Wednesday, 3 January 2018

On Liturgical "Experts" and Selective Citations

The introduction that Benedict XVI has written for the recently-published festschrift on the occasion of Cardinal Müller's 70th birthday has drawn a few comments, specifically on what the Pope Emeritus has to say about the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms. An English translation of the full text can be found at Rorate Caeli, but here is the relevant extract:
In the confused times in which we are living, the whole scientific theological competence and wisdom of he who must make the final decisions seem to me of vital importance. For example, I think that things might have gone differently in the Liturgical Reform if the words of the experts had not been the last ones, but if, apart from them, a wisdom capable of recognising the limits of a "simple" scholar's approach had passed judgement.
Fr Anthony Ruff over at PrayTell has picked up Fr Matias Augé's blog post critical of these brief remarks of Benedict XVI, with Fr Ruff writing that it is "not quite accurate to claim that experts were the final authority on the reform of the liturgy". A citation from p. 383 of Annibale Bugnini's memoirs The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 (Liturgical Press, 1990), detailing a handwritten note from Paul VI to Benno Cardinal Gut (at the time, Prefect of the Congregation of Rites), is given as evidence that Paul VI was intimately involved in the reforms at every stage.

However, Fr Augé and Fr Ruff are rather selective in their citations from Bugnini's memoirs. One of the other handwritten notes from Paul VI to Cardinal Gut detailed by Bugnini, regarding the lectionary, reads as follows (Reform, p. 420, my emphasis):
In the very limited time allowed me, I have not been able to get a complete and detailed grasp of this new and extensive Ordo lectionum Missae.
But because of the confidence I have in the skilled and devout individuals who spent a long time compiling it, and because of the trust I owe to the Congregation for Divine Worship, which has examined and corrected it with such expert care, I gladly approve it in the name of the Lord.
The feast of St. John the Baptist, June 24, 1969.
Paul VI, Pope
What else is this but an admission from Paul VI himself that he left the complete overhaul of the Roman Mass lectionary to the experts, merely rubber-stamping it at the end of the process? And why was he only "allowed" around one month to examine the OLM (he received the proofs in May 1969)?

From Bugnini's account, it is apparent that Paul VI involved himself more in the reform of, for example, the Order of Mass than some other aspects. But even here, the Pope had to fight against the experts in order to make sure that the new offertory formulas actually had the word "offer" in them (p. 371)! Moreover, even after his decision in 1966 that the Roman Canon was to remain unchanged in the reform (p. 450), the experts tinkered with the words of institution and made parts of the Canon optional. Again, in 1967, the Pope insisted that the words of consecration in the Canon not be changed, and the experts basically ignored him (p. 462).

With regards to vernacular translations of the Roman Canon, Bugnini also lets slip that in 1967:
The Holy Father had asked that the translations be ''faithful and literal,'' but in fact practically no liturgical commission was observing this criterion. (p. 168)
Yes, ultimately Paul VI was the final authority, insofar as he was required to approve and promulgate the reformed liturgical books. However, when one reads the whole of Bugnini's memoirs, in many respects Paul VI arguably comes across as negligent, naive, and often a prisoner of the liturgical establishment "experts".

In short, the "experts" may not have been the final de jure authority, but for large parts of the post-conciliar reform, they very much seem to have been the de facto one.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

My letter in this week's Catholic Herald

I have had a letter published in this week's Catholic Herald - the only letter, in fact, that I have ever submitted to the magazine, so that's nice!

The subject is Fr Raymond de Souza's article in last week's issue about Cardinal Sarah's proposal for "liturgical reconciliation":
SIR – Fr Raymond de Souza raises the question of the lectionary in his article on “liturgical reconciliation” (Comment, July 21). He declares that the OF lectionary is an improvement because it “includes far more Scripture than the EF one”. However, bigger is not always better, and if this is the only—or even primary—justification for declaring the OF lectionary an ‘enrichment’, that is not good enough. A qualitative, rather than quantitative, analysis of the two lectionaries is required. 
Is it really, for example, an ‘enrichment’ that Ephesians 4:25-28, verses read every year in the EF (19th Sunday after Pentecost), and containing the well-known advice “do not let the sun go down on your anger” (v. 26), are nowhere to be found in the entire OF lectionary? Or that the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), read in the OF on the 33rd Sunday per annum in Year A, has an optional short form that omits any mention of the men with two and one talents, thereby completely gutting the parable?
Moreover, the “wide consensus that the OF lectionary is superior” is, in my own experience, not anywhere as common as Fr de Souza supposes. In the nine years since I converted to Catholicism, I have come across an increasing number of clergy and laypeople who are decidedly unsure about the supposed benefits of key aspects of the OF lectionary, such as the three-year Sunday cycle of readings. 
There is obviously a lot more that could be said on this subject - but the Herald do ask that letters are kept below 250 words!

It should be noted that Fr de Souza's original article (and his follow-up) spawned a lot of commentary online - Gregory diPippo at NLM; Joseph Shaw of the LMS (and also this); Fr Timothy Finigan on his blog (who was also kind enough to recommend the Index Lectionum); and Fr John Zuhlsdorf at WDTPRS, to name a few. I hope to be able to make my small contribution to the ongoing discussion about "mutual enrichment"/"liturgical reconciliation" very soon over at New Liturgical Movement.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Spanish Experimental Lectionary (1966-69)

Many apologies for the delay in blogging! Our house has needed a lot of work on it (but we knew this when we bought it, so that's fine), and I have also changed jobs, so it has been a little busy behind the scenes. However, I have garnered a fair amount of new material to share over the next few weeks.

Let us start with the Spanish Experimental Lectionary, in use from 1966-69 (PDF). The lections themselves were published in a small, hand-missal sized book, entitled Lectura continuada de la Biblia para el misal de los fieles: Textos, introducciones y comentarios (Barcelona: Editorial Litúgica Española, 1968). This volume was obviously designed for use alongside a hand-missal, and its late date of publication (the nihil obstat was given on 26th October 1968) is interesting, given that the Ordo lectionum Missae was published only seven months later.

The Spanish Bishops made use of the German experimental scheme, but made some changes to it. Other countries that did the same thing were the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rica. Among these changes are the following:

  • The addition of Graduals and Alleluia verses for each weekday in the scheme (with the exception of Alleluia verses for Advent and Pre-Lent; for weekdays in Eastertide the Aleluya Pascual replaces both the Gradual and Alleluia verse).

  • There are some changes in the order of the Old and New Testament books read, along with adjustments made to the division of certain pericopes. Perhaps most notably compared to the German scheme, the Spanish scheme moves Acts and Revelation into Years I and II of Eastertide, with Ephesians, Colossians and Hebrews being moved to Time after Pentecost in Year I.

  • The following books are added to the scheme in Time after Pentecost: 
    • Year I: Titus (week 21, three pericopes);
    • Year II: Deuteronomy (weeks 1-2, six pericopes), Ruth (week 4, three pericopes), Obadiah (week 24, one pericope), Nahum (week 25, one pericope).

  • There are also some slight differences in the division and content of Gospel pericopes in Time after Pentecost (Appendix 2 in the PDF gives more details).

For those whose Spanish is better than mine, a PDF of the Introduction to the Lectura continuada can be found here.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Sacra Liturgia UK and Fota IX

The summer is upon us, and I shall be attending both Sacra Liturgia UK in London and Fota IX in Cork. The papers due to be delivered at both conferences sound fascinating, and I'm really looking forward to them! I'm also looking forward to meeting in real life a few people who I have only spoken to over the internet, as well as many others who are passionate about the Catholic Church and her liturgy.

By nature I am an introvert, so I can be a little shy at times, but if you are a reader of this blog or New Liturgical Movement and are attending either Sacra Liturgia or Fota (or both!), please introduce yourself to me and we can have a nice chat about liturgy-related things, life in general, or whatever you like!

A reminder of what I look like for those who want to talk
to me about lectionaries and other liturgical topics

I will also have a few copies of my book Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite for those who are interested in looking at it in the flesh, as it were, and I might be persuaded to part with some of them at a discounted price... :-)

Thursday, 2 June 2016

New Liturgical and Historical Resources for Download

It has been a little while since the last update, and I have gathered some more useful liturgical and historical resources over the last few months. So, here they are:

1. Dom Adrian Nocent’s proposal for an optional cycle of 2nd readings for Sundays per annum (PDF): Dom Nocent was a member of Group XI of the Consilium, the group responsible for the reform of the lectionary. In 1994, he wrote a book called A Rereading of the Renewed Liturgy, in which he advocated for several more reforms in the post-Vatican II liturgy, including an additional, optional cycle of 2nd readings for tempus per annum. The aim of Nocent's proposed cycle is to thematically link the 2nd reading with the 1st reading and Gospel, as in his opinion, the current structure of the lectionary makes it "impossible to use the second reading in the homily with any coherence." The PDF file gives Nocent's proposed readings, along with a short extract from Rereading in which he explains his proposal.

2. Permissions given by the Consilium for the use of ad experimentum lectionaries, 1965-69 (PDF): This has been in the sidebar for a little while, but is worth highlighting. Between 1965 and 1969, the Consilium gave permission to many countries regarding the use of ad experimentum lectionaries for use on weekdays and various occasions (such as confirmations, funerals, weddings, etc.). This PDF document is comprised of two tables that detail all the permissions recorded in Notitiae: the first table organised by date, the second alphabetically by country.

3. Text and Tables of the Consilium’s « Lectionaria particularia », Notitiae 4 (1968), 40-88 (PDF): Again, this has been in the sidebar for a little while, and links in with the "Permissions" PDF above. Some conferences of Bishops, instead of designing their own ad experimentum lectionaries, asked for permission to use one or more parts of the Consilium's lectionaria particularia, which ended up being printed in Notitiae 4 (1968). This document is a tabulation of the Consilium's experimental lectionary, which could be used on particular occasions, e.g. Confirmations, funerals, Masses with children, Masses on camping trips, etc.

4. The Resolutions of the International Liturgical Congresses, 1951-1953: Maria Laach, Ste. Odile and Lugano (PDF): These congresses held in the early 1950s give an insight into what certain members of the cutting-edge (at that time) of the liturgical movement were hoping for in terms of a future reform of the Catholic liturgy. There are a number of striking similarities between these resolutions and the post-Vatican II liturgical reforms.

5. Bishops of England and Wales, The Manual of Prayers: Authorized by the Hierarchy of England and Wales for Congregational Use (London: Burns & Oates, 1953) (PDF): This book, originally published in 1886, is a collection of devotional prayers for use with congregations. It is an interesting insight into what the English and Welsh bishops were encouraging parish churches to use in order to foster the devotional life of the faithful before the Second Vatican Council. (In my opinion, we in England and Wales could do with reviving the use of some of these prayers in parishes, before and after Mass!)

6. Mgr Derek Worlock (ed.), English Bishops at the Council: The Third Session of Vatican II (London: Burns & Oates, 1965) (PDF): This book, edited by the man who would later become Bishop of Portsmouth and then Archbishop of Liverpool, gives English translations of the speeches made by the English bishops at the third session of Vatican II, as well as talks by Mgr Worlock and press conferences given by the Bishops and periti.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings for the OF and EF - Now Available!

Matthew Hazell & Peter Kwasniewski (foreword)

Index Lectionum: A Comparative Table of Readings
for the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite
(Lectionary Study Aids, vol. 1)

Lectionary Study Press, 2016. xxxviii + 232 pp.

Available from Amazon: USA $16.95; UK £11.99;
GermanyFranceSpainItaly €15,49 (+ tax)

The reason things have been a little quiet on the blog so far this year is because I have been busy finishing off work on the above book, the Index Lectionum. I am happy to announce that the book is in print and now available to purchase from Amazon!

What is the Index Lectionum? It is a new tool that aims to make the comparison of the lectionaries of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms easier than it has been up until now. All the readings at Mass in both forms of the Roman Rite have been arranged side-by-side in biblical order, with their use in each form documented. This book thus makes it possible to look up a biblical reference and quickly find out if it is used on the same day or celebration in the OF and EF, or where a reading in the EF has been transferred to in the OF, and so on.
Sample page from Matthew's Gospel
(click to enlarge)

Dr Peter Kwasniewski, professor of theology at Wyoming Catholic College and one of my colleagues over at New Liturgical Movement, has very generously contributed the foreword to the Index. He writes that:
[T]his Index also facilitates, in fact for the first time, fruitful scholarly comparisons between the old and new lectionaries... We have waited close to half a century for the opportunity to hold in our hands a single resource that indicates, with painstaking detail, just what the reformers added and, perhaps of far greater interest, what they chose to omit that had once been present in the Church’s worship. Thus equipped, we are at last in an optimal position to carry further the kind of comparative studies on the lectionary that Dr. Lauren Pristas has perfected in regard to the collects of the Mass. (p. vii)
The Index Lectionum is the first volume in the "Lectionary Study Aids" series of books: subsequent volumes will take up the use of the Psalms in the two Missals, as well as comparing the psalms and readings of the two forms of the Roman Office.

Sample page from Jeremiah
(click to enlarge)

For all those who love the Church's liturgy, the Index Lectionum is a vital comparative tool for further study of and research into the lectionaries of the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms: their relationship to one another, their similarities and differences, and their respective pastoral advantages and disadvantages.

Contents of the Index Lectionum

Foreword: "Not Just More Scripture, but Different Scripture" (Peter Kwasniewski) (vii)
The Index Lectionum: An Introduction and User's Guide (Matthew Hazell) (xxxi)

Index Lectionum (1)

Appendix 1: Comparison of Sundays in the Proper of Time (181)
Appendix 2: Comparison of Proper of Time for Weekdays in Lent (191)
Appendix 3: Comparison of Saints' Days (195)
Appendix 4: Readings of the Commons of MR 1962 (218)
Appendix 5: Comparison of the OF and EF Commons (223)

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Sacra Liturgia UK 2016

Registrations are now open for this year's Sacra Liturgia UK conference! Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the CDWDS, will be giving the inaugural address, entitled "Towards an Authentic Implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium", and many others, including Bishop Alan Hopes, Mgr Andrew Burnham, Dom Alcuin Reid, and Fr Uwe Michael Lang will also be speaking on various topics.

The conference runs from the 5th-8th July at Imperial College, South Kensington, London, with the liturgical celebrations being held at the London Oratory and Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory (the central church of the Ordinariate).

The cost is £100 for ordinary registrations, £65 for students (not including accommodation or meals). Great value for what is bound to be four days of immensely interesting lectures, and joyful, solemn liturgical celebrations!

Lots more information can be found at

I have booked my place, so if people want to have some lectionary-based conversations over a beer in London in early July, you now know where to come! :-)