Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tristes erant apostoli

This is a few days late, but this week's liturgical switcheroos have not finished yet... 

The apostles were sad, indeed, at Christ's Passion, and while I know that the saints are perfectly happy when they receive the beatific vision, nevertheless there must be a tinge of sadness at moments when the church on earth has done something terribly bizarre. That bizarre moment in question is how the first week of May has been handled since the 1950s in the Roman liturgy.

St James and St Jude, Blutenburg Castle
from Wikimedia, Mummelgrummel
Prior to 1955, 1 May in the West was the feast of the Holy Apostles, Philip and James, and the 3rd was Crouchmas, the Invention of the Holy Cross, commemorating the discovery of the Holy Cross by St. Helena at the site of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. After 1955, however, the feast of the Apostles was translated to 13 May, with the new feast of St. Joseph the Worker on 1 May, which led to the cancellation of the beautiful though relatively recent feast of "the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church." This year, that falls in the first week of May, on 3 May, as that date is the Wednesday in the Second Week of Easter. Remember that in the traditional scheme, the octave is the octave, while the first week is the first week following the First Sunday after Easter (Low Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, etc.).

The Invention of the Holy Cross was removed entirely; presumably, the change follows the Byzantine practice of having only one feast in September, though that feast commemorates the recovery of the Cross from the Sassanian army in the seventh century.

Here I essentially summarize the position of Fr. Hunwicke, which he posits in part by way of reference to what one can read in the Stowe Missal.  The calendar, which I take to mean its arrangement and the feasts themselves, is not directly of divine origin but nevertheless it must be respected as something handed down from the fathers, to be changed only after great discernment, for the maximum benefit of the faithful, and in a way where it is still recognizably the same, at a minimum, and better still where the previous practice is somehow grafted onto the new. If one can write something in here or there in pencil or gum in a few pages of a new feast, then it's acceptable. The missal is still usable for many generations, and it can be truly said to have been handed down continuously. (Gregory DiPippo of New Liturgical Movement will remind me that "blogging is a visual medium," for I had missals which could demonstrate this point, and I never took pictures.)

When a feast is placed on a ferial day throughout most of the year, the ferial liturgy is simply lost, at least for that day. Due to the accidents of the reforms of the Breviarium Romanum by St. Pius X, however, it is relatively easy to insert a minor feast on a ferial day. For most feasts since 1911, the psalter is still of the day, though the hymns at the major hours of the Breviarium Romanum which are proper to the day of the week are replaced on that day by the hymn from the common, that is, the set of texts for each particular kind of saint. The Mass is not lost in a typical year, since it is just the repeated Sunday Mass, except in Lent; thus in Lent the ferial liturgy ought to take priority. At the little hours, the hymn never changes, and the chapter, responsory, and verse are proper to the time of the year, so those parts will always be prayed on Sundays and ferial days of the season.

The calendar can only include something which has been revealed explicitly or has shown to be an example of Newman's development of doctrine, in the most legitimate reform. It is true that St. Philip and St. James the Lesser do not have identical feasts in the East and in the West, but what is important is that they are both there. Historically, the feasts of apostles were of double rite, meaning that the antiphons at Matins, Lauds, and Vespers were sung before and after the psalm; on lesser feasts and at the Little Hours and Compline, they are intoned only before the cantor intones the psalm, and then they are sung completely after the Gloria Patri. When the number of these feasts became so great as to divide the doubles according to their importance, the apostles were in the second class, meaning that they are only behind feasts of Our Lord, Our Lady, and the most important feasts of a given place or religious congregation.
The high altar of Ss. Philip and Jakobus in Natz, South Tyrol. The apostles are
19th century (!), but the Madonna is original; she is in the same style as the statue moved to St. Mary's, Wausau WI
(Piergiuliano Chesi)

The Gloria and Credo are sung at the Mass, and there is a proper preface of the Apostles in the Roman liturgy. That there is a preface ought to tell us something, since the prefaces of the Roman Rite are traditionally limited. Almost all saints have the "Common Preface," which is also used for ferial days of the year!

A feast of an apostle can even outrank Sundays, since Sundays are usually of semidouble rank, and if it does not, it is translated to Monday in the traditional practice, that is. In the scheme of 1962, the feast is omitted when it falls on Sunday, as even "green Sundays" are considered to be feasts of the Lord which must outrank any feast except those of the Lord and of excepted feasts of the Virgin. St. Matthew and St. Thomas in 2014 were both eliminated by falling on a Sunday, and Ss. Simon and Jude will be eliminated next year due to the coincidence of the feast of Christ the King.

There are no longer First Vespers of an apostle, unless he be a patron saint of the highest rank, as those were eliminated except for the highest feasts.

This is a shame when it comes to St. Philip and James. The chapter, hymn, and verse of Vespers and Lauds come from the Common of Apostles in Paschal Time, and the psalms are also common, but the antiphons for Vespers, Lauds, and the Hours and the collect are proper to the feast. The Matins lessons are proper. The Mass is proper; in fact, the Masses of the Apostles are the most diverse for any liturgical category of saints.

Their feast was swept aside to the first free day of May, the 11th. I shall continue with reflections on the Joseph feasts and of that of Crouchmas, which is tomorrow due to the coincidence of St. Joseph, the patron of the church.

This is a beautiful rendition of the hymn of the day, using the text of the traditional Roman hymns, which were revised in the 17th century...


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