More on 1962

Since I wrote “1962” a week ago, Fr. John Hunwicke has offered a few posts — peppered with his trademark wryness — on the 1962 liturgical books and slavish adherence to them: “Leading By Example,” “Prefaces,” and “Today…” As usual I find it difficult to disagree with Fr. Hunwicke’s critiques of the 1962 missal and office. In fact, as I made clear in my earlier post, I am sympathetic to individual priests and fraternities gradually shifting back toward certain pre-1962 practices and texts, especially the pre-1955 order for Holy Week.

With that noted, I am still concerned that too much acrimony over the 1962 books will yield unsatisfactory results. The worst thing that could happen right now to the restoration of the Roman Church’s liturgical heritage is for “experts” in Rome to step in and “clean up” and “correct” the currently authorized books even if those “corrections” carry plausible justifications. Such top-down adjustments would, more likely than not, cause further rifts among traditional Catholics who, out of either ignorance or honest objection, don’t see the utility in touching the 1962 texts at this time. Even reform-minded traditionalists who would like to see some elements of the 1962 books go to the wayside are not out of place to ask for a moratorium on liturgical changes until after the vetus ordo has had more time to flower throughout the Catholic Church.

None of this is to say, though, that certain fraternities of traditional priests couldn’t undertake to establish their own uses of the vetus ordo which incorporates pre-1962 elements. As an commenter on this blog noted, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest retains certain pre-1962 elements in their liturgical life. Other groups, like the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius and the Fraternity of St. Peter, are also not blind to the fact that the ejection of the third Confiteor was a rather inane move under Pope John XXIII, especially since it is retained in the 1962 order for a pontifical high Mass. Moreover, some of these groups also prudently retain the celebration of certain feasts which were — again rather inanely — removed from the 1962 calendar, including the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair on January 18 and the “other” Feast of St. Michael on May 8.

Regardless of what happens (or doesn’t), I am not inclined to get too bent out of shape about it. It’s incredibly tedious to watch two (more like ten) people duke it out over liturgical minutiae on online forums. People who fret over the idea that there are priests and religious in good standing with the Holy See who use a 1945 Breviarium Romanum and a 1954 Missale Romanum need a new hobby (or a good thrashing). Similarly, those who aren’t afraid to use the H-word (or worse) with respect to those who faithfully adhere to the books of ’62 need a good thrashing (then a new hobby). Fr. Hunwicke has provided some sensible ways clerics of the Catholic Church may want to proceed on things liturgical going forward. They’re all well worth pondering.



  1. bernardbrandt
    June 29, 2014

    Perhaps the thing that galls me the most about the arguers is that if they would expend a tenth of the effort on learning Latin, or Gregorian Chant, or the rubrics of the old Mass, and serving that Mass, that they do on bitching and kvetching, we’d see a lot more such Masses.

    As it is, here in Kumbayaland (aka the Archdiocese of Los Angeles), I can count the number of times I’ve been able to attend a Tridentine Mass in the last quarter-century (whether pre or post 1962) on the middle fingers of both hands. The neighboring Diocese of Orange, other than the Norbertines, is not much better: At the recent ordination mass of a dear friend of mine there, it was all Novus Ordo multi-culti (in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean), with the only Latin being the Ubi Caritas, first chanted, then sung to Durufle’s setting. I can find more Latin (and better chanted and sung) at St. Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church in Hollywood than I can in the whole of allegedly Catholic LaLa Land or behind the Orange Curtain.

    Fortunately, I have St. Andrew Russian Catholic Church in El Segundo. I’m on the way out the door there now.

    But I would be interested in what you have to say about various versions of the Liturgy of the Hours. What works for you? I’m tempted to junk the last five centuries and go back to Salisbury or Sarum Chant myself. Any suggestions?

    1. modestinus
      June 29, 2014

      Though I have less access to the Tridentine Mass now than when I was in Chicago (2-3 times a week on average here as opposed to 7 days a week in multiple locations), I try to keep to the 1962 Breviarium Romanum, albeit in the light of the ordo that was in place in 1939. (I have a set of 1945 breviaries that I borrow from to fill in lost octaves and certain feast days.) This way I at least have consistently with the Masses that I attend. For about a year, after becoming Catholic, I used a pre-1962 version of the Breviarium Monasticum. It’s much more traditional in terms of the arrangement of the Psalter, but it’s also a much longer office, on average, than what is found in the BR. Eventually I had to drop down to the 1962 Latin/English diurnal published by St. Michael’s Abbey just so I wasn’t skipping 3 or 4 offices a day.

      With that noted, I miss the Byzantine office a bit. In my Orthodox days, I owned all of the liturgical books and would daily try to recite the small hours plus Typika, plus Vespers and Compline. That’s a pretty daunting task for most people, but over the course of the five or so years as an Orthodox Christian that I did it, I internalized a lot of the liturgical and spiritual heritage of the Church that way. It also made me sensitive to the great disparities in quality which exist in the Byzantine East concerning its liturgical texts.

      As I wrote about on my old blog, the Ochtoechos is the consistent reservoir of hymnographical richness whereas the Menaion is hit-and-miss (actually some if it is really, really bad). Though I wasn’t critical about it at the time, I am not particularly high on Byzantine repetitiveness, especially since a lot of it is there to artificially extend certain services or fill-in gaps for missing hymns that nobody ever got around to composing. (For example, on some major feasts that call for 10 stichera at Vespers, some of the festal texts only come with six, meaning that four will have to be repeated just to extend it out to 10 — and the choice of which four is arbitrary.) Moreover, with regard to Matins in particular, the canons have come to displace the importance of both the Psalter (which is often abbreviated or omitted in parish use) and the Biblical Odes, which, if they appear at all, are only present during Lent and then typically only in monasteries. Still, there is a lot of Eastern hymnography that I genuinely enjoyed and miss a great deal these days. I still use some of it to sing to my kids when putting them to bed at night. Nothing calms the baby down like the Cherubic Hymn and Blessed is the Man.


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