What to do with obsolete ICEL Missals – “Sacramentaries”

People have been asking what to do with obsolete editions of the lame-duck Sacramentary. I have made some suggestions in the past.

The Canadian Bishops gave their own suggestion.

For real.

De-commissioning the Sacramentary

1. After the Prayer after Communion, the Priest pauses for a moment of silence and then reminds the faithful of the many events this book has been a part of in these or similar words:

Dear Friends in Christ; today is the last (Sun)day in which this Sacramentary will be used. It has served our community well for many years: it has been present at baptisms, funerals, marriages, and above all at the countless Masses that have been prayed in this church. We pause to give thanks for all that God has done by means of the words contained in this book, and trust that God will continue to bless us in the years ahead.

All pray silently for a time. Then the Priest, with hands outstretched says:

Father of light and wisdom,
We praise you for your gifts:
for giving us the power to see
and the ability to write and read
and to use the arts of printing.

Bless + this book as it is taken out of service
and grant that all who have used it or heard its words
may grow in wisdom and grace
before you and all your people.

Father, we praise you through Jesus Christ your Son
in the love of your Holy Spirit,
now and always and for ever.

All: Amen.

2. The Mass continues in the usual way with the Final Blessing. After the Dismissal, the Deacon, or in his absence the Priest closes the book for the final time, saying:

For everything there is a season.
At the closing of this book,
we look to the opening of a new season of grace.

3. The Sacramentary is carried out in the procession by a server or other appropriate minister.

4. The Sacramentary is then reserved in the sacristy, a parish library or museum, or disposed of in a dignified manner.

Well… Say The Black and Do The Red, I suppose.

Look.  It is clear that they want to give people a sense that the book used is worthy of some respect.  Right?

By the way, there are no indications here for the music to be used.

In honor of this moment, I urge you to buy lots of WDTPRS coffee mugs.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. smad0142 says:

    Kudos to the Canuicks, I think this is a great idea.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Wow! I guess we Catholics do have a ritual for everything, but I guess this will be a one-time-only thing. The Holy See should officially translate this into Latin and insert it into the Rituale Romanum!

  3. jesusthroughmary says:

    They must have had an example in the worthy and dignified manner in which the Missale Romanum of 1962 was retired from use on Advent Sunday 1970.

  4. rollo1 says:

    Yeah, they probably didn’t have that ceremony in 1970. It looks like they are sad that the modernist ICEL book is finally gone.

  5. Oleg-Michael says:

    How touching. Was there anything like that when they were “disposing” of the traditional Missals back in 1970?

  6. Seamas O Dalaigh says:


    Very droll. Seriously though, it should be preserved with the utmost care and diligence. A few generations from now nobody is going to believe what we had to put up with.

    James Daly

  7. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    I assume the Canadian bishops are having some fun with the nature of much of the Sacramentary’s actual texts, especially those revoltingly patronizing ones that often open, “Dear Friends in Christ…” and proceed in full ICEL Schoolmarm fashion to presume to tell us who we are, where we’ve been, and where we’d like to go, without failing to notify us of the most obvious facts in the most banal fashion possible.

    Of course we should treat liturgical books with respect. But this “ritual” might just win the prize for most insipid liturgical “rite” ever composed. It’s nauseating.

  8. Volanges says:

    I’m kind of hoping they’ll let me take it for my collection of obsolete documents. I hate not having references when I’m in a ‘discussion’. ;o)

    No, really, if the parish hadn’t kept an unusable American Sacramentary I’d never have found out that Canadians had something that Americans didn’t: a different introduction to each of the responses at the Mysterium Fidei.

  9. Notice that this ritual involves an actual blessing of an object, rather than of the people who use the object.

  10. Tim Ferguson says:

    Have the Canadian bishops published the Latin editio typica of that ritual?

  11. Volanges says:

    I find it strange that they call for blessing a book just prior to disposal and one which should have been blessed before it came into use.

  12. amenamen says:

    @ Jeffrey Pinyan: “Notice that this ritual involves an actual blessing of an object, rather than of the people who use the object.”

    The “de-commissioning” ritual is so long and so silly, I did not notice this peculiarity at first, but the ritual really does contain an actual blessing :

    “Bless + this book as it is taken out of service …”

    I wonder if this is a complete novelty in Church history, or if there has ever been a “blessing” for an object, after its last usage, rather than before being used. (Funerals, maybe?). Are last year’s Palms blessed before being burned? Is a bishop blessed at his retirement?

    It is particularly interesting that those who designed this ritual did not follow the pattern of the Book of Blessing, which almost always omits the Sign of the Cross (+).

  13. Andrew says:

    Tim Ferguson:
    Have the Canadian bishops published the Latin editio typica of that ritual?

    Yes: the editio typica reads as follows (notice that the English translation does not follow the Latin text literally):

    Pater luminum, scimus in Evangelio Dominum praedicasse, quod in fine mundi, quando juxta Prophetam Zachariam, stultus pastor esse coeperit, sapientia decrescente, refrigescet caritas multorum. Miserere igitur nostri, et da nobis magistros non disertos, sed fortes.

  14. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Why not just have each parish/monastery/cathedral/faith community do the same thing that was done in late 1969 to its various copies of the Missale Romanum?

  15. I wonder whether all this strikes anyone else as just plain silly and ridiculous. Not that I think obsolete “sacramentaries” should necessarily be tossed unceremoniously into the dumpster out back (as my memory of 1969 interprets Mr. Dippio’s reference.)

  16. As emotionally satisfying as a bonfire and smores might be, this is a better idea. After all, as bad as the translation is, this is still a ritual for celebrating the Holy Sacrifice.

  17. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Just put the book in a cabinet on a shelf in the sacristy. No reason to have a truly insipid paraliturgy about the whole matter. The Canadian “liturgical” text has all the worst characteristics of modern “liturgy,” including the gratuitous congratulatory note about how the book “has served us well” (liturgy shouldn’t contain falsehoods). It’s all so unremittingly didactic and, ultimately, a love letter from the community to itself. It might as well open with “Father, we know the sky is blue, but we feel the need to state the obvious. “

  18. Ed the Roman says:

    Some, I’m sure, will think using the blessing of incense would be best

    [“Ab illo benedicaris in cuius honore cremaberis. Amen.” ]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  19. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Too much.

    It feeds into the excess drama about this.

    A copy of the outgoing missal should be kept in the parish archives, wherever they may be, and the rest should be disposed of reverently.

    On the other hand, I do intend to bless the new missals, the weekend before we begin using them, at all Masses.

  20. Jeremiah says:

    Would it be appropriate to save it for burning with this year’s palms for the ashes for Ash Wednesday? After all, its reign has been like a penitential wandering in the desert of “Dynamic Interpretation.”

  21. capebretoner says:

    From the website of the Diocese of Antigonish (Diocesan Office of Worship):

    “If you want to see the changes in some of the prayers at Mass, according to the upcoming Revised Roman Missa: see: Good News Ministry – the ‘red’ text on the left denotes the changes; the reasoning for the changes do not necessarily reflect the views of the Diocese of Antigonish. “

  22. j says:

    or they could recycle pre-existing prayers for the users of the lame-duck ICEL

    hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness.

    comes to mind.

  23. IIRC, there have actually been “funeral rituals” for blessed things like books and bells, in the Church’s past, and things like making a “coffin” to hold books before you bury them in consecrated ground. (Probably to make it a little less psychologically stressful to get rid of books.) So it’s not a silly idea, whatever the execution.

  24. DominiSumus says:

    I don’t like this ceremony. It feels too much like a funeral and the blessing of a book that is going to be disposed of is ludicrous. It seems that the book would have already been blessed or at least blessed through its use should not be blessed again, and particularly not just prior to its disposal.

    Sounds like a ceremony invented by some liturgist who is going to go into mourning over the loss of his beloved Editio Typica Altera.

  25. James Kabala says:

    I am a bit confused by this whole series of posts. The book is merely out of date, not in poor physical condition, so I see no need to burn or bury or dispose of it in any kind of dramatic fashion. Just put it on a bookshelf in the rectory.

  26. I think I may finally have gotten the drift of this:

    This is not a Requiem for the lame-duck missal, but a Celebration of its Life.

  27. wgaertner says:

    If any of you have seen the ghastly binding done on Canadian sacramentaries you would know why they need to be disposed of.

    I am uncertain though, if this “ritual” is obligatory.

  28. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Alright, as a Young Canadian I gotta speak up. My opinion on the matter:
    Pros: At least they are suggesting blessing the new missal.
    Cons: The non prayer bits. That stuff is the summation of Lame Duck ICEL at its best. For the most part, bullocks.

    If I were a priest, here’s what I would do:
    1. Unless I have no choice but to abide by the rubrics, skip section 1. Pure fluff at its best.
    2. Say the prayer in step 1, and bless AND INCENSE the 3rd ed Missale Romanum.
    3. Screw step 2. This is a Mass, Not a Byrds concert. It’s to reminiscent of “Turn, Turn, Turn.”
    4. Give the sacramentary to the 4th server (if there are more than 3) or a lector, or carry the book out myself. Then do steps 3 and 4.

    APX, my fellow young Canadian, what do you think of our CCCB’s instructions? Opinions? Thoughts? Other commentary?

  29. Volanges says:

    Young Canadian RC Male
    Hey, the Byrds took it from the Old Testament, not vice-versa. It’s Ecclesiastes 3:1 and from one of the OT readings for Catholic funerals.

  30. pcstokell says:

    If diocesan worship offices got clever, they could just collect them from parishes, missions, clergy, etc. as some collect old phone books. Perhaps even swap them out with the oils after the next Chrism Mass. Once a diocesan archivist pulls the best copies for research/historical purposes, what’s left could be decommissioned by Catholic Cemeteries in a prayer service, perhaps using an open pit and a specially commissioned chipper/shredder. They could use a Marian antiphon, much like that play with the nuns during the French Revolution (Salve Regina… VRRRRRRRRM! Mater Misericordiae… VRRRRRRRRM!).

  31. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    Hmmm, really Volanges? Kay I just cracked open my Ignatius Catholic Bible RSV-CE to that passage, and yes you are right. Well then I amend my point 3 to this: If I have to say it, I will say the full like of Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” and then the two lines after it. At least it is the full line of scripture and people will be more likely to see that as it is, versus singing “Turn x 3” in their heads. Otherwize I’d still cut it out.

  32. chloesmom says:

    This ritual sounds just like the sort of thing that would happen in my parish. It’s a charter member of the Church of Aren’t We Fabulous. Yecch. And there has still not been one word about the new translation. It will be interesting to see if they will actually use it. Wouldn’t be surprised if they just ignored it, as they do everything else that comes from Rome.

  33. Bryan Boyle says:

    I’m with more than a few posters here…does EVERYTHING in the OF bunker have to have some treacly ceremony attached to it? I mean, really…retiring a missal? I would think, over the course of the life of this book, that it’s been roundly ignored in practice far more than it’s been faithfully adhered to by most (and I know I’m using a brush about the width of Montana here…), so, now, we have the crocodile tears and fawning over something they ignored for the most part in the first place?

    Sheesh. Take it off the altar after all the Masses, place it in the sacristy library (right next to the 1st and 2nd typical editions and the 1962 Missal that is still back there..unwrap the new one, put it on the stand…

  34. BobP says:

    You never know, the “Lame Duck Translation” might be a Jeopardy category someday. Then you might not be knocking it.

  35. Volanges says:

    chloesmom, are you in Canada? The decrees were published on the CCCB website on Aug. 22 and I stumbled upon them on Sunday, after some deep digging. Today they showed up on the main page. The decrees are dated July 15 for the one on the implementation of the GIRM and August 15 for the one on the publication of the Roman Missal. I can only assume that they were released to the dioceses on those dates, but who knows?

    The new translation and the new GIRM with its adaptations will be implemented on the 27th of November and on that date the English translation of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, published by the CCCB, will become the only English translation and version of the Roman Missal approved for use in Canada.

  36. vivaldi says:

    Perhaps there could be a trade-in service. Lame duck Missals in return for a 1962 Missale Romanum.

  37. vivaldi says:

    I meant to say 1962 Missale Romanum in return for lame duck Missal!

  38. Navarricano says:

    While they’re busy with this funerary ritual, I hope somebody remembers to put a stake through the darned thing’s heart before they bury it …

  39. Papabile says:

    @capebretoner You reference the Diocese of Antigonish’s statement: “If you want to see the changes in some of the prayers at Mass, according to the upcoming Revised Roman Missa: see: Good News Ministry – the ‘red’ text on the left denotes the changes; the reasoning for the changes do not necessarily reflect the views of the Diocese of Antigonish. “

    However, when one links through to the page, the reasoning this refers to is actually quite flawed.


    “The meaning: Throughout the Mass, whenever the priest greets the people with “The Lord be with you,” the people respond with a greeting that is less like the “hello” of the familiar “and also with you”. By saying “and with your spirit,” we acknowledge the spiritual nature of Christian community. We are entering a sacramental realm in unity with the priest.”

    This reasoning is actually quite objectionable as the translation actually recognizings the ontological change effectuated by Holy Orders. In light of that, and knowing nothing of the Diocese, it may well have been a good warning.

  40. capebretoner says:

    @Papabile: Thank you for that. I pray that it was a good warning as you suggest.

  41. laud1645 says:

    Perhaps an adaption of the Venite might be more fitting…

    Forty years long was I grieved with this translation and said:
    It is a translation that doth err in it’s heart for it has not known my ways.

  42. Sliwka says:

    Young Canadian RC MAle, I can see this sadly being used at a couple aprishes I frequent.

    On a side note, when I read: “We pause to give thanks for all that God has done by means of the words contained in this book, and trust that God will continue to bless us in the years ahead” I almost got the sense that there is some doubt that the new Missal will bless future generations of Catholics. Sure anything is possible, but they could have at least sounded a bit more excited.

  43. Volanges says:

    Sliwka, for that you have to go look for the Blessing of the Roman Missal and Advent Wreathe.


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