30 April 2023


 Well, having used the Propers for S Joseph on the Wednesday after the Second Sunday after Easter, I can only say how Scriptural, how inspired by the spirit of Typology, I found them. And Genesis 49, with its Benedictions ... Wow! No wonder the confectors of the Post-Conciliar Lectionary ... charged with their Conciliar Mission of expanding the amount of Holy Scripture to be shared with the laity ... decided, er, entirely, um, to (Yes!!) miss it out! God bless them wherever they are. No prizes for suggestions!

Yet, curiously, the Novus Ordo can sometimes be just that weeny bit more welcoming to some healthy liturgical instincts than the 1962 Rite was. Here is what the post-Vatican-II revisers of the Calendar wrote in their (1969) Commentarius:

"The Feast of Ss Philip and James is connected with the dedication of the Roman Basilica of the XII Apostles, performed on May 1 around the year 570. This incredibly ancient [perantiquum] feast of the Apostles was transferred, after the introduction of the feast of S Joseph the Workman in 1955, to the first free day, i.e. to May 11. In the [Novus Ordo] reformed Calendar, May 3 becomes the first free day after the Memoria of S Joseph."

Notice here the tug, the magnetic attraction, of the concept of Auctoritas ... respect for antiquity and for long-sanctioned and far-respected praxis ... a respect which survives even the lately-arrived assumption that positive legal enactment, the whimsy of the latest pontiff, can somehow trump every other consideration. "The Three Maniacs" (sic Bouyer) knew that May 1 was the real day for Pip and Jim ... they instinctively wanted to get the pair of them ... at least ... as close as possible ... to Their Correct Day, May 1. Poor confused poppets.

And please also notice this. In the Novus Ordo S Joseph the Workman is made Optional. Practically, this means that on May 1 you can "lawfully" say a Votive Mass of Ss P and J (as, indeed, of anybody). And, in many years, you might very possibly also be free to say a votive of S Joseph on the Wednesday after the Second Sunday after Easter. 

But, in 1962, the liturgical observation of the Workman (like a dying whale marooned high up a sluggish river) retained the rank of a heavily armoured First Class Sollemnity on May 1.


Wise people who keep an eye on the wise St Lawrence Press ORDO will have noticed that, today, Sunday April 30, "all Masses except the Conventual may be of the Solemnity of S Joseph", i.e. as last Wednesday. This is an agreeable relic of the earlier period when S Joseph was fixed onto the Sunday rather than onto the Wednesday. It is also a relic of an incredibly important instinct that, if clergy spend generations encouraging the People of God to follow some or other pious practice, it really isn't quite decent, all of a sudden, overnight, before breakfast (see the final words of Traditionis custodes), to start sticking up great big unfriendly notices saying VERBOTEN or ACHTUNG MINEN

What a shame nobody ever explained Auctoritas to the Clevers of the 1960s or to Argentinian Altar-Boys.

(Last Gospel, of course, of the Sunday. You realised that was coming, didn't you?)


coradcorloquitur said...

Pardon my cynicism, but I strongly suspect that if the best explicator or educator (let us say a St. John Bosco) in the world had in earnest explained "auctoritas" to certain Argentinian altar boys, the lesson would have been in vain. Some souls are just not well-disposed to truth or to sanity---it goes back to the mystery of the "bad seed," a mystery that perhaps can only be unraveled in the life to come.

Oliver Nicholson said...

May 11th is also, of course, the natalis of S. Mocius, the only known local martyr of the City of Byzantion, which is presumably why the day was chosen by the Emperor Constantine to dedicate his eponymous City in 330.

Matthew said...

Didn't they move it to 11 May because that was Old Calendar May Day?

Oliver Nicholson said...

Matthew: there was indeed a discrepancy of 11 days between the Julian and Gregorian Calendars in 1752, but the gap was surely larger by the 1960s. Ask an Old Calendrist?

Matthew said...

Oliver: Yes, anyone who did better than me at O level Maths (it took me several attempts to scrape a D) would be able to come up with the precise figure, but the current crop of Old Calendarists seem to have settled for an 11-day discrepancy nonetheless.

Matthew F Kluk said...

Well said.

DePicchi said...

Re proper Last Gospels, here is what a liturgical commentator writing on Facebook (Lo Spigolatore Romano) had to say:
It is surprising that at the end of the Roman Mass we read an additional Gospel pericope. But if we go back to its origin, this reading too fits neatly into the framework of the dismissal rites and especially of the blessings. Now, the prologue of St John's Gospel, with the lofty momentum of its ideas and the depth of its mysteries, was soon the object of great esteem. St Augustine reported a contemporary's remark that this text should be written in gold letters and placed in all churches in a prominent place. St John's prologue is rightly regarded as the very essence of the Gospel, whose divine power is somehow condensed in it. Just as other sacred signs, words and images, were used as tokens of divine protection, just as blessings were and are imparted with sacred objects, so in time the beginning of the Gospel of St John came to be used as an instrument of blessing. It was customary to read it in the sickroom before administering the last rites, or after Baptism; even today the Rituale Romanum prescribes its reading on visits to the sick (V, 4, 24). Likewise it was read at the end of Mass as a form of blessing; John Bechofen mentions it in 1505, defining it as a praiseworthy custom. The earliest record of this reading at the end of Mass is found in the Dominican Ordinary of 1256, whereby the priest could read it while taking off his vestments, or afterwards. The friars preachers also introduced this custom to the Armenians, who immediately welcomed it, keeping it throughout the centuries. However, at the end of the Middle Ages, in Western Christendom, the reading of St John's prologue at the end of Mass had not yet come into use everywhere. In 1558, the Jesuits, gathered to elect the successor of St Ignatius, were still uncertain whether to accept it or not, as in Rome itself it had not universally come into use. The Carthusians, on the other hand, never adopted it – nor the final blessing. The reading of the Johannine prologue at the end of Mass thus has the function of a blessing and sacramental. The custom of the "dry mass", i.e. the reading, without a chasuble and after the celebration of the actual Mass, of a formulary proper to another Mass, eventually led to giving the "last gospel" also the meaning of a commemoration. Indeed, as the custom of the "dry mass" disappeared after Trent, the idea still persisted, and so Pius V provided that the formularies impeded by the Proprium de tempore should be commemorated by reading their gospel instead of the Johannine prologue. In 1920 came a further extension of this to all those Masses that have a gospel "stricte proprium”, such as those of Our Lady and the Apostles. However, these rubrics requiring an impeded pericope as the last gospel altered the meaning of the last gospel, which is that of a blessing, not a commemoration of feasts. All this could happen because of the loss of the blessing and sacramental meaning of the Johannine prologue. In the pontifical mass, the bishop says it while leaving the altar. Under the new code of rubrics the prologue is omitted when "Benedicamus Domino" is said, at the third Christmas Mass, etc. (J. Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia, II, 334 ff.).

frjustin said...

As noted above, the Armenians have retained John 1:1-14 at the end of every Mass. The Priest precedes it with the phrase "From the Father of Light" and then "In the beginning....".

After a short prayer, the choir confirms its meaning as a blessing by singing Psalm 34:1 - "I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall at all times be in my mouth" and the priest responds by saying "Be blessed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Depart in peace and the Lord be with you all. Amen." That is the conclusion of the Mass.

It is gratifying to note that the Armenians have also retained the psalm "Judica me" at the beginning of Mass. A rubric notes "And going up to the altar, the priest says with the deacon: I will go in before the altar of God" and the rest of Psalm 43.

frjustin said...

Further to the issue of Auctoritas, the Armenian translation of the Nicene Creed does not include the Filioque, but does add many other interesting phrases which have not been approved by an ecumenical council. Here is the translation used in the Armenian diocese of Canada: https://armenianchurch.ca/enthe-nicean-creedfrthe-nicean-creedhythe-nicean-creed

We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of God the Father, only-begotten, that is of the substance of the Father.

God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten and not made; of the same nature of the Father, by whom all things came into being in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible;

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, took body, became man, was born perfectly of the holy Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit.

By whom he took body, soul and mind and everything that is in man, truly and not in semblance.

He suffered and was crucified and was buried and rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven with the same body and sat at the right hand of the Father.

He is to come with the same body and with the glory of the Father to judge the living and the dead; of His kingdom there is no end.

We believe also in the Holy Spirit, the uncreated and the perfect; who spoke through the Law and through the Prophets and through the Gospels;

Who came down upon the Jordan, preached through the apostles and dwelled in the saints.

We believe also in only one catholic and apostolic holy Church;

In one baptism with repentance for the remission and forgiveness of sins;

In the resurrection of the dead, in the everlasting judgment of souls and bodies, in the kingdom of heaven and in the life eternal.

Moritz Gruber said...

>>However, these rubrics requiring an impeded pericope as the last gospel altered the meaning of the last gospel, which is that of a blessing, not a commemoration of feasts.

Yes, but that is authentic development. "Oh, seems we just slipped into the habit of saying a second Gospel at the end of the Mass! Why not use it to say yet another Gospel which we wanted to say anyway and have not yet found a place for? And after all, if the Prologue of St. John is a blessing, and it is, isn't likewise all the rest of the Gospel a blessing? They're words of the Gospel, after all. And on most of the days - though as long as we stick to the practice of celebrating minor doubles on Sunday perhaps not most of the days people actually come to Church on - it will remain the Prologue of St. John, after all."

So, very fine, isn't it.