Where does the expression “the mass of always” come from?
The expression “the Mass of always” is a formula to designate the Mass which was current in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and which had been celebrated since the 16th century. It is used by Catholics who reject its liturgical reform. It is also the title of a collection of interventions by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, one of the main opponents of the Council, who had nevertheless voted for the text instituting this reform. “The liturgical question becomes a point of crystallization, a standard for the current of intransigent Catholicism which is opposed to questions which were not initially liturgical: religious freedom, ecumenism, interreligious relations…”, explains the Father Gilles Drouin, director of the Higher Institute of Liturgy of the Catholic Institute of Paris (1).
What is the mass called according to the missal of Saint Pius V?
Tridentine Mass, Mass (or Missal) of Saint Pius V, “extraordinary form”… So many names to designate a single reality: the Mass celebrated for a little over four centuries in the Church, before the liturgical reform that followed the Vatican II. If his last missal dates from 1962, on the eve of the Council, it finds its source in the particular context of the Council of Trent, in the 16th century, which was intended as a response to the Protestant Reformation. Promulgated in 1570, the missal of Saint Pius V (pope from 1566 to 1572) extends to the entire Latin Church the missal in force in the Roman curia a century earlier. The choice is made to unify and simplify the liturgy.
“In its form, the missal of Saint Pius V is characterized by a sobriety and a conciseness specific to the great Roman tradition”, explains Don Thomas Diradourian, who teaches liturgy at the seminary of the Saint-Martin community of Évron (Mayenne). .
The major novelty of this missal was to be based on a tradition in force in Rome and to impose it on the other local Churches, which each had their ancient traditions. “In the land of old Christianity, most local churches had their own liturgy,” recalls Don Thomas. In modern France, the resistance of the bishops of the Gallican tradition (as opposed to the ultramontanes who defend the primacy of the see of Rome) is such that it will be necessary to wait until the end of the 19th century for the mass to be celebrated everywhere according to the missal of Saint Pius V.”
What were the great reforms of Vatican II in matters of liturgy?
The liturgical reform, desired by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), does not come from nowhere, emphasizes Father Jean-Baptiste Nadler, author of The Spirit of the Mass of Paul VI (2). It is the culmination of historical and archaeological work carried out since the middle of the 19th century by “the liturgical movement”, led by Dom Prosper Guéranger, Abbot of Solesmes, and German theologians. It also follows on from other reforms already undertaken, such as that of Pope Pius XII in the early 1950s, who restored Holy Week and the Easter Vigil. The Council wants to encourage a greater participation of the faithful. Mass, the general course of which remains the same, can now be celebrated in the local language. The “universal prayer”, attested in the 4th century, is reintroduced before the blessing of bread and wine, so that the assembly of the faithful may intercede for the needs of the world and the members of the Church, living or dead.
“The liturgical celebration will take place in Latin or in another language, provided that the liturgical texts have been legitimately approved”, specifies the code of canon law (1983, c. 928), recalling that Latin remains in a way the official language. of the Catholic Church. However, the use of the vernacular language took precedence over Latin in general, very soon after the council.
The liturgy gives wider access to the treasures of the Bible. On Sundays, the number of readings before the Gospel goes from one to two, by largely introducing, in addition to the letters of Paul already present, texts from the Old Testament. The cycle of Gospel readings, which previously took place over a year and mainly concerned the Gospel of Matthew, unfolds over three years: year A for Matthew, B for Mark, C for Luke (the Gospel of John remains linked to the time after Easter). During the weekday Mass, different texts are proposed each day, instead of simply repeating the texts of the previous Sunday. “Major innovation” according to Paul VI, after the abandonment of Latin, the number of Eucharistic prayers – the central prayer of the Mass – goes from one to four major ones. The Roman canon, inherited from the missal of Saint Pius V becomes prayer number I. Number II is rather based on that of Hippolytus of Rome, written in the third century; number IV is nourished by oriental prayers from the 4th century.
What are the controversial questions for supporters of the Mass of Saint Pius V?
Opponents of the Mass of Paul VI put forward essentially theological reasons. According to them, the Council yielded to modernism and the Church became “Protestantized” by reducing in particular the mediating role of the priest and the sacrificial dimension of the mass. This opposition crystallized when the new liturgy was implemented after the Second Vatican Council. Based on the first revisions of the old missal – and while waiting for the entry into force of the new, on November 30, 1969 – the parishes launched all-out experiments, which scandalized these Catholics.
The fundamental divergence is based on the notion of tradition. “Tradition is a theological concept,” recalls Gilles Drouin. Before being a content, it is the act of transmitting. I transmitted to you what I myself received from the tradition which comes from the Lord Jesus, says Saint Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 11,23). In Catholicism, the authenticity of Tradition is guaranteed by the Roman magisterium. Basically, the traditional mass is that of Paul VI! In the sense that it was promulgated in 1969 by a solemn act of the magisterium which is the ecumenical council, sanctioned, in the positive sense of the term, by the pope. This is how the Church tells us the authentic Tradition which is to implement the very order of Jesus: do this in memory of me. »