Liturgical Texts: June 2009 Archives


The Initiative of Pope Pius XI

With the beginning of the Annus Sacerdotalis, a number of people have asked me about the Votive Mass of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest. Pope Pius XI ordered the preparation of this Votive Mass in 1935, intending that its celebration should become customary on the First Thursday of the month, in a manner analogous to the widespread Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday. He announced the new Mass formulary at the end of his Encyclical Ad Catholici Sacerdotii Fastigium (20 December 1935):

Before concluding Our letter, to you, Venerable Brethren in the Episcopate, and through you to all Our beloved sons of both clergy, We are happy to add a solemn proof of Our gratitude for the holy cooperation by which, under your guidance and example, this Holy Year of Redemption has been made so fruitful to souls. We wish to perpetuate the memory and the glory of that Priesthood, of which Ours and yours, Venerable Brethren, and that of all priests of Christ, is but a participation and continuation. We have thought it opportune, after consulting the Sacred Congregation of Rites, to prepare a special votive Mass, for Thursdays, according to liturgical rules: De summo et aeterno Iesu Christi Sacerdotio, to honor "Jesus Christ, Supreme and Eternal Priest." It is Our pleasure and consolation to publish this Mass together with this, Our Encyclical Letter.

The Mass prepared by order of Pope Pius XI disappeared from the 1970 edition of the Missale Romanum or, more exactly, was replaced by another Mass formulary having the same title, but a different euchology. The Collect in the 1970 formulary emphasizes the common priesthood of all the baptized; the Collect in the formulary promulgated in 1935, on the other hand, emphasizes the priesthood of the ordained. I would suggest that the Mass formulary of Pope Pius XI, found in the 1962 Missale Romanum, better corresponds to the intentions of Pope Benedict XVI in calling for the Year of the Priest. Here are the English texts:

Introit / Entrance Antiphon

1962 Missal

The Lord has sworn, and He will not repent: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech (P.T. Alleluia, alleluia). Ps. The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand. V. Glory be to the Father. (Psalm 109: 4, 1)

1970 Missal

The Lord has sworn, and He will not repent: You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech. (Psalm 109: 4, 1)


1962 Missal

O God, by Whom Your only-begotten Son
has been established High and Eternal Priest,
to the glory of Your Majesty and for the salvation of mankind,
grant that those He has chosen as ministers and dispensers of His mysteries,
may be found faithful in fulfilling the ministry they have accepted.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

1970 Missal

O God, who for the glory of Your majesty
and for the salvation of mankind,
established Christ the Eternal High Priest,
grant that by participating in His memorial,
the people whom He acquired for you by His blood
may lay hold of the power of His cross and resurrection.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

The Mass in the 1962 Missal gives Hebrews 5:1-11 as the Epistle, followed by the Gradual and Alleluia:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me.
V. To bring good news to the poor He has sent Me,
to heal the contrite of heart. (Luke 4:18)

Alleluia, alleluia. V. But Jesus, because He continues forever, has an everlasting priesthood. Alleluia. (Hebrews 7:24)

The Gospel in the 1962 Missal is Luke 22:14-20, recounting the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist.


1962 Missal

Christ having offered one sacrifice for sins, has taken His seat forever at the right hand of God: for by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified (P. T. Alleluia). (Hebrews 10: 12, 14)

Secret/Prayer Over the Oblations

1962 Missal

O Lord, may Jesus Christ, our Mediator,
render these offerings acceptable to You,
and may He present us with Himself as victims agreeable to You.
Who being God, lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
forever and ever.

1970 Missal

Grant us, we beseech you, O Lord,
worthily to enter into these mysteries:
for so often as this memorial sacrifice is celebrated,
the work of our redemption is carried out.
Through Christ our Lord.

The 1962 Missal calls for the use of the Preface of the Holy Cross. The whole question of the Preface for this Mass merits a separate entry, which I hope to write.

Communion Antiphon

1962 and 1970 Missals

This is My Body which shall be given up for you;
this cup is the new covenant in My Blood, said the Lord;
Do this as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of Me (P.T. Alleluia). (1 Corinthians 11: 24-25)


1962 Missal

We pray, Lord, let the offering and reception of the Divine Victim vivify us,
that, united to You by perfect charity,
we may bear an everlasting fruit.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God forever and ever.

1970 Missal

We beseech you, Lord,
that by our participation in the sacrifice
which your Son commanded us to offer in commemoration of Him,
You would make us with Him an eternal oblation to you.
Through Christ our Lord.

Whether one uses the 1935 formulary given in the 1962 Missal or that found in the 1970 Missal, it is desirable, I think, that the First Thursday of the month, at least during this Annus Sacerdotalis, should be marked by the celebration of the Votive Mass of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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