12 September 2016

Maria Rediviva

Today is the Feast ... or Memoria ... of the Most Holy Name of Mary. This festivity is itself sort of weathercock of liturgical fashions in the Roman Rite.

It already existed in certain parts of the world when it was extended to the Universal Church by Pope Innocent XI in 1684 in memory of the defeat of the Turks near Vienna in Austria in 1683; as the old Breviary puts it, 'on account of the remarkable victory won under the patronage of the same Virgin over the most monstrous Tyrant of the Turks, who was jumping arrogantly upon the necks of the Christian people ...'. Pope Innocent fixed it for the Sunday in the old Octave of the Nativity of our Lady. For this was a period when commemorations such as this one were considered more important than the ancient 'Green Sunday' Masses inherited from the old Roman Sacramentaries, By the end of the nineteenth century very few of those Masses survived on Sundays.

The earlier proponents of the Liturgical Movement, such as Fr Adrian Fortescue, deplored this and begged: 'Give us back our old Roman Masses'. The reforms of Pope S Pius X, at the beginning of the twentieth century did just this, and the Name of Mary was shifted onto September 12 so that it should not permanently and automatically supersede a Sunday Mass. There it remained until the post-Conciliar reforms; when 'it is suppressed, because it seems to be some sort of duplication of the feast of the Nativity of the BVM'.

Pendula swing; when the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal graced the dawn of the twenty first century, this commemoration was restored as an optional memorial. Better than nothing.

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