Friday, March 14, 2014

The Lyonese Missal Part I: Ordinary of Mass & Prefaces

Archbishop Angelo Roncalli celebrates Mass in the Lyonese rite. As Papal nuncio,
much like Msgr Lefebvre as Apostolic delegate, he had certain privileges normally
reserved to cardinals, such as permission to pontificate from the throne outside of Rome.
In the second of two phases in our brief study of the alleged influences of Jansenism in the local rites of France we will examine the Missal used in 1846 by the France's primatial see, the venerable Church of Lyons. The date of the Missal, a century prior to its suppression by the cruel and heartless liturgical reformers of the 20th century, should be allow for any Jansenistic influences to shine from the pages, as Jansenism would have been thriving for two centuries and Dom Prosper Gueranger had only begun to demonstrate the defects of non-Roman liturgical rites.

As a quick refresher on Jansenism let us surmise that this heresy over-emphasizes human depravity after the ancestral sin of Adam, so alienating his nature that he could not even decide to accept God's grace, and that God's grace, when offered, cannot be resisted. It is a Calvinistic reading of St. Augustine of Hippo, a Church Father very popular in France during the Counter-Reformation.

Part I: Rubrics

The rubrics of the Missale Lugdunensis are far simpler than the loquacious rules surrounding the Missal of Paris. The rules themselves are very similar to those of the Roman rite, stating such obvious things like that the Mass of the day must correspond to the Divine Office of the day. The local ordinary had to give permission for votive Masses to be celebrated on Sundays, as is common during devotional events such as Forty Hours.

There are four gradations of feasts:
  • Ferial
  • Simple
  • Semi-Double
  • Double
All correspond in meaning to the Roman rite, but Semi-Double and Double differ in that they do not come in classes as in the classical Roman rite. The Palm Sunday in the Roman rite is a Semi-Double, but of such a rank that no feast could supersede it. Similarly, in the Roman rite a Double feast supersedes a Sunday Semi-Double and a Double I Class exceeds a regular Double or a Greater Double or a Double II Class. For example if one's parish was named for Ss. Fabian & Sebastian, the octave day would compete with and replace the feast of St. John Chrysostom, and both would replace the Sunday de tempore. The Lyonese rite has fewer distinctions, calling Doubles and Semi-Doubles "greater" and "lesser." Uniquely, Sundays are always of Double rank. Octaves, although un-ordered as in the Roman rite, are understood to be different from each other; the octaves of Pascha and Pentecost admit no feasts or votive Masses. The Mass of Sunday must be resumed on ferial days and, as in is common in French liturgies, readings for Wednesday and Friday are provided that are similar to those of the Sunday and clearly related to the rest of the Mass.

Votive Masses for the Dead may be celebrated for funerals and on anniversaries, but not as ad libitum replacements for the Mass of the day. Solemn votive Masses for the Dead may omit Dies irae—likely as a time saver—but private Masses must use it as well as commemorations for benefactors and all deceased.

On Solemnities (ex. Pascha, Ascension, Nativity) there are never commemorations of any feasts. Greater Doubles admit commemorations of Sundays, Octaves, other Doubles, Semi-Doubles, and superseded privileged feriae. For lesser feasts and Sundays the commemorations mirror the Roman praxis. Also, like the old Roman rite, should multiple Masses be sung in the same church over the course of a day with numerous possible Masses, all Masses are celebrated without commemorations. For instance the Vigil of the Ascension always overlaps with Rogation Wednesday. In a cathedral, collegiate church, or monastery both the Vigil and Rogation Mass are sung and with only the prescribed orations. General Rubrics II.91 demands that the prayer for the King is always sung under the same ending as any votive prayers or commemorations of the day, or under the normal oration, after Communion.

At Pontifical Mass the bishop gives the pontifical blessing in place of Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum, again as per the medieval French usage. In this case the celebrating bishop gives no blessing after praying the Placeat at the end of Mass, nor does he go to the Gospel corner and begin the prologue of St. John, but rather he recites it without introduction on his way back to the sacristy. Indeed, if the Mass be sung the Last Gospel is almost always recited without introduction as the celebrant returns to the sacristy. The exception is when the Last Gospel is proper to the day (ex. Trinity Sunday requires the Gospel for the first Sunday after Pentecost to be read at the end), in which case it is said at the altar with an introduction.

Mass is celebrated after Terce on Sundays and feasts, but after None on penitential days. Votive Masses for the Dead come after Prime and private Masses after Lauds.

The vestments for the ministers of Mass are the same as in the Roman rite and, unlike the Parisian use, do not indicate anti-Romanism. The Parisian use always utilizes dalmatics for the deacons, whereas Rome and Lyon use the folded chasuble during penitential times. There is mention of the ministers wearing collars around their necks as in the picture to the right. At pontifical Mass there are seven subdeacons (one of whom carries the two-bar archepiscopal crucifix), seven deacons (the senior most carries the pastoral staff), six "concelebrating" priests (implying that the bishop is the perfection of the priesthood and hence the seventh), two senior priests in copes who carry the gremial in front of the celebrant (a large blanket likely used for warmth once upon a time), any number of cantors in copes, and chaplains to manage the Missal, the candle, the mitres, and the maniple. Seven acolytes carry large candles—once affixed to an enormous balustrade in front of the altar—reminiscent of the the seven stars in the heavenly liturgy described in chapter 1 of St. John's Apocalypse (the Ordo Romanus Primus mentions the same practice in the first millennium Roman rite).

The colors used are more similar to the Roman rite than to Sarum, Paris, or any other medieval use. White is used for most all feasts. Red for martyrs, feasts and Masses of the Holy Spirit, for St John at the Latin Gate (white in Rome), the Mass of the Lord's Supper (again white in Rome), and for Masses per annum, including the Vigil of the Nativity. Green only appears for feasts of the translation of the relics of St. Just, of priests, abbots, and monks; oddly, it is also used for the fourth Sunday of Lent; white may substitute for green on any day. "Ash" colored vestments are utilized from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord's Supper exclusive. Where Ash is not available violet is used. And black comes out of the sacristy for Masses of the Dead and Good Friday. A parish could survive on only three or four sets of vestments.

The altar is vested according to the color of day. Upon it is a crucifix with six candles on Doubles, four on Semi-Doubles, and two on all other days as well as for private Masses. In the primatial cathedral on each side of the altar is an additional crucifix commemorating the attempted "Graecorum schismatis extinctum" that took place in that building in 1274 (see image below). In a nod to good taste, absolutely nothing not pertinent to the sacrifice of the Mass is permitted on the altar.

Three sets of notes and rules are given for celebration of Mass in the rite of Lyons: private Mass, solemn Mass, and Pontifical Mass. In examining the Ordo Missae we will consider only the norm, Pontifical Mass.

Part II: Ordo Missae

The cantor and precentor, wearing copes, receive the Lord Archbishop at the door of the cathedral and provide him with lustral water to sprinkle as he is making a formal episcopal visit. He proceeds with his assistants to the sacristy of St Stephen. The throne, behind the altar, is decorated for Mass and the Archbishop reads the vesting prayers in the sacristy. During this time the choir sings the hour of Terce.

Vested, the Archbishop leaves the sacristy with his ministers and approaches the altar. The precentor intones the Introit, which the choir continue it. The acolytes with their seven candles stand on either side of the Archbishop while he and his ministers line up parallel to the altar and pray the preparatory prayers, which differ from the Roman ones. There is no Iudica me psalm and there are more versicle prayers, including Confetimini Domino familiar to the Dominican rite. The Confiteor is the same. At the absolution he puts on his maniple and "kisses the text," likely meaning the Missal held by the chaplain. After the Aufer a nobis the celebrating archbishop continues to his throne. He does not kiss and incense the altar, upon which rests the book of Gospels, as in the Roman rite. 

Sitting at the throne between his two assistants, mitred and covered with the gremial, he reads the Introit and recites the Kyrie in alternation with them. He then rises un-mitred and intones the Gloria. Near the end of the Gloria the senior most subdeacon kisses the Archbishop's ring, takes the lectionary, and goes to the place where the epistle is sung. The Archbishop greets the congregation Pax vobis and sings the collect[s] of the day as in the Roman rite. Then everyone sits. The subdeacon reads the epistle sitting while a young subdeacon holds the lectionary for him. After the epistle the subdeacon returns to the Archbishop for a blessing while the choir sings the Gradual. During the Gradual five of the acolytes take up their candles and stand on either side of the altar, leaving two in front of it, again similar to the Norman liturgical rites.

At this point the acolytes take their candles and escort the senior subdeacon (carrying the chalice), the senior deacon (carrying a vial of wine), the sacristan, and a canon of the cathedral (carrying the burse) to the Lady Chapel on the epistle side. The canon opens the burse, spreads the corporal, and places the sacred vessels upon it. He prays one of the offertory orations over the host Dixit Iesus discipulis suis: ego sum panis vivus etc. Someone tastes the wine and if it is proper the deacon pours it into the chalice saying De latere Domini...., and rebuilds the assembly. He then gives it to the subdeacon and all return to the sanctuary. The subdeacon replaces the chalice with wine upon the altar of St. Speratus, which is behind the main altar and doubles as a credence table.

The deacon then asks the lord Archbishop for a blessing and receives it: "Corroboret Dominus sensum tuum et labia tua, ut recte pronunties nobis eloquia sua secundum Evangelium, et pax tecum sit, in nomine Patris...." The celebrant blesses incense and the deacon takes the Gospel book from the altar, kissing both and praying "Pax Christi, quam nobis per Evangelium suum tradidit, conservet et confirmet corda et corpora nostra in vitam aeternam. Amen." A processional cross precedes the Gospel book and is incensed by the deacon. The tone for both the epistle and Gospel are the same. While the music tones for Paris and Sarum differed from the Roman ones, they were still pleasant. I find the Lyonese tones remarkably banal.

After the Credo the Archbishop begins the Offertory much as in the Roman rite. At the altar the Archbishop offers the host and chalice with Quid retribuam Domino and then blesses both. He places the host directly on the corporal in front of the chalice and puts the paten to the side. The clergy gather around the altar according to dignity and the celebrant incenses the gifts and altar reciting the first verse of psalm 140. He then washes his hands saying the first verse of psalm 25, returns to the center of the altar, again prays over the oblation, says the Suscipe Sancta Trinitas and then turns to the people saying "Orate pro me fratres...." Then follows the secret[s] and preface.

The anaphora is the Roman Canon. In a twist the Libera nos after the Pater noster is sung aloud. The  deacon turns to the people and tells those gathered to bow their heads. The Archbishop receives the mitre and crook, turns to those gathered, the clergy kneel before the altar, and he blesses all present: "Et pax + eius sit + semper + vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo." He then continues Mass as normal. During the Agnus Dei the communicating priests, deacons, and subdeacons approach the altar through the doors on either side of the railing [once] surrounding the altar. After the first communion prayer the celebrant begins the kiss of peace.

The Missal, like Paris and unlike the Roman rite, contains instructions for the administration of Holy Communion during Mass, a severe blow to the accusations of Jansenism, a philosophy that discourages frequent Communion and would not likely approve of providing for lay communication at every Mass. All kneel and recite the Confiteor. The Archbishop gives the absolution prayers and Communion is given as in the Roman rite. Communicants kiss the Archbishop's ring before reception.

The ablutions are done in the normal way. After the post-Communion comes the dismissal: Ite, missa est on days when the Gloria is sung, Requiescat in pace for Requiem Masses, and Benedicamus Domino on all other days. The celebrant prays the Placeat and, should the Last Gospel be normal, he and the rest of the clergy process to the sacristy, Mass concluded.

Part III: Prefaces

The prefaces are again more or less those of the Roman rite, but with a few exceptions. There is the preface of Advent, popped into the Roman rite by Pope John XXIII in 1962. There is a unique preface for the Presentation and Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which vividly says that Our Lord is now offering Himself as a victim after so many victims were previously offered, and that the new mystery is now unfolding. There is a preface for the Mass of the Lord's Supper which is quite succinct and reflects the traditional theology of the Cross as a place of victory. There is a short preface of the Incarnation and Annunciation which differs from that of the Nativity and the content of which is rather unspectacular. There is the preface of the Blessed Sacrament, also in the 1962 Missal and also rather dullish in content. There is a unique local preface for Ss. Pothin and Irenaeus, ancient bishops of the Lyonese see. There is a very nice preface for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist which recounts his life and his distinction among the prophets. The Missal also contains the more recent preface for the dedication of churches.

There is an interesting preface of "the Saints" to be used on All Saints, for titular saints, and a few other days. It says that we rely on the "Communion of the consort" of saints and their intercessions and asks that we may join in their "unfading crown of glory."

A vivid preface for nuptial Masses teaches that an end of marriage is "the growth of the Church" (don't tell Cardinal Kasper!). 

Lastly, there is a preface for the Dead.


The sheer grandeur of this rite already causes one to doubt Gueranger's accusations of Jansenism, an ideology that alleges the irresponsibility of grace and the deep depravity of mankind. In such an ideology those with grace are certainly different from those without it, suggesting an exclusivity in the aesthetic of the movement not in conformity with the clear communitarianism of a rite like this. Some of the prefaces are dramatic in their language, but do not fall into the realm of Jansenism. The only defect thus far is the insipid tone for the readings.


  1. What a glorious Rite. In it complexity it matches Rome without problem.

  2. Truly interesting (and a truly beautiful rite!). Which other rites are you going to review in the future?

    Kyrie eleison

    1. If someone could find a digital copy of the Rouen rite (Missale secundum usum Ecclesiae Rotomagensis) I would happily add that to this series. Feasibly I could do something with Sarum in the future, but it is not relevant to this series. I have a few book reviews planned and then want to do a series on early figures in the traditionalist movement before it was hijacked by the FSSPX.

    2. I have actually a copy of it, from 1759. It is the same that you can find here:

      I hope to have helped you :-)

      Kyrie eleison

    3. I'd like Cistercian Rite done if it may be :) Before 1600 if possible. That's the year when changes/romanizations begun.

  3. Does anyone know if there are sporadic celebrations of the rite?

    1. The FSSP has an apostolate in Lyons and they celebrate it every now and then. Still in use!

    2. It would be great if someone filmed it and put in on youtube.
      I'm hoping to film the Bragan rite in a few months when Fr. Santos gets here.