Can a Novus Ordo parish have a 1962 Triduum? Fr. Z’s opinion.

Under another entry, frequent contributor Henry brings up a very good question.

To begin here are a couple comments, or rather "hooks" to hang ideas on.

First, a bishop can establish a "personal parish" where only the older, pre-Conciliar liturgical forms are used.  In such a place the 1962 Missale Romanum would be used for the Triduum, not the Novus Ordo.

Second, we have all heard about the tea-pot tempest surrounding the Good Friday prayer for Jews in the older form.  Surely some bishops would have hesitated to establish personal parishes because those controversial prayers would have then been actually used, thus stirring controversy.  Then Pope Benedict changed those prayers for Jews.  In doing so the Pope a) removed a possible objection to establishing a place where the older form would be used on the Triduum, and b) gave a clear sign that he intended that the Triduum be observed also with the 1962 form!  Remember: he could have ignored it.  By giving it this attention, he shows his favor.

Third, no priest or bishop can now say that, because of the prayers for the Jews on Good Friday, he doesn’t want people to use the 1962 Triduum.  That would be a criticism of Pope Benedict’s shiny new prayers, which would be seriously inappropriate.  A bishop or priest could come up with some other obstacles, but that one is now off the table.

So, with those ideas in place, take a look at what our friend Henry posted:

Henry: But suppose the pastor of a parish that regularly celebrates only the ordinary form accepts a liturgy committee recommendation that for a special occasion a particular Triduum Mass be celebrated in the extraordinary form instead. I recall a pastor who during the pre-SP speculation indicated his intent to do just this—celebrate the Christmas and Easter Vigil Masses in Tridentine form. Is there anything in SP that prohibits this?

Fr. Z’s short answer: No.

Keep in mind we are considering a parish where the Novus Ordo is the usual form used.

Here is my translation of article 2 of the Motu Proprio:

Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, any priest whosoever of the Latin Rite, whether secular of religious, can use either the Missale Romanum issued in 1962 by Bl. John XXIII, or the Missale Romanum promulgated in 1970 by the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, and indeed on any day whatsoever except during the Sacred Triduum. For such a celebration according to one or the other Missal, a priest does not need permission, neither from the Apostolic See nor from his Ordinary.

This is the only place in the Motu Proprio which mentions the Triduum.  This article concerns private celebration of Mass.

Background: During the Triduum there cannot be a multiplication of Triduum ceremonies in the same place. You cannot have Novus Ordo Holy Thursday at 7:30 and 1962 at 9:30. Nor can a priest celebrate these things privately, or do one in private and one in public. A priest may not celebrate any Triduum rite privately with either Missal.

I do not find anything in Summorum Pontificum which would prevent a parish where the Novus Ordo is the usual form from having the Triduum in the older form.

Let’s go on.

In article 5 § 2 we read:

Celebration according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII can take place on weekdays; on Sunday, however, and feasts there can be also one celebration of this kind.

The Motu Proprio mentions Sundays, weekdays and feasts.  Are we to understand "feast" in a broader sense?  Are we to understand that these terms apply to the older calendar, as found in the 1962 Missale Romanum or according to the newer, post-Conciliar calendar.  The new calendar distinguishes between solemnities, feasts, and memorials.  So, if we are to take it that the Motu Proprio is referring to these days when the old Mass can be used publicly it seems like we might not be able to use it on solemnities or the Triduum (which outranks all other solemnities).  However, I don’t think we have to assume that the Motu Proprio is speaking of the newer calendar at all.   Article 5 § 2 is talking about only one Missal and it mentions only the older Missal.  The older Missal does not distinguish solemnities, and neither does this article.  I think the article is intended to be read from the point of view of the older structure of the calendar rather than the newer, post-Conciliar distinctions.  So, given that the older form of Mass can be used on ferial days, Sundays and feasts, that covers every day of the year, I think.  After all, is not Good Friday considered a ferial day in Holy Week?  I don’t have an old Ordo with me but I think so.

So the Motu Proprio says, I believe, that there can be a celebration with the older form on any day of the year. However, there can only be one ceremony on each day of the Triduum in any given place.  Therefore, it must be either the Novus Ordo or the 1962 form.

The Motu Proprio suggests to me that a pastor could choose the older form instead of the newer form.  Furthermore, he does not need permission from the bishop. 

I do not know if this is clarified in the upcoming document from the Pope.

Remember: Pope Benedict intends that the older form can also be used on Good Friday.  If he didn’t, he would have ignored the Good Friday issue.  By changing the prayer he intends that it can be used also on Good Friday.  That doesn’t mean that it must be used, only that it can be used.  If I understand Benedict’s way of thinking, he would be very disappointed with a pasto

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I think establishing one (or more, depending on geographic size of the diocese) church dedicated to to 1962 rite would be a pastorally sound way of establishing and promoting the rite. The faithful who are either already weary or currently wary of trying to promote the rite on their own would have a place. Those devoted to the rite would be able to worship every day according to the rite.

    However, there would be a donnybrook if you announced suddenly that St. Isidore the Farmer was switching to the 1962 rite exclusively. The shock would distract from what Pope Benedict intends by making the rite more widely available. So perhaps such an approach would work better in larger, urban dioceses that find themselves having to close and consolidate parishes. So instead of selling a church to someone who wants to make it into a parking lot or a night club, a diocese can turn the place over to the 1962 rite and the place would thrive.

  2. Gregor says:


    I assume “festis” in Summ. Pont. article 5 § 2 is referring to Holy Days of obligation. The section dealing with them in the CIC (can. 1246 ss.), is after all, called “de diebus festis”, and the “festis” in Summ. Pont. article 5 § 2 is taking up the “diebus” from “diebus ferialibus” from the first half sentence of that precept. So, only Easter itself would be a dies festus in that regard.

    However, since tha Easter Vigil does belong to the Easter dies festus, for this celebration (and for this alone, since Holy Thursday and Good Friday are not dies festi, if my interpretation is correct) the question of the “etiam” in Summ. Pont. article 5 § 2 becomes relevant. Some, as you know, have argued that the “etiam” means a Mass in the extraordinary form can only be celebrated in addition to a Mass in the ordinary form on Sundays and Holy Days. Since, as you have pointed out, multiple celebrations of the Triduum liturgies are not permitted, this would exclude an extraordinary form Easter Vigil in “normal” (i.e. not exclusively usus antiquior) parishes. However, this restrictive interpretation of “etiam” is highly questionable. I would think that the forthcoming instruction by Ecclesia Dei will contain a clarification in this respect.

  3. danphunter1 says:

    In the old Ordo Good Friday is also the Feast of St. Benedict, Abbott.
    God bless you

  4. Gregor says:


    as I’ve tried to explain above, the “feast” of which article 5 § 2 is speaking, are holy Days of obligation. So, it is not decisive what rank the liturgical celebration has (solemnity, feast in the novus ordo, I, II classis in the traditional ordo), but whether it is a day of obligation. The law is is making one basic distinction: you are free to celebrate the extraordinary form on “normal” days, but on days of obligation (Sundays and Holy Days of obligation) certain rules apply, viz. that there may be “etiam” (“also”) one Mass in the extraordinary form (as for possible problems with the interpretation of “etiam” and what this means for celebrations according to the extraordinary form on the Triduum, see my comment above).

  5. Ken says:

    This is one of the most mis-understood subjects concerning the traditional liturgy, so it is refreshing to see a whiff of sanity here on it.

    As far as the Triduum for people who are not fortunate enough to have a “full-time” traditional parish, one solution is to have a stational-type arrangement, as we do in the D.C. area. So, Saint X church has Maundy Thursday, Saint Y parish has Good Friday and Saint Z shrine has Holy Saturday. It’s easier to get one than three, but those wishing to hear all three can do so, just with a little bit of e-mailing and communication to spread the word.

  6. Jay says:

    I blogged about this very topic some time ago. The liturgical laws set down by SP have to be seen in light of the current liturgical laws in place for the Ordinary Form as well.

  7. MikeL says:

    My parish is “mixed” – we have TLM every Sunday at 9:30, daily at 7:30, but the OF (in Latin or at least with Latin chant ordinary) is used at other masses. Our pastor does intend to have an EF Triduum, however. Is this considered illicit by the current legislation? I would seriously doubt that my pastor would do anything illicit, by the way, but it seems to me to be at least a “grey” area.

  8. Different says:


    According to SP, it is your pastor’s call. He should decide what is the best for his flock and do it. Many former “indult” parishes have always used both forms. Obviously, for the Triduum they must pick one (or at least one per day) since there can only be one Mass. The pastor is to choose which form.

  9. Maynardus says:

    This is an interesting question and I’m sure we will see a few different approaches – and perhaps a few moments of contention between the “traddies” and the rest of the parishioners in some places. I think a lot will depend upon the degree to which the TLM is currently integrated into the life of a particular parish whether or not it is possible to do some or all of the Triduum in the “Extraordinary Form”

    For instance, three parishes in my orbit (all of which shall remain anonymous at this time) have well-established TLM’s. I know for a fact that none of the three would be considered financially viable without the TLM and so it is generally accepted, even by those parishioners who actually dislike it, as an integral part of those parishes.

    This year each of the three will have at least one of the liturgies of the Triduum in the EF and they will of course be the only liturgy celebrated in that church that day. Thus, many of us who are able to drive a few extra miles will have access to the entire Triduum in the EF. These are tangible fruits of Summorum Pontificum – Deo Gratias!

    I think this is a sensible “brick-by-brick” approach in the circumstances such as I’ve described. I doubt it would work quite as smoothly in a less-mature environment (I am speaking of the modus vivendi which has been established between the traddies and the rest of the parish rather that the emotional maturity of particular individuals!)

  10. totustuusmaria says:

    Sometimes the Pope’s favor is painful. This, I believe, is one such case. It shows the care of the Pope that he took the time to introduce novelty which is currently being interpreted in Rome according to the hermeneutic of rupture, but in so caring, he robbed us of an ancient prayer which was poetically and doctrinally superior to his. He also brought rupture into a Traditionalist group that was rapidly uniting under his leadership. Finally he raised that same question that’s bothered us ever since Pope Pius X’s breviary reforms and Pius XII’s Holy Week reforms: what exactly /is/ the authority that the Pope has over the liturgy.

    There is no turning back the clock. If the Pope were to even allow the older prayer, the Jews would never speak to the Catholic Church again. But as it is, I doubt those who feel unable to accept the new prayer will ever see eye to eye with the Pope. Traditionalism may be fractured forever. One almost feels that a Pope couldn’t have more cleverly sowed the seeds of destruction is he wanted to. The tragedy of this all is that the current Holy Father is friendly toward the older form. He didn’t want to cause us all the pain he has. And I must be obedient to him? When will this ever end? When will I actually be able to possess my patrimony? Nevertheless, long live the Pope.

  11. Christophorus says:

    I’ve posted this before — but it bears repeating:In the Missale Romanum of 1962.
    on Holy Thursday, the second paragraph of the rubrics says that “Where, however, a pastoral reason requires it, the Ordinary of the place may permit one or two read [low] Masses in individual churches or public oratories; in semi-pubic oratories he may permit only one read Mass. The permission may be given in order that all the faithful may be present at the sacrifice of the Mass and receive the Body of Christ on this holy day. These additional masses must be during the hours of the day which the solemn mass is assigned, as noted above.”Also for Good Friday:
    the SRC has allowed multiple ‘services’ if required.Note: There may only be one
    Easter Vigil in a church. The above pastoral provisions do not cover this Mass.

  12. Dove says:

    At our parish, we have had the Indult for many years, but in the past several years we have had an “Apostolic Delegate for the 1962 Missal” and that is a priest from ICK. We have had separate Triduum rites. Separate new fires, Good Friday rites, Easter vigil, and Easter Masses. Separate Pascal candles. Are you now saying that the pastor will make the decision about which rite, the OF or EF will be used this year?

  13. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    A local parish near me has long had two Good Fridays: 1 in English and 1 in Polish, same sanctuary, same day (3 pm and 7 pm).

  14. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I considered this matter very carefully last August. I generally agree with Fr. Zuhlsdorf, but I think that he omits an important consideration. It is true that it is not impossible to schedule a public 1962 Good Friday Service, for example. It must be public and it must be the only liturgy of that kind for that day. However, if even one (or, perhaps, a ‘group’ of three, to be reasonable) of the faithful objects and asks for the Novus Ordo version, it is the N.O. version that must be used. The reason is that the faithful have a right to the normative liturgy of the place. This was clarified in Protocol 1411-99, No. 2, which was subsequently published in the Acta Apostolicæ Sedis: it is because the faithful have a general right to their normative liturgy that even F.S.S.P. priests cannot be barred from using it at the demand of their superiors.

    I would take the matter a bit further. I think that the faithful would also have a right to expect the normative public liturgy of the place. If so, the parish priest would need to give reasonable notice to the faithful that he intended to offer the 1962 Good Friday prayers or Maundy Thursday or Holy Saturday Mass. The law might even require him to put the question to the parish, at least in the bulletin. I don’t imagine that the priest could simply start the ‘extraordinary’ form in a Church without notice, foisting it upon those who have a recognised right of access to the ordinary form in territorial parishes.

    I agree with Fr. Z. that the 1962 version is not impossible, but I think that its licit use would be rare.


  15. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Addendum to my last post.

    I mentioned that, according to Protocol 1411-99, the faithful in territorial parishes have a general right to benefit from the normative liturgy of the place, which is the Novus Ordo. Some may counter that “Summorum Pontificum” gives the faithful a parallel right to benefit from what it calls the ‘extraordinary form’. But this is not so. Read carefully, S.P. does concede a limited right of access to *priests*. (In effect [but not as a legal principle], it extends the 1984 Indult from bishops to priests.)

    But if you read Section 1 of Article 5 carefully, S.P. does not give any laics a general right to benefit from the 1962 liturgy. It does extend them a right to a process whereby they can be assisted. Ultimately, however, there is no duty of the Church to offer the 1962 liturgy. If there are no priests who are willing and able to offer such liturgies, and if the local bishop refuses to assign a priest for petitioners, the P.C.E.D. cannot override the bishop; it can merely assist him to find a priest.

    What is not generally understood (and what I hope the coming clarification will address) is that priests have a right to offer the 1962 liturgy publicly even if no group of faithful asks for this. If you read Section 1 of Article 5 carefully, you will notice that it does not say that the priest may proceed *only* if a group requests it; it says that he is enjoined to proceed if they request it. That is entirely different: the section is *not* restrictive! If you read Article 5 in light of Article 1 (esp. the last para. of Article 1), it is clear that a priest may proceed to offer 1962 liturgies publicly on this own initiative, without there being any requesters for this. However, this right is limited by the various sections of Article 5 of S.P. and by a general right of the faithful of access to the N.O., their normative liturgy.

    Put another way, the right of priests to offer the 1962 liturgy publicly is limited by the right of faithful to benefit from the normative liturgy of the place. There are only so many hours in a day and sacred places in a parish, and two liturgical forms must share them. The normative one takes precedence but cannot, in principle, exclude the other.


  16. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    In response to Christophorus’s important contribution.

    A strict reading of this passage would suggest that any pastoral reason will suffice, even though the reason given is accommodation of too many people to attend any one liturgy. However, note that the priest cannot do this on his own. He must have permission from the local ordinary. And, given the text, many ordinaries will say that they will only allow it to accommodate huge crowds, and not to afford traditionalists a right of access to the 1962 lituriges.

    On the other hand, Christophorus makes a valid point, because some ordinaries may permit more than one Maundy Thursday Mass or Good Friday Service (e.g. Bsp. Bruskewicz). But I rather think that most will not allow a 1962 Good Friday Service because, even with the revisions of 2008, it might involve controversy.


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