QUAERUNTUR: Universae Ecclesiae and “Novus Ordo” practices

I had a note from a reader with a list questions.  It is a brief list, without any rambling, so I won’t ramble either.

First, UE 28 is the (soon-to-be infamous) paragraph with the derogation of liturgical practices that came into use after 1962 which conflict with the rubrics of the books in use in 1962.  That means that, if there is a conflict, the 1962 rubrics and practices are to be followed, not the more modern practices.

So,.. to the questions.

1. May communion be distributed under both species?  [I don’t think so.  This was permitted after 1962.]
2. May extraordinary ministers of holy communion be used? [No.]
3. May one receive communion standing, or must one kneel? How about communion in the hand? [Standing, yes, if you cannot kneel. In the hand, no.  That was a modern indult.  However, the may be the issue of force of custom.  I suspect this will be clarified. This gets into the messy question of “rights”.  I don’t think people have the “right” to receive in the hand now, but there is a privilege that must be respected, for the Ordinary Form.  Extraordinary?  I don’t think so.]
4. May lay persons (esp. lay women) proclaim the scriptures? [No.  But there may be, I think, a commentator, but outside the sanctuary.  The “straw subdeacon” singing the Epistle is at issue here also. So, there was a situation in which a layperson proclaimed Scripture in 1962.]
5. May girls also assist at the altar? (I note that the Vatican spokesperson simply sidestepped that question by saying that this document does not address the issue). [No.  That came by law after 1983 and is in conflict with the 1962 books.  The 1962 rubrics is undoubtedly male.  The utriusque sexus” came much later.]
6. Since “permanent” deacons did not exist in 1962, do they have any role in the EF? [Permanent deacons are deacons.  Of course they have a role: deacon.]
7. Which eucharistic fast ought to be observed? [I don’t believe there is a rubric for the faithful in the 1962 books.  There is for priests celebrating more than once a day.  The fast is covered in the Code of Canon Law.]
8. Is concelebration allowed? [Only at ordinations to the priesthood, as described in the rubrics.  Otherwise, NO!]
9. What liturgical items must be used? [?!? Those described in the books.  But, can you not use certain vestments?  If the altar is not consecrated, must you have a Greek corporal?  Rubrics say you kiss the relics.  So… we’ll see.]
10. For the triduum, must the Good Friday intercessions (especially the intercession for the Jewish people) be used? [Of course they must be.  They are in the book.  Say the Black – Do The Red.]

I would add that par. 28 also would imply that priests may not opt out of using prescribed vestments.  It would also have implications for what music can be used or substituted.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Adam Michael says:

    Regarding Question 10 – Does this mean we can use the 1962 Prayer for the Jews instead of Pope Benedict XVI’s new composition? [Of course not! Benedict XVI made a change to the 1962 Missal itself. The newer prayer is an integral part of that Missal. The newer prayer must be used.]

  2. RobertK says:

    I have a couple of questions
    !. In regards to Breviarium Romanum. “Summorum Pontificum gives clerics the faculty to use the Breviarum Romanum in effedt in 1962, which is to be prayed entirely and in the Latin language.”
    What if used by the faithful, in replacement of the LOTH. Can the Breviarum Romanum be prayed in vernacular. What if the faithful gather together without a priest, can it be prayed in vernacular, if no one understands or can speak Latin good enough.
    2. In regards to 19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the R
    Roman Pontiff etcc”.
    Will this also apply to the faithful of the forma ordinaria. They as well must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma extraordinaria.
    3. In regards to 34. The use of the liturgical books proper to the Religious Orders which were in effect in 1962 is permitted.
    Will this allow say a Franciscan OFM. To privately or publicly to use the liturgical books of their Order in 1962, or will they need permission from their superiors.
    4. Will this document apply to the Ambrosian Rite. And what if the Ordianriates wish to use the Sarum Rite?. Will this document apply to these circumstances. Or will another document have to address these issues.

    So far I am pleased with this document.

  3. Alan Aversa says:

    I noticed Universæ Ecclesiæ mentions the Sacrament of Confirmation (§29), but what about Matrimony? Suppose one wants to get married outside his home parish at a church that permits Ordinary Form weddings for non-parishioners. Could the pastor of that church legitimately forbid a wedding in the Extraordinary Form (EF) from occurring in his church? My wife and I faced this problem when we were looking for a church in which to marry because our EF parish did not have its own church yet. This is an exceptional and probably rare situation, so I doubt Universæ Ecclesiæ can help at all in this case, but I thought I’d ask to be sure. Thanks

  4. For now, I can’t just let this be a massive basket of questions and everyone speculating. It will seem get out of hand. I’ll close this and take questions through email.

  5. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Given this line of reasoning, I imagine that an Instituted Lector & Acolyte would function as a “straw” Subdeacon.

  6. Centristian says:

    “2. In regards to 19. The faithful who ask for the celebration of the forma extraordinaria must not in any way support or belong to groups which show themselves to be against the validity or legitimacy of the Holy Mass or the Sacraments celebrated in the forma ordinaria or against the R
    Roman Pontiff etcc”.

    Will this also apply to the faithful of the forma ordinaria?”

    Yeah, I think they may have opened a can of worms with that one. It just seems so unnecessary, to me, to include that. I get what they’re saying. Essentially, “no, Rev. John Smith, SSPX (or Church of El Palmar, or Society of St. Pius V, or whatever), you and your congregation of 75 people cannot use the local parish church instead of the hotel room you rent every Sunday and, having no legal standing within the Church, just make yourselves at home and make your celebration a part of the weekly Sunday schedule of the parish, where you can preach against the Pope, the new Mass, the Jews, women who wear pants, television, &c.”

    I think it’s unnecessary to say that, however, because I just can’t envision such congregations ever applying to a local Catholic parish for such accomodation, anymore than, say, a group of Evangelicals might appeal to insert a weekly Sunday praise service into the schedule of their nearby Catholic parish. Why on earth would they?

    Really, it’s stating the obvious to point out that this legislation applies to Roman Catholics in good standing, only, and not to people who pay no attention to the authority of the lawgiver (sedevacantists, Protestants, Buddhists, cartoon characters, &c). Duh.

    As far as people on the other side of the spectrum who deny the validity of the Mass and the authority of the Holy Father, there aren’t any such people requesting the ordinary form of Mass (or attending it, I imagine). They don’t have to ask for it, it is everywhere available. So, no, this doesn’t have anything to do with leftists who don’t believe, only separatist groups who might be tempted to use SP to cause trouble in a mainstream Catholic parish…which, again, I just can’t conceive of.

  7. pseudomodo says:

    Since Vatican II allowed the vernacular in the extraordinary form can we still have an EF mass these days in the vernacular or must it be as per 1962 in latin only?

  8. Centristian says:

    “For now, I can’t just let this be a massive basket of questions and everyone speculating. It will seem get out of hand. I’ll close this and take questions through email.”

    My apolgies, Father Z; you posted that while I was composing my comment, thus I didn’t see it before I posted it.

  9. Papabile says:

    Unless I am mistaken, I thought no particular rubric instructed people to kneel for the reception of Communion, particularly because there was no “Communion rite” in the Mass until 1962…. it was just an interpolation of Communion outside the Mass placed into it. It was simply immemorial custom.

    My understanding was that the kneeling came from the rubric which mandated the Deacon and Subdeacon kneel at the predella for reception of the Eucharist, where of course the other clerics/altar boysers followed suit, and then the people followed suit.

  10. Legisperitus says:

    Whoops! At first I thought it said “a modern insult”!

  11. dcs says:

    If the altar is not consecrated, must you have a Greek corporal?

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that the priests on the Paris-Chartres pilgrimage used portable altar stones rather than the Greek corporal. One would imagine that there are rules for this floating around somewhere, since outdoor shrines and temporary altars are nothing new.

  12. anilwang says:

    I’m disappointed with how RomeReports presents Universae Ecclesiae:

    The words “it is difficult” are echoed throughout the report as to why TLM can’t be celebrated and the statements that current priests don’t know Latin (since it’s not taught!) and “if you haven’t done it in a while, you’ll forget” seems to ignore the allowance that “you’ve done TLM at least once” in Universae Ecclesiae. There are more excuses than actual reporting on Universae Ecclesiae. It also repeats the misconception that “the priest is turning is back on the people”.

    RomeReports is anything but liberal, but they downplay Universae Ecclesiae this much, I don’t see how bishops who are hostile to Summorum Pontificum will do anything different now that Universae Ecclesiae is out .

  13. “Given this line of reasoning, I imagine that an Instituted Lector & Acolyte would function as a ‘straw’ Subdeacon.”

    Fortescue says that a “straw” subdeacon must be at least a tonsured male. Reid edits later editions of the Ceremonial to equivocate a seminarian who has reached “Admission to Candidacy,” which could be considered the post-conciliar equivalent of tonsure. Until the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum (and even in the years before the Council), straw subdeacons who did not even have tonsure were not unheard of.

    A question has also arisen as to whether an Instituted Acolyte could serve as a full Subdeacon, given that a conference of bishops is authorized to refer to them in that way. I believe that has yet to be settled.

  14. Michael J. says:

    Yes, Father, but so did the Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI that ended Tonsure, the Minor Orders, and the Subdiaconate. That was also after 1962, but no Seminaries or Seminarians other than those few like the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter will be permitted to have them or ordinations in the Old Rite. Completely contradictory.

  15. canon1753 says:

    I think one of the keys to answering these questions is whether it pertains directly to the celebration of the Sacred Rites. I think this would mean that an instituted acolyte could take the part of the subdeacon. (I had a friend in seminary who did this in the EF back in the late 90’s).

    Fasting is a disciplinary matter not a matter of the Sacred Rites, so I would think it would be the hour’s fast before communion (83CIC 919.1).

    It should be interesting. It is a good time to be a seminarian, I suspect. I think it will be interesting to see if the option of the EF is taken up more. As we go along, I suspect so. I also think it was good that UE clarified what “proficient” means…..

  16. O dear…not the “straw” subdeacon discussion AGAIN….

    And by the way, what a dreadful term “straw subdeacon”.

    The Congregation of Sacred Rites in several decisions, made it clear that a tonsured cleric may act as a subdeacon, in the absence of a priest, deacon or subdeacon. THERE NEVER WAS any permission for the layman in the pews to act as a subdeacon in place of a priest, deacon or subdeacon.

    In 1992, that situation changed. Following a dubium sent to the Ecclesia Dei Commission (read it here: http://saintbedestudio.blogspot.com/2007/03/clarification-on-ecclesia-dei.html) about men who had been given the Office or Ministry of Lector or Acolyte, the Commission made the following, still binding decision:

    In short, an acolyte, being either a man preparing for Holy Orders, or simply a man who had been instituted in this office for ministry in local Parish, may act as a substitute for a subdeacon. This decision makes it very clear that a layman who has NOT received the Office of Acolyte has no permission to act as a subdeacon.

    This decision will continue to apply until it is superseded by another decision of the Ecclesia Dei Commission.

  17. Jitpring says:

    Anilwant, RomeReports is of Opus Dei. Opus Dei supports Vatican II. Opus Dei is also, of course, among John Paul II’s strongest supporters. I’m surprised then that you’d call RomeReports “anything but liberal.” Read Iota Unum.

  18. Michael J. says:

    If your church offers the E.O. Form for the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord on Thursday, but the Bishops delay it till the following Sunday, if you do not attend the E.O. Form on Thursday but attend the E.O. form on Sunday, but it is no for the Feast of the Ascension, did you attend Mass for the Feast of the Ascension?

  19. Michael J. says:

    Also, we really need some change in the Tonsure, Minor Orders, and the Subdiaconate. Sure, it bothers me that they are not considered clerics until they are Deacons, but not to bring them back into some form in the Church is a problem. And, one cannot compare Instituted Acolytes and Instituted Lectors, with the Minor Orders.

  20. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Argh! Don’t you hate it that even Rome Reports perpetuates the fallacy that versus populum celebration and vernacular are intrinsic elements of the Mass of Paul VI?

    I mean, why are people getting it wrong? I think the perpetuation of this myth is the reason why Latin Novus Ordos celebrated ad orientem are as rare as hen’s teeth (I myself have NEVER witnessed one).

  21. Andy Milam says:


    I’ve seen Fr. Z celebrate the Novus Ordo in the fashion you describe many, many times. I’ve actually served for him. It is a beautiful thing when done correctly. The problem is that is is exceedingly rare to assist at Mass in that manner.

    As for getting it wrong…there is an overwhelmingly large group inside the Church who perpetuates the error of Bugnini and his Consilium. They promote the re-imaging of the Church in the manner that was described in the Ottaviani Intervention. Even those who are seemingly orthodox will fall into this fallacy. The Mass is doctrinal. The aspects of the Mass speak to the doctrines of the Church and assist in the proper transmission of said doctrine. It falls upon the laity as well as the clergy to demand that the Mass be celebrated properly. If you know, speak to it. If you don’t, learn…then speak to it. But speak to it.

    That is what Monsignor Schuler taught those (us) who would listen….one of the first was Fr. Z. He is passing along this legacy. Create a new call to action…one which calls for orthodoxy. As laity (and as clergy) we have the right to have Mass celebrated properly. What we have in 98% of Catholic churches is not proper. Speak up. If they won’t listen, yell. If they still won’t listen, shake the dust from your boots and find a place that does…the younger priests are coming around.

    My opinion is that if the Novus Ordo cannot be celebrated properly, I won’t go. I’ll find the nearest TLM and I will go there…bottom line. Even the most orthodox priests refuse to stand for what is proper and deigned by Vatican II….why should we stick around for it…the TLM is now not bound by any of Vatican II’s stickiness, from a liturgical point of view….I would rather go to a place that flows from the continuity of the Church (the TLM), than go to a place which does not (98% of NO). That is my opinion, that is my stand. If we keep throwing snowballs (the NO) at a brick wall, nothing will happen, but if we walk away and get a bulldozer (the TLM), the wall won’t stand…and the glory of the Church will shine through….

  22. Henry Edwards says:

    Andy: Even the most orthodox priests refuse to stand for what is proper and deigned by Vatican II

    In recent years, I have yet to see an OF Mass celebrated improperly by a young priest who has learned to celebrate the EF Mass. Which I think is pertinent to Benedict’s intent with SP (as I understand it)–as much to salvage the OF as to preserve the EF.

  23. chironomo says:


    But an interesting twist on the question you posed way above about UE #19 applying to the OF. You seem to have missed the boat, or at least stepped into the water instead! The interesting question is, of course, why does the principle stated in #19 not apply universally….should priests be allowed to say Mass in a parish if they deny the validity of the Mass using the 1962 books? There are plenty of such priests out and about, and #19 is about the acceptance of the principle of “One Rite- Two Forms”. Just as one doesn’t want an SSPX priest going off about the illegitimacy of the Novus Ordo, should that not also apply to priests who rail against the validity of the Tridentine Mass? Given the numbers, I would say there are probably more of those … and Bishops to boot!

  24. EWTN Rocks says:

    Henry Edwards – I agree with your comment. I hope that introduction of the revised translation provides opportunity for priests who have learned to celebrate the EF Mass to say more of the OF Mass in Latin (if possible), and correct (in a pastoral way) obvious abuses by the laity. I believe these changes would go a long way in salvaging the OF Mass.

    I’m eager to attend my first EF Mass but still have to convince the individual who accompanies me to OF Mass (he is resistant to change and has heard that the EF Mass is a 3 hour time commitment). I think I’ll get there eventually through persuasion based on what I’m learning by reading posts on this blog.

  25. Henry Edwards says:

    the EF Mass is a 3 hour time commitment???

    It depends upon whether you count travel time, but the Sunday EF high Mass I attend is itself more like 1 hr 15 min–with all the bells and time for smells for everything chanted, with sermon of fair length. I’ve never attended a normal high Mass that lasted more than an hour and a half.

  26. EWTN Rocks says:

    Thanks Henry – that’s really helpful info. I believe my church mate’s misconception is based on misinformation from individuals who attended EF High Mass in the 1960s, and who probably have poor recollection.

  27. Michael J. says:

    It is a sad situation if the Holy Father needs the E.F. to, “salvage”, the O.F. Straw Sub-deacons existed before the O.F. came into being. I think that it is not a normal situation, but there will be no more Tonsured men who have received a Minor Order, because only men from the Traditional Socities will be permitted to receive them, but they will not be considered Clerics until they are ordained Deacons. So, I see fewer and fewer Solemn High Masses. This is a big issue, and we should not let it go so lightly. The Tonsure, Minor Orders, and the Sub-deacon were eliminated after 1962, as the Motu Proprio of Pope Paul VI, Ministeria quaedam, did not come into effect until 1972, a full ten years later. So why would it have any effect on the Extraordinary Form? It should be as moot as Communion in the Hand, but somehow it has the rule of law. Also, I think the Code of Canon Law if effect in 1962 should be followed in the E.F., but obviously it is not, the Code of 1983 rules. We also need Bishops who offer the Latin Mass on a regular basis to ordain the traditional seminarians. And they need to use the Pontificals, gloves, sandals, etc. Because if seminarians who are being ordained to offer the Ordinary Form usually cannot be ordained in the Extraordinary Form, why should Bishops who usually offer the Ordinary Form do the Ordaining? Sorry, I am loyal to the Pope and the Holy See, just very disappointed by the new document.

  28. PaterAugustinus says:

    Greek corporal? Since you mention this in connection with relics, I imagine this refers to an antimension? This is a cloth spread out over the altar (hence, anti-mension) with a depiction of our Lord’s entombment. Sewn inside of this cloth, are relics of the saints. The antimension indicates that the priest has the blessing of his bishop to celebrate Mass (i.e., the Divine Liturgy), and one ought not to say Liturgy without it. There are some rubrics associated with the Antimension and how it is used during the Divine Liturgy.

    Do some Roman Catholics actually use such a thing? In the Latin Rite? I’d be very interested in any information about its usage in the Latin Rite, especially since I was under the impression that the West used altaria portatilia for such a purpose.

    As regards straw subdeacons and the proper servers… this is another of those places where I think Catholicism gilds the lily too much and is far too focused on what is “legal.” In the Orthodox Church, pretty much any male (who knows what he’s doing) can be called upon to come up to the altar or to read the epistle if there is need. I’ve never seen liturgical abuses result from this (with the one exception of some laymen who may be too nervous to chant the epistle, and so read it – no big deal). I know that Catholicism is dealing with a bunch of “rule-breakers” right now, but surely there can be some sense amongst the devout Roman Catholics, that pious lay servers can be called upon to perform those functions not reserved to Holy Orders, without any real worry of abuse or impiety. In large temples and monasteries, of course a full compliment of proper ministers is greatly to be desired. But, is there some reason why we should illegalize the very old and widespread Christian habit of being content with – and even glad of – the participation of the community’s pious men and youths in the general service of the altar… whether they are formally tonsured, or not? I can’t tell you how many non-tonsured men continue to serve as subdeacons and lectors and acolytes and thurifers, etc., in Orthodoxy – I suppose that Catholicism may need to resist the practice for the moment, while there is some strange fixation of “lay participation” to the exclusion of clerics from their proper place… but, in essence, this common and ancient practice hardly needs to be considered objectionable.

  29. Andy Milam says:

    @Henry Edwards;


    You state, “In recent years, I have yet to see an OF Mass celebrated improperly by a young priest who has learned to celebrate the EF Mass. Which I think is pertinent to Benedict’s intent with SP (as I understand it)–as much to salvage the OF as to preserve the EF.”

    So the young priests you are hearing Mass from are celebrating Mass in Latin. They are celebrating Mass ad orientem. They are using Gregorian Chant and not hymnody. Those who are accompanying the Masses are using the properly designated instrumentation ONLY. All of the innovations which are “mainstream” today are fabrications stemming from the Consilium, not organic growth from Vatican Council II.

    I will pass thank you very much. Since the TLM stands equal with the Novus Ordo, I will avoid the former at all costs, until such time as it is brought into proper continuity with the intentions of the Council Fathers. I will assist at the TLM which is my perogative and I will support the TLM, which is my perogative.

    If we are to take Vatican Council II seriously, then we should follow the precepts of what the Council Fathers wanted. The Novus Ordo as we have it ain’t it. That is proven by the Synod of Bishops in 1967 not supporting the Consilium, yet we get what the Council Fathers would not ratify.

    I choose the TLM.

  30. Henry Edwards says:


    Your comment @4:54 pm begins by quoting me, but your subsequent remarks do not seem to pertain to what I said, so I at a loss, particularly when you say “Since the TLM stands equal with the Novus Ordo, I will avoid the former at all costs”. I would have guessed that you, like me, were partial to the TLM.

    At any rate, all I meant to say was that the experience of learning the EF had wonderfully affected the OF Masses they celebrated, and then suggested that this was undoubtedly Pope Benedict’s intent. Since it is plainly his objective (perhaps among others) to reform the OF by preserving the EF.

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