30 June 2018

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 almost sacrilegiously flippant grounds that the Precious Blood would get a perfectly adequate 'covering' by being merely added to the title of Corpus Christi. Sad little men. Thus a gorgeous piece of B Pius IX liturgy disappeared: the Solemn Festival he had 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 richly and very appropriately peppered with such observances related to events in Christian history.)

Incidentally, on the same occasion B 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 in the post-Conciliar 'reforms' as so much extravagance to be shovelled away: and so the Visitation had a more 'logical' date discovered for it.

B Pius IX's original date for the Precious Blood had been the First Sunday in July. It was the reforms of S Pius X that shifted the Festival onto July 1. S Pius X's liturgists felt, in my view rightly, that too many of the old Roman Sunday Masses were unused on their Sundays year after year because so many feasts were permanently anchored on "the xth Sunday of such-a-month". S 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. And, with a pastoral flexibility which characterised papal liturgical interventions before the fateful, deplorable collaborazione between Pius XII and Hannibal, S Pius X still allowed, for pastoral reasons, all the Masses on the First Sunday of July to be of the Precious Blood even though the festival had been moved.

So, this year, when July 1 and the First Sunday in July coincide, we have a sense of this great Feast as B Pius IX first intended it; the magnificent public opening of the Month of the Most Precious Blood. For those who use 'the Old Breviary' there are the superb Office Hymns. The one provided for Lauds relates particularly well to the old English devotion to the Five Wounds. [The English Catholic Hymn Book gives the Vespers hymn in translation; and Viva viva Gesu, of course, appears in modern hymnals as 'Glory be to Jesus'.]

During the Month of the Precious Blood, perhaps the Litany authorised by S John XXIII could be dusted off and given an airing ... I wonder if any Byzantine poet has ever composed a Paracletic Canon in honour of the Precious and Life-giving Blood of our Most Holy Redeemer.

4 comments:

Unknown said...

Hi Fr
Here at MPB (Borough) we are celebrating our Patronal festival tomorrow with the first Mass of a new priest being ordained today in Birmingham.It will be a splendid day with a garden social to follow. Hail the Precious Blood.

Pete said...

I remember when I lodged in Oxford in the late 80s; the Old Mass returned to S.Aloysius off S.Giles on that very feast. Another resident of the house was pleased to hear of it as he'd not been to Mass since it changed.

Richard Down said...

Surely - in any case - the Precious Blood is a feast of the Passion of Our Lord (hence the red vestments) whereas Corpus Christi is a feast of the Eucharist - white vestments?
so pleased to see the votive mass of the five wounds in the Ordinaraite Missal!

vetusta ecclesia said...

Anyone know where to find a design for Five Wounds flag? The one I like, on Google, shews the flag flying, not extended, so central motif is distorted.