1 June 2023

Octaves, High Priests ...

In the palmy days before Venerable Pius XII, Mondays and Tuesdays within the Octaves of Easter and Pentecost, rather as in the Book of Common Prayer, were incredibly Doubles of the First Class. But for the rest of the week, the days were semidoubles and not nearly as pompous (when did you last wake up and cry "It's a semidouble! I'd better put a bottle of Cava to chill to have with my breakfast!"?).  

So Wednesday, yesterday, you would have commemorated S Angela Merici!! Even if you were not on the exquisite shores of Lake Garda!

And, in those verily antique times, you could, Father, say (or at least commemorate) a Votive of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Priest, on the first Thursday of most months ... like today. 

Gracious! PF and his minions have put OLJC Priest back onto the Thursday within the Octave of Pentecost as a Festum! Like today!

How can anybody deny that the Supreme Calendarist and Capital Ordo Compiler in the Heavenly Places has and demonstrates a sense of humour?

Proper Last Gospel, of course. I wonder if PF is aware of that refinement.

When I was a callow curate in the 1960s, and the then 'experimental' rite of the C of E contained the phrase "Seeing we have a Great High Priest ...", I was once approached by a rather troubled lady who said "I don't like to think of Him as a High Priest  ... I prefer to think of Him as just an ordinary person ..."

I was completely non-plussed. I just mumbled some completely useless piece of information like  "Well., it's in the Bible ...". 

After all, it was hardly entirely my fault that a lifetime in the C of E had left her uninstructed in the Letter to the Hebrews.


Joshua said...

As some English Catholic friends said of some acquaintances of theirs, while those folk were pillars of the local parish of the Church of England, those apparent stalwarts didn't actually believe Jesus Christ was God.

Moritz Gruber said...

I wouldn't deny for a second that "the Supreme Calendarist and Capital Ordo Compiler in the Heavenly Places has and demonstrates a sense of humour"... which reaches even to secular events. Many of the spectacular events (some which of an evil kind) of my own nation, the German one, happened on a day when the Church, completely undisturbed, sings "Terribilis locus iste" and orders us to focus on one specific Church within Rome, Italy. (You could, I come just now to notice it, think that Germany is also a terrible place, but in a less awesome sense perhaps...) - The Italians have a holiday they call the Liberation Day; the event it refers to was in 1945, but at that time, the day had already for some 1500 years been announced as "at Rome at St. Peter's, the Greater Litanies". I could go on.

That said, I think having Votive Masses for Christ the King and High Priest and then perhaps a feast of "Christ the Saviour" in October, and of course have Pentecost Thursday, is the thing to do. Also, on Pentecost Thursday, I'd personally prefer to hear a Mass of the Day rather than a Votive Mass, even though the intention is "for priests and vocations". Commemorations? Why not.

We can be very glad though that noone seems to have taken the logical consequence of the fact that the Pentecost Octave was abolished, which I guess would have been to move Corpus Christi by one week...

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. What a happy coincidence today is. You made note of Hebrews and I was writing a post for my crummy blog about Jesus having wept/cried three times:

John 11: 35 And Jesus wept.

John 12: But Jesus cried, and said: He that believeth in me, doth not believe in me, but in him that sent me

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry and tears, offering up prayers and supplications to him that was able to save him from death, was heard for his reverence.

Saint John Chrysostom;


I know it's a truism that the Catholic Laity do not read the Bible - the entire bible, Genesis-Apocalypse - and that is a truism to lament. It is the word of God and once a man begins to read parts of the Bible every day (I use the scheme developed by Taylor Marshall for the New Saint Thomas Institute) it becomes a habit and I never go a day without reading it; today I read parts of 4 Kings, Psalms and John.

Look, if a man reads the Bible every day he not only learns what God desires, he can spice-up his conversation by a casual reference to, say, the the hill of the foreskins; Josue 5:3

El Codo said...

Such sweet memories, Father. Another time, another country. What did the great man say… Who would speak ill of their mother?

Inutilissimus Servus said...

The current Mass of the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest, appears to be attributable to Pope Benedict XVI and his minions (July 23, 2012), rather than to Pope Francis and his minions.

Eric said...

Pop quiz: How many of us can give the actual liturgical reason as to why a Feast is referred to as a Duplex (double) or a Semiduplex (semidouble)?

Zephyrinus said...

Eric asks about Duplex and Semi-Duplex.

Would the answer be that, when the Antiphons are repeated before and after the Psalm, the Feast becomes a Duplex (Double).

When the Antiphons are only repeated after the Psalm (and NOT also before the Psalm), the Feast becomes a Semi-Duplex (Semi-Double).

If the above is correct, does one now win a Coconut ?

Rubricarius said...

Just for clarity in those venerable pre-Pacellian days during the Octave of Pentecost the Mass of OLJC Priest could not be said in the Pentecost Octave. Being a privileged votive Mass the Mass of the Thursday of Pentecost was said but with the prayers of the impeded votive Mass under one conclusion with the orations of the day and the last Gospel of the votive Mass. The intrinsic privileges of the votive Mass get 'transferred' so the seasonal prayers, Ecclesiae or Deus omnium ordinarily said as a second prayer on the Thursday are omitted.

Eric said...

@Zephyrinus Very close. I will let Father decide about the granting of Coconuts.

Semiduplices are Feasts of nine readings where at Matins, Lauds, and Vespers only a part of the antiphon is recited before the Psalm with the entire antiphon being read after. Doubles have the antiphon being recited in its entirety before and after the Psalms at those hours. And the little hours (pre-Pacelli) were always recited in the Semiduplex fashion no matter what grade of Feast.

This incidentally is the reason for those asterisks that are placed in the middle of the antiphon whose presence makes no sense if all one knows is 1962.

In caelestibus regnis * Sanctorum habitatio est alleluia, et in aeternum requies eorum alleluia

PM said...

There is a story in circulation that Paul VI entered his private chapel on Whit Monday in 1970 and asked why, as it was the Octave of Pentecost, the sacristan had put out green vestments. His Holiness was surprised, so the story goes, to learn that he had abolished the octave.

I suspect we shall never know if this story is true. But it is straight out of the Sir Humphrey playbook. When newly appointed minister Hacker went to see his predecessor, the predecessor warned him that anything Appleby wanted to slip past him would probably be on p. 35 of a 42-page document an inch from the bottom of the sixth of seven red boxes.

We do, however, have a reliable account from Fr Bouyer's memoirs of Bouyer's call on Paul VI, who had known him before his election as pope and invited him for a personal chat. Bouyer had been a member of Bugnini's consilium and mentioned to the pope that the consilium had agreed to some of Bugnini's proposals reluctantly because Bugnini told them that the pope insisted on them. Paul VI, on Bouyer's account, was startled. 'How can this be?', he asked. It turned out that Bugnini had overcome the pope's misgivings over the same proposals by telling him that the members of the consilium were adamant about them.

Modesty forbade Fr Bouyer from claiming that this conversation led to Bugnini's sudden disappearance to become nuncio in Iran. Nevertheless, I think it likely.

Zephyrinus said...

One's response to Eric (see, above).

Dear Eric. Most grateful for your erudite explanation, which is much appreciated. One's understanding of things Liturgical (Pre-Pacelli, of course) is now much enhanced.

How beautiful, wonderful, and full of majesty, was the Pre-Pacellian Liturgical Office.

No wonder the Modernists got rid of it.

Now, about those Coconuts . . .

Zephyrinus said...

Reference Rubicarius's clarification and erudition (see, above).

A huge Thank You, Rubricarius.

Fascinating reading and so good to learn the proper way.

Philliesgirl said...

I understand that the story about Pope St Paul VI came from Father Z who says he heard it from a horse's mouth if not the horses mouth!

Moritz Gruber said...

Dear Eric,

>>Pop quiz: How many of us can give the actual liturgical reason as to why a Feast is referred to as a Duplex (double) or a Semiduplex (semidouble)?

While Zephyrinus, and you in your answer to him, have neatly explained what a semidouble is, I understand your question as the less easy one why some feast is a semidouble.

Here's my try for an answer: Originally, as I take it, the simples were what their name implies, the doubles were the important feasts, and the semidoubles were something in-between. So far so logical; take July 22nd and the week that follows in the 1570 calendar: you have the double of St. Mary Magdalen, and on her octave the semidouble of St. Martha; and in between, besides a feast of an Apostle which obviously has a high rank (and soon, after St. Pius V. had removed it, again the feast of St. Anne) something like the feast of St. Pantaleon, martyr which was a simple. Also, you had in this week the semidoubles of St. Apollinaris and Sts. Nazarius-Celsus-Victor-and-Innocent, which the Church has obviously judged as somewhat-important; for reasons which we still can guess in the case of the former, but may have forgotten in the case of the latter.

(I really don't get why St. Timothy, in 1570, apparently was Simple.)


Moritz Gruber said...


So far so good... but later developments lead to a situation where we still can usually see the distinction between a simple and a double, between a semidouble and a major double, etc., the distinction between ranks immediately following on each other, and particularly that between semidouble and minor double, have been somewhat blurred. The decision of Ven. Pius XII to throw the semidoubles and minor doubles without any distinction into something now called "III class" is thus at least somewhat understandable, though I don't agree it should have been made (as I guess most of you do neither).

Apparently, one apparently firm tradition was that doctors-of-the-Church get double feasts, or their feast raised to a double. (I think this is a tradition that, in the unlikely event of a reintroduction of the simple-semidouble-double structure, would need to go, seeing how many doctors we now have; but it still was a tradition.) But apart from that... apparently every "new" (in the rough sense of "2nd millenium" saint who got a feast at all and who was a bishop (which means belonging to the State of Perfection, after all) or who founded an order (which means that the is celebrated with a first-class double in some order, and all orders are important to the whole Church, after all) got a double-feast.

There are some curious exceptions; St. Ubald, who with his patronage for exorcism might even be a particularly good candidate for a double-feast, did not get one; St. Lorenzo Giustiniani did not get one, which (may he forgive me) is in itself right, but he's the only 2nd millenium bishop with a semidouble; St. Giovanni Leonardi despite being founder of an order did not get one (but he still got precedence over the ancient semidouble of St. Denis, Rusticus and Eleutherius Martyrs).

Also, some semidoubles of eminent bishops and martyrs of the early Church, such as St. Timothy (I mentioned him above a Simple in 1570, but he probably had his rank corrected to semidouble rather soon), St. Agatha and so on were raised to double, probably in a mood of "we have so many doubles now, but these saints were at least as important as them". For some others, they may have simply forgotten to do that; this is how I explain that Sts. Cosmas & Damian (though they were layfolk after all), perhaps also St. Cornelius & Cyprian and possibly St. Linus, only had semidoubles.

As a consequence, the semidoubles were sometimes perhaps more popular than many doubles; think of a feast like St. Louis; he was a layman and not a martyr, so he was not doubled. But still many people may have had more of a devotion to him than had a particular devotion to St. Filippo Benizi (who had a double two days earlier), especially given the fact that there is still a feast for all of the founders of the Servite Order (to whom St. Filippo Benizi belonged) in any case.

It makes some sense though because back in the days, doubles trumped Sundays, and with Sunday being the day that represents Heaven in the week, you wouldn't that to be trumped by a feast of a Saint who lived in the World and was not martyred, unless the particular instance of patronage required otherwise. It was not that the Sunday was utterly unimportant to people who lived before 1911, after all.


Moritz Gruber said...

... (3)

All this, as I said, may have led to Pope Ven. Pius XII simply degrade all of these feasts to, in effect, Simples (having had degraded the previous Simples to a thing hitherto known only in Advent and Lent, to wit, Commemorations said on Feriae). A regrettable decision (especially in that those feasts did not at least the Nine Lessons all of them had had); but obviously something had to be done. The real solution would have been to bite the bullet of saying "this feast is less important to us than that other feast hitherto of the same rank".

So... to do exactly (setting aside some very slight disagreements about the concrete outcome, but that is to be expected) what the CDF did in 2020 when they provided a (all in all extraordinarily well-drawn) list of "these III class feasts are particularly important and the others aren't"; called the list of "III class feasts which may not be impeded"; these are, in a manner of speaking, our new doubles, if we consider the others as semidoubles; or our new semidoubles. (They forgot our Lady's presentation and St. Raphael on it; but that is one of those "slight disagreement on the concrete outcome", and I really think they simply forgot him.)

Moritz Gruber said...

And concerning the story about Pope St. Paul VI,

I have no reason to doubt either Fr Z, nor the elderly prelate he claims he has heard the story from. Or to think it is in itself a scandal that the Pope is not aware of any detail he signed.

But what is so particularly difficult about issuing a decree named, say, "Sacrosancti Concilii" with the following content:

"To implement the liturgical reforms wished for by the Sacred Council" [there's room for doubt, but the St. Paul VI certainly did not doubt that] "is a laborious task. We the Pope have faithfully undertaken to accomplish it, aided by our devout and learned clergymen and religious [and layfolk?] in the Committee of the Roman Curia established for the purpose. In a task laborious as this is, it is alas all but inevitable that mistakes occur. Those deserve to be corrected; hence we decree:

§ 1. The Octave of Pentecost shall be reestablished with the Propers from the Missal of 1962, unless otherwise provided here.

§ 2. During Pentecost Octave, apart from the Sunday itself, the Alleluia is not doubled, but a Gradual is sung in its usual place, to wit from the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit. [If "Responsory Psalm": 103 or so]

§ 3. Where Wednesday and Saturday are not Ember Days as provided by instructions, only one lesson is taken apart from the Gospel.

§ 4. Regina coeli is sung at Lauds and Compline, but is not used - apart from Sunday itself - to replace the Angelus Domini where that prayer is laudably said in the morning, midday and evening.

§ 5. This decree comes into effect in the following year."

[Note: The paragraphs §2-4 are non-traditional, but would in my view be needed to fit a Pentecost Octave somewhat-organically into the Novus Ordo Scheme with its idea that "the celebration of Easter takes fifty days, so ends at Pentecost Sunday". It is not necessary for such an end though to leave Pentecost Octave entirely away.]