Monday, October 21, 2013

The Parisian Missal III: Sundays Per Annum

We again resume our inspection of the neo-Gallican missal used in Paris until the 19th century Ultramonantist movement succeeded in suppressing its use in favor of the Roman rite on the pretext that the Parisian usage was mucked with the Jansenist heresy. The previous installments in this series have found no strong traces on Jansenism. There have been elements of dramatic language found, some of insipid and uninspiring and some of it quite beautiful.

Looking very Roman
In part II one commenter noted that in earlier editions the folded chasuble was used during the same periods as it is used in the Roman rite and the other local usages, suggesting an intentional departure from the Roman praxis at a later point. One possible explanation is the political mood of the time. France may have intentionally attempted to assert a higher degree of spiritual independence from Rome than tradition allows and manifested this attempt by excising certain Romanesque vestiges; one would be hard pressed to find a vestment or liturgical item more Roman than the folded chasuble. But by this does not denote heresy (otherwise the 1962 and 2002 Roman Missals would be heterodox). It merely recommends us to notice political undercurrents fought on a liturgical battlefield.

To reiterate, here are the criteria used for Jansenism, from New Advent's encyclopedia (precepts of Jansen condemned by Innocent X's bull Cum occasione in 1653):
  • Some of God's commandments are impossible to just men who wish and strive (to keep them) considering the powers they actually have, the grace by which these precepts may become possible is also wanting
  • In the state of fallen nature no one ever resists interior grace
  • To merit, or demerit, in the state of fallen nature we must be free from all external constraint, but not from interior necessity
  • The Semipelagians admitted the necessity of interior preventing grace for all acts, even for the beginning of faith; but they fell into heresy in pretending that this grace is such that man may either follow or resist it
  • To say that Christ died or shed His blood for all men, is Semipelagianism (it is condemned because Christ did die for the sake of all)
With these points in mind, let us undertake the next data for our investigation, Sundays per annum. We have examined Holy Week and Pascha, and will now look to Sundays throughout the year, as these ought to be most indicative of what the faithful heard at a given Mass. We shall have a peak at:
  • The first Sunday of Advent
  • The second Sunday after Epiphany
  • The third Sunday of Lent
  • The tenth Sunday after Pentecost
  • And the last Sunday after Pentecost
The selection of these Masses is intentionally random, so as to ensure an unbiased sampling.

First Sunday of Advent

Advent is the richest, more beautiful and lively season of the liturgical year in the Latin liturgy. According to Gregory Dix Advent is of Gallic origin and came to Rome in the latter part of the first millennium. The Sundays of Advent have the twofold purpose of recounting the plight of the world before Christ while also looking forward to the joy of His coming. The Masses are repeated throughout the week. Certain friends of God quite relevant to the Nativity arise throughout Advent. St. Nicholas of Myra, renowned for his charity and his defense of the Word Incarnate athwart the arch-heretic Arius, appears, as does the Immaculate Conception of our Lady (or the Conception of the Blessed Virgin if one prefers St. Pius V's Dominican adjustments). The season intensifies with the "O" antiphons, layered in Old Testament typology, and concludes with the birth of God made Man.

In the Roman rite the first Sunday of Advent has three concurrent themes:
  • Creation: the liturgical year re-lives the Divine revelation, making the first day of the year also the first part of the human story. Man, mired in his sins, cries to the Lord for redemption: "To Thee have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, oh my God, I put my trust" (Psalm 24, Introit of the Mass).
  • Awakening: spiritual awareness for the birth of the Lord. "Brethren, knowing that it is now the hour for us to from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night it passed and the day is at hand" (Roman 13, epistle of the Mass).
  • The Second Coming: when the world ends, Christ will come again, not as an infant, as He did in Bethlehem, but in fully glory. "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away" (Luke 21, Gospel of the Mass).
How does the Parisian rite compare?

The Introit is nearly the same, except the versicle, also from psalm 24, differs ("Be mindful of me, oh Lord, according to Your mercy and your goodness" instead of "Show, oh Lord, Thy ways to me and teach me Thy paths"). The collect is the same as in the Roman rite, with a choice of votive orations to add, recommending Ecclesiae tuae and the commemoration of the Blessed Virgin. The epistle differs by a few words ("knowing that" is omitted and St. Paul's concluding remark added "and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences"). Does this difference reflect Jansenism's disregard for the body and favor of external disposition towards grace condemned by Innocent X? Only if St. Paul was a Jansenist. The Gradual is not taken from psalm 24, but from Isaiah chapter 62; this choice picks up nicely on the Gospel text about the Second Coming and the seasonal theme of the Incarnation ("Behold the Lord has made it to be heard to the ends of the earth, tell the daughters of Sion: behold, the Savior comes, behold his reward is with him, and his work before him"). The Gospel pericope comes from the same place as in the Roman rite, but is somewhat longer, extending beyond Our Lord's admonition about the longevity of His teaching to the point where He commends His Apostles to prayer, lest they become ensconced in the snares of those who confuse the faithful. The offertory verse is from psalm 24, but not the same as in the Roman books. Although different, the secret conveys the exact same message. The preface is the neo-Gallican Advent preface found in the 1962 Missal. The communion verse and post-Communion prayer are non-descript.

From the weekday lessons after
the first Sunday of Advent
Perhaps more suspicious to the Roman authorities than banal propers was that the Missal prescribes the Sunday Mass to be repeated on weekdays, but offers proper readings for Wednesdays and Fridays. Jansenists famously echoed the demands of their ancestors in heresy, the Protestants, in demanding more Scripture in the liturgy. So surely this is an example, no?

Not exactly. The Sarum rite, which one could argue dates to the late eleventh century, follows the same pattern, although with different readings. The rite of Lyon, also French and much older than the rite of Paris, follows the same pattern and with the same readings. These variable weekday readings for repeated Sundays throughout the year seem to be a feature of the Norman liturgy. Unlike the modern Roman liturgy, which has three years worth of daily readings, the proper readings in this rite seem deliberate and limited so that they might link with the repeated Sunday Mass and provide coherent instruction.

When considered in its historical context, the first Sunday of Advent displays both common material with the Roman rite and some local variations descended from the rites of northern France, which were sparsely used by the 19th century.

Second Sunday after Epiphany

The second Sunday after Epiphany begins with a different, and less cogent, Introit than the Roman books. The Roman rite recounts the earth's rejoicing at the Lord (psalm 65), Who made and commands it, very fitting given that Jesus manifests His dominion over matter in the Gospel account of the Wedding Feast at Cana. The Parisian rite merely asks "Who is like Our God" (psalm 76). The collect is the same and the epistle in the Parisian Missal begins one sentence prior to the Roman Missal's pericope. The Gradual is different, but similar in theme (God as the Almighty protector of Israel). The Gospel lesson is exactly the same. The offertory, from psalm 85, speaks of the Lord's unique works and that all people shall adore before Him, again departing from the Roman rite's terrestrial theme in the propers. The secret, very fittingly, asks the Father to transform the bread and the wine, as His Only Begotten transformed water into wine at Cana. Finally the Mass heeds God's sanctification of the physical. While is differs from the very simple Roman secret of the same day, it conveys the same idea present in the Roman proper chants. The Communion verse is an odd choice ("If I do my Father's work, believe in this work, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in Him" John 10) compared to the Roman rite's (John 2:7-11). The post-Communion oration is the same. Again, there is an option to use a different set of readings should the Sunday Mass be repeated on Wednesday or Friday.


Third Sunday in Lent

This day's Mass is remarkably like the Roman Mass of the day. The Introit, collect, Epistle, and Gospel are exactly as in the Roman rite. The Gradual asks that the Lord "confound those who seek my soul" (psalm 34) rather than the Roman rite's excerpt from psalm 9. The tract borrows from psalm 124 instead of Rome's psalm 122. Both versions follow the theme of the Lord as protector as adumbrated in the Introit. The offertory chants differ, but not in a way worthy of note. The secret follows the same intention and structure as the Roman rite, but with different wording; the prayer, which asks God to expunge the sins of the people, is hardly the substance of a sect who believes in irresistible interior grace. The Communion verse, which calls God the "tower of strength in the face of the enemy," is more aligned with the theme of the Mass than the Roman rite's text. A cunctis nos is the post-Communion oration in the Roman rite. Paris opts for a more dramatic prayer, beseeching the "infusion of blessing" upon the people, which repels the "diabolical snares." This prayer differs from the Roman Mass's, but in some sense, again, maintains the theme of the Mass more effectively.

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Dominica per annum
The Roman Mass for this Sunday teaches the faithful about Christian humility and the littleness of man before God, for good works are inevitably the work of the Holy Spirit. The epistle, taken from St. Paul's first missive to the Church in Corinth, reminds the Christians there that "dumb idols" had them lost, but by the Holy Spirit they were converted unto Christ and that all good deeds and gifts they now exercise emanate from that same Spirit. St. Luke's Gospel recounts the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee; the former left justified because he acknowledged God's place over him, while the Pharisee was blinded by his arrogance and left unfulfilled. The Communion verse is fittingly borrowed from psalm 50 and the post-Communion oration petitions God to grant aid to those "whom Thou dost not cease to renew by Thine divine Sacraments."

The first half of the Parisian Missal is almost exactly the Roman text for this day. A mix of texts from psalms 114 and 137 as well as the prophet Isaiah comprised the chant. The line from psalm 137, "[He] recognizes humility," is quite reasonable for this day. The offertory, from chapter 9 of Judith, continues the theme of humility whereas the Roman pericope from psalm 24 speaks of trust—though trust in a higher power of course is an expression of humility. The secret, as has been the case in prior Masses, is more germane to the lessons than in the Roman rite: "We beseech You, oh Lord, that by the merit of this sacrifice, you abundant blessing may come upon your faithful people," that they may receive the grace they desire. Again, desiring grace is hardly a Janesnistic petition. If anything a Jansenist would hold that grace is narrowly accessible. The post-Communion oration is odd, and perhaps suspicious, in that it divides the "sinners" and the "just" in a way unlikely to be found in the Roman rite: "Grant us that by these sacraments, oh God, humility and sincerity of heart, by which You reform sinners to justice and promote the just to glory." This curious composition is actually somewhat new. After consulting a scan of a Parisian Missal (thanks for the link Protasius) from 1300 and comparing it with the Sarum books, I found that both shared an older post-Communion, Tui nobis Domine. This odd prayer may be the most serious "red flag" in the Parisian rite thus far, although given the surrounding prayers it is hard to justify a strictly Jansenistic reading of this oration.

Last Sunday after Pentecost

This Sunday represents and anticipates the end of the world, the general resurrection, and Judgment. Both the Roman and Parisian books utilize Colossians 1:9-14 and Matthew 24:13-25 for the lessons. Whereas the Roman rite reuses the proper chants from the previous Sunday, the Parisian rite has proper propers. Indeed, even the collect and secret match today. The post-Communion prayer in the Roman rite asks that the Sacraments heal whatever is corrupted in our minds, while the Parisian prayer asks that God, the "cause of our good merits," to increase His mercy over us. The chants in the Parisian rite are far more Apocalyptic than the Roman rite, but far from heterodox. The Introit is composed of verses from psalm 118 "blessed are they who walk in the law of the Lord." The Gradual borrows from Revelation 10, "And I saw a great throne...." tying in very nicely with Our Lord's foretelling of His Second Coming at the end of time to "judge the living and the dead," as the Creed affirms.

Conclusion and Next Installment

Aside from one very strange oration in the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost the Parisian Missal, both dramatic and unique, displays no innate signs of Jansenism or heresy. Indeed, many of its local features it shares with Lyon and Salisbury.

Next we shall have a look at two great feasts' Masses and two Masses from the "Commons" used so often throughout the year. We will conclude with one last installment on the votive prayers and then switch to the rite of Lyon.

If readers have any suggestions for which of the great feasts they would like examined, feel free to leave a comment.


  1. As for feasts, perhaps the Transfiguration and the Annunciation?

  2. Could you provide me with link to the parisian Missal, and with a few scans of the new prefaces of the 1962 Missal. I have the pdf of it, but there aren't any new prefaces in it.