ASK FATHER: The TLM’s Orationes Diversae and Oratio Imperata

Good stuff here!


My good friend Fr. Finigan has a post about Votive Mass which is sort of related to this.



From a reader…


In the Missale Romanum of the traditional Mass (1962), there is a section called “Orationes Diversae” with the rubric Dicendae ad Libitum Juxta Rubricas. Does this mean that these prayers cannot be inserted into any Mass and must follow the rules/rubrics for commemmorations? Also, if the bishop orders an “Oratio Imperata” say for example, after an earthquake or for rain during draught, am I right to think that in the traditional Mass corresponding prayers for those necessities can be prayed, the rubrics for commemorations overruled by the bishop’s order?

For this I consulted those who are deeply imbued with red ink, down to the marrow of their bones.

The long and the short of it is that there is a short answer and there is a long answer.

Here is the short answer, written by a good MC of my acquaintance of some years:

According to the rubrics for the 1962 Missal (Rubricae generalis, nn. 461-465), a priest may only add a prayer from the orationes diversae at a non-Conventual 4th class Low Mass, as long as the number of prayers does not exceed three (prayers said under one conclusion are considered one prayer).

Some of those orationes diversae have their own particular “limitations,” and that is made clear right after the heading of said prayers, and they would have to follow the ranking of prayers/commemorations.

If the Bishop commands an oratio imperata, it will be specified what that is, but that rarely happens. The rules for such prayers are: it may only be one such prayer, it would come after the privileged prayer/commemoration (if there is one), it would be under its own conclusion, and it would be said by all the priests in the arch/diocese.

I know that some of you are writhing and biting the backs of your hands in frustration at the brevity of the response.  Without question you want details.  You always want details.   Hence, I also queried by own MC here in Madison, who brilliantly guides the ceremonies with which the great TMSM concerns itself.

The TMSM MC’s response:

This one isn’t terribly difficult, but neither is it brief….

This is covered under the Rubricæ generales nn. 433-465.

The simplified rubrics treat the Orationes Diversæ as even below the rank of other Commemorations, specifically covered in nn. 461-465:

461. Quilibet sacerdos addere potest unam orationem ad libitum in omnibus Missis lectis non conventualibus diebus liturgicis IV classis.
462. Oratio votiva eligi potest aut ex Missis, quae tamquam votivæ celebrari permittuntur, aut ex orationibus pro defunctis.
463. Hæc oratio ponitur ultimo loco, post alias orationes, non autem excedere debet numerum ternarium orationum.
464. Oratio votiva pro defunctis addi potest in Missis lectis non conventualibus defunctorum IV classis.
465. In oratione A cunctis, nominari potest sive Titularis propriæ ecclesiæ, sive quilibet Patronus principalis, sive Fundator aut Titulus Ordinis seu Congregationis. Ceterum serventur rubricae quae, pro hac oratione, in Missali inveniuntur.

So, the Orationes Diversæ can be used under the 1962 rubrics if:
• The liturgical day is IV Class,
• The Mass is a Low Mass, and
• There are not already three orations ordered by the calendar (or the Ordinary, if he has ordered prayers).

The Orationes Imperatæ are specifically covered by nn. 454-460:

454. Nomine orationis imperatæ intellegitur oratio, quam Ordinarius loci imperare potest, occurrente gravi et publica necessitate aut calamitate.
455. Tamquam imperata, ab Ordinario loci præscribi potest quælibet oratio e Missis, quæ tamquam votivæ celebrari permittuntur, aut ex orationibus ad diversa, aut ex Missis et orationibus pro defunctis.
456. Maxime convenit ut Ordinarius loci orationem imperatam non modo stabili imponat, sed tantum ex causa revera gravi et per spatium quod tempus veræ necessitatis non excedat.
457. Oratio imperata :
a) una tantum esse potest ;
b) dici debet ab omnibus sacerdotibus Sacrum facientibus in ecclesiis et oratoriis, etiam exemptis, diœcesis ;
c) numquam dicitur sub unica conclusione cum oratione Missæ, sed post commemorationes privilegiatas ;
d) prohibetur omnibus diebus liturgicis I et II classis, in Missis votivis I et II classis, in Missis in cantu et quoties commemorationes privilegiatæ numerum pro singulis diebus liturgicis statutum compleverint.
458. Oratio imperata pro defunctis dicitur tantum in feriis IV classis, et in Missis votivis aut defunctorum lectis IV classis.
459. In publica calamitate aut necessitate, natura sua per longius tempus persistente (v. gr. bello, pestilentia et similibus), Ordinarius loci imponere quidem potest orationem imperatam convenientem pro toto tempore infausti eventus ; sed hæc oratio :
a) dicitur tantummodo feriis secunda, quarta et sexta ;
b) prohibetur iisdem diebus et in Missis de quibus supra, n. 457 d.
460. Occurrente urgentiore, gravi et publica necessitate aut calamitate, nec tempus suppetat adeundi Ordinarium loci, parochus, intra fines suæ parœciæ, etiam pro ecclesiis et oratoriis exemptis, statuere potest orationem convenientem dicendam per tres dies continuos. Hæc oratio iisdem diebus et in iisdem Missis prohibetur ac oratio ab Ordinario loci imperata (n. 457 d) ; quæ, si dicenda esset, omittitur.

So it is a single prayer, commanded by the Ordinary, and is likewise not included at Sung Masses, nor included on I or II Class days. If the situation persists , the Orationes Imperatæ are further restricted to only Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with the other limitations still holding. Note however, that in a grave emergency, a priest may add such a prayer on his own, if it is not possible to contact the Ordinary beforehand.

Sadly, the usual second and third prayers (for the intercession of the BVM, and either for the Pope or for the defense of the Church), ordered by the rubrics according to the liturgical season for centuries, were completely removed in the 1960 revisions. Coincidence?

I think that that should satisfy even the most exacting.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    If it is in Latin, how will the bishop even know if it was included? /s

  2. Uxixu says:

    Having acquired a 1948 Missale Romanum and a 1939 Dominican Rite Missal (Missale S. Ordinis Predicatorum), I watched how the fixed commemorations would go through the end of Lent and Eastertide and it’s marvelous. The commemorations are fixed in the MR though end at passiontide while the MSOP keeps going right to Easter. Was also interesting forecasting that after Pentecost, the 3rd becomes ad libitum in both, allowing the priests some latitude, as well.

    They definitely belong in High Mass, as well as Low and I’m praying a future pope restores the fixed commemorations and at least a few more octaves.

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