1 July 2016

The Visitation and the Precious Blood

How very ruthless of the post-Conciliar 'reforms': Westminster Cathedral, overnight, lost its Patronal Festival when the 'reformers' reduced July 1 to a feria on the flippant grounds that the Precious Blood would get a perfectly adequate 'covering' by being merely added to the title of Corpus Christi. Thus a nice piece of Pius IX liturgy disappeared: the memorial he placed on the calendar to commemorate his return to the City after the Roman Revolution of 1848. There is nothing vulgar, incidentally, about doing that sort of thing to the calendar, or, if there is, it is simply the vulgarity of an incarnational religion. Byzantine calendars are peppered with such observances related to events in Christian history.

Incidentally, on the same occasion Pius IX also raised our Lady's Visitation from a Greater Double to a Double of the Second Class. Urban VI had fitted that festivity onto July 2 as a prayer for Unity. It was the first day available after the Octave of S John, and had long been, among Byzantines, the Feast of the Deposition of the Protecting Robe of the Theotokos in the great Basilica of Blachernae in Constantinople. All that, even the Ecumenical relevance of it, was treated as so much extravagance to be shovelled away.

It was the reforms of Pius X that had shifted the Precious Blood off the First Sunday in July, Pius IX's date, onto July 1. It was felt, in my view rightly, that too many of the old Roman Sunday Masses were unused on their Sundays year after year because of so many feasts permanently anchored on "the xth Sunday of such-a-month". Pius X's change did not, of course, mean that the Precious Blood never fell upon a Sunday; it meant that it only fell on a Sunday once every six or seven years. If a Festum is allowed to supersede a green Sunday, that gives it an occasional Sunday outing ... and isn't that the right balance?

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