Notes from Notitiae

Notitiae is where the CDWDS prints responses to dubia about the liturgy from time to time. As many people have noticed, you can’t just go to or something to read it. But imagine my surprise in coming across this little-known site, which collects responses from Notitiae and even provides pdf scans of the originals.

Of course, they’re all in Latin, and most aren’t translated. So I thought it would be fun to start a thread in which I (and anyone else who wants to) can post entries along with translations! Feel free to comment on the directive itself and its role in the liturgy, or (please) on corrections to the translation.

In the next post I’ll start out with an easy one.

Here is 14 (1978), 306, n. 8Notitiae, concerning the repetition of the Agnus Dei (I told you it would be an easy example):

  1. Quoties dicendum aut canendum sit Agnus Dei ex iis quae in Ordinae Missae innuuntur?

*Resp. *
Ratio huius textus est comitari fractionem panis consecrati donec particula immittatur in calicem (IGMR 56e). Practice, duo casus considerandi sunt:

a) Si praesidens est unicus celebrans, vel si pauci adsint concelebrantes, tunc fractio panis satis celeris est. De more Agnus Dei ter dictum vel cantatum, ut traditur in Ordine Missae 131, sufficit ad comitandam actionem.

b) In casu quo multi sint concelebrantes vel fractio panis diutius prorogetur, tunc potest pluries iterari Agnus Dei usque ad finem fractionis, secundum rubricam OM 131: Quod etiam pluries repeti potest … et iuxta indicationem IGMR 56e: Haec invocatio repeti potest quoties necesse est
My translation:
8. How many times is Agnus Dei to be said or sung out of those which are indicated in the Order of Mass?

*Resp. *
The rationale of this text is to accompany the fraction of the consecrated bread until the particle is introduced into the chalice (GIRM 56e). In practice, two cases must be considered:

a) If the presider is the only celebrant, or if few concelebrants be present, then the fraction of the bread is speedy enough. By custom Agnus Dei said or sung thrice, as given in the Order of Mass 131, suffices to accompany the action.

b) In a case in which many concelebrants be present or the fraction be greatly prolonged, then the Agnus Dei can be repeated many times until the end of the fraction, according to the rubric OM 131: Which can even be repeated many times . . . and equally the indication GIRM 56e: This invocation can be repeated as many times as necessary . . . .

Let’s do another, shall we? Everyone is interested in issues concerning kneeling, so here is 14 (1978), 302–303, n. 4Notitiae:
4. Alicubi, sublata sunt genuflexioria in ecclesiis, quapropter fideles tantum stare vel sedere possunt, non sine detrimento reverentiae et adorationis Eucharistiae debitae.

*Resp. *
Suppellex aedium sacrarum aliquam relationem habet ad consuetudines uniuscuiusque loci. Exempli gratia, in Oriente inveniuntur tapeta; Romae in basilicis, nostris tantum diebus, plerumque scamna habentur, quae genuflexoriis carent, idque ad ingentes multitudines accipiendas. Nihil impedit quominus fideles genuflexi maneant humi ad suam adorationem manifestandam, quantumvis res incommoda inveniatur. In casibus, in quibus genuflecti non possit (cf. IGMR 21), profunda inclinatio et modus digne sese gerendi, signa erunt reverentiae et adorationis manifestandae tempore consecrationis et communionis.
My translation:
4. In some places, the kneelers in churches have been taken away, on account of which the faithful can only stand or sit, not without detriment of reverence and of the adoration owed to the Eucharist.

The furnishing of sacred halls bears some relation to the customary usages of each place. For example, in the East rugs are found; at Rome in the basilicas, so often in our days, generally benches are had which lack kneelers, and that [is the case] to accommodate huge multitudes. Nothing prevents the faithful from remaining kneeling on the ground to show their adoration, however much the thing may be found uncomfortable. In cases in which kneeling is impossible (cf. GIRM 21), a profound bow and a manner of comporting oneself worthily, will be signs of reverence and of the adoration to be shown at the time of the consecration and communion.
As you’ll see, I’ve tried to stick to a fairly literal translation (e.g., “sacred halls”).

You are awesome MarkThompson


I’m finding this very interesting, but won’t, I’m afraid, have much to contribute :o

Very nice! When I have some time, I’ll try to post some as well. Thanks, Mark.

Okay, here’s another. As I’ve said, to my knowledge these are rulings for which there is presently no English translation available on the internet. This one is 14 (1978), 303–304, n. 6Notitiae:

  1. In concelebrationibus peragendis, modi differentes inveniuntur in sequentibus actionibus:

a) Interdum, probe distinguitur vox celebrantis principalis, dum concelebrantes submissa seu modesta voce Precem eucharisticam proferunt. Alibi, e contra, quoddam quasi certamen elatarum vocum auditur, dum unusquisque ceteros quasi superare contendit.

*b) * In epiclesi peragenda ante consecrationem, non omnes celebrantes manus protendunt erga oblata ad invocandam actionem Sancti Spiritus, dum diligentissimi sunt in protendenda manu durante consecratione.

c) In ipsa epiclesi nonnulli manum retrahunt simul ac celebrans principalis signaverit super oblata, dum alii porrectas tenent manus donec textus epiclesis finiatur.

Quinam modus sequendus est?

*Resp. *
Ad optimum secernendum in hac varietate, satis erit perpendere naturam functionum, quae peraguntur ab unoquoque, et naturam gestuum ipsis respondentium.

a) Iuxta IGMR 170, coetus fidelium distincte percipere debet vocem praesidentis: quod obtineri potest mediante microphonio sensibili et bene collocato, et praesertim ex modestia vocum concelebrantium (submissa voce). Alioquin, in secundo casu considerato, unitas tenoris et rythmi ad intellegendum textum ex parte coetus obtineri nequit.

b) Illud satis curiosum est, quod Missalis normae contemplantur casum plane oppositum quam qui supra consideratur: durante epiclesi consecrationis omnes celebrantes debent imponere manus super oblata (IGMR 174a, 180a, 184a, 188a: manibus ad oblata extensis) in invocanda actione Spiritus sanctificantis; dum consecratione durante, concelebrantes tendunt manum dexteram ad panem et calicem, si opportunum videtur (IGMR 174c, 180c, 184c, 188c): idque dum recitant verba Domini, scilicet usque ad « Hoc facite in meam commemorationem » inclusive.

c) Actus imponendi manus debet comitari verba precis. Hac de causa rubricae Ordinis Missae (90, 103, 110, 119) indicant finem huius actus per verba: iungit manus.
My translation:
6. In carrying out concelebrations, different methods are found in the following actions:

a) Sometimes, the voice of the principal celebrant is properly distinguished, when the concelebrants offer the Eucharistic Prayer with a lowered or modest voice. Otherwise, by contrast, a certain, almost struggle of raised voices is heard, when each one vies as though to defeat the others.

b) In carrying out the epiclesis before the consecration, not all celebrants hold forward their hands toward the gifts to invoke the action of the Holy Spirit, while they are most diligent in holding out a hand during the consecration.

c) In the epiclesis itself some draw back their hands at the same time as the principal celebrant signs over the gifts, which others hold their hands extended until the text of the epiclesis is finished.

Which method is to be followed?

For best separating out this variety, it will be enough to examine the nature of the functions which are carried out by each one, and the nature of the gestures corresponding to them.

a) In accord with GIRM 170, the assembly of the faithful ought to perceive distinctly the voice of the presider: which can be accomplished by means of a microphone well and sensibly placed, and chiefly through the modesty of the voices of the concelebrants (with lowered voice). But, in the second case considered, unity of tenor and rhythm for the understanding of the text on the part of the assembly cannot be obtained.

b) It is fairly curious that the norms of the Missal contemplate a case plainly opposed to that which is considered above: during the epiclesis of the consecration, all celebrants ought to impose their hands over the gifts (GIRM 174a, 180a, 184a, 188a: with hands extended to the gifts) in invoking the action of the sanctifying Spirit; while during the consecration, the concelebrants hold their right hands toward the bread and chalice, if it seems opportune (GIRM 174c, 180c, 184c, 188c): and [they do] that while they recite the words of the Lord, to wit, up to “Do this in memory of me,” inclusive.

c) The act of imposing hands ought to accompany the words of the prayer. For this reason the rubrics of the Order of Mass (90, 103, 110, 119) indicate the end of this act by the words: he joins his hands.

One more while I watch Auburn wrap up their trip to the national championship, then. Here is 1 (1965), 138, n. 8Notitiae:
8. Utrum liceat, donec ecclesia opportune reficiatur, collocare altare portatile, forma simplicis mensae, ante altare [sic] maius fixum ex marmore pretioso confectum, ut adhibeatur pro celebratione Missae versus populum?

Resp.: Affirmative, dummodo a) spatium vere notabile inter utrumque altare intercedat; b) optandum vero est ut altare portatile extra sanctuarium ponatur, quo autem in casu, circa se habeat spatium sufficiens ad modum presbyterii, ab aula ecclesiae opportune distinctum.
Looks like altare ought to be altarem. My translation:
8. Whether it is permitted, until a church is suitably refitted, to place a portable altar, in the form of a simple table, in front of the fixed greater * altar made of precious marble, so that it may be turned for celebration of the Mass versus populum?

Resp.: Affirmative, so long as a) a truly conspicuous space is present between each altar; b) it is, in truth, to be preferred that the portable altar be put outside the sanctuary, in which case, however, may it have a sufficient space around itself like a presbytery, suitably distinct from the inner-court * of the church.**

That last one is pretty interesting, don’t you think, in light of the often-heard contention that “turning the altars around” had no basis in Vatican II and that it only came about in the post-Conciliar “spirit” of wreckovation? Apparently even while the Council was still going on it seemed obvious enough that churches would have to be renovated, and the Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments (now CDWDS) acknowledged the reality.

I told you this would be fun.

Here is 1 (1965), 185, n. 39Notitiae:
39. Utrum osculum anuli Episcopi communionem fidelibus distribuentis omittendum sit?

Resp.: Affirmative.
My translation:
39. Whether the kiss of the ring of a Bishop distributing communion to the faithful is to be omitted?

Resp.: Affirmative.

Here you have 1 (1965), 187, n. 48Notitiae:
48. Vidi Missam lectam « versus populum » celebratam, in qua Epistola lecta est a dexteris celebrantis, Evangelium vero a sinistris. Quaeritur, utrum talis modus sit correctus, an procedere debet sensu opposito, sicut fiebat in antiquis basilicis?

Resp.: Si unus tantum habetur ambo, omnes lectiones ex eo proferantur. Unicus autem ambo a dexteris vel a sinistris altaris collocari potest, prout, iuxta ecclesiae et presbyterii structuram, magis opportunum videtur.

Si ecclesia duos habet ambones ita quidem extructos ut unus maior pro Evangelio, alter minor pro Epistola sint constituti, lectiones ex iisdem ambonibus proferantur iuxta cuiusque destinationem.

Si vero duo ambones aequales sunt, aut duo sunt extruendi, Epistola legatur in ambone, qui est ad sinistram, Evangelium in ambone, qui est ad dexteram celebrantis stantis ad sedem in abside ecclesiae, retro altare.
My translation:
48. I saw a Missa lecta (said Mass) celebrated “versus populum,” in which the Epistle was read from the celebrant’s right hand side, the Gospel indeed from the left. It is asked, whether such a method be correct, or ought it to proceed in the opposite sense, as was done in the old basilicas?

Resp.: If only one ambo is had, all readings are given from it. But a lone ambo can be positioned to the right or to the left of the altar, as, according to the structure of the church and presbytery, seems more opportune.

If the church has two ambos so erected indeed that one be greater for the Gospel, the other lesser for the Epistle, the readings are given from those ambos according to the assignment of each.

If the two ambos are truly equal, or two are to be erected, the Epistle is read at the ambo which is to the left, the Gospel at the ambo which is to the right, of the celebrant standing at his seat in the apse of the church, behind the altar.

The responses before 1970 need a be evaluated a bit more lightly because at that time Notitiae was only the mouthpiece of the Concilium not the Sacred Congregation of Rites - and its responses had a standing less that those accorded to the latter, with whom it had a well established rivalry.

Interesting. I’ve rarely seen the celebrant’s chair behind the altar. At the former Cathedral the Bishop’s chair was against the wall behind the altar, but the celebrant’s chair was in front and to the side.

Notice the date (1965) of that particular item.

As I recall from the late '60s-early '70s, that arrangement was relatively common. If memory serves, the chair was moved to the side only after the Novus Ordo appeared, and even then it was a somewhat gradual shift.

The site concurs with you; it states that notices appeared in Notitiae 1 (1965) and 2 (1966) that responses in those volumes are opinions only. They will only be given the force of public law if some competent authority chooses to do so and that such cases would be published in AAS.

“The responses before 1970 need a be evaluated a bit more lightly because at that time Notitiae was only the mouthpiece of the Concilium not the Sacred Congregation of Rites - and its responses had a standing less that those accorded to the latter, with whom it had a well established rivalry.”

This is interesting, indeed. If the Notitiae was just an opinion, I still have to wonder just how this opinion barrelled over status quo, despite there being nothing clear in the V2 Docs regarding altar placement.

FWIW, our presider’s chair is behind the altar, for now anyway. Too bad we can’t keep the lay-chaplains out of the deacon’s chair.

Good to know, thanks for the correction.

The phrase is retro altare. I actually found it a little curious to translate because retro is really an adverb (backwards, back toward) rather than a preposition (behind). I think the latter usage must be from late Latin; it’s not given in Lewis & Short at all.

Here’s the next entry for this little project. I have gone ahead and transcribed myself from the original pdf the entry 43 (2007), 182–183Notitiae, holding that it is not permitted to display the Precious Blood for Eucharistic adoration. Here’s the Latin and English, presented to you for the first time!
An liceat Pretiosissimum Sanguinem Christi pro adoratione eucharistica ostendere.

R. Negative et ad mentem.

Mens est: expositio sanctissimae Eucharistiae, iuxta normas librorum liturgicorum, fieri potest sive cum pyxide sive cum ostensorio (De sacra communione et de cultu mysterii Eucharistici extra Missam, n. 82), salva doctrina Ecclesiae, quae docet sub altera tantum specie totum atque integrum Christum verumque sacramentum esse et sumi.

Normae vigentes omnino prohibent asservationem Pretiosissimi Sanguinis Christi post Missam celebratam, sicut legitur in Instructione Inaestimabile donum (1970), n. 14: « Vinum consecratum ex contrario statim post communionem sumi debet neque asservari licet. Attendatur autem, ut sola consecretur vini copia ad communionem necessaria ». Idem requiritur etiam ab Institutione Generali Missalis Romani (teria editio typica), nn. 163, 182, 247, 249, et ab Instructione Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004), n. 107.

Ius permittit, ut, in casu necessitatis a Codice Iuris Canonici (can. 925) descripto, aegroto, qui ob infirmitatem Eucharistiam sub specie panis sumere nequit, sub specie tantummodo vini communicare liceat. Hoc in casu aut Missa ad normam iuris in loco celebratur, ita ut sacerdos statim Sanguinem Christi ministrare possit, aut Pretiosissimus Sanguis post Missam in ecclesia vel oratorio celebratam in vaso opportune obtuto in tabernaculo asservatur. Quod autem, cum sit casus necessitatis, nullomodo ordinarium consideretur. Insuper, ne speciem vini consecrati corrumpatur, communionem necesse est fieri intra breve tempus.

Ecclesia vitat Pretiosissimi Sanguinis asservationem praesertim ob periculum repentinae et inevitabilis corruptionis speciei vini atque ob difficultatem Sanctissimum sub illa specie pro aegroti communione sine discrimine afferendi atque versandi.

A fortiori, igitur, non licet asservare vel ostendere Pretiosissimum Sanguinem Christi pro adoratione Sanctissimi Sacramenti, sive per se sive una cum sacra hostia consecrata. Insuper, reprobandus est usus ostensoria conficiendi vel adhibendi, in quibus sit vasus ad Sanguinem Christi accipiendum.
My translation:
Whether it be permitted to exhibit the Precious Blood of Christ for Eucharistic adoration.

R. Negative, and ad mentem [for a reason].

The mens [reason] is: the exposition of the most holy Eucharist, according to the norms of the liturgical books, can be done either with a pyx or with a monstrance (De sacra communione et de cultu mysterii Eucharistici extra Missam, no. 82), without harm to the doctrine of the Church, which teaches that under either species alone the whole and entire Christ and true sacrament exists and is taken.

The norms in force altogether prohibit keeping the Precious Blood of Christ after Mass is celebrated, as it is read in the Instruction Inaestimabile donum (1970), no. 14: “The consecrated wine on the other hand ought to be consumed immediately after communion and is not permitted to be kept. One must be mindful, however, that only that supply of wine be consecrated that is necessary for communion.” It is likewise demanded by the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (third typical edition), nos. 163, 182, 247, 249, and by the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004), no. 107.

Law permits that, in the case of necessity described by the Code of Canon Law (can. 925), it is permitted to a sick person, who on account of illness cannot take the Eucharist under the species of bread, to communicate under the species of wine alone. In this case either a Mass is celebrated in the place to the norm of law, such that the priest can administer the Blood of Christ immediately, or after a Mass celebrated in a church or oratory the Precious Blood is kept in a tabernacle under watch. Which however, since it be in case of necessity, is in nowise to be considered ordinary. Moreover, lest the species of consecrated wine become corrupted, the communion must be made within a brief time.

The Church shuns reservation of the Precious Blood chiefly on account of the danger of sudden and unavoidable corruption of the species of wine and on account of the difficulty of transporting and handling without hazard the Most Holy under that species for communion to the sick.

A fortiori, therefore, it is not permitted to reserve or exhibit the Precious Blood of Christ for the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, whether by itself or together with the sacred consecrated host. Moreover, the practice of making or exhibiting monstrances, in which there be a vessel to receive the Blood of Christ, is to be disapproved.

A document from during Vatican II, although not a document of Vatican II, Inter Oecumenici, says:
91. The main altar should preferably be freestanding, to permit walking around it and celebration facing the people. Its location in the place of worship should be truly central so that the attention of the whole congregation naturally focuses there. …]

  1. In relation to the plan of the church, the chair for the celebrant and ministers should occupy a place that is clearly visible to all the faithful and that makes it plain that the celebrant presides over the whole community. Should the chair stand behind the altar, any semblance of a throne, the prerogative of a bishop, is to be avoided.

Here is 45 (2008), 609Notitiae, concerning the practice of priests waiting to make their communion until the congregation does:
Utrum liceat sacerdoti celebranti communicare solus postquam Sanctam Eucharistiam fidelibus distribuerit aut Sanctam Eucharistiam distribuere et postea communicare simul cum populo?

R. Negative ad utrumque

Huiusmodi usus sacerdotis celebrantis cuiusdam, ut nempe communicet solummodo postquam sanctam Eucharistiam fidelibus distribuerit aut, sancta Eucharistia iam distributa, communicare simul cum omnibus ex singulari opinione manat, qua scilicet fideles, utpote convivae ad mensam eucharistiam, imprimis inserviantur.

Omnibus in Ecclesiae Ritibus invenitur ordo traditus ad sacram Communionem accedendi: antea communicat Episcopus vel sacerdos celebrans, postea alii ministri secundum ordinem hierarchicum, demum populus. Sacerdos primus communicat non humanae praestantiae causa, sed ob dignitatem et naturam sui ministerii. Ipse enim in persona Christi agit, ob integritatem sacramenti et quia populo congregato praeest: « Ita, dum Presbyteri cum actu Christi Sacerdotis se coniungunt, cotidie se totos Deo offerunt, et, dum Corpore Christi nutriuntur, ex corde participant eius caritatem qui se in cibum dat fidelibus » (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 13).

In editione Missalis Romani a Servo Dei Paulo Pp. VI promulgata fidelium communio immediate sequitur communionem sacerdotis, hoc modo actio unica constituens, aliter ac forma in editione Missalis Romani quae anno 1962 apparuit, qua communio sacerdotis disiungitur a communione fidelium per recitationem « Confiteor », per preces « Misereatur », « Indulgentiam », « Agnus Dei » et « Domine, non sum dignus ».

Norma liturgica vigens statuit: « Sacerdos, quoties sanctam Missam celebrat, toties ad altare tempore a Missali statuto se communicare debet, concelebrantes vero antequam ipsi ad distributionem Communionis procedant. Numquam attendat Sacerdos celebrans vel concelebrans usque ad Communionem populi expletam, ut se communicet » (Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 97).
My translation:
Whether it be permitted to a priest celebrant to communicate by himself after he has distributed the Holy Eucharist to the faithful or to distribute the Holy Eucharist and afterward communicate at once with the people?

R. Negative to both

A practice of this sort by a priest celebrant, that he clearly should communicate alone after he has distributed the holy Eucharist to the faithful or, having already distributed the holy Eucharist, communicate at once with everyone, flows from the singular opinion by which, doubtless, the faithful, being guests at the Eucharistic table, are principally to be deferred to.

In all Rites of the Church is found the traditional order of approaching for holy Communion: beforehand the Bishop or priest celebrant communicates, afterward the other ministers according to the hierarchical order, finally the people. The priest communicates first not because of human superiority, but on account of the dignity and nature of his ministry. For he acts in persona Christi, on account of the integrity of the sacrament and whereas he presides over the congregated people: “So, when Presbyters join themselves with the act of Christ the Priest, every day they offer their whole selves to God, and, when they are nourished by the Body of Christ, from the heart they partake in the love of him who gives himself as food to the faithful” (Presbyterorum ordinis, no. 13).

In the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated by the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, the communion of the faithful immediately follows the communion of the priest, in this way constituting a single act, in a different fashion than in the edition of the Roman Missal which appeared in the year 1962, by which the communion of the priest is separated from the communion of the faithful by the recitation “Confiteor”, and by the prayers “Misereatur”, “Indulgentiam”, “Agnus Dei”, and “Domine, non sum dingus”.

The liturgical norm in force decrees: “A Priest must communicate at the altar at the moment laid down by the Missal each time he celebrates Holy Mass, and the concelebrants must communicate before they proceed with the distribution of Holy Communion. The Priest celebrant or a concelebrant is never to wait until the people’s Communion is concluded before receiving Communion himself” (Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 97).

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