Those of you who keep by you for your enlightenment the Saint Lawrence Press Ordo Recitandi Officii Divini Sacrique peragendi (an admirable guide to the state of the Roman Rite before the process of reforms initiated by Pius XII got under way) will be aware that today ought to be the Feast of S Bartholomew. The 1962 rules reduced him to a Commemoration at Low Mass, and according to the post-Conciliar dispositions, the Apostle rests in complete oblivion for this year. In the Church of England, the observance of these Doubles of the Second Class on Green Sundays was never abolished; under Common Worship the festal option is the first possibility listed, although transference to Monday (or even a more convenient feria ... but never complete suppression) is sanctioned. Catholics who are enthusiastic ecumenical admirers of all things Anglican will be impressed by this. It is what is known as Mutual Enrichment.
There was a time when the Roman Calendar was encrusted with commemorations linked to a particular Sunday in a particular month (and comparatively minor festivals could displace a Sunday). This meant that the old 'green' propers from the ancient Roman Sacramentaries continued to be printed but were very rarely heard. Adrian Fortescue wrote "The liturgical student cannot but regret that we so seldom use the old offices which are the most characteristic, the most Roman in our rite, of which many go back to the Gelasian or even Leonine book. And merely from the aesthetic point of view there can be no doubt that the old propers are more beautiful than modern compositions ... We obey the authority of the Church, of course, always. But it is not forbidden to hope for such a pope again as Benedict XIV who will give us back more of our old Roman Calendar."
In a footnote Fortescue added: "Since this was written the hope has already been in great part fulfilled [by S Pius X in 1911]". It is difficult not to point out that Fortescue's fulfilled hope was to be rubbished only seventy years later when the post-Conciliar reforms again robbed priest and people of "the old offices ... the most Roman in our rite". And it is difficult not thus to adapt his words: "It is not forbidden to hope for such a pope as Benedict XIV or Benedict XVI who will give us back our old Roman propers."
I agree with Fortescue's judgement. I would not wish to see, in the Vetus Ordo, the old 'green' propers submerged again. But there is a great deal to be said for the arrangements left in place by S Pius X, whereby Doubles of the Second Class do supersede a Green Sunday. This means that Sundays-only worshippers would, once every six years, be exposed to these festivals. Would that really be such a terrible thing? Many of them are, of course, Days of Devotion; that is to say, days which were originally of obligation but which have had the obligation suppressed (Common Worship includes a broadly identical list of "Festivals which are not usually displaced"). The Novus Ordo lists many of them, including S Bartholomew, as days on which the Roman Canon, the First Eucharistic Prayer, should for preference be used.
A final footnote. According to the pre-1939 rules, the Sunday Mass would not be entirely lost when S Bartholomew got his once-every-six-years showing. It would be commemorated by having its Collect, Secret (=Prayer over the Offerings) and Post-communion, read after those of the Sunday. And the Sunday Gospel would be read in place of the "Last Gospel" from S John at the end of Mass.
24 August 2014
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The Sunday would also be commemorated at Saturday Vespers, Lauds, second Vespers of St. Bartholomew, and the Sunday readings would be read in concatenation as the 9th lesson at Mattins. The old commemoration system was very rich and multi-layered.
How beautiful. So even the Sunday mass readings were not lost.
Having used a variety of forms of the Office, I can say that a major draw of the Divino afflatu system = the commemorations. They give expression to the feeling of now wanting to lose or say goodbye to a feast; they sanctify the days of octaves, etc., with a reminder at the major hours of the mystery or celebration.
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