Slowly but surely: new liturgical books on the way

Now that the new English translation of the Roman Missal is in place, five newly translated liturgical texts are moving through the process of revision and approval.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Martin Foster, Director of the Liturgy Office of England and Wales, to learn more about these documents and the process that will bring them into use in years to come. The Liturgy Office is small and Martin is a very hands-on director; he not only oversees the whole process of helping the Church in England and Wales follow the liturgical guidance of the bishops but also leads courses on liturgy and personally maintains the large website of the Liturgy Office ( The focus of the Liturgy Office is on implementation of texts that have been approved and promulgated.

Martin is also Assistant Secretary to the Department for Christian Life and Worship of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. In this role he has the important responsibility of shepherding proposed translations through episcopal review.

He was generous with his time and highly knowledgeable about liturgy and about the complex process of translation, review and promulgation.

Liturgiam Authenticam directed that “integral translations” of all of the liturgical books were to be prepared “in a timely manner” (§77). The Roman Missal was first, of course. The following documents are now in fairly advanced stages of revision:

  • The Order of Confirmation
  • The Order of Celebrating Marriage
  • The Order of Dedication of a Church and an Altar
  • Exorcisms and Certain Supplications
  • Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours

The first two are the most advanced; they are called “Gray Books”, meaning that they have already been reviewed once by the bishops of English-speaking dioceses. The latter two are “Green Books”, because this is the first year in which the bishops have been given an opportunity to review them.

“The mills of God grind slowly”, wrote Longfellow, “yet they grind exceeding small.” The revision process is slow as well. The “Gray book” documents will not be ready for public use until, at minimum, late in 2014; the “green book” documents perhaps a year later. This assumes that everything goes to plan; if not, the schedule could slip.

The process is, roughly, as follows:

  1. A Bishops’ Conference is responsible for creating an initial translation of every book. For English-speaking regions this task is entrusted to ICEL, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. ICEL produces a draft that is typically sent to the Bishops’ Conferences early in the year, as a “Green Book”. Hence the Order of Confirmation and the Order of Celebrating Marriage went to the bishops early in 2012; the other three texts arrived in the spring of 2013.
  2. Both the “Green Books” and “Gray Books” have Latin on the left facing page, English on the right, so that the bishops who review them can make easy comparisons. Each bishop can ask others for advice, but ultimately must form his own view. In England and Wales, the bishops send their comments to the Bishops’ Conference in the autumn.
  3. Where a bishop is unhappy with a text, he is expected not only to comment but also to propose a revised translation. Staff at the Bishops’ Conference  collate the bishops’ responses. They will indicate where a proposed change is unlikely to be accepted by ICEL; in many cases this is because it clashes with the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam. A bishop can nonetheless insist that his comments and proposals be sent through to ICEL: it is the bishops, not the staff, who decide. The Conferences generally send their collective and individual comments to ICEL toward the end of a given year.
  4. ICEL then reviews the bishops’ comments and produces a “Gray Book”, which goes back to the bishops in March or April of the following year. Once again, each bishop may ask for advice and has an opportunity to comment. At the end of the year, the bishops vote. An individual bishop can insist on presenting a dissenting view with the final submission, but the goal is that each conference speaks with a single voice; and, ideally, that most bishops in the English-speaking world assent to a single translation.
  5. The bishops’ conferences submit their work to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW). I asked Martin about the Vox Clara Committee. He stressed that – if Vox Clara was to be involved – it would simply play an advisory role to the CDW in reviewing the bishops’ submissions. I found his view on the Vox Clara difficult to square with a press release issued by the Committee in 2011, saying that they had “approved plans for several future publications on behalf of the Congregation, most notably an interim edition of the Roman Pontifical, including new translations of several pontifical texts drawn from the Roman Missal.”
  6. Eventually, the CDW produces a final text, publication arrangements are agreed between ICEL and local publishers, catechetical materials are prepared and the new book launched. The whole process can take a long time, especially because it does not operate to a fixed timetable. For example, the Order of Mass was issued as a “Green Book” in February 2004, but a second “Green Book” was issued a year later. The “Gray Book” appeared in 2006, but the official approval (recognitio) did not arrive from the CDW until June 2008. Even then, the Missal, which incorporated a lot more than the Order of Mass was not put into service until Advent, 2011.

The bishops can propose amendments – changes to a translation, such as the suggestion that et cum spiritu tuo continue to be rendered as “and also with you”. The example is unlikely though, because the system discourages going back on translations already in use. Sections in the draft documents drawn directly from the new Roman Missal (e.g. the response “and with your spirit”) are marked “RM” as a reminder to the bishops that Roma locuta est.

Beyond amendments, the bishops can also propose adaptations specific to a language grouping or region. In most cases these adaptations are optional. The Missal, for example, allows the priest (“or a Deacon, or another minister”) the option in the Penitential Act to use “another invocation”. Sample invocations for the Penitential Act are buried in Appendix VI of the weighty book. But these sample invocations differ between Britain and the United States – a local, optional adaptation.

Other adaptations are mandatory in particular regions; we will see examples in subsequent articles.

Further documents are in the revision queue beyond these. Martin indicated that the next Green/Gray book sequence will cover RCIA and Baptism; the one after that will cover Ordination and the Ceremonial of Bishops.

Thus far I have focused on where the texts are going; let’s take a moment to look at where they have come from. All of these texts derive from the Rituale Romanum and Pontificale Romanum. As far as I can determine, a typical edition of the preconciliar Pontificale was last promulgated in 1962 and of the Rituale in 1957.

Neither the Rituale nor the Pontificale has been revised as a whole since Vatican II. Rather, official Latin editions have been published of specific sections – Confirmation, for example. Part of the old Rituale emerged as De Benedictionibus, with the latest Latin edition in 1990. I believe that the latest English version, The Book of Blessings, dates from 1989.

The Rite of Exorcism from the Rituale was revised and promulgated in 1999 as  De exorcismis et supplicationibus quibusdam (Exorcisms and Certain Supplications); I will look further at this in a later article. To date, it has not been released in English, so the Green Book version now under review represents its first official translation out of the Latin.

I asked Martin whether the different sections would ever be stitched back together into a single Rituale and Pontificale. He doubted it; “those would be very large and unwieldy books.” ICEL’s website ( nonetheless groups the books (other than the Roman Missal) as follows:

The Roman Ritual
Baptism of Children
Religious Profession
Initiation of Adults
Reception of Baptized Christians
Anointing and Pastoral Care
Commissioning Special Ministers
Holy Communion
Book of Blessings

The Roman Pontifical
Consecration to a Life of Virginity
Institution of Readers and Acolytes
Blessing of an Abbot or Abbess
Blessing of Oils, Consecrating the Chrism
Admission to Candidacy for Ordination
Dedication of a Church and an Altar

The Liturgy of the Hours

Ceremonial of Bishops

The Roman Martyrology

The Ritual and Pontifical could be hefty volumes indeed! But, if the Roman Missal is any indication, the authorities aren’t particularly concerned with the size and weight of liturgical volumes. The Church has yet to come to terms with the possibility of an iPad on the altar.

*  *  *

I hope that this discussion of the process for bringing out new books has been interesting and not too geeky. I welcome factual corrections and will update the post as they are received. Let me close by thanking Martin Foster for an interesting and informative discussion.


48 responses to “Slowly but surely: new liturgical books on the way”

  1. Fr Kurt Barragan Avatar
    Fr Kurt Barragan

    Thank you Jonathan.

    With reference to point 5, Vox Clara has already published the interim Roman Pontifical referred to in that press release (although they evidently abandoned plans for a new translation of the blessing of oils): “This publication of the Holy See through the Vox Clara Committee contains the rites most frequently celebrated by the Bishop updated in accord with the most recent publication of the English-language edition of The Roman Missal. The Roman Pontifical provides the text of the Rites of Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons as approved and confirmed for the Dioceses of the United States of America and many other countries. This text has been updated so as to harmonize with the new Missal. This volume also contains similarly updated texts of The Institution of Lectors and Acolytes, The Blessing of Abbots and Abbesses, The Consecration of Virgins and The Rite of Confirmation. The final part of The Pontifical contains the older translation of the Blessing of Oils, which formerly appeared in the Sacramentary. This clothbound edition contains large, easy-to-read type, durable Smyth-sewn binding, satin ribbon markers, and specially commissioned, full-color artwork throughout based on fifteenth-century manuscript illustrations.”

  2. Alan Johnson Avatar
    Alan Johnson

    Thank you for that.
    Now for a geeky question …. what currently is the proper response at a wedding or funeral service outside mass to “The Lord be with you.”

    1. Jonathan Day Avatar
      Jonathan Day

      @Alan Johnson – comment #2:
      That’s an easy one, Alan. The proper and traditionally Catholic response in this situation is “Mumble, mumble.”

      1. Alan Johnson Avatar
        Alan Johnson

        Jonathan Day : @Alan Johnson – comment #2: That’s an easy one, Alan. The proper and traditionally Catholic response in this situation is “Mumble, mumble.”

        Or at most funerals and weddings that I seem to play at “Now what’s going on?”

  3. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    Fr Kurt, I wonder whether the “interim” release of the Pontifical simply takes the older translation (prior to Liturgiam Authenticam) and substitutes bits so as to harmonise with the new Missal — e.g. “and with your spirit”; not a retranslation but a temporary measure until the full rite can be translated in accordance with the new method. Plus, of course, satin ribbon markers and “specially commissioned, full-color artwork throughout based on fifteenth-century manuscript illustrations.” Yours for only AUD 250 (£150, US$ 232 at today’s exchange).

    I asked Martin about the Vox Clara interim ponitifical; he said, rather diplomatically, “Not every conference has adopted it.” He also pointed out that a collected volume (e.g. the Pontifical) is only useful if the texts it contains (Confirmation, Ordination, etc.) are stable.

    1. Fr Kurt Barragan Avatar
      Fr Kurt Barragan

      @Jonathan Day – comment #3:
      Yes, I think that is exactly what they have done. I mention it only because its publication seems to complete the project they described in the Press Release you mentioned.

      They initially planned to re-translate the blessing of the oils but at some point that was either abandoned or postponed. The texts for the Rites of Ordination differ somewhat from the ones we are used to seeing here in England & Wales: we are still using a translation of the 1968 ordination rites but for quite a few years now the US has had an approved translation of the revised Latin edition from 1990.

      Martin’s comment about the need for a stable text before spending a lot of money on a collected ritual edition of the Pontifical is very well made.

      1. Jonathan Day Avatar
        Jonathan Day

        @Fr Kurt Barragan – comment #5:
        I think it doesn’t complete the project but rather provides a stopgap. Martin indicated that Ordination and the Ceremonial of Bishops were a long way down in the queue. A very ambitious schedule would have Marriage and Confirmation ready for use in 2014, Dedication, Exorcism and the Hours in 2015, RCIA and Baptism in 2016, and Ordination in 2017. These would be complete, “integral” retranslations, not just a few substitutions to match the Roman Missal. So Australia would get the “interim” Pontifical now, but when the new Confirmation rite is approved, that text could become obsolete. This could be as early as next year!

        To be clear, and as I have said many times before, I think Liturgiam Authenticam was a big mistake. But now that we have it, it makes sense to follow it right through. That will take awhile. I don’t see why bishops’ conferences could not be authorised to print interim editions of specific rites on their own, without going through the whole Vox Clara and external publishing process.

        On the collected ritual edition of the Pontifical: in our parish, at least, a younger server often holds the book for a visiting bishop. A slimmer Confirmation rite, bound in a generous size so that the congregation can see it, would be far more convenient than a big Pontifical.

  4. James DeViese Avatar
    James DeViese

    Concerning the “supplement” to the Liturgy of the Hours, I presume that it would be nothing more than an updated calendar and orations. Has there been any discussion of an updated translation of the psalter, ferial prayers, etc?

    1. Paul Inwood Avatar
      Paul Inwood

      @James DeViese – comment #8:

      Concerning the “supplement” to the Liturgy of the Hours, I presume that it would be nothing more than an updated calendar and orations. Has there been any discussion of an updated translation of the psalter, ferial prayers, etc?

      You can be certain that the Revised Grail Psalter will be imposed by Rome. As for the rest of the Liturgy of the Hours, the situation is complicated by the fact that the British Isles and Australia have their own version of the Divine Office which is not the same as the translation used in the US. It may well be that those hierarchies will not adopt a revised Liturgy of the Hours, perhaps even on the grounds that their own version is already better than what everyone else is using.

      I have thought for some time that ICEL would do well to consider that version in depth before embarking on work which may well prove to be redundant. The translators who worked on that version were very skilled.

  5. Fr Larry Regynski Avatar
    Fr Larry Regynski

    Awr – Will the second option for the marriage vows allowed in the US be maintained, or will we have only one set we have to use?

    1. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      @Fr Larry Regynski – comment #9:
      The gray book does not have the second option.

      1. Jeff BeBeau Avatar
        Jeff BeBeau

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #45:
        We’ll have to wait and see if each Conference decides to include regional variations or additions. The Grey Book would only include the text from the typical edition.

  6. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

    Thanks for this too. As far as the Nuptial Mass, the revised Roman Missal indicates that there is no “Penitential Act” to be included which makes it kind of tricky to transition from the Greeting of the Nuptial Mass to the Gloria. There are not words given for this in the Missal. I suspect one could do a free-standing Kyrie which is not customary in the OF Mass in the USA as it normally is associated with the Penitential Act, but technically isn’t as in the EF, in fact I’ve noticed at Papal Masses at the Vatican that the Kyrie is never omitted even when the Penitential Act is substituted with something else, even the “Rite of Sprinkling.”
    So will the revision of the Nuptial Mass have the nuptial questions to replace the Penitential Act, such as “Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves in marriage…” and ” Will you accept children and bring them up….”
    And then the actual vows after the homily?

    1. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #7:

      I am not, and never was, a fan of dispensing with the confiteor at any time. The Asperges/Vidi Aquam should have remained outside of Mass. I do not see why we should not be contrite at any Mass, even the Nuptial Mass. Forgiveness for sin is also a cause for thankfulness.

      To the relief of some, I’ve shuffled off the reproductive imperative. If I foolishly decided otherwise, I would gladly choose the missa votiva pro sponso et sponsa instead. Any reform should have kept the basic structure of the old nuptials.

      1. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #13:

        I am not, and never was, a fan of dispensing with the confiteor at any time. The Asperges/Vidi Aquam should have remained outside of Mass. I do not see why we should not be contrite at any Mass, even the Nuptial Mass. Forgiveness for sin is also a cause for thankfulness.

        The Blessing and Sprinkling of Water is now in an appendix.

        As far as having a Penitential Act is concerned, there are many occasions in the Church Year when there simply isn’t one:

        * Any Sunday when the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water replaces it
        * Presentation of the Lord (all forms of the procession)
        * Ash Wednesday (it is replaced by the imposition of ashes after the Liturgy of the Word)
        * Palm Sunday (procession of palms)
        * Easter Vigil (but not Easter Sunday: there the Renewal of Baptismal Promises and Sprinkling replaces the Profession of Faith in some countries)
        * Requiem Mass (replaced by the sprinkling of the coffin with holy water)
        * Baptism within Mass (but for some reason not Confirmation within Mass)
        * Nuptial Mass

        We have this erroneous perception that the Penitential Act is a normative part of every Mass, but in fact it simply isn’t. A good case could be made for omitting it at Christmas Midnight Mass. At Confirmation, it is far better to remind ourselves of the beginning of our initiation at Baptism by having the Blessing and Sprinkling of Water instead.

      2. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        @Paul Inwood – comment #16:

        For about the past millennium, the recitation of the confiteor has been a standard part of every Mass. Even in Passiontide and at the votive Requiem the confiteor is said in the EF. Only the preparatory psalm is omitted.

        Again, I maintain that the reformers unwisely omitted the confession of sin from many Masses. While there is a need to remind ourselves of our baptism, there is also a need for contrition. Both the asperges and confiteor complement one another symbolically and liturgically. The reminder of baptism compliments, and should not replace, contrition. Even if the confiteor is recited by representatives of the congregation, at least sin is publicly recognized. The older form of the confiteor is especially significant in this respect, as contrition is presented as a dialogue between the priest and congregational representatives (or, the congregation itself as in Dialogue Mass).

        Also, the blessing indulgentiam should never have been deleted. Blessings are extremely powerful theurgical actions. The wholesale removal of blessings in the reformed liturgy speaks to what I consider a faltering belief in the efficacy of blessings.

      3. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        @Jordan Zarembo – comment #20:

        What I find particularly troubling about the deletion of the confiteor in many Masses of the reformed liturgy is the not-so-implicit notion that baptism can be liturgically signified without a symbiotic reference to concupiscence and sin. A confession of sin not only explicitly asks forgiveness for the commission of sin, but also implicitly recognizes the tendency to sin (how can act exist without inclination?) Death in Christ never removes concupiscence. Why, then, is the reformed liturgy eager to recognize the grace of baptism but not the tendency to sin? Are we afraid to confess to God before the assembly that we, as human beings, are inherently fallible and constantly in need of grace? If we are unbound from the need for sacramental grace because of self-actualized perfection, are we then obliged to offer the sacrifice?

    2. Jonathan Day Avatar
      Jonathan Day

      @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #7:
      Not being clairvoyant, we have no way of knowing what the bishops’ conferences will do on their first, second and potentially third revisions, nor what ICEL will conclude, nor what the CDW will finally authorise. Just about anything could happen!

      Watch this space, nonetheless. I will post further articles on Marriage, Confirmation, Dedication of a Church, etc.

  7. Fr Kurt Barragan Avatar
    Fr Kurt Barragan

    Yes, of course the project of translating the various liturgical books will continue for some time.

    What I meant was that the project described in Vox Clara’s press release in July 2011 was much less ambitious: they promised an interim version of the pontifical (i.e. one for use until the various books had been re-translated) and they have published one.

    And I mentioned all of this because, in point five above, you wondered how Martin’s view that Vox Clara “would simply play an advisory role to the CDW in reviewing the bishops’ submissions” on new translations could be squared with the 2011 press release. I don’t see any discrepancy – it seems to me that the press release described a separate process which has now been completed.

    Sorry if I’ve taken the discussion astray! Many thanks for enlightening us about where the work of translation is currently taking place.

    1. Jonathan Day Avatar
      Jonathan Day

      @Fr Kurt Barragan – comment #8:
      Now I understand! Thank you — that was not a diversion but a helpful clarification on your part.

  8. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

    In fact, the congregational penitential rite is really a post-conciliar innovation.

    1. Alexander Larkin Avatar
      Alexander Larkin

      @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #17:
      Technically correct since the congregation had no role other than receiving communion. However the altar server(s) did repeat the confiteor.

  9. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    I like the way that the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom begins with the Great Litany

    Given that Francis seems to be big on mercy, I hope he scraps the penitential rite in favor of a restoration of a litany whose responses would be Lord have mercy (so we could keep all the Kyrie music). The Confiteor is too self referential. We should begin Mass with a great consciousness of God’s mercy to everyone, and that lovingkindness is shown in many ways not merely the forgetfulness of sin.

  10. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    However since our Prayers of the Faithful capture some of the intentional flavor of the Great Litany but not its mercy aspect, I like the brief form of litany addressed directly to God that Paul Inwood suggested in this comment

    1. John Kohanski Avatar
      John Kohanski

      @Jack Rakosky – comment #19:
      Jack, I’d beg to differ. The Great Litany does indeed capture the aspect of the mercy of God: “Help us, save us, have mercy upon us, and protect us, O God, by Your grace.” Every petition is end with the refrain “Lord, have mercy.” And the final prayer to it: “Lord, our God, whose power is beyond compare, and glory is beyond understanding; whose mercy is boundless, and love for us is ineffable (nb: watch out for that word!); look upon us and upon this holy house in Your compassion. Grant to us and to those who pray with us Your abundant mercy.” Though to be fair, the final prayer is usually said quietly and only the doxology (For to You belong all glory, honor, and worship to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages.) is sung aloud. I still find it the perfect solution for the prayer of the faithful in the revised Roman rite.

  11. Fr. Jan Michael Joncas Avatar
    Fr. Jan Michael Joncas

    Re:Fr. McDonald’s comment at #10. Chapter 1 of OCM1991 makes it clear that, in celebrating Matrimony within Mass, after the Sign of the Cross and greeting (as found in the Roman Missal):

    52. Deinde nupturientes et adstantes alloquitur, ut eorum animos ad Matrimonium celebrandum disponat, his vel similibus verbis:

    52. Then he speaks to the couple about to be marriage and to those present, so that their spirits might be prepared for celebrating Matrimony, in these or similar words.

    Two “monitiones” follow, one addressed to the assembly, one addressed to the couple, both of which succinctly focus attention on the rites to be celebrated. Thus omitting the Penitential Act actually leads (in my opinion) rather smoothly from these introductory remarks into the singing of the “Glory to God.” (If there is general interest, I could reproduce the Latin texts of these monitiones with my slavishly literal translations in a later post.) This is new in the editio typica alter of the OCM.

  12. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

    Jordan Zarembo : @Paul Inwood – comment #16: For about the past millennium, the recitation of the confiteor has been a standard part of every Mass. Even in Passiontide and at the votive Requiem the confiteor is said in the EF. Only the preparatory psalm is omitted.

    But these are private prayers of the priest and ministers, intended to incite their devotion, not part of the public liturgy.

    1. Jack Wayne Avatar
      Jack Wayne

      @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #23:
      That is how I’ve always seen them too. The prayers at the foot of the altar aren’t even recited out loud at the low Masses I have attended – some priests don’t even wait for the hymn to finish and let the music cover the action like the introit does in High Mass. Of course many people follow along with them.

      I’ve always found it interesting that the EF reserves most of its penitential prayers for the priest and servers, while OF goes in the opposite direction and focusses those prayers on the people because of the public penitential rite.

      I think the structure of the EF High Mass opening rites should have been retained because they are simpler than those of the OF and less penitential in nature. The prayers at the foot of the altar could have been made optional, or the public recitation of the Confiteor could have been retained before communion.

      1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        @Jack Wayne – comment #26:
        Dear Jack,

        You know my bias – I support both Vatican II and the implementation of Vatican II under Paul VI – so take my comments in that spirit.

        The committees under Bugnini that carried out the liturgical reform consisted of lots of liturgical experts who had been researching and discussing these things for several decades, and they had very solid reasons for everything they did. That’s not to say that it was all perfect or that later research and later pastoral needs don’t have to be taken into account.

        But some of your comments sort of sound like “I like it the old way before Vatican II,” and I’m not always sure if you realize all the reasons for the changes. There is room to critique what the reformers did – but it is a steep mountain because one has to track all their reasons and argue at their level. So I encourage you and all of us to keep studying why Mother Church approved all these changes proposed by the experts.


      2. Jack Wayne Avatar
        Jack Wayne

        @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #27:
        I don’t necessarily know the reasons for every change, but I do not doubt that the people who made the changes were experts or had good reasons for the choices they made.

        I do not hold myself to be an expert, nor do I see this as being an experts-only blog. Generally when I say I like something better it is because I have a reason for doing so. I think the introit-kyrie-gloria-greeting-collect intro of the EF has noble simplicity, flows better, and better allows for the rites to be sung as well. There’s an old Dennis Fitzpatrick record of the EF introductory rites sung in English on YouTube, and even in English the old format works very well. They sang the introit like a responsorial psalm. I don’t know whether or not having extensive knowledge of why the experts felt the OF penitentiary rite was better would change my mind. I have heard that adding a penitential rite was debated at the time and controversial.

    2. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #23:

      But these are private prayers of the priest and ministers, intended to incite their devotion, not part of the public liturgy.

      Thank you for this observation Deacon Fritz. You are quite right. Just because I say the confiteor with the servers while at the EF does not change its role in the liturgy.

      On reflection, I have changed my mind about the role of the confession of sin in the ordinary form. I agree with Fr. Jack (#25) when he writes ” Those responsible for the reformed rite in fact wanted the penitential act to be an acknowledgement of the infinite mercy of God which is what the Eucharistic sacrifice is all about.” I am pietistic in outlook. The pietistic notion that a person should reflect often on his or her sins and failings can quickly fall into moral rigor or moral hypocrisy. This is why the Church over the centuries has had to steer the faithful from heterodox notions of contrition and penance. Fr. Jack is right that the Eucharist as the ultimate gift of mercy must be reflected at Mass, not sin as guilt or shame.

  13. Fr. Jan Michael Joncas Avatar
    Fr. Jan Michael Joncas

    at #22: “about to be married.” For some reason the system won’t allow me to edit my own post.

  14. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Jack Feehily

    People can come to the liturgy with humble and contrite hearts without a form of the penitential act. The regular use of the confiteor can, in fact, be easily confused for general confession and absolution. Those responsible for the reformed rite in fact wanted the penitential act to be an acknowledgement of the infinite mercy of God which is what the Eucharistic sacrifice is all about.

    Why would there be a Gloria in a wedding Mass when there are often few practicing Catholics present to sing it?

  15. Gerard Flynn Avatar
    Gerard Flynn

    The absolution at the end of the penitential rite is sacramental.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      @Gerard Flynn – comment #28:
      Huh? On what do you base that?

      1. Gerard Flynn Avatar
        Gerard Flynn

        @Karl Liam Saur – comment #30:
        An elementary concept in sacramental theology is that the visible aspects are effected. When this prayer is made in the context of the liturgy, it’s the belief of the church that God has mercy on us, forgives our sins and is bringing us to eternal life.

  16. Jeff BeBeau Avatar
    Jeff BeBeau

    In regards to everything being in separate volumes, that was never the original intention. In the footnotes of The Reform of the Liturgy, pp. 582-583, Archbishop Bugnini notes that because of time period that covered the publications of the various rituals (Marriage 1968 – Penance 1974), it was not yet the time to collect all the rites into a single volume (Roman Ritual). In 1972 the SCDW began thinking about that eventuality and what needed to be done. Among the things needed to be done: provided an introduction for the rites lacking them; revise and enrich other introductions; compose a General Introduction for the entire body of sacramental rite; revise rubrics to make them consistent throughout. A plan of action had been done, but the suppression of the SCDW interrupted it and we are still waiting. I often wonder what things would have been like if the SCDW has been allowed to continue for another 5 years with Bugnini at the helm and how things would have looked, and how much further ahead we would be.

    On a related note the second typical editions for Marriage and Orders that we are just getting now, and were approved in 1990, were essentially complete in 1975 but it took 15 years for them to be approved because of the suppression of the SCDW.

    We are still waiting for the 5th volume of the LotH and the Public Prayer after the Desecration of a Church.

  17. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    Jeff, can you or anyone point to a good history that explains the transition from Sacred Congregation of Rites to SCDW, two congregations (Sacraments and Divine Worship), and now CDWDS? Would be interesting to understand not only what changed but why. You speak of “suppression” … what actually happened?

    1. Jeff BeBeau Avatar
      Jeff BeBeau

      @Jonathan Day – comment #32:

      Bill highlights the main sources. There really isn’t a clear answer. A summary would be that the SCR was focused on the Saints and Ritual. It co-existed with the Consilium until 1969 when Paul VI created the SCDW which essentially made the Consilium a congregation in charge of reforming the liturgy. There also existed the Congregation of the Sacraments at this time. Why the SCDW was suppressed in 1975 and its responsibilities transferred to the Congregation of Sacraments is an answer clouded by many factors. They were split in 1984 and merged again in 1988.

      If you would like to speak further, contact Anthony, he has my contact information.

  18. Bill deHaas Avatar
    Bill deHaas

    Jonathan – would suggest *Challenging Reform* by Piero Marini but this question gets into the time period when Paul VI moved A. Bugnini to Iran; formed two (worship and saints) out of one; put Consilium under SCDW under Bishop Gut.
    Bugnini’s book, The Reform of the Liturgy, covers some of this – addresses the murky allegations that Bugnini was a Freemason, etc. which supposedly pushed Paul VI to make these decisions.
    It appears that either the documentation is not available yet or that there are no notes, documents, etc. that explain Paul Vi’s decisions.
    *Suppresion*- that might be an interpretation from one side; of course, others will say there was no suppression. Like many things in history, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.;

  19. Brian Duffy Avatar
    Brian Duffy

    Every year I make the trek through the crowds to the Vatican Book Store in the vain hope of finding the revised Latin burial services. I can never understand why they have several copies of the Latin office for crowning images of our Lady but nary a copy of the Latin funeral rites.

    Had they done a better job of promoting all the new Latin services there might never have been a need for the 1962 compilation.

    1. Jeff BeBeau Avatar
      Jeff BeBeau

      @Brian Duffy – comment #34:


      The Ordo Exsequiarum was published in 1969 and hasn’t been published since. Your best bet you would to try and find it used.

  20. John Kohanski Avatar
    John Kohanski

    The revisers did indeed know what they were doing in excising the penitential rite from the Nuptial Mass. I’m sure after decades of study and research they found that the best thing to do was shorten the Mass so to be able to get on with the important bits of the day, the reception. 🙂 Though I’m sure that they didn’t foresee the addition of the “Unity Candle” or the “Mixing of Sand,” thereby negating the time saved with the deletion of the penitential rite. The Gloria should indeed be sung regardless of who is present, as it’s a day to give thanks when two people are married in church, and not in their backyard, a catering hall, on the beach, or a golf course. We got around the lack of participation at our wedding by having a choir, which sang the Gloria and other parts, for which people would not have participated anyway. Most of the guests had never been to a Catholic wedding with a choir and music like that before.

    1. Jeff BeBeau Avatar
      Jeff BeBeau

      @John Kohanski – comment #39:

      I have often wondered about the sudden appearance of the Gloria in the third typical edition of the Missal. It wasn’t prescribed in the previous edition nor in the first or second typical editions of the Rite of Marriage. Even the Ceremonial of Bishops (even the revised 1995 edition) is silent on the issue. From my research it wasn’t used in the EF when the wedding Propers were used (only making an appearance is the it was a 1st or 2nd Class Mass). The use of the Gloria at a wedding Mass is a recent innovation. If used, it certainly should be sung and not merely recited. I would, however be inclined to omit it.

      1. John Kohanski Avatar
        John Kohanski

        @Jeff BeBeau – comment #40:
        Jeff–my mother has a list of the music used at her 1954 wedding in her memento book. She listed the Gloria as sung as part of the Mass setting that they used, though she was a member of the choir and perhaps had more music because of that. My 1956 St. Andrew Daily Missal says of the Nuptial Mass: “If the nuptial blessing is to be given on a Sunday or on a feast of the first or second class, the Mass of Sunday (or feast) is said with the Gloria and Creed if required by the rubrics, with a commemoration from the Nuptial Mass.” So I guess if a wedding was on a day other than Sunday that was not a first or second class feast, no Gloria.

    2. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      @John Kohanski – comment #39:

      Though I’m sure that they didn’t foresee the addition of the “Unity Candle” or the “Mixing of Sand,” thereby negating the time saved with the deletion of the penitential rite.

      I’m an extremely cynical person, but not to this extent. I know from talking with engaged Catholics that many have not attended Mass since confirmation, if that. Some have little or no idea about the order of Mass, let alone what activities are liturgically appropriate. Many get their ideas from wedding magazines. I remember visiting my local church for confession, only to catch sight of the order for the wedding which had just taken place. A “love poem” replaced the responsorial psalm. The pastor is a very kind man and good confessor. I suspect, however, he was ground down by the couple to the point where he gave up and allowed this aberration.

      At the other extreme, I do not advocate for a return to a compulsory reading of Ephesians 5 at every wedding. This reading is offensive to some. Sensitivity and due kindness must always prevail. Nevertheless, I sympathize with priests who try to steer a couple towards the standard order, only to be bombarded with faddish ideas. A balance between tradition and novelty is difficult to strike, especially in a tradition which has constantly placed the celebration of the Eucharist at the center of every sacramental liturgy.

  21. Brian Duffy Avatar
    Brian Duffy


    Many thanks for the info on the Ordo exsequiarum and for sharing your vast knowledge with us. Isn’t it absurd that it hasn’t been issued since 1969 while copies of the old services are so abundant?

    I did finally get a copy of the Ordo Visitationis from the incomparable Sacerdote on eBay three years ago. The search continueth.

  22. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
    Karl Liam Saur

    Except that the prayer is not an absolution and last I heard no authority with jurisdiction has determined it has the effect of a sacraments, which are defined by positive law, fwiw.

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