WDTPRS- Exaltation of the Cross and Basil Emeritus

Let’s look at the Collects for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross in both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary Form, Novus Ordo (1970MR etc.) and the Vetus Ordo (1962MR of St John XXIII).  These are now, apparently acknowledge as being two different Rites rather than two different uses or forms of the same rite.  This is something we all knew, of course.  BUT… with Summorum Pontificum we had a juridical solution that easily allowed for priests to use either book.

That reminds me, however, of something entirely inane that I saw from the Archbp. of Liverpool the other day.

He says that this is “more than simple semantics”.

Well, no.  In this case, it is precisely that.

To suggest that somehow the Novus Ordo is “the ‘traditional Mass” (note the singular), that its traditional pedigree, content, lasting impact on the Church is on par with that of the Vetus Ordo is, on the face of it, absurd.

And within that crazy assertion there is an admission: by naming only Paul VI and John Paul II we see that he admits a break in the continuity of what has been handed down.  The Novus Ordo, a different Rite, artificially constructed according to principles that were outside of those few things mandated by the Council Fathers in Sacrosanctum Concilium, was implemented in 1969/70.  It constitutes a break with longer tradition, understood as having begun before 1969.

If you are going to claim that that the 1970/2002 Missale was handed down to that Archbishop by Paul VI and John Paul II, and that is therefore “tradition” (simply because they legislated its use – and legislation is juridical not theological) then you have to admit the same thing about the 1962 Missale.   Paul VI permitted the 1962 Missale.  He handed it down.   John Paul permitted its use.   He handed it down.  Benedict XVI permitted its use.  He handed it down.  Heck, even within the dreadfully cruel Traditionis Francis permits its use.  He handed it down, nolens volens.

Paul VI and John Paul II gave that Archbishop the 1970 Missale, but the 1962 Missale was handed down to all of us by

Benedict XVI
John Paul II
John Paul I
Paul VI
Pius XII
Pius XI
Benedict XV
Pius X
Pius IX
Gregory XVI
Pius VII
Pius VI
Clement XIV
Clement XIII
Benedict XIV
Clement XII
Benedict XIII
Innocent XIII
Clement XI
Innocent XII
Alexander VIII
Innocent XI
Clement X
Clement IX
Alexander VII
Innocent X
Urban VIII
Gregory XV
Paul V
Leo XI
Clement VIII
Innocent IX
Gregory XIV
Urban VII
Sixtus V
Gregory XIII
Pius V

And we could go back to Gregory I (+604).

Enough of that.  Let’s move on to today’s lovely feast.

Today’s feast commemorates the discovery in AD 325 in Jerusalem by the Emperor Constantine’s mother St Helena of the Holy Cross, as tradition has it, under sweet basil herb bushes.  It is also the anniversary of the Dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher built on that site in 335.  A portion of the Cross was placed there.  The Basilica was consecrated on 13 September and, on 14 September the fragment of the Cross was shown to the people so that the clergy and faithful could pray before it.  In 614 invading Persians and King Chosroes absconded with it. They held it until it was recaptured by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628 and returned to the Basilica.

St. Helena brought a portion of the Cross and other instruments of the Passion back to Rome.  They were deposited, along with soil from the holy ground, at what is now called the Basilica Sessoriana, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.

COLLECT (1962):

Deus, qui nos hodierna die Exaltationis sanctae Crucis annua solemnitate laetificas: praesta quaesumus; ut cuius mysterium in terra cognovimus, eius redemptionis praemia in caelo mereamur.


O God, who on this day gladden us by the yearly solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: grant, we beseech You; that in heaven we may merit to attain the rewards of redemption of Him, whose mystery we have known on earth.

The colons and semicolons in the older way of printed liturgical orations are intended to help the priest sing the prayer, rather than to give it greater sense.

The force of the last phrase is “whom we have known on earth in mystery”.  Remember that mysterium is nearly interchangeable with sacramentum.  Notice the parallel set up between in terra… in caelo.  In this life, we can know Christ and what is promised us in heaven only as through a glass, darkly, as St Paul put it.  Our supreme contact with Christ in this life is in the sacramental mysteries, in our sacred liturgical worship and in Holy Communion.  In heaven our knowledge will be more direct, though God will forever remain Mystery, tremendum et fascinans, awesome and alluring.

Here is another version from the beautiful hand missal from Baronius Press:

O God, who this day dost gladden us by the yearly feast of the Exaltation of the Cross: grant, we beseech Thee, that we who on earth acknowledge the Mystery of Redemption wrought upon it, may be worthy to enjoy the rewards of that same Redemption in heaven.

The Baronius Press hand missal, printed in the UK, was released in 2007, the same year that Benedict XVI issued Summorum Pontificum – the “Emancipation Proclamation” which greatly freed up the use of the 1962 Missale RomanumSummorum, with its juridical solutions, is one of the most important accomplishments of Benedict’s too short pontificate.  Now, however, the emancipation of faithful Catholics with Summorum has been cruelly undermined with Traditionis custodes, Francis’ Plessy v. Ferguson to Benedict’s Proclamation.

Let is now move to the Novus Ordo edition of the Missale Romanum.

COLLECT (2002):

Deus, qui Unigenitum tuum crucem subire voluisti,  ut salvum faceret genus humanum, praesta, quaesumus, ut, cuius mysterium in terra cognovimus, eius redemptionis praemia in caelo consequi mereamur.

This was pieced together from phrases from Collects of Palm Sunday and of Wednesday in Holy Week as well as today’s feast in the pre-Conciliar Missal, as we just saw above.


O God, who desired that Your Only-begotten undergo the Cross so that He would make the human race free, grant, we beseech You, that we merit to attain in heaven the rewards of redemption of Him, whose mystery we have known on earth.


God our Father, in obedience to you your only Son accepted death on the cross for the salvation of mankind. We acknowledge the mystery of the cross on earth. May we receive the gift of redemption in heaven.

Not content to chop the Latin into two sentences, the translators opted for three.


O God, who willed that your Only Begotten Son should under the Cross to save the human race, grant, we pray, that we, who have known his mystery on earth, may merit the grace of his redemption in heaven.

Today, the aromatic herb basil (Ocimum basilicum which, comes from Greek basileos, “king”) is blessed by our Eastern brothers and sisters and placed in abundance around their Crosses.

I suggest having pasta and basil pesto tonight with a crisp, cold white live a Sauvignon Blanc or a Sancerre.  With friends and loved ones it would be a fine way to observe the feast day.

NB: By “basil” pesto, I don’t mean made from Basil Emeritus, though he could be invited.

Since there are now two “Popes” in the Vatican, why not have two hamsters, Basil and… meet… Ming.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Save The Liturgy - Save The World, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, Traditionis custodes, WDTPRS and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Not says:

    First I would say that Satan gets it. The satanic or black mass is the Latin Mass said backwards, not the Novus Ordo. To those of us that grew up with rock and roll music, remember the Eagles Hotel California song about the black mass. In the Novus Ordo the consecration of the wine (blood of Christ) known as the Mystery of Faith is removed from the consecration and brought up later. As the song says,, I called the Captain and said, please bring me my wine. He said ,we haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.

  2. VP says:

    How could any bishop write that and keep a straight face?

  3. Kathleen10 says:

    Haha…”One thing that annoyed many Catholics…(him)…is that those devoted to the old ways of worship often describe themselves as traditional.”
    These TLM-haters are so obvious. I think it’s safe to say there is no label we could have come up with that would please them. They have an axe to grind and they’re going to grind it. You cannot appease people who just don’t like you because you exist.

  4. One might say that Pope Francis, rather than handing down the TLM, threw it down in anger.

  5. Chrisc says:

    Fr.Z, many make the point that the liturgy goes back to St. Gregory the Great. Do you know of a good resource to look at pre-Gregorian Roman liturgy? Jungmann seems not altogether unbiased. Is this something covered by Alcuin Reid or Archdale King? Or do you know another source?

  6. Gaby Carmel says:

    It occurs to me that a good book to read at this time is the “Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation”, by St Thomas More. He wrote it in 1534, while he was in the Tower, and it somehow survived! The Dialogue considers the manifold and catastrophic ways in which things were falling apart in ‘Hungary’, and how one should use one’s faith in Christ and one’s wit to obtain solid comfort. Considering the circumstances in which the book was written, its very existence is itself a comfort to us. In many ways, this book feels quite contemporary.

    The Sheed edition, featuring Monica Stevens’ respectful modernisation of the text, was published in 1950. If you can’t find a second-hand copy, then apparently it is available at Project Gutenberg.

    [There are various versions HERE including a reading available through Audible. Audible has recently had many of the GREAT COURSES available for $10! ]

  7. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    With apologies for jumping in – I have heard well of Adrian Fortescue’s The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy (1912), a scan of which I find in the Internet Archive (linked in his Wikipedia article). And the 1940 edition of Frederic C. Eckhoff’s translation of Pius Parsch’s The Liturgy of the Mass, also scanned there, has a very interesting historically-annotated history of the Canon on pages 345-51.

    But Fr. Z, and others, will be able to update me and better inform you…

  8. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I’ve been enjoying Basil Emeritus and the lively Ming, and imagining them enjoying pinenuts!

  9. monstrance says:

    The good Bishop failed to mention who handed the Novus Ordo to Paul VI.

  10. ex seaxe says:

    Father: The two paragraphs message you show is intended as a soft answer to blunt attacks on him from the ‘mainstream’ in his diocese.

    It is no wonder that Abp. McMahon has been keeping his head down. He was perhaps hoping his actions would speak for him. And what actions are these?
    1) He invited FSSP into his diocese, which had previously had no TLM.
    2) He gave them a parish church, and erected it is a non-parochial shrine.
    3) He regularly celebrates traditional rites such as Confirmation for them.
    4) He has ordained four of their candidates to the priesthood, at the shrine, using the traditional form.
    The attacks on him that I have just read here are very poor reward for exposing himself to the ire of many of his diocesan clergy, and distressing many laity in his charge.

  11. Jim says:

    ‘…tradition is a living concept not something stuck in the past.’ The condescenscion shows. The past is a bad thing. Tradition is indeed living but it is not ‘stuck’ in the past, it is rooted in it, grounded in it. Trees are not ‘stuck’ in the ground. They draw their water from it, it is their foundation, it was their cradle. And if you cut them off from it, they wither and die.

  12. Simon_GNR says:

    Archbishop McMahon is the only Catholic bishop I’ve ever met and had a normal conversation with, though I once met another bishop face-to-face in a confessional booth. I was quite impressed by his general soundness and sympathy for traditional Catholic beliefs and practice. His above statement is therefore very disappointing. It may be relevant to his now apparent Bergoglian contempt for traditionalism that, as Archbishop of Liverpool, he is very much in the frame for translation to Westminster should Cardinal Nichols (aged 75) resign or retire. Perhaps Archbishop McMahon wishes not to rock the boat and put himself out of the running of becoming a cardinal and de facto Primate of England and Wales.

  13. Pingback: Canon212 Update: PlaneFrancis is Evil, and Abp. Vigano’s Not Surprised – The Stumbling Block

  14. Neil Addison says:

    Ex Seaxe: You are indeed correct that Archbishop Malcolm was under Sumorum Pontificum a good friend of Tradition and indeed he had the thanks, prayers and support of all Liverpool Traditionalists.

    That has made his article even more hurtful to the faithful in the Archdiocese. Contrary to what you say he has never to my knowledge been attacked by any Traditionalist so why should he attack us ?

  15. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    With further apologies, I meant to write “a very interesting historically-annotated text of the Canon on pages 345-51”.

    Reading a translation of Pius Parsch’s The Church’s Year of Grace in preparation for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, I find he thinks the Mass can be attributed to the time of the Lombard invasions (though without further details as to why). My learned schola master thinks the surviving form of the music for the Offertory verses is French, and so not earlier than the Ninth century.

  16. Fr. Reader says:

    I agree with him that to use the word “traditional” ONLY for the so called “traditional Mass” is a gross reductionism. As if there is nothing of tradition elsewhere.
    In the same way in which it is called “the Latin Mass”.

    Perhaps British irony is incomprehensible to average US readers.

    [Could that, ironically, be gross reductionism?]

  17. Fr. Reader says:

    Yes, it is reductionism. I should have not written that comment, sorry.

Comments are closed.