18 June 2013

Liturgy & Law -- Adding St. Joseph to the Canon

Death of St. Joseph, Dominican House of Studies

Update 20 June 2013: The USCCB has announced through its website that the Holy See has amended the words of Eucharistic Prayers 2, 3, and 4 to insert the name of St. Joseph. According to the USCCB these revisions "are approved to be used immediately".  Below is the revised text English and Latin.  Whether this is "immediately" applicable in other countries is not immediately clear.  I would assume that the Conferences of Bishops would announce this individually for the diocese of their own territory. 

The original decree (and translations of the text into additional languages) may be found at the Vatican website here:


Eucharistic Prayer II
Have mercy on us all, we pray,
that with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God,

with blessed Joseph, her Spouse,

with the blessed Apostles,
and all the Saints who have pleased you throughout the ages,
we may merit to be coheirs to eternal life,
and may praise and glorify you
through your Son, Jesus Christ.
Eucharistic Prayer III
May he make of us
an eternal offering to you,
so that we may obtain an inheritance with your elect,
especially with the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God,

with blessed Joseph, her Spouse,

with your blessed Apostles and glorious Martyrs
(with Saint N.: the Saint of the day or Patron Saint)
and with all the Saints,
on whose constant intercession in your presence
we rely for unfailing help.
Eucharistic Prayer IV
To all of us, your children,
grant, O merciful Father,
that we may enter into a heavenly inheritance
with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God,

with blessed Joseph, her Spouse,

and with your Apostles and Saints in your kingdom.
There, with the whole of creation,
freed from the corruption of sin and death,
may we glorify you through Christ our Lord,
through whom you bestow on the world all that is good.


Prex Eucharistica II
Omnium nostrum, quǽsumus, miserére,

ut cum beáta Dei Genetríce Vírgine María,
beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso,
beátis Apóstolis et ómnibus Sanctis,
qui tibi a sǽculo placuérunt,
ætérnae vitæ mereámur esse consórtes,
et te laudémus et glorificémus
per Fílium tuum Iesum Christum.

Prex Eucharistica III
Ipse nos tibi perfíciat munus ætérnum,

ut cum eléctis tuis hereditátem cónsequi valeámus,
in primis cum beatíssima Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María,
cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso,
cum beátis Apóstolis tuis et gloriósis Martýribus
(cum Sancto N.: Sancto diei vel patrono)
et ómnibus Sanctis,
quorum intercessióne
perpétuo apud te confídimus adiuvári.

Prex Eucharistica IV
Nobis ómnibus, fíliis tuis, clemens Pater, concéde,

ut cæléstem hereditátem cónsequi valeámus
cum beáta Vírgine, Dei Genetríce, María,
cum beáto Ioseph, eius Sponso,
cum Apóstolis et Sanctis tuis
in regno tuo, ubi cum univérsa creatúra,
a corruptióne peccáti et mortis liberáta,
te glorificémus per Christum Dóminum nostrum,
per quem mundo bona cuncta largíris.

UPDATE 19 June 2013:  Noted on-line apologist Jimmy Akin has apparently contacted the Committee on Divine Worship at the USCCB about the implementation date. He largely confirms what I said below.  See his blog entry here.

* * * * * 

It has been reported that the Congregation for Divine Worship has prepared a decree to insert the name of St. Joseph in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Eucharistic Prayers (it was added to the 1st Eucharistic Prayer--the "Roman Canon"--in 1962).  Some websites have erroneously reported that that means the name may or must now be inserted by priests using those Eucharistic prayers.  This is incorrect.

Under the Code of Canon Law, new laws do not generally take effect when they are issued.  Rather "a law is established when it is promulgated." (can. 7, emphasis added)  Promulgation is the official announcement  of a law.  This occurs by publishing it in Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS), the official commentary on all of the actions of the Holy See.  Note, however, that the canon cited above says "established" not "effective".  A law does not even go into effect on the day it is published in AAS.  The general rule is that a law goes into effect three months after its promulgation. (can. 8)  

The Holy See can waive these provisions to have a law take effect immediately.  It did so when Pope Benedict XVI issued the Apostolic Letter Normas Nonnullas, which changed the rules of the Conclave just before the effective date of his resignation.  (I discussed the possibility in a blog post this past February.)  To do this, the decree must "specifically and expressly" establish a period other than the three month rule.  So, in Normas Nonnullas the Pope stated in the very last sentence, "This document will enter into effect immediately upon its publication in L’Osservatore Romano."  This is how you specifically and expressly provide a different effective date.  The mere use of "henceforth" in the current decree on the use of the name of St. Joseph does not do this, and the decree mentions no other specific effective date.  Therefore, we should not--indeed may not--assume that the decree has immediate force or effect.

Something similar happened when Pope John XXIII first added the name of St. Joseph to the Canon back in 1962.  The decree was issued on November 13, 1962.  However, the name was not to be inserted into the canon until December 8, 1962, approximately 1 month later, as specifically mentioned in the decree.  It is normal for there to be a gap between the date of issuance of a new law and its effectiveness to allow time for the news to spread and churches to implement the change.

Therefore, since this new decree has not even been published, it has no legal effect yet.  Therefore, no priest, on his own initiative, should insert the name of St. Joseph into the other Eucharistic Prayers until such time as the decree has been published and the applicable waiting period has elapsed.