sunday after Holy Trinity). The collect was indeed, O God, the Strength of all them that put their trust in Thee, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we can do not good thing without Thee, grant us the help of Thy grace that in keeping Thy commandments we may please Thee both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ… (Yes, thank you Cranmer for the fine translation). We, sadly however, did not sing the hymn inspired by that great Gospel “Lord, Thee I Love” with its final stanza, which J. S. Bach chose to close out his St. John Passion:

Lord, let at last Thine angels come,
To Abram’s bosom bear me home
That I may die unfearing,
And in its narrow chamber keep
My body safe in peaceful sleep
Until Thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me
That these mine eyes with joy may see,
O Son of God, Thy glorious face,
My Savior, and my Fount of grace.
Lord Jesus Christ, my prayer attend, my prayer attend
And I shall praise Thee without end.