By Mother Therese Ivers, JCD (Cand), DHS, OCV
The long-expected Motu Proprio from Pope Francis has been promulgated today concerning the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Latin rite for Mass. Religious Institutes are now forbidden to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Latin rite unless they receive explicit permission from the Holy See, from the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. As the permissions from John Paul II, and Benedict XVI were directed towards the Roman rituals and not the proper rituals of those Orders whose distinct rituals date from 1395 or earlier, religious Orders who do possess their proper rituals that were not suppressed by the Tridentine reforms may continue to use them. This means that any religious liturgical ritual utilizing and incorporating extraordinary form celebration of the Mass are forbidden without express permission. Permission must be obtained even if a community has already been given this permission previously unless the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life announce otherwise. While the Motu Proprio does not specify whether the pre-Vatican II Divine Office may be celebrated, it is evident that its usage is not encouraged.
Likewise, as the solemn consecration of virgins occurs through the ministry of the bishop in accordance with the ritual contained in the Roman Pontifical (not merely the Roman Missal), the celebration of the ritual in accordance with the extraordinary form (1962) is prohibited as of today, July 16, 2021 for all secular virgins, and virgins among the professed nuns of the cloistered communities who have no pre-1395 Ordo of their own. Or, put in another way, without express permission from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, no virgins may be consecrated using the 1962 Roman Pontifical because it requires the use of the 1962 Roman Missal. All consecrations of virgins living in the world, virgins who are members of secular institutes, and virgins who belong to cloistered communities who use the Roman Pontifical must use only the 1970 Roman Pontifical (again, the only exceptions being those religious communities who have their own Ordo dating from 1395 or older or those who receive permission after today from Rome).
On the one hand, this may be very disappointing news to candidates who may have desired to be consecrated in this form of the ritual. There are some candidates and communities who have immersed themselves in the attendance of the extraordinary form of the Mass, and who perhaps also recite the pre-Vatican II Divine Office.
On the other hand, the prohibition of the 1962 Roman Pontifical’s use for communities and individual virgins will ensure that no liturgical abuses will occur with this particular form of the ritual. Some of the abuses that will now be abolished include:
- The reprehensible practice of some of mixing the extraordinary form Mass with a portion of the 1970 Roman Pontifical’s rite of consecration of virgins.
- Secular virgins having veiled heads throughout the celebration of the extraordinary form’s Mass when the ritual clearly calls for bare heads for the beginning of the Mass so that the virgin is veiled later by the bishop.
- Virgins not presenting the bishop with the candles or receiving the crown because they are unaware this is part of the extraordinary form of the Mass.
- Virgins not being called forth from the assembly correctly (from nave to choir to sanctuary) and instead having them seated in the nave for the duration of the Mass when they are supposed to be present within the sanctuary starting from the calling of the bishop.
- Secular virgins not going to the top step of the altar to receive the Eucharist at the hands of the bishop before the other ministers.
- Priests celebrating the extraordinary form “low Mass” instead of the bishop celebrating the extraordinary form“Solemn Pontifical High Mass” because the bishop is unable or unwilling to do the Solemn Pontifical High Mass.
- The abuse of tweaking the ritual for secular virgins as their vocation does not include reception of the habit or profession of vows that the ritual entails for professed nuns.
I am not aware of any consecrations done within the extraordinary form in the last two decades that has not had its share of liturgical abuses. The principal reason for this is that the virgins are not familiar with the ritual done in the extraordinary rite and there are few living bishops who are capable of celebrating a solemn Pontifical Mass with all that it entails properly today. Thus, I believe that forbidding the extraordinary form is a good step for the Church and the Ordo Virginum when it pertains to the solemn consecration of virgins. Until Bishops are familiar with and are able to celebrate the Solemn Pontifical High Mass in accordance with the extraordinary form, it is pointless to desire the return of the extraordinary form of the consecration of virgins.
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