WDTIRS: Universae Ecclesiae 22: Drilling into the Latin and English (Dioceses without “qualified” priests)

I was sent a question about the Latin of Universae Ecclesiae 22.

Friends, the more I look compare the Latin and the Released English “translation”, the more apparent it is that the Latin is a better, stronger document than the English – as it stands.

Therefore, if you hear someone running down Universae Ecclesiae in some way, or trying to diminish its implications, you may want to look together at the Latin version in order to verify whether there criticism holds up.  Obvious, no?

Here is UE 22:

22 – In Dioecesibus ubi desint sacerdotes idonei, fas est Episcopis dioecesanis iuvamen a sacerdotibus Institutorum a Pontificia Commissione Ecclesia Dei erectorum exposcere, sive ut celebrent, sive ut ipsam artem celebrandi doceant.

22. In Dioceses without qualified priests, Diocesan Bishops can request assistance from priests of the Institutes erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, either to the celebrate the forma extraordinaria or to teach others how to celebrate it.

Exposco is more than simple “ask”.  It has at least the force of posco, which is “to ask for urgently; to beg, demand, request, desire”.  Exposco is “to ask earnestly, to beg, request, to entreat, implore”.

But, back to fas est.   Fas, as a word in Canon Law, isn’t as strong as nefas is in its negative sense.  If nefas really really bad. In Canon Law nefas is applied to things such as selling the Eucharist or relics or violating the Seal of confession.  Nefas is something like “intolerable” or “really-super-bad”.  On the other hand, fas is not “really good” or “praiseworthy”.  It fas isn’t as forceful as a positive as nefas is as a negative.  But, fas est is more than “can”… the bishop can ask help.  Of course, he can ask for help.  That’s obvious, isn’t it?

Would anyone have ever suggested that a bishop can’t ask for help from, say, the FSSP?  Absurd.

So, while fas est episcopis exposcere isn’t “it is a super-dandy thing for bishops to implore”, it is more than “bishops can ask”.

I contacted three canonists about this fas est.  Canonists #1 and #2 aid that it has the implication of something laudable, but without the same force as nefas is a negative. Canonist #3 saw it as merely a way to make the point an obvious point.  I am not using the majority-wins-thing here, particularly because of the esteem with which I hold Canonist #3.

I will go with “an obvious thing for diocesan bishops to do is …”

22. In Dioceses where qualified priests are lacking, an obvious thing for diocesan bishops to do is earnestly to ask assistance from priests of Institutes set up by the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“,  either in order that they celebrate [Extraordinary Form’s rites] or that they teach the art of celebrating (artem celebrandi).

22. In Dioceses without qualified priests, Diocesan Bishops can request assistance from priests of the Institutes erected by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, either to the celebrate the forma extraordinaria or to teach others how to celebrate it.

That ars celebrandi is becoming a term of art, if you’ll pardon the pun.  Ars celebrandi was an important topic of discussion during the 2006 Synod on the Eucharist and then in Benedict XVI’s Post-Synodal Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis.

Let’s look at the section in Sacramentum caritatis.

Ars celebrandi

38. In the course of the Synod, there was frequent insistence on the need to avoid any antithesis between the ars celebrandi, the art of proper celebration, and the full, active and fruitful participation of all the faithful. The primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ars celebrandi is the best way to ensure their actuosa participatio. The ars celebrandi is the fruit of faithful adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness; indeed, for two thousand years this way of celebrating has sustained the faith life of all believers, called to take part in the celebration as the People of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (cf. 1 Pet 2:4-5, 9) (115).

The Bishop, celebrant par excellence


Respect for the liturgical books and the richness of signs



Art at the service of the liturgy


Liturgical song


Moreover, during a Q&A session the Pope once responded to a question from a priest from the Diocese of Albano, Italy.  My emphases and comments.

Q: As priests, we are called to celebrate a “serious, simple and beautiful liturgy,” to use a beautiful formula contained in the document “Communicating the Gospel in a Changing World” by the Italian bishops. Holy Father, can you help us to understand how all this can be expressed in the “ars celebrandi?”

B16: … “(A)rs celebrandi” is not intended as an invitation to some sort of theater or show, but to an interiority that makes itself felt and becomes acceptable and evident to the people taking part. [How many times have I said that once a priest learns to say the older form  of Mass, that experience changes the way he says the newer form.  Also, a good experience of the newer form will impress also on the priest using the older form that there are people out there.  Congregations are over time deeply affected by the priest’s modus, hopefully ars celebrandi.  The greater the number of priests who learn to say the older form, the faster and the deeper liturgical renewal will be implemented in the Church, with the subsequent changes among God’s people and their corners of the world.] Only if they see that this is not an exterior or spectacular “ars” — we are not actors! — but the expression of the journey of our heart that attracts their hearts too, will the liturgy become beautiful, will it become the communion with the Lord of all who are present. Of course, external things must also be associated with this fundamental condition, expressed in St. Benedict’s words: “Mens concordet voci” — the heart is truly raised, uplifted to the Lord. We must learn to say the words properly. [Sounds like UE 20 -b, doesn’t it?]

Sometimes, when I was still a teacher in my country, young people had read the sacred Scriptures. And they read them as one reads the text of a poem one has not understood. Naturally, to learn to say words correctly one must first understand the text with its drama, with its immediacy. It is the same for the Preface and for the Eucharistic Prayer. [Of course the Canon is silent in the Extraordinary Form.  There are, however, many ways to “speak”.]

[…]Thus, the words must be pronounced properly. There must then be an adequate preparation. Altar servers must know what to do; lectors must be truly experienced speakers. Then the choir, the singing, should be rehearsed: And let the altar be properly decorated. All this, even if it is a matter of many practical things, is part of the “ars celebrandi.”

That ars celebrandi in UE suggests to me that there is something the Extraordinary Form can teach the Ordinary Form and vice versa.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Ok, what’s the deal with the translation discrepancies? This isn’t the 1960’s. Today we have things like the Internet, Google Translate, Fr.Z, etc. The average pewsitter has access to Council documents, papal decrees, and our Catholic culture that was hidden from most post-V2 Catholics.

    Check out RealCatholicTV’s Vortex episode entitled The Great Equalizer.

  2. Maltese says:

    “Also, a good experience of the newer form will impress also on the priest using the older form that there are people out there.”

    Father, I agree with you 99% of the time, but I digress with your quote, supra. There is NOTHING that the Novus Ordo can give to the Latin Mass, or Vetus Ordo.

    [And you know this becaaaaaauuuuse…. you have been the priest celebrant of lots of Masses in both the new and the older Rite,… right? o{];¬) ]

  3. Maltese says:

    LOL! Ironically, I am good friends with a priest who, for political reasons, can only say a NO Mass, though he yearns in his heart to say an EF Mass. He feels he is in the “cross-hairs” of his bishop (his words), and might be sent to “Siberia”, so to speak.

    So, father, no, I’m not a priest, but I live vicariously through my priest-friend through these things, and they touch me deeply.

    But you are a light in this dark world! (I mean that sincerely!)

    Good work, Father.

  4. bbmoe says:

    With respect to the “can ask for assistance,” I think “encouraged to seek the assistance of” captures the essence of the phrasing. Tips the scales in favor of asking (like “fas” does) while making the act of asking for help more deliberate (seek vs. ask.)

  5. bbmoe: “encouraged to seek the assistance of” captures the essence of the phrasing

    I believe you may be reading more into fas est than is there. fas est does not have that impact.

  6. Having been ordained over 25 years, and having celebrated Mass on every unimpeded day (e.g. Good Friday) but one, I have celebrated the old rite (Dominican) at least a 1000 times and the new rite (Roman) many more times. And there are things that celebrants, especially new celebrants of the old rite can learn from the new.

    In particular, I have noticed that new celebrants of the Dominican Rite often try to rigidly correlate the gestures (e.g. at the Per Ipsum) with the words because the rubrics insert “make cross,” “pick up host,” etc. into the middle of sentences. The sense of freedom that comes from the new rite (where the gestures made are generally those that come naturally to the priest), gives a sense of personal ownership of the motions. When I urge new celebrants to just know what gestures to make and make them naturally as they read the words, they discover that the whole action is more graceful (and the gestures end up in the right place). Now I learned fluidity of motion from constant practice — and only finally accomplished it when I stopped scrupulous attempts to rigidly follow the rubrics — and then I realized that, had I allowed myself the sense of freedom of the new rite from the beginning, this might have come faster.

    Admittedly, the goal is to celebrate fluidly and elegantly, and to do so as the rubrics indicate. But a “novus ordo” sense of freedom had help a new old rite celebrant to do this more naturally.

    I am sure that there are other examples of times when my celebration of the new rite helped me with the old. (And vice versa.)

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