1 November 2021

OMNES Sancti

 Possibly, not all Catholics remember that there were Saints before the period of 'the New Testament'. It it is easily forgotten, because with perhaps three exceptions such Saints don't appear on our Rome-based Calendar.

The first exception, of course, and a powerful theological pointer, is S John Baptist, last and greatest of the prophets, greatest among the Sons of Men, that is, among those who lived before the Redemption wrought by the Word. Secondly, there is the Patriarch S Joseph, a comparatively recent accession to the Roman Calendar and whose euchology recalls typologically the earlier Joseph.

But if we want to set aside S John Baptist and the Foster Father of the Lord 'because they are New Testament Saints', there are the Maccabees, heroic Martyrs for Christ who is the Torah, even before His Incarnation. They are on the Authentic Roman Calendar because their Relics are kept and venerated in Rome. Crude this may be, but the fact is that the Sanctorale and its evolution have a lot to to do with the presence of the physical relics of Saints. The Local Calendar of Jerusalem, and the older Carmelite calendars, offer a rich profusion of 'Old Testament Saints' simply because they were 'local' Saints for Christians in Palestine.

The Bugninioids who revised the Roman Calendar in the 1960s, magnificently and so very accurately called by Fr Louis Bouyer Les Trois Maniaques, eliminated the Maccabees ... they don't even occur in the 1974 supplement for the City of Rome itself! 

This is rank anti-semitism. It's one reason among so many why the Novus Ordo should only be permitted (by rare and almost inaccessible dispensations) in the most extreme circumstances ... exempli gratia, for those of the clergy ordained in the 1970s ... lovable if aged gents ... who are now too far, er, past their prime to be able to learn how to celebrate the Authentic Use of the Roman Rite.

And those same merciless vandalisers of the Authentic Roman Rite also manifested the same cheerful, thoughtless, anti-semitism in their bowdlerisation of the Mass Reading for All Saints' Day. Chop chop snippety snip, and out went the solemn and moving ritual enumeration of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The poor wreckage that the maniaques condescended to leave behind them almost completely destroys the logic and certainly ruins the structural balance and the august majesty of Chapter 7 of the Apocalypse. May God forgive them. They should be sentenced to scrub synagogue floors as a penance.

Tradition, needless to say, is nothing like so forgetful of the Saints of the Old Testament; by the Grace of God I murmur the name of Abraham our Patriarch every morning at the Altar (and even Novus Ordo  clerics, dear old chaps, are supposed to mention him morning and evening in the Gospel Canticles of Lauds and Vespers). Oh, and, of course, I also remember daily Abel, God's 'Righteous Boy'. I think I may also slip in a passing reference to the Most Reverend Melchisedech ... does that shock you?

Coetus omnes angelici/ patriarcharum cunei,/ ac prophetarum merita/ nobis precentur veniam.

That's how one of the All Saints Office Hymns put it before Quintus Horatius Barberinus sharpened his stylus.

'Cuneus', means a wedge and is particularly applied ... as here? ... to wedge-shaped miltary formations (just imagine meeting Proto-Isaiah, Deutero-Isaiah, and Trito-Isaiah together when all three of them were in a really pugnacious mood!). Many readers will have met cuneus in the phrase 'cuneiform script'. We once had a politician in this country called Cuneus Benn ... or something like that ... do let me know when you think I'm starting to ramble ... getting a bit past my prime ... long in the tooth ...

Omnes Sancti et Sanctae Dei, orate pro nobis.


IaninEngland said...

Did you mean "bugnini-oiks"?

Matthew F Kluk said...

Bugninioids! Absolutely perfect!

frjustin said...

Jewish saints before the period of the New Testament have always been commemorated in successive editions of the Roman Martyrology. In the 2001 edition, for example, the first entry for September 4 begins as follows:

"Commemoratio sancti Moysis, prophetae, quem Deus elegit, ut populum in AEgypto oppressum liberaret et in terram promissionis adduceret".

In the General Instruction for the NO Mass, no.355 allows, on most ferial days, the celebration of "the Mass of any Saint inscribed in the Martyrology for that day".
Since September 4 has no optional memorial inscribed in the General Kalendar, might one celebrate "Saint Moses the Prophet", using the Common of Saints, including the Collect?

Grant Milburn said...

When I was a boy in a nominally Anglican household, I understood that saints began in the first century with St Peter and others and ended in the middle ages with St Francis et al. At the same time I devoured books and magazines with bible stories, and revelled in the exploits of Moses, Gideon, Samson and David. In my teens I read the Divine Comedy, and was delighted to see the OT heroes and heroines appear as saints in Heaven, the Celestial Rose being divided equally between Hebrews and Christians.

In my thirties, as an Anglican revert considering the claims of the Roman church, I began reading Catholic books, including a series of booklets on the Saints. These included St Pius X and St Maximilian Kolbe. At the time the idea of a twentieth-century saint was startling to me. Saints who rode in motor cars and who broadcast on the radio were like something out of sci-fi fantasy, akin to the way that Marvel movies and TV shows have Thor, Loki and other Asgardians appear in the 21st century and ride in spaceships. Of course, my evangelical church had taught me that we were all "saints" in the NT sense, and simply needed to live up to the title, but I still thought of saints in the stained-glass sense as ending in the 13th century. Recent canonizations have made me regrettably blase about certain 20th-century saints, but it was exhiliarating at the time.

Nicholas Rogers said...

One of the many delights of Venice are the churches dedicated to Old Testament saints: San Geremia, San Giobbe San Moise and San Samuele. These, like so much in the city, demonstrate its proximity to Byzantium.

Moscow, that other child of Byzantium, has a fine early 17th-century church dedicated to St. Elias the Prophet. For photographs see http://www.hram-ostozhenka.ru/

Atticus said...

Anthony Wedge-wood Benn
Was a would-be leader of men.
His old-leftist opinions were as uniform
As a tablet of Babylonic cuneiform.