Alcuin Reid on the transfer of feasts in the Traditional Roman calendar to Sundays

I had a nice note from my friend Alcuin Reid, who has something to say about the recent statement of bishops of the UK and Wales about the trasfer of Holy Days of Obligation according to the traditional Roman calendar, to Sundays so as to coordinate their celebration also with the common transference of feasts to Sundays for the Novus Ordo.

I am of divided mind on the issue. 

First, I think that greater coordination of the calendars will be a good thing.  We should be on the same page if we are in the same Rite.  This at least must apply to the feasts of new saints. 

Second, there was a lot of silly and imprudent tinkering with calendar after the Council.  Would that some corrections of that could take place.

Third, I don’t like transferring feasts having a fixed reference point (e.g., Epiphany, Ascension, Corpus Domini) to Sundays.  To my mind that sends the signal that it isn’t important for Catholics to make arrangements for Mass.  This undermines Catholic identity both within the Church (that’s my ad intra angle again) and sends a signal that we are pretty lax (that’s the ad extra). 

So, let’s see what the usually very sensible and erudite Alcuin has to say about this thory issue.  My emphases and comments.

I understand that some of all of this will be in that great English weekly, The Catholic Herald, to which, if you are in the UK, you should subscribe.

A canonically correct but unfortunate clarification.
Dr Alcuin Reid

There is no doubt that bishops, with the consent of the Holy See, enjoy the power to transfer Holy Days of Obligation to another day or to dispense their obligation; both the 1917 Code of Canon Law (canon 1247) and the 1983 Code (canon 1246) foresee these possibilities. Indeed, in England before the Council the obligation to attend Mass on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was dispensed, though it was celebrated on December 8th each year.

Many of us will recall the impassioned debate in the Catholic press and beyond when the Bishops of England and Wales recently transferred the feasts of the Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi to the nearest Sunday. It is said that earlier, when Cardinal Hume was presented with this proposal, he blocked it with the retort: “Secularism has gone far enough!” After his death the bishops judged the move to be apposite.

The pastoral reasons for the bishops’ decision are clear: modern urban life can render it very difficult to get to Mass on Holy Days, and even more so in rural areas where priests are fewer. An alternative can be argued: if it is truly impossible given the obligations of one’s state in life or one’s location to get to Mass on Holy Days, one is dispensed by that impossibility and there is no need to tamper with the liturgy because of such modern exigencies. [Yes.  One is not held to the impossible or unreasonable.] Yet conversely again, regularly relying on a dispensation could mean many people never celebrating profoundly significant feasts of the liturgical year. One may prefer that the bishops had not transferred the feasts, but one can follow their rationale in so doing.  [Therefore, another reason to transfer the feasts was to give people greater exposure to the mystery they celebrated.  I am not sure if that works, in the long run, but it wasn't a ibad motive.]

Catholics who worship according to the usus antiquior – the more ancient use of the Roman rite (sometimes called the “traditional Latin Mass”) – are understandably reluctant to accept the modernization of the liturgy or any steps that appear to move in that direction. This may be seen by some as a weakness. Whether it is this or whether it is a healthy distrust of unnecessary change, it is a reality that must be taken into account by the Church’s pastors. Pope Benedict’s decree last year that the ancient use had “never been abrogated” and that it was freely to be available to all who wished it were greeted by such groups with profound joy and reassurance. It was a profoundly pastoral measure. [Can it be argued that this included the calendar?  I suppose so, since there are Sundays such as Septuagesima, no longer in the new calendar.  And Rogation Days, which we have just encountered.]

The announcement last week of the canonically correct clarification obtained by the English bishops from Rome that “priests who celebrate according to the 1962 Roman Missal for the benefit of the faithful…should also celebrate these Holydays on the prescribed Sundays” is not such a pastoral measure. Yes, one can understand the desire for feasts to be kept by all on the same day. [My point above.] And yes, one can understand the annoyance of some modern liturgists and even bishops by those attached to the usus antiquior who have at times been somewhat smug about retaining the feasts on the original days. [But, really, who cares if they are annoyed about that?  Aren't there other important things to be annoyed about?] However, whilst these may be concerns, there are others to be taken into account.

The first is that those who worship according to the usus antiquior are most often deeply attached not only to the form of the rite but to the riches of the whole liturgical year. [Good one.  They see the whole liturgical year as a beautiful whole, with its own rhythm and significance.]  They would usually make the effort to be at Mass on the “extra” days whether it was strictly of obligation or not. By all means let the bishops remove the “weekday” obligation if they think it unduly onerous. But this does not necessitate their insistence on the transfer of the liturgical celebration of the feasts in the older use. [Now that would be a better solution!] For the transfer impoverishes the liturgical ‘diet’ that will now be on offer. What Mass will the priest say on the Thursday before Ascension “Sunday,” as in the more ancient use a “votive” Mass of the Ascension is simply not possible? It would in any case be ludicrous to extinguish the paschal candle after the Gospel on Thursday symbolising the departure of our Lord’s resurrected body only to do so again on Sunday! [RIGHT!] Are we to have two Epiphanies? [EXACTLY!] Are the feasts of All Saints, Sts Peter and Paul and the Assumption to be repeated on a Sunday or a Monday after their observance the previous day? And what of their proper vigil days that are integral to the older use? What offices are to be celebrated? Then there is the issue of the occlusion of the liturgical texts of the Sundays that the transferred feasts will displace. Alas this “clarification” serves to deprive the faithful of some of the very liturgical heritage Pope Benedict sought to protect[A very good argument.]

The second is that the liturgical life of the Catholic Church has always borne witness to unity in diversity, but not uniformity. Eastern and Western Catholic rites have utterly different calendars. [Fine... but we are Latin, Roman Rite... but read on...] Different uses of the Roman rite have had significant variations even, in the case of Religious Orders, in the same cities. [But most of us aren't Religious with our own calendars.] The Ambrosian rite of Milan had no Ash Wednesday. [Nor is the Ambrosian Rite the Roman Rite.] Yes, it may seem a bit untidy to have some celebrating Epiphany on one day and some others a few days later, but there is surely no sin in it? [There is no sin.  However, I wonder if he didn't put his finger on something here.  More about this, below.] After all, the calendar of the more ancient use, last issued in 1962, celebrates many feasts on different days from that of that of the modern use, and not without good reason. It must be said plainly that there is no overriding liturgical reason that these feasts cannot be celebrated on their original days in the usus antiquior.
 
Nor is there a pastoral necessity; indeed pastoral considerations suggest the opposite. The Holy Father was clear in his explanation of Summorum Pontificum that one motivation for its promulgation was the promotion of unity within the Church. This measure will without doubt be seen as another obstacle in the path of reaching that unity with those who find themselves in an irregular situation, such as the Society of St Pius X. We might think that they should not react thus, but some shall: that is a pastoral reality. There may even be people scandalised by this change who turn anew to the SSPX. [I am afraid Alcuin is right.  This would be a silly reason to maintain separation from Peter.  But, I can see how, when it is put in the balance with other factors, it would reinforce the suspicion some have of Rome regarding tradition.]

The timing of the bishops’ announcement is unfortunate: made but a week before Ascension and less than a month before Corpus Christi, what are clergy and faithful who have made plans for Masses on those days to do? It is also a little unclear, for a press-release referring to a response to a question put to Rome, but not publishing the question itself or the response given, has no binding canonical status. [That's right.] Nor would it appear that the bishops have formally decreed that this change is to be observed: certainly no decree of the English and Welsh bishops has been published. Such publications are necessary before obedience to the change is required.

Whilst our Fathers in God certainly have the canonical right to decree such a change, perhaps in this instance they might be so kind as not to do so, for the pastoral and liturgical reasons mentioned above, amongst others? St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians teaches us that we should, as children, obey our parents (including, by analogy, our spiritual fathers, the bishops), and as faithful Catholics we should do so. However he also adds the admonition: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”  

Dr Alcuin Reid is a London-based liturgical scholar. His new edition of Adrian Fortescue’s “The Early Papacy” has recently been published by Ignatius Press.

A very good piece.

I want to return to something he said above, about the desire of some perhaps not to have the calendars be untidy.  Yes.  I think I understand that.  I must admit I am one of them.  The untidiness makes me a bit nervous. I will have to think more about this.

The best point here, and it is practical and a good solution would be, I think, for bishops occasionally to dispense from the obligation on those midweek feasts, but to leave them where they are.

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93 Responses to Alcuin Reid on the transfer of feasts in the Traditional Roman calendar to Sundays

  1. Thank you, dear Lord, for secular society. Because Christmas is celebrated on 25 December as a holiday even in the most secular of lands, no bishop has dreamed of moving it to a Sunday.

  2. RBrown says:

    The announcement last week of the canonically correct clarification obtained by the English bishops from Rome that “priests who celebrate according to the 1962 Roman Missal for the benefit of the faithful…SHOULD also celebrate these Holydays on the prescribed Sundays” is not such a pastoral measure.

    Does anyone have the Latin for the above? Is “should” a translation from a subjunctive?

  3. cordelia says:

    even though Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, our church is packed for ALL the Masses offered that day. Maybe it’s the shepherds who are too bothered by the weekday thing.

  4. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    With regard to Ascension Thursday, I can not see how it can be sinful to celebrate this feast on the same day as the Pope. It was a huge error to allow National Conferences to vote on moving feast days. In the US Ascension Thursday/Sunday differs from diocese to diocese, so in my mind the liturgy is already untidy. I remember attending a Catholic book sellers conference, and speaking to one of the other sellers about Corpus Christi (the conference fell on the traditional day) and he was shocked to learn that Corpus Christi was not celebrated on Sunday by the Pope. Supposedly, the “renewal” of the liturgy was to give the laity greater access to the richness of the liturgical year, yet it did just the opposite. How long do we have to wait for the Church to admit that the “renewal” of the liturgy was a dismal failure?! There is no fruit on the tree of the “renewal” and the tree should be cursed and left to wither and die. (Mark 11:14)

  5. Peter says:

    Fr Z said: “I think that greater coordination of the calendars will be a good thing. We should be on the same page if we are in the same Rite”

    But Father we don’t have to be like the Borg!!!! (and I do note your other 3 points).

    If the episcopal conferences followed the 10 Holy Days as per the code of canon law there would not be these apparent differences between the uses for major days. For most of the other calendar differences I can’t see that anyone will notice. And does the uniformity argument lead us all too quickly to the extinguishing of the EF?

    Peter

  6. giovanni says:

    A related Zenit article with a link to the Liturgy Office for England and Wales at the bottom:

    Vatican Clarifies Holy Days and ’62 Missal
    http://www.zenit.org/article-22461?l=english

  7. LCB says:

    “We should be on the same page if we are in the same Rite.”

    Doesn’t this bring us to the real heart of this issue?

  8. Peter says:

    A typical take on the old Mass from Zenit imho. ie typically hostile.

  9. Jrbrown says:

    Why is this constant tinkering necessitated by pastoral needs of the faithful? Will anyone grow in holiness more effectively with the calendar, prayers, etc., undergoing constant revision and change? This is precisely the argument for the STABILITY of the 1962 Missal vs. the massive and unguarded changes after the Council. I think at this point we are within our rights to be urgently requesting the long-awaited ‘clarifications’ of Summorum Pontificum. Perhaps they can be issued in time for the one-year anniversary? That’s not asking too much, I don’t think.

  10. giovanni says:

    Peter, maybe, I don’t know, I posted for informational purposes only, the link to the liturgy office mentions the query to Ecclesia Dei. I had planned to go to a TLM this evening for Ascension here in US, as far as I know still scheduled. I’ll have to let my pastor sort it out.

  11. Bemused Observer says:

    I wonder how many readers share my problem. For various non-negotiable reasons, I go to an Extraordinary Form Mass (ie Latin) on Sundays but that church is too far to get to during the week. So for daily Mass and Holy Days of Obligation that still fall during the week, I go to a church that is nearer and offers just the Ordinary Form. When it’s a case of the Holy Day being transferred to the Sunday, I never get to experience the liturgy for the feast because at the Latin Mass church, they will have celebrated the feast during the week, when I couldn’t get there. I don’t agree with the English Bishops on “bumping” feasts to the Sunday (in the old days, working hours could be much longer and more rigid, yet people still managed to get to Mass) but I can see the practicalities of their recent ruling as regards the Extraordinary Form celebrating on the Sunday as well.

  12. Habemus Papam says:

    Damian Thompson on his “Holy Smoke” blog reports that today, the Feast of the Ascension in the old Calendar, EF Masses are being said all over England.

  13. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Dear Dr. Lee,

    You said:

    “Thank you, dear Lord, for secular society. Because Christmas is celebrated on 25 December as a holiday even in the most secular of lands, no bishop has dreamed of moving it to a Sunday.”

    Actually, I know two bishops that voted for moving Christmas when the US Conference voted on this issue. One of the bishops was giving a homily at a Church I was attending, he gave as his reasoning the idiocy of moving any of the feasts. He was particularly devoted to our Lady, and was incensed, that our Lady’s feast days were being moved. So when the vote for moving Christmas came up, he and another bishop equally incensed, decided to cast their vote to move Christmas, as a protest to show the imbecility of the entire process (they knew that moving Christmas would never pass, and it turned out they were the only two votes “in favor” of it).

  14. AnnaTrad says:

    Tinker here, tinker there, where will it stop. I have a dreadful feeling not until our beautifully Mass Of the Ages resembles the NO Mass again!!!!!!!!

  15. magdalen says:

    If I got to vote…
    I would keep the Ascension right where it should be, all over the world. But
    remove the obligation. Holy Days of Obligation have lost their dignity in
    many ways with the changing them around or one year it is and the next it
    is not. Most folks ‘blow them off’ , at least in my diocese where even
    the Immaculate Conception gets cancelled.

    The idea of the 9 day Novena between the Ascension and Pentecost is lost
    when the Ascension is moved. And those who would not attend Mass on
    the proper Thursday would not really be upset that they missed the
    Solemnity anyway. Those to whom it does matter, will attend, obligatory
    or not.

    I had to attend another parish with my priest on vacation. The parish
    is St. Joseph. But the priest did not choose to honor St. Joseph the
    Worker today because they ‘did’ St. Joseph in March. I had a friend who
    started to cry over this slight. Our Lady and the Saints are not loved nor
    honored except when absolutely obliged to in our parishes and diocese. It’
    is sad.

    I am disappointed that when I am able to attend the TLM, that I still
    will not have the Ascension on its proper Thursday. I suppose I could
    move to Nebraska, the northeast or Rome though…

  16. EDG says:

    The whole concept of moving these feasts simply indicates the fact that the “new Church” mentality values secular time over sacred time, and in fact, probably doesn’t even know what sacred time is. The feasts were where they were in order to duplicate certain events in the life of Christ, something that seems to have been totally forgotten in our new, improved, disembodied religion, or to repeat a pattern of certain sacred intervals or spaces of time (40 days, for example).

    Interestingly enough, when the Church asserts the value of sacred time, the secular world is a little surprised and then happily goes along with it. After all, even alternate side of the street parking in New York City used to be suspended for Ascension Thursday and for all other mid-week feasts, and it takes a lot to do that! But because the Church has shown that this is not important to it, and that it is willing to adapt its life to the secular world instead, well, that’s exactly what it’s going to have to do. This is true in everything, btw; when churches stop ringing their bells, having processions, or doing any the other public act, then secular society gets the message that these things were not important anyway and it nudges the Church a little further out of public life.

  17. LCB says:

    I reread my comment, and realize clarification is necessary.

    Several times in the past, this blog has considered that the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form may be juridically in the same Rite, but in practice they may be different Rites. Didn\’t mean to sound snarky.

  18. Joshua says:

    2 points. One, not having the actual dubium and response at hand, it may well be that this decision applies only to those for whom it was given. In which case, we could follow the FSSP practice, which I will elaborate on in my 2nd point

    Two, what would be wrong if a priest interpreted the transfer as such a thing would have been done according to the rubrics of the old Calendar? The New Missal itself moves Epiphany, for instance, when it is not a holy day of obligation. But it was not an HOD before Vatican II in the US either, it was still on the same day. But a more pertinent example is Corpus Christi. That Feast was not an HOD before Vatican II in the US and it was celebrated both on Thursday proper and on Sunday as an external Solemnity (the indult of Leo XIII, iirc, mandated that a procession take place to do it on Sunday).

    The old Calendar allows external solemnities for many feasts at the discretion of the priest, provided certain conditions are met (hence a Mass for the Purification could have been said on February 3rd in addition to Feb 2, provided it had the procession and was at least a Sung Mass). The FSSP ordo directs that where Ascension has been transferred in the New Rite, to celebrate it on Thursday as proper, and then celebrate it on Sunday as an External Solemnity. In which case the candle is extinguished on Thursday not Sunday, since Thurs. is still the proper day, and in which case the Office remains for the Sunday after Ascension.

  19. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    As regards Fr. Z.’s opening comments, the problem is, of course, that the two Masses are not forms of a common rite (as S.P. wrongly claims) but to different Rites of Mass. Enough said.

    P.K.T.P.

  20. Joshua says:

    V – Votive Masses on the External Solemnity of Feasts

    356. The “external solemnity” of any feast means the celebration of the feast without an office, for the good of the faithful, either on the day on which the feast is impeded, or on a Sunday when the feast occurs during the week, or on some other established day.

    357. An external solemnity either belongs to a feast by right or is granted by a special indult.

    358. An external solemnity belongs by right only to:
    a) the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost;
    b) the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the rosary, on the first Sunday of October;
    c) feasts of the 1st or 2nd class which are connected with some special liturgical service, if that liturgical service is transferred to a Sunday with the approval of the Holy See, only for the Mass which is celebrated in connection with the aforesaid liturgical service;
    d) the feast of a duly constituted principal patron;
    e) the anniversary of the dedication of the church itself in which the Mass is said;
    f) the titular feast of the church itself;
    g) the titular feast of the order or congregation;
    h) the feast of the holy founder of the order or congregation;
    i) feast of the 1st and 2nd class which are celebrated with an especially large attendance by the faithful; of this matter the local ordinary is the judge.

    359. If an external solemnity belongs to a feast by right, and is not among those for which a certain day is assigned no. 358 above, it may be held either on the day on which the feast is impeded or on the Sunday immediately preceding or immediately following the office of the impeded feast, according to the rubrics.
    If it is granted by a special indult, however, an external solemnity is assigned a definite day.

    360. One sung and one low Mass, or two low Masses, as votive Masses of the 2nd class, may be celebrated of the feast whose external solemnity is being held, except for the case specified in no. 358c.

    361. The external solemnities granted by special indult to certain dioceses, churches or religious families before this date remain in force, with this restriction, however, that they are prohibited on liturgical days of the 1st class, and that never more than two Masses of the same solemnity may be celebrated.

    External Solemnities are of the 2nd Class

  21. mike c says:

    Fr. Z – LCB has touched on the heart of the matter, without stating it. If there be some on whom the subtlety is lost, let me expand. TrueMass and NewMass are different rites of the Latin Church. TrueMass is the Roman Rite, whereas NewMass is the Vatican Rite (my neo-logism). The rubrics, music and theology (vertical v. horizontal) are so radically different that they cannot be considered usages of the same rite. Orthodox liturgies, which are valid, have the same centrality as both western rites. Yet, they are considered different rites. Ever watch a conciliar Catholic attending TrueMass for the first time. They either leave by the Epistle, or sit in wonderment. Hence, TrueMass and NewMass are 2 different rites. Q.E.D.

  22. The frightening trend here is that the bishops seem to insist that when there needs to be a “change” that it should be the “old” that comes into line with the “new.”
    Yet, Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity” would suggest the contrary. It’s the new that should be brought back into line with the more continuous tradition of the Roman Rite. Things like Epiphany, Ascension, and Corpus Christi have a much longer history of being celebrated on the traditional days than the mere 40 years of the new calendar. And this is not just a mere historical continuity, but one that has had good theological reasons behind them. (A simple one being that in the Bible the Ascension happend exactly 40 days after Easter).
    I just wish those in the hierarchy would finally be willing to admit that there are problems (at least practical and pastoral) with the “Novus Ordo.” The massive changes in the calendar being one of them.

  23. Carl H. Horst says:

    The pastoral reasons given on this occassion, as well as similar reasons previously given in the US, are in my humble opinion pure nonsense. It seems such reasons are more likely a cover for the laziness of priests and bishops. More importantly the reasons reflect a profound lack of genuine pastoral concern. These rules are not meant to be convenient. It is a travesty to suggest that we make it easier to avoid the obligation because it does not fit well into modern society. Apparently the bishops need to be told that the point of the obligation is to remove oneself from modern secular society at least for the moment. But that seems to be too difficult a concept to grasp.

  24. Ed Peters says:

    Just a little note: “impossibility” of performance is an EXCUSE under canon law, not a DISPENSATION from the law.

  25. Steve says:

    Why can’t Catholic churches just have a drive-in window for
    Communion, you know, carry out. Why bother with all those
    readings and movements? It would seem logical in view of all
    these “convenient” changes to long-established holy days.

  26. Ken says:

    I think most people will ignore this, as they are doing today on Ascension Thursday — a Vatican holiday by the way. But if it ever were to be enforced, it would be great business for the SSPX, which is where I would go on the Ascension and the Sunday after Ascension.

    Funny how organic development keeps meaning the 1962 missal should accept the 1965/1970/2008 innovations.

  27. DJY says:

    I think this imbecility has reached a real tipping point, but instead of a return to tradition, I fear we have reached a point where, as others above pointed out, we have lost all sense of the Holy Day of Obligation.

    For my part, there will be no Ascension this year. Today I am in Chicago, but this weekend, I will be in Boston, so consequently, I will not be in either locale for the respective observance. This is asinine. We are talking about the mysteries of our Faith, yet it is too much to ask that they be universally celebrated?

    After all, isn’t that what Catholic is supposed to mean?

    Instead, we now have a point where one needs a map, a calculator and likely charts on the planetary alignments to determine if one has to drag themselves to church…hardly the appropriate attitude! And now, not only do we have to deal with those issues, but we may even have divisions within the same parish?

    In addition, I feel this brings out a very stark contrast between the two usages: in the extraordinary form, the calendar was not a separate entity, but instead, the mass had little twists here and there as the liturgical cycle demanded with sequences, added prayers, curious uses of candles and the like; in the ordinary form, all the calendar ends up dictating is a change in readings and prefaces, if one misses something, they could hardly tell what day of the year it is. Remind me which form shows organic growth and which is (after a mere four decades) already showing its inflexibility?

    (Disclosure: I am a 29-year old adherent of the ordinary form, who dreams of true organic synthesis between the two, not a paint-by-numbers liturgy made in committee.)

  28. Jackie says:

    I like the idea of taking away the obligation for the feasts they keep wanting to move around, except for a single issue. At my parish, the priests- who are faithful, believing, and I honestly believe are doing their best–do not have extra masses on big feasts that are not obligatory, except for Ash Wednesday. So if the feast stays the same and loses its obligatory statue, those who cant go to morning masses due to work (myself included in this count), would not be able to go and would miss the feast altogether

  29. LCB says:

    Returning to the issue of Rites:

    At what point does the difference between Rites become self-evident? Different language, theology, focus, practice, devotion, calenders, and senses of obligation.

    There is more connection visible between a 62 Mass and a Greek Orthodox Divine Liturgy than between a 62 Mass and a Novus Ordo Mass. It’s not that the Holy Days are being moved, it’s that Holy Days are all but being eliminated.

  30. RBrown says:

    There is more connection visible between a 62 Mass and a Greek Orthodox Divine Liturgy than between a 62 Mass and a Novus Ordo Mass. It’s not that the Holy Days are being moved, it’s that Holy Days are all but being eliminated.
    Comment by LCB

    If you’re referring to the way the Novus Ordo is currently said, versus populum, in the vernacular, and no Communion rail) then I agree.

    But if the Novus Ordo were said in Latin ad orientem with a Communion rail, then the differences between it and Eastern liturgy is not so great.

  31. Ron says:

    Fr. Z said: “Third, I don’t like transferring feasts having a fixed reference point (e.g., Epiphany, Ascension, Corpus Domini) to Sundays. To my mind that sends the signal that it isn’t important for Catholics to make arrangements for Mass. This undermines Catholic identity both within the Church (that’s my ad intra angle again) and sends a signal that we are pretty lax (that’s the ad extra).”

    YES YES YES! Thank you Fr. Z! I’ve been thinking that for so long and you said it so well! The Ascension of Our Lord, the Holy Feast on a Thursday, moved to Sunday? Come on, people make accommodations for so many things in their lives. They make time for soccer games and other things they like or want to do. Why can’t we all make time for the One Who is necessary in our lives? You’re spot on as usual Fr. Z.

    Pax Christi tecum.

  32. James says:

    The Lord ascended 43 days after the Resurrection ?

  33. Mery del Val says:

    I have yet to meet either a priest or any layman who agrees with the decisions of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales over the chages to the observance of the three Holy Days relating to the mysteries of Our Lord’s life. All the objections I jhave heard asnd agrees with have been rehearsed on this thread; but two remain unnoticed so far.
    There is, in England at least, an ecumenical argument for keeping (particulary Epiphany and Ascension Day) the holy days and that is that they are observed on their proper day by ot all other Christians. They are also observed by certain civic authorities. To remove them reduces the Christian imopact on the secular world.
    Secondly, in spite of our having so many Catholic Schools, the negative impact of not oberving Ascension and Corpus Christi has not been thought through. Christmas, Epiphany, these fall in the School holidays but the others do not. It is vain to think that many children in our schools will in fact attend Mass regularly on Sundays. Another chance lost, especially as many irregular parents attend school Masses.
    Here, in my time so far as a Catholic priest, serving in four pariushes, I have never found Holy Days of Obligation anything other than very well attended.

  34. Obviously the difference in Calendars is going to have to be addressed sooner or later by the Apostolic See. I don’t know if the forthcoming clarification will address it but I certainly hope so.

  35. Woody Jones says:

    The Paschal candle was still lit at our downtown chapel today, prompting a question from a regular similar to that of James above. I told him I had heard that our Lord was booked on an American carrier but His flight was cancelled and Sunday was the first available opening. Maybe if more weighty pastoral considerations will not change episcopal minds on this, some bad humor like this will.

  36. Scott Smith says:

    I understand the problem when you have transfered the obligation from Thursday to Sunday and the celebration with it, then you have the upstarts who want to be there on the “correct” day according to a different calendar, that of 1962.

    Both Calendars, 1962 and 2002, need help.

    Remove ALL obligation for attending Mass on pain of sin and see who keeps coming. (The ones who were there on the Holy Days of Obligation that didn’t fall on Sunday will be there.)

  37. Jerry O says:

    For those of us old enough to remember and that should be quite a few, the reason the Holydays were moved to Sunday, IMHO, was almost entirely to get some folks into the churches for the Holydays and not highlight what had happened to our Church after the NO came into being. Those of us who were daily Mass attenders remember quite well that there were very few more in attendance on the Holydays than for regular daily Mass.

    Jerry

  38. Cerimoniere says:

    This is another area where liturgical law overlaps with other disciplinary law. The obligation to assist at Mass on given days does not arise from liturgical law. However, liturgical law does govern when given feasts, which happen to be days of obligation, actually fall.

    Although there are now parallel bodies of liturgical law governing the different forms of the Roman Rite, evidently only one of them can govern days of obligation. It has been tacitly understood that the law concerning obligation to assist at Mass refers to the new Calendar. This is confirmed by the language of “Summorum Pontificum”: the “Ordinary Form” is the natural reference point when any other laws refer to the Calendar.

    However, it is a huge leap from this, to concluding that a feast should be transferred in the Extraordinary Calendar, when it happens to be a day of obligation, and when it is transferred in the Ordinary Calendar. This is not a new issue: for example, in England since 1984, all days of obligation have been transferred to a Sunday when they fall on a Saturday or Monday. Since then, everyone has understood that the obligation is transferred in those years for everyone, but that the feast itself is transferred only in the new calendar. In that sense, it has always been true that the days of obligation were “held in common”, though the dates of the feast have not. Against this backdrop, it is far from clear that this “clarification” means we must transfer these feasts in the Extraordinary Form.

    The form in which the Bishops have chosen to publish this response is also odd. It is not quoted directly, but paraphrased. We can’t tell how accurate the summary is, nor how much of it is gloss. The published text says, “Following a request for information the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales submitted a dubium to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei which confirmed that in the Roman Rite, whichever Form of the liturgy is being celebrated, the Holydays of Obligation are held in common. Where the obligation has been removed and the Holyday transferred to the Sunday, the Epiphany of the Lord, the Ascension of the Lord and Corpus Christi, this is to be followed in both Ordinary and Extraordinary celebrations of Mass.”

    It’s quite possible that the Commission’s response was limited to confirming what is obviously true, namely that “in the Roman Rite, whichever Form of the liturgy is being celebrated, the Holydays of Obligation are held in common.” The rest may be gloss. In fact, what does it mean to “observe” the transfer of a holy day in the celebration of Mass? When I go to Mass today, the Ascension, will my pastor be failing to “observe” that the Holy Day has been transferred to next Sunday? When he announced the Mass last week, he didn’t say that today was a day of obligation. And whether today is a day of obligation or not will make no difference to what happens during today’s Mass.

    Further, are we supposed to believe that this applies only to the three feasts mentioned? What are we to do this year when All Saints’ Day falls on a Saturday, but will be transferred to Sunday in England? The rationale of “holding holy days in common” would apply equally to all of them, but apparently we are to extend it only to those covered by the Bishops’ latest action, which has aroused such opposition.

    It seems that this “clarification”, as published by the English Bishops, raises more issues than it actually clarifies. I would be interested to see the actual Roman text.

  39. Lindsay says:

    “even though Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, our church is packed for ALL the Masses offered that day. Maybe it’s the shepherds who are too bothered by the weekday thing.”

    This confuses me. I’m glad people are at mass any time, but I can’t figure why so many come that day and don’t come to HDOs that are on weekdays. Those masses, even when they don’t move the day, are pretty empty around here.

  40. ben whitworth says:

    The body of the PCED letter has been posted on the blog Forest
    Murmurs.

    What the bishops have never told us is whether anyone, apart from the unrepresentative National Conference of Priests, actually requested the moving of the holydays in the first place.

  41. Cerimoniere says:

    Thanks, Ben; how nice to see you, as it were…

    Here’s the text, as apparently published in the “Herald”:

    “With regard to the question of Holydays of Obligation, you state that your understanding is that “the Holydays of Obligation established by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and confirmed by the Apostolic See under Canon 1246 are to be observed by the whole Church in England and Wales in celebrations of both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary form of Mass.” I understand that in England and Wales the Feasts of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Ascension of the Lord and the Body and Blood of the Lord have been transferred to the nearest Sunday with the approval of the Holy See. Since these Holydays are to be observed by all of the faithful, priests who celebrate according to the 1962 Roman Missal for the benefit of the faithful “attached to the Latin liturgical tradition” should also celebrate these Holydays on the prescribed Sundays.”

    On this basis, the External Solemnity route begins to look very attractive. The Commission doesn’t say we can’t celebrate the feasts on their proper days, but rather wants us to celebrate these particular feasts “also” on the prescribed Sundays. This looks rather like the situation envisaged by 358 (i), which permits an external solemnity for feasts of the first or second class with large attendances by the faithful, at the judgment of the ordinary. Or perhaps this response from the Holy See even constitutes an indult under 357!

  42. Eric says:

    I lament the fact the American Church doesn’t celebrate the feast together, but in the Washington, D.C. area the transfer of the feast to Sunday has been somewhat of a blessing.

    Today, there will be a total of 7 Extraordinary Form Masses for the Ascension. If the feast were observed today throughout the area, I would guess only one would be celebrated.

  43. cathy2 says:

    God help us. This is such a tragedy. Must the devil always get his tax on the gifts we receive? This reminds me of when Rome finally crushed the heresy of women priests, only in the next breath to allow altar girls.

    Pentecost is not a dead memorial. The Holy Ghost really comes every Pentecost and we receive Him to the degree that we imitate the instructions of Jesus to His disciples; instructions which include 10 days of prayer and fasting. If, after the Ascension, some of the disciples had gone about their daily affairs for three more days before joining the others in the Cenacle, would they have received the same fullness of the Holy Ghost? Would they have received Him at all?

    How many Catholics will remember to start a Novena today for the coming of the Holy Ghost in their lives with no Church reminder? How many will start fasting in some way today?

    The Sunday after Ascension is “Come, Holy Ghost Sunday.” It is the Sunday when our pastor encourages us to persevere in our prayer and fasting with moving sermons on the gifts to be received.

    Ascension Sunday is just another Sunday. Catholics pay as must attention to it as they do to any other Sunday. We may receive a homily on the Ascension, but chances are just as good that we will hear platitudes about motherhood, because Mother’s Day will sometimes fall on this Sunday; or about graduation, because it’s Senior Day; or any number of subjects meshing with our parish’s busy May/June schedule.

    Even if we happen to receive a homily on the Ascension, is there any mention of preparing for the coming of the Holy Ghost? It’s a bit late now that we are already three days into the Novena so why mention it? Pentecost comes with most Catholics unprepared to receive the Holy Ghost, so they receive nothing, and the whole Church suffers this loss.

    The Ash Wednesday phenomenon blows out of the water the excuse that Catholics can’t make it to Mass. (The first use of personal days from work should be for religious purposes.)

    It seems far better for the Church to dispense with the obligation than move Ascension to Sunday. Those who desire to pray and fast for the Holy Ghost will surely make sure they are there for the Lord’s Ascension and words of instruction 10 days prior. As for those who don’t care whether or not they receive the Holy Ghost, Ascension is meaningless to them whenever it is celebrated.

    The real losers are those of us who are weak with forgetfulness who need a poke by Holy Mother Church to remind us to join the disciples in the Cenacle for the First Novena. Our first realization that Ascension is upon us may be when we arrive at Mass Sunday. Then it is too easy to excuse ourselves because we missed the beginning already. “Next year,” we promise, but next year is the same.

  44. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On this issue of rites, I agree entirely with Michael C. However, this is a huge issue, much bigger than the one I have argued to death over the offer to the S.S.P.X.

    Whatever the truth may be, I must admit that there is just no way Rome will back down from the position of S.P.–not in the foreseeable future anwyway. So we can all say what we like and I must accept reality on this. Fr. Z. wins for the time being, although I’ll never agree with him about it! Mind you, that’s what happened with the right of all priests to celebrate the old Mass! And we had to wait over 35 years to discover that Pope Paul VI was wrong in “De Missali Romano” and the old Mass was never abrogated and always, in priniple, allowed. Popes are not infallible in matters of law.

    But I won’t argue the details on this one. Not this time. Instead, I simply remind bloggers that the advantage of a universal ordinary jurisdiction for tradition is that those attached to the 1962 Mass would not be constantly outraged by decisions of the P.C.E.D. to conform us to the New Mass, not if we had our own pastor, our own shepherd, who shared our charism of spirituality and used his episcopal authority to forbid female Altar servers and set his own holdays of obligation and so on.

    I agree that, were this to be done, as Cardinal Herranz Casado see,s tp favour, it would not protect most traditionalists for some time, because it would take much time for that structure to attain its own churches and chapels, parishes and missions. But it would impart a degree of stability; it would be a stabilising influence. I think that many of us are sick to death of Msgr. Perl and his intrusions.

    P.K.T.P.

  45. cathy2 says:

    Linsay asks why Catholics who ignore HDOs attend on Ash Wednesday.

    I think Catholics know in the Holy Ghost that they are in great need of penances (ashes) even if our pastors tell us of a god who is a nice guy who lets everyone into Heaven. Deep down we know we’ll be blessed to squeeze in the door of Purgatory.

  46. LCB says:

    I am expecting the same homily for Ascension that we got on Christmas and Easter:

    “The Ascension is a feast where we celebrate how we heal ourselves, and Jesus helps us to ‘rise above’ our difficulties in life, to become the fulfillment of our own dreams. It’s not important if the Ascension really happened, it probably didn’t, but what the dream of Ascending does in our hearts.”

    Not even joking.

  47. ben whitworth says:

    cathy2: I think you’re absolutely right. I imagine many people who come to church on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are conscious that they have neglected their duties at other times of the year, and are sincerely trying to make amends for that.

    If anything, I think that makes MORE sense (speaking psychologically, not juridically!) than going to Mass on Ascension day to celebrate the raising of (Christ’s) humanity to heaven, but failing to remind oneself on Ash Wednesday that (our) humanity is dust.

  48. Trey says:

    There are a number of parishes celebrating the feast today…

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/ukcorrespondents/holysmoke/may2008/happyacensionday.htm

  49. Trey says:

    “Why can’t Catholic churches just have a drive-in window for
    Communion, you know, carry out.”

    Sometimes, it seems we are moving in that direction…

  50. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    If I can attend a funeral Mass, with the propers of that Mass, on a Sunday or holyday, then it is clear that it is not necessary to attend a praying of the propers of any feast in order to fulfil the obligation to assist at Mass on that day.

    Why, then, must the feasts of the old Mass be transferred when the holyday is transferred?

    Once again, I’d like to see the full text of the P.C.E.D. decision. Do not trust what a bishops’ conference seems to say.

    P.K.T.P.

  51. paul says:

    The change of Ascension thursday to Sunday makes no sense whatsoever. The whole practice of the novena comes from Apostolic times they waited nine days till pentecost sunday. This change also wrecks havoc with our Orthodox christian brothers. This year they celebrate Ascension thursday june 5 and Pentecost june 15. I dont think such major church feast days should by toyed around with.

  52. marcum says:

    > Because Christmas is celebrated on 25 December as a holiday even in the most secular of lands, no bishop has dreamed of moving it to a Sunday

  53. marcum says:

    2nd post (??)
    > “Because Christmas is celebrated on 25 December as a holiday even in the most secular of lands, no bishop has dreamed of moving it to a Sunday”

    Not, yet. Christmas is not exempt from the modern ideology to change ALL feasts to Sunday. I think it will happen eventually in the US. It makes good business sense.

  54. Certainly the Church has the authority to adapt her own calendar as she sees fit, right?

    Et dicebat eis sabbatum propter hominem factum est et non homo propter sabbatum. –Mk 2:27

  55. Martha says:

    “Didn’t mean to sound snarky.” –LCB

    You didn’t sound snarky, LCB. Very few people are willing to tell the emperor he is naked.

    I had to laugh, and I agree with Michael, Peter and you. (pssst.. they are different rites. It is so obvious.) Our Holy Father is a very smart man, and he knows they are different. But, he has to deal with the issue in the most pragmatic way.

  56. Tom says:

    Do I really have to say it? And THESE are the guys you want the FSSPX to hand themselves over to?

    Roll on the day when the FSSPX does come back and we can celebrate Ascension Thursday again!

  57. Charles R. Williams says:

    Today I attended the Divine Liturgy for Ascension in the Byzantine Rite. I do not understand this business of turning the Church’s calendar upside down for pastoral reasons. The public worship of the Church proceeds according to it’s own internal logic and rhythm and a goal of our life as Christians is to conform ourselves interiorly and exteriorly to the liturgical worship of the Church. It should not be made “convenient.” We do what we can and God understands.

    There were only a few of us there – mostly retirees – since the service was at 9am and people work or attend school or would have to drive long distances to attend. This really doesn’t matter.

    As far as that goes, many of the propers are repeated each day until Pentecost. So those who can come on Sunday will know that we celebrated Ascension this week.

  58. simeon says:

    Oh well, the bishops can do what they want. They’re the ones who’ll have particularly harsh Thursdays in Purgatory, not us. We’ll have different issues to make up for.

  59. David2 says:

    Thank God I live in a country blessed with bishops (for the most part) better than those of England and Wales (that’s damning with faint praise). Last night I went to a wonderful EF Missa Cantata, with smells, bells and lots of incense. We have had more vocations to the priesthood and religious life from one parish than has had the whole Archdiocese….Might the Holy Spirit be saying something here…

  60. Shane says:

    I think that the greatest problem with the return of the Pian rite of Mass to common usage is in the calendar. We are one rite, and we ought to be celebrating the same things on the same day.

    I am not referring only to feasts here, but also the the readings in the Lectionary. I think it is a terrible shame to have folks attending a Pauline Mass hear the Gospel about one thing, and those attending a Pian Mass to hear the Gospel about the other.

    Either an entirely new calendar needs to be put together, or either the 1962 or the new calendar needs to be scrapped in favor of the former.

    Personally, I like the new calendar, at least as far as the deliniation of days is concerned. Solemnities, Feasts, Memorials, and Optional Memorials works very nicely. It seems much cleaner than the old calendar.

    That being said, I would gladly accept a return to the old calendar if it meant uniformity within the rite.

  61. Limbo says:

    I agree with Cathy2 “God help us. This is such a tragedy. Must the devil always get his tax on the gifts we receive? This reminds me of when Rome finally crushed the heresy of women priests, only in the next breath to allow altar girls.”

    What do we trade off next ? Yeah ! one day they’ll try to trade off Christmas Day as a HDO too and move it to the nearest most convenient Sunday. I’VE HAD ENOUGH!
    I JUST WANNA BE A CATHOLIC like my parents and grandparents were before the smoke of Satan got it’s way !!! Just like SSPX are today.
    How can the Holy See ever reconcile with SSPX if they keep coming up with these limp wristed NO novelties.

  62. Serafino says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading these profound theological and liturgical insights, all of which make perfect sense.

    In my diocese, Ascension Thursday and Corpus Christi have been transferred to Sunday for many years now. I suspect the true reason for the transfer lies in the fact that Thursday is the bishop’s “golf day” and many of the chancery clergy join him.

    Let’s face it and be honest. Regardless of correct liturgical practice enlighten by 2000 years of Catholic tradition , bishops and their staff do whatever they want to do. Why? Because for the past 45 years they have been “running the show.” So we can complain, blog, and vent our frustration, however, nothing will change until this generation of bishops passes, and are replaced with true Shepherd’s of souls.

  63. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    A member of another blog noticed something interesting about the quotation from the P.C.E.D.–the only part of it we’ve seen so far.

    Here is the quotation: “Since these Holy Days [Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi] are to be observed by all of the faithful, priests who celebrate according to the 1962 Roman Missal for the benefit of the faithful ‘attached to the Latin liturgical tradition’ *should* [emphasis added] also celebrate these Holy Days on the prescribed Sundays.”

    Note the “should”. Rome loves to fudge on this English word. It has a weaker sense and a stronger sense. It weaker sense conveys only a strong recommendation; the stronger, a strict obligation. Which is it? Well, th broadest meaning of a law is the one to be assumed. Therefore, this is only a strong recommenation.

    Moreover, the last paragraph of an article on this in “The Herald” seems to contradict words of the bishops. The last paragraph says that only the obligation to assist at Mass has been transferred, not an obligation to transfer the texts of the propers.

    Lastly, as Dr. Alcuin Reid rightly pointed out, there can be no obligation to do anything anywhere until the full text of the dubium and responsum are published. I find it to be extremely suspicious that we have neither and that we have an excerpt bearing an ambiguous meaning.

    P.K.T.P.

  64. Shane: The very rubrics of the 2002 Missale permit that you could quite well hear a different gospel or other texts during a Mass of the same rite and usage in different locales on the same day. The varieties are sometimes astonishing in their number. And, yes, exceptions even pertain to some Sundays and major feasts.

  65. Shane says:

    Shane: The very rubrics of the 2002 Missale permit that you could quite well hear a different gospel or other texts during a Mass of the same rite and usage in different locales on the same day. The varieties are sometimes astonishing in their number. And, yes, exceptions even pertain to some Sundays and major feasts.

    I\’m aware of this. The point is that the celebration is about the same thing, even if the readings are not. There are situations when this may not be the case, but these are for particular reasons which at least have some sense to them, besides the fact that the rite is operating on two different calendars.

  66. Well, in the 2002 Missal May 25th might Bede the Venerable, or Gregory VII, or Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, or the BVM on Saturday, or a ferial day, or…”any Mass”.

    The notion that all Catholics of the same rite must celebrate feasts on the same day has led to the dumbing down of the liturgy to the lowest common denominator, at considerable loss to the liturgy.

  67. Shane says:

    Well, in the 2002 Missal May 25th might Bede the Venerable, or Gregory VII, or Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, or the BVM on Saturday, or a ferial day, or…”any Mass”.

    The notion that all Catholics of the same rite must celebrate feasts on the same day has led to the dumbing down of the liturgy to the lowest common denominator, at considerable loss to the liturgy.

    That’s because there are more saints than there are days of the year. Certain days have more than one memorial that may be celebrated on it. It doesn’t mean that feasts are celebrated on different days. Gregory the VII will be celebrated on May 25th for anyone who is celebrating him. It’s not as though you’ll have some people celebrating Gregory VII on May 25th and some on May 28th or something.

    In fact, what it means is that May 25th is the memorial of Gregory VII. He is honored by the Church on the 25th of May. The only question is whether the Liturgy in a given place honors him. This is no different from how things were in the old calendar. Each day in the 1954 Roman Martyrology, for example, has a number of saints which are honored on it. That doesn’t mean that all, or even any, were celebrated in the Mass or the breviary.

    In the calendar used in 1962 there were cases in which the priest had the option to celebrate one Mass versus another. It isn’t a new concept.

    That’s not what I am objecting to. To say that on May 25th a priest has the option for remembering Gregory VII or – if on a Saturday – saying a Mass in honor of Mary is fine with me. The problem is when you have two entirely different calendars going on, such that some might honor Pius V on April 30th and others on May 5th. That’s an entirely different thing from a priest being able to choose whether to honor Pius V or some other saint who happens to fall on the same day. That’s always been the case in at least one form or another, particularly in religious orders.

  68. Well, before I worried about the differences of dates between 1962 and 2002, I’d worry about how the very rubrics of the 2002 Missal guarantee that some of the most important days of the liturgical year will be celebrated on different days, even, in some cases, in the same country.

  69. Shane says:

    Well, before I worried about the differences of dates between 1962 and 2002, I’d worry about how the very rubrics of the 2002 Missal guarantee that some of the most important days of the liturgical year will be celebrated on different days, even, in some cases, in the same country.

    I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. The rubrics of the 2002 Missal do no such thing. To what are you referring?

  70. Shane says:

    It also seems, Dr., that you are critiquing my thoughts on the basis of flaws in the modern calendar or rite of Mass. That’s really not relevant to my thoughts, because I made clear that it wasn’t at issue which calendar was used, so long as only one was indeed used.

    If the Church were to return to the old calendar, that would be fine with me. I just think that there very clearly needs to be one calendar. The only thing I said about the new calendar is that I think it is tidier. I like the structure of Solemnity, Feast, Memorial, Optional Memorial, and Commemoration. I think it works nicely. However, if gaining a unified calendar meant scrapping this in favor of the older calendar, that would be fine with me.

    Peace and God bless

  71. The rubrics of the 2002 Missal allow for the transfer of several major feasts (Epiphany, Ascension, Corpus Christi). The result is a situation where in the same country (USA), you can have Ascension on 2 different days.

  72. Michael says:

    “The problem is when you have two entirely different calendars going on, such that some might honor Pius V on April 30th and others on May 5th.”

    If this is a problem within a rite, why is it not a problem within the Church as a whole? Should the calendars of the Eastern Chuch and the Latin Church also be synchronized?

  73. Shane says:

    The rubrics of the 2002 Missal allow for the transfer of several major feasts (Epiphany, Ascension, Corpus Christi). The result is a situation where in the same country (USA), you can have Ascension on 2 different days.

    The rubrics do not allow for this. Canon Law permits bishops to transfer these feasts. A priest can’t simply change these on his own. As the original article pointed out, the 1917 code permitted the same thing.

  74. Shane says:

    If this is a problem within a rite, why is it not a problem within the Church as a whole? Should the calendars of the Eastern Chuch and the Latin Church also be synchronized?

    In my opinion, this is a problem within the Church. I’m with Pope Victor: the Eastern Churches ought to be celebrating things the same time the Western Church does.

    But that’s not how it’s been done for 2,000 years, so that’s not how it’s done.

    The thing is that at least that involves different Churches. The Byzantine Church, e.g., versus the Roman Church. It is – even if I dislike it – the traditional practice of the Catholic Church for different Churches to have different practice in these matters. It is not the traditional practice for there to be disunity within a single Church. It is a rupture in continuity.

    Apart from that, it just creates unnecessary divisions in the Church. There exists a real division between Romans and Maronites: Romans are in the Church of Rome, Maronites are not. For them to have different practice and to be going on a different calendar is within the context of this legitimate division. To have individuals within a single Church, however, operating with different practice and calendar is not in the context of a legitimate division. It is to create a new division where no legitimate division exists, and really to begin to make two different Churches altogether.

    I don’t want to have the Old Roman Church and the New Roman Church. That’s one of the things Pope Benedict is trying to avoid with Sommorum Pontificum in the first place.

    Peace and God bless

  75. Shane, the rubrics DO allow for it. The Missale of 2002 makes very clear that in some areas certain feasts are transferred, and provides proper texts for substitution in those areas (e.g., the Thursday that is usually the Ascension, January 6 when not the Epiphany, etc.). The 1985-1987 Liturgia Horarum does the same thing. It’s true an individual priest can decide for himself when Ascension is, but in the same state of Nebraska the Ascension isn’t celebrated on the same day everywhere in the Novus Ordo.

  76. Err, can’t decide

  77. Shane says:

    Dr.,

    The rubrics do not allow the feasts to be transfered. Because many bishops have transfered the feasts, the rubrics specify what texts ought to be read when this has been done. They do not have the transfer built in as a part of the rubrics, however. If they did, then any priest would be able to transfer the feast if he can.

    The rubrics reflect the fact that so many bishops transfered these feasts that it became a de facto “part” of the Liturgical calendar. It’s not something that the rubrics were put together envisioning.

    Peace and God bless

  78. LCB says:

    Shane, I think you and the doctor are saying the same thing, in different ways.

  79. If the rubrics were not put together with this in mind, then it wouldn’t have been part of the 1970 typical edition (which it is), and, indeed, the 1969 typical edition of the Calendarium, which was promulgated separate from the Missal on 14 February, 1969.

    There were never texts for days like “Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter” or “January 6 (when not Epiphany)” until 1970.

  80. Richard Freeman says:

    Most of you are missing the point here, though Perkins shows a flash of insight. The present case has little to do with the advisability of tinkering with the calendar in this particular instance in England and everything to do with the principle that has been established by doing so. The Ecclesia Dei Commission has now declared itself to have a universal authority over the traditional calendar, and, by implication, over the mass itself and has shown a willingness to use that authority (real or imagined) in an arbitrary and destructive manner at the behest of those we thought Summorum was designed to circumvent, our old friends the liberal bishops. Thus it is not so much this dubious dubium we have to worry about but the one that will no doubt follow it and the one after that. Ecclesia Dei has shown us clearly that it has the power to ruin Summorum Pontificum. It needs to be reined in. The right kind of pressure needs to be applied in the right place. Pray for this. And, yes, I do agree with Perkins, without a bishop of our own to fight for us our throats will always be bared to the knives of the bureaucrats.

  81. Richard has a point. I have great respect for the Commission, and I will say this: they have always been consistent. A private letter to me some years ago noted that when using the 1962 books, one could always use the modern calendar. In other words, on 14 May, a free day in the 1962 books, you could lawfully celebrate Saint Mathias along with the Novus Ordinarians.

    However, they did not say you couldn’t follow the 1962 rubrics integrally. Thus back on the Saint Joseph Day debacle, they didn’t say you had to celebrate Joseph on March 15…they said you could, since they seem to have decided that one can always use the modern calendar.

    They’ve never issued a private — let alone public — letter that bars you from following the 1962 calendar. And, in any case, private letters do not rubrical changes make.

  82. RBrown says:

    Richard has a point. I have great respect for the Commission, and I will say this: they have always been consistent. A private letter to me some years ago noted that when using the 1962 books, one could always use the modern calendar. In other words, on 14 May, a free day in the 1962 books, you could lawfully celebrate Saint Mathias along with the Novus Ordinarians.
    Comment by Dr. Lee Fratantuono

    That’s why I would like to see the Latin text of the dubium. Was it in the subjunctive, but became a “must” after going through the English bishops’ alembic?

  83. I doubt the dubium was answered in Latin. I’m sure both question and answer were in English.

  84. RBrown says:

    I doubt the dubium was answered in Latin. I’m sure both question and answer were in English.
    Comment by Dr. Lee Fratantuono

    Why are you sure of it? Have you seen the texts?

    It would surprise me that Latin would not be used for an official document.

  85. Vatican dicasteries do not uniformly answer in Latin, especially if the original was not in Latin.

  86. RBrown says:

    Vatican dicasteries do not uniformly answer in Latin, especially if the original was not in Latin.
    Comment by Dr. Lee Fratantuono

    Could you give me some examples?

  87. RBrown: I can give one. Think of the way that the CDW responded to the dubium about GRIM 299 when they had to explain the LATIN GRAMMAR in the face of the errant interpretation that 299 indicated that Mass had to be versus populum.

  88. RBrown says:

    I can give one. Think of the way that the CDW responded to the dubium about GRIM 299 when they had to explain the LATIN GRAMMAR in the face of the errant interpretation that 299 indicated that Mass had to be versus populum.
    Comment by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

    OK, but what were their other options? Explaining in Latin the error of a poor Latin translation would be asking for more trouble.

    And, of course, even though “expedit” is not in the subjunctive, we have yet another example of a “must” interpretation when the Latin does not call for it.

    Finally, I have to say that I have doubts about the translation of altare maius extruatur as “must be built”. IMHO, the long history of altars “non a pariete seiunctum” considered in light of the Roman concept of precedence (stare decisis) would make any de iure break from that practice all but impossible. But a de facto interpretation of extruatur as “must be built” would be allowed. Such an interpretation, however, could be reversed by later bishops with such authority.

  89. In general, the Latin rubrics of the modern period (really apparent even in the 1960 Codex Rubricarum, and some 1950s era rubrics) are less precise and less direct. Many hortatory, optative, potential and deliberative subjunctives abound. Indeed, the rubrical problems are sometimes not the fault of the vernacular versions, but the imprecision of the Latin original.

  90. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I’ve just found out that, since the far-left Canadian bishops of the 1970s abolished rather than transferred four of our six holydays (leaving the other two untouched), this decision of the P.C.E.D. has no relevance for my country. Traditionalists here can simply observe the old holydays as if they were still in force (which is what I do for the Eucharistic and Lenten fasts) and then ask the celebrant if he would please have Masses on those days. But if a priest in Canada does not have an Ascension Day Mass (for instance), the Mass for the Sunday will have to be the Mass of the ‘Sunday after the Ascension’ in Canada. So we are not affected. This year, in my Diocese, the priest did not have an Ascension Day Mass (for various reasons: he likely will have holyday Masses for us in the future), so I simply repaired to the Byzantine Rite, where we got one. Tomorrow, we shall have the Mass of the Sunday after the Ascension.

    Thank God this does not affect my country. I will pray for those in other countries which might be affected.

    P.K.T.P.

  91. RBrown says:

    In general, the Latin rubrics of the modern period (really apparent even in the 1960 Codex Rubricarum, and some 1950s era rubrics) are less precise and less direct. Many hortatory, optative, potential and deliberative subjunctives abound. Indeed, the rubrical problems are sometimes not the fault of the vernacular versions, but the imprecision of the Latin original.
    Comment by Dr. Lee Fratantuono

    I wouldn’t call it a lack of precision in the Latin original. In such a use of the subjunctive, the power of the phrase, which has a very courteous, understated tone, is a reference to the authority of the office.

    A similar usage is found in Sacrosanctum Concilium, Cap IV, De Officio Divino, 89d, “Hora Prima supprimatur”. But: In so far as the origin of Prime goes back to the 4th century, is mandated by the Rule of Benedict, and is probably found in every Dominican Breviary for 700 years, I don’t think it can be held that VatII had the authority to command the suppression of Prime. Thus the translation cannot be “The Hour of Prime must be suppressed”.

    The same principle is to be applied to “altare maius exstruatur”.

  92. RBrown says:

    The irony is that the Church sometimes doesn’t even have the civil authority to mandate altars apart from the wall. There is the famous story of Cardinal John Knox. Upon taking possession of his titular Church, Santa Maria in Vallicella, he decided that a reckovation was in order. But he soon discovered that it was state-owned, and he had no authority to order such changes. And the state told him No.

  93. Oh, I think a case could be made that the Latin rubrics are less precise these days. The word “laudabiliter” is a favorite of the neo-Latinists: something is “praiseworthy”. Of course that doesn’t mean it must be done, or even should be done…simply that you deserve praise if you did it, and if you don’t, well, you’re not wrong, you’re just not getting a liturgical gold star for the day.