4 June 2016

The Feast of the Most Pure Heart of Mary

You could google your way to a lot of facts about the very many different days on which this Feast has been kept, as 'Gallican' bishops, and, later, Popes, granted it to various places or orders. The earliest date appears to be October 20; a date which enjoyed the favour of S John Eudes as early as 1647. But there seems to have been an increasing tendency to fix it on the Octave Day of the Assumption; or the Sunday within ... or the Sunday after ... that Octave. My 1874 Breviary has it then (among, of course, the observances pro aliquibus locis).

But other old liturgical books, as late as 1957, assign it to the Saturday after the Feast of the Sacred Heart. It was, I believe, on this day in the old Carmelite Rite.

In 1942, "gravissimas miseratus aerumnas quibus christiani populi ob ingruens immane bellum affliguntur" Pius XII consecrated the Human Race to the Immaculate Heart, and ordered its feast to be kept in the Universal Church on August 22, discarding the old Octave Mass of the Assumption. It will be seen that this represented, in calendar terms, a reversion to one nineteenth century date of the Feast of the Most Pure Heart. But the Bugnini idea of using the Saturday after the Feast of the Sacred Heart was, you will have noticed, not a totally new idea. It was a reversion to the date employed until the middle of the twentieth century for the feast in the days when our Lady's Heart was described as 'Most Pure' rather than as 'Immaculate' and was still pro aliquibus locis rather than universal.

If the EF and OF calendars are one day to be harmonised, it would seem to me appropriate to keep this lovely and Biblical feast on the day after the Sacred Heart, where it was until 1944 and then after 1970, not least because that would harmonise with the 'First Saturday' devotion. It would also emphasise that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are two Hearts which, as we say, beat as one.

The Octave Day of the Assumption, and Maria Regina, could then fight it out for August 22. My instinct would be to call the day by its proper name, the Octave Day of the Assumption, but to incorporate some features of Pius XII's Office or of the Liturgia horarum, such as the hymn O quam glorifica, which dates from the ninth century and was originally proper to Assumption Day itself.

May 31 should revert to being the Feast of our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces, as it increasingly was in many places where so granted by indult, until Pius XII parked Maria Regina on that date. (When Bugnini foolishly transferred the Visitation to May 31, Dom Anselmo Lentini did make a deliberate attempt to keep a memory of this earlier celebration of our Lady of Grace by including, in a hymn he composed for the Visitation, the stanza Teque felicem populi per orbem/ semper, O Mater, recitant ovantes/ atque te credunt Domini favorum/ esse ministram.)


Joshua said...

What of the Most Chaste Heart of St Joseph? Ought it be venerated on the Wednesday before or after the Feast of the Sacred Heart?

Joshua said...

Apparently there are apparitions with local episcopal approval that request this feast for the Wednesday after the Feast of the Sacred Heart.

Paul Goings said...

I fear that one negative consequence of this removal to today would be that the Immaculate Heart would virtually never be given its proper liturgical due. In the calendar of the mid-twentieth century, at least if the Assumption falls on a Sunday, one is guaranteed a High Mass of the Immaculate Heart on the next Sunday.

If kept today, even in those few places which might have a High Mass for the Sacred Heart, would they be likely to put on two in a row? I am strongly inclined to doubt it.

This liturgical consideration, to my mind, far outweighs any benefits gained by thematic unity.

Matthew Roth said...

Until recently, St. Stephen’s in Sacramento CA under the auspices of the FSSP sang every 1st and 2nd class feast. Places with 1st Saturday devotions would probably sing the Mass; conveniently it *is* 1st Saturday this year.

Matthew Roth said...

The Rad Trad blog had a series on St. Joseph, wherein it was mentioned that the church rather frowns upon this devotion.

Joshua said...

Next I'll be informed that the bodily Assumptions of both St Joseph and St John Evangelist are "rather frowned upon". Whatever happened to pious devotion?

Matthew Roth said...

Pope John XXIII said that the faithful may piously believe in Joseph’s bodily assumption, but there’s no patristic evidence for holding such a belief. It seems to be part of the highly manufactured post–Tridentine Joseph, which is why it was never bound on the rest of the church... But, the reason it is a problem is that the supporters of “new Joseph” are very aggressive in promoting their hagiography. No thank you!