The Catholic Commentator, October 11, 1963

Missals in The Catholic Commentator


This post is part of a series on a comprehensive review on occurrences of the word “missal” in the Catholic News Archive (CNA). Read the first post here!

The Catholic Commentator

Today's newspaper is The Catholic Commentator (TCC), published in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The CNA carries issues from February to December of 1963.

I went through 59 results. 45 of those results are a type of article that we will likely see much more of: the liturgical calendar for the week. Below is an example, from December 20, 19631:

This weekly calendar was usually called “Missal Guide” - starting on June 7, it was occasionally called “Weekly Missal Guide.”

This clipping might seem routine and ordinary, but it is precisely the ordinary clippings that are sometimes the most illuminating. Worth noting are:

  • Ember days2: These ancient customs would vanish in the postconciliar years,
  • Introits, and Latin propers as a whole: Propers and Gregorian chant would similarly vanish, and
  • Violet vestments on Christmas Eve: This is deeper than a simple color change. All vigils used to be considered penitential, so they called for violet vestments and - in many cases - banned or discouraged wedding Masses. Current rubrics call for white.

On a broader level, the references to votive Masses, the Divine Office, and parts of the Mass (i.e. Prefaces), all represent prayers or texts that have been dramatically revised - in some cases completely rewritten - since 1964.

By 1966, other Catholic newspapers were reporting about the death of the hand missal industry (more on that later!). By 1972, the Church had a new Mass, a new General Roman Calendar, and new texts for all of the sacraments.3

The net result is that this Weekly Missal Guide, this routine feature of midcentury American Catholic life, would shortly become not only irrelevant, but unintelligible to its intended audience.


  1. Weekly Missal Guide. The Catholic Commentator, Volume 1, Number 45, 20 December 1963.

  2. “Ember Days.” Fish Eaters.

  3. “The Fruits of Vatican II.” The Old Evangelization, 2019-06-25.

Sharon Kabel
Librarian; Nuisance

I like Catholic newspapers, amateur data visualizations, and walls of text.