It was 50 years ago today… Paul VI’s Apostolic Constitution “Missale Romanum”

Precisely 50 years ago today the “God of Surprises”, through his permissive will and his vicar Paul, allowed us to experience a brand new version of Mass.

The Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum was promulgated by Paul VI on 3 April 1969.

The world would never be the same.

10 years ago – 10 years! – I made three PODCAzT’s for the eve of the implementation of Missale Romanum, that is, the beginning of the use of the Novus Ordo at Advent of 1969.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Father Z, I find it interesting that you specify that the Novus Ordo was a part of the permissive will of God (I agree 100%). Ironically, in the piece at Rorate Caeli commemorating the same anniversary, there are excerpts from general audiences of Paul VI in which, among other things, he claims that the changes were positively willed by God. [Indeed? I haven’t looked at their site for some time. I’ll take a look.] I would love to see an honest debate regarding this detail between Paul VI and Card Burke, that would be awesome. [And unlikely.]

  2. Thomas S says:

    People are so easily distracted by the question of Latin vs. vernacular (I’m not saying preserving Latin isn’t important) that they miss how radical the changes were. The Latin question has become something of a smoke screen (again, we need a return to Latin). As a fairly new priest, who has recently begun saying the old Mass on days off, I’ve become more aware of the wholesale changes to what we actually pray for now, and what we don’t pray for anymore.

    I asked several laymen (my parents, friends, even a few parishioners), “Are you under the impression that the new Mass is simply the old Mass translated into English with the priest turned around?,” and TO A PERSON they said yes. Paul VI & Co. essentially tried to change our religion, and to a high degree succeeded. Even as a priest, I’m scandalized the more I learn.

    The new Mass has so many permutations with various options, you could visit 10 parishes on a single Sunday and not find the same Mass twice. Imagine there are priests who never use the Confiteor. The Confiteor! There are Catholics who haven’t said, “I confess to Almighty God…” in years! The priest doesn’t have to conform himself to the Mass anymore, he conforms the Mass to himself. And so Catholics in neighboring towns practice Father’s peculiar religion instead of a common Faith with a truly common worship. It’s scandalous.

  3. Thomas S says: As a fairly new priest, … I’m scandalized the more I learn.

    And that is going to deepen and deepen the more you learn.

    For many years I wrote a weekly column about the translation of the Latin orations of the Novus Ordo. That series began before Liturgiam authenticam and continued for years after. One of the things that inevitably cropped up was stunning change of the content of the prayers in Latin. Concepts such as sin, guilt, propitiation were systematically edited out of older prayers and avoid in the composition of new. Of course, the way we pray has a reciprocal relationship with what we believe and then how we choose live. Over decades, we are seeing the dramatic impact on the Church as a whole. Ratzinger had it right! That’s why I call what he did his “Marshall Plan” for the rebuilding of the Church after the devastation and to create a strong bulwark against the dictatorship of relativism.

  4. BrionyB says:

    At my local church, there is no Confiteor (on the rare occasion I have to go there for Sunday Mass, I pray it silently myself, followed by ‘Misereatur nostri…’).

  5. veritas vincit says:

    When we talk about the “permissive will of God” with respect to the Mass, as with anything central to Holy Mother Church, we should keep in mind Our Lord’s promise that “the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:19)
    That tells me that God’s permissive will is a lot less permissive in this case. Yet this was allowed to happen.
    If promulgating the Norvus Ordo was a mistake, it was far from fatal.

  6. Il Ratzingeriano says:

    An irony of this Pontificate is that it is radicalizing many faithful Catholics by leading them to the conclusion that the Second Vatican Council indeed represents a rupture with the Church’s past. This is also a consequence of Sommorum Pontificum in that it has had the effect of making apparent to a new generation the radical changes that have taken root after 50 years of the new Mass. I have experienced Catholicism in both a new Mass parish and in an FSSP parish. As a practical matter, it has been to experience two different religions. The realization of this is radicalizing. It also explains the hostility to the traditional Mass and what I recently have observed to be from the other side a growing hostility to the new Mass. To quote the Gospel through the words of Lincoln: A house divided against itself cannot stand. It must become all one thing or the other.

  7. dbonneville says:

    “It was 50 years ago today, Sgt Pepper led the band astray…”

  8. RichR says:

    Just as it was God’s permissive will to allow the Church to create the old Mass with its defects and shortcomings. While I recognize and appreciate the differences in the process of creating these two forms of Mass, I think we should not imply that the new Mass is a product of our fallen nature while the text of the old Mass fell down from the Heavens and was written by the hand of God. Is it possible that some souls will make it to Heaven precisely because the new Mass better fits their spiritual temperament than the old Mass?

  9. RichR says:

    And this comes from someone who prefers the old Mass, sings in a men’s Gregorian chant group, and is an MC for EF High Mass.

  10. John Malloy says:

    So many contradictions, anomalies, and deceptions…certainly not the positive will of God. It is good to look back at the when, where, how, and why, this was done. Pope Paul and the reformers took advantage of catholic respect for the papacy and perhaps a wrongful notion of obedience to promulgate a new mass etc. Putting his sermons and speeches aside, what did he actually decree or “wish” into law? He added three new “canons” to the eucharistic prayer, he wished for the words of consecration to be “pronounced thus” and he gave the latin, and he published a missal. All the while the Pope never officially abrogated the roman mass. Then by sheer weight of authoritative impression and implementation the Novus Ordo was born. The rest is history but it should be noted that not all the bishops went along. Bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre were notable examples.

  11. veritas vincit says:

    RichR: “Is it possible that some souls will make it to Heaven precisely because the new Mass better fits their spiritual temperament than the old Mass?”
    I think there is a good chance that I am now a Catholic because of the Norvus Ordo. As a newly repented Christian, having been “baptized in the Spirit” charismatically after years of falling away from my Methodist upbringing, I was exposed by my prayer group to a Catholic Mass (Norvus Ordo, in the vernacular, but beautifully done). Shortly thereafter, I was given a special and powerful grace from God that Jesus Christ was truly present in the Eucharist.
    Had my first Mass been all in Latin, I can’t say that I would have been open to that grace.

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