John Lilburne's journal about the 1970 and 2002 Roman Missals, flowers


About John Lilburne


2002 Roman Missal - I have not written the Journal for a week, since I have been writing here.



2243 K Fri 12 Apr 2002

I went to the Mannix Library in Melbourne this afternoon where they had a copy of the 1970 Roman Missal in Latin. It was interesting to compare it to the 2002 Roman Missal. The new one is a much bigger book with its almost A4 size pages.

There were 82 Prefaces in the 1970 Roman Missal, 98 in the 2002 edition. There are 21 new saints with celebrations listed in the Index. (This does not mean 21 new feast days, since some of the new ones have a feast day for two saints.)

Last night I compared a 1985 translation of the Roman Missal. It seems to me the rubrics for individual days have been changed. For the washing of feet at the Lord's supper it is still to wash the feet of "viri" meaning "men" rather than "humans". There is an instruction about flowers for this Mass:

Altare floribus ornetur ea moderatione, quae indoli huius diei conveniat. (2002 Roman Missal, page 299, n. 5)

It seems to be saying the altar may be decorated with flowers in moderation on this day in Lent. The General Instruction Study Translation n. 305 has:

During Lent decorating the altar with flowers is prohibited. Exceptions are made, however, for Laetare Sunday (the Fourth Sunday of Lent), solemnities and feast days.

This was a new instruction in the 2000 GIRM and it is not changed in the 2002 GIRM. If I am correct that the Mass of the Lord's Supper is another exception then it would have been more consistent to include it here.

This decorating with flowers is to be around the altar rather than on top of it, according to the 2002 GIRM 305.

I am surprised by how little discussion I find on the internet of the 2002 Roman Missal. I have been visiting places like,,, and groups. But there is very little about it. I suppose it is a complicated situation that takes time to absorb.

I worry about how many people are being told about the new liturgical laws, such as not to put flowers on top of the altar. Time is needed to understand the changes and those teaching want to get it correct. But the longer nothing is said, the more difficult it will become to ever say anything about them.

1829 K Tue 16 Apr 2002

I was wrong.

I thought having flowers for the Mass of the Lord's Supper was another exception to the rule about not decorating the altar during Lent.

But the Mass of the Lord's Supper is not part of Lent. According to the General Roman Calendar, n. 28:

Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord's Supper exclusive.

The Alleluia is not used from the beginning of Lent until the Easter Vigil. (From The Sacramentary, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1985, page 65*).

So with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday the Easter Triduum begins, it is not Lent, so it is not inconsistent with 2002 GIRM 305.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 12 April 2002. Last updated 16 April 2002.