23 April 2014

S George??

Before the changes made in 1911, S George, a Double of the First Class here in England, could today have taken advantage of the very human, pastoral, and compassionate rule that ubi ... est ... concursus populi ad celebrandum Festum quod transferri debet, possunt cantari duae Missae, una de die, alia de Festo.

I remember, as a young priest half a century ago, explaining to people how S George could not possibly be observed in Easter Week because the Resurrection of the Lord was so important that S George had to be ignored until next Monday. How cocksure and infallible I was in those days*. As I observed recently in this blog, Mothering Sunday and S Valentine's day, abolished after the Council, have proved so resilient that, by gritting their teeth, they have survived into the bleak, cold, liturgical winds of the third millennium. Even Pope Francis, bless him, organised a romantic love-in for desponsati on S Valentine's day!

The strength of these survivals in popular devotion demonstrates the power of inculturation and of actuosa participatio. And yet the liturgists who write learned treatises about Inculturation and Actuosa Participatio are the upholders of the post-Conciliar fads, modi, which eliminated prime examples of both.

Often, those to whom I condescendingly explained the impossibility of observing S George on S George's day were members of societies with his name, or Boy Scouts. I now wonder how necessary it was to fight those battles. The Saints in the Christmas Octave were so well dug-in that even Bugnini and Co could not uproot them. Generations of usage allowed S Anastasia to retain a toehold in the Masses of Christmas Day itself. Byzantines remain capable of a wide variety of liturgical combinations.

So what am I saying? Not, I hope, that I now have yet another cocksure, infallible, template for remaking the Calendar or its rubrics. I simply desire to throw into the mix, for discussion, the following hypothesis. For over a century, liturgical experts have been laying down how the people of God ought not to worship. Very often, their prescriptions have contradicted the instincts and inherited, inculturated, customs of ordinary priests and ordinary congregations. The post-Conciliar mistakes were only the final stage in this process of academic, intellectualist, even perhaps Jansenist, liturgical arrogance.

If this has something of the truth in it, here comes the tricky question. In the pathless wilderness into which we experts have led the Church, is there any chance of finding a way to something of the richness and the populism of the worshiping culture which we started trashing a century ago?
*Perhaps, to be a little fairer to myself, I should say that my error was too much respect and deference to what "the Church" had liturgically decided. I will do penance by not making the same mistake for another half century.

Thanks to Rubricarius for help with this piece.


Cam Ma said...

The Scout Association is of far greater importance in deciding this issue than whole legions of po-faced "liturgists", who should confine their energies to train spotting.

John R said...

Would the pre-1911 usage have stipulated also that in addition to an allowance for a Mass of S. George today that his integral liturgical observance (Mass and Office) be transferred to after the Octave? - i.e. to Tuesday since Monday is already taken by S. Mark being transferred from this Friday.

Jonathan Dandridge said...

Cam Ma, as an occasional trainspotter I am highly insulted being compared to a Liturgist!!!

Matthew Roth said...

Fr. Blake had a good post the other day re: the effects of the Liturgical Movement on popular devotion.

Don Camillo SSC said...

I am glad that my decision to say the Mass of St George yesterday can be defended against the liturgists!

Rubricarius said...


Pre-1911 St. George would be transferred to the 30th (his Octave Day) as the days in between are all occupied by feasts of nine lessons. (In England St. Catherine was assigned to May 5th and Pius V to May 11th).