1. (OHS 1956): The name “Solemn Liturgical Action” is devised, (73) thus eliminating the very ancient names “Mass of the Presanctified” and “Feria Sexta in Parasceve.”
Commentary: The terminology of “Presanctified” underlined the fact that the sacred Species had been consecrated at an earlier ceremony and showed the connection with the return of the Eucharist, an important and ancient part of the rite. But the Commission despised this concept and decided to reform the name along with the rite itself: “[We need] to trim back the medieval extravagances, so little noted, of the so-called Mass of the Presanctified to the severe and original lines of a great, general communion service.” (74) The usage “in Parasceve” [i.e., Friday “in Preparation”] was no longer in favor, even though its Hebraic overtones indicate its great antiquity.
(MR 1952): The name is “Mass of the Presanctified” or “Feria Sexta in Parasceve.”
2. (OHS 1956): The altar no longer has the veiled cross (and candlesticks -- CAP) on it
Commentary: The cross, especially the one on the altar, has been veiled since the first Sunday of the Passion, so that it should remain where it naturally ought to stand, namely at the center of the altar, later to be unveiled solemnly and publicly on Good Friday, the day of the triumph of the redemptive Passion. The authors of the reform apparently did not like the altar cross and decided to have it removed to the sacristy on the evening of Holy Thursday, and not in a solemn way but in the containers used to carry away the altar cloths after the stripping of the altars, or perhaps during the night in some unknown way, about which the rubrics for Holy Thursday are silent. On the very day of greatest importance for the Cross, when it ought to tower over the altar even though veiled at the beginning of the ceremony, it is absent. The fact that it remained present for nearly fifteen days on the altar, though publicly veiled, makes for the logic of its corresponding public unveiling, instead of an a-liturgical return of the cross from the sacristy as though someone hid it there in a closet during the night.
(MR 1952): The cross remains veiled at its usual place, i.e. on the altar, stripped of its cloths, and flanked by the usual candlesticks.
3. (OHS 1956): The reading of the Gospel is no longer distinct from that of the Passion.
Commentary: The entire passage is given a more narrative title: “The History of the Passion.” The motive behind this change is not clear, given that the Commission seemed to oppose such a change in the analogous case of Palm Sunday. (78) Perhaps the intention was, as elsewhere, to do away with everything that made reference to the Mass, such as the reading of the Gospel, and consequently to justify the suppression of the name “Mass of the Presanctified.”
(MR 1952): The Gospel is sung in a way distinct from the singing of the Passion, but on this day of mourning, without incense or torches.
4. (OHS 1956): The altar cloths are no longer placed on the altar from the beginning of the ceremony; at the same time, it is decided that the priest is not to wear the chasuble from the start, but only the alb and stole.
Commentary: The fact that the celebrant wears the chasuble even for a rite that is not, strictly speaking, the Mass witnesses to the extreme antiquity of these ceremonies, which the members of the Commission recognized as well. On the one hand, they maintained that the ceremonies of Good Friday were composed of "elements that (since ancient times) remained substantially untouched," but on the other hand they desired to introduce a change that would separate the Eucharistic liturgy from the "first part of the liturgy, the liturgy of the word." This distinction, in embryonic form at the time, was to be marked--according to Father Braga--by the fact that the celebrant wore the stole only and not the chasuble: "For the liturgy of the word [the celebrant] was left only the stole."
(MR 1952): The priest wears the black chasuble, prostrates himself before the altar, while the servers, meanwhile, spread a single cloth on the bare altar.
The question of the prayer for the Jews, though completely pertinent to the study of Holy Week, cannot be addressed except by a study that gives clarity to the philological misunderstanding relative to the erroneously interpreted words "perfidi" and "perfidia."
5. (OHS 1956): For the seventh prayer, the name "Pro unitate Ecclesiae" ["For the unity of the Church"] is introduced.
Commentary: With this expressive ambiguity the idea is brought in of a Church in search of its own social unity, hitherto not possessed. The Church, according to traditional Catholic doctrine, solemnly defined, does not lack social unity in the earthly realm, since the said unity is an essential property of the true Church of Christ. This unity is not a characteristic that is yet to be found through ecumenical dialogue; it is already metaphysically present. In effect, the words of Christ, "Ut unum sint" ["That they may be one"], is an efficacious prayer of Our Lord, and as such is already realized. Those who are outside the Church must return to her, must return to the unity that already exists; they do not need to unite themselves to Catholics in order to bring about a unity that already exists. The aim of the reformers, however, was to eliminate from this prayer, says Father Braga, some inconvenient words that spoke of souls deceived by the demon and ensnared by the wickedness of heresy: "animas diabolica fraude deceptas" and "haeretica pravitate." By the same logic, they desired to do away with the conclusion, which expressed hope for a return of those straying from the unity of Christ's truth back into His Church: "Errantium corda resipiscant et ad veritatis tuae redeant unitatem." At any rate, it was not possible to reform the text of the prayer but only the title, since at the time—laments Father Braga again—“unity was conceived in terms of the preconciliar ecumenism." In other words, in 1956 the unity of the Church was conceived of as already existing, and God was being beseeched to bring back into this already existing unity those who were separated or far off from this unity. In the Commission there were members with traditional ideas who opposed the work of doctrinal erosion, though powerless to stop the creation of theological hybrids, such as the choice to leave the traditional text but to give it a new title. Annibale Bugnini himself, about ten years later, acknowledged that to pray for the future unity of the Church constitutes a heresy, and he mentions this in an article for L'Osservatore Romano that found fault with the title of the prayer "For the unity of the Church" introduced ten years prior by the Commission of which he was a member. Praising the prayers recently introduced in 1965, he writes that the prayer's name was changed from "For the unity of the Church" to "For the unity of Christians," because "the Church has always been one," but with the passage of time they were successful in eliminating the words "heretics" and "schismatics." It is sad to note that these shifting maneuvers were employed with the liturgy in order to bring in theological novelties.
(MR 1952): The text is the same as that of 1956, wherein it is prayed that heretics and schismatics would return to the unity of His truth: "ad veritatis tuae redeant unitatem," but without the ambiguous title of the 1956 version: "Pro unitate Ecclesiae."
6. (OHS 1956): At this point, there is the creation of a return procession of the cross from the sacristy.
Commentary: This time, the cross returns in a liturgical manner, i.e. publicly rather than placed into the hampers used to collect the candlesticks and flowers from the previous evening [the Mass of Holy Thursday]. In the liturgy, when there is a solemn procession of departure, there is a solemn return; this innovation makes for a solemn return of a symbol that, the evening before, was carried away together with other objects in a private form, placing it—in the best-case scenario—in a wicker basket. There seems to be, in fact, no liturgical significance for introducing this procession of the return of the hidden cross. Perhaps we are confronted with a maladroit attempt to restore the rite carried out at Jerusalem in the fourth and fifth centuries and made known to us by Egeria: "In Jerusalem the adoration took place on Golgotha. Egeria recalls that the community assembled early in the morning in the presence of the bishop ... and then the silver reliquary [theca] containing the relics of the true Cross were brought in." The restoration of this procession of the return of the cross took place in a context that was not that of Mount Calvary of the early centuries but in the context of the Roman liturgy, which over time had wisely elaborated and incorporated such influences from Jerusalem into a rite handed down over many centuries.
(MR 1952): The cross remains veiled on the altar beginning with Passion Sunday; it was unveiled publicly in the precincts of the altar, that is in the place where it remained publicly veiled until that point.
7. (OHS 1956): The importance of the Eucharistic procession is downplayed.
Commentary: The procession with the cross is a new creation, but the reform decides to downgrade the return procession with the Body of Christ to an almost private form in an inexplicable inversion of perspective. The Most Holy Sacrament was carried out the day before in a solemn manner to the altar of the Sepulcher. (We deliberately use the name "Sepulcher" because all of Christian tradition calls it thus, including the Memoriale Rituum and the Congregation of Rites, even if the Commission members barely tolerated this term (95); it appears to us profoundly theological and suffused with that sensus fidei [sense of the Faith] that is lacking in certain theologians.) It seems logical and "liturgical" that there should be for a solemn procession like that of Holy Thursday an equally dignified return on Good Friday. After all, here there is a particle of the same Blessed Sacrament from the previous day, the Body of Christ. With this innovation the honors to be paid to the Blessed Sacrament are reduced, and, in the case of Solemn Mass [of the Presanctified], it is the deacon who is instructed to go to the altar of the Sepulcher to bring back the Sacrament, while the priest sits tranquilly resting on the sedilia. The celebrant graciously arises when Our Lord, in the form of the sacred Species, is brought in by a subaltern, and then goes to the high altar. Perhaps it was for this reason that John XXIII did not want to follow this rubric at the Mass celebrated at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and desired to go himself, as Pope and as celebrant, to bring back the Most Holy Sacrament.
(MR 1952): The Most Blessed Sacrament returns in a procession equal in solemnity to that of the preceding day. It is the celebrant who goes to bring It back, as is natural. Since one is dealing with Our Lord Himself, present in the Host, one does not send a subordinate to bring Him to the altar.
8. (OHS 1956): Elimination of the incensing due to the consecrated Host.
Commentary: There is no apparent reason why the honors rendered to God on Good Friday should be inferior to those rendered on other days.
(MR 1952): The consecrated Host is incensed as usual, although the celebrant is not incensed. (98) The signs of mourning are evident here, but they do not extend to the Real Presence.
9. (OHS 1956): Introduction of the people reciting the Our Father.
Commentary: "The pastoral preoccupation with a conscious and active participation on the part of the Christian community" is dominant. The faithful must become "true actors in the celebration .... This was demanded by the faithful, especially those more attuned to the new spirituality.... The Commission was receptive to the aspirations of the people of God." (100) It remains to be proven whether these aspirations belonged to the faithful or to a group of avant-garde liturgists. It remains as well to specify theologically what this above-mentioned "new spirituality" and its "aspirations" were.
(MR 1952): The Pater [Our Father] is recited by the priest.
10. (OHS 1956): Elimination of the prayers that make reference to sacrifice while the Host is consumed.
Commentary: It is true that on this day, in the strict sense, there is no Eucharistic sacrifice with the separation of the sacred Species, but it is also true that the consuming the Victim, immolated the preceding day, is a part, though not an essential one, of the sacrifice. This is, in a certain sense, the sacramental continuation of the sacrifice, because the Body, when consumed, is nevertheless always the Body as immolated and sacrificed. Accordingly, tradition always speaks of the sacrifice in the prayers connected with the consuming of the Host. Some members of the Commission held that after so many years of tradition the time had come to correct errors and to declare that words such as "meum ac vestrum sacrificium" ["my sacrifice and yours"] were "completely out of place in this instance, since one is not dealing with a sacrifice but only with communion." (103) The decision was then taken to abolish these age-old prayers.
(MR 1952): The prayer, "Orate, fratres, ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium, etc." is recited, but, given the unique context, it is not followed by the usual response.
11. (OHS 1956): Placing a part of the consecrated Host into the wine in the chalice is abolished.
Commentary: Placing a particle of the consecrated Host (a rite also known in the Byzantine rite) into the unconsecrated wine obviously does not consecrate the wine, nor was that ever believed by the Church. Simply put, this union manifests symbolically, though not really, the reuniting of the fragment of the Body of Christ with the Blood, to symbolize the unity of the Mystical Body in eternal life, the final cause of the entire work of redemption, which is not unworthy of being recalled on Good Friday.
The “Memoire” preserved in the archives of the Commission affirm that this part of the rite absolutely had to be suppressed, because “the existence of a belief in the Middle Ages that the commingling of the consecrated bread [sic!] alone in the wine was sufficient to consecrate even the wine itself also brought about this rite; once the Eucharist was studied more profoundly, the lack of foundation for this belief was understood. But the rite remained.” This affirmation is rendered scandalous by the absence of any historical foundation and by the scientific method; and it implies quite profound theological consequences. In addition, it remains to be proven historically that during the Middle Ages the belief under discussion was in currency. Some theologians may have held erroneous opinions, but this does not prove that in fact the Roman Church fell into error to the point that she made it part of the liturgy with this precise theological view in mind. (The belief that the wine is consecrated by mere commingling with the Bread of Angels was not unknown among medieval Catholics, and is still held by the Greek Orthodox, as shown by the rubrics of the Liturgy of the Presanctified as observed by the Greeks and by some Slavs. However, it was never officially accepted by Rome as a legitimate belief, and it is interesting to note that by and large the Russian Orthodox share the Roman stand. CAP.) In this context, one would be affirming that the Roman Church, conscious of the serious error, did not wish to correct it; one would be maintaining [in effect] that the Roman Church could change her view over the course of the centuries on a point that is so fundamental; and one would also be affirming that the she could err in relation to a dogmatic fact (such as the universal liturgy), and that for several centuries. Perhaps justification was sought for the work of reform already undertaken, which sought to correct all the errors that entire generations of Popes failed to detect but that the keen eye of the Commission had finally unmasked.
It is not pleasant to note that these affirmations are imbued with a pseudo-rationalism of a positivist stamp, the kind in vogue during the fifties. Often it relied on summary and less than scientific studies in order to demolish those deplorable “medieval traditions” and introduce useful “developments.”
(MR 1952): A part of the consecrated Host is placed in the wine, but, with great theological coherence, the prayer before consuming the Precious Blood is omitted.
12. (OHS 1956): The change of times for the service, which could have been accomplished in harmony with popular customs, ended up creating notable pastoral and liturgical problems.
Commentary: In the past, pious customs and practices were developed in a way that was consonant with the liturgy. A common example in very many places: from noon, even today, a great crucifix is set up, in front of which the Tre Ore [“Three Hours”] of Christ’s suffering is preached (from noon until three o’clock). As a consequence of the change in time for the service, one is confronted with the paradox of a sermon delivered before the crucifix at a time when the crucifix ought to remain veiled, because the Good Friday service is to be held in the afternoon. (108) Some dioceses even today are constrained to hold the “Liturgical Action” [of the Passion of the Lord] in one church, while in another the ancient pious practices are conducted, in order to avoid a too obvious visual incongruity. Numerous similar examples could be adduced. It is clear, though, that the “pastoral” reform par excellence was not “pastoral,” because it was born of experts who had no real contact with a parish nor with the devotions and piety of the people—which they often enough disdained.
According to the reformers, during the hours of the afternoon a “liturgical void” had been created, and an attempt to remedy this was sought “by introducing paraliturgical elements, such as the Tre Ore, the Way of the Cross, and the Sorrowful Mother.” (109) The Commission decided, therefore, to remedy this scandal using the worst “pastoral” method: namely writing off popular customs and paying them no mind. The disdain in this type of “pastoral” method forgets that inculturation is a Catholic phenomenon of long standing. It consists of a reconciliation, one as generous as possible, of piety to dogma, and not of a unilateral imposition of provisions by “experts.”
(MR 1952): The problem is not a question of times: liturgy and piety have developed over the centuries in a fusion of one with the other, without, however, coming into conflict in an antagonism as pointless as it is imaginary.
HOLY SATURDAY Changes