Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Maniple: Never Abrogated

Fr Z, the Great quotes from an online document by the Office for the Liturgical Celebration of the Supreme Pontiff: Liturgical Vestments and the Vesting Prayers

5) The maniple is an article of liturgical dress used in the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Holy Mass of the Roman Rite.  It fell into disuse in the years of the post-conciliar reform, even though it was never abrogated.
The implication is that some people were slovenly about it and it just stopped being worn and that the less casual should wear it, especially, as it was never abrogated.
Now, I am not sure weight one should give to an online document but it is from a Vatican office, and it is on its official website, which has increasing been used to promulgate law and teaching.

Despite its ancient antecedents it was simply dropped from the General Instruction of the Paul VI Missal in its list of vestments for Mass. If it was never abrogated it should be worn.


MC said...

I remember arriving at a church in the early 1980s to serve a Missa Cantata to be met by the housekeeper in tears. The PP was away on holiday and a forceful young Irish nun from the local convent had been 'tidying up' in the sacristy. She had collected all the maniples and chalice veils and, on her own initiative, had thrown them into the large wheely bin as no longer required. She had not even wrapped them up but had simply opened the lid and slung them in. She had only been in the parish one month.Thankfully, the bin had not been emptied and I was able to retrieve them. The PP on his return was absolutely furious and barred this nun from ever entering his sacristy again. Sadly, this mentality was commonplace in the 1970s and 80s when many beautiful vestments were slung out as being obsolete and not suitable for the modern liturgy. It is always heartrending to see beautful chasubles and stoles with no maniples or chalice veils. The material these vestments were made from cannot be replicated.

shane said...

"If it was never abrogated it should be worn."

No Father, that's a non sequitur.

Tres Abhinc Annos

Second Instruction on the orderly carrying out of the Constitution on the Liturgy

May 4, 1967

Sacred Congregation of Rites

"25. The maniple is no longer required."

Fr Ray Blake said...

Because of ancient usuage and continuous custom, in order to remove any sense of a hermeneutic rupture, it should be worn.

"No longer required" means precisely that, that it should, rather than must be worn, at least when read in terms of continuity.

"No longer required" does not mean it should not be worn, ergo..., let's not be minimalists or utilitarianists, Shane.

MC said...

There is a very pertinent reference to Tres Abhinc Annos in Fr Bryan Houghton's classic 'The Muddle of the Mass'. Anyone who is interested in the traditional Mass should read this mini classic. This is the bit about Tres Abhinc Annos

"Owing perhaps to the opposition, the Consilium remained reasonably inactive for nearly three years. Then, on May 4th, 1967 it produced its Tres abhinc annos better known as the Instructio Altera. This, my dear Fathers, was the revolution. Permission was granted for the whole Mass, including the Canon and Consecration, to be said aloud and in the vernacular. This is clean contrary to, paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 36 of Sacrosanctum Consilium. It was, of course, a derogation from the law, a pure permission, but we were all made to realize that laws were no longer meant to be obeyed whereas permissions were obligatory.

What is the legal value of such an Instruction? It is not easy to determine. The Consilium, as its name implies, was a counselling body. It should therefore have induced either the Pope to issue a motu proprio or the Ministry concerned, the Congregation of Rites, to send out a Notification. It did neither, but issued its own Instruction. Whatever its value, one thing is quite certain: it cannot derogate from any existing law, in the particular case, from the Pope's motu proprio of January 25th, 1964 and from the Council's Constitution. It was a try on.

The trouble is that it worked. Neither the Pope nor the episcopate questioned the Instructio Altera. From that moment onwards the progressive bureaucracy knew that it was master. The bishops, from Rome to Stamford, had abdicated."

motuproprio said...

Again the English legalist and minimalist mentality conflicts with the traditional understanding of the church. Only do the bare minimum; if it's not required it's unneccesary; and if it's unneccesary it shouldn't be done; and if it shouldn't be done it mustn't be done.

B flat said...

Father Ray, my own opinion is not worth much. However, I think it necessary, expedient, and charitable, to be wary of distressing those who are wholehearted in their acceptance of "the spirit of VaticanII", and have been oppressive in their imposition of it on others.
Those who said the vesting prayers with faith, could never treat a sacred vestment as rubbish.
The understanding at the time of the instruction was general - that obedient priests and ministers would no longer wear the maniple.
Now, those who are finding the Extraordinary Form and the old Rituale Romanum, a rich and harmonious source of nourishment in Catholic piety and spirituality, will resume it, for the Novus Ordo. Is that not good enough?
After all, the maniple is not about wearing one's heart on one's sleeve, is it?

Victor said...

Could somebody enlighten me? A priest friend of mine said that, since most of today's priests have never been made Subdeacons, and since the maniple is the vestment proper to this Order, they are not allowed to wear it.
On the other hand, I remember to read some years ago that originally, the maniple was an episcopal vestment that ended up being worn by priests, deacons and subdeacons, too. Can anybody help me out here?

Denys said...

The late Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland, Dom Alfred Spencer OSB, never gave up the maniple for his novus ordo private mass - he said 'it is a sign of humility'.

Denys said...

The late Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey in Scotland, Dom Alfred Spencer OSB, never gave up the use of the maniple for his novus ordo private mass - he said, 'it is a sign of humility'.

Ben said...

"In earlier ages the maniple was called by various names: mappula, sudarium, mantile, fano, manuale, sestace, and manipulus, appellations which indicate to some extent its original purpose. Originally it was a cloth of fine quality to wipe away perspiration, or an ornamental handkerchief which was seldom put into actual use"
Catholic Encyclopaedia

Et Expecto said...

I noticed on a Polish website that sells vestments that maniples are generally included in vestment sets, except when they are put on the English market with prices in £ sterling, when there is no maniple included.

Should we conclude from this that the abandonment of the use of maniples is less prevelent outside the UK?

Richard said...

MC said "... but we were all made to realize that laws were no longer meant to be obeyed whereas permissions were obligatory"

That is superb - it captures the attitude of the "Spirit of Vatican II" perfectly.

Little Black Sambo said...

What do people do who wish to wear the maniple, when it is missing? Would it be a good idea to use one of some plain material, like linen, until gradually full sets of vestments are more common?

Anonymous said...


I don't have the Latin text in front of my - apologies - but I understood that 'Tres Abhinc Annos' as saying that the maniple 'need not be worn', which is rather different (if still regrettable) from the 'is no longer required'. Fr. A.M.

Anonymous said...


Tres abhinc annos
25. Manipulus semper omitti potest.

'The maniple is no longer required' is a bad translation of the Latin, to say the least. It gives the option of always omitting the maniple, but certainly does not prohibit its use. The reference to the maniple as having 'never been abrogated' on the Holy See website is very interesting indeed, and appears to indicate that it was not the intention of Pope Paul VI to abolish ancient or 'immemorial' customs in the liturgy when promulgating the new missal. We should remember that the 'old' missal was not abrogated either. I shall stop there with the canon law of custom, as I don't want to make matters more complicated ! But let us see its use in the 'ordinary' form become more widespread.
Fr. A.M.

MC said...

Fr A.M. says:
'The maniple is no longer required' is a bad translation of the Latin, to say the least. It gives the option of always omitting the maniple, but certainly does not prohibit its use.'

But surely the point to remember in all this soul-searching is what Fr Houghton said about Tres Abhinc Annos. The Consilium was merely an advisory body and, of itself, had no authority to decree anything. Any statement it made had to be given the force of law by the Pope or the Congregation of Rites. This did not happen so surely it follows, with the wisdom of hindsight and calm reflection, that ANYTHING in this document is worthless in any legal sense and should be ignored until it is given the force of law by the competent person or body? This has no chance of coming to pass so everyone should ignore EVERYTHING in this document.

Anonymous said...

MC :

I draw you attention to the following papal approval (apparently 'in forma specifica')of Tres abhinc annos (1967) :

Ss.mus Dominus noster Paulus PP.VI, referente infrascripto Arcadio Maria Card. Larraona, Sacrae Rituum Congregationis Praefecto, in audientia, die 13 aprilis 1967 eidem concessa, praesentem Instructionem in omnibus et singulis approbavit et auctorita te Sua confirmavit, atque publici iuris fieri iussit, ab omnibus ad quos spectat inde a die 29 iunii 1967 sedulo servandam. Fr. A.M.

Leo Wong said...

Regrettably, I have not seen Father Houghton's "The Muddle of the Mass" (where might it be available?), but the particular passage MC quotes from it (and perhaps the rest of it as well?) is also in Father Houghton's novel Mitre and Crook, 1979, p. 91.

For anyone interested in another quote: "maniple (the latter, I notice, has been abandoned, without a word of explanation, by these blasted reformers)". David Jones, in John Beaumont, Roads to Rome: A Guide to Notable Converts from Britrain and Ireland from the Reformation to the Present Day, 2010, p. 230.

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