8 August 2016

Reunifying the Calendar

When should the Cure of Ars be celebrated?

Many traditionalists are uneasy about any rapprochement between the EF and the OF. Their suspicions are understandable. There has been a surfeit of ill-advised tinkering. People feel wounded. But a semi-unified Calendar would be of inestimable benefit from the point of view of the celebration of Patronal Festivals and Name Days et cetera. I say semi-unified, because there are some things, such as Christ the King, where the teaching given in the EF is so different from that in the OF that the distinction should be maintained. Vivat Christus Rex. And no sane person wishes to give up Stir Up Sunday!

But why should traditionalists be at all prepared to give up the immemorially ancient days on which saints are celebrated? To the barricades! Marchons!! But ... calm down, dear.The point here is that some of the dates in the 1962 Calendar are not ancient at all; they are extremely recent; they date from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Can it really be set in stone by 'Tradition' that a Saint must be observed on a particular day because it says so in 1962, when both 1950 and 1970 might agree in having him/her on the same day as each other, a day which differs from the 1962 date? And, if we love reading Quo primum and feel uneasy about any changes to what S Pius V put in place 'for ever', how can we possibly, logically, have rooted objections to going back to a date which the Missal of S Pius V prescribes?

Many of us use the St Lawrence Press Ordo [giving things as they were at the start of the pontificate of Pius XII], at least to the extent of keeping an eye on the rather more ancient dispositions which held sway before the start of the Bugnini era. This is an important thing to do if one is interested in the present state of the Roman Rite and how we have got to where we are. Get one, if you haven't already done so!

Causes of instability have in the past included: a fashion for moving feasts off Vigils and Octave days, so that they are not cluttered; a silly OF fetich for never observing two saints on the same day by means of the ancient system known as 'commemoration'; and a (laudable) bias for observing a Saint on his/her natale, 'heavenly birthday' (i.e. anniversary of earthly death).

Anybody who wants to do their own research on this could, for starters, have a look at the travels of S Hilary and S Irenaeus.

But back to the Cure of Ars. He first entered the Calendar on August 9. But early in the Bugnini era, he was shifted back to August 8 so that he would not be in collision with the Vigil of S Laurence. Then the OF Calendar put him back to his natale, August 4. But there he would have been in conflict with S Dominic. So S Dominic was shifted to his natale on August 6 ... er ... oops ... no he wasn't, because that would have left him arguing things out with the Transfiguration. So S Dominic went to the day after August 6, where he lived happily for ever after. Except that he didn't, because after a year or two, August 7 itself came under pressure. You see, S Xystus (the Pope whom S Laurence served and who was martyred a few days before him) needed a home which would not leave him hanging around on Transfiguration day ... and there was also the question of S Cajetan ... so S Xystus was budged forward to August 7, meaning that S Dominic went on his travels yet again, to August 8.

In my view, this sort of thing, with Saints endlessly peripatetic, is plain wrong.

A modest reconsideration of the Calendar, in my view, should be undertaken. One of its principles should be that where (1) S Pius V, (2) 1950 (pre-Bugnini), and (3) 1969 (Novus Ordo), or two of these three, are  in agreement against 1962, this concord should stand. There's nothing magical about the books of 1962, which, in the view of many of us, have serious flaws.

Another consideration might be that, other things being equal, a date which also had the support of a Byzantine date would be preferred.

The revision should not be rigid. There might remain many days when OF and EF were out of sync.. But it would be better than the present situation where both OF and EF are in a mess.

I sha'n't enable comments which give me the impression of blustering without the author actually having read what I have written.

16 comments:

Steve Cavanaugh said...

Along with your modest proposal, father, would be making commemorations, whose abolition you rightly lament, available once again. These are allowed during the Christmas Octave and Lent in the Liturgy of the Hours, so why not all during the year? Being a layman, under no obligation to recite the office, I often employ commemorations. Clerics and religious should enjoy the privilege as well. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, so let the crowd be acknowledged liturgically.

Lee said...

A wonderful post, Father. Curiously, the Bugnini "maniaques" were dead set on keeping the Vigil of St. Lawrence, with no trespassers save Saint Romanus' commemoration...though they were less concerned about the Vigil of the Epiphany, or All Saints...or about the unprecedented novelty they introduced of observing vigils (and Ember Days, for that matter) with Vespers...

Prayerful said...

Today at the Low Mass there was a relic of St John Vianney. The (St Joseph's) side altar where it was celebrated has a statue of the saint close to it. It might be the most superficial objection in existence, but I'd prefer not having to get a new Missal. Yet, Fr has made an eminently sensible suggestion. A stability which is supported by a measure of antiquity, well at least the pre-Bugini calendar, would be a good thing. A saint deserves some degree of certainty!

Pastor Montanus said...

Perhaps in conjunction with any such revision a reconsideration of the practice of commemorations might be useful, which could solve a number of calendrical problems (though not, I am sure, without the creation of one or two in itself).

jagribbin said...


An interesting post Father. I understand what you say about adjustments here and there to the calendar, as long as we did not disturb EF breviary and missal too much. I think we have suffered enough with tinkering with the liturgy over the last fifty or so years. We should wait another fifty years before any other major revisions are made. There could also be the possibility of adding saints to EF - even as a commemoration in the breviary with a Mass in the missal - whom have been recently canonised, and add more prefaces to the missal. This would not disturb the breviary or missal too much. I am just curious about one thing : which breviary and missal do you use if you follow the St Lawrence Press Ordo ? Pre 1962 ? I'm not sure how one could use it by using the approved EF liturgical texts and books.

matthewgaul said...

I like this idea.

Even better, where available and prudent, also weigh local ancient calendars, and bring back more regional flavor. And if possible, make them juridically (if that is the right word) different local calendars, at least for the OF. A little subsidiarity is good for tradition.

In a perfect world, how would you implement it? All at once? All for one given liturgical season at a time, maybe with five years of cool off between them? Change one saint a year, every year?

Ben of the Bayou said...

A thoroughly spendid suggestion, Father!

spraffmeister said...

I think the "Current Tridentine Ordo" made a good attempt at "restoring" the EF calendar to the principles favoured by St Pius V. It seeks to de-clutter the General Calendar of somewhat obscurer saints, leaving their commemoration to local calendars (inculturation?) and favouring only the inclusion of martyrs and major saints of enduring significance to the universal Church. This calendar also seeks thereby to reduce the disruption to the sequence of psalms each week caused by the celebration of feast days almost every day. I believe this is also in line with the desires of the Council Fathers at Vatican II.

Kevin Jones said...

Would the actual challenge of a unified (part or in full) calendar not come with the mammoth piece of work in a breviary re-write? Particularly at Matins?

Matthew Roth said...

I appreciate the move on the part of Mgr. Bugnini to give precedence to a quintessentially Roman saint, St. Lawrence. But, the vigils were basically all abolished in the Novus Ordo, and they are not quite the same as the old vigils where they do exist, e.g. Epiphany, since they are said to fulfill the next day's obligation, instead of earlier in the day attached to the canonical hours (Terce, usually, or None precede Masses sung in chapter). So there's no need to give precedence any more, and the feast day of 4 August for St. Dominic is the one said by the Curé of Ars himself.

St. Thomas is another saint whose dates make no sense. The Consilium moved him to July, when the Roman feast is in December with a whole system in place to account for both the Advent days, especially Sunday when it coincides with the Apostle, and the Byzantine feast is 6 October. I believe the reformers increasingly feared anything which trounced Advent, which is reasonable: you would basically go from the Octave of the Immaculate Conception into Sunday, St. Lucy, and the Ember Days. That change (the octave's suppression under Pope Pius XII) makes sense, but the shift for St. Thomas does not.

I would give greater weight to (1) and (2), but I would happily consider (3) and 1962 insofar as octaves are concerned. I think Pius XII stripped too many, and with so many removed and the third one remaining, Pentecost, suppressed by Paul VI, there's a greater opening in the calendar of saints, which means there shouldn't be much shifting required. Even so, the feast and the octave day in most octaves would be the only days which use a festal liturgy which is not that of another saint. The other days would merely commemorate the octave.

What should have happened is saints could be added to the calendar as doubles, semidoubles, or simples (which of course need to be resurrected since Pius XII cut them out) and then priests and bishops in charge of publishing the relevent ordo should be able to give options, e.g. one could celebrate this random Italian bishop of the 18th century with commemoration of another saint on the same day, or if the other saint is more relevant to that community, he should be able to commemorate the bishop. It's like the OF "optional memorial" but without leaving anyone out who is relatively important and who has been around on the calendar for a while.

Belfry Bat said...

"I heard a voice from Heaven saying: 'Blessed are the Dead that die in the Lord, for they rest from labours'".

Auriel Ragmon said...

Why can't they just do it the Orthodox way? List all the saints commemorated on one day and pick and choose which ones come first in your locality or jurisdiction!
It seems simple to me since I have a menaion of all the Russian guys. Greeks have their favorites and Serbians too, etc etc
Jim of Olym

Peregrinus Toronto said...

Poor St. Dominic. I had no idea of his travel and labours!

You bring a good portion of Anglican patrimonial reason to this matter, Father. May common sense along with your principle: "If two or three agree . . ." prevail. Local custom will always have options as I understand your proposal.

Thanks for the insights once again.

Sixupman said...

I long for the return of the days when I could listen to daily Choral Evensong on BBC radio and follow the same from my St. Andrew's larger pocket Missal. Some hope!

It is my opinion that the NOM Missal and Calendar where created with malice aforethought to completely negate the 'books' extant pre-Vatican II and isolate and disorientate the adherents.

Matthew Roth said...

To the question about using the “one true ordo,” as a priest friend calls the St. Lawrencd Press ORDO: Tradition trumps Bugnini.

matthewgaul said...

Amen to that.

I suppose you could do that "on the ground" somewhat with the Roman Martyrology. Re-purpose the chosen saints' propers as appropriately placed hymns. Or have them sung before liturgy. Or something.