Sacramentality and Culture (photocopy)

The Orations of the Vatican II Missal: Policies for Revision

Lauren Pristas

“We learn from Dumas’ essay that the policies approved in 1966 were revised during the course of the Consilium’s labors.”1



The Paul VI Missal has been well studied in itself, but most of the specific decisions that gave the present missal its shape and character have yet to be placed under the scholarly microscope. This is understandable. The sweeping nature of the reforms and the nearly countless particular decisions that make up the whole define a task that is vast almost beyond imagining. Still, it is a lamentable lacuna. More than thirty years after the promulgation of the Paul VI Missal, the scholarly work essential for situating the new rite in relation to the whole of the Western liturgical tradition is only in its infancy.

By specific decisions I refer to the revisers’ choice of one prayer over another, of one textual variation over another, and so forth. The very first proper Mass oration of the liturgical year, the collect for the first Sunday of Advent,  typifies one common sequence of specific decisions and can serve as an example.2  The revisers chose Gelasianum Vetus 1139, an Advent postcommunion in an eighth-century Mass book to be the collect for the first Sunday of Advent in the new missal.3 Before inclusion, however, the ancient oration was edited so that its meaning was altered.4  Moreover, the decision to adopt a new collect required displacing a collect that had been in unbroken use on the first Sunday of Advent for at least twelve hundred years.5 Otherwise unchanged, the former collect for the first Sunday of Advent is now the collect for Friday of the first week of Advent.


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