Observations on Rome’s permission for new saints and more prefaces in the usus antiquior.
Rome moves slowly as we know, and there is no sign as yet of the official enrichment of the missal of Paul VI by its predecessor (that of 1962 and the tradition it transmits) on the horizon—indeed, idolatristic partisans of the missal of Paul VI seem determined to quash any possibility thereof. Their generation may need to reach retirement before a calm study of the question can proceed and bear fruit. In Roman time, that will not be too long.
Now, however, a mere thirteen years after the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum—and numerous consultations and drafts later—we do have precisely that which the bishop could not envisage after dinner in Oxford that evening: the enrichment of the usus antiquior with some modern elements. Lest those who hold the ancient liturgical tradition dear become overly alarmed, it must be said that for the most part this enrichment has been done with care and sensitivity and can be welcomed without difficulty.
Can it be said with justice that the CDF handled this better than it did the Anglican Catholic Missal?
The omission of the preface for Advent amongst those newly permitted is truly odd, for the 1962 missal and its antecedents do not contain one. This must be regarded as a sadly missed opportunity. It would have greater use than some of the others approved. (It could be observed that the season of Advent is the ‘poorer sister’ in the older missal, not having proper Mass formulae for each day, as does Lent. Indeed, there is scope for careful future development here.)
Organic development. Is such a thing possible in a centralized patriarchate such as that of Rome? Wasn't Dom Alcuin Reid was going to discuss it in his sequel to The Organic Development of the Liturgy, but did he scrap that project? Or is he just busy and also waiting to gather more material for the book? According to this interview from a few years ago, he is still working on the book.
The other four prefaces, however, ‘come from’ the missal of Paul VI. Their central texts (the “embolism”) in the versions approved for use now in both new and old missals are practically identical. They have various origins, some quite ancient. But each of these texts as they appear in the missal of the usus recentior (the missal of Paul VI) and which are now permitted for (but which are not imposed on) the usus antiquior, have passed through the ideological sieve of the same study group (18b) of the Post-Conciliar Consilium which substantially edited and evacuated the theological content of the prayers of the missal (the collects, prayers over the gifts and postcommunion prayers), as the painstaking work of Professor Lauren Pristas (The Collects of the Roman Missals, 2013) has more than adequately demonstrated.
In respect of the four prefaces in question a detailed comparative study of their sources and content is necessary. That is impossible here (Anthony Ward and Cuthbert Johnson’s The Prefaces of the Roman Missal, 1989, is an exemplary resource for this). The prefaces of St John the Baptist and of Martyrs are “centonised” texts, that is effectively new compositions of the study group drawing on fragments of older ones. That is to say, they do not appear in liturgical tradition before 1970 in anywhere near the form given them by the Consilium which they now have. The preface of the Angels has an ancient precedent but is nevertheless an edited version of the traditional text. The preface for the Nuptial Mass is also edited, though less severely, without substantially altering the integrity of text.
Pope Benedict’s intention in 2007 was, without doubt, to enrich the usus antiquior with further prefaces. There is nothing wrong with that in principle. However, I very much doubt he intended to visit ‘products’ of the Consilium upon the older missal. It could easily have been augmented with the integral texts found in liturgical tradition. This would avoid the highly likely disdaining of the texts of these latter prefaces because of their at least perceived ‘tainted’ origin or editing in the post-conciliar Consilium. The lack of pastoral care and sensitivity here—seemingly sacrificed for the sake of an unnecessary textual uniformity between both missals—is regrettable and may well jeopardize the intent of the project, at least in part. So-called “traditionalists” can be hyper-sensitive. Offering the addition of at least three of these four texts may well offend those sensitivities.
Looks like I spoke too song about the CDF's handling of this. Did the CDF not consult any real liturgical scholars during the process? (Who would be recognized as such today?)