Pre-1956 Holy Week (Part I): Introducing Monsignor Leon Gromier

Monsignor Leon Gromier (1879 – 1965):

(Consulter to the Congregation of Rites since the time of Pope St. Pius X, and Ceremonieri of Pope Pius XII)

Last month, we posted a study on the changes to the traditional Holy Week rites written by Fr. Stefano Carusi, IBP (i.e., an Ecclesia Dei priest) which transpired between 1951-1956.  Our introduction to that study contained a quote by the well-known American sedevacantist priest, Fr. Anthony Cekada, who, speaking of Fr. Carusi’s study observed:

It is worth noting that Fr. Carusi is a member of the IBP (Institute of the Good Shepherd), a Vatican-approved  society for priests (mostly former SSPX-ers) who offer the traditional Latin Mass under the banner of Benedict XVI’s 2007 Motu Proprio — which, in theory at least, prescribes the use of the John XXIII Missal that contains the very rites Fr. Carusi criticizes.

It is significant that even in these circles many are now examining the pre-Vatican II liturgical changes with a critical eye, an undertaking previously regarded as exclusively “sedevacantist” territory.”

Today, we continue with the theme of non-sedevacantist liturgists critiquing the pre-conciliar Holy Week changes under Bugnini and Pius XII, by presenting to you an article written by Fr. Christopher Smith, STD/PhD (a priest of the Diocese of Charlston, South Carolina, USA) on the person of Monsignor Leon Gromier: An intense opponent of the crude and incoherent experimental Holy Week revisions which were later promulgated by Pius XII’s Maxima Redemptionis in November/1955.

The present article will familiarize you with Monsignor Gromier.

A subsequent installment will review his critique of the revised rites in greater detail.

Our purpose in interspersing Sodalitium Pianum with articles written by non-sedevacantist authors defending and advocating recourse to the traditional Holy Week rites (or, those who at least critique the strange revisions of the 1955/6 Holy Week of Pius XII and Bugnini), is to:

  • Explain to the world that the fully Catholic traditional rites need not become the sole possession of sedevacantists, simply because the SSPX has preferred the modernized rites of Bugnini/Pius XII which were in force at the time of the 1962 Missal;
  • To rebut the suspicion of sedevacantism which is often triggered simply on the basis of recognizing the painfully obvious superiority of the traditional Holy Week rites in comparison to the man-made, incoherent, manufactured Holy Week revisions of Bugnini and Pius XII;
  • To explain that one need not consider himself “locked in” to the 1956 revised Holy Week simply because Pius XII was a valid Pope, as some sedevacantists argue: We have, in Fr. Carusi’s Introduction to the article referenced above, the example of Pope John XXIII deferring to the traditional Holy Week in 1959, three years after Pius XII promulgated the new modernized Holy Week in 1956.  Clearly, John XXIII did not consider himself obligated to use the revised rites of a man he certainly regarded as Pope.  One possible explanation and justification of John XXIII’s deference to the fully Catholic rites may lie in this 1984 spiritual conference of Archbishop Lefebvre, in which he argues that not all universal ecclesiastical disciplinary laws are the secondary objects of infallibility….but this is another conversation for another time, and we intend to have it).

Most importantly, as the raison d’etre of Sodalitium Pianum is to “expose the subversion of Catholic Tradition,” these pre-conciliar liturgical mutations, themselves subversive, receive (and will continue to receive) our due attention:

Changing the way we pray was a prerequisite to changing what we believed.

Léon Gromier: Liturgical Reform Between Rupture and Continuity


Fr. Christopher Smith



Up until a few years ago, any peep of concern about the 1970 Missal of Paul VI was adduced as evidence of schism and obscurantism.  Klaus Gamber’s The Reform of the Liturgy, first published in 1981 in Germany and in English translation in 1993, changed all that.  Likewise, in traditionalist circles, peeps of concern about the 1962 Missal of John XXIII were squelched. Today, however, searching questions about the Pauline Reform are being asked out loud from the halls of the Vatican to blogs with a readership of 2, and questions about the liturgical reforms of both John XXIII and Pius XII are beginning to be taken seriously.  Now, there are still some quarters where the very mention of such criticism is laughed at.  Those who suggest a closer analysis of the pre-Vatican II liturgical reform are often accused of wanting to found a Society of Pope Pius II.5, since X and V already exist, and they are rejected as hopelessly wedded to “older is better” in the face of scholarship and common sense.

Yet, there are thinkers in the Church who are earnestly trying to understand where a hermeneutic of rupture has been applied to various aspects of the Church’s life, and just how continuity is or is not reform.  The only approved form of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is the 1962 Missal and its associated books.  But the provision in Universae ecclesiae 52 allowing religious orders to use their proper rites may give hope to some that a further liberalization to employ previous editions of the Roman Missal, such as those pre-dating the 1955 Pian Reform of Holy Week, is possible.

But why should we even bother looking at the pre-Vatican II liturgical reform?  The Church’s current liturgical law only allows the 1962 Missal and most EF enthusiasts seem perfectly content using it.  But if we are to discern, under the Church’s authority, where a hermeneutic of rupture has been applied to the liturgical life of the Church, it seems nonsensical to stop at an arbitrary date or edition of the Missal such as 1970, 1962, 1955, or even 1570.  Is every abridgement, replacement or omission evidence of rupture, or can they be seen as little pieces of thread in the larger tapestry of liturgical reform?  I should like to argue that a closer look needs to be paid to the pre-Vatican II liturgical reform.

Recently I came across a name that I had never heard before, and I would bet that even the most seasoned of Chant Café readers are unlikely to be familiar with him either.  Léon Gromier (1879-1965) is best known as one of the Ceremonieri of Pius XII’s papal liturgy.   But this priest of Autun had been in Rome since his ordination in 1902 and was a consultor on matters liturgical from the time of St Pius X.  As early as 1936, he expressed loud reservations about the trajectory of liturgical discussions, such as that of restoring the Easter Vigil to celebration during the night.  With characteristic aplomb, he made his opinions loud and clear, and did not rise in an ecclesiastical career, but his knowledge was such that even those who disagreed with him still respected him.

You can find some information on Gromier and excerpts of his works in Italian and Frenchhere.  He is best known for his commentary on the old Caeremoniale Episcoporum, which I have tried in vain to obtain.  But what struck me as the most interesting was a conference Gromier gave in Paris in 1960.  You can read it in its original French or in its English translation by the always interesting-to-read Anthony Chadwick.

This conference makes for interesting, if difficult, reading.  As the transcription of a talk, it often reads, especially in its translation, not very linearly.  One must be patient with editorializing and the occasional shot across the bow at his liturgical adversaries.  But there is also much here that I find fascinating.

An impression that I have gotten from studying the successive series of texts of the Holy Week ceremonies, as well as their accompanying rubrics, is of a certain amount of “cut and paste.” Anyone who is familiar with the Breviary of St Pius X who has then switched to that of John XXIII knows of those awkward moments where et reliqua is preceded by a mental ma da dov’é abbiamo cominciato qua?  Gromier in this talk often points out where the “cut and paste” mentality has produced some very difficult to explain things in the liturgical reform up to 1960. One wonders if these were things which Evelyn Waugh found so irksome in his letters to Cardinal Heenan.

But before we look at what some of those things are, there is an observation in order.  Before we cut anything, it behooves us to really understand why what was there, was there in the first place.  Often, we invent a reason why something should be changed or removed, which does not respect the reason for its existence and also does not foresee unintended consequences. This is true in many aspects of our life, and, as Gromier points out, is also true in the liturgy.

Gromier makes a distinction between what he sees as the true Roman liturgical spirit embodied in the texts, rubrics and ceremonial traditions of the Roman liturgical books, and a very different spirit animating those he calls les pastoraux, what we might call the “pastoral liturgists” one assumes were imbued with Liturgical Movement ideas more akin to Guardini than Guéranger.

He begins his talk with the indication that the proposed restoration of Holy Week was to commence with the timing of the service.  Fifty years out from Sacrosanctum concilium, many priests and lay faithful are shocked to hear that, up until the middle of the last century, centuries had gone by with the Triduum services celebrated in the morning.  The usual quips about the “Mass of the Lord’s Breakfast” and the flame of the paschal candle not being able to be seen because of light bathing the church usually come up.  Most liturgists just dismissed the idea of having services at those times as an inexplicable anachronism tied to some idea that Mass was not supposed to be celebrated after noon.  But Gromier points out that the timing was intimately connected with the Church’s ancient discipline of fasting, which of course had been significantly relaxed.

He talks about the renaming of the services.  He asks why the ancient name of Good Friday asIn Parasceve had to be replaced by the Passion and Death of the Lord, when passion as a concept included death, and if so, why not call the Passion Gospel the Passion and Death Gospel?  He talks about why the Passion and the Gospel were two distinct things, which were then in 1955 melded into one history.   Gromier also complains of the fact that in the 1955 Holy Week, Vespers is omitted in Holy Thursday and Good Friday and Compline on each day of the Triduum.

One of the more interesting parts of the talk is when he takes issue with the adjective solemnas applied in the 1955 Reform.  He writes, “The solemnity of liturgical services is not an optional decoration; it is of the nature of the service . . . Outside of this, so-called solemnity is not an amplifying enticement, to impress and score the goal .  . . we made a prodigious use of the word solemn even for necessarily or intrinsically solemn acts.  We use words, believing that we can put more solemnity into the Procession of Palms than into that of Candlemas, more solemnity into the Procession of Maundy Thursday than that of Good Friday (abolished as we shall see).  Always on the same slippery slope, we learn that the Passion of Good Friday is sung solemnly, as if it could be sung in another fashion.”

Here Gromier identifies a crucial characteristic of the Reformed Liturgy that I had never been able to put into words.  Theologians often talk about the svolta antropologica, a man-centeredvolte-face of theology after Rahner.  Here we have a clear liturgical complement.  Solemnity no longer arises from the nature of the Christological mystery being celebrated, but of how we go about celebrating it, and what we do to celebrate it.  The Eucharistic Processions of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday were solemn before because of their reference to Christ being carried to and from the Sepulchre.  After 1955, Maundy Thursday remains solemn because incense and song and candles accompany the Procession.  Good Friday ceases to be so because those things that we do are omitted.  I think this is a point worthy of further reflection. How often in our parishes, basilicas and papal liturgies have we seen attempts at solemnization of the liturgy interpreted as our use of Latin, candles and incense rather than the solemn nature of certain ceremonies rising from their intrinsic Christological import?

Our French liturgist here also speaks at length about blessings being done no longer on the altar or as close to the altar as possible (ashes, palms, candles, oils) but on a table in front of the people.  He also points out that, after placing these blessings in front of the people so they could ostensibly see what was going on, the rites were so drastically simplified so that there was not much left to see.

He blames the pastoral liturgists for creating a situation which introduced several ambiguities and contradictions within the ceremonies themselves.  He points out the fact that the clergy are instructed to no longer hold palms on Palm Sunday during the Passion, forgetting that the reason the clergy held the palms was in deference to a reference to St Augustine, whose homily was read that day in Matins.

Often the changes in rubrics belie confusion as to their origin.  The change of color in the Palm Sunday liturgy is an example.  In the pre-Pian liturgy, Gromier, claims the Roman color was always purple (and black in Paris and red in Milan).  In 1955, the Procession is in red and the Mass is in purple, stemming from the introduction of the idea of red and triumphant, and downplaying the predominant theme of Passion in the Palm Sunday liturgy.  Now, of course, Palm Sunday and Good Friday in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite are entirely in red, a sign of the capitulation of the Roman liturgy to the idea of triumph which, arguably for Gromier at least, is not a properly Roman liturgical idea.

While Gromier derides the symbolic and liturgical value of the changes, he also indicates the practical ramifications of the changes.  The celebrant having to walk around sprinkling palms everywhere in the church, introducing laymen into the sanctuary for the Mandatum, the lack of instructions as to the veiling of the processional cross or the altar for Palm Sunday, the removal of the Cross from the altar just to be brought back to it on Good Friday, the changes of the vestments on Good Friday, carrying a large and heavy paschal candle, etc.

It is common nowadays to hear that the central focus of the liturgical action is the altar.  Some argue that the tabernacle should not even reside on or near the altar because it “distracts” from the Action during Mass.  Everyone is taught that the altar is the symbol of Christ and is worthy of respect with a bow.  But Gromier states, “The Roman Pontifical teaches us that we do not greet a new altar before having placed its cross.  The altar itself is not the object of veneration, but the cross that dominates it, and to which all prayers are addressed.  The altar without a cross, if it is worthy of being kissed, has no right to a bow or genuflection . . . for an altar is not invoked.”  Common practice today is for the Cross to not be on the altar at all, and for the altar as table to occupy much of the attention in reverence.  One wonders what Gromier would say about the later rubric which directs the Celebrant at the Oremus for the collects to bow towards the book and no longer towards the cross.  Today, the altar and the cross have been separated as if they no longer belong together, much as altar and tabernacle have been separated (malgré Pius XII’s admonition against it).  Pope Benedict XVI’s custom of having the Cross on the Altar, referred to as the Benedictine arrangement although it is perhaps more accurately referred to as the Roman basilica arrangement, has restored the unity between Cross and Altar and re-oriented liturgical prayer towards the Cross and away from the Celebrant at the Altar.  I have no idea if Josef Ratzinger, developing this idea in The Spirit of the Liturgy was aware of Gromier’s critique on this point or not, but it is a happy phenomenon that clergy are imitating the papal liturgy in this fashion and giving priority to the cross as a focus of liturgical action, no longer separated from the altar.

The confusion of symbolism in the 1955 Holy Week led to some oddities that Gromier criticizes.  “The procession of Maundy Thursday, definitively instituted by Sixtus IV (+1484), and that of Good Friday, instituted by John XXII (+1334), therefore by the same authority, have the same object, same purpose, same solemnity, except the festive character of the first and the mourning of the second.  Why abolish one and keep the other?”  He asks why, when fonts, baptismal water and baptisms go together, they are separated out during the Vigil: “the pastorals make baptismal water and baptize in a basin, and in this container they carry it to the font, singing the song of a thirsty deer, which has already drunk, and which is going towards a dry font.”  Why is the renewal of baptismal vows from the custom of First Communion of children inserted into the Vigil after baptisms have already been done, and if so, why not renew the marriage vows of all present at a wedding?

It may be easy to surmise in reading Gromier’s talk that the man was just a curmudgeon opposed in principle to all novelty.  Yet he does not argue entirely against the reform of the times of the Triduum, even as he protests against the removal of them from the context of their fasting discipline and Breviary accompaniment.  He does not argue against the distribution of Communion at the Good Friday Liturgy of the Presanctified, even as he lambastes the rubric of eating the Host without also drinking the ablutions associated with it, as if anyone ever ate without drinking.  The impression that comes across is that Gromier issues a pointed challenge to the pastorals to provide better theological, historical and practical rationales for all they accomplished during the reform.

As Gromier declares, “Certain modifications of tradition, so well-known, are just as dishonest as they are daring.”  It is a lapidary statement, meant to provoke.  Fifty-two years after he made it, these words still provoke strong reactions.  If we are to explore how Vatican II is an exercise in continuity with the tradition [*], and to see how the liturgy can be reformed and still be in conformity with the tradition, we must go back to the sources.  Far from accepting tout court the accepted history of the liturgical reform and Vatican II as proffered by the Bologna School and the Liturgical Establishment, we have an opportunity for true ressourcement.  We need not discard the words of criticism of the liturgical reform, whether it be Léon Gromier’s often acerbic analysis of the changes in the liturgy in the pre-Vatican II period, or the linguistic observations of those who express reservations against the new English translation of the third editio typicaof the Pauline Missale Romanum.  All of these critiques should be entertained, not out of a sense of ideological protest or loyal dissent, but in an effort to serenely ascertain what has happened, why it happened, and how to recover the spirit of the liturgy, ever ancient and ever new, for today and tomorrow.

[*]  If this statement was intended to suggest that the “hermeneutic of continuity” could be used to make Vatican II consistent with Tradition, obviously we reject that contention as false.





Conciliar Church or Official Church?

In the latest Eleison Comments Bishop Williamson states the following

“One needs to be very careful with words, because words are the handle of our mind upon things, and things are the stuff of everyday life. Therefore upon words depends how we will lead our lives. At the flagship parish church of the Society of St Pius X in Paris, France, there is a Society priest taking due care of words. Fr Gabriel Billecocq wrote in last month’s issue (#333) of the parish’s monthly magazine Le Chardonnet an article entitled “Did you say ‘official Church’?.” In it he never once mentions Society Headquarters in Menzingen, Switzerland, but he does complain of the “wish” coming from somewhere, presumably on high, that the words “Conciliar Church” should always be replaced by the words “official Church.” And he is right, because the words “Conciliar Church” are perfectly clear, whereas the words “official Church” are not clear, but ambiguous.

For on the one hand “Conciliar Church” signifies clearly that large part of today’s Church which is more or less poisoned with the errors of the Second Vatican Council. Those errors consist essentially in the re-centring upon man of the Church which should be centred on God. On the other hand “official Church” is an expression with two possible meanings. Eitherit can mean the Church officially instituted by Christ and officially brought to us down the ages by the succession of Popes, and to that “official Church” no Catholic can object, on the contrary. Or “official Church” can be taken to mean that mass of the Church’s officials devoted to Vatican II who for the last half-century have been using their official power in Rome to inflict upon Catholics the Conciliar errors, and to this “official Church” no Catholic can not object. Therefore “Conciliar Church” expresses something automatically bad, while “official Church” expresses something good or bad, depending upon which of its two meanings it is being given. Therefore to replace “Conciliar Church” by “official church” is to replace clarity by confusion, and it also stops Catholics from referring to the evil of Vatican II.” (end quote)

Here is a recent article from the Dominicans of Avrille reminding us of the (conciliar) terms origins and the reason for its use.

Pre-1956 Holy Week (Part II): Monsignor Gromier Critiques the Revised Holy Week

Pre-1956 Holy Week (Part II): Monsignor Gromier Critiques the Revised Holy Week


Msgr Léon Gromier, Papal Master of Ceremonies of Pius XII

Paris, July – 1960


Translated by Fr. Anthony Chadwick


Translators Note: Msgr Gromier uses the term pastoral in the substantive, or pastorals in the plural, meaning a person with pastoral ideals. In the context of this conference, the term denotes someone who wishes to modify the liturgy on a pastoral pretext. One may also speak of pastoralism, the notion according to which the liturgy is absolutely irrelevant to modern man and must therefore be reformed. It is a fact that a rite extremely similar to the Novus Ordo was already being discussed and marketed in 1948, the very year Fr. Bugnini was appointed to the Congregation of Rites. We can conclude that the reforms of Pius XII and John XXIII are a part of the Novus Ordo. Msgr Gromier immediately saw through the charade.


The “restored” Holy Week was to begin with a question of timetable. It was a question of restoring the use of the Paschal Vigil, based on the pastoral dogma of the Resurrection at precisely midnight. This dogma is not easily defended, for why insist on this when evening Masses, in practice, admit celebration at any time of the day or night, even after the singing of Vespers, when Conventual Mass is celebrated indifferently after Terce, Sext or None? Another problem, the rules of worship are governed not only by the movement of the earth, but also by the discipline of fasting that has been considerably slackened. It results from this that the restored edifice looks like a house of cards. Pastoral zeal extends from Saturday, the culminating point, to the whole Week from Palm Sunday.

The progressive anticipation of the three last days, then their relegation to the original evening opens for us a debate. The introductory general decree affirms that, towards the end of the Middle Ages, the above mentioned solemnities had been anticipated in the morning. Now, the bull of St Pius V, Ad cuius notitiam, of 29th March 1566, therefore 113 years after the end of the Middle Ages, prohibited what was still done, by permission or custom, in cathedral, collegial, conventual and other churches – to celebrate, the evening or towards the time of sunset, Holy Saturday and other solemnities. The goal is obvious: the Church’s pastoral office must restore, repair damage; the more they were serious, the more the restoration would be welcome; God alone knows if the restoration to be done, before any other, was not to abolish the bull of St Pius V leaving to Bishops the longed-for freedom, to choose the most advantageous afternoon time for the offices of Holy Week: also allowing, for those who desired it, to make their communion; something that had been abolished for fear that the fast was not kept during the hours of the afternoon – when the celebrant was still fasting.

Its terminology deserves attention; for an apologist maintains us in ignorance. Up to now we knew the Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday In Cæna Domini in Latin, Good Friday In Parasceve in Latin and Holy Saturday. Since we want to amplify the solemnity of the Procession of the Palms, why place this Sunday under the dependence of the Passion, instead of leaving its old name of Palm Sunday, that everyone understands, and that deceives no-one? If Holy Saturday is so-called, Good Friday can be called in just the same way [Vendredi Saint in French], by all the Christians of the world. We have called in in Parasceve (Preparation) for nearly two thousand years; the name alone shows the antiquity of this rite. So, why replace it by Passion and Death of the Lord; a useless renaming, non-traditional, unknown in the Canon of the Mass? In ecclesiastical style, passion means suffering until death inclusively. If the substantive death was so necessary, common sense would demand that it should be added to the word passion in the title of the Gospel: Passio Domini nostri Jesu Christi, now called history of the Passion.

The occasion presents itself to examine the juridical capacities of the pastorals. It is not enough to speak about a thing to create it. Office in choro means a liturgical place where ecclesiastics act according to liturgical rules. Office in communi designates neither a place nor a person. It is a group of people reunited without any mandate, without legal entity and who has the pleasure of saying the private Office collectively. The Breviary distinguishes in choro and extra chorum, there is no third term.

To omit Vespers of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday – that is the height of the arbitrary, above all when the reason is given: Mass takes the place of Vespers, taking first place! Now, between Mass and Vespers, there is no rivality: Vespers enjoy equal dignity with other liturgical services. According to times and places, Vespers have disappeared after the Mass of Holy Saturday, as after the Masses of Thursday and Friday. They were never intended to be abolished. The hour fixed by the pastorals fully agrees with the historical fact – fasting until Vespers, preceded by Mass and communion. Vespers of Holy Saturday are in the afternoon, before the nocturnal Mass – but there is no reason to abolish Vespers of Thursday and Friday, after the Mass that is nocturnal by definition. Holy Saturday without Compline is inexplicable. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday with Compline and without Vespers defy reason, for even if we go to bed late, we still go to bed and need to say our prayers.

To qualify the Procession of Palms, the Good Friday service and the Paschal Vigil, the pastorals use the adjective solemn, whilst they do not for all the rest. Now, the solemnity of liturgical services is not an optional decoration; it is of the nature of the service – resulting from all these constitutive elements, not only from some of them. All the manuals explain which functions are solemn or not solemn. Outside of this, so-called solemnity is not an amplifying enticement, to impress and score the goal. It informs us that, by a recent habit, we made a prodigious use of the word solemn even for necessarily or intrinsically solemn acts. We use words, believing we can put more solemnity into the Procession of Palms than into that of Candlemas (Purification), more solemnity into the Procession of Maundy Thursday than that of Good Friday (abolished as we shall see). Always on the same slippery slope, we learn that the Passion of Good Friday is sung solemnly, as if it could be sung in another fashion.

Worthy of admiration and power, pastorals manifest themselves by the abolition of the sad and unfortunate canon 1252 §4, on the fasting of Holy Saturday.

On this day, it is said that, under the symbol of the Paschal Candle, representation is made of our Redeemer, light of the world, who by the grace of His light, chased away the darkness of our sins, etc. This was surrounded by a measure of mystery, without risk for teaching. Now, one insists on crossing all our t’s, causing no small incertitude. The various times and places gives us a kaleidoscope of rites, where we have to discern what they have in common. Like in primitive times, fire produces – whether hidden in a place where it is conserved, lit by rays of the sun and a magnifying glass or by a flint – a means of light for the Paschal night. This is the Paschal Candle, accompanied by the proclamation of the Paschal Mystery. The simultaneous and historical presence of two paschal candles does not go at all well with the thesis of the pastorals. The lighting of the Candle is the act of first necessity against darkness, and must evoke the living Christ – but excessively anticipates the announcement of the Resurrection. The amplification the Candle receives from the pastorals makes it resemble an end more than a means. Formerly incensed after its blessing, and even consecrated according to some authors, to-day simply blessed, the Paschal Candle becomes an object that occupies a place between a cross, a gospel book and a relic. All this will become clearer when we get to the day of Holy Saturday.


During the whole Holy Week, all the texts sung by the deacon, sub-deacon or singers are omitted by the celebrant, who has not to read them. It is of little importance how the celebrants sing (often badly), if they get themselves heard and understood through their loud-speakers. People must listen. What a victory! They revel in this as a return to antiquity, a pledge for the future, a foretaste of reforms to come. This can be of interest to faithful accustomed to using a book, who – with their faces buried in their missals – are isolated from the community, sic! Distinction is made between reading with the eyes or with the lips. It is not admissible, they say, to read with the lips something that someone else is singing. But, reading with the eye can be defended; it has a respectable age, began by necessity, continues by utility, is esteemed; it is part of the pontifical assistance of the Pope and the Bishop.

To forget nothing, we are told that the altar of repose of Maundy Thursday has a solemn character – something the Missal has never said, better written than certain rubrics. These express two prescriptions and one prohibition: the clergy holds lighted candles, to begin with during the singing of the Exsultet, then during a dialogue between the celebrant and the faithful before Mass. It is forbidden to hold the palms during the singing of the Passion. Overall, they pretend to create two obligations for two novelties; they abolish an ancient practice, that finds its explanation explication in Saint Augustine (homily at matins of Saturday before Palm Sunday) : “The leaves of palms are praises meaning victory; for the Lord was at the point of conquering death by dying, and triumphing over the devil by the trophy of His cross”.

The vigil of Pentecost is stripped of its baptismal character, and has become a day like any other, and makes the Missal tell a lie in the canon. This vigil was an annoying neighbour, a formidable rival! Instructed posterity will certainly be more severe than is opinion in regard to the pastorals.

Whether we like it or not, the communion of the clergy, desired at the Mass of Maundy Thursday, will always be in conflict with permissions given to celebrate Mass in private.

The pastorals call on Christ the King to give a strong meaning to their solemn procession of Palms; as if this was needed to perfect a situation to which the author of the Gloria, laus et honor wrote sufficiently, but not in the new fashion. Certain modifications of tradition, so well-known, are just as dishonest as they are daring.

The sprinkling of holy water is a paschal rite that is done every Sunday. Palm Sunday is no less a Sunday than any other. When Candlemas [ed. Feast of the Purification] falls on a Sunday, it does not impede the Asperges me. This has never involved sprinkling water onto a table placed somewhere with palms or other objects on it. It is a matter of sprinkling the altar, the clergy, the church and the faithful. Except for the Bishop, unless impossible, the proper place for blessings – as for consecrations – is the altar, or yet within a short distance, the credence table for example.

For centuries, the consecration of the oils is done at the altar, before it was done on a table as to-day, and not in conspectu populi. What have the pastorals to show the people here, those who have stripped the blessing of palms to the bone? A collect, sign of the cross, sprinkling of holy water and incensing; an uninteresting show. Those who abolish the Sunday Asperges, a real liturgical mistake, willingly admit that the celebrant should wander around the church to sprinkle the palms held by the faithful, then makes the same journey to incense them.

A pastoral, professor of a Swiss seminary, announced one day that red is the colour of triumph. He should have been answered by saying: you are very much mistaken, whilst white is the colour of Easter, Ascension, Corpus-Christi. But no, as soon as it is said, it is done; the colour of Palm Sunday will be red, violet remaining for Mass. Not everyone thinks like the professor. The Roman Rite has used violet since it appeared. The Parisian rite, et the uses of so many dioceses, used black until the middle of the 19th century. A few rites used red, for the blessing of Palms and Mass. Some insisted on mourning, others on the bloody sacrifice. Each kept the same colour: no-one had the idea of changing it. The whole office of Palm Sunday is a mixture of triumphal and passion hymns. From Matins to Vespers inclusive, including Mass, we find that the number of passion hymns goes beyond that of triumphal pieces. When these two things are thus mixed, no separation should be brought to bear. The Swiss professor thought he could take example from the reasonable change of colour for Candlemas; but its pastiche is a mere imitation of the modern feast of Christ the King.

The distribution of the Palms, as we read, is done according to custom. Whatever the pastorals think, there are rules to observe before custom. As the celebrant, if he is not the only priest, received the ashes and his candle at the hands of the highest cleric, he is to receive his palm in the same way. If he does not receive it, he will be without his palm at the procession. About this, rubricists have asked whether the pastorals wanted the celebrant not to carry a palm at the procession, because he would have represented Christ who did not carry one. Logically, the hypothesis would have the celebrant on the back of a donkey. Happily, the pastorals stopped there, allowing him to carry a palm.

The pastorals, who reduced the blessing of palms to its simplest expression, did not pass up the chance of extending the distribution, given the superabundance of chants intended for this action. Whilst the length of the blessing seems enormous, this added plethora seems not to satisfy needs.

The subdeacon normally carries the processional cross, each time the celebrant does not need him, carrying the Blessed Sacrament or for the Baptismal Font. An additional subdeacon for carrying the cross is necessary only when the subdeacon has something else to do, as above.

For two weeks, the altar cross remains veiled. Even veiled, it is incensed and revered by genuflection or profound bow. It is forbidden to unveil it for any reason. On the other hand, the processional cross – unlike the altar cross – is carried unveiled at the procession; from departure to return. Two crosses are seen, one veiled and the other unveiled. What do we gather from this?

The disorder augments from the end of the procession. Going before an important personality, accompanying him to the closed doors of the town, stopping to compliment and acclaim him, finally opening the doors with great pomp in his honour – all this has always been one of the greatest possible forms of homage; but it is not good enough for the creative genius of the pastorals.

We can only qualify as vandalism the fact of tearing the Gloria, laus et honor away from its place at the church door, to mix it up with the baggage of processional music that has nearly tripled in length. Stinginess and waste of time go hand in hand. Therefore, no stopping in front of the door, closed then open; the processional cross unveiled to magnify it, it is cheapened by refusing it the virtue of opening the door. All that despite ancient and modern ceremonial, and for what good? The pastoral rubrics make much ado of the expression, nothing impedes, nihil impedit quominus. Here they are used to unleash the faithful who can sing the hymn Christus vincit or something else in honour of Christ the King. This tolerance has naturally its consequences; the faithful make pawns of the clergy, they have a whole choice of chants à la carte. If they are for Christ the King, they like to sing to his Mother who is Queen. So many desires and eminently pastoral wishes.

The Roman rubric said: when the procession enters the church, Ingrediente Domino is sung; the pastoral rubric says: when the procession enters the church, when the celebrant goes through the door, Ingrediente Domino is sung. The door is ignored during the return from the procession – now we watch for the celebrant coming through the door, who seems to be identified with Christ entering Jerusalem.

Between the procession and Mass, they give us a final and recapitulary collect, with defectuous modalities; the celebrant has no need to go up to the altar, above all turning his back to it, just to sing a collect and come back down just after. Have we ever seen that apres Rogation processions? Finally, holding the book in front of the celebrant is proper to the deacon and subdeacon, not to a simple cleric.

Previously, we called the singing of the Gospel Passion the Passion, and the Gospel at the end of the sung Passion was sung in the usual manner of the Gospel. To-day, both parts put together are called the history of the Passion, or yet the Gospel of the Passion and death. Such pastoral progress is worth it! Folded chasubles are one of the oldest characteristics of the Roman Rite; they go back to the time when all the clergy wore chasubles, and were the expression of austere penance. Their abolition makes nonsense of the painting in the Catacombs – an immense loss and an outrage to history. The pastorals simply say the folded chasubles are not easy to find. To the contrary, violet chasubles are found everywhere – and can be folded – whilst violet dalmatics are not as widespread [ed. Violet dalmatics are used during the time of Septuagesima before the beginning of Lent]. It has always been allowed to serve in alb.


The pastorals like cutting something off the beginning or end of Mass. Their being cut off, apart from the few moments of time saved, are insignificant. What is more important is that they are used as “spring boards” for more important reforms. Thus, neither the psalm Judica me nor the confession are said before the Palm Sunday and Holy Saturday Masses, because some other ceremony takes place. The same goes for the Masses of Candlemas, Ash Wednesday, weddings, funerals and Masses preceded by Communion. On Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday, the undesirable Last Gospel is omitted; perfect, but in the name of what principle? On Maundy Thursday, the Blessing is omitted, because the ceremony is not finished – the same goes for Corpus-Christi and any Mass followed by a procession of the Blessed Sacrament.

When the usage of three extra deacons singing the Passion is introduced, in the form of a lesson rather than that of a Gospel, the end of the Passion is reserved for singing in Gospel form by the celebrant’s deacon – to avoid falling into the absurdity of the deacon not singing the Gospel. The three deacons begin and finish the Passion without ceremony, as for lessons; only the deacon does the habitual ceremonies for the Gospel. This was logical, coming from the Papal Chapel. Thus the deacon is eclipsed by the three of the Passion. He then recites the Munda cor meum and received the blessing before singing the Gospel, incensing of the book, kissing of the book and incensing of the celebrant. These three gestures succumb to the pastoral mentality; for the Passion is no longer the Gospel but only a history, history of the Passion. Lacking the Gospel, there is no Gospel book. Consequently, the book of history is not incensed or kissed – what is not kissed is not incensed.

To continue, the passion-gospel books are carried around in any old fashion; they are mentioned only on Good Friday. The pastorals have forgotten how to carry a Gospel book; why there must be three acolytes accompanying it instead of two, that the deacon kneeling to say Munda cor meum has not to bow. They repeat again and again that the passion-gospel is sung or read. Their rubrics are written to make us think that we can read at a sung office and sing in a read office as we like. Half the office can be read and the other half sung, mixing both. This is one of the scourges of the liturgy, as is the vernacular language. This is not new, and was recently encouraged [by Pius XII] in sung ordinations where the ordaining bishop interrupts the singing of the preface to say the essential words. It seems that singing harms the required attention!

The Passion according to the four Evangelists included the institution of the Eucharist, for it introduces the Gospel and takes its place in the Mass. The pastorals, in a hurry when they want, think differently – abolishing the institution of the Eucharist narrative. This is consequently excluded from the liturgy in the Roman Church, without doubt to give a better instruction to the faithful.

The omission of the Psalm Miserere at the end of the Hours relieves the poor clergy and unhappy faithful. This psalm could remain only after Lauds and Vespers or only in choir, or even optional. The pastorals would benefit by reading what Cardinal Wiseman, first Archbishop of Westminster, said about the singing of this psalm at the Office of Tenebræ in the Papal Chapel.


The Missa Chrismatis, a Pontifical Mass celebrated with 26 priests in chasuble remind us of concelebration, celebrated without any relation with fasting, in which is it forbidden to give Communion, forms a curious problem that is difficult to solve. Its proper preface, in the ferial tone, is found among other curiosities.

In the Roman Rite, the use of the stole is limited by rules; no-one can wear it without a reason. It is put on at the required moment, not before and not after. It is a sacred vestment, and has nothing to do with choir dress, either for individuals or the body of the clergy. Priests have no more the right to wear the stole during Mass where they will communicate than during an ordination Mass where they will impose hands. Saying the contrary, the pastorals abuse their unmerited latitude.

At the Maundy Thursday Mass, the celebrant solemnly begins the Gloria in excelsis. How would he do it differently? Here we find a transposition, perhaps not of great importance, but at least of great pastoral significance. Until now, after the singing of the Good Friday Passion, the liturgy allowed a sermon on the Passion. We had compassion for Christ who died on the Cross, before adoring both. Now, there is no longer any question of this, and it is no longer mentioned. On the other hand, after the Maundy Thursday Gospel, a homily is strongly recommended for us to marvel at Christ washing feet.

Ancient documents show that Mass was never the place or the time for the Mandatum. The washing of the feet was separated from Mass, generally followed by a clergy get-together. The king or emperor participated in the Mandatum, not at Mass. The Cæremoniale Episcoporum situates the Mandatum in a suitable place, in the chapter house or in church, but not in choir. The Missal specifies no place, supposing neither the choir nor the altar. From the moment of the reconciliation of penitents being done in the nave, common sense could not admit laymen into choir. The pastorals want the Mandatum within Mass, only tolerating it out of Mass. They hardly notice that we can wash the feet of clerics – real or considered as such.

A remark is necessary about the distribution of roles. The deacon and subdeacon are charged with introducing the twelve chosen men (no longer thirteen) into the choir, then to lead them back to their previous places. This job is that of a verger or sacristan. It expresses very well the pastoral mentality impregnated with a populist attitude, unfavourable to the clergy. There was a time when each candidate for having his feet washed was carried by force by worthy men before the sitting Pope to have his feet washed. The pastorals, not daring to push “fraternal charity” to this point, are content to use the deacon and subdeacon for introducing lay candidates into choir, then to lead them back afterwards. Some miss the ancient usage mentioned, for not only sport but also the social and pastoral activity of the clergy would have drawn benefit.

We find a big obstacle without any possible dissimulation. By decree of 4th December 1952 the Holy Congregation of Rites censured the incongruity of the fact that the Bishop puts on his shoes and takes them off in the church. Following this, it forbids such a use of liturgical shoes. This had always to be done outside the church, despite the former rules in force. This decree is excessively disputable, for it is based on ambiguity, attributing things that have never been said to the Cæremoniale Episcoporum. Let us not discuss them and be content with forbidding them. The Bishop, outside Mass, receives his shoes and buskins on legs and feet that are not bare, since they are covered with socks. These shoes are sacred vestments, just as much as the mitre and gloves, blessed, received with the episcopate, accompanied by a prayer and reverence. This practice has existed for centuries. On the other hand, 12 men in choir, during Mass, take their shoes off, strip their right feet bare, and put their shoes back on before going back to their places. In summary, twelve bare feet are less incongruous than the two of the Bishop with his shoes on, without counting other differences.

The concern for eliminating the word pax from the Maundy Thursday Mass, since the kiss of peace is not given, extends to a collect, to the Confiteor, etc., to the kissing of the Bishop’s hand, to the Ite missa est, the blessing and the Last Gospel. But we do not know if they tolerate other kisses, of the hand and the object; for they could not proscribe them as mechanically. The knowledge of the pastorals is still at the point of confusing the kissing of the hand and the kissing of the ring.

The sparing of the Confiteor at Communion of Maundy Thursday, an exchange that takes the unnoticed Confiteor said in private by the celebrant at the beginning of Mass, so that it takes the place of a collective Confiteor, sung by the deacon before Communion, is, we can say, far-fetched. The subtlety of bartering does not suffice to hide the enormous difference between the two uses of the Confiteor. Too much finesse can be harmful.

Setting out on the procession to the altar of repose and the return give patent proof of the ceremonial dexterity of the pastorals. At the beginning, the celebrant takes the ciborium helped by the deacon, and clumsily; arriving he puts it down with or without the deacon’s help, and just as badly. The reforms require from those who do it to be trained, and many are not. From Palm Sunday, we know nothing about the processional cross or the altar. Are they bare or veiled, and in which colour? No-one knows anything.


The Good Friday service takes the form of Mass in its main lines. This service received its early inspiration from the Orientals. The Mass of the Presanctified took its rightful place, above all if we observe that the Roman Rite had the “dry mass” for many centuries. Despite all, a cry of alarm broke out among the pastorals – it was the death warrant. The alarm was given by a Belgian Benedictine abbot crying out: “The Good Friday ceremony has taken on terrible appearances of a Mass”. No more was needed by the pastorals. With an effort worthy of a better goal, they have fulfilled this programme: get rid of the fundamentally Roman elements, adopt foreign elements, restore inferior and obsolete Roman elements, exclude everything that can in any way remind us of a Mass. On this point, their fixed idea was to sing the refrain Delenda est Carthago. The Mass of the Presanctified succumbed under misunderstanding, victim of a kabbal. The liturgical dictionary, in the Migne edition, said in 1844: “The Roman Rite seems to us, as for the adoration of the cross, more grave and edifying than the rite of various dioceses of France”. Advice to the pastorals for their entire construction, become a simple exercise of piety, under the name of “Singular and solemn liturgical action for the passion of death of the Lord”, an action which, despite its qualification, gives no nobility to its subject.

The Roman Pontifical teaches us that we do not greet a new altar before having placed its cross. The altar itself is not the object of veneration, but the cross that dominates it, and to which all prayers are addressed. There was a time when the cross and candles were brought to the altar on entering the sanctuary, and they were carried away after Mass. This leaving the altar always uncovered is not permitted to-day. This is why I address the pastorals: “On Palm Sunday, you have uncovered the processional cross by pretext of emphasising it. On Good Friday when it is covered, you take the cross from the altar, send it to the sacristy and then have it brought back. How do you explain such a contradiction?” No creative or organisational genius here! We finally note that the cross on the altar brings to mind a Mass.

The pastorals divide the solemn action into four sub-titled parts, of which the second and third are solemn, but not the first and fourth. These doses are just as intelligent and admirable as their authors.

Chasubles – no question of them; they smack of the Mass. Then the poor celebrant has to be happy to be in an alb, as in a country church, despite the ultra-proclaimed solemnity – a contradiction the Roman Rite spared him.

The altar without a cross, if it is worthy of being kissed, has no right to a bow or genuflection, and even less to be prayed to – for an altar is not invoked. In the Roman Rite, when we kneel or make a double genuflection, or a bow, the bow must be slight and not profound. This ancient rule has been confirmed about a half century ago. It is scary to see the liturgy caught between two powers mutually ignoring each other.

The pastorals enrich Good Friday with an introductory collect and three concluding prayers. They abolish with one hand and lengthen with the other. They fall between two stools and are caught in their own net. The celebrant sings the introductory collect at the foot of the altar, for he will go up to the altar only for the great prayers. At the altar, the celebrant does not spread his hands unless he is in a chasuble at Mass and that Delenda est Carthago, hands spread gives place to joined hands. The second lesson takes the place of an epistle sung by the subdeacon, since the name of Mass is rejected and the deacon does not sing the Gospel.

The pastorals have the three deacons say the Munda cor meum and bidding the blessing on Palm Sunday. On Good Friday, the three do not say Munda cor meum and do not bid the blessing, but they go before the celebrant who addresses them a wish in a clear voice. Until now, the Munda cor meum has always come before the Gospel, at all the four Passions. Even the pastorals kept it before their gospel-history of the Passion – but they have excluded it on Good Friday. Why? Perhaps on this day the Passion is less of a Gospel than a history. With the loss of Munda cor meum, the Gospel is not announced. As he gives the blessing, the celebrant speaks media voce, but saying the formula he speaks clara voce. The new formula is without doubt better than the old. Finally the three deacons of the Passion who kneel to bid and receive the blessing do not have a reason to bow to hear the celebrant – we do not bow to respond to Dominus vobiscum.

Now begins the second period with a change of vestments, followed by two others, four in all. This is the punishment by the puritans who blame the Roman Rite for changing vestments too often. The pastorals, mitigating their anti-Mass prejudice, have the celebrant vest to go up to the altar. But, they have him in a cope, at the middle of the altar instead of the epistle corner, with the ministers each side of him, not behind. They have the priest with hands apart despite being in a cope.

They are more concerned with the dimensions of the cross than with its characteristics – a reliquary cross, the wood of the cross is of no interest to them, despite the origin of the rite. They have little knowledge or understanding of the Roman Rite. They transfer the cross from the sacristy to the altar where it was missing, where it should have its fixed place whether or not Mass is celebrated. Keeping the cross veiled does not mean hiding it, relegating it to the sacristy, depriving the altar of it – where it should more than ever be in a place of honour on this Friday. The pastorals should know that the veil should cover the whole cross, not just the crucifix, for it is the cross that is shown.

Other novelties await us. The notion of the pastorals about processions: the deacon between two acolytes brings the exiled cross from the sacristy – a procession. The faithful queue up to adore the cross – a procession. The deacon brings the Blessed Sacrament from the altar of repose – this is not a procession. We are now completely confused. We did not use lighted candles before transporting the Blessed Sacrament, of which the cross is not jealous. Now the pastorals use lighted candles for the cross. It results, among other things, that the celebrant uncovering the cross finds himself among four persons, a lot of people for little space! The cross, brought by the deacon then uncovered by the celebrant, now remains delivered to the hands of two acolytes who should not have this role, above all at the altar – which is not their place.

For centuries and rightly, Catholics have adored not only the cross but also the crucified body of Christ on the floor of the church. This is why we spread a carpet, a cushion, a white and violet veil for a shroud. This goes beyond the ideas of the pastorals, who have the Crucified standing upright. They have thus discarded the showing-adoration of the cross – not an exaltation but bringing it to adorers who prostrate themselves. The adoration of the cross is no less misunderstood – it was done as for the Pope, three genuflections spaced out before kissing the cross or the Pope’s foot. But this Friday, the three genuflections are changed into three double genuflections of adoration. It is through this reverence to the Pope that the genuflection became part of the Roman Rite.

At the uncovering of the cross, after each of the Ecce lignum crucis, the action was together with the invitation – we kneeled and adored, responding Venite adoremus. The adoration in silence took place during the three double genuflections before the kissing. The pastorals move the silent adoration of the three destroyed double genuflections, they are associated with each Venite adoremus. In this way it wastes time rather than saving it – again, the pastorals have the adorers go one by one instead of two by two. They probably believe that singing is not good for adoration, attention and recollection.

The problem with the collective adoration of the cross was for a long time solved by the use of several crosses, presented to the faithful for kissing or exposed for adoration in several places. After the adoration, the altar cross is put in its normal place, from where it was taken to the sacristy. Its return gives place to a strange rubric.

Then they change colour. White and black are the original colours of the Roman Rite, but the pastorals prefer violet to black, the most recent colour. They reinforce the mourning of Good Friday by calling it the day of the Lord’s death, but reject the black colour of death. They, who exterminate the Mass of the Presanctified, who until now had the celebrant in a black cope, have him wear a violet chasuble. But not for the ministers – they are disguised in dalmatics. Can there be more of a contradiction? If the pastorals saw a clash between communion and black, they should have considered that the Requiem Mass is said in black, and communion is given there even with previously consecrated hosts given as communion just before or after the Mass in black.

I ask the pastorals: what need, what opportunity do you feel to put a chasuble on the celebrant just to give communion? The distribution of communion has never required a chasuble outside Mass. You exterminate the Mass of the Presanctified, you obstinately eliminate the least detail that smacks of this, then you dare to put a chasuble on the celebrant – that you refuse for the ministers. Nothing warrants the celebrant to be vested for Act IV of your production, for you leave him simply in alb for Act I. Your discretionary powers are vast, as are the abuses.


The procession of Maundy Thursday, definitively instituted by Sixtus IV (+ 1484), and that of Good Friday, instituted by John XXII (+1334), therefore by the same authority, have the same object, same purpose, same solemnity, except the festive character of the first and the mourning of the second. Why abolish one and keep the other? The arrival of the Blessed Sacrament is accompanied by singing of the three antiphons in honour of the cross, in the place of Vexilla Regis having the same purpose, but without doubt un-pastoral.

In the Roman Rite, the celebrant sings the Pater noster alone, entirely or at the beginning and end saying the middle part in a quiet voice. The best proof is that the congregation, having said nothing, responds sed libera nos. All the same, the pastorals had to reform this, and here is the result of their prowess: the Pater noster said and not sung, said by all, said in a sung service, a sad mixture of Latin and Oriental rites, recited solemnly (sic), but stripped of the solemnity of singing, said with joined hands, whilst the Libera nos is said with hands apart. The pitiful explanation given is that the Pater, since it is a prayer for communion, has to be recited by everyone. Two questions: is the Pater more for communion than the other days of the year? Is the Pater more for communion than the other prayers before communion?

The writing of the rubrics is naturally at the same level. Thus we read that the celebrant takes a host with the right hand – so does he strike his breast with the left hand? We don’t know if the left hand rests on the corporal or on the ciborium. We read that as he strikes his breast, instead of a medium bow, parum incinatus, the celebrant makes a profound bow – a posture impeded by the height of the altar.

It is disrespectful to the liturgy and the celebrant to abolish the chalice and the large host. A small people’s host is ridiculous. The chalice once served as a ciborium, and this could continue. There was a time and place when the Good Friday communion was taken in both kinds, having been reserved, therefore with the chalice. Of this we should be aware. The chalice served for the purification of the celebrant, and opened the way for the clergy. One did not eat without drinking. All this imitated the Mass, did not deceive anyone, did not even oppose general communion – but this is of little importance.

The pastorals introduced three postcommunions, sung by the celebrant with joined hands, at the middle of the altar, between his ministers, and during which all stand. Another curiosity: during Compline the candles are snuffed out. Therefore the cross, now uncovered, can do without light. Now, why were lighted candles needed before its uncovering and during the adoration? A game of compensation: they give the cross light it had not had, and they take away the incensing from the Blessed Sacrament, the cross and the altar.

The Church mourns and weeps during the three days during which the Lord remains in the Sepulchre. During this time of the obsequies of the dead Christ, all the Hours of the Office end with the collect Respice quæsumus, which is exactly the prayer super populum at the Mass of Holy Wednesday. The pastorals break this continuity and unity by a replacement – at the end of the Hours of Saturday they insert a prayer that gives the aspect of a banal vigil, clashing with the rest, above all with the ancient Christus factus est. If the pastorals were logical with themselves, they would see that this prayer, not being in the tone of the three days, had no longer to be said kneeling and with a silent conclusion. This was of finishing Vespers is no less strange.

As for Mass, finishing in the late evening, was the cause of doing away with Vespers, at another time Mass, finishing late into the night, did away with Matins of Easter. The three Nocturnes were reduced to a single one, and this for the whole Octave. With less cause, the pastorals went further by abolishing Easter Matins, but did not dare to extend this to the rest of the Octave. As for the Vigil of Pentecost, massacred, its Octave continues to enjoy a single nocturne.


As already seen, the pastorals continue the burial of folded chasubles with that of Christ. On the other hand, and with the same deftness, they resurrect some minimal ceremony that is less ancient and abandoned. Also, they answer a question that has never been resolved. The celebrant blessed the new fire to obtain blessed light, with which the deacon lit the paschal candle before which he sang the Præconium. This lighting and singing passed for the blessing of the Paschal Candle. Now there is no doubt, everything is clear – the deacon has only to carry it and sing. The candle brought from I don’t know where, under the watchful eyes of the congregation, is subjected to incisions and inscriptions, with explaining formulas, as well as pushing the five grains of incense into the five holes in the candle, which would represent the five wounds of Christ. This brings us back to the symbolism of William Durandus, whose ideas were once in fashion then fell into desuetude. The grains of incense are explained by the relation between fire and the resin of incense. The inscriptions had degenerated into a large tablet suspended on the candle and its candlestick, perhaps imitating the sign INRI of the cross, since the candle had to symbolise Christ.

Here, the Paschal Candle lit and blessed, the pastorals have the lights of the church put out. The Breviary had already done this at the end of Lauds of Maundy Thursday, but this concerned the lamps, electric lights, extinguished until Saturday. They probably want, without saying it clearly, to extinguish all the lights, have the church in darkness, which will be dissipated by the candles of the clergy and people. This brings out the Paschal Candle, something oriental, reminding us of a Candlemas around a big candle.

Whilst the light was given to light the candle already in place, now they carry the lighted candle to put it into place. One of the promoters of the Paschal Vigil was enthusiastic about the imposing proportions of the massive candle, and the majesty of paschal candlesticks. They did not suspect that their sectaries would have reduced everything to the proportions of a village church. When candle and candlestick took on a monumental development, and the candle was no longer transportable, it disappeared from the procession. Light had to be brought to it with the triple candle. Thus it happened that the hero of the triumphal cortege was not carried. We note that with the triple candle and reed, the light of Christ was no less adored.

In the hands of the pastorals, their solemn procession for the carrying of the candle became the negation of reasons principles, a liturgical monster. Their whim of having the deacon and the celebrant walk directly behind the subdeacon and the cross, at the head of the clergy, is the same thing as putting the cart before the horse. One of them excuses this with two stupidities. Firstly, in the proper order the clergy would turn their backs to the candle. Answer – in any procession where a relic or the Blessed Sacrament is carried, backs are turned as praises are sung. The contrary has never been done. The second: in the proper order, the clergy would sing the Lumen Christi turning their backs to the candle. Answer: there is no evil in this, for the genuflection is not made to the candle carried behind, but to Christ who is everywhere. We need to distinguish Christ as light and the light of Christ. Lumen Christi means that the light of Christ is in the lighted candle, not that Christ-light be there.

Reading the pastoral rubrics, we are led to believe that everybody – clergy and people – makes for the candle to light his own candle, which he holds during the singing of the Exultet. We remind ourselves with amazement of not being allowed to hold our palms during the singing of the Passion.

The right place for singing the Exultet and situating the Paschal Candle has always been where the Gospel is sung, the customary place in choir, or on the ambo or choir screen where the paschal candlestick is situated. The position of the candle in the middle of the choir, on a small support, is purely arbitrary. This give rise to fleeting and false interpretations, and does away with the majestic paschal candlestick.

The deacon, holding the book, bids the blessing, then incenses the book as for the Gospel. Why this? The reason is that the Exultet has always been in the Gospel book. Another reason is that the deacon incenses the book containing the praise of the candle that he is going to sing. The direct purpose is not to incense the candle, of less worth than the Gospel book. By incensing the book, the deacon incenses, per modum unius, the candle places against the reading desk. The pastorals could dispense with a new incensing, above all made by turning one’s back to the candle.

The pastorals have officiated before an altar without a cross on Friday, but on Saturday, the altar and its cross no longer suffice for them. They want a centre towards which they turn – the Paschal Candle – rivalling the altar. The place for the singing of the Gospel has its symbolism, once disputable. Their place for the Paschal Candle, at the centre of the choir, entirely lacks symbolism. The way the desk is turned, and the deacon singing the Exultet, the reader singing the lessons, with the altar to his right and the nave to his left, shows the charm of the profile position unlike that of the pastorals.

According to the pastorals, the celebrant vests in four ways on Friday, but on Saturday, he is spared from vesting. He remains in a cope instead of putting on a chasuble. Is eludes them that the Prophecies, Tracts and Collects are part of the Mass, and that the Pope once baptised in chasuble.


The baptistery was an edifice annexed to the church, a kind of hallway, neutral territory, where a person entered as a pagan and emerged as a Christian. Used in a particular way, it was not made to contain the whole congregation. The baptistery has been succeeded by the baptismal font, often badly situated and just as badly constructed, but by whose fault? These faults should never be a reason to abandon them. Baptismal fonts, baptismal water and Baptism go together as one. A spectacular innovation that deliberately separates them, installing substitutes for the font in the choir and baptising in them, then using this recipient for transferring the baptismal water to the font – is an insult to history, to discipline, to the liturgy and common sense. Thus people are baptised in the choir, the place for the clergy, a pagan with those accompanying him. Thus the baptismal water resembles the person brought in pomp to it, from where he was expelled. It was to preserve the baptismal water over the whole year that sumptuous baptisteries were constructed with artistic and majestic fonts. To-day, the pastorals make baptismal water and baptise in a basin, and in this container they carry it to the font, singing the song of a thirsty deer, which has already drunk, and which is going towards a dry font.

The Litany, once repeated so often, is an supplication for the catechumens, before or after their baptism. It is normally sung on the way to the font and coming back from it. As the pastorals introduced a substitute for the baptismal font into the choir, they have the first half of the Litany sung, then the blessing of the water, always under the protection of the Paschal Candle. This time the celebrant faces the people, no longer his profile. What subtlety! Not the return, but the transport of the water to his home raises a thorny question. Whose role is it to play the walking reservoir – the deacon, acolytes, and how many of them? Our task that can arouse jealousies, above all during the obsolete singing of Sicut cervus. Suppose our church has a separate baptistery, the pastorals still dare to give the choice between the liturgical method and their sad invention.

The renewal of baptismal vows, taken from the First Communion for children, is a massive para-liturgy, a purely pastoral creation and un-liturgical, an occasion to insert the vernacular into the liturgy. It is a boring repetition of what has just been done if there has been a baptism. They could go on to renew marriage vows for people at a wedding. Finally it causes an empty space between the transport of the water and the second half of the Litany, therefore a waste of time by returning in silence.

The Paschal Candle finishes by being taken off its little temporary support and put on its candlestick on the Gospel side, ignored until now. Flowers have never been prescribed for the altar. Now the pastorals need them to make it more pleasant.

Monsignor GROMIER

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

Letter from the Dominicans of Avrillé

No. 27: January 2018


St. Thomas Boys’ School in the frost

A Canonical Recognition?

When Archbishop Lefebvre founded the Society of Saint Pius X in 1970, he had obtained its canonical erection as a “pious union” from Bishop Charrière of Fribourg, Switzerland.  The Archbishop’s work remained canonically recog­nized for five years.

However, on November 21st, 1974, after a canonical visit of Ecône by two envoys from Rome, Archbishop Lefebvre published a declaration manifesting his refusal “to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican Council and, after the Council, in all the reforms which issued from it.”

From that point forward, the dividing line between the two “churches” was drawn.  Shortly after, the “Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies” was given the name of the “conciliar church” by Bishop Benelli [letter addressed to the Archbishop on behalf of Pope Paul VI].  It has kept this name ever since.

The canonical “suppression” of the SSPX was decreed by Bishop Mamie, on May 6th, 1975.  Archbishop Lefebvre rightly stated that it was “irregular, and in any case, unjust.”

This “suppression” was therefore consid­ered as null and void by Archbishop Lefebvre and all those who follow the rules of the Catholic Church, whereas it was deemed valid by the representatives of the conciliar church.

Recently, however, there has been more and more talk of a “canonical recognition” of the SSPX from the present authorities in the Vatican.  Can such recognition be accepted?

Per se, canonical regularity in the Catho­lic Church is something that is good, and even necessary.  Archbishop Lefebvre sought this reg­ularity in 1970, and obtained it.  Nevertheless, today, if a canonical recognition were to be ac­corded, it would be in the framework of the new Code of Canon Law.  It is in this framework that the Pope has granted jurisdiction for marriages celebrated by priests of the SSPX.

That reason alone would suffice in order to refuse this recognition:

“We cannot content ourselves with particular guidelines for the Soci­ety; we refuse this new Code of Canon Law be­cause it is contrary to the common good of the entire Church, [which is what] we want to pro­tect.” [Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, Courrier de Rome n° 499, May 2017]

We may add that under present circum­stances, there are other disadvantages.  Just to name a few:

— It would make us enter into the con­ciliar pluralism, with Tradition being recognized on an equal footing with the Charismatic move­ments, the FocolariOpus Dei, etc.  This would put Truth on a par with error, at least in the public opinion.

— It would bring into our chapels faith­ful who are determined to remain conciliar, modernist and liberal, along with all that this implies regarding their lifestyle (because bad ideas lead to bad morals).

— It would necessarily reduce any at­tacks against the errors professed by the authori­ties under which we would then directly find ourselves.  It’s rather easy for all to see that the superiors of the SSPX have already diminished their criticisms of the present errors coming from Rome (Year of Luther, Amoris Laetitia, etc.).

—Lastly, such a canonical recognition would place us directly under the authority of superiors who are themselves under Freemasonic influ­ence.  Indeed, various studies published in Le Sel de la Terre have shown that the conciliar church is an instrument in the hands of Freemasonry to force Catholics to work toward the establishment of the New World Order, willingly or not.  (See the editorial n° 101, summer 2017.)   Providence permitted Archbishop Lefebvre and those who followed him to be exempt from this Freema­sonic influence: it would now be a grave impru­dence to subject ourselves to it voluntarily.  Freemasonry was born exactly three centuries ago (June 24th, 1717).   After having destroyed all the Christian states (with the revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries), and subjugating the Church (with the plan of the Alta Vendita, accom­plished by Vatican II), will Freemasonry succeed in spreading its influence over the work of Arch­bishop Lefebvre?  This would certainly be its ap­parent triumph on earth.

Consequently, a “canonical solution” can only be foreseen in the case of a Rome that has converted doctrinally.  Moreover, this conversion will have to be proven by concrete efforts to work for the social reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ, while fighting against the adversaries of this reign.

Chant of the Gospel at one of the “stations” (during the procession on November 2nd)

A Luciferian Religion

Last June 24th marked the 300th anniver­sary of the foundation of Freemasonry.  This sect constitutes a sort of “Counter-Church” offering worship to Satan (See especially the book by Jean-Claude Lozac’hmeur, Les Origines occultists de la Francmaçon­nerie).  Msgr. Henri Delassus, author of the mon­umental work, The Anti-Christian Conspiracy — The Masonic Temple Wanting to Build Itself upon the Ruins of the Catholic Church (1910), made a re­markable analy­sis of the progression of this Lu­ciferian cult as a preparation of the reign of the Antichrist:

Just as in pagan times there were se­cret ceremonies and an esoteric doctrine that were known only to the “initiated”, leaving to the crowd of “ordinary men” the things which they could handle, giving satisfaction to their religious instincts in a sort of natu­ral­ism, we see reborn today certain prac­tices and dogmas that constitute a properly Lu­ciferian religion for the “initiated”, whereas the public is little by little led to a purely naturalistic religion. […]

This is not the first time that Satanism has invaded Christianity.

In the 15th century, the Renaissance, which was the first manifestation of the anti-Christian conspiracy, was preceded by an extraordinary development of magic.  It grew everywhere that Protestantism took hold, and this led to an epidemic of witch­craft that throughout the 17th century was a night­mare for Germany, England and Scot­land, while the Latin countries remained practi­cally untouched.

The Revolution, as well, was preceded by a fever of Satanism.  Magnetizers, necro­mancies, as they were called, showed up everywhere. The corrupted nobles had themselves initiated in rites where Satan was invoked, and in the towns as well as in the cities people gave themselves up to all kinds of occult practices.

But never, since the times of paganism, has Satan been as alive and active as he is today, hav­ing been invited back into the domain from which the Cross of the Divine Redeemer had chased him away. (pp. 723-725)