How do Jesuits go about saying the E.F.?

Friends :),

With Summorum Pontificum now being the law of the Church, diocesan priests may celebrate the E.F. very freely. Our Holy Father’s forthcoming instruction on this motu proprio is giving people a lot of expectations. This new “freedom” might not apply 100% to the various religious orders which abjured their own Rites in the 1960’s, but what about the Jesuits (who are a Society of Apostolic Life)? Can a Jesuit priest who decided to study Latin in addition to Philosophy and Theology freely celebrate the E.F.?

Knowing that St. Ignatius’ noble Society is based very strictly on army-like obedience, might the prior, provincial, or superior general simply order a Jesuit priest to abjure from the T.L.M.? Would an S.J. have to comply with his order, S.P. being in effect as it is? How does this work with the Companions of our Lord I.H.S.? :slight_smile:

From what I have seen of Jesuits in general in the post-Vatican II era, most of the rigid obedience seems to have been lost in the “Spirit of Vatican II” tidal wave. Many (but not all!) Jesuits are among the most well known dissidents.

I do know that Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said a Solemn? Pontifical? Mass in the EF after he was transferred to Ottawa. And yes, he is a Jesuit (one of the good ones!). And while he probably has a lot of latitude as an Archbishop, he is not head of the Jesuits.

I suspect the situation for Jesuits is similar to that of parish priests, who promise obedience to their bishop. Under Summorum Pontificum, they do not have to have permission to say the EF, but even for those who want to, and who have parishoners asking for it, they will weigh the general attitude towards the EF among their brother priests and bishop and in the diocese before going ahead. Sad but true, and very frustrating for those of us who live in areas where the general attitude is still hostile.

Let’s clarify a misunderstanding. The Society of Jesus is not a Society of Apostolic Life. It is a Major Religious Order with the same canonical standing as the Franciscans, Carmelites, Dominicans, Augustinians, Benedictines, Basilians, Trinitarians, Cistercians, and O’Praem.

The word “society” in their title is a problem of translation into English. They were founded in Spain as the Compañía de Jesús (The Company of Jesus). This is still the official name for the order. The name was never translated into Latin becaues Ignatius of Loyola was opposed to it. As it was translated from Spanish to other languages, equivalent terms had to be found.

The Jesuits are a very unique religious order, because the Church allows them to exist without having a rule. Ignatius wrote statutes for them. However, it was his intention that they could change those statutes through the General Congress. They operate like a military command. They elect the Superior General. All of their other superiors are appointed by the Superior General. That’s how he came to have the nickname, “The Black Pope”. He has asbsolute authority over them. Originally, he was elected for life and they owed absolute obedience to him.

There is a misunderstanding among the laity regarding the Jesuit’s vow of obedience to the pope. There is no such vow among them. The Jesuits make a fourth vow to go where ever the pope sends them. That’s the vow. The pope does not interfere in their internal affairs. That’s the role of the Superior General and the General Congress. Even Jesuit superiors cannot interfere in the affairs of the individual Jesuits. They follow a military model of government. Like any military commander, the superior governs matters related to the ministry, not the personal beliefs or actions of the individual soldier, unless it harms the entire company.

As to the EF, the rules in Summorum Pontificum apply to the Jesuits as they do to any other religious order of Pontifical Right. A Jesuit who wants to celebrate the EF may do so with the permission of the Major Superior, provided that the Major Superior has the authority to grant that permission. In the case of the Jesuits, it’s really up to the statutes. Not being a Jesuit, I do not know how much authority the Provincial Superior has. My guess would be that he has the he can grant the permission. To the best of my knowledge, there are no statutes, constitutions or religious rules that prohibit the celebration of the EF.

However, there are regulations in different religious orders of men that specifically state that the ordained religious (not all male religious are ordained), that the ordained religious can only celebrate mass with the permission of the superior. In some cases it’s up to the superior of the house and in other cases it’s the Major Superior who grants the permission. Therefore, if the superior does not grant the permission to celebrate the EF, then you may not do so.

Any major superior of men may prohibit the EF. Summorum Pontificum makes it very clear that regular priests must comply with their Major Superiors and Ordinary Law. Ordinary Law means the laws that govern their religious community.

Priests who are members of Societies of Apostolic Life are not consecrated men. Therefore, they are not regular priests. They are secular priets: SSPX, FSSP, Maryknoll, Missionhurst, Vincentians, Opus Dei (though they are very different), Oratorians, etc. However, these men are free to leave these societies and join either a diocese or enter a religious order or if they wish they may enter a religious congregation. These priests follow the statutes of their society.

Motu Proprios do not supercede Ordinary Laws that govern religious life, unless the Motu Proprio explicitly speaks to the religious.

One of the problems that many lay people are having with SP is the lack of understanding of how religious life works. Priests who are members of either a religious order or a religious congregation are not included in most of these decrees or are included with parameters.

In this case, the parameter is that the laity in a parish or institution administered by religious must also obey the decisions of the superior. Their only other choice is to find another parish. We cannot force or expect religious to do or not do what is beyond the parameters of their internal government.

At this point, we do not expect the commentary on SP to change the conditions under which a priest who is also a religious can celebrate the EF. It would be a very difficult thing to do, because the Holy Father has to be very careful not to trump the rule, constitutions and statutes that govern the religious. Those laws were approved by the Holy See. It would create chaos, if the Holy See began to treat all religious the same. The richness of the religious life is in its diversity of gifts, visions, and missions.

It gets very tricky. I hope this helps.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

My information says that the upcoming clarification of the Summorum Pontificium will address the issue. The probable clarification will be that member of the religious order can say private Mass in any approved form, he needs the permission of his superior for public masses only.

As a matter of principle I agree that the Pope shall be careful about the the approved statutes of the religious orders, but he has the right to suppress their statutes. The religious orders like anyone else are under his jurisdiction (some have independence from the diocesan ordinary) This is especially true for the Jesuits who have a 4th vow: the obedience to the Pope.

Why does there need to be a clarification on SP? It seems pretty straight forward. Am I correct that the cliff notes are;

  • Priests can request to the Bishop to say the EF if they know how to say the EF.
  • Bishops can say “no”, because, well they’re in charge.
  • Religious must make the request to their Superior, and it must be that they aren’t breaking of the Rule(s).

Seems pretty straight forward.

Those laws were approved by the Holy See. It would create chaos, if the Holy See began to treat all religious the same. The richness of the religious life is in its diversity of gifts, visions, and missions.

Brother JR, well put, but how can the suppression of a ritual form, especially one that is intended to be universal in its language, sacredness, solemnity, and now considered to be a treasure of the Church, be valuable within that context?

You have to keep in mind that in many cases, the way a religious order celebrates an OF Mass is reverential, and removes much of the objections to the OF that prompt folks to wish for the EF.

In the abbey I am affiliated with for instance, the Mass is in Gregorian chant for the Propers and Ordinary and in French plainchant for the rest, and the Roman Canon is still frequently used. The current Graduale Romanum has preserved the traditional repertory of chant adapted to the post-Vatican II 3-year cycle of Sunday readings. So the thread back through to pre-Vatican II tradition is unbroken. Seriously, if you attended the Mass at St-Benoît-du-Lac every week like I do, you probably could live with the OF.

As for the universality of language, nothing precludes an order (or in the case of the Benedictines, an abbey of the order, as Benedictine abbeys are somewhat independent), from using Latin in its rites. Ours does Lauds and Vespers in Latin; a women’s abbey of the same congregation (Solesmes) near Montreal does the entire Divine Office, and Mass a couple of times a week, entirely in Latin. For the Carthusians for example, The Grande Chartreuse does everything in Latin but still have their own rights.

Orders do evolve however, and as we are speaking of individual communities, we have to keep in mind that the conventual Mass is celebrated in a manner to serve the community and not the laypeople who might happen to be attending, and must consider things like the average age of the religious, their workday, their skills at chant, their number, and their own wishes, etc.

Thank you for that. I have yet to attend a Latin OF which hasn’t been reverential in every respect. So I’m happy to know that this hasn’t been suppressed or even an issue with the SP.

This will only apply to those priests who are not brothers. Priests who are brothers are not allowed to celebrate private masses without the permission of their superior, in any rite or form. This is no different from what we now have.

As a matter of principle I agree that the Pope shall be careful about the the approved statutes of the religious orders, but he has the right to suppress their statutes.

This is easiser said than done. There are orders that have rules. A rules is locked in stone with a papal bull. The Holy Father would have to issue another papal bull. To do this, a new rule has to be written. This takes years to do. I’ll give you a simple example, the Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance was sealed by a papal bulll by Pope Innocent III in 1223. In 1978 Pope Paul VI authorized a rescript of the rule. It took from 1978 to 2000 to get the rule written and a new papal bull issued by Pope John Paul II.

There are three forms of legislation: rule, constitution, & statutes. Statutes are the easiest to revise. They do not require a papal bull. They simply require papal permission to hold an extraordinary chapter. The General Chapter writes the new stattues, submits them to the Holy See for approval. They do not need papal approval. The approval of the Sacred Congregation suffices.

Then you have constitutions. These do not require a papal bull either. However, they have to be rewritten by an extraordinary chapter. They are submitted too the Sacred Congregation. If they are approved by the Sacred Congregation, they go into probation for 10 years. After that, the glitches have to be worked out of them. Again they are resubmitted to the Sacred Congregation. Again they go into probation for 10 years. If there are no glitches, then they are submitted to the Holy Father for his approval.

There are five rules: Benedictine, Augustinian, Carmelite, Franciscan and Basilian. They are the only rules that exist in the Eastern and Western Catholic Churches. These were written by the law-givers of these families and sealed with papal bulls. In the Church’s 2000 year history, only one fo the Franciscan rules has been rewritten, as I mentioned above. It took 22-years to rewrite in a way that it not deviate from the vision of St. Francis for the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. The other four Franciscan rules have never been touched by any pope. It is unlikely that they would be, unless there is a strong reason to do so.

Yes, the Holy Father can authorize a rewrite of a rule. How likely is that to happen? Very unlikely. The Rule for the Brothers and Sisters of Penance was rewritten because Pope Paul VI wanted to soften it. However, he died a few months after he authorized it’s rescript. Pope John Paul did not like any of the rescripts. It took 22-years to come up with a version that was close to the original rule written by St. Francis and had the mitigations that Pope Paul VI wanted to see.

We’re not talking about simple processes.

The religious orders like anyone else are under his jurisdiction (some have independence from the diocesan ordinary) This is especially true for the Jesuits who have a 4th vow: the obedience to the Pope.

All religious orders are exempt from the bishops. There are Diocesan Congregations. These are not religious orders. They are religious, but they do not have the same canonical status nor do they make the same vows. They make simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Religious orders make solemn vows and are exempt from all intervention from bishops, laity, and civil government. Then you have religious congregations of pontifical right. They too are subject only to the pope. The difference is that they have the privilege of making simple vows, instead of solemn vows.

The Jesuit’s vow obedience is very misunderstood by most people. Most people believe that it gives the pope authority over the internal affairs of the Jesuits and over the individual Jesuit. That is not the case. The statutes written by St. Ignatius are very clear and still binding. The Jesuits vow to go where ever the Holy Father sends them. As far as their daily life, their work, their thinking, writing, teaching, preaching and so forth, the vow does not apply. Even their superior may not intervene in these matters. St. Ignatius set them up as a military society. They obey their superior in matters of ministry and the pope in matters of mission. Their vow of obedience limits their bond to authority. The idea was to obey as soldiers obey. They do what they’re told for the sake of the mission. Outside of the mission, each Jesuit is an individual who may dissent without penalty of violating the vows.

They are a legitimate order, not a congregation nor a society of apostolic life. They do make solemn vows just like Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines and the other orders. But they have very strict paramters that govern their obedience. Unlike Franciscans whose vow of obedience extends to the pope and to civil authority and whose vow of obedience is exercised without questioning, even when one knows that authority is wrong. One is still bound to obey. The Franciscan vow of obedience also extends to St. Francis under pail of grave sin. Other orders do not extend their obedience to their founder once he or she ceases to be the superior. It all depends on how the founder wrote the original regulations nad the Church approved them. Every institute (be it an order or a congregation, defines the scope of the vows.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

A very good question and valid too. :thumbsup:

Some religious families have had customs that are part of their charism. These are reflected in their liturgy. For example, in our Franciscan family we have never allowed our priests to stand out. We were founded as an order for brothers. The first priests who joined us were already ordained. There never was the priest and lay brother, though the term was misapplied by the laity and even some clergy who did not know the difference between a Franciscan and a Dominican. The equality and unity of the brothers, as it was established by St. Francis was very visible in our celebration of the mass. We never had everyone facing in the same direction. The friars sat on either side of the altar. We were looking at the mass from the side, not ad orientem. We did not kneel for the consecration. That was up to the Guardian of the house to determine. That’s still the case today. We were not allowed to use Gregorian chant. St. Francis banned it. We used plain chant, which is really very beautiful, but much simpler. We avoided evrything that made the ordained stand out. St. Francis wrote in his rule that if there was more than one priest in a house, only one could celebrate mass. There was to be no private celebration of the mass. The any other brother who was also a priest, attends the mass, unless there is an intention that has to be fulfilled. Then the Guardian will direct someone to cover that. You have to fulfill your moral obligations.

The language is not really an issue. In the past, we all used Latin. The gestures are an issue. Some orders have their own rites: Dominicans, Carmelites, and Carthusians. You dont’ want to blend it all just for the sake of uniformity. That would deprive the Church of a great wealth.

You also have the physical environment. Some communities have a tradition that is very much their own. For example, Carthusians allow no color in their churches. They predate the Protestant white-washed church. They never had a tabernacle on the main altar. They always had a tabernacle on a side altar or a side chapel near the main altar. Cistercians and Benedictines had a completely different room for the Blessed Sacrament. The mass is celebrated in the abbey church, the LOTH is in the choir and private prayer in the chapel.

Capuchins do not have kneelers or communion rails. Observe the sanctuary on EWTN. It’s a Capuchin design. The friars knelt on the floor, not on a kneeler or at a rail. The laity could either kneel or stand, long before we had the standing rule in parishes, we already had it in Capuchin-Franciscan houses as early as 1223.

Then you have the role of the superior. The role and authority of the superior is determined by the founder. If you begin to tinker with that and try to go for uniformity, you run the risk of blending the different charisms.

Part of the chaos in religious communities today is the loss of identity. Too many religious communities started to look like diocesan priests. As soon as that happened, they lost many men and many others did not join. Why would anyone want to be a Dominican, Carmelite, Trinitarian, Franciscan, etc, if you’re not different from a secular priest and yet, you are bound to obey this superior who is no different from the superior down the street? While you make necessary liturgical reforms, you must also protect tradition.

This is a problem that many traditionalists have. They see tradition only from the point of view of the layman in the pew, but not from the point of view of the religious. Tradtion is very big and convers a lot of territory. You can’t have a liturgical tradition that protects what you’re comfortable with and what you would like to see and annuls other traditions. That’s not a kind thing to do.

Does this make sense?


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

It makes sense to me Brother JR. Thank you for this interesting information. I learned something tonight.

The old way under JPII yes but not anymore Priest DO NOT need permission from their Bishop if they know how to they can say the EF regardless of what Bishop says or feels.

We have to be very careful how we word things. Summorum Pontificum does not incite insubordination. Let’s clarify several points. The bishop has jurisdiction over everything that happens in a parish or other diocesan institution, regardless of whether it’s administered by secular priests or religious. Summorum Pontificum does not take away that authority from them. A bishop can have good reasons for not wanting the Extraordinary Form celebrated at a particular place, time or by a particular priest. Summorum Pontificum does not deny him this right. What it says is that he (the bishop) should request the assistance of the Ecclesia Dei Commission in such cases. It does not say that a priest can ride over the bishop.

Summorum Pontificum also says that all secular priests may celebrate the Extraordinary Form. However, it does not say that they must do so. Sometimes, our desire to see the EF celebrated leads us to mistakenly believe that priests must celebrate it. That is not the case at all. Any priest can refuse to learn it and to celebrate it, even if he know how to do so. Summorum Pontificum and Canon Law assume that there is a cooperation between the bishop and the priests that serve in his diocesan institutions, not an antagonistic relationship.

It is a little careless, on our part, to say that a priest can celebrate the EF and there is nothing that the bishop can do to stop him. It almost sounds as if a priest working for a bishop can thumb his nose at the bishop on this subject. Such behavior, on the part of any priest, would be contrary to Canon Law. If a priest wants to celebrate the Extraordinary Form in a diocesan institution he owes the bishop respect and courtesy. This means that he must inform the bishop of his intention and desire. If the bishop has a problem, then they must engage in a dialogue to resolve the problem. If they cannot resolve the problem, then they can appeal to the Ecclesia Dei Commission for assistance.

While it is true that a diocesan priest does not need to ask for permission to celebrate the Extraordinary Form, it is not true that he can ignore his bishop’s concerns or opposition to his desire to do so. The priest still has a promise of obedience to the bishop and owes him the proper respect. What the bishop cannot do is to deny the priest the right to celebrate the EF unless he has a justification that is satisfactory to the Ecclesia Dei Commission. In other words, if there is a conflict, then is a higher body to which bishop and priest appeal. They don’t simply engage in a power struggle. If that were the case, then Summorum Pontificum would have simply created a situation for conflict and resentment between a bishop and the priests who serve him. We cannot forget that every priest in a diocese serves in communion with his bishop and his priesthood is united to that of his bishop, not independent of it.

Priests who belong to a religious community: an order or a congregation and those who belong to societies of apostolic life are in a different canonical situation and have a different canonical relationship with the bishop. Their obligation to the bishop is determined by the statutes that govern their community and their superiors. In their case, if the bishop allows the EF, but the superior does not, then it may not be done. Again, our enthusiasm for the EF has made us a little blind to norms and authority that govern priests in different situations. I have seen posters here who believe that every priest can celebrate the EF. Not true. If my superior says “No,” then it’s no.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

“e.f.” ? Wt? Wdyewyar? Icfowys. Gmab. Alh,p.

Brother i wasn’t trying to sound smart or anything that’s just how i tend to come off. I was really referring that of secular priest not religious i should have made that clear.Could you please give some examples of what would be a “good” reason for the Bishop not to allow it? I honestly cannot think of one, if the laity wants it they should have it if the Priest is willing i know plenty of Priest mostly young that want to but don’t have time to go to the seminars to learn how to do celebrate it. Pax God Bless

One example that comes to mind is the shortage in parishes. Priests are not supposed to celebrate more than two masses on a given day. The bishop may grant permission for a third, if necessary.

If you have a parish that has many masses in the Ordinary Form and there is a request by priest and some laymen for the Extraordinary Form, the question of the number of masses will come up. If a priest already celebrate three masses on the regular schedule, one of the masses would have to be changed for the Extraordnary Form. The question that has to be addressed is whether this would create a hardship for a larger number of parishioners than benefit. You always have to go for the higher good. If you have 500 people who attend mass in the OF and you have only 50 who want to attend the EF, then you have a problem. The bishop can justifiably say that the EF does not meet the needs of enough people. It would then be a case where the bishop and pastor would have to sit down and figure out how to meet the needs of the largest number of parishioners.

This shortage is becoming more pronounced as religious orders leave parishes to work in areas that are more appropriate to their charism. If you notice, younger men in religious orders, brothers and priests are not being assigned to parishes in the large numbers that we did in the past. Most younger men want to go back to the charism of the founder. If the order was founded to teach, preach, serve the poor, the sick or simply live together in a neighborhood as a presence, then the younger religious, be they priests or not, have a right to ask for that and superiors should not impose parish work on them, because we have these parishes that need to be staffed. Parishes are not the responsibility of religious communities. They are the responsibility of the bishop and the laity. This is going to bring down the number of priests assigned to parishes.

With less priests being assigned to parishes, you have more masses for one priest to celebrate and there is a limit. That limit would create a problem that the bishop cannot resolve. He cannot give a priest permission to celebrate four masses on a Sunday to accommodate an EF. The bishop would have to send the pastor back to figure out how to reduce the number of masses to three, two OF and one EF or to see if he can find another priest who can help on Sundays.

I know a parish that does just that. It has seven masses on Sunday and two on Saturday. There are about 500 - 800 people at each mass. There are only two priests in the parish. The parish has to rent priests who are retired, who work in schools, teach at universities or do other jobs that are not parrochial. There is no way that two men can cover that many masses. If they had to add an EF mass to the schedule, they would have to do some juggling. If the bishop were to receive complaints about the juggling, then he has every right to step in and tell the pastor to stop until something can be done that will not cause a parish that is so active to become a divided parish.

Numbers of masses vs number of available priests is a real problem.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

The Dominicans already have a section on their website dedicated to the promotion of the pre-conciliar Dominican Rite. the Carmelites also have the Carmelites in Wyoming, the Benedictines, Clear Creek Monastery, both of which celebrate the pre-conciliar Form. The interest is growing. I would say the Jesuits may be one of the last to adopt the pre-conciliar form, since they are the most liberal of the major religious. But ti would be in the interest of all religious to rediscover their pre-conciliar forms, if they are to repair the rupture that has taken place.

Also I may add an article from Rorate Caeli in regards to the Anglican Use. Very good to see.

" Aidan Nichols OP on the future liturgy of the Ordinariate
From a recent interview with Fr. Aidan Nichols OP, published in the English Catholic:

The Church of England Anglo-Catholics, from what I understand, do the ordinary form of the Roman liturgy. In the TAC (Traditional Anglican Communion – Pascal) elsewhere in the world, there is a love for distinctly Anglican liturgies with Book of Common Prayer language, though corrected where necessary. What liturgical dimensions do you see as “gifts to be shared” with the wider Church as the AC suggested?

“English Anglo-Catholics (I gather) tend to retain some elements of the Prayer Book tradition, notably for weddings and funerals. Their parishes may also have Evensong and Benediction. But they will be asked to consider using the distinctive liturgical book which has been prepared for the English Ordinariate once it has received recognition from the Holy See (hopefully by Pentecost) – otherwise they cannot claim to have much distinctive patrimony, liturgically speaking. One reason why there is to be a distinct English book for those with an Anglican Communion background is because the TAC congregations who predominate elsewhere have a different liturgical history which will need to be taken into account. Relevant gifts could include: a high sacral register of liturgical language; the Catholicism-compatible elements in the historic Prayer Books; the Use of Sarum; the better aspects of modern Anglican revision.”

I don’t necessarily agree. There is only a “rupture” when the OF is celebrated in a sloppy manner. At our abbey, they do the OF so well, in Gregorian Chant, that the usual justifications for the EF are totally pointless.

Moreover it is up to each community to decide what is best for them, not people on this site who don’t even know that much about the individual orders or their traditions.

Very good analysis from Michael Voris when he was in Rome recently. Take a look.

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