The Bold Language of the Old Rite


A friend of mine, who also happens to be a diocesan priest, recently shared an interesting discovery with me. Interesting, in part, because the Church just celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions.

This particular priest happens to be familiar with the traditional liturgy of the Church, offering both the Mass and the Sacrament of Baptism in the old rite. It was within Father Philip Weller’s classic Roman Ritual Volume 1: Sacraments and Processions that my friend found the following excerpt for the Supplying Ceremonies in Adult Baptism. The text reads in part:

“If the candidate is a convert from paganism, the priest adds: Abhor idols and their images.”

“If from Judaism: Abhor Jewish infidelity, renounce the false belief of the Hebrews.”

“If from Mohammedanism: Abhor Islam’s infidelity, renounce this evil and faithless sect.”

“If the candidate belonged to a Protestant, sect, and the validity of previous baptism is in question, he says: Abhor the evil of heresy, renounce the infamous sect of N. (mentioning the name of the sect).”

Now let’s be clear about the use of the word abhor. The Oxford Dictionary states that to abhor something is to “regard it with disgust or hatred.” So what we see in the old rite is very clear and direct language being addressed to the candidate. The old religion is being rejected. Renounced. Why? Because this adult convert to Catholicism, having found the one, true, Church now views false beliefs with disgust.

At a time when the plague of indifferentism decimates the faith and leads souls astray, the triumphalist text of the Old Rite seems all the more timely. As my friend noted, regarding the removal of such language from the ritual today, “And they wonder why we’re in trouble!”

Photo Credit: JP Sonnen

Posted on November 6, 2015, in holiness, liturgy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Richard A. Wozniak

    Your article is reminiscent of something I experienced about eight years ago. At the invitation of an Orthodox priest, and with my personal discontent with the liberal thrust within the Roman church, I had planned to covert to Orthodoxy. I was familiar with both Eastern and Western Orthodoxy, but I was specifically interested in the Carpatho-Rusin Orthodox tradition within the Antiochean Orthodox Church. My “Official” conversion would have required me to specifically renounce the erroneous belief in the Pope of Rome as superior to the Ecumenical Councils, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son (rather than from the Father alone), and other specifically-Western doctrines (which I was not prepared to do. I wasn’t rejecting anything). Each specific denomination (Armenian, Lutheran, Reformed) had its own list of “heretical” doctrines to renounce in order to be received as converts. A special Office for Reception even was provided for Jews, Muslims, and Heathens (p. 467-469) Check out the “Office for the Reception of Converts” p. 454-467 from the “Service book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church” by Hapgood (Revised Edition with endorsement by Patriarch Tikhon) Seventh Edition, Antiochean Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, 1996. It was an eye-opener.

    • Just a note: the abjurations of cult were expunged from the Old Rite before the reformation of the liturgical books. So this isn’t an Old Rite versus New Rite matter. EL, 1960, 74, 133: (Ephemerides liturgicae) S. C. R. Prot. H. 10/959, November 27, 1959 Abolished abjuration of pagan, Jewish, Muslim and other sects from Title II, Chapter 4, no. 10 of the rite for baptism of adults. And please note that this was done BEFORE Vatican II and Nostra Aetate.

      • Justin, good distinction to make. Thank you for your comment. We know of course that many liturgical “reforms” began prior to the Council (the 1955 revisions to Holy Week come to mind). We also know that many of the men who were responsible for the conciliar documents and subsequent changes were very much a presence prior to VII (John Courtney Murray and Annibale Bugnini for example). Still, I appreciate your clarifying comment.

    • Thank you for your comment Richard. I’m actually pleased to hear that the Orthodox still require this. I’m also happy to hear that you remained with Rome!

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