Thursday, April 14, 2011

What to do with old Missals

With the immanent publication of the New Roman Mass Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith raises an interesting point about the disposal of the older versions.
As for the old Collins Missals, what are we to do with them?

I have not noticed any official guidance about how these holy books are to be disposed of. Ones in good condition can of course be given to libraries – old liturgical books are a priceless resource, and how we all wish even a few had survived from the early centuries. Ones in poor condition can hardly be left out with the rubbish, so the best thing for them is to be disposed of reverently.

The Jews used to entomb copies of the scriptures that had grown tatty with age, and my suggestion is that old editions of the Missal that are of no further use, whether “hand” missals or altar missals, be placed with the deceased in their coffins, and thus be buried or cremated.


Stephen said...

It's very common in Orthodoxy for any blessed object - any object which has been used for Divine service - which is no longer of any use or relevance, to be placed reverently into the coffin of an Orthodox Christian at the end of the funeral service, and returned to the earth. I've seen a Book of Gospels (which got drowned in unconsecrated wine) and a number of elderly Communion cloths end their useful lives in this fashion. This has been the practice for centuries, and I'm sure it has caused many confused archaeologists to misinterpret newly-uncovered grave goods!

Another alternative, if the items can be burned in their entirety (although books, especially thick ones, don't burn easily except in the hottest of fires). If this method is adopted, the container or place where the fire is kindled should be set aside and used for no other purpose, and the ashes of the fire should be respectfully gathered and buried in consecrated ground.

Tom said...

Isn't some common sense and caution due here?

If the books were blessed, then they are due some reverence. Burn or bury them carefully, as we would any other unusable sacramental.

If, however, they have simply outlived their usefulness, then I suggest that they are not due any particular reverence. (The fact that they were used at the altar does not give them any particular degree of sacrality per se.) They can safely be disposed of in the same way as we deal with any other items which have fulfilled there purpose. What do you do with the cardboard boxes in which the unconsecrated hosts are delivered? or the wine bottles? Do the same with unrequired missals.

I accept the point of retaining a copy for reference purposes, but I cannot see why books (if unblessed) should be given any special treatment once they have outlived their usefulness.

martin said...

Put them in a lead-lined box and send them into outer space. Or else bury them at the centre of the earth.

berenike said...

One academic chapel I used to go to used an old altar missal as a "tabor" for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament - a corporal or something was placed over it.

pelerin said...

I rather like the idea of being buried with my old Missal. I hate seeing old Missals lying on French market stalls, although the Missal cards which we used to put in are now being collected in their own right. The beautiful punched 'lace' edged cards are particularly sought after by collectors.

Mick said...

Perhaps use them as fuel for next years paschal fire, or..........send them to a nearby Country where they don't want the new translation !!!!!!

Mark said...

As a librarian I can sympathise with the sentiments expressed in relation to the old missals.
The sheer numbers involved, however, make individual burial with the deceased an attractive but largely impractical solution.
It is perfectly respectful and certainly ecofriendly to shred the books so that they can be returned to their source- "Ashes to ashes..."

How ironic it is that we can feel affection for these objects because of what they represent but offend our fellow Catholics without remorse.
I refer to the current material on the Catholic Herald blog.
What must the Ordinariate folk think!
A Guild attempting to reconcile different views without charity and tolerance is surely doomed to fail.
Have you an opinion on this Father Ray?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Bloggers Guild, do you mean? No, I hate joining things.
It sounds like trad speaking trad unto trad.

shane said...

Send them to your worst enemy.

Mark said...

"Technotrad speaking technotrad unto technotrad".

Likely they will end up debating megabyte angels on virtual pinheads.
Hope the missal situation is resolved. It was an interesting post.

PS. I think I might have created a neologism- "TECHNOTRAD"!


berenike said...

The sheer numbers involved, however, make individual burial with the deceased an attractive but largely impractical solution.

How many missals does your parish own, Mark? And you personally?


Anonymous said...

I have not noticed any official guidance about how these holy books are to be disposed of. Ones in good condition can of course be given to libraries – old liturgical books are a priceless resource

True. For example, Go to many college campuses and it is immediately evident when the college was going though its seventies period--just look for the buildings that are the biggest eyesore (Frank Lloyd Wright wannabes sans the talent). Now many of those buildings are being torn down. In gereral a good thing, but it seems that some ought to be preserved if for no other reason than for future generations to say, "What were they thinking?" Same with the lame-duck translation. :)

the owl of the remove said...

I have a very kind Undertaker who "disposes" of blessed items for me, including Missals, the old Paschal Candle and vestments from the 1970's.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I always preserve and recycle page-tabs and ribbon markers. Very often one comes across an old EF Missal which needs repair.

Deacon Stephen Morgan said...

I just love the idea of "immanent publication".

Physiocrat said...

They do need to be treated with respect even if we wince at the translations. Isn't there a protocol for this?

Peter said...

I will keep mine. It is part of our history. I still have my 1969 Simple Prayer Book with the 1973 changes stapled in as I did carefully (aged 11) so as still to be able to read the 1969 text. This shows the evolution of the text.
If we forget our history we might be condemned to repeat it. I would not trust public libraries to keep copies for long.

Pablo the Mexican said...

I will take any old altar missals and religious statues and items anyone is willing to ship to me.

What cannot be repaired by book binders or a professional old master artist that redoes statues will be disposed of by a Priest.

Recently, I was given one of two altar crucifixes that had simply been thrown in the trash.

It was repaired and placed in a home where those Faithful pray for the Holy Father and his Priests and Religious, and the souls in Purgatory.

Anyone donating unwanted items will be prayed for.

When you donate the Lord grants graces for the respect shown for religious items.


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