The Myhic Fire



Apostolic Constitution on New Roman Missal


Missale Romanum


April 3, 1969


Pope Paul VI




Motu Proprio on Liturgical Year and New Universal Roman Calendar


Paschalis Mysterii




February 14, 1969




     Following is the text of the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of Pope Paul VI that was announced May 2, but is dated April 3. The constitution promulgates the Roman Missal "restored by decree of the Second Vatican Council."

     The Roman Missal, promulgated in 1570 by Our predecessor, St. Pius V, by decree of the Council of Trent,(1) has been received by all as one of the numerous and admirable fruits which the holy Council has spread throughout the entire Church of Christ. For four centuries, not only has it furnished the priests of the Latin Rite with the norms for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, but also the saintly heralds of the Gospel have carried it almost to the entire world. Furthermore, innumerable holy men have abundantly nourished their piety towards God by its readings from Sacred Scripture or by its prayers, whose general arrangement goes back, in essence, to St. Gregory the Great.

     Since that time there has grown and spread among the Christian people the liturgical renewal which, according to Pius XII, Our predecessor of venerable memory, seems to show the signs of God's providence in the present time, a salvific action of the Holy Spirit in His Church.(2) This renewal has also shown clearly that the formulas of the Roman Missal ought to be revised and enriched. The beginning of this renewal was the work of Our predecessor, this same Pius XII, in the restoration of the Paschal Vigil and of the Holy Week Rite,(3) which formed the first stage of updating the Roman Missal for the present-day mentality.

     The recent Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in promulgating the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, established the basis for the general revision of the Roman Missal: in declaring "both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify";(4) in ordering that "the rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, can be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful can be more easily accomplished";(5) in prescribing that "the treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly, so that richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's Word";(6) in ordering, finally, that "a new rite for concelebration is to be drawn up and incorporated into the Pontifical and into the Roman Missal."(7)

     One ought not to think, however, that this revision of the Roman Missal has been improvident. The progress that the liturgical sciences has accomplished in the last four centuries has, without a doubt, prepared the way. After the Council of Trent, the study "of ancient manuscripts of the Vatican library and of others gathered elsewhere," as Our predecessor, St. Pius V, indicates in the Apostolic Constitution Quo primum, has greatly helped for the revision of the Roman Missal. Since then, however, more ancient liturgical sources have been discovered and published and at the same time liturgical formulas of the Oriental Church have become better known. Many wish that the riches, both doctrinal and spiritual, might not be hidden in the darkness of the libraries, but on the contrary might be brought into the light to illumine and nourish the spirits and souls of Christians.

     Let us show now, in broad lines, the new composition of the Roman Missal. First of all, in a General Instruction, which serves as a preface for the book, the new regulations are set forth for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, concerning the rites and the functions of each of the participants and sacred furnishings and places.

     The major innovation concerns the Eucharistic Prayer. If in the Roman Rite, the first part of this Prayer, the Preface, has preserved diverse formulation in the course of the centuries, the second part, on the contrary, called "Canon of the Action," took on an unchangeable form during the fourth and fifth centuries; conversely, the Eastern liturgies allowed for this variety in their anaphoras. In this matter, however, apart from the fact that the Eucharistic Prayer is enriched by a great number of Prefaces, either derived from the ancient tradition of the Roman Church or composed recently, we have decided to add three new Canons to this Prayer. In this way the different aspects of the mystery of salvation will be emphasized and they will procure richer themes for the thanksgiving. However, for pastoral reasons, and in order to facilitate concelebration, we have ordered that the words of the Lord ought to be identical in each formulary of the Canon. Thus, in each Eucharistic Prayer, we wish that the words be pronounced thus: over the bread: ACCIPITE ET MANDUCATE EX HOC OMNES: HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM, QUOD PRO VOBIS TRADETUR; over the chalice: ACCIPITE ET BIBITE EX EO OMNES: HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI NOVI ET AETERNI TESTAMENTI, QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM. HOC FACITE IN MEAM COMMEMORATIONEM. The words MYSTERIUM FIDEI, taken from the context of the words of Christ the Lord, and said by the priest, serve as an introduction to the acclamation of the faithful.

     Concerning the rite of the Mass, "the rites are to be simplified, while due care is taken to preserve their substance."(8) Also to be eliminated are "elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage,"(9) above all in the rites of offering the bread and wine, and in those of the breaking of the bread and of communion.

     Also, "other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the earlier norm of the Holy Fathers"(10): for example the homily,(11) the "common prayer" or "prayer of the faithful,"(12) the penitential rite or act of reconciliation with God and with the brothers, at the beginning of the Mass, where its proper emphasis is restored.

     According to the prescription of the Second Vatican Council which prescribes that "a more representative portion of the Holy Scriptures will be read to the people over a set cycle of years,"(13) and of the readings for Sunday are divided into a cycle of three years. In addition, for Sunday and feasts, the readings of the Epistle and Gospel are preceded by a reading from the Old Testament or, during Paschaltide, from the Acts of the Apostles. In this way the dynamism of the mystery of salvation, shown by the text of divine revelation, is more clearly accentuated. These widely selected biblical readings, which give to the faithful on feast days the most important part of Sacred Scripture, is completed by access to the other parts of the Holy Books read on other days.

     All this is wisely ordered in such a way that there is developed more and more among the faithful a "hunger for the Word of God,"(14) which, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, leads the people of the New Covenant to the perfect unity of the Church. We are fully confident that both priests and faithful will prepare their hearts more devoutly and together at the Lord's Supper, meditating more profoundly on Sacred Scripture, and at the same time they will nourish themselves more day by day with the words of the Lord. It will follow then that according to the wishes of the Second Vatican Council, Sacred Scripture will be at the same time a perpetual source of spiritual life, an instrument of prime value for transmitting Christian doctrine and finally the center of all theology.

     In this revision of the Roman Missal, in addition to the three changes mentioned above, namely, the Eucharistic Prayer, the Rite for the Mass and the Biblical Reading, other parts also have been reviewed and considerably modified: the Proper of Seasons, the Proper of Saints, the Common of Saints, ritual Masses and votive Masses. In all of these changes, particular care has been taken with the prayers: not only has their number been increased, so that the new texts might better correspond to new needs, but also their text has been restored on the testimony of the most ancient evidences. For each ferial of the principal liturgical seasons, Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, a proper prayer has been provided.

     Even though the text of the Roman Gradual, at least that which concerns the singing, has not been changed, still, for a better understanding, the responsorial psalm, which St. Augustine and St. Leo the Great often mention, has been restored, and the Introit and Communion antiphons have been adapted for read Masses.

     In conclusion, we wish to give the force of law to all that we have set forth concerning the new Roman Missal. In promulgating the official edition of the Roman Missal, Our predecessor, St. Pius V,  presented it as an instrument of liturgical unity and as a witness to the purity of the worship the Church. While leaving room in the new Missal, according to the order of the Second Vatican Council, "for legitimate variations and adaptations,"(15) we hope nevertheless that the Missal will be received by the faithful as an instrument which bears witness to and which affirms the common unity of all. Thus, in the great diversity of languages, one unique prayer will rise as an acceptable offering to our Father in heaven, through our High-Priest Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

     We order that the prescriptions of this Constitution go into effect November 30th of this year, the first Sunday of Advent.

     We wish that these Our decrees and prescriptions may be firm and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances issued by Our predecessors, and other prescriptions, even those deserving particular mention and derogation.

     Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, Holy Thursday, April 3 1969, the sixth year of Our pontificate.






     1. Cf. Apost. Const. Quo primum, July 13, 1570.

     2. Cf. Pius XII, Discourse to the participants of the First International Congress of Pastoral Liturgy at Assisi, May 22, 1956: A.A.S. 48 (1956) 112.

     3. Cf. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Decree Dominicae Resurrectionis, February 9, 1951: A.A.S. 43 (1951) 128ff.; Decree Maxima Redemptionis nostrae mysteria, November 16, 1955: A.A.S. 47 (1955) 838ff.

     4. Vatican Council, Const. on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 21: A.A.S. 56 (1964) 106.

     5. Ibid., art. 50: A.A.S. 56 (1964) 114.

     6. Ibid., art. 51: A.A.S. 56 (1964) 114.

     7. Ibid., art. 58: A.A.S. 56 (1964) 115.

     8. Ibid., art. 50: A.A.S. 56 (1964) 114.

     9. Ibid.

     10. Cf. Ibid.

     11. Cf. Ibid., art. 52: A.A.S. 56 (1964) 114.

     12. Cf. Ibid., art. 53: A.A.S. 56 (1964) 114.

     13. Ibid., art. 51: A.A.S. 56 (1964) 114.

     14. Cf. Amos 8:11.

     15. II Vatican Council, Const. on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Consilium, art. 38: A.A.S. 56 (1964).




     Following is the text of a translation of the Motu Proprio Paschalis Mysterii, issued by Pope Paul VI giving approbation to the new organization of the Church's liturgical year and its new calendar.

     The letter, dated February 14, 1969, was made public May 9, 1969.

     The Paschal Mystery and its celebration constitutes the essence of Christian worship in its daily, weekly and yearly unfolding. The Second Vatican Council clearly teaches this. It follows therefore that the restoration of the liturgical year, whose norms have been formulated by the same Holy Synod,(1) must put this Paschal Mystery in sharper focus with regard to the organization of the Proper of the Season and the Proper of the Saints as well as in the revision of the Roman Calendar.




     It is true that in the course of time the multiplication of feasts, vigils and octaves, as well as the progressive complication of different parts of the liturgical year, have often driven the faithful to particular devotions, in such a way that their minds have been somewhat diverted from the fundamental mysteries of our Redemption.

     Everyone is aware, however, of the numerous dispositions taken in this field by Our predecessors, St. Pius X and John XXIII of venerable memory, to restore Sunday to its original dignity, considered by all as "the original feast day,"(2) and likewise to restore the liturgical celebration of the Lenten Season. Above all, Our predecessor of venerable memory,  Pius XII,  had decided (3) to revive, within the Church of the West, in the course of the Paschal Night, the solemn Vigil, in which, while celebrating the sacraments of Christian Initiation, the People of God renew their covenant with Christ the Risen Lord.

     Following the teaching of the holy Fathers and the firm tradition of the Catholic Church, these Popes rightly thought that the unfolding of the liturgical year is not just a commemoration of the actions by which Jesus Christ, by dying, has brought about our salvation. Nor, according to them is this unfolding merely a commemoration of past events so that the faithful, even the more simple, might be instructed and nourished by meditating on them. They also taught that the celebration of the liturgical year "enjoys a sacramental force and a particular efficaciousness to nourish the Christian life."(4) We Ourselves think and teach the same.

     It is only right, therefore, that, when celebrating "the sacrament of the birth of Christ"(5) and His manifestation to the world, we pray that "he who outwardly was like us, may transform us interiorly."(6) When we renew the Pasch of Christ, we ask God that those who have been reborn with Christ "may be faithful, in their way of life, to the paschal mystery which they have received by faith."(7) For, to use the very words of the Second Vatican Council, "in recalling the mysteries of Redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the riches of her Lord's powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present at all times, and the faithful are enabled to lay hold of them and become filled with saving grace."(8)

     Thus the revision of the liturgical year and the norms which follow logically from this restoration have no other purpose than to permit the faithful to communicate in a more intense way, through faith, hope and love, in "the whole mystery of Christ which she unfolds within the cycle of a year."(9)




     Nor, we believe, is there any disagreement between this re-emphasis on the mystery of Christ and the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "who is joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son,"(10) and the commemorations of the saints, among which it is fitting to single out especially the natalicia of "our lords, the martyrs and conquerors"(11); all these are feasts which shine with particular brightness. For "the feasts of the saints proclaim the wonderful works of Christ in His servants, and display to the faithful fitting examples for their imitation."(12)  Indeed, the Catholic Church has always held that the paschal mystery of Christ is proclaimed and renewed in the feasts of the saints.(13)

     It cannot be denied, however, that in the course of centuries the feasts of the saints have become more and more numerous. The Sacred Synod has therefore decreed: "Lest the feasts of the saints take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the very mysteries of salvation, many of them should be left to be celebrated by a particular Church or nation or religious community; only those should be extended to the universal Church which commemorate saints who are truly of universal significance."(14)

     In order to execute this decision of the Ecumenical Council, the names of some saints have been removed from the universal Calendar, and the faculty has been given of re-establishing in regions concerned, if it is desired, the commemorations and cult of other saints. The suppression of reference to a certain number of saints who are not universally known has permitted the insertion, within the Roman Calendar, of names of some martyrs of regions where the proclaiming of the Gospel arrived at a later date. Thus, as representatives of their countries, those who have won renown by the shedding of their blood for Christ or by their outstanding virtues enjoy the same dignity in this same catalogue.

     For these reasons we think that the new universal Calendar, prepared for the Latin rite, is more in harmony with the piety and the needs of our times, and that it better reflects the universality of the Church, in the sense that it proposes the names of the most important saints, who present to all the People of God a shining example of sanctity in a variety of ways. It is superfluous to say that this will contribute to the spiritual well-being of the entire Christian world.

     Having very attentively weighed all this before the Lord, by Our apostolic authority we approve the new Roman Universal Calendar prepared by "Consilium""The Council for the Proper Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,  and likewise the general norms concerning the arrangement of the liturgical year. We establish that they will go into effect on January 1, 1970, according to the decrees which will be published jointly by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and Consilium, and which will be valid until the edition of the restored Missal and Breviary.

     We wish that what we have established in this letter, given motu proprio, be firm and effective, notwithstanding, to the extent necessary, the apostolic constitutions and ordinances deserving particular mention and derogation.

     Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, February 14, 1969, the sixth year of Our pontificate.






     1. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, chapter 5; A.A.S. 56 (1964) 125-128.

     2. Ibid., art. 106; A.A.S. 56 (1964) 126.

     3. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Decree Dominicae Resurrectionis, February 9, 1951; A.A.S. 43 (1951) 128-129.

     4. Sacred Congregation of Rites, General Decree Maxima Redemptionis,

November 16, 1965; A.A.S. 47 (1955) 839.

     5. St. Leo the Great, Sermon 27 for Christmas 7, 1; PL 54: 216.

     6. Cf. Roman Missal, Prayer for the Commemoration of our Lord's Baptism,

 January 13.

     7. Ibid., Prayer for the Tuesday of Easter.

     8. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 102; A.A.S. 56 (1964) 125.

     9. Ibid.

     10. Ibid., art. 103.

     11. Cf. Syriac Breviary (5th cent.), ed. Mariani, Rome, 1956, p. 27.

     12. Cf. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 111; A.A.S. 56 (1964) 127.

     13. Cf. Ibid., art. 104; 125-126.

     14. Ibid., art. 111; 127.


[Home] [Explore] [Matrix] [Citations] [Indexes] [Forum] [Foundation] [Def/Vocab] [DocsRef] [News] [Creativity] [Prayer] [Schedules] [SiteMap]