Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Does the Lectionary Mark a Rupture?

Is there a real divide between the theology expressed the two forms of the Roman Rite? Pope Benedict would have denied it

In many ways there are so many similarities between the two that when both are celebrated in Latin, the language the Second Vatican Council expected Mass to be celebrated (though remember: until Trent the Latin Rite wasn't always in Latin - Greek was used in  Athens which was Latin Rite) and when it is celebrated ad orientem, as the Council and even the Missal of Paul VI expects (which in some Roman churches had never happened because of the Confessio before the altar), apart from prayers at the foot of the altar, which happens before the Mass actually begins, visually there are only slight differences. Not all of us have dancing and balloons at Mass! Indeed it could well be argued, as Paul VI does in the Preface to his Missal that Novus Ordo, is indeed an "organic development".

So what is the major difference? I touched on this in my last post and I think is worth highlighting and asking for comment, I said:
Celebrating the Traditional Mass every Sunday, I can't help being struck by how often the Epistle refers to the evil of "fornication", "adultery" and last Sunday, "sin that should not even be mentioned among you", these extracts seem to be rare in the OF Lectionary, or is that just my lack of attention?
It is not something I have thought of much, and certainly not something I have studied, and really it is only a bothersome thought. Certainly the OF Lectionary gives us a broader selection of readings, including the Old Testament and extracts from the Gospels other than mainly Matthew and chunks of John. In many ways the modern Lectionary is superior, as a logical academic presentation of scripture the older form is obviously inferior.
I don't know quite how the older Lectionary emerged, presumably like most organic forms, by a process of evolution and to meet pastoral needs, it was tried a tested in the crucible of sacred history down the centuries.
What is more significant and worthy of serious discussion is the rupture that I would suggest the newer Lectionary has introduced into the Church's presentation of the image of God. The pre-Concilliar image of God is different from the post-Concilliar image.
Revelation is both Scripture and Tradition, it is within the Liturgy that Revelation is presented: by changing the Lectionary have we broken with something very important?


Matthew Hazell said...

This whole topic seems like a bit of a rabbit hole.

Is the difference in images a rupture or a development? How do we decide this?

How linked are the respective Missal texts with their lectionaries? Do the differences between the Missals explain some of the lectionary differences?

Should we also examine the differences between the EF Breviary and the OF Divine Office, since they are also liturgical?

Does the (substandard, IMO) English translation we've been using in the new lectionary affect the content and/or perception of that content?

You have spurred me on to do some detailed research into this topic, Father! :-)

Physiocrat said...

The entire difference between OF and EF seems to be about a precision present in the latter but not in the former. The EF is like Coca Cola - you can be certain that the tin contains what it says on the label. With the OF, you never know what you are going to get. Our Lord is present just the same, but there is usually a barrage of irritating music and other things getting in the way, that someone thought was a good idea.

This is particularly the case with music. With the EF, the music is fairly tightly prescribed and the worst thing that can go wrong is an incompetent performance. With the OF, the music becomes a subject for discussion and compromise, so often ending up with a little bit of something for everybody and the total an incoherent mess.

Amfortas said...

I am with Benedict. The OF and EF are two expressions of one Roman rite. I haven't done enough research to really understand whether the current OF lectionary marks a rupture. My sense is not. It certainly marks a recovery of Patristic typology in the way that it uses OT and NT texts. As such it shows us, to paraphrase St. Augustine, that the NT is concealed in the OT and the OT is revealed in the NT. In this way it presents the fullness of God's covenant(s) with his people. I am not saying that the typology is absent in the EF. Far from it. This is clear, for instance, in the 'O' antiphons. The whole of the mass is, of course, saturated in scripture outside the lectionary readings. This is true of both forms. The EF arguably more so.

And it's this last point that I'd like to highlight. I would like the Church, in the fullness of time, to move towards a liturgy that brings together the best of the EF and the OF. A pipe dream or a theological impossibility? Maybe.

George said...

It would be interesting to see a study done which compares the two lectionaries and quantifies the selected passages by type. And then show the % of types of passages throughout the liturgical year. For instance, if passages condemning sins against the 6th or 9th Commandments represented 15% of the EF readings, but only 4% of the OF readings, that I think would be significant. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, right?

The other thing I've noticed with regard to the EF and the OF is the type of preaching from the pulpit. (I think this relates to your larger topic of lectionaries) Many traditional priests (not all) seem to follow a different preaching plan than Novus Ordo priests. Many traditional priests, using instructions that came out of Trent, and through the work of Charles Borromeo and others, preach on matters of faith and morals with a regular plan and with a regular frequency, irrespective of the readings for that day. Many traditional priests will offer a sermon and never once reference the readings of that day. In contrast, many Novus Ordo priests will rarely preach outside of the messages within the day's readings. When you compound this phenomenon with the seeming dearth of the toughest scripture passages in the new lectionary, you find many NO priests failing to cover throughout the year the fullness of Catholic faith and morals in their sermons.

On the side of the angels said...

Why should there be such a thing as an EF lectionary?
Or Calendar?
Or any of the other technically 'superfluous' accoutrements/phenomena which are not directly related to the FORM of the Rite? Merely to exigents which were only contemporaneous with a 1962 form and not the 'universal' rite itself.
Why should certain members within the Latin Rite celebrate certain feasts on different days or even commemorate that which has been removed from the calendar - while not celebrating that which was added?
I know I may sound ridiculous but I'm being serious - shouldn't the forms 'conform' with the Church Universal?
I have no qualms with the form of EF; but there should surely be some 'Oneness and Catholicity' .
Now I have an aversion to all things liturgomaniacal - I just want to go into a Church and be led through the roman rite of the sacrifice of the mass - but although the 1962 missal usage wasn't abrogated - surely certain later reforms which directly relate to the Church Universal as reflected by the Missal do apply?

Heven't we really been spending the last forty years arguing about a missal which irrespective of anything else shouldn't be in the form it is? Irrespective of the Novus Ordo? Certain things were changed and those changes surely must apply?

I guess I'm going to get the full fury of those who disagree on so many grounds but as a simple Catholic who hazed out during the 'schillebeecx-Bugnini-craziness' of my seminary liturgy lessons where the mass was a table group hug singalong in bri-nylon around an orangebox with chipped crockery...

Why can't both forms mirror each other?

Deacon Nathan Allen said...

Father, I think you are spot on about the epistle. Despite having much more of the Bible read to us, there are some passages that were cut out, and they seem to be those that ask us to examine our consciences regarding sin. For example, one obvious passage which was read in the usus antiquior on Corpus Christi is completely absent from the NO lectionary, and even from the Liturgy of the Hours: 1 Cor 11:29: "Whoever eats this bread or drinks of the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." For my part, I think that verse should be solemnly chanted (better than most 'communion songs') as the people queue up for communion.

Matthew Hazell said...

George: one caveat with your proposal is that there is much, much more scripture in the OF lectionary than in the EF, which is likely to skew the percentages somewhat. One "feature" of the EF Missal is that it tends to repeat the epistle/lesson and Gospel on ferial days (e.g. for the 24th week after Pentecost, the readings for the 24th Sunday are repeated on days without celebrations of the saints), whereas the OF lectionary has unique readings for each and every day.

Your idea would probably work if it were limited to Sundays and feast days. However, you'd still have to take into account that the OF works on a three-year Sunday cycle, whereas the EF readings are the same every year. It gets tricky and complicated!

OTSOTA: first, technically, there is no separate EF lectionary; it's all in the Missal. Hence why it's not quite as simple as saying "[c]ertain things were changed and those changes surely must apply" to the 1962 Missal. Because the calendar, lections, propers and rubrics are all so linked together in the EF - far more so than in the OF - to reform the EF in line with Sacrosanctum Concilium you'd have to go right back to first principles. And, rightly or wrongly, I don't think many people are quite ready for that yet.

Yes, the 1962 Missal is not (yet) in conformity with what the Second Vatican Council asked for in the liturgy. (Though I would argue that the way the EF is often celebrated these days is more in line with the reforms than the OF is!) But I don't think it's prudent for the needed reform of the 1962 Missal to officially start yet. IMO, now (and over the next couple of decades at least) is the time for faithful, patient, dedicated study and debate in order to see what Benedict XVI's "mutual enrichment" might look like.

George said...

Father, I agree with your general characterization of many in the Tradtionalist camp. However, these are strange and difficult times to live through. The Church isn't presently filled with lodestars of balanced orthodoxy. In that vacuum, we each tend view our own individual views as the model of balanced orthodoxy. Even generally orthodox bishops say some really silly things from time to time. I once heard one of the US's most "conservative" bishops tell a man something astonishing during a live, call-in national radio show. The Catholic caller had called asking for advice regarding his dying Jewish father-in-law, who had repeatedly during the last few months been expressing interest in Christianity. The bishop asked the caller if he thought his father-in-law was no longer "comfortable with his Jewishness" and that perhaps he should consult his rabbi. This from one of America's "good bishops". Sad as that comment is I think its representative of the general confusion about the Faith that exists at the highest levels of the Church. Are there any bishops alive today who would understand (nevermind follow through in a similar fashion) the actions of Bl. Pius IX toward Edgardo Mortara? I would guess not.

Jerónimo Vincent said...

Father Balke, I took the liberty of translating your interesting article to Spanish.
I hope it doesn't bother you!

Fr Ray Blake said...


Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

certainly the psychedelic new-age cover of the lectionary at the last cathedral i attended marks an appalling rupture.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

"logical academic presentation of scripture"; George said: "Novus Ordo priests will rarely preach outside of the messages within the day's readings." - blimey, if that's true then the new is definitely a rupture.why spread the butter over three peices of toast? the last two logical pieces have gone cold by the time you get around to eating them, the butter has lost its fullbodiedness.

Jacobi said...

The present liturgy of the OF is a construct well removed from the Pauline Mass of 1970 and even, more from Sacrosanctum Concilium. Given that, it is reasonable to assume that the Lectionary is also a construct. The next question is by whom and for what purpose.

One obvious reason is the false ecumenism which infected Vatican 11 resulting in the LCD Catholicism-lite we have today, and the other, as has been mentioned here, is to air-brush out sin. The latter objective has been largely achieved as is seen in any Catholic church with 100% attendance at Communion and near zero at Confession.

The answer always lies in the middle, but Hell does exist and people go there. Also those who wish to air-brush sin out are in effect saying that Jesus Christ was just another deluded religious bigot who died needlessly on a cross

Joseph Shaw said...

A FIUV Position Paper on the Lectionary is in preparation, although a systematic analysis of its contents is beyond its scope. It's historical formation is complex, but the Sunday Gospel cycle goes back at least as far as Pope Gregory the Great, who preached in them.

It is in now way extraneous to the Form, since the lections are closely connected with the other propers. You couldn't swap in another Lectionary.

The idea of a three-year cycle is a huge innovation, and makes it impossible to have a coherent set of Mass propers Kane chants. The new system also makes it impossible to have readings appropriate to the feasts of saints.

It is a bit quick to say the EF and OF are indistinguishable. The Offertory Prayers, the silent Canon, the rubrics (double genuflections, kissing the altar) and the way the readings happen at the altar, are very hard to miss. They reflect other differences too.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Joseph you are quite right about the difference but they can be put down to "development". The real fracture is the Lectionary, which is what I want to highlight, and which is never really discussed.

The change in the selection of texts is the really drastic change, it is this that has brought about a difference in our understanding of God.

John Fisher said...

The arrangement of the reading cycle at Maas is thematic and didactic. The purpose is NOT to confuse through a bombardment of unrelated wide ranging coverage of readings for there own sake. The purpose is a deliberate repetition and use of readings so people LEARN. Not so that people switch off because it is a 3 year cycle.
The coverage of bible readings is BETTER dealt with in the Liturgical Hours....not Mass.
It is through repetiton we are taught and learn.
in the Old Mass I actually laern and assimilate. In the new Mass i feel overwhelmed and confused.
In the Old Mass I read and hear the readings. In the New Mass I only hear and am usually most annoyed by nasally women and men!

John Fisher said...

Also the real fracture is the lectionary AND the new eucharistic prayers (newly composed and with no mandate from Vat II). Also the removal, new composition and rearrangment of prefaces.

Greg Collins said...

Taking Fr Blake's two recent blog posts at face value one might draw the conclusion that the EF liturgy/lectionary places some great emphasis on sexual sin. If this is true could we speculate that it be because avoidance of sexual sin was the pre-occupation of those (celibate male) people who ordered the Liturgy?

The excellent Fr Z has a good piece on the Four Sins which "cry to heaven" (

So my question, and is a genuine one, is does the EF place a similar emphasis on the three of the four non-sexual sins, or on the other mortal, serious, sins which are non-sexual? If not can we speculate why not?

I know no contemporary Catholic who worships via the OF that does not believe in Hell. I've never been to an OF Mass disfigured by dancing and balloons, though I don't doubt it can and does happen on occasion.

I fear that is during the communion procession we chanted "Whoever eats this bread or drinks of the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." then very few would ever receive. I am not worthy to receive. I know it. I say as much every time I attend Mass in the OF. I put my trust in God. I trust the Lord has spoken the Word and healed my soul. I rely upon Divine Providence to make me worthy.

Greg Collins said...

Fr Ray,

May I ask a direct question?

Do you feel the understanding of God OF v EF is different better or different worse?

Where, for instance, better is more likely to bring the faithful into closer union with Christ?

Physiocrat said...

@John Fisher - you raise a relevant point. In the OF Mass, there is a high chance of not hearing anything at all of the readings. It assumes that the reader reads clearly and is not heavily accented, the public address system is effective and working properly, and that you are paying attention. If you are not on your home territory, the likelihood of all the conditions being fulfilled is small.

With the EF, the readings are in Latin and you follow the text in a translation on a sheet of paper or in your book.

The more I reflect on the matter, the more I come to the conclusion that the OF is a dead loss even on the most practical criteria.

TLMWx said...

Father there is a study of the differences and as far as I remember your suspicions are correct. I wish I could find the document and the analysis. My basic memory was as you suspect. In some instances passages have been parsed to avoid references to damnation. Generally, it is a flight from warnings of the dangers of sin, punishment, hell, purgation towards a more "positive" God loves you emphasis. I remember being rather amused on reading that the warning of the consequences for distorting the message of God itself was chopped :). I suppose simply stating this is of little use to anyone. I shall try to find the document.

Matthew Hazell said...

Joseph Shaw: I look forward to the forthcoming FIUV position paper!

I appreciate that the paper wont be going in-depth on the analysis of contents or the historical formation of the 1962 lections, but do you know of any books or resources that do?

vetusta ecclesia said...

The NO Lectionary is a form of counsel of perfection. In practical terms 3 readings are too much for the attention span of the average Sunday Mass-goer and thematic linking is redundant when people can't remember the readings from one week to the next. Despite "pastoral" intentions the whole thing reflects the attitudes and thinking of men of the first part of the C20, educated in the Western academic tradition.

BJC said...

A rupture in doctrine no, a shift in emphasis for sure. Just compare the prayers of the OF and EF never mind the readings. Its obvious. Sin, punishment and hell are much more prominent in the EF as are redemption, renewal working through grace, and leading a holy and virtuous life worthy of God. Even when you compare identical gospel or new testament readings they seem to read more harshly in the old translation. The emphasis now is "love" and "relationship" and "soft tones" Catholicism.

If Don Bosco was here or St John Vianney you can't help but get the feeling most Catholics today would find them harsh and intolerant. That can't be right. As for the good folk of the Tablet like Clifford Longley and Tina Beattie they would probably walk out of the room in disgust.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Good question.

The Old Lectionary and other liturgical texts fit together far more cohesively.

I am anxious about a liturgical committe editing the Word of God.

I like idea that the image of God that inspired the saints, as Joe Shaw says, back to Gregory the Great is still available to me today.

It is not a matter of "better or worst" that is a personal judgement, "authentic" might be a better word. The ancient Lectionary is has come into being in the crucible of sacred history, it has been the foundation of the Church, it hammers away at a pretty basic message. The modern Lectionary has been chosen by a committee at an identifable point in history, and suspect reflects that periods image of God.

Marcion was accused of editing scripture with a pen knife, I can't help thinking this has been done with the modern Lectionary.

George said...


I'm slightly confused by your comments because Fr. Ray is a rare priest (that I've come across, at any rate) who actually seems to understand and preach on the Four Sins. You mention Fr Z. (whose blog I like), but I've always got the impression that he's something of a lassiez-faire Capitalist. Only recently he was involved with Fr. Sirico and the Acton Institute.

Anyway, your comment caused me to scratch my head because Fr. Ray is one of the few priests I'm aware of who preach and teach on authentic Catholic social justice, but who also is orthodox on the whole of faith, morals, and liturgy.

The Rad Trad said...

I'm not sure if the lectionary marks a theological "rupture" but it is a de facto break in practice and idea with the older reading system.

In the older system the readings are treated as sacramentals: the reader does not face the people but the altar (for the epistle) and North (for the Gospel). This manner is quite old, some of the mid-first millennium churches in Rome that have not been remodeled still have the ambos meant for these readings; the only ambo facing the people was the choir conductor's.

The epistle in the older form is instructional in nature, sensible as St Paul's epistles were usually instructions to deal with the problems of various churches in his day. This is why on Sundays and most Holy Days, even during Lent, one finds an epistle as the first reading, while OT readings usually come on days when one does not need to attend Mass (like Lenten ferias). In the Eastern rites one never ever hears anything but an epistle for the first reading, although, like the old Roman Divine Office, they use the OT heavily during Orthros and Vespers.

The Gospel in the old rite was meant, like the propers,to expound the mystery of the day.

The new rite certainly seems to have a different intention behind the readings, or lectures, as one might call them. The idea of just going through massive chunks of scripture limits the cohesion between texts, aside from a few buzz words one may find, and the sheer bulk of readings probably makes processing and remembering them difficult for most people. I zone out until the Gospel sometimes, although I should not. The new lectionary's purpose is reading for the sake of reading, which might be an opportunity for disinterest on the congregation's part.

Re: those who want the "best" of the "EF" and the "OF:" we have had enough liturgy by committee at several points last century for last for many generations. Let's not do it again, as such a rite would inevitably have to be cooked up by some congregation of office in Rome. Using many organically grown parts in a liturgical chop-shop is still inorganic. Dr Frankenstein learned that the hard way.

Joseph Shaw said...

Matthew - I don't know of a full-length study of the EF lectionary, or of the reform. Bugnini's treatment of the latter is terse and unhelpful. He does say that they rejected the idea of keeping the old lectionary as one of the three years' cycle, because if they did this 'there would be major differences between that cycle and the others' (Reform of the Liturgy, p416), that pretty well vindicates Fr Blake's instinct!

Because the OF lectionary is so large, it is often possible for its defenders to say 'Oh no this or that passage has not been excluded, it is on Wednesday of week XX in year Z', but that is a bit beside the point. We know Bugnini wanted minimise 'negative' elements, and exiling a passage to a weekday in the middle of the summer, once every three years, is as good as putting it in the shredder. The smaller selection of readings in the EF become really familiar in time, they really give a flavour to the whole liturgical experience.

David Joyce said...


"Taking Fr Blake's two recent blog posts at face value one might draw the conclusion that the EF liturgy/lectionary places some great emphasis on sexual sin. If this is true could we speculate that it be because avoidance of sexual sin was the pre-occupation of those (celibate male) people who ordered the Liturgy?"

Giving the problems in the Church at the moment, and the wider problem of promiscuity affecting society in general and the attack on marriage in particular, it sounds like the traditional lectionary is much better suited to the present day!

The novelty of spreading the lectionary over 3 years for the Novus Ordo I believe introduces an unfortunate disconnect between how we operate in nature (the seasons during the year with our annual feasts and anniversaries) and the cycle of the readings. It does appear that the more the new liturgy places man towards the centre, the more it backfires and loses its effectiveness.

Amfortas said...

Father, it would really help me - and perhaps others - if you set out how you believe the OF lectionary has brought about a difference in the way we see God. What is the different picture you see? It's difficult for someone with little exposure to the EF to grasp your argument fully.

Some of the comments by others seem to suggest that many EF only advocates inhabit a strange ghetto. The reference to 'Novus Ordo priests' is bizarre. I've seen comments in response to other posts talk about 'Novus Ordo parishes' as though the OF is some strange minority pursuit. Admittedly I speak as someone who regularly attends solemn Latin OF at the London Oratory, which is celebrated with EF twists. This may colour my outlook. And contrary to much liberal opinion, the London Oratory is not a traditionalist ghetto. Far from it.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I haven't got time but simply, if we cut out or minimise the bits about judgement or sin we end up with a different picture of God than if we emphasise them.

I am not sure if we can speak about a hermeneutic of continuity if that change is so very drastic.

Jacobi said...

Many people have hypothesized that Vatican 11 was heavily “influenced” by a liberal/Modernist faction attempting to fundamentally alter Catholic belief.

The Modernist tactic is never to actually deny Truth but to undermine it with implication, suggestion, using innuendo and ambiguity, all justifying an alternative understanding, if so wished. This is obvious in several Vatican 11 documents.

The sort of debate being held here on the Lectionary is, I assume, exactly what they might have had in mind. Yes, the new Lectionary is in continuity, but if you choose to interpretate it otherwise, it is a rupture, and clearly that was what they hoped for.

You were so right to raise this matter Father, but let us ensure that it continues to be interpreted in continuity.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

"if we cut out or minimise the bits about judgement or sin we end up with a different picture of God than if we emphasise them." Why would the Church suddenly want to redact 1900 years of Holy Ghost authorship overnight? On one blog i read yesterday, a Catholic had been put in his place by a pentecostal friend who said of Catholicism: "The Holy Spirit is a most under utilised resource in the Church." Someone commented saying: “To come out with a comment such as “The Holy Spirit is the most under utilised resource in the Church” is akin to blasphemy really, if you think about it, because we don’t “use” God. He is not a utilitarian tool in our hands, but He is to be worshipped by us.”

Who would dare say St Francis de Sales was not - the proper way around this time - a great tool of the Holy Ghost?

Pope Pius XI wrote: [St. Francis de Sales] was accustomed to repeat to himself, as a source of inspiration, that well-known phrase “Apostles battle by their sufferings and triumph only in death.” It is almost unbelievable with what vigor and constancy he defended the cause of Jesus Christ among the people of La Chablais. In order to bring them the light of faith and the comforts of the Christian religion, he was known to have traveled through deep valleys and to have climbed steep mountains. If they fled him, he pursued, calling after them loudly. Repulsed brutally, he never gave up the struggle; when threatened he only renewed his efforts. He was often put out of lodgings, at which times he passed the night asleep on the snow under the canopy of heaven. He would celebrate Mass though no one would attend. When, during a sermon, almost the entire audience one after another left the Church, he would continue preaching. At no time did he ever lose his mental poise or his spirit of kindness toward these ungrateful hearers. It was by such means as these that he finally overcame the resistance of his most formidable adversaries.” Pius XI, Rerum omnium perturbationem, sect. 8.

“By the time St. Francis died in 1622, more than sixty thousand former Protestants had converted to the Catholic Church through his efforts. Many prominent Calvinist theologians and ministers were among those brought to the Catholic Faith by the gentle apostolic zeal of this holy priest.” P. Madrid: Search and Rescue

Deacon Augustine said...

While I am certain that there has been a shift of emphasis in moving to the new Lectionary, I am not sure that it is right to ascribe a nefarious motivation to it, but rather it is one of those many unforeseen consequences of meddling with tradition.

One of the driving forces behind the Council, which was not bad in itself, was the idea of returning to the sources i.e. Scripture and the Fathers. It was no secret then, and it is not much different now, that there is woeful ignorance of the Scriptures amongst Catholics. The only time that most Catholics get exposure to the Scriptures is at Mass. I am sure that Bugnini and his cadres viewed the lectionary through the same paradigm that they saw the rest of the Mass in that for them it was a didactic, catechetical vehicle as much as it was a participation in the Church's supreme act of worship.

The new lectionary was, therefore, drawn up to provide Catholics with as much exposure to the Bible as possible, and the only way to do that was by producing the multiple year cycles of readings. If their objective was to ensure an annual tour through salvation history with as much of the four Gospels in there as possible, then they probably couldn't have done a much better job. The pertinent question, however, is whether that is the actual purpose of the Mass readings? What do the people of God need to hear most, justification of the typological precedents of the OT being revealed and fulfilled in the NT, or reflections and instruction for the living out of our faith in our daily lives? There is nothing wrong with the former, but it may not be so useful to most Catholics as the latter.

I think the new lectionary has produced a huge shift of emphasis away from, morality, the life of grace, God's justice and holiness, and the four last things. Are we aware that the word "hell" occurs more frequently on the lips of Our Lord than every single one of the OT prophets put together?

However, I don't think the change of emphasis is necessarily by design, but is rather an unintended consequence of the worthy objective of familiarising Catholics with the Bible. As things have turned out I would suggest that Mass was the wrong place and the wrong time and the strategy counterproductive to see the achievement of that objective. But hindsight has always been a wonderful thing!

Anonymous said...

Isn't this Sunday suppose to be Laetare Sunday?

Anonymous said...

Fr Ray,
I don't believe what you describe, i.e. a decrease in the emphasis on God's judgment and the lack of condemnation of sexual sin in the OF is a rupture. It is present in the OF lectionary; as a reader in my local parish I notice that from time to time I do have to read such condemnations. The change in emphasis is there but not to the extent of a rupture. Especially not if you approach the change with the optic or hermeneutic of continuity.

It is perhaps possible to argue that the move to a three year cycle plus a separate two year cycle for week days is more of a rupture, which I think some commenters have done.

Also it is worth noting that in attending the OF it is very rare to hear a sermon focussed on the second reading: the habits of those preaching have perhaps been more of a rupture because they have approached the task so very differenttly.

I think George's comment on preaching habits is interesting in that regard. I believe the emphasis on preaching on the readings or the missal texts, of the day is in the GIRM for the OF so it is no wonder that priests don't stray very far. I seem to recall that Sacrosanctum Concilium may have had some empahsis on the same point. That said, I cannot recollect when I have heard an OF sermon reference the collect or the preface. Perhaps a true hermeneutic of continuity in the matter of preaching would combine the view of Trent and Vatican II in the importance of preaching on the gospel message in its broadest sense. I think it is in preaching that in the OF there is currently a big need to address what you see as the lack of emphasi on the Church's moral teaching: priests need to bring it into their homilies. If it was in the EF lectionary but only read in Latin, how much attention was actually given to what was not in the sermon?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Quoniam Tu Solus,
The rupture that concerns me, is not a liturgical one but a theolgical, it is the change in "the face of God" that it represents.

The image of God presented to and by the great saints, which had existed for at least 1,500 years was altered.

Scripture is inspired but previous generations would also have believed so was the Lectionary, the choice of readings.

There are subsidiary issues about the editing of scripture but what concerns me is that I am not presented with the same image of God as say St Francis or Sr Ignatius of Loyola.

Ben Trovato said...

I think there is more to be said about the impact of the change from a yearly to a three-yearly cycle - and in fact I have already said some of it here:

Physiocrat said...

Yes, the fourth Sunday in Lent is Laetare Sunday. I tried to remind the organist that it is a relief from Lent, with an introit that begins "Rejoice Jerusalem", but it did not stop him from selecting an opening hymn about the crucifixion.

Greg Collins said...


Fr Ray is a rare bird. Almost an endangered species in fact. I'm well aware that in his ministry he manages a balance that is rarely found. Hence why I follow his blog. I didn't infer otherwise.

As to Fr. Z useful resource though his blog is I don't think he and I would sit well at the dinner table if politics or economic justice came up and I only defer to him in matters of "what the prayer really says"

George said...


I'm sorry. I tend to read too much into (or simply misread) comments. Not too long after I posted my last comments, I reread yours and saw quickly that I misread what you had written!

God bless,

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...