first thoughts on the moto proprio regarding the missal of john xxiii

The document will not actually be released until Saturday, however, by that point, I will already have resigned myself of access the Internet until after my return to the States.

However, your friend and mine, Rocco has posted snippets of information regarding the document.

While, as a general rule, I do not like to comment too much about information I have not independently verified, Rocco has reliable sources and he has not indicated a deep-seeded personal bias on this issue so I feel like his posting is on a level above the normal rumor mill. I’ll grab a copy of the text, read it on my flight to Roma and comment on it in time after my return.

The document, which we must remember is not official until it is promulgated, affirms that the Missal of John XXIII (1962)—the latest minor revision of the Missal first codified at the Council of Trent following the initial sparks of Protestantism—was never abrogated. In other words, the former liturgy was never an invalid or illicit form of worship. While the “Rocco Report” does not indicate further explanation of this point, I would think that the Holy Father is making a point separate from licit public celebrations of the Mass. In other words, a particular priest in private who celebrated the former use was not in the wrong.

The document affirms that priests never need permission to celebrate the Mass according to the Missal of John XXIII and adds that members of the faithful “who spontaneously request” its celebration “may be admitted” to a private Mass. Rocco makes note that there is not a numerical quota on this issue and adds that no such celebration may occur during the Triduum.

Parishes, where a desire for the Johannine liturgy is stable, may offer one Mass on Sundays or feast days in the older form. Likewise, pastors may allow for weddings, funerals and other occasional celebrations to be celebrated according to the older form. The rites of Baptism, Anointing of the Sick and Penance may also be taken from the liturgical books in force in 1962. Confirmation may occur in the older form, but only and always by the local bishop. In the modern form, confirmation may be delegated to a priest at anytime or is always delegated to him when he is accepting an adult convert to the Faith (i.e. RCIA).

A nod toward the conversation of whether this is a “time machine” to the old days or another step forward in the liturgical renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council, the current lectionary, even in the vernacular, may be used at Johannine liturgies. One of the criticisms raised regarding the older form of the liturgy is the lack of Holy Scripture and especially of the Old Testament. While, from what it sounds, the older lectionary is also acceptable, the older form of the litrugy can overcome that limitation to help the Faithful better embrace the Word of God.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his spirit of collaboration, offers “while bishops are ‘earnestly requested to grant [the] desire’ for public celebrations expressed by the extraordinary use’s devotees, recourse to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei is foreseen in cases of ‘a Bishop who desires to make provision for requests of lay faithful of this kind, but is for various reasons prevented from doing so.’ The indult-overseeing body is to respond with its ‘advice and help.’” In addition, in three years, the Holy Father wishes to hear from the world’s bishops on their experiences on this issue and if there are any bumps, they can be figured out at that time.

The Holy Father also extends the option of creating “personal parishes” for devotees of the Johannine liturgy, much like there are personal parishes established for the Anglican Use of the Roman Missal, or for the appointment of a “rector or chaplain” dedicated to the service of those who wish to worship according to the older liturgy.

I think this is great. Unlike some, I have not been eagerly awaiting this day and I haven’t been chilling a fine bottle of the bubbly for the Moto Proprio. I love the Pauline liturgy—it is the form of worship that enveloped me and brought me home to the Church. I served at the altar for years and continue to minister as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion and a lector. While I don’t (yet) have an advanced degree in sacred liturgy, the vast majority of my liturgical studies have been exploring the Roman Rite in the current, ordinary form, with some dabbling in how it is celebrated in the world today (the indult-based use of the Johannine missal, the Anglican Use granted by the Pastoral Provision, the Zaire use, etc). In short, I simply do not have a strong urge to explore this form of the Roman Rite.

The Church, however, is a big church. Just as the Church is not limited to the Roman Rite with many Eastern rites making up strong liturgical traditions of their own and the Roman Rite’s long history of variations (everything from the Sarum Use to the Ambrosian Rite to the Dominican Rite), I think the Church is big enough to accept all of these variations on the theme. The theme of liturgy, of course, is reaching toward God and experiencing him as a common people. The common thread between all of these variations is that Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, is made present to us before our very eyes in the form of His Sacred Body and Blood through the appearance of the bread and wine.

After reading the actual text, I’ll probably have more to say, but that is all for now.
[Note: In my usage, the Missals are defined as the latest missal issed by a Pope. Pauline = Missal of Paul VI issued in 1975. Johannine = Missal of John XXIII issued in 1962. Johannine-Pauline = Missal of John Paul II issued in 2002 and is still in the translation phase. Also used is a simple “Roman Missal 1962” or “Roman Missal 2002”]





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