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Monday, 29 October 2007

Is your alb back to front?

Fr Z has initiated a roaring discussion by asking the simple question whether maniples can be used in the Novus Ordo Mass. (What Does The Prayer Really Say?: Maniples)

One commenter has referred to an important source for the question that has proved popular among modern liturgists. An answer in Notitiae of 1978 said:
"When the rubrics of the Missal of Paul VI say nothing or say little on particulars in some places, it is not to be inferred that the former rite should be observed. Therefore, the multiple and complex gestures for incensation as prescribed in the former Missal are not to be resumed."
This is, of course, a strange answer. Saying that it must not be inferred that a rite should be used does not imply that it must not be used. We need to check the Latin of this text. (If anyone with access to a library can check it, I have seen the reference given elsewhere as Notitiae 14 (1978) 301-302, no. 2)

Let us in any case take the more restrictive interpretation, beloved of so many liturgists and applied across the board: namely that if something is specified in the older rite and not specified in the new rite, then it must not be done. Maniples, Birettas, crossing yourself with the host and chalice when receiving Holy Communion - they all come under this provision.

But we must be consistent. The Ritus Servandus of the 1962 missal specifies the following:
Tum Alba induitur, caput submittens, deinde manicam dexteram brachio dextero, et sinistram sinistro imponens.

[Translation] Then he puts on the alb, lowering his head, then putting the right sleeve on his right arm and the left on his left.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n.336 in the latest edition) says one or two things about the alb but says nothing whatsoever about which sleeve you should put onto which arm. But we know that if something specified in the old rite is not specified in the new rite, it must not be done.

Therefore when celebrating Mass in the new rite, priests must put their alb on back to front. So don't let me see any of this old-fashioned, stick-in-the-mud, Lefebvrian, crypto-fascist "putting your alb on the right way round" rigidity!
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