21 December 2010


I don't know if you spot this too: it is uncanny how often the Pope mentions something in the Old Calendar or the traditional euchology. I'm sure that he has imposed upon himself a self-denying discipline of always using the Ordinary Form (until SSPX conform?) for his public and private masses. But he undoubtedly keeps an eye on Tradition. In his allocution to the Roman Curia, he repeated over and over again the phrase Excita Domine potentiam tuam et veni; although all those splendid old Excita collects were shifted off the Sundays of Advent by Bugnini's semi-Pelagian sidekicks. Another example: yesterday the Vatican Information Service quoted his words about S Thomas the Apostle.

It is, of course, pure chance that S Thomas the Apostle, in the Traditional Calendar, comes on December 21, just before Christmas; "Interrupting", as Dr Bugnini primly put it, "the series of the Great Ferias of Advent". My problem with the rational transference of the Apostle to July is that he seems an admirable Patron Saint of Christmas ... if you can get your minds round that rather bizarre formulation.

The old Roman Mass-texts for Christmas are full of Light; there is poured upon us the new light of the Incarnate Word; God has made this most sacred Night bright with the shining of the True Light; we know the Mysteries of His Light on Earth; the new Light of His brightness has shone upon our minds. This reminds us of the theme of Illumination which the Tradition has always associated with Initiation. So the Baptised might be called the Illuminati; the Johannine pericope of the Healing of the Man Blind from Birth may be part of the Lenten propers preparing for Easter Night. Faith is Enlightenment; Faith is when the penny drops and we see everything rearranged in a new pattern; Faith is not so much the infusion by miraculous means of knowledge inaccessible by natural means as the radical restructuring of what the Carnal Man knows, but knows blindly. S Thomas saw the Risen Lord and thus saw all things differently, saw that the Rabbi of Nazareth was My Lord and My God.

Dom Gregory Dix talked about becoming what you are. Baptised we may be; yet our Illumination is not a static episode in the past but a becoming which is part of our daily being. We are never finished with the growth into seeing reality as God its creator created it and sees it.


Anonymous said...

One other thing struck me about the placement of the feast of St. Thomas. The Gospel for this feast is the same as that for Low Sunday. This feast occurs four days before Christmas, about halfway through O-Sapientia-tide, and Low Sunday is the octave of Easter. Is this coincidental? Both before Christmas and after Easter we are given the example of St. Thopmas, and our Lord's statement "Blessed are those who have not seen but believe." That is, those who have not seen with natural eyes the Son of God, like the shepherds at the manger, and St. Thomas after the Resurrection. Yet, we have all "seen his glory, glory as the only-begotten of the father, full of grace and truth" by the eyes of faith, and indeed see it by faith at every mass. Thus I think it no mistake that St. Thomas is associated with the "Winter Pasch".

Anonymous said...

Until i read this, i did not know that in the Novus Ordo Rite the feast of St. Thomas is celebrated in July. Which gives me one more reason to deplore and ignore the NO. I like Michael's insights into the fact that the Gospel of St. Thomas confession of faith is read both a few days before God theSon's earthly birth and upon the Octave of God the Son's Rising from the Dead. I too am sure that this is no conincidence. I do not understand why in the Novus Ordo St. Thomas's ejaculation ''Dominus meus et Deus erstand why in the Novus ORdo meus'' is not said by priest and faithful after the Consecration in stead of the various ''acclamations' which deny that He is present.

Joshua said...

In Ireland, one of the acclamations allowed is indeed "My Lord and my God". Would that this happy and very traditional option spread! For that matter, how about the mediƦval Elevation motets, such as the Ave verum and (in France, by command of St Louis IX) O salutaris hostia?

I recall one quite dotty but shrewd old Jesuit, who said Mass most idiosyncratically yet, my heart told me, exceedingly pleased God (he had somewhat of the holy barminess of St Philip Neri about him) - come the time for the Memorial Acclamation, he intoned creakily "O come let us adore Him" from the old Christmas carol (and never forget that Adeste fideles is a precious fruit of the Recusants, being written for singing at Benediction during Christmastide).

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Joshua, for this extra information. Ireland must be the only country where the indulgenced ejacualtion '' My Lord and my God'' is allowed after the Consecration. Our church has only the old Rite. The schola often sings O salutaris hostia or Ave verum after the Consecration (seldom do we have a polyphonic mass, which would allow for Benedictus). Thank you for telling us about Adeste Fideles being such a post-consecartory Christmas motet! I had never heard this before, but it does make sense. Perhaps our schola can sing Venite adoremus after the Consecration during the Christmastide. If i am correct, the LIberal Catholics do this the whole year round (i once attended - out of curiosity - a Mass at their church here in the city where i live.)

Rubricarius said...

I really think the idea of the feast of St. Thomas 'interrupting' was typical of the fashionin vogue with the reformers whose thoughts on moving the feast are in the 1948 'Memoria'.

Following Michael LaRue's interesting comments above surely the feast of St. Thomas did not 'interrupt' the period of preparation before the Nativity but rather was interpolated into it.

The rubrics for the use of the five proper sets of antiphons at Lauds and the Hours for the ferial days before the Vigil of Nativity in the old Breviary demonstrate this rather well. In the old Breviary those that were displaced by the feast of St. Thomas - in yesterday's case Rorate caeli etc, were used on the Saturday (which did not have a set of antiphons of its own excepting a special fourth antiphon at Lauds) so no set was ever omitted, they were all used. In the reformed Breviary of 1914 this well-thought out rubric vanishes and a new set of antiphons for the Saturday was created, Intuemeni etc resulting in the omission in any given year of those occurring on the feast of St. Thomas - a retrograde step in my view.

John F H H said...

Joshua wrote:
come the time for the Memorial Acclamation, he intoned creakily "O come let us adore Him" from the old Christmas carol

At H.T. Reading,in the days of Fr.Brian Brindley of blessed memory, (and perhaps even now) the acclamation at the Midnight Mass was the last verse of Adeste fideles, in English;
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning . . .

I rather suspect without the refrain, but my memory may be faulty.

Kind regards
John U.K.

Sir Watkin said...

Adeste fideles [...] written for singing at Benediction during Christmastide

Often asserted, and eminently plausible, but I'm not sure anyone has ever produced evidence for the assertion!

Aegidius said...

Coetibus Anglicanorum - and let the catholic world be one, Father Hunwicke. Christus natus est! Benedictus sis!