Page 5, 12th November 1976

12th November 1976
Page 5
Page 5, 12th November 1976 — The history of liturgical reforms

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Locations: Nottingham, London, Rome


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The history of liturgical reforms

I am indebted to Graham Jenkins (November 5) for mentioning in his article that the definitive Missal of St Pius V in the year 1570 had been revised by subsequent Popes, as though implying that their "revision"

was a major alteration.

Let us begin with the Sarum Missal as used for centuries by our medieval forebears. Apart from the Collect, Deus cal omne cor patet before the Introit, and a Pax by the celebrant to the deacon and subdeacon after the Confiteor (this in addition to the ante-Communion Pax), and the Last Gospel being recited secretly by the celebrant on return to the vestry after the Mass, the liturgy is identical with the pre1969 Roman Missal.

The only difference is that, with the Catholic Church having the second mark of holiness, Masses of various saints canonised over the years are incorporated.

I do not know whether Mr Jenkins is familiar with the Latin of Cum Sanctissimum of Clement VIII or Si gold eat of Urban VIII, or, more esentially, with Quo prinsum tempore of St Pius V.

If so, he will observe that Popes Clement and Urban are rock-like in their adherence to the decrees of Pius and the Council of Trent — so much so, that the penalty fine of 100 ducats imposed on printers for infringement of the text by Pius, is increased to 500 ducats both by Clement and Urban.

Should Mr Jenkins desire the English translations of these three Bulls, 1 will be only too pleased to furnish them. Whether "exiled" English priests had cause to "grumble" on the inception of the Plan Missal is a matter of great doubt. The Sarum Missal comid of course, show a prescription of more than two centuries as embodied in Qmo primum, and even without formal application to the Holy See for permission to retain the same, this rite was a customary one, as again provided for in the Bull.

It must be remembered that the exiled clergy were not bereft of episcopal leadership, however slender, for though the English Hierarchy, with the possible exception of Stanley in the Isle of Man, had by this time (1576) died out, there was the Theatine, Thomas Goldwell, Bishop of St Asaph still living, sometime Penitentiary of St Peter's, and Papal Master of Ceremonies.

He died in the year 1585. So, he was near enough to the Pope to present any possible 'two centuries' application. Obviously, the Sarum and Plan Missals were so identical that such a petition would have been superfluous. Incidentally, it may be presumed that the use of the Sarum Missal though still valid is "in abeyance". Regarding Adrian Fortescue, this is what he says in the preface to the Roman Missal (Burns, Oates &

Washbourne, 1930): "In 1570 Pope Pius V published the restored Roman Missal in accordance with the decree of the Council (Trent). This is the book we use.

"It has been slightly re-edited by three Popes since, and a great number of additional Masses have been added to the supplements. Now a further reform has been made, according to the liturgical laws of Pius X. "This only affects the Calendar and the number and arrangement of particolar Masses. Later a reform of the Lessons is proposed, according to the revised Vulgate. In

spite of such changes as these, the hook remains essentially the Missal of Pius V." (Italics mine.)

James Goidsbury

75 Bingham Road, Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottingham.

MRS Freda Beech of Polegate (November 5) has confused my contention of October 29 that traditionalists reject the entire Conciliar Aggiornamento with a rejection of the Council itself. She will find that few of the practices which purport to implement the Council can be justified by reference to a Con

ciliar document.

To take just the liturgy as an example, not one word can be found ordering the use of the vernacular: Mass facing the people, removing the tabernacle from the altar, standing for Communion, Communion in the hand, Communion distributed by laity, the composition of new Eucharistic prayers, etc, are not even mentioned.

I could quote the testimonies of several Council Fathers to the effect that they had no idea of the reform which would be enactedin its name, and would have been horrified had they foreseen it. I am sure that Mrs Beech did not mean to claim that all Conciliar teaching is infallible, as her second paragraph could imply.

In this respect I would quote Bishop Butler, who has remarked that "not all teachings emanating from a Pope or an Ecumenical Council are infallible. There is no single proposition of the Vatican— except where it is citing previous infallible definitions — which is in itself infallible."

However, as I point out in a book which I have written on Vatican II, which should be published in February: "An orthodox Catholic cannot, of course, refuse to accept officially promulgated Conciliar teaching simply because the documents containing it do not possess an infallible status. This would be to follow the example of those who rejected Humanae Vitae on the grounds that it was not an infallible statement."

Nonetheless, acceptance of the fact that the Conciliar documents represent official teaching does not involve accepting that this teaching is always phrased in the clearest and most unambiguous manner.

The Council itself teaches that in the past there could have been deficient explanations of Catholic teaching, and it is quite legitimate to argue, as does Archbishop Lefebvre, that the seeds of the abuses of the Aggioreamento can be found in some of the official documents.

I can assure Mrs Beech that Archbishop Lefebvre has no plans whatsoever to set up a Church independent of Rome. He was misquoted in the Der Splegal report and it is unfortunate that The Wanderer and other journals much closer to her did not take the trouble to check with the Archbishop before reprinting this error. What Archbishop Lefebvre has said is that if any bishop ever does break with Rome it will not be him. M. T. Davies 46 Blacklands Road,

London, SE6.

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