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Articles: Canon Law

Russia and the Leonine Prayers
Rev. Anthony Cekada

The Prayers after Low Mass and recent events in Russia

After my ordination to the priesthood in 1977, I fol­lowed the lead of other traditional priests in the U.S., and began an­nouncing that the Leonine Prayers — the three Hail Marys, the Salve Regina and the St. Michael prayer re­cited after Low Mass — were recited “for the conversion of Rus­sia.”

      Having heard this intention announced for the umpteenth time, a faithful traditional Catholic in a church I serve recently in­quired: “Why do we al­ways have to pray for the con­version of Rus­sia? Why can’t we pray for America in­stead?”

      It seemed like a fair question. I therefore set out to docu­ment what was surely the correct answer: that the Church, re­sponding to Our Lady’s 13 July 1917 request at Fatima, had de­creed that the object of these prayers was to ob­tain Russia’s conversion to the Catholic Faith. End of story — or so I thought.

      I consulted about 20 standard commen­taries on the Mass and encountered something surprising: not one of them stated that the Leonine Prayers were connected with the Fa­tima Mes­sage. And not one of them said that the object of the prayers was to bring about Russia’s conversion to Catholicism.

      Having drawn a blank, I turned to a multi-vol­ume work con­taining the texts of all the laws the Holy See has promul­gated since 1917.[1] The work contained a number of official decrees on the Leo­nine Prayers — but none of the decrees tied the prayers to the Fatima Mes­sage. And again, none of them stated that the object of the prayers was to obtain Rus­sia’s conversion to the Catholic faith.

      Traditional Catholic priests, it thus appears, have un­wit­tingly promoted a notion about these prayers which is false. Obviously this should be corrected, since we do, after all, pro­fess adherence to the Church’s traditions and laws.

      The history of the Leonine Prayers is also more than a lit­tle intriguing, tied as it is to var­ious crises the Church has faced over the past century and a half. Recent devel­opments in Russia, more­over, raise certain legal and prac­tical ques­tions regarding the use of the prayers.

      Here we will consider the following issues:

      (1) The origins of the Leonine Prayers

      (2) The object (or intention) Pope Pius XI de­creed for them.

      (3) Two dubious stories which have been circu­lated about the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

      (4) Past legislation on the Leonine Prayers, and whether, in light of recent events in Rus­sia, the law pre­scribing their recitation has ac­cordingly ceased.

      (5) Whether it would thus now be permis­sible to re­cite in place of the Leonine Prayers other prayers for other inten­tions.



      From the onset of the Napoleonic wars in the late 18th century, the position of the popes as tem­poral rulers of the Papal States (the civil territories they gov­erned in central Italy) be­came increasingly more precar­ious.

      Though the Congress of Vienna (1815) had re­stored the pope’s sovereignty over his tem­poral domains, Ma­sonry and other secret soci­eties, such as the Carbonari, conspired to stir up revolts against him. In 1830 and 1832 rebel­lions broke out in the Papal States, and in 1848 the revolutionar­ies suc­ceeded in driving Pope Pius IX from Rome.

      In 1850 Napoleon III sent his army into Italy, re­stored Pius to his temporal throne and garrisoned Rome with im­pe­rial troops — an act prompted not so much by the French Em­peror’s devotion to the Holy See as by his de­sire to un­dermine Austrian influence in Italy. Meanwhile, the adepts of the se­cret societies, supported by aid from abroad, took over the governments of the city-states which bor­dered the papal domains.[2]

      Surrounded by hostile states, undermined by se­cret so­ci­eties, and supported by a half-hearted ally, Pius IX feared that the tri­umph of the revolu­tion­aries was immi­nent.

      Early in 1859, the Pontiff ordered that spe­cial public prayers — three Hail Marys, the Salve Regina, a versicle and a Collect — be re­cited after Mass in all churches within the Pa­pal States. The prayers were not obligatory in other coun­tries. But Pius urged Catholics ev­erywhere to pray for the defeat of the enemies of his temporal sovereignty,[3] and granted in­dul­gences to all who would recite the prayers for his intentions.[4]

      In 1870 Rome fell to the revolutionaries and the army of the royal House of Savoy. Pius IX shut himself up in the Vati­can, ex­commu­nicated those who had seized the papal territo­ries and re­fused to recognize the legitimacy of the gov­ern­ment the usurpers had set up. Thus began the “Roman Ques­tion” — the issue of what accomodation, if any, could be reached between the le­gitimate tem­poral claims of the Supreme Pontiff and the gov­ernment of the new Italian state which exercised de facto con­trol over the pope’s states. The question would weigh heavily on the hearts of popes for nearly sixty years.

      In the 1880s, anti-clerical mobs, egged on by the Ma­sonic lodges, repeatedly demonstrated against Pope Leo XIII, and even attempted to throw the remains of Pius IX into the Tiber. The government enacted a series of laws against the Catholic clergy, and by the end of the decade would confis­cate the goods of Catholic chari­ta­ble associations.

      On 6 January 1884, therefore, Leo XIII de­creed  that the prayers Pius IX had prescribed for churches in the Papal States be recited after Low Mass in churches throughout the world, “so that the Christian people would implore God with com­mon prayer for that very thing which benefits the whole Christian common­wealth.”[5]

      The Collect which Pope Leo first prescribed is dif­ferent from the version we are accus­tomed to. Here is the 1884 ver­sion, with the variants noted in italics:

O God, our refuge and our strength,

hearken to the devout prayers of Thy Church, and

through the intercession of the glorious and immac­ulate Vir­gin Mary, Mother of God,

of blessed Joseph, of Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul,

and of all the saints,

grant that what we humbly seek in our present needs,

we may readily obtain.[6]

Parts of the prayer will sound familiar. The text is an ex­panded version of the oration for the 22nd Sunday after Pen­tecost.

      In 1886 the text of the Collect was changed to the fol­low­ing:

O God, our refuge and our strength,

look down with mercy on Thy people who cry to Thee,

and through the intercession of the glorious and immacu­late Virgin Mary, Mother of God,

of blessed Joseph, of Thy blessed apostles Peter and Paul,

and of all the saints,

in mercy and goodness hear the prayers we pour forth to Thee

for the conversion of sinners

and for the freedom and exaltation of Holy Mother Church.

While two other small changes were later made in the Latin text, this version of the Col­lect is the one we all know so well.

      At the same time, the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was added. The opening words of the invo­cation are similar to the Al­leluia verse for St. Michael’s feasts on May 8 and September 29.

      The 1886 changes, by the way, present a cu­rious le­gal anomaly. Before a liturgical practice can be made legally binding for the whole Church, the de­cree pre­scribing it must be pro­mulgated in an offi­cial publica­tion. There is no decree, however, in ei­ther the 1886 acts of the Holy See,[7] or in the six-volume collection of the authentic decrees of the Sacred Con­grega­tion of Rites[8] which au­thorizes the 1886 changes. (Indeed, I can find no decree for these changes anywhere.) The explana­tion, I sus­pect, is simply that a cu­rial official for­got to have it registered.

      In 1904, in any case, St. Pius X allowed priests to add the threefold invocation “Most Sacred Heart of Je­sus, have mercy on us” after the prayer to St. Michael. He did not make the practice obligatory, but it was gen­erally adopted by priests throughout the world.



      During the pontificates of Leo XIII, St. Pius X and Bene­dict XV, little progress was made toward re­solving the Ro­man Ques­tion, due to the complex and volatile political sit­uation in Italy. The negoti­ating process fi­nally began to gain momen­tum af­ter the election of Pius XI in 1922.

      On 12 February 1929 the Vatican an­nounced that the Holy See and Italy had signed a treaty which settled the Ro­man Question, regulated rela­tions be­tween the Church and the Italian state, and stipu­lated how the Holy See would be remu­ner­ated for the terri­tory it had lost. The accord was rat­ified at the Lateran Palace on 9 June 1929,[9] and was fol­lowed by a cordial exchange of tele­grams be­tween the Pope and the King of Italy.

      In Article 26 of the Lateran Treaty, the Holy See de­clared “the Roman question definitely and irre­vocably settled and therefore elimi­nated.”[10] The purpose for which the Leonine Prayers had been instituted was there­fore achieved.

      The Supreme Pontiff, however, had an­other impor­tant in­ten­tion that he wished to recommend to the prayers of the faithful. The Communist gov­ernment in Russia had begun a systematic perse­cution of Catholics. Pius XI asked Catholics in Rus­sia and throughout the world to observe a day of prayer to implore St. Joseph for his aid. On the day appointed, even the eastern schis­matics honored the Pope’s re­quest.

      In a 1930 address to the College of Cardi­nals, Pius XI dis­cussed both the Lateran Treaty and Rus­sia. He spoke of the day of prayer for the Church in Russia, ex­pressing his hope that the prayers which had been of­fered for those suf­fering would be more fruitful in the future.

      The Pontiff then noted sadly that “not so long ago the en­emies of God and religion throughout the afore­mentioned regions kin­dled a very fierce persecution of the Church.” He immediately added:

Christ, the Redeemer of the human race, is there­fore to be im­plored to permit tranquillity and freedom to pro­fess the faith to be restored to the afflicted people of Russia. And, that all may be able to make this prayer with very little trouble and difficulty, We desire that those same prayers which Our Predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, or­dered priests to recite with the people af­ter Mass, shall be said for this intention, that is, for Russia. Bishops and the clergy, both secular and religious, should be most zealous in giving no­tice of this to their people or to all who assist at Mass, and should frequently remind them of it.[11]

      The new intention which the Pontiff de­creed for the Prayers after Low Mass, therefore, was that Christ “permit tranquility and free­dom to profess the faith to be restored to the af­flicted people of Russia.”

      An action taken by the Pontifical Commis­sion for Rus­sia re­confirms that this is indeed the actual intention the Pontiff laid down. While the Pope’s decree applied only to priests of the Latin Rite, the Commission promptly pre­pared an­other de­cree for Catholic Uniates who employed the Byzan­tine Rite. The Com­mission or­dered the insertion into the Byzan­tine Rite Mass of prayers for peace for the clergy, “the brethren,” and “all our peo­ple.”[12]

      The “freedom of the Church in Russia” (as the liturgist Wuest succinctly put it),[13] there­fore — and not the conver­sion of Russia to the Catholic faith in fulfill­ment of the Fa­tima promises — was the intention for which these prayers contin­ued to be prescribed.



      The two foregoing sections outlined the origins of the Leonine Prayers as a unit. One of these prayers, the Invoca­tion to St. Michael the Archangel, merits special attention, since some in­trigu­ing but rather dubious sto­ries have come to be as­sociated with it.

A.  An Alleged Vision

      A pamphlet dealing with a diabolical pos­ses­sion, written in the early 1930s and still popular in tra­ditional Catholic circles, relates the following about the St. Michael prayer:

A rather peculiar cirumstance induced Pope Leo XIII to com­pose this powerful prayer. After cele­brating Mass one day he was in conference with the Cardinals. Sud­denly he sank to the floor. A doctor was summoned and several came at once. There was no sign of any pulse-beating[;] the very life seemed to have ebbed away from the already weakened and aged body. Suddenly he recovered and said: “What a horrible picture I was permit­ted to see!” He saw what was going to happen in the future, the misleading powers and the ravings of the devils against the Church in all countries. But St. Michael had appeared in the nick of time and cast Sa­tan and his cohorts back into the abyss of hell. Such was the occasion that caused Pope Leo XIII to have this prayer recited over the en­tire world at the end of Mass.[14]

The foregoing passage appears as a digression in an ac­count of an exorcism. The author gives no date for the alleged vi­sion.

      An article written in 1933 repeats the same ac­count, vir­tually word for word, adding: “And so, shortly after 1880, Leo decreed the general prayer to St. Michael.”[15] Note the date given for the sup­posed vision: 1880 — four years be­fore Leo XIII pre­scribed the Prayers af­ter Low Mass without the St. Michael prayer, and six years before the prayer itself was ac­tu­ally prescribed.

      A more recent variant of the story adds an­other de­tail: It quotes a dialogue between Our Lord and Satan that Pope Leo supposedly heard during the vision. One writer says the dia­logue occurred at the foot of the altar, where Leo stopped af­ter Mass. He gives no date.[16] An­other writer tells the same story, but he gives a date: 13 October 1884.[17]

      Still another writer tells essentially the same variant of the story as these two writers, but he has the event taking place when “the aged Pontiff was in a conference with the Car­di­nals.”[18]

      And the most recently circulated version of the story gives yet another date for the sup­posed vision: 25 September 1888.[19] Here again, remember that the St. Michael prayer in fact appeared two years earlier (in 1886) than this ac­count would have it.[20]

      Now while all six accounts cited connect the St. Michael prayer with a supposed vision, they differ as to when, where, and how the al­leged vision took place. None of them, more­over, gives a source, even the two ac­counts from the 1930s. All six au­thors merely assert that the incident took place.

      Taken together, these factors should be a cause for suspi­cion.

      In 1934 a German writer, Father Bers, in­vesti­gated the origins of the story of Leo’s vi­sion. “Wherever one looks,” he observed, “one may find this claim — but nowhere a trace of proof.”

      Sources contemporaneous with the institu­tion of the prayer were silent on the matter. Father Bers quoted a priest who visited with Leo XIII when the prayer was instituted in 1886:

“When the prayers which the priest says after Mass were be­ing instituted, I happened to have a short audi­ence with the Holy Father. During the conversation Leo XIII men­tioned what he was go­ing to prescribe and re­cited all the prayers from memory. This he did with such deep-seated con­vic­tion of the power of the cosmic rulers of this dark­ness and of the beguilement which they cause, that I was quite struck by it.”[21]

Commenting on this passage, Father Bers con­cluded:

Therefore it can be safely assumed that the Holy Fa­ther would have spoken of the vision if he had had it — or that at least the reporter would have mentioned it — since it would have been most relevant to the general purport of the state­ment. Conse­quently, the argument “from silence” seems to indicate clearly that the “vision” had been in­vented in later times for some rea­son, and was now feeding upon itself “like a perpetual sick­ness.”[22]

      The problems with the story connecting the in­stitu­tion of the St. Michael prayer and a sup­posed vision of Leo XIII may be summarized as follows:

      Writings which promote the story give no ref­er­ences to sources.

      • The various accounts contradict each other as to where the vision supposedly took place — after Mass at the foot of the altar, or in a conference with cardinals.

      • The various accounts are inconsistent about the date of the vision.

      The dates the accounts give for the al­leged vi­sion (1880, 1884 and 1888) do not corre­spond with the date when the St. Michael prayer was actually instituted (1886).

      There appears to be no corroboration for the story in a con­temporary account which one would expect to have men­tioned the event, had it indeed taken place.

      These considerations all tend to support the con­clu­sion Father Bers arrived at in the 1930s: “that the ‘vision’ had been invented in later times for some rea­son,” and that the story was simply feed­ing upon itself.

B.  Conspiracies and “Falsified” Texts

      Another story which has recently gained cur­rency in tra­di­tionalist circles alleges that the St. Michael prayer is a “falsified” version of a longer prayer Leo XIII wrote. The longer prayer, we are told, warned that Judaeo-Ma­sonic in­fil­trators would achieve their long-time goal of usurping the pa­pal chair, so con­spirators “censored” it twice after Leo’s death.[23]

      This is the sort of juicy tale that certain types on the tradi­tional Catholic scene really love to pro­mote. It in­corpo­rates some familiar elements: pri­vate revelations, infiltrators, al­tered documents, a de­ceived pontiff, and prophecies of an evil in­truder sitting on the Chair of Peter. For those who under­stand how the enemies of the Church operate, parts of the account may sound plausi­ble at first. It also (as contem­porary book reviewers like to say) makes for “a rollicking good read.”

      Unfortunately, it’s the type of conspiracy story which ex­poses traditional Catholics to ridicule — be­cause when you look closely at the facts adduced as “proof” for a conspir­acy, you discover that the story’s originators man­aged to get just about every­thing wrong.

      To understand how, we turn first to the back­ground of the prayer which — the story goes — is the “original” ver­sion of prayer to St. Michael re­cited after Low Mass.

      On 25 September 1888 Pope Leo XIII ap­proved a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and granted an in­dul­gence of 300 days for its recitation.[24]  By this time, of course, the text of the prayer to St. Michael we know from the Prayers after Low Mass had al­ready been in use for two years.[25] The text Leo ap­proved in 1888 was, in fact, a com­pletely new prayer.

      Like the 1886 text, the 1888 prayer also in­vokes St. Michael’s aid us in our warfare against the devil. But it is a very lengthy text, filled with line after line of vivid and strik­ing imagery about the devil and his minions.

      The prayer describes the devil as one who pours out on “men of depraved mind and cor­rupt heart, the spirit of ly­ing, of impi­ety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impu­rity, and of ev­ery vice and iniquity.” Of these servants of Satan, the prayer adds:

These most crafty enemies have filled and inebri­ated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immacu­late Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions.

The prayer then expands upon this description with the fol­lowing:

In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of the abom­inable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.[26]

These two passages, needless to say, are the ones which the cen­sored text theorists claim “predict” the effects of Vatican II.

      After its approval, the 1888 text was at some point in­cluded in The Raccolta (the Church’s official collec­tion of indulgenced prayers).

      In an audience two years later, moreover, Leo XIII ap­proved a new and lengthy “Exorcism against Satan and Apostate Angels,” intended to be used by bishops and by priests who received spe­cial per­mission from their ordinar­ies.[27] This rite em­ployed the 1888 prayer to St. Michael, in­cluding the two pas­sages quoted above, as sort of a preface to a se­ries of prayers of exorcism.[28] The rite was then incorpo­rated into the Appendix of The Roman Rit­ual (the book con­taining the official texts for sacra­mental rites and various blessings) among the more recent blessings (Benedictiones Novissimae).[29]

      Later editions of The Raccolta omitted the con­clu­sion of the 1888 prayer, beginning with the pas­sage which spoke of the “throne of abominable impiety” raised where the See of Peter stood. Later editions of The Roman Ritual went even further: they omitted not only that passage, but also the one referring those who have laid impious hands on the Church’s most sacred possessions. Other pas­sages were deleted as well, leaving only about one-third of the 1888 text. (See the Ap­pendix below.)

      Now, having misidentified an 1888 prayer as the an­tecedent to an 1886 prayer, the propo­nents of the cen­sored text theory contend that unnamed in­fil­trators in the Vatican, fearing exposure of their plot to seize con­trol of the  See of Peter, stealthily deleted these pas­sages from the Raccolta and the Ritual after Leo’s death.

      All of it is nonsense.

      First, the passages were not removed after Leo XIII’s death. They were already suppressed in 1902 — a year and a half be­fore the pon­tiff died.

      Second, this suppression was not, as we are told, an “ambiguous forgery” perpetrated “mysteriously” by some “unnamed Vatican of­fi­cial.” The Sacred Congre­gation of Rites, in consul­tation with the Congregation for Indul­gences, re­vised the 1888 prayer and issued a new edition. This was printed in 1902, bearing the seal of the Congrega­tion’s Pre­fect, Cardinal Ferrata, and the signature of the Congrega­tion’s Secretary, Arch­bishop D. Panici.[30]

      Third, the passages in question, please note, were not writ­ten in the future tense, as one would expect for a prophecy. They were writ­ten in the past tense, and thus re­ferred to events which had al­ready taken place in 1888.

      To whom, then, do the passages refer? One has but to look to the situation the Pope faced in Italy in the late 1880s.

      The “crafty enemies” of the Church who “laid impious hands on her most sacred pos­sessions” were none other than the revolu­tionaries who (as we have seen above) in­vaded the Papal States and despoiled the Church’s properties.

      And the “throne of abominable impiety“ raised up in “the Holy Place itself, where there has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of truth for the light of the world”? This was the throne of the King of Italy, set up in the Quirinale Palace.

      Prior to its seizure 1870 by the excommuni­cated King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel, the Quirinale was the principal pa­pal palace in Rome. It was the cus­tomary lo­cation for pa­pal con­claves. It was also one of the places where the pope had held court, sitting, of course, on a throne — the “Chair of truth for the light of the world.” When the 1888 prayer was com­posed, the throne of a usurping and excom­muni­cated monarch then stood in this palace which had been stolen from the the pope.

      Why, finally, were the texts altered toward the end of the Leo’s reign? Again, we look to historical situation.

      By 1902 Leo XIII had been carrying on secret ne­gotia­tions for years with the new King, Um­berto. The King at one point ap­peared willing to return a sub­stan­tial part of the city of Rome to the Pope’s control — a proposal that could have infuriated Parlia­ment enough to call for the King’s de­posi­tion.[31] Had Umberto made such a risky con­ces­sion, he would have ex­pected (and re­ceived) offi­cial recognition of his status from the Pope. Fur­ther ref­erences to the King in the Church’s Ritual as occupying “a throne of abominable impiety,” need­less to say, would have been at odds with pa­pal ac­knowl­edgement of the King’s legitimacy.[32] The prayer also linked the establishment of the King’s throne with the devil, who pours out on “men of depraved mind and cor­rupt heart, the spirit of ly­ing, of impiety, of blas­phemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of ev­ery vice and in­iquity.” Since the King gave signs of wanting to make amends, it probably seemed appropri­ate to alter the prayer.

      To sum up, then: The lengthy 1888 prayer to St. Michael was composed after the St. Michael prayer in the Leonine Prayers ap­peared. The passages in the 1888 text which are supposedly “prophetic” re­fer in fact to the Ital­ian govern­ment’s seizure of Church property. Once the King of Italy appeared willing to ar­rive at a settlement of the Roman Ques­tion, the Vatican dropped from the prayer pas­sages which he and the Italian gov­ernment would have found of­fensive.



      Apologists for the New Mass sometimes make the false claim that various popes intro­duced sub­stantial “changes” into the Mass of St. Pius V.

      When Leo XIII ordered the recitation of the Leonine Prayers, however, he did not legislate a “change” in the Mass. The prayers, unlike, say, the Ite Missa Est or the Last Gospel, are not part of the Ordinary of the Mass. They are al­ways re­ferred to as prayers re­cited after Mass. The rubrics in the front of the priest’s altar Missal remained unchanged, and do not men­tion the Leonine Prayers at all.

      In this section we will consider subsequent leg­is­la­tion on the Leonine Prayers, and, in light of the recent achieve­ment of the ob­ject for these prayers, discuss the consequent cessa­tion of the law regard­ing them.

A.   Subsequent Legislation

      The original legislation prescribing the Leonine Prayers  says they are to be recited after every Low Mass (i.e., Mass without singing),[33] while subse­quent decrees speak rather of recit­ing the prayers after Private Mass. Over the years, a num­ber of questions arose over the is­sue of when it would be law­ful to omit the prayers. The Sacred Congrega­tion of Rites is­sued a number of de­crees on the subject. The mean­ing of some of the de­crees is not abso­lutely clear, and rubri­cists (experts in liturgical law) were not able to reach com­plete agree­ment in interpreting them.[34]

      The Leonine Prayers may be omitted after a Low Mass which:

      Takes the place of a Solemn Mass (e.g., an or­dina­tion or a funeral Mass).

      Has the privileges of a Solemn Votive Mass pro re gravi (e.g., the Sacred Heart Votive Mass on First Fri­day).

      Is celebrated with a certain solemnity (e.g., a Nup­tial Mass, the Mass following the Bless­ing of Ashes on Ash Wednesday).

      Takes the place of the main (“parochial”) Mass on Sun­day and is “celebrated with a cer­tain solem­nity” (e.g., As­perges before­hand, prayer for the government afterwards, etc.).

      Is followed by a sacred function or pious ex­cer­cise, without the celebrant departing from the sanc­tuary (e.g., Benediction, Novena, etc. after Mass).

      The foregoing list is not exhaustive, and is taken from a classic work written in 1941 by the great En­glish rubricist O’Connell.[35] Subse­quently, the Congregation of Rites granted an Indult to the clergy of the Archdio­cese of Bologna, allowing them to omit the prayers at Masses where a homily was given.[36] A 1960 decree clari­fied some previ­ous decisions on the matter, and gave permission to priests ev­erywhere to omit the Leo­nine Prayers at a “Dialogue” Mass, or at a Mass where a homily was given.[37]

      Vatican II (1962–1965), of course, had re­fused to con­demn Communism, while Paul VI after his election in 1963 began to take the first tentative steps toward building what would come to be known as the “Vatican-Moscow Axis.” Since the Leonine Prayers were a re­minder that Moscow was conducting a per­secution, they were among the first things to go.

      In 1964, even before the Council closed, the Vati­can is­sued a liturgical instruction which con­tained the mem­orably brutal phrase: “The Last Gospel is omitted; the Leonine Prayers are sup­pressed.”[38] Under the circum­stances, a more ap­propriate verb would have been “liquidated” or “purged.”[39]

      Only a handful of priests resisted the post-Vati­can II liturgical changes at first, but not ev­eryone retained the Leo­nine Prayers. I suspect this was the case in France, since at the St. Pius X Seminary in Ecône in the 1970s we never said the prayers pub­licly.[40] (I re­cited them publicly after my first Mass in 1977, an act con­sidered rather daring at the time.)

      Most priests in America who first resisted the changes were well-known as dedicated pa­triots and vocal anti-Com­munists. These few stalwart men kept the Leo­nine Prayers alive when no one else in America did. It is to their eternal credit that they handed down the prac­tice to a future genera­tion which would see the prayers at long last bear fruit.

B.   Recent Developments in Russia

      The intention Pope Pius XI decreed in 1930 for the Leo­nine Prayers, as we noted above, was the freedom of the Church in Russia — that “tranquility and freedom to pro­fess the faith,” as he said, “be restored to the af­flicted people of Russia.”

      The people of Russia are indeed afflicted by many things these days — corrupt politicians, scarce goods, West­ern im­morality, so­cialism, in­ternational bankers, and the “New World Order.” But it seems certain that they do enjoy at least one thing: “the tranquility and free­dom to profess the faith.”

      On 1 October 1990 the Soviet Union enacted a law on freedom of conscience and religious organi­zations. It was a lengthy and de­tailed statute, run­ning in translation to nearly 500 lines of minis­cule print.

      The law’s stated purpose was to guarantee the rights of citizens “to determine and express their attitude to­ward reli­gion, to hold corre­sponding convictions and to profess a re­li­gion and perform religious rites without hin­drance.”[41]

      Article 3 of the law is of particular interest to us here:

In accordance with the right to freedom of con­science, ev­ery cit­izen independently determines his attitude to­ward re­ligion and has the right, individually or in con­junction with others, to pro­fess any religion or not to profess any, and to ex­press and dis­seminate convic­tions associated with his at­ti­tude toward reli­gion.

We note, for the sake of emphasis, the phrase “the right… to pro­fess any religion.”

      In Article 4, the law creates legal liability for re­strict­ing this right:

Any direct or indirect restriction of rights or the estab­lish­ment of any advantages for citizens de­pending on their atti­tude to­ward religion, as well as the incitement of hostility and hatred in this connection or any insult­ing of citizens’ feelings, en­tails lia­bility as established by law.

This would forbid persecuting someone for his re­ligious beliefs.

      The statute deals exhaustively with the manner in which these rights are exercised in practice. It guarantees the right to form reli­gious organiza­tions (Art. 7), reli­gious congre­ga­tions (Art. 8), reli­gious associations (Art. 9), religious or­ders (Art. 10), and religious educa­tional institutions (Art. 11). It allows a reli­gious group to for­mulate its own statutes (Art. 12), to ac­quire civil/legal existence, (Arts. 13, 14), to termi­nate volun­tarily its own exis­tence (Art. 16), to use state prop­erties (Art. 17),[42] to own property (Art. 18), to dispose of property (Art. 20), to establish and maintain places of wor­ship (Art. 21), to conduct worship services without hin­drance (Art. 21), to ac­quire and produce religious literature and objects (Art. 22), to create charitable organizations (Art. 23) and to main­tain ties with international reli­gious organi­zations (Art. 24).

      Given the Communists’ track record, we looked at all this from afar and took it with a grain (if not a pillar) of salt.

      Others more familiar with current affairs in Russia, how­ever, say that the status of believ­ers underwent a real change. In an ex­haustive com­mentary on the new law, one Western le­gal scholar noted that a comparison of past So­viet leg­isla­tion with the 1990 law reveals that “there is no doubt about the intent of the legis­lator to endow freedom of con­science with a content quite dif­fer­ent from that of the past.”[43] Profes­sor Jerry G. Pankhurst, a Rus­sian-speak­ing American who ac­tually spent some time in the Soviet Union after the law was passed, assured me that Catholics were in­deed then quite free to pro­fess their religion and that they suffered no perse­cution.

      In 1991 events took an even more dramatic turn. Gor­bachev fell, the Communist Party was dis­solved and the Soviet Union broke up. The new Russian Republic adopted a law on religious free­dom similar to the 1990 Soviet law. Professor Parkhurst be­lieves that the new law “while totally compatible, is even more tol­erant in the freedoms it grants.”

      But is it put into practice? For well over a year now, the con­servative Catholic press has been car­rying exten­sive re­ports on the changed sit­uation for Catholics in Russia. A seminary has been founded. Members of the intelligen­tisia have con­verted. Arch­bishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, ap­pointed Apos­tolic Adminis­tra­tor of the European part of the Russian Re­public by John Paul II, now resides in Moscow and ministers to a growing flock. Bishop Joseph Werth, a Jesuit, now travels around Siberia seeking out scattered groups of Catholics. Some church prop­erties have been re­turned, and new reli­gious publications have sprung up.

      Nor are the adepts of the Novus Ordo the only ones to benefit from the new climate: Two Rus­sians are now study­ing for the priest­hood at the Society of St. Pius X’s seminary in Ecône, Switzer­land. And one of the Ecône seminary pro­fes­sors, Father Rulleau, now travels to Moscow several times a year to offer the traditional Mass for a group of Catholics.

      Another Russian-speaking academic — a gradu­ate stu­dent in Russian history — told me how she had re­cently spent time with Catholics in Moscow and St. Pe­tersburg. Their numbers, she noted, are small. But like every­one else, she said, Catholics are en­tirely free to pro­fess their religion and now suffer no perse­cution.

      All this leads one to conclude that Catholics in Rus­sia are now free to profess the faith. The object for which the Leo­nine Prayers were pre­scribed for all these years, there­fore, has been obtained.

C.   Cessation of the Law

      Immediately, however, we are confronted by a prac­tical ques­tion: What then of the Leo­nine Prayers? If their object has been obtained, should they continue to be recited after Low Mass?

      Strictly speaking — according to the princi­ples of Church law — no.

      First, we should recall the classic definition the­olo­gians and canonists give for the word “law”: An ordi­nance of rea­son for the com­mon good pro­mulgated by the person who has care of the com­munity.[44]

      The canonist (and later cardinal) Giovanni Ci­cog­nani points out that, while laws are normally stable, the reasons or purposes for which a law was promulgated can later change. A law then becomes useless, harmful or — the very antithesis of what a law is supposed to be — unreasonable.

      Obviously, the superior should revoke a law that has be­come unreasonable. But what if a supe­rior has not done so? Cicognani adds:

[I]f [such a law] has not actually been revoked, it is to be reason­ably presumed to be revoked. For its purpose is the soul of law, and a law without a soul lapses, ceases to ex­ist, dies.[45]

      The technical term for the “death” of a law which loses its pur­pose is intrinsic cessation of the law (cessatio legis ab in­trinseco).[46] Intrinsic here simply means, as Ci­cognani put it, that “the law ceases of itself.”[47]

      The Bouscaren-Ellis commentary on the Code of Canon Law notes that this is common doc­trine.[48] Indeed, Prüm­mer,[49] Beste,[50] Coro­nata,[51] Cap­pello,[52] Lanza,[53] McHugh-Callan,[54] Regatillo,[55] and Wernz-Vidal[56] speak of a law whose “purpose,” “end,” or “total cause” ceases, “loses its force” or “falls.” By that very fact, it is then no longer a “rational norm,” having lost the purpose for which it was promulgated. Such a law, as the Wernz-Vidal com­mentary on the Code of Canon Law says, then “has fallen without a special act of a legisla­tor.” Or as Regatillo put it, the law “ceases ipso facto without a legislator’s declaration.”

      McHugh-Callan[57] and Cicognani[58] give as ex­amples laws which prescribe abstinence from cer­tain foods, or decree a fast to obtain re­lief from var­ious dangers.

      Of particular interest to us here are laws which pre­scribe that certain prayers be recited to obtain some specific end. Once the end ei­ther can no longer be ob­tained or has been ob­tained, the law prescrib­ing the prayer goes out of exis­tence.

      Moralists and canonists give the following ex­amples:

      • “If a bishop has prescribed a prayer for the re­cov­ery of the king’s health, once the king is dead, by that very fact the prayer must be omit­ted.”[59]

      • “… when the health of the pontiff is to be ob­tained, for ex­ample, if his health would be ob­tained, or if the pon­tiff would die.”[60]

      • “If a bishop should prescribe prayers to obtain peace and good weather, the obligation would cease once both pur­poses to­gether are obtained.”[61]

      A historical commentary on the Mass, writ­ten in 1949, speaks even more directly to our case. The au­thor, Father Bede Lebbe, ob­served that Leo XIII pre­scribed the October Rosary De­votions[62] for the resolution of the Roman Ques­tion, and that the Devotions ceased to be obligatory once the Lat­eran Treaty was signed in 1929.[63]

      The Leonine Prayers, Father Lebbe said, were of­fered for the same intention, and like­wise became op­tional when the Lateran Treaty was signed — until, of course, Pius XI de­creed that they be applied to the in­tentions of the persecuted Church in Rus­sia. Fa­ther Lebbe then added:

As the situation in that country continues to be far from favourable, it is clear that the obligation still exists of recit­ing af­ter Mass the three Aves, the Salve Regina and the two prayers.[64]

According to his line of reasoning, obviously, a change in the sit­uation would mean that the obli­gation to recite the Leonine Prayers would no longer exist.  

      It remains, then, to apply the principles to the case of the Leonine Prayers:

      (1) Catholic moralists and canonists teach that a law ceases (or dies) when the end for which it was instituted is ob­tained.

      (2) The end Pope Pius XI prescribed for the Leo­nine Prayers was that “tranquility and free­dom to pro­fess the faith be restored to the af­flicted people of Rus­sia.”

      (3) This end has recently been obtained.

      (4) The law prescribing the recitation of the Leonine Prayers has therefore ceased.

      Finally, what if Russia would again begin perse­cut­ing Catholics? Would one again be obliged to recite the Leonine Prayers?

      No. For once a law ceases this way, Re­gatillo[65] and Cardi­nal Palazzini[66] explain, a new act from the legisla­tor would be required to reintroduce it.



      If the law on the Leonine Prayers has ceased, could the priest then publicly “pray for America” (as our friend sug­gested), or for some other inten­tion?

      The mind of the Church, it appears, is that some types of prayers, at least, may indeed be recited after Low Mass on certain occasions.

      Some countries had their own special cus­toms in this re­gard. In England, for instance, the Prayer for the King was said, in Latin or English, depend­ing on diocesan law.[67] In Ire­land, Psalm 129 (the De Profundis) and a Collect for the Faithful Departed were recited before the Leonine Prayers.[68]

      General legislation made allowances for adding other prayers. In response to an in­quiry, the Sacred Congregation of Rites de­cided that the priest could re­cite some prayers at the altar after Mass, as long they were said with the permis­sion of the Ordinary (diocesan bishop).[69] In his book of replies on vari­ous liturgical questions, Father Mahoney says that the Or­dinary’s permission may sometimes be pre­sumed “when there exists some good rea­son for adding prayers.”[70] One sacristy man­ual notes that the Divine Praises or indul­genced prayers for the dead may be added.[71]

      While it is not advisable to add extra prayers af­ter Low Mass each time it is cele­brated,[72] the addi­tion from time to time of some prayer or short de­votion after Low Mass — the opportunity to ven­er­ate a relic, for ex­ample — is certainly in keeping with the legis­lation and the commentaries cited above. With a little thought and foresight, more­over, one can harmo­nize the prayer with the feast­day or particular liturgical season (always the ideal, of course).

      Not just any prayer will do. The priest should not use the in­variable, devotional, novena-type prayers be­cause of their essen­tially private charac­ter. For the same reason, the priest should not re­cite aloud with the people prayers in­tended for thanksgiving after Holy Commu­nion. Nor should this be an oc­casion to recite prayers for what are purely pri­vate inten­tions — for some indi­vid­ual’s health, prosperity, etc.

      The texts of the prayers, rather, should have a “public” or “universal” character. (They should also, if possible, be in­dul­genced.) This is implicit in Rome’s requirement that one have the permission of the Ordi­nary, who pos­sesses the au­thority lo­cally to regulate public worship.

      If a priest “presumes” this permission (as Fa­ther Ma­honey would allow), he should turn to the prayers the hier­ar­chy of the Church has already ap­proved for pub­lic recita­tion at the al­tar. These he will find collected in altar manu­als ap­proved be­fore Vati­can II.[73] Among the prayers authorized were the approved Lita­nies, Psalm 129 for the Dead, a prayer for the civil government[74] or sovereign, the Act of Conse­cra­tion to the Sacred Heart, the Pen­tecost Novena, the Prayer for Peace, the Devotion for Church Unity, and a handful of other prayers. All of them are profound, well-phrased, tra­di­tional, dignified, universal in charac­ter, and easily har­monized with the Sacred Liturgy.

      None of the approved altar manuals I have come across breaks up the texts with asterisks or otherwise in­dicates that the priest and the congre­gation are to recite the texts aloud to­gether. The congre­gation’s role is lim­ited to short re­sponses (for the litanies, versicles, Di­vine Praises) and to the occasional Amen.

      The priest should follow this pattern, and limit the con­gre­ga­tion’s role to a few responses of this sort. Catholics have difficulties reciting lengthy texts to­gether. Each layman also thinks the version of the prayer he remembers is the “correct” version anyway, and will recite it no matter what.[75] Handing out the texts, more­over, and insisting that the con­gregation recite them with the priest, un­dercuts the priest’s role, and smacks of the Novus Ordo idea that the people must recite each and ev­ery word of a prayer for it to “work.”

      The priest should remove his maniple for these prayers, and for longer devotions, per­haps even his cha­suble. The prayers, re­mem­ber, are not part of the Mass.

      For the same reason, the priest should em­ploy only brief texts — no longer than the Leo­nine Prayers, say. Moral the­ologians, af­ter all, say that a layman’s obliga­tion to assist at Mass on a Sunday or Holy Day is ful­filled once the priest has finished the Last Gospel. Pope Bene­dict XIV and St. Alphon­sus, moreover, teach that a public Low Mass — not counting the sermon and dis­tribut­ing Holy Com­munion — should normally not take much more than a half an hour. This limit should be ob­served, as Regatillo noted, “lest those hearing Mass be wearied.”[76] In the matter of these prayers, let us there­fore exercise the same prudent re­straint and concern for “weaker brethren” that is found in the writ­ings of the Church’s most eminent theolo­gians.

*         *         *         *         *

Traditional Catholics tend to be pessimists. This is natu­ral enough, given the terrible events which have un­folded in both the Church and modern society since the 1960s. The various fac­tions in the traditional move­ment may never agree about the Pope, the va­lidity of the modern sacraments, or in­terpreta­tions of canon law, to be sure. But the one thing we’d agree on in an instant would be our common motto: Expect and believe the worst, and you’ll never be disappointed.

      This pessimism carries over into our prayers. Time and again, traditional priests or writers will recommend this prayer or that in order to end one evil or another in the Concil­iar Church or in mod­ern society. But the evil whose end we pray for seems to con­tinue anyway. We see no con­crete re­sult for the rec­ommended prayer. And we trudge grimly on to pray that yet another evil end, secretly sus­pect­ing, perhaps, that God will never allow us to see any visible fruit from that prayer either.

      The recent developments in Russia should be cause for a little less gloom and a little more opti­mism about our prayers. We traditional Catholics, after all, are the ones who kept right on say­ing the Leonine Prayers for our perse­cuted brethren in Russia. We may not have un­derstood exactly what the Church’s inten­tion was for these prayers, but God certainly did. And in His provi­dence He granted His Church’s petition and our own.

      Here, then, is something we traditional Catholics can point to as some welcome good news — and as a con­crete confir­mation of the power of the Church’s prayer.

(Sacerdotium 5, Autumn 1992).


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Prayer to St. Michael from Exorcism against Satan and the Apostate Angels (Approved 18 May 1890.)

NOTE: In 1902 the Congregation of Rites issued a decree ap­prov­ing a new version of the prayer. The passages indi­cated in bold face be­low were re­moved.

O glorious Archangel St Michael, Prince of the heav­enly host, de­fend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principali­ties and Powers, against the rulers of this world of dark­ness, against spirits of evil in high places. (Eph 6.)  Come to the aid of men, whom God cre­ated immor­tal, made in his own im­age and like­ness, and re­deemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil, (Wis 2, 1 Cor 6.)

      Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy an­gels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud an­gels, Lu­cifer, and his apostate host, who were pow­erless to re­sist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven, But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his an­gels, (Apoc 12.)

      Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man has taken courage, Transformed into an angel of light, he wan­ders about with all the multi­tude of wicked spir­its, invading the earth in or­der to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eter­nal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of de­praved mind and cor­rupt heart, the spirit of ly­ing, of impiety, of blas­phemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of ev­ery vice and iniquity.

      These most crafty enemies have filled and inebri­ated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Im­macu­late Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred posses­sions.

      In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abom­inable impiety, with the in­iquitous de­sign that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

      Arise then, O invincible prince, bring help against the at­tacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the vic­tory.

      The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the mali­cious pow­ers of this world and of hell; to thee has God en­trusted the souls of men to be es­tablished in heav­enly beati­tude.

Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Sa­tan un­der our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly concili­ate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him cap­tive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the na­tions.


[1] Xaverius Ochoa ed., Leges Ecclesiae post Codicem Ju­ris Canonici, (Rome: Polyglot 1969).

[2] For a concise and excellent account of the history of the Papal States, see E. Jarry, “Les États Pontificaux,” Tu es Petrus: En­cyclopédie Pop­u­laire sur la Papauté, ed. by G. Jacquemet, (Paris: Bloud 1934), 551–617. See also Gustav Schnürer, “States of the Church,” The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. by Charles G. Habermann et al., (New York: Enclo­pedia Press 1912), 14:257–268.

[3] Encyclical Qui Nuper, 18 June 1859.

[4] Encyclical Cum Sancta Mater Ecclesia, 27 April 1859.

[5] S.R.C. Decree Iam Inde ab Anno, 6 January 1884, in Acta Sanctae Sedis 16 (1884), 249–250. “Iamvero gravibus adhuc insidi­en­tibus malis nec satis remota suspicione graviorum, cum Ecclesia catholica singulari Dei praesideo tantopere indi­geat, Sanctissimus Dominus Nos­ter Leo Papa XIII oppor­tunum iudicavit, eas ipsas pre­ces nonnullis part­ibus immu­tatas toto orbe persolvi, ut quod chris­tianae reipublicae in com­mune ex­pedit, id communi prece populus christianus a Deo con­dendat, auctoque supplicantium numero div­inae beneficia misericor­diae facilius asse­quatur.”

[6] Ibid., 250. “…adesto piis Ecclesiae tuae precibus, et praesta; ut … quod in praesentibus necessitatibus humiliter petimus, effi­caciter consequa­mur.”

[7] Acta Sanctae Sedis 18 (1886).

[8] Decreta Authentica Congregationis Sacrorum Rituum, (Rome: Poly­glot Press 1898).

[9] For the text of the treaty, see Appendix A to Wil­fred Parsons SJ, The Pope and Italy, (New York: America Press 1929).

[10] In Parsons, 93.

[11] Pius XI, Allocution Indictam ante, 30 June 1930, Acta Apos­tolicae Sedis 22 (1930), 301. “… fecundiorem eam posthac evasuram sperare licet, etsi, non ita pridem, divini nominis cultusque, per eas quas dix­imus re­giones, inimici ad Ecclesiae insectationem exarsere acrius. Christo igitur humani generis Redemptori instandum, ut afflicitis Rus­siae filiis tran­quilli­tatem fideique profitendae liber­tatem restitui sinat; atque ut instare omnes, modico sane negotio atque incommodo, queant volu­mus, quas fel. rec. decessor Noster Leo XIII sac­erdotes cum populo post sacrum exple­tum preces recitare ius­sit, eaedem ad hanc ipsam mentem, scilicet pro Russia, di­cantur; id ip­sum Episcopi atque uterque clerus populares suos, vel sacro adstantes quoslibet, studiosissime mon­eant, in eorundemque memoriam saepenumero revocent.”

[12] Pontificia Commissio pro Russia, Decree Cum Summus, 11 July 1930, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 22 (1930), 366. “Cum Summus Pon­tifex Pius div. Prov. Papa XI in Consistorio secreto diei 30 Junii c. a. prae­ceperit ut latini sacerdotes toto orbe terrarum preces, post sacrum exple­tum iussu Leonis Pa­pae XIII recitandas, nunc pro Russia applicent, haec Pontificia Commissio sacerdotes non latinos sibi subditos hortatur, ut dum Sacram Liturgiam celebrant, eandem inten­tionem Deo com­mendent. Ideo: (1) in sic dicta Ectenia Magna, inter pre­ces seu invoca­tiones (…) post verba [in Cyrillic: For this city and every city] haec ad­dantur: [in Cyrillic: and for all our brethren, let us pray to the Lord]. (2) In fine Liturgiae, in ora­tione sic dicta post am­bonem (…), post verba [in Cyrillic: Give peace to all Thy people and Thy Church], haec addantur: [in Cyrillic: and to His Holiness, the first among bishops, Pius XI, Pope of Rome, and to all priests and to all of our brethren and to all of our peo­ple].”

[13] Joseph Wuest CSsR, Matters Liturgical: The Collectio Re­rum Liturgi­carum, trans. by Thomas W. Mullaney CSsR and re-ar­ranged and en­larged by William T. Barry CSsR, (New York: Pustet 1956), 440.

[14] Carl Vogl, Begone Satan: A Soul-Stirring Account of Di­abolical Possession in Iowa, trans. by Celestine Kapsner OSB, (St. Cloud MN: 1935), reprinted Rockford IL: TAN Books 1973, 24. The exorcism took place in Earling, Iowa in 1928, and was the basis for William Peter Blat­ty’s novel The Exorcist, which was itself later made into a film.

[15] Hg. Schnell, Konnersreuther Sonntagsblattes (1933), no. 39, “Nachdem Leo XIII. eines Morgens die heilege Messe zelebriert hatte, begab er sich zu einer Besprechung mit den Kardinälen. Aber plötzlich sank er in Ohnmacht zusammen. Die herbeigeeilten Arzte fanden keinen Grund zu dieser Ohnmacht, obwohl der Pulsschlag fast aufhörte. Plöt­zlich erwachte er wieder und war frisch wie zuvor. Er erzählte dann, er hätte ein furchtbares Bild gesehen. Er durfte die Ver­führungskünste und das Wüten der Teufel der kommenden Zeiten in allen Ländern se­hen. In dieser Not erschien St. Michael, der Erzengel, und warf den Sa­tan mit allen seinen Teufeln in den höllis­chen Abgrund zurück. Da­raufhin ordnete Leo XIII. kurz nach 1880 das allgemeine Gebet zum heiligen Michael an.” Quoted in Bers “Die Gebete nach der hl. Messe,” Theol-Prakt. Quartalschrift 87 (1934), 161.

[16] See “An Interesting Story,” The Maryfaithful (Sept–Oct 1978), 19.

[17] Arthur H. Durand, “Satan’s Hundred Year War,” The Rem­nant (15 Jan­uary 1984), 9–10.

[18] Saint Michael and the Angels, compiled from Ap­proved Sources, (Rockford IL: TAN 1988), 84–85.

[19] Gary Giuffré, “Exile of the Pope-Elect, Part VII: Warnings from Heaven Suppressed,” Sangre de Cristo News­notes 69–70 (1991), 4.

[20] See Irish Ecclesiastical Review 7 (1886),1050.

[21] Kölner Pastoralblatt (1891) 179, cited in Bers 162–163.

[22] Bers, 162–163.

[23] Thus Giuffré, 4–7.

[24] For the Italian text, see Enchiridion Indulgentiarum: Pre­ces et Pia Opera Omnium Christifidelium, (Vatican: Polyglot Press 1950), 446. A search of the Acta Sanctae Sedis for 1888 failed to turn up the text of the Motu proprio mentioned in the Enchiridion. The 300 Days in­dul­gence, therefore, was most likely granted viva voce by Pope Leo during the course of an audience and simply noted in a curial diary. The indul­gence was increased to 500 days in 1934. It may be that Leo XIII had some sort of vision or locution in con­nection with the institu­tion of this prayer to St. Michael, rather than the prayer to St. Michael recited after Low Mass.

[25] For the Latin version, see Irish Ecclesiastical Review 7 (1886), 1050. “Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in praelio; contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. — Imperet illi Deus, sup­plices dep­recamur; tuque, Princeps militiae coelestis, Sa­tanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum per­vagantur in mundo, divina virtute in infernum detrude. Amen.”

[26] These two texts are from a translation in Ambrose St. John, The Rac­colta or Collection of Indulgenced Prayers and Good Works, 11th ed., (London: Burns Oates 1930), 407.

[27] S.C. de Propaganda Fide, ex audientia Sanctissimi 18 May 1890, Acta Sanctae Sedis 23 (1890–91), 747. “…omnibus Rev­erendis­simis Epis­copis, nec non Sacerdotibus ab Ordi­nariis suis legit­ime ad id auctori­tatem habentibus…”

[28] S.C. de Propaganda Fide. “Exorcismus in satanam et ange­los apostati­cos iussu Leonis XIII P.M. editus,” Acta Sanctae Sedis 23 (1890–91), 743–4. “Ecclesiam, Agni immaculati sponsam, vaferrimi hostes re­pleverunt amaritudinibus, inebri­arunt absinthio; ad omnia desider­abilia ejus impias miserunt manus. Ubi sedes beatissimi Petri et Cathe­dra veri­tatis ad lucem gentium constituta est, ibi thronum posuerunt abomi­na­tionis impietatis suae; ut percusso Pastore, et gregem dis­perdere valeant.”

[29] See Rituale Romanum, 6th ed. post typicam, (Ratisbon: Pustet 1898), 163*ff.

[30] See supplementary material bound into back of Pustet Rit­uale Ro­manum, 6th ed., (1898). “Concordat cum suo Originali, as­servato penes Secretariam S. Congregationis In­dulgentiis sacrisque Reliquiis prae­positae. In fidem etc. Ex Secretaria Sacror. Rituum Congregationis, die 7. Januarii 1902. [l.s.] + D. Panici Archiep. Laodicen. S.R.C. Secretar­ius.”

[31] See Jarry, 610.

[32] This issue was finally settled with the Lateran Treaty. In Ar­ti­cle 26 the Holy See recognized the Kingdom of Italy and its royal dy­nasty, the House of Savoy. Article 12 of the accompanying Con­cordat pre­scribed that on Sundays and Church holidays, the cele­brant of High Mass in major churches would sing a prayer “for the prosperity of the King of Italy and the Italian State.” For texts, see Parsons, 93, 99. 

[33] See S.R.C. Decree, 6 January 1884, in Acta Sanctae Sedis 16 (1884), 250. “…in fine cuiusque Missae sine cantu cel­ebratae.”

[34] Richard E. Brennan, “The Leonine Prayers,” Ameri­can Ec­clesi­astical Review 125 (1951), 92.

[35] See J. O’Connell, The Celebration of Mass: A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal, (Milwaukee: Bruce 1941) 1:210–11. This three-volume work is the clearest and most systematic treatment of the rubrics of the Mass available. Every priest who celebrates the traditional Mass should have a copy of it.

[36] S.C. Rituum, Indult Excellentissimus, 22 July 1955, Ochoa 2513.

[37] S.C. Rituum, Decree A Nonnullis Locorum, 9 March 1960, Ochoa 2895. “Preces sic dictas Leoninas omitti posse: … 3. cum infra Mis­sae celebrationem habeatur homilia. 4. cum fit Missa dialogata, diebus Dominicis et Festis tantum.”

[38] S.C. Rituum (Consilium), Instruction Inter Oecu­menici on the orderly carrying out of the Constitution on the Liturgy, 26 September 1964, ¶48, in Documents on the Liturgy, 1963-1979: Con­ciliar, Papal, and Cu­rial Texts, trans., compiled and arr. by Interna­tional Committee on En­glish in the Liturgy,  (Collegeville: Liturgi­cal Press 1982), 340.

[39] I have a vague childhood memory of the priest telling us as the changes began that we would henceforth pray for Russia in the Prayer of the Faithful. That didn’t last long. A few years later in the diocesan semi­nary, we were praying not for persecuted Catholics but for leftist guer­ril­las in South America.

[40] At Ecône during the 1975–1976 academic year, we fol­lowed many of  initial changes Paul VI introduced into  the Order of the Mass in 1964.

[41] Law of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: On Free­dom of Con­science and Religious Organizations, 1 October 1990, Pravda, 9 Oc­tober 1990, 4, trans. in The Current Digest of the So­viet Press 42.40 (1990), 6–8, 31. “The Aims of the Law. This law guarantees the rights of citizens to de­termine and express their atti­tude toward religion, to hold corresponding convic­tions and to pro­fess a religion and perform reli­gious rites with­out hindrance, as well as social justice, equality and the pro­tec­tion of citizens’ rights and interests regardless of their atti­tude toward re­ligion, and it regulates relations connected with the activity of religious organizations.” (Art. 1)

[42] Any governmental body in the U.S. which allowed this would be hauled into court by the A.C.L.U.

[43] Giovanni Codevilla, “Commentary on the New So­viet Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organiza­tions,” Religion in Com­munist Lands 19 (Summer 1991), 131.

[44] Dominic M. Prümmer OP, Manuale Theologiae Moralis, 10th ed., (Barcelona: Herder 1946), 1:142. “Quaedam rationis ordi­natio ad bonum commune ab eo, qui communi­tatis curam habet, promulgata.”

[45] Amleto Giovanni Cicognani, Canon Law, 2nd rev. ed., trans. by Joseph M. O’Hara (Westminster MD: Newman 1934), 625. “In treating the el­ements of law we saw that it is proper and fitting that a law should be stable and firm. How­ever, every law has its ele­ment of uncer­tainty, for the reasons and the purpose for which the law was made can change, and consequently, since law is an ordi­nance in accordance with reason, it ought to be revoked if it becomes useless, harmful or unreason­able; and if it has not actually been re­voked, it is to be reasonably pre­sumed to be re­voked. For its purpose is the soul of law, and a law without a soul lapses, ceases to exist, dies.”

[46] This is distinguished from extrinsic cessation of the law, i.e., when it is revoked by the superior. A lay woman once told me that, whenever a priest used the words intrinsic or ex­trinsic in an ar­ticle di­rected to tra­ditional Catholics, she imme­diately judged the article “too deep,” and promptly chucked it into the garbage. If she reads this article, I hope she makes it past the sentence above.

[47] Cicognani, 627

[48] T. Lincoln Bouscaren SJ & Adam C. Ellis SJ, Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, (Milwaukee: Bruce 1946), 35. “A law may cease to bind in two ways: either by repeal, which is called extrinsic cessation, or by be­coming inoperative without repeal, which is called intrinsic cessa­tion. It is common doc­trine that a law ceases to bind without repeal in two cases: first, if the circumstances are such that the law has become posi­tively harmful or unreasonable; second, if the purpose of the law has entirely ceased for the entire community.”

[49] Man. Theol. Moralis, 1:269–71. “Lex ipsa tripliciter ces­sare potest: … 2. per cessationem finis totalis. … Cessatio finis totalis, seu causae mo­tivae adaequate, ob quam lex lata est, producit cessa­tionem ip­sius legis. Ratio est, quia cessante causa totali, etiam effec­tus cesset oportet.” His emphasis.

[50] Udalricus Beste OSB, Introductio in Codicem, (Collegeville: St. John’s 1946), 89. “…ab intrinseco per cessa­tionem finis seu causae mo­ti­vae, quae legislatorem induxit ad legem feren­dam.”

[51] Matthaeus Conte a Coronata OFMCap, Institutiones Juris Canonici, (Rome: Marietti: 1950), 1:28. “Ipsa lex non sola eius obligatio du­pliciter cessare potest: ab intrinseco et  ab ex­trinsico.” His emphasis.

[52] Felix M. Cappello SJ,  Summa Juris Canonici, 4th ed., (Rome: Grego­rian 1945), 1:101. “Lex cessare potest ab intrinseco et ab extrin­seco, prout corruit ex se ipsa, vel tollitur per actum posi­tivum externum com­petentis Superioris. … 1. Cessatio ab intrinseco. — 1. Si lex non est am­plius norma rationabilis ammi­tit eo ipso vim suam. Id autem pen­det ex fine, qui habet ra­tionem boni, cuius intuitu praecise lex fertur.” His em­phasis.

[53] Antonius Lanza, Theologia Moralis, (Rome: Marietti 1949), 1:252. “Lex ab intrinseco cessat, aut transacto tempore ad quod lata est, aut ces­sante eius fine.”

[54] John A. McHugh OP and Charles J. Callan OP, Moral The­ol­ogy: A Complete Course, (New York: Wagner 1929), 1:500. “A law ceases from within (i.e., of itself), when through a change of condi­tions the purpose for which it was made no longer exists, or is no longer served by the law.… A law no longer serves its purpose, if, from having been useful, it has become useless, inasmuch as it is no longer necessary for the end in­tended by the lawgiver. In this case the law ceases, for regula­tions should not be imposed needlessly.” His emphasis.

[55] Eduardus F. Regatillo SJ, Institutiones Juris Canonici, 5th ed., (Santander: Sal Terrae 1956), 1:98. “Cessatio ab intrin­seco. — A. Ces­sante fine pro communitate:… in casis praece­dentibus lex ipso facto ces­sat ab­sque legislatoris declaratione.”

[56] F.X. Wernz SJ and P. Vidal SJ, Jus Canonicum, (Rome: Grego­rian 1938), 1:187. “…cessatio ab intrinseco cum lex corruit sine speciali actu legislatoris.” His emphasis.

[57] Moral Theology, 1:501. “Example: The Council of Jerusalem made a law that the faithful should abstain from using as food animals that had been strangled (Acts, XV.20). The purpose of the law was to avoid of­fense to the Jewish con­verts, who at that time formed a large part of the Christian community and who had a reli­gious abhorrence for such food. But shortly afterwards, the Gentile element having become stronger in the Church, no attention was paid to ceremonial rules of Ju­daism.”

[58] Canon Law,  627. “The end (either its purpose or cause) of the law ceases adequately when all its purposes cease; inadequately, when only some particular purpose of the law ceases (e.g., fasting is enjoined in or­der to end an epi­demic and to obtain rain; and the rain comes but the epi­demic continues its ravages).” His emphasis. If both rain were to come and the epidemic were to cease, obviously, both pur­poses of the law would cease, and the law along with it.

[59] Prümmer, 1:271. “Sic si episcopus praescripsit ora­tionem pro re­cuperanda regis sanitate, mortuo rege, eo ipso haec ora­tio omit­tenda est.”

[60] Benedictus H. Merkelbach OP, Summa Theologiae Moralis, (Paris: Desclée 1946), 1:398. “Cessat quando iam est obten­tus vel am­plius obtineri nequit, v.g. sanitas pontificis obtinenda si obtenta fuerit vel si pontifex moriatur.”

[61] Beste, 89. “Quare si episcopus preces praescripserit ad obti­nendam pacem et aeris serenitatem, obligatio desinit obtento utroque fine simul, non autem alterutro dumtaxat.”

[62] These consisted of the recitation of the Rosary, Litany of Loreto and Prayer to St. Joseph, either during Mass or before the Blessed Sacrament exposed, each day from Oc­tober 1 through November 2.

[63] Bede Lebbe OSB, The Mass: A Historical Commen­tary, (Westminster MD: Newman 1949), 167.

[64] Lebbe, 167–68.

[65] Institutiones, 1:98. “… nec reviviscit redeunte causa finali, ma­teria aut subjecto, sed debet denuo promulgari.”

[66] Petrus Palazzini, Dictionarium Morale et Canonicum, (Rome: Catholic Book Agency 1962), 1:657. “… non reviviscit re­deunte causa fi­nali, ut iterum obliget, requiritur novus actus legisla­toris ecclesiastici, eam iterum introduceret.”

[67] E.J. Mahoney, Priests’ Problems, ed. by L.L. Mc­Reavy, (New York: Benziger 1958), 118.

[68] Of the origin of this practice, Lebbe, 168, says: “Some liturgists see in it a compensation for the numerous endowments and foundation Masses for the Dead, all records of which were wantonly destroyed by Protestantism; or else a prayer of the Church for all those who were killed during the years and the persecutions of the seventeenth century, and in the Penal Times and buried without the comforting presence of a priest, or the blessing and prayers of the Liturgy.” The Irish clergy ap­parently introduced this practice in Australia — to avoid, some said, having to re­cite the Prayer for the King of England.

[69] S.R.C. Decree Mechlin., 31 August 1867, 3157. “VII. Quaer­itur: An possint praecipi, aut saltem permitti aliquae preces recitandae ad Altare post Missam, non depositis sacris vestibus. Ob­stare videtur Decre­tum in Conversanen. die 31 Augusti 1669. Ad VII. Affirmative; dum­modo pre­ces dicantur assentiente Ordinario.”

[70] Priests’ Problems, 119–20. “If he desires to add to those or­dered, the above reply leaves it with the local Ordinary to deter­mine its legality, and the writers concede a certain lati­tude on the supposition that the Ordinary’s permission may sometimes be pre­sumed; in fact, the replies of the Sacred Congregation of Rites in nn. 3537, 1, and 3805, can be har­monised with the n. 3157 above only by supposing that a pre­sumed per­mission suffices. It may be pre­sumed when there exists some good reason for adding prayers.”

[71] Joseph Wuest CSsR, Matters Liturgical: The Collectio Re­rum Liturgi­carum, trans. and rev. by Thomas W. Mullaney CSsR, (New York: Pustet 1925), 188.

[72] A priest who regularly tacks onto the end of the Mass lengthy vernacu­lar prayers of his own choosing imparts a false idea to his people: That while liturgical functions (the Mass, etc.) are good as far as they go, to have “real prayer,” you must add some­thing afterwards in the ver­nacu­lar. Some priests in the traditional movement, unfortunately, already add not only a lengthy series of vernacular prayers after Mass, but also an equally lengthy series be­fore as well. Repeatedly sandwiching the Mass be­tween elements that are not part of the Church’s official worship di­min­ish its importance as the prayer par excellence. Their attitude re­flects the sort of wrong-headed view of the Sacred Liturgy illustrated by a well-known story: A group of Canons were chanting Vespers in a great cathe­dral when a terrifying thunderstorm erupted. The Dean sig­nalled the clergy to cease their chanting, and announced: “Because of the danger from the storm, Fathers, we will stop the Office so we can say some prayers together.”

[73] For the U.S., Enchiridion Precum: Altar Prayers, (New York: Ben­ziger 1941); Altar Manual Complied from New and Ap­proved Sources, (New York: Kennedy 1953). Similar collections, no doubt, like­wise exist for other nations.

[74] In most countries, this consisted of a versicle  and Collect. In the U.S., however, it was customary to use parts of a longer prayer for the Church and government composed by Archbishop Carroll. The passages usually employed are the ones which refer specifically to the government.

[75] Witness the confusion which inevitably occurred in places where the congregation recited the St. Michael Prayer together. Ev­eryone fol­lowed his own version. The babble of tongues which re­sulted often sounded like something out of a prayer meeting for Novus Ordo charis­matics.

[76] Eduardus F. Regatillo SJ and M. Zalba SJ, Theolgiae Moralis Summa, (Madrid: BAC 1954), 3:194. “Si publice cele­bratur, curandum ne Missa semihoram multum excedat, ne audientes taedio afficantur.”


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