Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Parisian Missal VI: Votive Orations & Conclusion

Rite of Versailles, another neo-Gallican use of the Roman rite.

Before concluding this series on the Parisian Missal let me quickly share a pair of interesting points I discovered within its pages today.

The first is the unique Gospel tone for the Vigil of Epiphany. In some sense it is reminiscent of the Dominican rite's Gospel tone for the Nativity. I cannot speak for other rites of the Norman liturgical family.

source: Order of Preachers, Province of St Joseph
Interestingly there is a Sunday "between the Circumcision and Epiphany" given in the Missal. The instructions direct that this Mass be said on the 2nd with a commemoration of the Octave day of St Stephen should it occur then; that it is ignored if it occurs on the 3rd, favoring St. Genevieve; it may be celebrated on the 4th as normal; and that should it fall on the 5th, the Vigil of the Epiphany, if is anticipated on the 4th so that the Vigil may be unobstructed. 

My second discovery is that of the Parisian treatment for the feast of Corpus Christi. Unique readings are given for each of the ferial days within the octave and entirely unique Masses for the Saturday and Sunday within the Octave. Should the feast have fallen on a Friday the first set of ferial readings would have been used on Monday. What a pity that the reformers of the Roman rite did not investigate the ferial readings, based on Sunday and festive Masses, used in the Norman and Gallican rites when they sought to expand the use of Scripture within the Roman rite.

Given that the feast of Corpus Christi began, in a way, in Liege the high profile of this day in the Missal ought not surprise any readers here. The above image, lifted from Fr Anthony Chadwick's blog, shows a neo-Gallican Corpus Christi procession in the 19th century. Personally I find the two altar boys lighting candles in the bottom right corner positively cute!

On to the votive orations.

The Missal divides the sets of votive orations by intention into the following categories:
  1. Ad poscenda: things to be petitioned
  2. Ad postulandam: spiritual virtues requested
  3. Tempore famis: in time of famine
  4. Loose prayers of various intentions not confined to the above categories
Ad poscenda includes many prayers that will be familiar to anyone familiar with the Roman Mass or the Roman Office, such as A cunctis nos and Deus omnium fidelium. This last prayer caught my attention because I have contended previously that the real fault of the Parisian Missal is not Jansenism, but anti-Romanism. The prayer for the Pope, unlike in the Roman books, is not prescribed, but is given as an option (along with numerous other orations) for semi-double, simple, and ferial days. The days which prescribe Deus omnium fidelium in the Roman rite usually prescribe the prayer for the Church Dirige Domine. Other prayers in this section include petitions for Peace and Unity of the Church, for All Orders of the Church, for Persecutors of the Church, for the Church of Paris (an elaboration of Ecclesiam tuam), for the Lord Archbishop, for Prelates and their Congregations, for All the Clergy, for Ordinands, for Ordinands during the Mass of Ordination, for the King, for the King and his family, for the Dauphin (heir to the throne), for Children for the King, for the King and his Army, for the Assembly of Estates, for the City and Towns, and for Community and Family. Much ado about French political power (and it needed all the help it could muster) and nothing ado about Jansenism, free will, and types of grace.

The second second contains prayers for exclusively spiritual purposes, such as "for faith" and "for hope," virtues of faithful Catholics. One prayer, for humility, is quite indicative of the Parisian collects in its wordiness and also its emphasis on modesty:

"God, Who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble, grant unto us the virtue of true humility, which Your Only Begotten showed the faithful in the form of Himself, Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God for ever and ever. Amen."

This section also contains prayers pertaining to good works (certainly not Jansenism), the repulsion of evil maladies, patience, and the gift of tears.

The third section, entitled Tempore Famis, covers a broad array of needs pertaining to the people: famine, war, peace, pestilence, rain, and other similar phenomena. The prayer concerning Famine is longingly beautiful:

"Oh God, Who physically whips Your servants as they progress in mind, give us for our sins, for which we are afflicted by hunger, to wash them away by tears of penance, that we rebels who have provoked Your wrath may be subdued by mercy and humble minded. Who lives and reigns...."

The final section contains prayers for the anniversary of receiving Baptism, for sinners and penitents, for religious orders, for friends, for widows, for women in their various needs, for sailors, captives, for the suffering sick, an for the living and dead.

Many prayers match their Roman counter-parts and some are unique.


The Parisian Missal, as it existed in the 18th century, textually and ceremonially reveals no traces whatsoever of Jansenism, a sort of Catholic Calvinism which supposedly infiltrated the diocesan rites of the French church and made those forms troublesome, justifying Dom Prosper Gueranger's crusade to replace these local usages with the Roman books.

The real original sin of the Parisian rite is not that it is Jansenistic, but that it is not Roman enough. As covered in a previous post the Parisian Missal manuscripts of 1300 reveal a use very similar to that of Rome, with some variation. In the intervening centuries the diocese of Paris scrapped many uniquely Roman features (folded chasubles, the Octave of Ss. Peter & Paul, certain Mass formulas, the Gospel ceremonies for the Passion on Palm Sunday and Good Friday) and coterminously recovered many features of the Norman liturgy that one would find in the uses of Salisbury, Rouen, and York (ferial readings, choir ceremonies, sequences). In many places what came about was entirely new, such as the sequences and certain Mass formulas for the great feasts of the Church year. These texts are often spiritually exuberant and linguistically rich, reflecting a vibrant Catholicism among the clergy of France. Many of the new Collects and Introits, beautiful as they are, came at the cost of the existing Roman Collects and Introits. At a time when the Kings of France wished to have greater authority over episcopal selections, the mobility of bishops, and the spiritual decisions of the Church in France, the liturgy departed from Roman practices. Many of the Norman traits to be found are not direct restorations of texts, but of concepts; ferial readings rarely match up between Sarum and Paris, but they follow the same principle of expanding on the previous Sunday Mass. The bishops of France, eager to curry favor with the Court at Versailles or frustrated with the Popes, may have permitted or encouraged liturgical developments as long as some of them drifted from the Roman praxis.

A simple trimming of excessive departures from the Latin Church's liturgical tradition—like the use of dalmatics and tunicles during Lent—would have sufficed to re-align the Parisian Missal with that of other local uses. There is no question of the orthodoxy of the Missal. There is even little doubt about the heteropraxy of it. The choir ceremonies, for example, and the adaptability of the rubrics of sung Mass to the parish level better preserve some of the Roman rite than the actual Roman Missal (which assumes a private Mass as the norm outside of Holy Week).

The Parisian Missal was a liturgical flower which bloomed late and was trimmed far too early and too deeply.


  1. That Gospel chant is beautiful. If I transcribe the chant to a given Gospel (say on Palm Sunday before the procession), I could get my pastor to use it.

    "actual Roman Missal (which assumes a private Mass..." I disagree with this assertion. If we are speaking of the Roman Missal as it existed before John XXIII, even with the Pius XII-isms, the rubrics in the Ordinary assume a Missa Solemnis, though some references are made to private Masses in the Proper. The 1962 Missal is, if I am not mistaken, the first version of the Roman Missal to "institutionalize" a distinction between High and Low Mass in the Ordinary.

  2. Many thanks for this wonderful series!

  3. How did you find out about the differences in Gospel tone? Is there no gospel tone for that in the Roman Missal?