1 July 2020

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 from a Double of the First Class 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. Maestissimi homunculi. 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.)

Good news, however: the Ordinariate Church South of the River, Precious Blood Southwark, keeps its patronal festival on the proper day, today.

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 much newer 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 when July 1 fell on a weekday.

For those of us who so wisely use 'the Old Breviary' today has superb Office Hymns (their authors, sadly, unknown). 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 Festivis resonent in translation; a great majestic hymn in striding all-conquering Asclepiads, a monument to the triumphant Counter- Reformation and the rediscovery of Catholic self-confidence under B Pius IX. Anyone who's interested in its metre will find an article of mine at 19 March 2019. (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.


Pelerin said...

On the subject of hymns and disappearing feasts, I attended Mass on Friday in a different parish. It was the Feast of the Sacred Heart. There were four hymns (including 'Amazing Grace' at the Communion) but not one of these was a 'Sacred Heart' hymn. This Feast is a particularly special day for me and I was saddened that I was not able to sing at least one of our traditional Catholic hymns. And the church is actually dedicated to the Sacred Heart.

frjustin said...

In the eighteenth century, the "Feast of the Divine Body of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ" became popular among the Melkites, at the time of Patriarch Maximos II Hakeem, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem. A monk of the Basilian Order composed its beautiful Office.

Since the Eastern rites never fail to mention Our Lady in every liturgy, the Lamp-lighting Psalms at Vespers of the feast connect her with the Precious Blood:

"Let us offer our devotion and veneration to the Virgin, the all-pure Mother of God. The Holy Spirit formed the divine Bread for us out of her own blood. Let us cry out to her with hymns of joy and say:

'Hail, O Virgin, who brought forth for us the Wheat of Life!
Hail, O Vessel who contained for us the divine Manna!
Hail, O mystical Banquet from whom we receive holy Food!
O Blessed Mother, by the Fruit of whose womb all the faithful are nourished: make us worthy through your intercession to receive this divine Food for the sanctification of our souls'".

Perhaps, in Quires and Places where they sing, this may be the Anthem?

E sapelion said...

The Most Precious Blood, Southwark, seems to be taking two bites of the cherry this year. Archbishop Peter Smith has consecrated the church today, so if I understand the newsletter correctly, they are celebrating the patronal feast tomorrow.

E sapelion said...

Thank you Father for drawing my attention to this litany. I found a couple of versions, one of them on the US Bishops' website. I have printed them and will seek permission tomarrow to place copies in our church.

Barry Hudd said...

E sapelion - Peter Smith was a wonderful Archbishop and a good friend but even he would not be able to consecrate a church from his grave!

motuproprio said...

Westminster Cathedral celebrates its Feast of Dedication on 1st July, a feast celebrated throughout the diocese.

vetusta ecclesia said...

Today I flew the banner of the 5 wounds both for the Precious Blood and for St Oliver Plunket, last martyr of the post- Reformation terror.

It is ironical that modern “ liturgists”, having with some justification cleared the Sundays of errant feasts and introduced a new, continuous and “ coherent” lectionary cycle, then drove a coach and horses through this work by allowing the transfer of feasts.

Father K said...

Although the feast of the Precious Blood no longer is celebrated in the universal calendar, Westminster Cathedral will celebrate the day as its Patronal Feast. using I expect, the Votive Mass of the Precious Blood.

E sapelion said...

Barry Hudd - true, but you will see that my comment was made last year. And while Peter Smith had retired by July 1st 2019, the consecration is a well reported here :- http://www.preciousblood.org.uk/consecration.html

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Motu proprio and Father K

You are contradicting each other. Does Westminster Cathedral nowadays celebrate July 1 as its Patronal Festival (Fr K); or as its Dedication Festival (M P)? It can hardly do both simultaneously. One of you must be wrong!

Before the post-Conciliar disorders, they kept the Dedication on June 28; and the Title Feast of the Cathedral, of course, on July 1. Each originally had an Octave. What with SS P & P getting their oars and their octave in too, not to mention S J B's octave, those must have been an exhilarating/confusing few days.

I celebrated my First Mass (Old Rite) in Full Communion on June 28 at the Brompton Oratory Lady Altar; I said the Mass of the Dedication of the Cathedral. Not that I like it very much ... I think of it as Victoria Station's Domestic Chapel.

Deacon Nicholas said...

The Orthodox don't have a separate feast for the Blood of Christ, but there are innumerable references. Before attending the Divine Liturgy and partaking of Holy Communion, every Orthodox Christian is enjoined "When you intend, o man, to eat the Master's Body, approach with fear, lest you be burned--for It is fire! Before drinking the Divine Blood in Communion, make peace with those who have grieved you. Only then may you dare to eat the Mystical Food."

As to linking Christ's Blood to His mother, from the pre-Communion prayers:
"Thou didst take to Thyself our entire human composition from the pure blood of the Virgin"

frjustin said...

"[R]eformers' reduced July 1 from a Double of the First Class 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." The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, however, was allowed to keep the feast on July 1.

From the Custodia Terrae Sanctae: "As tradition has it in the Holy Land, on Wednesday 1st July, the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ was celebrated at the Basilica of the Agony in Gethsemane, just outside the walls of Jerusalem...

"With the reform of the liturgical calendar in 1970, this feast day was replaced by the solemn feast of Corpus Christi in all the liturgical calendars except in the Jerusalem one, which keeps the ritual linked to the place of the Agony...

"Today, therefore, in this place which is so significant, we commemorate, celebrate and receive with faith the gift of the most precious blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” concluded the Custos of the Holy Land. "It is a gift that fuels our earthly life and makes us capable of following in the footsteps of Jesus, but it is also a gift that already projects us into eternal life and allows us to anticipate “the pledge of future glory.”