When Eucharistic Prayer IV Can Be Used

And More on the Cassock

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ROME, NOV. 22, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

Q: The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 365 d, states: «Eucharistic Prayer IV has an invariable Preface and gives a fuller summary of salvation history. It may be used when a Mass has no Preface of its own and on Sundays in Ordinary Time. Because of its structure, no special formula for the dead may be inserted into this prayer.» My question is: What we should understand by a «Mass that has no Preface of its own»? For instance, if I celebrate the votive Mass of St. Joseph, which refers to the Preface of St. Joseph, should I refrain from using Eucharistic Prayer IV? — J.A., Montreal

A: It is probably easier to answer by saying what is a Mass with a preface of its own (or proper preface) than what is not.

A clarification regarding this point was made by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments to the Italian bishops’ conference in an official reply to a doubt in the mid-1970s. This response specified that a proper preface meant preface of the day, not the preface of the season.

Thus, only those Masses are considered to have proper prefaces which are obligatory on a specific day.

In practice this means the Masses of major solemnities which have prescribed prefaces, such as Christmas, Easter, and the Sacred Heart; or one of a specific range of prefaces, such as Sundays of Advent and Lent.

Thus, Eucharistic Prayer IV may be used on Sundays of Ordinary Time. It may also be used for daily Masses during the same period, and may even be used for daily Mass during periods such as Advent and Lent. But it would probably be pastorally better to respect the seasonal preface unless there is a very good reason for using Eucharistic Prayer IV.

Likewise, this Eucharistic Prayer may be used for any votive Mass, even if the rubrics indicate another preface. Since the celebration of the votive Mass is itself an option, the Mass’ variable elements are not strictly obligatory.

Thus, for example, the preface of St. Joseph is obligatory on March 19 — and consequently Eucharistic Prayer IV may not be used on that day. If, however, one celebrates a votive Mass of St. Joseph on any day that such Masses are permissible, one is free to use either the preface of St. Joseph, or another legitimate preface. And so the fourth canon is also usable on such occasions.

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Follow-up: Wearing the Cassock

Following our piece on the use of the cassock (Nov. 8) a Canadian priest kindly reminded me of the Congregation for Clergy’s 1994 «Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests» regarding the obligation of clerical apparel.

This document states in No. 66:

«In a secularized and materialistic society, where the external signs of sacred and supernatural realities tend to disappear, it is particularly important that the community be able to recognize the priest, man of God and dispenser of his mysteries, by his attire as well, which is an unequivocal sign of his dedication and his identity as a public minister. The priest should be identifiable primarily through his conduct, but also by his manner of dressing, which makes visible to all the faithful, indeed and to all men, his identity and his belonging to God and the Church.

«For this reason, the clergy should wear ‘suitable ecclesiastical dress, in accordance with the norms established by the Episcopal Conference and the legitimate local custom.’ This means that the attire, when it is not the cassock, must be different from the manner in which the laity dress, and conform to the dignity and sacredness of his ministry. The style and color should be established by the Episcopal Conference, always in agreement with the dispositions of the universal law.

«Because of their incoherence with the spirit of this discipline, contrary practices cannot be considered legitimate customs and should be removed by the competent authority.

«Outside of entirely exceptional circumstances, a cleric’s failure to use this proper ecclesiastical attire could manifest a weak sense of his identity as one consecrated to God.»

Our correspondent then concludes: «The phrase ‘when it is not the cassock’ has generally been taken to mean, among the faithful priests I know, that the cassock is the norm. Since the Directory was published a decade after the Code of Canon Law, one wonders if the Directory was not intended to be even more specific, since, in some countries including Canada, there had been so much misinterpretation.»

I certainly agree with our correspondent that the directory intended to clarify the concise requirements of canon law and especially some of its vaguer and feebler interpretations.

However, I believe that he may be reading too much into the expression «when it is not the cassock,» if it is considered as somehow creating a legal requirement to don the cassock.

It is certainly a far cry from the decrees in earlier centuries which inflicted fines, suspensions and even excommunication upon recalcitrant clerics who failed to wear the cassock or some similar ankle length robe.

At the same time, the document certainly confirms the more-than-millennial tradition of the cassock as the universal clerical garb while leaving space for variant episcopal norms and «legitimate local custom» provided that the priest is readily recognizable and distinguished from the laity.

They thus involve the totality of external manner of dress and not just the sporting of some religious symbol such as a medal or cross which, alas, have been sometimes reduced to mere fashion items.

Outdoors, the cassock has generally been used less in the English-speaking world than in mainland Europe.

For example, a decree of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (1884) says: «We wish therefore and enjoin that all keep the law of the Church, and that when at home or when engaged in the sanctuary they should always wear the cassock [‘vestis talaris’] which is proper to the clergy. When they go abroad for duty or relaxation, or when upon a journey, they may use a shorter dress, but still one that is black in colour, and which reaches to the knees, so as to distinguish it from lay costume. We enjoin upon our priests as a matter of strict precept, that both at home and abroad, and whether they are residing in their own diocese or outside of it, they should wear the Roman collar.»

Even this norm regarding the length of the outer garment was relaxed by the popular use of bicycles among the clergy in spite of some restrictions such as those upheld by the Second Synod of Maynooth, in Ireland, in 1900.

Regarding the origin of the custom of the white papal cassock, a priest from Indianapolis writes:

«You state that the use of the papal white cassock originated with Pius V’s use of his Dominican habit. I have heard this story repeated many times, and I suspect it is repeated so often because it’s kind of a cute story. I suspect the story is apocryphal.

«Raphael’s painting The Mass at Bolsena (1512) portrays Julius II in what appears to be pretty much the same white cassock and red mozzetta worn by popes today, as does his seated portrait of Julius II, and his Portrait of Leo X with Cardinals Luigi de’ Rosso and Giulio de’ Medici (1518-19). Piombo’s 1526 portrait of Clement VII, and Titian’s 1546 portrait of Paul III also portray these popes in white cassock and red mozzetta.»

I confess that I repeated the story based on the authority and knowledge of respected professors, but our reader’s observations led me to review the resources available to me.

While it is true that St. Pius V maintained his Dominican habit after election (see L. Pastor’s «History of the Popes,» Volume 8) this is but one hypothesis and the actual origin of the use of the white cassock is uncertain.

Among the other interpretations
given by G. Moroni, in an ecclesiastical encyclopedia published in Venice in 1859, is that of an ancient Pontifical Diary which relates that the white color is linked to the sublime office of pope and is thus symbolized, besides the change of name, by the assumption of the white cassock.

Another theory hails back to a legend of a dove which posed on Pope St. Fabian’s head after his election in 238. And Moroni also refers to a tradition that the bishops of Jerusalem, from the time of St. James, were accustomed to use white robes to distinguish themselves from other ministers of the Church. It was therefore appropriate that the supreme head of the universal Church should also don that color.

Whatever the truth may be, St. Pius V was certainly the first Pope to publish a centralized and universal legislation regarding clerical costume in 1589, in which he imposed the wearing of the cassock on all clerics, even those in minor orders.

Finally, some readers have asked if deacons may also wear the Roman collar.

It is common that most seminarians wear the Roman collar, or clerical shirt, after ordination to deacon or even from the beginning of theology (as is the norm in the Diocese of Rome). But it does not seem to be customary for permanent deacons, especially married deacons, to wear it even though they are members of the clergy in the proper sense. Perhaps this is because the use of the collar is usually associated with the celibate state.

There might be prudential reasons for avoiding this practice too. For example, a permanent deacon is usually a mature man who could easily be taken for a priest and asked for confession, or be mistaken for a Protestant minister if he is out with his wife and family.

Since these are prudential, not theological, reasons, they might not apply everywhere. The bishops may provide norms adapted to the particular situations in each country.

The deacon may wear the cassock and surplice when carrying out the liturgical ministries in which the alb is not obligatory, such as baptisms and weddings without Mass.

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Readers may send questions to news@zenit.org. Please put the word «Liturgy» in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country.

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