Monday, 16 March 2020

Notes on the addition of Votive Collects at Low Masses

With the Coronavirus pandemic there has been discussion on sites such as the New Liturgical Movement of the possibility of orationes imperatae being added to Masses. These are prayers, or a single prayer, added to Masses for a serious cause commanded by the Ordinary of the place. Without the command of the Ordinary, or general decree, it is not licit for any celebrant to add such prayers to the Mass.

However, what is possible, and without the need for any special permission is the addition of votive prayers to most Masses of simple rite including the majority of the ferial days of Lent and Passiontide. One of the areas of the application of the rubrics of the traditional liturgy that is not understood by many, or is indeed unknown, is the option for the celebrant of private Masses to add additional collects (and of course their corresponding secrets and post-communion orations) to those prescribed by the rubrics and Ordo.

R.G IX, 12 & 14 and Additiones VI, 6 are the foundation for this praxis. The votive collects can only be added in private, i.e. in this context private means said, not sung, Masses and non-Conventual Masses only on feasts of simple rite and ferial days which are not privileged (i.e. not on Ash Wednesday, or the Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of Holy Week). The basic rules are the total number of orations must not exceed seven and that the total number must be uneven i.e. three, five or seven. Additionally, if (outside of Paschaltide) a prayer for the Dead is chosen it must occupy the penultimate place.

These prayers may come from the Sanctoral section of the missal, from the series of Votive Masses to be found after the Commons or from the Orationes Diversae at the back of the Missal. When these additional votive collects are added those from the Sanctoral are said before those from the Votive Masses (if two from the Sanctoral are chosen their relative order follows the precedence of the chosen saints in the Litany) and those from Votive Masses before those from the Orationes Diversae.

To take an example. On Friday of this week the second collect prescribed by the rubrics is A cunctis and the third collect is Omnipotens. So on Friday the celebrant may add either two additional votive collects or four but not one or three. If the Ordinary has prescribed orationes imperatae these are included in the total and cannot be omitted. Presuming there are no orationes imperatae our example might look like this:


Collect of the day with conclusion

Oremus [before the 2nd collect only]

2nd Collect A cunctis... [No conclusion]

3rd Collect Omnipotens... [No conclusion]

4th Collect St. George Deus, qui nos beati Georgii.. [No conclusion]

5th Collect Votive Mass for any Necessity Ineffabilem misericordiam tuam... [No conclusion]

6th Collect For the Dead Fidelium... [No conclusion]

7th Collect For the Health of the Living Praetende, Domine, fidelibus... Conclusion

On a practical note, particularly for those celebrants unused to many orations at Mass, noting the series to be used on a sheet of paper along with the use of ‘PostIt’ notes discretely inserted in the Missal will help achieve a natural flow without hiatus.


Zephyrinus said...

This is an outstanding contribution to understanding The Liturgy.

Thank You, Rubricarius.

One does wonder, however, how many Priests would know anything about your excellent Article.

In that case, it speaks volumes, does it not, for the paucity of education in The Seminary.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this much needed post.
I was wondering, can the Superior of an Order or Institute issue Orationes Imperatae?

Rubricarius said...


I am not a canonist but believe orationes imperatae can only be ordered by the bishop of a diocese, Rome i.e. the Pope, or another prelate with episcopal jurisdiction.

Anonymous said...

What is a private mass?

Rubricarius said...


As it says in the text of the post '..added in private, i.e. in this context private means said, not sung, Masses and non-Conventual Masses only.'

Private Mass has a number of meanings, the over-arching meaning without (privation) of sacred ministers. In this context the meaning is any non-Conventual, said, i.e. not sung, Mass on a simple rite feast or ferial day.

+DM said...

Wonderful to see this post, Rubricarius; too many priests are unaware of what was a usual occurrence at Low Masses, id est, several Collects.

The faithful attending my Masses have always looked at the placard near the Holy Water stoop for the list of Collects. If they see me preparing for Mass, they know there will be extra ribbons and holy cards in use to set up their missals!

Peter said...

Thanks for this helpful post. Is there a rubric in the missal or a commonly accepted norm among rubricists which determines the meaning of "private Mass"? For example, for the commemorations which are sometimes made "tantum in missis privatis"? Or from a legal perspective, the reference to "private Masses" in Summorum pontificum (notwithstanding the legal fictions one can find in that document)? The definition you gave was helpful but I was wondering where it came from, or if "private Mass" might mean something difference in other contexts. The Novus Ordo, I believe, distinguishes Masses with and without a congregation, but that does not seem to be the traditional standard for understanding a "private Mass".

Rubricarius said...


Indeed 'private Mass' has a range of interpretations. J.B. O'Connell in his 'The Celebration of Mass', Vol I gives eight different definitions including 'A private votive Mass is a Mass - High, Sung or Low - celebrated for a cause which is not public and grave...'

In the context of this post it means non-sung, non-Conventual Masses.

Fr. Marek said...

I have a pre-1955 Missal, so, I'm familiar with the additional orations, however, don't we have to use the 1962 edition, which only allows for one oration on class vi?

Rubricarius said...

@Fr Marek,

We celebrate the traditional liturgy of the Roman Church by virtue of immemorial custom.

Being adverse to modern liturgical rites I have no idea what a 'class vi' is and if I were making a guess would think of some sort of locomotive engine?

Ben of the Bayou said...

@ Rubricarius,


Thank you for these helpful rubrical posts, helpful to those who have not access to the resources that you have but who are interested in understanding the pre-55 liturgical discipline.

I can clearly see that these posts were made a year ago, and so I understand that I am a Johnny-come-lately. Be that as it may, if you are willing to help out, I would be very grateful.

In general, I would like to understand in which Masses a proper last Gospel was used (i.e., is there a simple set of rules by which I might determine when to use the proper Last Gospel?)

In particular, I would like to understand whether, in a Solemn Mass for Saint Joseph as was had on his feast day (yesterday), the Priest would have (in the pre-55 rubrics) used the proper last Gospel of the feria Mass of Lent, rather than that of the Prologue of Saint John.

Thank you for your kind attention and invaluable assistance.

Rubricarius said...

@Ben of the Bayou,

A cheeky answer would be buy a copy of the Ordo and it will tell you!

To use your example: Yes, on the feast of St. Joseph last week the last Gospel was of the Friday of the fourth week of Lent. When on a day of Lent (or similar days like Ember Days that have a proper Gospel) a feast is celebrated the feria is commemorated with its orations and its Gospel read as the last Gospel in the festal Mass. The Gospels of feasts of the Lord and BVM are considered proper as are those of the feasts of the Apostles. Likewise if a person is named in the Gospel e.g. St Martha, St Mary Magdalene that is also considered proper. If, however, the Gospel of the day and that of the commemorated Office are the same, or have the same opening words, then In principio is read.