By Christopher Wells
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on Wednesday published two Decrees dealing with matters pertaining to the celebration of the Roman Rite in the Extraordinary Form – that is, the liturgy of the Roman Rite in use throughout the Latin Church prior to the liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council.
Celebration of recently canonized saints
The first Decree concerns liturgical celebration in honour of Saints canonized since the 1960s. For the extraordinary form, the sanctoral cycle is governed by the liturgical books in force in 1962, and so newly canonized Saints had not been included. The new Decree permits those Saints to be celebrated on the date of their proper feast “within the general rubrical context of the forma extraordinaria, and when the liturgical day permits”.
Texts for the celebration of new Saints’ days are to be taken from “the Proprium Sanctorum pro aliquibus locis [Proper of Saints for Certain Places] which already exists in the Missal of the forma extraordinaria, secondly a special Supplement to be published by the Holy See in the future. Should the two former sources be lacking, the existing Commune Sanctorum [Common of Saints]” is to be used.
New Eucharistic Prefaces
In the second Decree, the CDF approves the use of seven additional Eucharistic Prefaces for the Extraordinary Form, “to be used for particular occasions such as feasts of Saints, votive Masses or ad hoc celebrations, without making any changes to the celebration of the temporal cycle”.
Four of the new Prefaces already occur in the ordinary form of the Roman Rite: the Prefaces of the Angels, of St John the Baptist, of Martyrs, and the Preface for Weddings. All are based on ancient liturgical sources.
The other three Prefaces (All Saints and Holy Patrons, the Blessed Sacrament, and the Dedication of a Church) had already been approved for use in certain Dioceses. The new Decree extends permission for their use to all who celebrate the liturgy according to the Extraordinary Form.
Good pastoral common sense
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith makes clear that the decision to celebrate the feasts of new saints, or to make use of the new Prefaces, is ad libitum. Priest celebrants are counseled to employ “good pastoral common sense” in making such determinations.
Both Decrees note that the CDF is bringing to completion work begun by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. In 2019, Pope Francis suppressed the Pontifical Commission, assigning its responsibilities to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
You can find links to both Decrees, as well as introductory “Notes” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in today’s issue of the Vatican Bulletin.