11 January 2019

A Novus Ordo moment

Yes; I'm feeling just slightly in favour of the Novus Ordo at this precise moment. Let me tell you why, as you sit comfortably and patiently at your computers ... because this is a tad complicated if you only give it half your attention ... or just scroll impatiently down ... as you sometimes do ... I wasn't born yesterday ...

Once upon a time, the Feast of the Epiphany had an Octave. This meant that the Day was continued liturgically for a week; so that if, as this year, Epiphany fell on a Sunday, the Liturgy kept on about the Epiphany for a week and then we observed the Eighth day ... 'the Octave Day' ... on the following Sunday. The Mass for the Octave Day was like the Mass of the Epiphany itself, but varied from it in a number of places so as to commemorate the Lord's Baptism (you will rember that the Western Feast of the Epiphany, historically, commemorates three mysteries: the Magi; the Baptism; the Wedding at Cana).

By the whimsy of the Calendar, that is what we would once have had, in the Extraordinary Form, this year. Epiphany, Sunday January 6; Octave Day (with the Lord's Baptism as its special theme) on Sunday January 13.

That is what the St Lawrence Press Ordo, giving the Roman Rite as it had evolved up to 1939, offers us. (It's had to go into a reprint this year ... 59 Sandscoft Avenue Broadway, WR12 7EJ ... there may be some of this second printing still in stock.)

However, in 1893 Pope Leo XIII instituted the Feast of the Holy Family, to be observed on the Sunday after the Epiphany.

So what do you do in a year like this one, when January 13 could be either the Sunday after Epiphany (=Holy Family), or the Octave Day of the Epiphany (=Baptism)? Which does one observe?

Under the 1939 rules, you would have observed the Octave Day on the Sunday, bur 'anticipated' the Holy Family on the Saturday the 12th. This idea of 'inclusion by anticipation' was later abolished by liturgical 'reformers'

We move on now to Venerable Pius XII. He abolished the Octave, but rebranded the Octave Day itself and its Mass as the Feast of the Lord's Baptism (he didn't change the actual texts; this was simply a change of name). The Novus Ordo revisers subsequently built on this with their bright idea of fixing the celebration of the Baptism onto the Sunday after Epiphany (they had found a place for the Holy Family on the Sunday after Christmas). (Thereafter, in the Novus Ordo, one ventures into the dangerous wilderness of Ordinary Time.)

So, just for this year, those who follow the 1939 rules (St Lawrence Press Ordo), and those who follow the Novus Ordo, will be thinking about the Lord's Baptism this coming Sunday, January 13. However, those who follow the 1962 Calendar recommended by Summorum Pontificum will be meditating upon the Holy Family.

That is why, this next Sunday, I am tempted to be Novus Ordo ... or do I mean, 1939?

There. Wasn't that interesting? Now you can relax again.


Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

As one who follows (legitimately) the Lawrence Press Ordo is his daily prayer, this attention to detail is music to one's ears. It is one of the great mysteries of the Calendar that the things which are so important to our Faith, namely the various celebrations and mysterious surrounding the Nativity of Our Blessed Saviour, should bob around the days of January like corks on a pond, at the whim of whoever happens to be on Timetable Rota at the time.

Nevertheless, Reverende Domne, in you correct academic desire to stick to a single subject, you let the Novus Ordo off the hook unduly lightly. It was, 25 years ago, the total confusion of the variations in Christmastide and Epiphany Office which made me realise that most progress is usually backwards. I am grateful to it for this lesson. The modern Calendar for this season simply makes no sense, and thus cannot be within the great Roman tradition of logic.

Gregory DiPippo said...

Optime Pater, it was Benedict XV who extended the feast of the Holy Family to the general calendar, not Leo XIII. See page 543 of the AAS 1921.


CE User said...

Also, the NO removed the triple character of Epiphany and left only the visit of the Magi, whilst previously, the Baptism in the Jordan, the marriage at Cana, and the visit of the Magi.
Somehow this is retained, oddly, in the antiphon for Lauds in the new Liturgy of the Hours.

This might make for some interesting research.

Anita Moore said...

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armyarty said...

"the dangerous wilderness of Ordinary Time" LOL

Calvin Engime said...

A triple celebration beautifully expressed in the antiphon, Hódie cælésti Sponso iuncta est Ecclésia, quóniam in Iordáne lavot Christus eius crímina: currunt cum munéribus Magi ad regáles núptias, et ex aqua facto vino lætántur convívæ, allelúia. I was wondering the other day whether it still exists in the Liturgy of the Hours, and after looking it up, I had to check again that the Latin text has not changed, because I thought that the approved translation expresses a very interesting view of what the convívæ are rejoicing about: "Today the Bridegroom claims his bride, the Church, since Christ has washed her sins away in Jordan's waters; the Magi hasten with their gifts to the royal wedding; and the wedding guests rejoice, for Christ has changed water into wine, alleluia."

E sapelion said...

An extra quirk of the NO calendar, last year Epiphany was shifted to 7th January, and fell in Ordinary Time! at least if you believe our Diocesan Ordo.
A particular quirk of Liverpool is that while last year the Diocesan Ordo was distributed only three weeks after the beginning of Advent, this year it was still not available at Epiphany, and I finally got a copy today.

Rubricarius said...

Thank you, dear Father, for the kind mention. Yes, copies (from the reprint) are still available, if people are interested this will take them to our website ordering page.

Readers may also be interested in a new series of posts by ‘Ttony’ at The Muniment Room. The new series of posts feature an Ordo from 1867 with the advantage that is in English and not Ordo-speak Latin. (There are several former series worth looking at too). Readers will note that before the feast of the Holy Family had been introduced that, in years like 1867 when Epiphany fell on a Sunday, the Sunday within the Octave of the Epiphany was anticipated on the Saturday and the Octave Day celebrated on the Sunday. It is typical of 1960s style liturgy to keep the most modern texts and simply omit both the Sunday and the Octave Day/BOL.

Tancred said...

Not all of the reformers that came after were as evil as those who inspired changes in the calendar during the reign of Leo and onward.

richard tomlinson said...

I, too, am tempted to do 1939 this Sunday. But I am afraid it would totally confuse my music people!

Anonymous said...

In the original iteration of Cal.Rom. 1969, in locales where Epiphany was observed on the Sunday betwixt 2-5 Jan., the Baptism was simply omitted. It wasn't until c. 1979 that a rubric was added to move the Baptism to the Monday in years when Epiphany fell on 7-8 Jan. It's truly a mess.