ASK FATHER: Can the pre-1955 Holy Week Rites be used?

From a reader…


Is there a specific rule banning the use of the pre-55 holy week rites, and really the pre-55 missal as a whole? Or may a priest use it if he desires?

Some say, and with good reason, that the pre-1955 rites were richer and reflected a more organic development of liturgy than the edited and revised version imposed by Pius XII.  Others say that the imposition of the 1955 rites, which were plugged into the 1962 typical edition of the Missale Romanum, were a trial run for what the Consilium would do to the Roman Rite in the name of the Council.

The legislation that guides the use of the Extraordinary Form says that the 1962 typical edition of the Missale Romanum can be used.  1962, not pre-1955.

I have heard of claims of permissions to use the pre-1955 Holy Week rite, but I don’t believe that any permissions have ever been given by legitimate authority.

I think that, unless the the people who want to use the pre-1955 rites can show documentation that they have permission from legitimate authority, they should just use them and stop claiming that they have permission.  Just let it roll! Man up! Be willing to take the consequences if there are any.  Pecca fortiter and all that.


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  1. Nathan says:

    I imagine a difficulty might be (although as a layman this is way way out of my league) in selective application of the pre-1955 rites. Would it be “cherry picking” if one used the ceremonies of the pre-1955 rites and used the temporal sequence of the post-1955 rites? Would it be prudent, for example, to follow the older version on Holy Thursday evening or would one be constrained to say the Mass of Holy Thursday in the morning, following the old rubrics?

    In Christ,

  2. teevor says:

    I guess the question is, what distinguishes the status of the pre-1955 missal juridically from that of the 1962 missal, which as we know, was never abrogated.

    Summorum Pontificum simply affirmed a pre-existing right of priests of the Latin Church to celebrate the 1962 missal. Can the same be said in respect of the pre-1955 Holy Week rites? Is there something distinct in the nature of the 1955 reforms which would serve to abrogate the pre-1955 rites?

    So far as I can see there are a few general principles worth consideration. Firstly, the principle, articulated by Benedict XVI that what was once “sacred and great…cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or considered harmful.”

    On the other hand, there has to be a limit to where this could lead us. We cannot pick and choose what missal we use arbitrarily, or we fall prey to the same false historicism which created this mess in the first place.

    An answer to this problem may be the notion of organic development at the heart of our liturgical tradition. The 1955 revisions are arguably such a break from the ordinary development of the Roman Rite that they constitute something else. One can return to the pre-1955 rite for good reason, therefore, but it is harder to justify a return to anything earlier.

    Thirdly, what role does custom play?

    On the one hand, one might say that the use of the 1962 Holy Week rites is now so regularized that the 1955 rites have in a sense been abrogated by custom, but on the other hand, the pre-1955 rites have not entirely disappeared. Most interested persons recognize that the pre-1955 rites are more “at home” in the traditional liturgy, and I think most would argue for their readoption. After all, Pope John XXIII himself used the pre-1955 missal when celebrating Holy Week in 1959. Granted, the pope is universal legislator and his liturgical practises are not precedential. However, we can at least say that the rites continue to “exist” as a distinct thing; they have not simply been transformed.

    Finally, I would suggest that the strict observance of liturgical law, to the letter, may be somewhat inadequate to the present needs, given that we are functioning in a state of legal disorder. The competent authorities have little interest in maintaining principled norms and those who are in the best position to assess whether a restoration of the pre-1955 rites is warranted, are perhaps not empowered to make this decision.

    Arguably, such an environment permits adaptations and militates against stagnation. As a parallel example, consder the failure to update the 1962 calendar, and the anomalous situation we are in as a result. That being said, if I were a cleric and celebrated the pre-1955 rites and was, as a result, ordered not do so by my Bishop, I would cease. However, given the present landscape, there is probably not a diocese in the world where this would happen.

    I put forward the question of what would happen if, next year, there was widespread consensus on the part of those who say the old mass, to resolve to return to the pre-1955 rites for Holy Week?

  3. Supertradmum says:


    Consensus among the laity would mean that the raising of hands during the Mass and the saying of certain priestly parts would become acceptable. That is a dangerous way to interpret liturgy, which is why we need Rome to dictate liturgical norms.

    Secondly, as one who lived and remembers the changes from 1955-1962, I can say that some of the changes were enriching for the laity. As to stating that we are in legal disorder and, therefore, have a right to use what we want, seems a very bad reason for trads to follow the rebellious nature of many NO laity and priests.

    One sin of disobedience does not allow for other sins of disobedience. In fact, some trads are just as rebellious as their happy-clappy NO brothers and sisters in insisting that they know better than Rome how to conduct right worship. Disobedience happens on the right as well as the left.

    We all can get to “uppity” and find ourselves moving out from under the safety of Rome, as I have known too many people who now are Old Catholics, or SSPX and risk losing their souls.

  4. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    I don’t think Fr. Z. is oversimplifying the matter in replying, simply, that Summorum Pontificum allows use of the Roman liturgical books and calendar in effect in 1962.

  5. teevor says:


    Neither of the examples you gave are in any sense universal as to constitute a consensus sufficient to establish a norm, and more importantly they are spontaneous additions or modifications to the liturgy, and thus by their nature are novelties. By contrast, a return to a pre-existing rite if it was not abrogated is not problematic, because the old rites were honed and tested by experience and had already been accepted by the Church. Again, what was once sacred is always so.

    I do not advocate picking and choosing bits and pieces of the former rite, as this is certainly bound to lead to confusion, but if there is sufficient legal reason to believe the pre-1955 rites were not abrogated, I suggest they might be returned to in totality.

    As for whether the reforms were”enriching for the laity,” I didn’t experience them and cannot say whether this was the case, but surely this is a matter of opinion and has little bearing on whether the reform as a whole was warranted, if it proceeded in the first place from faulty principles. It seems to me the wholesale abolition of so many longstanding traditions, on the basis of a false historicism, is by its nature problematic. I will grant that one thing that does seem obviously beneficial is to celebrate the Easter Vigil in the evening but it is my understanding that this permission was in place prior to the reform of the rites. Perhaps you might give us some other examples of the enrichment, as I am genuinely curious.

    Rome is not actively regulating the extraordinary form, and doesn’t seem to have any interest in doing so. Even the role of Ecclesia Dei seems somewhat ambiguous in this regard, given, for example that there has been no reform to the 1962 calendar to include new saints. Their role, as I understand it, is more administrative in respect of communities of Catholics using the old mass. At the local level, most bishops observe virtually no concern for regulation of the liturgy. The last regulation to emanate from Rome, so far as I see it, is Universae Ecclesia.

    I do not advocate disobedience. I am arguing that if juridically, in view of all the circumstances, there may a reason to suppose that priests are be entitled to celebrate the pre-1955 rites. As such, if they are operating within the law, they cannot be disobedient. I would point out that accusations of disobedience were what faced many who celebrated the extraordinary form without permission (and even with) prior to 2007, but we learned subsequently that the old form had not been and could not be abrogated. A comparison with the SSPX is not warranted. The SSPX’s problem has never been celebration of the old mass, but the fact that their bishops do not hold a mandate from Rome.

  6. kat says:

    Is there anyone here who has studied the historical changes of the liturgy? I would love to know why, and for how long, the Paschal Vigil and Mass, celebrating the Resurrection, was celebrated early Saturday morning. It makes no sense! Our Lord was still in the tomb, yet Catholics were celebrating the Resurrection and ending their Lenten fasts, at noon on Holy Saturday. Yet with all 12 lessons, etc., to celebrate that Liturgy now, in the evening, one would have to start the Vigil at 8pm just to have midnight Mass! I was once in a choir where we sang the 1955 Liturgy on Saturday morning, then travelled to another church and did the 1962 Liturgy for Saturday night! (Early 80’s…I was in high school). I must admit, at least for Holy Saturday, the shortened version, celebrated at night, makes more sense. Though why the Litany of the Saints was split up doesn’t make sense. The time of Good Friday’s liturgy seems to have changed too, though perhaps that is my personal experience and not universal. In the 1955 Liturgy, it seems Good Friday was begun in the AM. Now it starts in mid-afternoon. Yet older people will say they were in church from 12-3 every Good Friday. That has never been my experience. Why not begin the Liturgy at noon on Good Friday, and end at 3?

  7. anilwang says:


    The Tridentine liturgy has regularly been adjusted since its introduction. Past Popes sought to preserve the liturgy but adjust the non-core elements of the liturgy to the needs of each age (e.g. new saints and feasts, heresies, common spiritual maladies, adjust emphases such as ensuring that saint feast days don’t overshadow major feasts of our salvation, etc). So none of the Tridentine liturgies were abrogated when uniformity was called for since the Tridentine never changed at its core.

    What is different about the NO was different. The explicit purpose of the liturgy was to break from the past and give up “language of the angels….something of priceless worth….more precious than these loftiest of our Church’s values” (see CHANGES IN MASS FOR GREATER APOSTOLATE. Pope Paul VI, ). This was done for reasons Pope Paul VI thought best, and he does have the authority to do so such as when the Council of Trent banned all liturgies that were newer than 200 years old (since they might be tainted by Protestantism). The Liturgies of St John Chrysostom, St Mark, St Basil, St Gregory, St Ambrose, etc are distinct and had their origin in one man who tried to faithfully pass on Tradition.

    But Pope Paul VI’s forced adoption of the NO and all the NO abuses lead in part to the heresy of “the hermeneutic of rupture”, which is why Pope Benedict XVI attempted to correct this heresy with the reform of the reform, the hermeneutic of continuity (in reform), and not only lifting the virtual ban on the 1962 Missal except in certain situations but encouraging the 1962 Missal.

    Essentially, using the 1962 Missal corrects the heresy of “the hermeneutic of rupture”. Using the 1955 Missal reinforced “the hermeneutic of rupture” since it divides the already small traditional community and it leads people to believe that rupture was a normal part of Church life before Vatican II.

  8. wolfeken says:

    At the same time, we should remember the 1962 liturgical line-in-the-sand drawn by Benedict XVI (that is, the TLM must only use books and rubrics in place during 1962) cuts both ways. So, yes, technically the older books cannot be used. But this also means all of the post-1962 novelties used at TLMs around the world also cannot be used. (Lay subdeacons, audible Canon, offertory processions, intentionally not using the biretta or maniple, unveiled tabernacles, vernacular singing during High Mass, “Corpus Christi.” at communion, less than three linens on altars, allowing laymen to receive from the chalice, organ during Advent/Lent/Requiems, flowers at Requiem Masses, and so forth.)

    My experience is that there are ten times as many post-1962 novelties used at certain TLMs around the world (usually by Reform of the Reform priests; certainly not by the Fraternity, Institute, etc.) than there are pre-1962 uses.

    [Regarding “straw subdeacons”, according to a 2012 letter of the PCED diocesan seminarians can take the role of the subdeacon. Seminarians who are acolytes (and who are laymen) may act as “straw-subdeacons”.]

  9. Vincent says:

    Perhaps Father should have a poll! Who would prefer the pre-’55 rite as opposed to the ’62?

    Having taken part in the 1955 rites one year, I would certainly say that my preference is not to go back to them.

  10. David in T.O. says:

    Having just completed the Rites according to 1962 and having studied the pre-reformed, for what it is worth my hope would be:

    The Mass of the Palm restored as an “option.”
    The Passions for all days restored to their entirety and the “weeping tone.”
    Retain the Washing of the Feet where it is now.
    Restore the solemn procession of the Eucharist on Good Friday with Vexilla Regis; but with Holy Communion retained for the people.
    Restore the 12 lessons at the Vigil.
    End the division of the Litany.
    Simplify the rubrics of the ridiculous changing of colours and vestments and tidy up the placement of the priest when only one celebrant and the book on the Altar.
    Keep the hours as current.

  11. Robbie says:

    Is there a website that lists the differences between the pre-1955 rites and the 1962 missal? One change I know of is the exclusion of the second Confiteor before communion.

  12. teevor says:

    Anilwang, I see the obvious to benefits to uniformity among the traditional community, but I would make two points:

    [1] If you’re suggesting the 1955 Holy Week rites were just an incremental development of the existing liturgy, I would disagree. Again, the example of the John XVIII celebrating the pre-1955 rites in 1959 suggests otherwise. In fact, the 1955 revisions were extensive, and were regarded at the time an initial step in a wholesale reform which eventually did occur in 1969. The 1955 reforms are in many ways much closer to the 1969 missal than they were to the pre-1955 rites. Keep in mind that the Dreaded Bugnini was heavily involved in the composition of the 1955 reform.

    [2] I think that unfortunately, you’re stretching the term “Hermeneutic of Rupture” rather too far. You correctly refer to the idea that advocates of the “Hermeneutic of Rupture” argue that the reforms brought about by the Second Vatican Council were, or ought to be seen as, a break with the former tradition of the Church. Pope Benedict counterposed the “Hermeneutic of Continuity” as interpreting subsequent developments in view of the tradition. But to argue that a return to a legally permissible if presently rare expression of the Church’s traditional liturgy is a part of the “Hermeneutic of Rupture” is to get things backwards.

    Liturgical unity is important, and a myriad of uses and rites without canonical forms to structure them may be problematic, but the traditional wing of the Church is liturgically “responsible” and as such, chaos is unlikely to ensue. Moreover, unity must be balanced against the goal of rendering fitting worship to God, and the goal of preserving our liturgical patrimony.

    Vincent –
    why not?

  13. Dad of Six says:

    For those among us who are ignorant of the pre ’55 Holy Week rites, where is a good source to get information on that?

  14. Titus says:

    (Lay subdeacons, audible Canon, offertory processions, intentionally not using the biretta or maniple, unveiled tabernacles, vernacular singing during High Mass, “Corpus Christi.” at communion, less than three linens on altars, allowing laymen to receive from the chalice, organ during Advent/Lent/Requiems, flowers at Requiem Masses, and so forth.)

    Summorum Pontificum is not a time machine. It establishes that the celebration of the “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite” is governed by the liturgical law contained within the four corners of the Missale Romanum T.E. 1962 (or the corresponding other liturgical book that was in force at the time the M.R. was promulgated, including, I think it is fair to say, e.g., the various Collectio Rituum editions approved for use in different countries). It does not resurrect provisions of the 1917 CIC or other, uncodified law (from say, the S.C. of Rites).

    On the merits of the main question, Rorate’s recent post on the 1955 changes is a useful summary of what those were, although I believe there was a better one at the NLM some years back. (Rorate’s post, for instance, doesn’t touch upon the timing of the Holy Saturday rites, which was a big change.) But really, neither the 1952 M.R. nor the 1955 reform really sounds like the perfect solution.

    The most substantial change, of course, was in the timing of the Easter Vigil (not to downplay the ritual changes, but while those appear to have been largely ill-conceived, they’re much less obtrusive). Evelyn Waugh made the point that the reform strips Holy Saturday of any ordered devotional practice: you have a whole empty day that one would like to dedicate to prayer, but for which the Church now provides no rites. But the pre-reform Holy Saturday rite is incongruous, in a way, in celebrating the resurrection on the morning of Holy Saturday. If they were going to change things, it would have been better, it seems, to keep some liturgical action for earlier in the day on Holy Saturday and provide for the Vigil Mass proper to take place in the middle of the night so that it actually ran into Easter proper.

  15. Charlotte Allen says:

    With all due respect, nostalgia for the pre-1955 Holy Week rites seems like an exercise in nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. Why would anyone want to have the chant “Haec nox est” sung on the morning of Holy Saturday?

    I’m not a liturgical historian, but I do know that the Mass, both before and after the Council of Trent, was a constantly evolving thing. The Council of Trent, in fact was not unlike the Second Vatican Council in its efforts to fix in place and simplify the liturgy. The Tridentine fathers got rid of a huge number of medieval rites and uses, not because they were “too Protestant,” as someone here has suggested, but because they were “too Catholic,” with all sorts of elaborations that Protestants found fault with. Among the parts of the Mass that were jettisoned were a slew of beautiful medieval sequences for various feast days, leaving in place only the current three (Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi). The “tropes”–medieval liturgical dramas such as the “Quem Quaeritis”–also went by the boards.

    I don’t know how Holy Week liturgies originally designed to be celebrated in the evening drifted over the centuries to the morning, but the fact that they did drift doesn’t strike me as a good reason to keep them there forever. Especially since, in the pre-1955 days, few lay people ever attended those lengthy liturgies because they were usually working during the day. Pope Pius XII’s 1955 restoration of them to the evening has always struck me as a good thing.

  16. Papabile says:

    Lay Straw Subdeacons being a post-1962 development? I don’t think so. They existed long before the Council and generally received a citation of “They are tolerated” – in certain circumstances – by many of the great liturgists.

  17. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Holy Week’s 1955 “reforms” were indeed intended as the first step in the complete “reform” of the liturgy. It is historically problematic to make them out to be unobjectionable, and then to complain about 1970. 1955 was the first step in a process that was only finished fifteen years later.

    I suspect most Catholics think the Holy Week changes of the 1950s had to do only with times of celebrations. On the contrary, the rites were significantly altered. Most people didn’t notice, because the rites were not obligatory either before or after the alterations.

    (The time changes were also part of the mythology of “restoration”. Holy Saturday’s vigil was always a vesperal one; anticipation in the morning was “wrong,” but so was/is delay until midnight).

    Interestingly, the one service that was popularly popular, as it were, was Tenebrae…and there one saw and sees “disobedience” to the rubrics about non-anticipation. Tenebrae was the one part of the Divine Office that remained a part of the fabric of people’s lives into the 1950s. (The Bugnini committees of the Pian pontificate didn’t appreciate that).

  18. David in T.O. says:

    Charlotte Allen says:
    7 April 2015 at 10:34 am “Among the parts of the Mass that were jettisoned were a slew of beautiful medieval sequences for various feast days, leaving in place only the current three (Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi). The “tropes”–medieval liturgical dramas such as the “Quem Quaeritis”–also went by the boards.”

    You are slightly mistaken Charlotte; there are three Sequences in the Missal of 1970. However, the Council of Trent reformers left five (5); the Dies Irae in the Requiem Mass and Stabat Mater Dolorosa (not the familiar hymn) on September 15, Our Lady of Sorrows as below and this is what is in the 1962 Missal today.

    Interestingly, the Troped Kyrie was brought back in 1970 in the form; “LORD, you were sent to heal the contrite of heart, Lord have mercy.” I see no problem with these beautiful Kyries:

    Here is the troped Kyrie for the Mass of Easter, Lux et Origo.

    For what it is worth, the reformers at Trent did the liturgy a disservice with the elimination of the Sequence for Christmas, Laetabundus! Perhaps in a future Missal this could be returned.

  19. FranzJosf says:

    Interesting note: The pre-1955 Holy Week liturgies were last celebrated in Jerusalem at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 1997 because of the delicate negotiations required to make changes between the Orthodox, Oriental, and Roman Catholic Churches. The NO Rite was introduced in 1998, with modifications, but are still celebrated at the old times, i.e., in the morning. (Several years ago I met a C of E priest, now part of the Ordinariate, who had served there when a student in Jerusalem.)

    I notice, as I’m sure many of you have, that the New Vigil is creeping earlier and earlier in many places. What is it about human nature that makes this so? In one place where I was involved it was argued, successfully to a usually orthodox pastor, that the party afterward who have to start too late.

    Related question: When does the law of “immemorial custom” apply? Or is that an old myth?

  20. Charlotte Allen says:

    @Dr. Lee Fratantuono:

    Fifteen years, two popes, and a major (and highly disruptive) church council later.

    I just took a quick look at the 1955 liturgies for the Triduum in my old 1958 Marian Missal and the Novus Ordo liturgies for the Triduum that I attended last week at St. Dominic’s Church and the Dominican House of Studies here in DC. There wasn’t a lot of difference (a few changes in the readings but most of the same prayers and certainly the same structure) between the two. The one big thing I missed about the new rite was the Stripping of the Altars on Holy Thursday–although I’m told that some parishes around here do that. Also, I wish they’d bring back black vestments for Good Friday.

    As for Tenebrae (on the night of Spy Wednesday), both the Dominican House of Studies and St. Matthew’s Cathedral here in DC had Tenebrae services. I think some other churches did, too.

  21. paytonas says:

    I think it is interesting to consider those other elements of the Pre-1955 rites that have now made their way back into the Novus Ordo. I speak of the expanded number of readings for the Easter Vigil (not quite the 12 of the pre-1955 rites (12 ! – what an excellent biblical number that is) but better than the 4 from the rather impoverished 1962 missal), the expanded procession on Palm Sunday which can include the ‘knocking at the door’, the Pentecost Vigil….
    I have heard people speak of these as if we have recovered something quite ancient and have only recently become aware that these were only jettisoned in the 1950s – thanks to the article on Rorate Caeli.
    To think that just a simple re-alignment of the times of the services was probably all that was necessary. The reformers never understood the phrase: “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!”

  22. Supertradmum says:

    Tenebrae is still done in some parishes. In fact, when I was at Notre Dame, Tenebrae was done beautifully. Real Benedictine monasteries do Tenebrae.

  23. Stephen Matthew says:

    Tenebrae seems to have been almost entirely lost.

    From the old ones I know, it seems to have not been a universal experience even in the ’50s, but it is now almost entirely forgotten.

    The various reforms to the Liturgy of the Hours during the 20th century seem to have largely obscured Tenebrae. As best as I can tell it is now almost impossible to celebrate a service that follows the traditional model using the present books. I know it is attempted in some places, but what is being done has only a vague connection to what Tenebrae once was. Strange that one of the instances where the laity were more engaged with the LotH no one seems to have given any attention to providing for the continuance of that pious practice even while the reformers were exhorting laity and clergy alike to revive the LotH as a devotion of the entire people.

    Perhaps someone should work up a model for Tenebrae in the post-counciliar world (which is mostly to say a vernacular celebration) and set about getting ecclesiastical approval to celebrate it.

  24. Matt R says:

    Read Gregory DiPippo’s excellent compendium on the reforms first published in 2009 on New Liturgical Movement. You will see that there were good reasons for the timing of the services, and DiPippo makes clear that Pius XII could have stopped at adjusting the times of the services and left it at that. It is not nostalgia. We cannot possibly have nostalgia for something of which we have no memory.

    I went to a modified pre-1955 in Rome. They had communion for the people on Good Friday and 4 readings at the Vigil, and they celebrated at the restored hours. It seems the PCED does not care too much, and they know better than I do that pre-1955 is imported into Holy Week otherwise celebrated with the Pacellian rite, usually by keeping the arrangement of the door ceremony and not employing a subdeacon of the cross. I have no idea on what authority the changes were made, but I do have it from a reliable friend that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos authorized pre-1955, so perhaps he also authorized the changes (probably with some or much support: the FSSP is rather liturgically idiosyncratic at times). And, I would be prepared to ask for an indult at the same time as reversing the changes in my parish’s liturgy were I to be somewhere with the older Holy Week.

    On the Tridentine reforms: Trent did not create a new missal. It made the Roman missal as passed by Greogry the Great to the time of the Order of Friars Minor the standard for the Latin Church. The Christmas sequence was not the Roman Rite. And I love Sarum and the other medieval uses, and I think we need to bring them back citing Quo Primum. The use of Braga and the rite of Toledo both came back when QP was cited: they could not have been abrogated, even if they fell into disuse. But importing medieval practice into the Roman Rite would upset the balance in the opposite direction.

    Also, the Stabat Mater is the same text for both hymn and Sequence… Different verses and tunes do appear, however.

  25. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Re: if it’s not broke, etc….a truly “organic restoration” would have started with simply following the red. In this case, I mean, the rubrics about when the liturgies should be celebrated.

    Holy Saturday’s vigil was a vesperal liturgy, and a start time of say 4.30pm has more historical support than 8.30am…or 10.30pm. It begins with the Lucernarium or lamp lighting as evening approaches, and ends with the Magnificat that crowns Vespers.

    The “midnight” service for Easter was Paschal Matins and Lauds. The innovators of the late 1940s/1950s were arguably as bad on the history of the Holy Saturday liturgy as they would be a decade later with the so-called canon of Pseudo-Hippolytus.

  26. kat says:

    We have all three days of Tenebrae; all three nocturns plus Lauds. So beautiful!

  27. Uxixu says:

    Folded chasubles are not coming back! ;) More seriously though, a mixture of Mostly pre-55 with a few bits of 55 seems best but that would require future legislation at some point, probably. Going entirely back doesn’t seem possible (for reasons above). The best situation would be some sort of simpler legislation allowing pre-55 as an indult. It was in force for much much longer than the less than few decades of 1955.

    I would most definitely like to see the triple candlestick come back as well as the lighting DURING the Exultet than during the Lumen Christi. The normal order of procession seems more logical than the flipped order with the celebrant at front, as well. Most importantly, the full 12 prophecies should be restored more than any other change.

  28. Uxixu says:

    If there was a creeping forward of the time it happened a LONG time ago. The Ordo Romanus Primus is mid 7th century and has Mass for Holy Thursday and Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday after Terce (9:00am). Mass for Holy Saturday was said to be after None (3:00pm).

    That would be at least 1200 years in that time… even assuming it started then. Since it wasn’t an imposed change as much as documenting current practice, it could even have a couple hundred more years….

  29. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    The “creeping” forward was a more or less late medieval development. The service traditionally started “after None”, which ended up anticipated in exactly the same way that if you attend a daily Mass in Lent, you are in a sense attending an anticipated service…Lenten daily Masses were traditionally held “after None,” that is, after mid afternoon prayer.

    Eventually, a theory developed that this anticipation…which came into being for many reasons…was reflective of a reversal of time, as it were, as a consequence of the fall (things get put right, as it were, at Easter).

    Speaking purely “pastorally,” I think a 4.30pm start time would see a significant rise in attendance. And, at the same time, be historically defensible as a restoration of the original purpose of the (vesperal) liturgy.

    All that said, it is strange that with all the obsessiveness the Bugnini committees had about Scripture, they did not restore the single service that had the most Scripture of any…the twelve magnificent lessons of the traditional Vigil. MR 1970 is a vast improvement here over MR 1962…but MR 1952 had a truly splendid lectionary for the Easter Vigil.

  30. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    In D.C., we had a beautiful High Mass according the MR 1962 on Holy Thursday evening, followed by a procession to the Altar of Repose and then the stripping of the altar. This was at Old St. Mary’s. On Holy Saturday morning, Tenebrae was sung by a wonderful crew of clerics and the congregation at St. Thomas Apostle Church, all three nocturnes of Matins and then Lauds. St. Thomas’s has Solemn Vespers and Benediction every Sunday afternoon at 4 pm.

  31. spock says:

    The institute of Christ the King uses a Missal from 1935 I believe. Would that not include the older form for Holy Week?

  32. Gerard Plourde says:

    According to their web site, the Institute of Christ the King uses the 1962 Missal.

  33. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    1. Pre-1955 for the Tenebrae. It should be a night.

    2. 1962 for the Vigil. It too should be at night.

    3. It is not true that Holy Saturday in the OF or the EF has no rites. We have the Office, the LOTH, the great unwanted stepchild of Catholic liturgy.

    4. There is a vigil in LOTH for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. There is none for Holy Thursday; let’s have one. It would not be too hard to turn these vigils into a Tenebrae.

  34. Latinmass1983 says:

    It would appear to be a bit silly to think that the ecclesiastical authorities should have only changed the times for the Triduum Services and that that would have been perfect. I say this because we now all pretty much suspect that that is not what the people in charge of the changes wanted. So much so, that relatively soon after 1955 (and 1962) there were a lot more changes to come. We can then safely assume that the time for the Holy Week services were simply the Trojan horse excuse (same thing for “greater use of the vernacular”).

    It would also seem silly to complain about having had the Triduum services in the morning, but then not complain about the fact that nowadays the Mass of the Oils takes place on a Tuesday (and not on Thursday), or not to complain about the fact that Corpus Christi takes place on a Sunday and not on Thursday (same thing with the Ascension) and so many other liturgical days NOT celebrated when they SHOULD be celebrated. Would it not seem silly to talk about Ascension Thursday on a Sunday (and this would seem even sillier than talking about “night” when it is broad daylight!)?

    It seems that people tend to be happier condemning some of the “odd” things from before 1962 (and they find that believable, acceptable, and laudable), but they will not do much to condemn the really odd things that take place in our very own days right before our noses.

    In theory, there should be nothing wrong in using the pre-1955 Rites for Holy Week (they are not less sacred than they were before), except that one knows that the competent (used loosely) authority would simply not want that to be done, even though the same competent (used loosely again) authority would find the most egregious liturgical abuses in parish churches to be fine and to be pastoral and inclusive, such as washing females’ feet on Holy Thursday (with the supreme legislator leading by example), having extraordinary ministers of Communion when there are only 50 people lining up to receive, etc. In this case, for those who called wanting to do the pre-1955 Rites nostalgia, I would sooner prefer that type of nostalgia than the unrestrained craziness that is allowed in many parishes almost daily simply because that is what everyone else does (sometimes even at the Vatican)!

    Not to mention that the midnight Christmas Mass is not celebrated at midnight in most places, including the Papal Mass! Same thing with the Easter vigil, for which the Mass part should start really really late. Having a double standard takes all seriousness from people (including the ecclesiastical authorities) who have issues with the pre-1955 preferences.

    Straw-SD: It would seem obvious, to me, that the reason why the subdiaconate was done away with was because they were thinking ahead and eventually wanted the elimination of the Solemn Mass (Subdeacons are needed for a Solemn Mass, right?). The people in charge already had in mind what the wanted to end with: a Low Mass with some music and people responding in the vernacular. It will be really difficult to present a case in which one could say that Paul VI wanted to preserve the Solemn Mass as it was then and yet still be willing to get rid of the subdiaconate.

    So, once the minor orders and the subdiaconate were eliminated, and then the clerical state was decreed to start with the diaconate, in theory, there would not be room for a solemn Mass, especially because Priests prefer to be concelebrants rather than assistants (Deacons/Subdeacons). Given that all seminarians (up to the time of their ordination to the diaconate) are laymen just like any other Catholic male out there and they get to do the functions of the Subdeacon (as Paul VI had envisioned), then it would seem silly to have scruples about having a layman (who is not a seminarian) be Subdeacon.

    Even SP (or UE?) reminded us that the clerical state still starts with the ordination to the diaconate, so anything before then does not confer the clerical state. This all means that having seminarians and those who have received the Order of Subdeacon is pretty much having laymen do the functions of the Subdeacon at a Solemn Mass … not ideal, but in these days, nothing is ideal.

  35. Athelstan says:

    I think that it is possible to agree with Teevor (and I do) when he opines that “The 1955 reforms are in many ways much closer to the 1969 missal than they were to the pre-1955 rites” – and thus an early stage of a rupture, in certain ways – while still affirming that what we are left with is still the Roman Rite, however damaged.

    This question of what is permitted under the existing law raises all sorts of interesting questions, some of which have been mooted in this very combox. The reality, as others here have noted, is that we are not, in most traditional communities, unwaveringly strict in adherence to the 1962 books. The obvious example is that of the (very commonly recited) second confiteor, which our host has written about before. (“On the other hand, one hears there are indications received from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” that, in some communities, it is okay to use it.” (8 Dec. 2013)) There are, obviously, some exceptions to “say the black, do the red.” The spirit of Fortescue moves among us.

    But should, or can, the old pre-1955 Holy Week be one, too? This is obviously a greater departure from the 1962 missal than the other minor instances we’ve seen, no matter how much the interest level in restoring the old Holy Week is growing. Rumor has it that a certain prominent Ecclesia Dei society hopes to ask for permission for some kind of indult to celebrate it, but is (quite reasonably) reluctant to do so until it is sure that the answer will be “yes.” For my part, I should like to see such an indult, with the timing of the liturgies left to the priest celebrant. It is not a matter of liturgical creativity, contra Supertradmum, but a choice to restore a very ancient set of liturgies with far more foundation in immemorial tradition than what was obviously intended to be an interim arrangement that effectively lasted only 14 years in the life of the Latin Rite Church (or less, given that changes began to overtake it in 1964).

  36. Supertradmum says:

    Sid, I love Tenebrae and follow it in the Divine Office…I encourage other lay people to do this next year as well. It is truly moving. I wrote about this here.

  37. Athelstan says:

    One other thing that strikes me about the Pian Holy Week reforms is that it is far from clear that they were the pastoral success that was hoped for. Supertradmum argues that “I can say that some of the changes were enriching for the laity.” While not doubting her observation, I’d be curious to know what those changes were, and if that impact was sustained once the initial novelty wore off. As Alcuin Reid has written in The Organic Development of the Liturgy, “a certain amount of the reforms’ popularity may be accorded to its novelty,” (p. 233), even noting instances of “stubborn resistance” by 1959. Making the new Holy Week mandatory may not have been a prudent move.

    Well, to take one instance: For my part, I have been struck by the relatively modest attendance that the Easter Vigil has in BOTH forms. And it is striking that this is the case with the TLM in most places in the U.S. (I cannot speak to Europe or other regions). At Holy Innocents in NYC, the Vigil was the least attended major liturgy of Holy Week this year (200 attended, which is healthy, but also well short of every other liturgy); the same was true in the Washington/Baltimore area, where the one lone 1962 Vigil in the region, St. Alphonsus, drew a respectable 170-180 which was nonetheless a small fraction of total TLM attendance at Sunday Easter morning TLM’s, and well short of the sole Good Friday liturgy in Washington on the day before…I could multiple the data from friends from around the country that I have talked to this week, and from years of previous observation. We can all think of reasons why this might be the case, especially for families with young children (and I am NOT necessarily criticizing anyone who did not attend the Vigil)… This is ironic, given that the dramatic time switch, and changes aimed at shortening and simplifying the Vigil, apparently have not, in the main, resulted in a Mass which even traddies will turn out in droves for.

    So if you take away the pastoral justification for the many or most of the 1955 Holy Week reforms…well, maybe it becomes easier for the Holy See to take a “live and let live” attitude on this question.

  38. Athelstan says:


    Having a double standard takes all seriousness from people (including the ecclesiastical authorities) who have issues with the pre-1955 preferences.

    I think it does take a lot of seriousness from such folk. It’s a remarkable inconsistency.

  39. Matt R says:

    Latinmass1983, your assertion does not follow. The private intentions of the reformers in the mid-twentieth century are different from what was said in the documents accompanying the revised Holy Week rite, and it seems their goal could have been achieved by simply moving the times. Further, we only know by reflection that Holy Week was a prelude to the reform of the Mass in its entirety.

    I also think that even people who still go only to the OF (by choice) can equally complain about the awkward times of services in the OF as well as the pre-Pacellian Holy Week, and many do. And even in the usus antiquior, the Mass of Christmas is the Mass in the night, not at midnight. Unless the Missal of 1962 says otherwise, I don’t think it’s an abuse to start it for pastoral reasons around 10 or 11 PM. Certainly one can do so in the OF.

    I think the pre-Pacellian Holy Week will be restored, because the Catholics who are not only attached to the older form but also to the supplying of the ceremonies (priests, choir directors, MCs, etc.) want it, and they know the people will follow along. And the PCED seems to be at least friendly to those voices.

  40. Uxixu says:

    Latinmass1983 hits close to the mark, though the premise is a bit faulty. The sacred ministers had already become essentially confined to seminary by 1920. These problems were brewing for much longer than Bugnini to before the World Wars, perhaps as far back as the French Revolution. Part of St. Pius X justification for the then radical reorganization of the breviary was due to the decreasing number of clerics (“…in such a way that the burden should not be made any heavier for the clergy, whose labours in the vineyard of the sacred ministry are now increased owing to the diminution in the number of labourers.”) That this laid precedent for papal authority in a radical reorganization of the Missal 5 decades later is neither here nor there.

    One thing to consider is that the “new” Acolyte IS essentially the old subdiaconate. It was just renamed (as Ministeria Quaedam explicitly allows the Bishops Conferences to so designate subdeacons). There were already theological doubts as to the divine institution of the subdiaconate as the old Catholic Encyclopedia entry (written 1912) points out the subdiaconate never received imposition of hands and had instead assumed some of the duties of the ancient diaconate and only became a sacred order sometime after the 11th century (Urban II classed the subdiaconate with the minor orders in 1091, but was considered a major Order by Innocent III). Combined with their near complete scarcity outside of seminary in the early 20th century, the status as a major order was all but sealed when the diaconate itself was fully restored.

    It IS still useful in formation, especially in preference to the bureaucratic sounding “Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders,” but even “permanent subdeacons” would more fully reinforce the Catholic theology of the distinct sacerdotal priesthood and clerical state far better than laics assisting at the altar.

    One idea would be for bishops to institute acolytes in their proper “old” office to replace “altar boys” and be the proper entry into the clerical state. It would allows the Church to instead of repudiating Ministeria Quadem, to fulfill it instead. Then if these men are judged suitable they could go to seminary for formation to the priesthood or, particularly if married but for others deemed unsuitable for the priesthood, the acolyte would then be designated a subdeacons with potential to formation to the diaconate. No change in legislation would be necessary for this, and it would be organizational only. This would have the added benefit of spreading out diaconate formation as it should be over a longer period of ministry rather than the “zero to 60” layman to diaconate approach in 3-5 years that most diocese take.

  41. jbpolhamus says:

    One obvious reason that the Easter Vigil is creeping earlier and earlier, and a logical part of why it was formerly celebrated in the morning of Holy Saturday, is that with such a JUSTLY large liturgy requiring intense and prolonged effort and concentration, in order to well serve the Easter Sunday liturgies and NOT to create a situation where people who left church late at night with little children are less likely to come to church on Easter Sunday. Yet they deserve to be able to participate in a full Triduum and Easter as well.

    Similarly, Tenebrae outside of Monasteries should be anticipated, so that the PUBLIC can come. Otherwise, they’re going to be at work or in school at 9 or 10:00 in the morning. The idea is to PROVIDE for the participation of the laity, not restrict it.

    One might say that it’s similar to the mental leap that the church made regarding icons. We are forbidden from making graven images lest we worship them; well, we explicetly worship no graven images, but instead we use them to represent, to remind ourselves, to lift our thoughts, to the Triune God whom we DO worship. It’s not rocket-science, folks. And it works MUCH better than what’s being purveyed by the church today.

    I am VERY much a traditionalist in my sympathies and in many of my activities, yet having been through the 1962 Holy Week from the inside out, I can honestly say that I have no burning desire to do it anymore, it being such a chopped and tossed salad of nonsensical replacements, divisions, reductions and insertions. It just doesn’t work, and most traditionalists know it. If I’m going to happily work myself to exhaustion during the Triduum, I want the services to at least be coherent, and 1962 isn’t. I tend to agree with Fr. Z., just do it and see if anyone knows enough to notice. At this point, I really don’t think they know enough to care. The biological solution, and the work of cultural stupidification are prosecuting their work most efficiently.

  42. Latinmass1983 says:

    @ Matt R.,

    That is not accurate. We know what the intentions of the reformers were because they themselves said that their intentions were. True, they did not say it right away, but once they saw that everything was going their way and that they were getting everything they wanted, they did not hide what their real intentions regarding the reforms were.

    Fr. Bugnini and Braga were very open about how they reached their liturgical conclusions and what the Holy Week reforms meant for them and for the Church. They rarely talked about the great benefits of changing the times, except when they needed it as an excuse to complain that there was something wrong with the ancient Holy Week ceremonies.

    @ Uxixu,

    It is true that the minor clerics and the Subdeacons were not part of the regular parish life as they were mostly in seminary. However, they still existed and the idea of a Solemn Mass was still present with the three different functions (Celebrant, Deacon and Subdeacon). In fact, most people forget that one of the changes to Holy Week was also to be able to do a Solemn Holy Week with ONLY Celebrant and Deacon (without a Subdeacon). So, it should be no surprise that a couple of years later the subdiaconate would disappear by official decree.

    Of course, almost no one will do a solemn Holy Week without a somebody doing the parts of the Subdeacon because it is odd to our Catholic genes (except in the New Order), but it is still an option introduced in the 50’s with the revised Holy Week ceremonies.

    While the idea of having three grades of clerics for a Solemn Mass was still official in the Church. Talks and ideas about liturgical reform that came to fruition after Vatican II are not only from around the time of Bugnini’s reign. They can be traced back to the 20’s and 30’s — it was simply Bugnini’s (dis)honor to bring them about in such an official way into the life of the Church with papal approval.

    And the reason why all those things (permanent diaconate, permanent subdiaconate, etc.) did not work is simply because they never intended to make it work (whether the Pope himself expected the results we have now, that’s a different thing). Would anyone think that Bugnini and company were really concerned with the permanent diaconate and subdiaconate? No. But they were really concerned with all the changes to the rites and ceremonies of the Liturgy — I would say that that’s because that is where their goals lied.

  43. jbpolhamus says:

    Sorry, I need to revise my first paragraph. Typing too fast!

    One obvious reason that the Easter Vigil is creeping earlier and earlier, and a logical part of why it was formerly celebrated in the morning of Holy Saturday, is that with such a JUSTLY large liturgy, requiring intense and prolonged effort and concentration, and in order to well serve the Easter Sunday liturgies, it is desirable NOT to create a situation where people who left church late at night with little children are less likely or even able to come to church on Easter Sunday. Yet they deserve to be able to participate in a full Triduum, and Easter as well.

    Similarly, Tenebrae outside of Monasteries SHOULD be anticipated, so that the public can actually attend. Otherwise, they’re going to be at work or in school at 9 or 10:00 in the morning. The idea is to PROVIDE for the participation of the laity, not restrict it.

    One might say that these situations simply utilize the same mental leap that the church made regarding icons. We are forbidden from making graven images lest we worship them as idols; so, the church explicitly states, then, that we worship no graven images or idols, but instead we use them to represent, to remind ourselves of, and to lift our thoughts to the Triune God whom we DO worship. It’s not rocket-science, folks. And it works MUCH better than what’s being purveyed by the church today.

    I am VERY much a traditionalist in my sympathies and in many of my activities, yet having been through the 1962 Holy Week from the inside out, I can honestly say that I have no burning desire to do it anymore, it being such a chopped and tossed salad of nonsensical replacements, divisions, reductions and insertions. It just doesn’t work, and most traditionalists know it. If I’m going to happily work myself to exhaustion during the Triduum, I want the services to at least be coherent, and 1962 isn’t. I tend to agree with the notion of just doing it and seeing if anyone knows enough to notice. At this point, I really don’t think they know enough to even care. The biological solution, and the work of cultural stupidification are prosecuting their work most efficiently.

  44. Uxixu says:

    Sure. We agree on the circumstances around it. There weren’t sacred ministers. Rather than using priests who should ideally be pastors in their own churches, it’s more proper to have actual subdeacons & deacons filling their offices in Solemn Mass, as they form into priests. We need them in the parish much more than in the seminary. Recall that the seminary system itself is only from Trent (or roughly 500 years or so). Before that for the previous thousand years, formation was on an apprenticeship model in the parish with education centered around the university attached to the Cathedral. This was naturally much less consistent. The seminary system itself works with the premise of a Christian society but we can’t take that as a given anymore, so looking forward should adjust appropriately.

  45. Stephen Matthew says:

    What sort of ideas do you have in mind regarding “adjust appropriately?”

  46. Matt R says:


    Bugnini’s book did not come out until he was nearly in the grave. And I’m more concerned with Pope Pius XII’s intentions. Further, why do trads have to go on and on about these things? We just need to restore the ceremonies. We need to do what we can to hold the services in the traditional forms (learn to say the Mass, serve, sing, etc) and expose as many people to them as possible. We need to do what we can as far as getting the restoration of what was cut away from 1945 to 1962. But we don’t have to get hung up on what we mostly agree were mistakes (said changes after 1945).

    jbpolhamus, I completely agree. I also think that for the most part, anybody who cares will be pleased people are using pre-1955…

  47. Uxixu says:

    I already listed but to summarize: Clerical state at acolyte to replace “altar boys.” Formation to acolyte at the parish. acolytes to serve the altar and if suitable, either go to seminary for priesthood or designated subdeacons at the parish (which would parallel at seminary, as well) while forming to diaconate over a period similar to “permanent” deacons now. Deacons in seminary would have a lot more formation done before entering seminary, as would married men in the parish pursuing diaconate.

  48. Peregrinator says:

    I will say that, having seen both the pre-1955 and the 1962 versions of Palm Sunday, the latter makes no sense when compared to the former.

  49. Latinmass1983 says:

    Matt R,

    “Trads” go on and on about these things because very few people will admit that the intentions of the reformers (from very early) was to do away with whatever was considered too Roman. Bugnini’s book was not the first time source of his intentions. It was his own words in interviews and other articles.

    Additionally, you will never get to restore anything before 1945 is the people in charge believe that all intentions were pure and good when making the changes to the Liturgy in the 40’s and 50’s. Propositions for changes to the prayers for the came out in the 1920’s and the reformers did not manage to get to that until the 50’s.

    Furthermore, other people who were involved in the changes at the time they happened have recently also written books about these things, which sheds more light on the real intentions and the (lack of) ethics used by people involved in the “historical” research and the creation of new prayers, etc.

    So, discussing these things is not getting “hung up.”

    If you yourself prefer not to discuss them, that is your choice and you may abstain from responding to comments about them. But it does not seem appropriate to prevent others from doing so.

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