Tinker with prayers and you tinker with our Faith.

The excellent Fr. Kirby found some interesting which he posted on his excellent blog Vultus Christi.   Because what he was looking at is in my bailiwick, I represent it here:

The Modification of a Collect

A few days ago, on the feast of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, the holy Curé of Ars, I preached on the splendid Collect of the day as given in the 1962 Missale Romanum:

Omnipotens et misericors Deus,
qui sanctum Joannem Mariam
pastorali studio
et iugi orationis ac paenitentiae ardore
mirabilem efficisti;
da, quaesumus,
ut eius exemplo et intercessione,
animas fratrum lucrari Christo,
et cum eis aeternae gloriam consequi valeamus.

In English, this becomes:

Almighty and merciful God,
who didst make Saint John Mary wonderful
in his pastoral zeal
and constant prayer and penance,
grant, we beseech Thee,
that by his example and intercession,
we may be able to win the souls of our brethren for Christ,
and together with them attain to glory everlasting.

Later in the day, I had occasion to look at the Collect as it appears in the reformed Missale Romanum, Editio Typica Tertia (2008). Here is the text as given there:

Omnipotens et misericors Deus,
qui sanctum Joannem Mariam
pastorali studio
mirabilem efficisti;
da, quaesumus,
ut eius exemplo et intercessione,
fratres in caritate Christo lucremur,
et cum eis aeternae gloriam consequi valeamus.

In the New English Translation, this same Collect will, as far as I know, appear as:

Almighty and merciful God,
who made the Priest Saint John Vianney
wonderful in his pastoral zeal,
grant, we pray,
that through his intercession and example
we may in charity win brothers and sisters for Christ
and attain with them eternal glory.

Constant Prayer and Penance Deleted

The revised prayer of the 1970 Missal retains only one of the three priestly attributes mentioned in the older prayer, that of pastoral zeal. Constant prayer and penance, the two attributes that sustained Saint John Mary Vianney’s pastoral zeal, are deleted from the 1970 version of the prayer. On the other hand, the phrase in caritate was added to the penultimate phrase of the text.  [I am surprised they didn’t add something about St. John liking puppies and sunsets.]

Pastoral Zeal

If one ascribes to the axiom, “Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi” it is clear that this manipulation of the Collect has far reaching consequences for one’s understanding of how the priesthood is to be lived out. [That’s right.  And the effect he is talking about is cumulative.  The identity of the priesthood won’t be undermined by this Collect.  The effect is cumulative.] If what matters is “pastoral zeal” above all else, one risks becoming, and rather quickly, “as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Constant prayer obtains an inpouring of divine charity; penance makes room for it in the heart. Constant prayer and penance are the context of a pastoral zeal that is supernaturally motivated and not a exercise in clerical narcissism.


The post-Conciliar model of the priesthood placed the emphasis on pastoral zeal, while downplaying the importance of constant prayer and penance. [If people don’t sin, why do penance?  Oh, yes.  For structural sin, right?  But then again that would be “protest” not “penance”.] These latter attributes were often dismissed as monastic and, as everyone knows, following the much-quoted worm-eaten old chestnut, “parish priests are not monks!” The difficulty is that pastoral zeal without constant prayer and penance leads to clerical burnout. This is something that I have seen all too often.

The Chicken or the Egg?

I’m left with a question. Did the model of diocesan priesthood change following the liturgical reforms because of the deletions and amendments made to liturgical texts such as the one looked at here? Or were the deletions and amendments to liturgical texts designed to reflect an activistic pastoral vision that had made inroads in the post-war period well before the Second Vatican Council?  [As in the theory of dictionaries… is this Collect descriptive or prescriptive.  The answer is, of course, “Yes.”]

A Revision of the Revised Texts?

I have already suggested elsewhere on Vultus Christi that the New English Translation of the Roman Missal, while a small step in the right direction, is far from being the solution to deeper underlying issues. One must be prudent, lest the popular canonization of the euchological texts in the New English Translation of the Roman Missal, appear to suggest that the said translation, and the Editio Typica from which it was made, are, in some way, flawless vehicles of the continuity of Tradition. Perhaps the Editio Typica Tertia itself needs to be revised and brought into a more generous textual conformity with the 1962 Missale Romanum.

WDTPRS kudos to Fr. Kirby.

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  1. Mike says:

    This reflection bears well on a characteristic of Catholicism, noted, I believe, by Chesterton: the Faith is the “outline of sanity”. That is, a balance of the many-faceted nature of reality. Hence, when philosophical or theological reason is attacked, as it has been for the last three centuries, the Church defends, in our time, human reason (“Veritatis Splendor”); when Faith is hedged in by naturalism, the Church responds with a St. Padre Pio; when Divine Charity is beseiged by sentimentalism, she responds with “Deus Caritas Est”. So, per Fr. Z, pastoral zeal without interior life–prayer and penance–will go the way of the Exxon Valdez.

    All of the above, also, just more reasons for the TLM.

  2. Choirmaster says:

    Perhaps the Editio Typica Tertia itself needs to be revised and brought into a more generous textual conformity with the 1962 Missale Romanum.

    Indeed, such a revision is sorely needed. However, this, to me, is a slippery slope. If, as I read the post, this priest is positing that such things as the collects must be revised for the sake of continuity, at what point have we revised enough to provide for sufficient continuity? It seems to me, mainly because I’m biased, that a better (and more economical) approach to continuity is the restoration (through the “gravitational pull” and organic increase) of the pre-conciliar liturgical forms; supplanting the discontinuity through attrition, until the liturgical landscape of the Latin Church is such that discontinuity (i.e. the Novus Ordo) is visible and identifiable only in isolated instances. This would be a much better, and more fruitful, use of the bureaucratic system.

    Why review, reform, correct when the object seems simply to be to make the Novus Ordo more and more like the 1692 books? Just put time and energy into the continuation and vivification of the 1962 books: new editions, new publications, new saints, current calendars, new scholarship, etc. Maybe even a vernacular edition, if the Latin is really the biggest obstacle (the vernacular Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, I think, is particularly beautiful and in continuity with the Eastern tradition). This is already under way and visible in such apparatus as the PCED. I just think it needs to be cultivated. Tinkering is what brought us to this pass in the first place.

    Use the 1962 books as a point of departure rather than the Novus Ordo and organic development in continuity is much easier and cheaper to obtain.

  3. yatzer says:

    I’m not a priest and never will be, but I certainly see your point. It applies to the laity in some respects as well, I think.

  4. ArtND76 says:

    Unfortunately, many in the laity will have no clue as to what is wrong with the modification of the collect because they will not have the least exposure to the writings of the Saint on which it is supposedly based.

    I consider the office of readings to be a great (but mostly hidden) treasure of the church that could provide that exposure. At least it seems to be hidden from most laity I know. In the second reading of August 4th there is a wonderful lesson by St. Vianney on prayer. For those who meditate on the office of readings the points raised by Fr. Kirby concerning a life of prayer and penance being the basis for true zeal are not lost.

    With that said, it would be better if the collect was indeed a more accurate summary (or collect!) of St. Vianney’s life and views.

  5. Maltese says:

    Also when they tinkered with the Traditional Latin Mass (really, they tried to trash-can it, suppress it, get rid of it, anything to keep people from it; from a source of grace for those people, their parents, most of the great Saints, and generations of believers going back to Apostolic times, but I digress). Of course, how we pray Holy Mass effects what we believe it is. Mass is primarily the Sacrifice of our Lord, only secondarily does it have a community component. Paul VI openly said he wanted to bring the Mass closer to a protestant-style of worship. He got what he wanted. But here’s what we lost: hardly any Catholics view the mass as primarily a Sacrifice. Therefore, most also don’t view the consecrated Host as the true body of Christ.

    Here is a snapshot of the differences in the rites.

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