Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ordo Recitandi: For Sale Now!

For all devout practitioners of the traditional Roman liturgy, the Ordo published by the St. Lawrence Press is available for purchase for 2017. If you want a daily dose of what the Roman liturgy was like before Pius XII and in accordance with the received norms of the Roman kalendar, this ordo is perfect for study or practical use by laymen and clerics praying and celebrating the Office or Mass.

For a review of the ordo and an in-depth interview concerning its history, the immediate history of the traditionalist movement in England, and the compiler's views on the current state of the Roman liturgy, see the re-published 2014 interview below.

A newer review of the MMXVII ordo should follow in the coming weeks.

*   *   *

I am grateful to the St. Lawrence Press for the opportunity to review their Ordo Recitandi Officii Divini Sacrique Peragendi for 2015, as well as for the time spent by the compiler, Rubricarius, to answer questions about the history of the Ordo, provide us with some invaluable history told from experience, and his thoughts on the future of the traditional Roman liturgy. I have never looked at an Ordo other than a quick glance at the FSSPX one while at the Oxford Oratory (more accurate than the LMS), so I cannot compare the St. Lawrence Press version's quality to other ordines, but I think the thoughtful layout and the efficient presentation will speak for themselves. This booklet, which continues the praxis of the early traditionalists in following the 1939 typical edition of the Missal, should be helpful for all gradations of use: laymen, solitary priests, and for public prayer settings. Even non-users might find the Ordo an interesting study in the traditional liturgy's kalendar and commemoration system, although this booklet does deserve to be put to practice.

Part I: Reviewing the Ordo

The first page contains immediately useful information on the dates of the variable feasts of the year and the four sets of ember days. Atop the third page is the proclamation of the variable feasts sung after the Gospel every year on the feast of the Epiphany, which would be helpful to someone working without a form. 

The Ordo, which is entirely in Latin—no Classical word flourishes, mercifully—publishes exhaustive, straight forward, and concise details on such things as external solemnities, titular feasts and the dedication of churches, private and public votive Masses—normal and Requiem, and the guidelines for the Forty Hours devotion, which, despite being eleven paragraphs long, is quite simple and more thorough than what one finds in Fortescue. 

Yes, there can be an external solemnity of the Sacred Heart. The rubrics on the left continue the extensive directions for the Forty Hours.

The rules around Masses for the Dead vary in strictness depending on whether or not the Mass is a sung Mass or not. This Ordo forgets not the finer details of the commemoration system, too, such as the use of the orations for the dead on the first feria of the month at Mass.

When I first heard that the Last Gospel is replaced with another text on some days, I was a bit confused when told that this only occurs when the displaced text is "strictly proper." The Ordo contains a very good explanation that any priest should be able to remember and understand when consulting the Ordo listing for a feast or Sunday which displaces another day.

Guidelines for orations, the Ordinary of Mass, and prefaces in private votive Masses, which differs in many respects from 1962.

In order to be succinct, the Ordo does not give long explanations like the LMS and FSSPX ordines, but instead employs an abbreviation system. At first all these potential entries look intimidating, but the layout of the pages containing the liturgical orders of the days makes everything more intelligible.

For example, the R next to the octave day of St. Stephen indicates that the Mass and Office of the day are observed in red vestments and with a red altar frontal. The A midway through the entry directs a change to white (albus) for V seq (Vespers of the following day). 

believe most ordines begin at Advent. The St. Lawrence Press Ordo begins with January 2015 and, considerately, runs to the 10th of January, 2016. 

This page is a nice example both of the clarity of the Ordo and the depth of the old Roman rite. The page is for March. The 23rd is a Lenten Monday which, noted by the X to the right, permits a votive Requiem Mass (as do all ferial Mondays of Lent). At Vespers the color changes to white for the feast of St. Gabriel the Archangel, a greater-double feast. At Mattins, the lessons and responsories in the first nocturne are proper to the feast. The ninth lesson is that of the displaced feria. The feria is commemorated with its Benedictus antiphon and collect at Lauds, as well as with a commemoration and proper Last Gospel at Mass (it is strictly proper). A private Mass may be celebrated of the feria with a commemoration of St. Gabriel and a proper Last Gospel, the prayer super populum per the Lenten feria, and the Benedicamus Domino dismissal, all done in violet for the Mass alone. Vespers is of the following feast of the Annunciation, a double of the first class, with the Incarnation doxology used in the hymns that night and during the hours on the 25th. 

Certain days, such as those of the Triduum, contain long descriptions of unique rites and ceremonies proper to the day. Any church master of ceremonies would already be expected to know this information, but I suspect it would be a very helpful reminder to the sacristan, who might read it over to remember everything he needs to prepare the altar, the vestments, and any other articles necessary for the day. A thoughtful sacristan might even read ahead and ask the priest if he anticipated celebrating a votive Mass or a ferial Lenten day on a feast and then write an emendation in the generous margins. 
This is an excellent Ordo for use and study by both clerics and laymen. I would recommend getting a copy yourself and putting it to some good use. To order the St. Lawrence Press Ordo for 2015, click here. They take PayPal.

Part II: Interview with the Compiler

Herein follows an interview with Rubricarius, the compiler of the Ordo and friend of this blog. He gives us some history about the Ordo as well as some very unique views of the future of the old rite and about Summorum Pontificum which should get the comment box rolling.

Q. Thank you, Rubricarius, for sending me your Ordo 2015 for review. I have long been an avid reader of the St Lawrence Press blog and appreciate its efforts to educate the public on the Roman liturgy as it existed prior to Pius XII and the general process of change. Could you perhaps tell us more about the specifics of your Ordo, such as the year it follows and how that came about?

A. Thank you, Rad Trad for your interest.  The Ordo began back in the early 1970s as the idea of Fr. Peter J. Morgan (the first priest ordained by Mgr. Lefebvre for the Fraternity back in 1971).  Fr. Morgan soon gathered a sizable group of interested clergy and somehow managed to create Mass centres almost out of thin air. He felt it was time to resurrect a traditional Ordo.  What must be born in mind is that the Ordo reflected the liturgical praxis of what the St. Pius Association (the precursor to the $$PX) and other traditional clergy were using at the time.  Fr. Morgan asked Mr. John Tyson, the compilator emeritus, to produce an Ordo for 1973. John is a truly exceptional and talented man and could basically think an Ordo in his head for any given year.  John’s rather difficult-to-read script – it looks very like classical Armenian - was patiently deciphered and typed up on foolscap by the late Miss Penelope Renold and published in three sections by the ‘St. Pius V Information Centre’.  The first volume. ‘Pars Prima’ was clearly somewhat rushed with the cover in Miss Renold’s handwriting.  ‘Pars Secunda’ and ‘Pars Semestris’ followed with typed covers. The two following years saw again a simple foolscap size production but integrated into a single volume.  The current format has its origins in the 1976 edition.

The ‘pre-Pius XII’ rubrics were what clergy and their supporters used at that time.  What is now called the ‘EF’ had, obviously, been used for the couple of years of its existence a decade earlier – but not by everyone I would add - but no one who was supporting the cause of ‘Old Rite’ used it in the UK in the 1970s and it did not make an appearance until a decade later.

Q. Who were the principle people behind the Ordo when it began publication under the St Pius V Information Center? What sort of structure runs the administration of the St Lawrence Press Ordo today?

A. We have covered this, in part, with the first question.  The driving force was Fr. Morgan who channeled the considerable talents and knowledge of John Tyson.  Miss Renold did the typing and, I would conjecture, the posting to interested parties.  The Ordo was published by the St. Pius V Association up to and including Ordo 1978.  Ordo 1979 was published by the $$PX and they continued to publish it up to Ordo 1983.  All this time Mr. Tyson was continuing to exercise his considerable talents.  Since 2002 the Ordo has been published by The Saint Lawrence Press Ltd.  This is a legal entity of a company limited by shares in English Law. It has three directors, including myself, and a company secretary.

Q. How did the St Lawrence Press survive the liturgical about-face of 1983, when the Society of St Pius X reversed its 1977 decision to allow celebrants of the old rite to continue their established custom and imposed the 1962 liturgy on all priests in the Fraternity? Why was the pre-Pius XII rite worth saving, from the perspective of those who continued the St Lawrence Press at the time?

A. If I may answer these questions together Rad Trad?  As I mentioned earlier it was actually the $$XP itself that was publishing the Ordo from 1979 onwards with a considerable number of its clergy using it.  When the trustees of the St. Pius V Association had handed over its assets to the $$PX one of the conditions was that the pre-Pius XII liturgy was to continue to be used.  I understand that one of the original trustees deeply regrets now not having taken legal action when the $$PX reneged on the terms.  Who knows what might have been...   Anyway, as to the ukase to enforce the use of the 1962 books this was a consequence of discussions Lefebvre was having with Rome in the early 1980s.  I have letters from both Michael Davies and Bishop Donald Sanborn – from opposite ends of the Traddieland spectrum - confirming this to be the case.  In his letter Michael Davies states that the indult Quattuor abhinc annos was a direct consequence of these discussions. (We can see the parallels with Summorum Pontificum and Fellay’s overtures to Rome although back in the early 1980s at least Lefebvre was not claiming to be told what to do by putative visions of the BVM).  Lefebvre’s ukase caused great upset, particularly in the NE district of the USA.  Here in England Lefebvre announced this when he came to bless the newly acquired church of SS Joseph and Padarn in London.  A friend of mine, Dr. Thomas Glover, witnessed the argument that took place in the sacristy after Mass between Lefebvre and the then district superior, Edward Black.  Fr. Black put up a spirited defense of the existing practice with both he and Lefebvre getting angrier with each exchange.  The argument took place in French, a language which Dr. Glover is not fluent in.  Dr. Glover tried to interject in Italian and observed that Fr. Black was winning the argument but then, suddenly, just shrugged his shoulders and capitulated.  I am sure you are familiar with Fr. Cekada’s account of what happened in your country and I am sure Fr. Cekada is quite correct in maintaining that if Lefebvre had stayed for the meatloaf the problem would have been resolved. 

Anyway, Fr. Black realised that he could no longer produce the Ordo so he asked two dear friends of mine, now my fellow directors, to produce the Ordo.  This decision was made immediately after Lefebvre left London that fateful day.  So, from 1984 the Ordo was produced by the Saint Lawrence Press – not Ltd – which was what we call in England a trading partnership.  Ordo 1984 caused quite as stir as its cover had the Arms of John Paul II on the cover.

This did cause some upset with customers so 1985 had an absolutely plain cover.

The artist Gavin Stamp was a university friend of Mr. Warwick and drew the cover image for Ordo 1986.  Yours truly came across the $$PX in 1988 and became instantly fascinated by the Ordo.  Despite what had happened five years earlier the majority of clergy were still using ‘pre-Pius XII’ then.  I recall a whole year of Sunday’s without a hint of 1962 – happy days.  The current UK district superior even celebrated the major services of the Triduum at Highclere in 1991 at 10:00am and a Pentecost Vigil at the unearthly hour of 4:30am – or something like that. 

As to why it was worth saving I think that is because it was the best thing available at the time and within living memory of so many involved.  A great many people identified this as ‘Old Rite’ as it was what they had experienced before the changes.  What I did notice was that many people I met who were supporting the $$PX had been servers or singers at Fr. Clement Russell’s church at Sudbury which you posted about recently.  I was much influenced by the late, and much lamented, Mgr. Gilbey.  Mgr. Gilbey never used 1962 and saw it as just an intermediate stage in the changes. 

Q. How did the 1983 decision and the 1984 indult influence celebrations of the pre-Vatican liturgy among traditionalists? What sorts of groups, other than sedevacantists, continued the old rite?

A. A very interesting question.  Again, what I think needs to be emphasized is that in the early days 1962 was not being used. Indeed, a very good friend of mine was close friends with an elderly priest from the NW of England twenty years ago.  The elderly priest told my friend that he and a group of other parish priests just quietly refused to adopt the new Holy Week.  “We thought Pius had flipped” he told my friend and that ‘normal’ service would be resumed after Pius’ death.  The Old Rite though never entirely died out in England.  Another friend told me that one could go into the Brompton Oratory in the late 1970s and early 1980s and find half a dozen or so private Masses that all followed the Ordo except one, where the 1956 changes were observed.  Not one of those good men used 1962 though.  Very few sedevacantists used the ‘pre-Pius XII rubrics.  The strict sedevacantists, such as CMRI, follow the 1956 changes but not those of 1962.  A wide range of the spectrum of Traddieland have used, and continue to use, the Ordo and I think it would be difficult to categorise them into any particular group – which is interesting in itself.

Q. Please explain, how you became involved with the Ordo?

A. When I first discovered the ‘old rite’ in 1987 I found it all very confusing as celebrations I attended did not match the ‘Saint Andrew’s Daily Missal’ I had.  When I first met Mgr. Gilbey his Masses matched it perfectly so that set me thinking.  I first attended $$PX Masses in 1988 and soon discovered the Ordo.  I found it fascinating as at the same time I was being instructed by a friend, now sadly departed, to learn the Breviary.  I knew John Tyson of course and remember asking him about (I V) in the Ordo.  I said to him ‘John, I think I have worked out commemorations except the hymn element.  What do you do if the hymn does not have five verses?’  John gave one of his famous chuckles and said ‘You fool, you Tom fool, it is not one to five but of first Vespers.’  Anyway I soon became involved with proof reading the Ordo.  It was all relatively primitive in those days. Although we have moved on from typing the thing it was being produced in WordPerfect which was not a WYSIWYG software programme.  The symbols for holy days and days of devotion were drawn in by hand before the pages went off to the printers.  Then came along Word2 and Word6 and subsequent editions by Mr.Gates and it became much easier.  Eventually, and I do not recall exactly when, sometime in the mid-1990s yours truly was producing the scripts and then took over completely with the Saint Lawrence Press Ltd.

Q. Who are some past or present customers of the St Lawrence Press that our readers today would recognize?

A. Customer details are covered by legislation such as the Data Protection Act, notwithstanding basic morality, and so cannot be revealed without the person’s express consent.  However, a wide range of people from all continents form the current customer base with the majority of customers coming from the United States and from France.  Of the main Traddie groups there has been an interesting change in the customer base.  From the early days when a large number of $$PX clergy took the Ordo the $$PX is now a minority customer.  A decade or so ago there were many orders from members of the Institute of Christ the King but, sadly, they now seem more interested in what they wear than liturgy.  Of the current major groups in Traddieland member of the FSSP take the most Ordines but the majority of sales are to individual diocesan clergy and laity.  A small number of Curial prelates take the Ordo – the fascinating thing is that none of them have any connection with PCED or CDW!

Q. Personally, I find the Roman rite from 1911-1955 far more complicated in rubrics and kalendar than what preceded or succeeded it. How do you deal with the challenges of the Divino Afflatu system?

A. It certainly made the rubrics of the Roman rite far more complicated than they were.  Indeed, if I were into conspiracy theories – which I am not - I think one could be forgiven for thinking it was a deliberate ploy to make life so complicated that any reform would be received with open arms.  My view is that in reality the reform was rushed through and its ramifications only began to be understood in the years that followed.  Clarifications and differing interpretations were appearing in Ephemerides Liturgicae throughout the 1920s and 1930s.  Looking at extant Ordines of the period it is interesting – to compilers of Ordines at least – to see the lack of consistency in interpretation.  A good example was a few years ago when the feasts of St. George, St. Mark and SS Philip and James had to be transferred out of the Paschal Octave.  I consulted four Ordines from 1943, two in my collection and two in the British Library.  None had exactly the same solution: three were similar but one was way off.  After carefully considering the rubrics I decided none were actually correct.  To those of us with an interest in such matters it was an amusing study but life should not be that complex.  As to ‘dealing’ with the system I am afraid that exposure to the ‘Pius X’ rubrics was part of my formative period so I can think the system in my sleep.  Indeed, when I first looked at pre-1911 praxis I found it very hard and it required a lot of effort to understand it, but I did persevere.  It is far superior in my view but we are limited by the lack of availability of books at the moment to promote a serious restoration. 

Q. Have you noticed any change in your clientele or in business to the St Lawrence Press since Summorum Pontificum in 2007? If so, why?

A. There was an initial flurry of interest and indeed I recall one cleric asking if we would now adopt the 1962 rubrics.  Needless to say the answer was strongly in the negative.  What is noticeable is that those with a more serious interest in liturgy see through 1962 quite quickly and look to move to something more traditional.  There is a steadily increasing number of customers – which is much needed because many of the original customers have now passed over to Eternity.  I think that, ultimately, Summorum Pontificum will be seen as something that had a damaging effect on the liturgy but the influence of which faded over time.  Indeed, I expect that Summorum Pontificum will be negated by legislation from Rome but not within Josef Ratzinger’s  lifetime. 

Q. In what direction do you see the future of the old rite headed? 

A. After the period of specious interest following Summorum Pontificum, and I think we really have seen the A to Z of specious interest, I see a period of contraction and confusion – as we see today – that will be followed by an implosion.  I take the view that there will be a more real discovery of liturgical orthopraxis and patrimony but that will take time, a couple of decades at least.  I also believe we will see structural change too – rather like what you have alluded to in some of your posts mentioning the Minster system for instance.  I believe that reform – in a good sense – will be from grass roots upwards, not from the top down. 

Q. In what sort of research does the St Lawrence Press engage?

A. My own research interests are the reform of the Roman rite 1903 – 1963; the reform of the Roman typical editions of the liturgical books from 1568 to 1634, the celebration of Holy Week, liturgical theology in general and the psychology of religion.

Q. Given that the early traditionalists and the St. Lawrence Press stopped at 1939, what would you say in the liturgical legacy of the pope elected that year, Pius XII? 

A. I don’t think the proto-traditionalists thought it terms of 1939 per se but of ‘pre-Pius XII’  As we know men like Evelyn Waugh were totally disparaging about the Pacelli pontificate.  Sadly, what we have seen over the last quarter of a century or so is the development of what a blogger friend of mine termed cognitive dissonance.  There is a steadfast refusal to acknowledge the well document facts of the damage done to the Roman liturgy by Pius XII.  In my own view he as much a showman and narcissist as John Paul II.  The inversion of the axiom lex orandi, lex credendi was an unmitigated disaster and a charter for the modernists.

Q. Some insist that the Pauline liturgical changes assimilated new doctrines and that, by contrast, the Pacellian novelties and reductions are tame, unworthy of attention in the quest to restore the Roman liturgy.  Your thoughts?

A. Well, we have seen the development of a fallacious revisionism whereby any reform before the Second Vatican Council is magically ignored and excised from memory. I recall many years ago that when I came across photographs of Mass versus populum from the 1940s and 1950s my fellow ‘Traddies’ far from being interested hated me for showing them.  There is the creation of a false construct by these people, they loathe Paul VI but adore old Pacelli.  There are the old canards about a) the differences between 1962 and earlier edition being ‘minor’ and b) the radical nature of Paul VI’s 1970 changes.  With respect to the first point if the changes are so minor, so trivial, not to be of any significance or not to be notice then why not just use pre-1962 anyway?  Of course, the reality is very different and the whole point is that the 1962 brigade want to feel superior to everyone else and use legalism as a weapon against everyone else.  As the second point that argument is wildly over made.  What was Mass like the day before Paul VI’s Missal became law?  People, very conveniently forget, that the 1962MR had not been used for almost a decade but the 1967 rite with the new Anaphorae, with various lectionaries and, of course, the vernacular and the fashion of versus populum.

We appreciate your time, Rubricarius, and thank you again for the opportunity to review you Ordo for the impending liturgical year. I speak for my readers in wishing you and the St Lawrence Press the best in your efforts to preserve the old rite and commending our prayers for that same intention.


  1. I think that, ultimately, Summorum Pontificum will be seen as something that had a damaging effect on the liturgy but the influence of which faded over time. Indeed, I expect that Summorum Pontificum will be negated by legislation from Rome but not within Josef Ratzinger’s lifetime.

    I remain curious what Rubricarius thinks (if he has developed an opinion on this) would have been the best move for Benedict XVI to make instead of Summorum Pontificum - assuming 1) the objective being any decisive step toward a full restoration of Roman liturgical tradition, and 2) that any such step was actually feasible in 2005-13.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Ah, to imagine Benedict XVI didn't retire and leave us the Francis pontificate... but then I also like to imagine John XXIII surviving through the conclusion of the Vatican II, allowing a partially vernacular Mass, requiring both religious and secular clerics to maintain a fully Latin Office and making the Pius XII Holy Week optional.

    Anyhow, I like to imagine that Benedict would have authorized the 1948 Missal (my personal favorite) and/or recognizing its ancientry and continued use over centuries in comparison to the mere decades of the 1955 Holy Week which is unfortunately inferior in some respects even to the Pauline... allowed celebration of the traditional pre-1955 Holy Week. Other than that, the changes to 1962 in calendar are trivial. The traditional Roman Rite really needs at least half of the 15 suppressed octaves restored.

    In reality, I suspect, he would have remained strict on the use of 1962, however. While we all have personal preferences, the combined issues are rather more complicated than the arbitrary selection of a specific edition of the Missal. I remain convinced that the ranking system reform of 1960 was very much needed for many centuries. It makes no sense for 16th century Italian confessors to be Doubles while 3rd century and 4th century martyrs are Simplex or Semidouble. If anything, in a vacuum they should be the other way around. Recognizing some of these were deliberate for other factors (to reduce the burden on the clergy WRT the Divine Office) makes it more complicated. For good reasons, few would want to trust any Vatican congregation today to make a new hybrid, though one posits that SSPX and Ecclesia Dei groups would happily embrace a hypothetical 2020 Missal that included the 1960 rankings, pre 1955 Holy Week, and celebration of maybe 8 or 9 octaves with allowance for proper Last Gospels and commemorations at High Mass...

    Ultimately, Rubricarius is correct, the reign of Pius XII directly led in one axis of liturgical reform from before 1955 to 1962 and then 1969-1970, even if we can see the distinct 'jumps' at 1955 and 1962 (and the comparatively huge gulf at 1969). Unlike many trads, I backtrack the changes to 1911, 1920, etc on the same vector, which held force for barely 5 decades before it's same principle of centrally mandated reform, justified and promulgated on Petrine authority, was used from breviary by St. Pius X and extended to the Missal by Paul VI. St. Pius X also began the "active participation" business...