ASK FATHER: Feasts of new saints in the Traditional Latin Mass

From a reader…


I was able to attend the talk by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski the other night in Minneapolis but so many hands were going up I was not able to ask my question. Do you think at some point the 1962 Missal will be revised, even if in another century? Just thinking it’d be good to add some saints like St. Theresa of Kolkata. Your opinion on this please.

Ah, the nearly-ubiquitous Dr. K in my native place.  I’m sure that was engaging.

To the question.

YES and the sooner the better.   The traditional Missal can and ought to be updated in respect to the “Sanctoral Cycle”, the Propers for Saints.  This would be an obvious element of “mutual enrichment” from the newer to the older form in a way that the older form would be left stable and unsullied.

This sort of change is simultaneously extremely easy and normal, and also very thorny and difficult.

It is easy and normal in that the Missal was constantly updated as new saints were canonized and feasts were introduced into the calendar.  Pius V issued the Roman Missal in 1570.  Already in 1571 Pius introduced the new Feast of Our Lady of Victory.   This is what we do: we adjust and adapt those things which can shift according to time and trends.  Devotion to particular saints rises and falls off over time, depending on the needs of the time.   We have always adjusted the calendar and our Missal in accord with the times, in respect to the sanctoral cycle.

It is thorny and difficult in that we have two active calendars right now in the Roman Rite.   The Novus Ordo calendar has been massively changed around, eliminating seasons and octaves, moving feasts of saints around, etc.   New saints have been introduced all along the way in the Novus Ordo.  There is, therefore, a big disconnect with the older, traditional calendar, which froze at 1962.

So, changes like introducing new saints into the traditional calendar is both easy and not easy at all.  It is easy, because we have always done it.  It is hard, because it opens the can of worms which is the task of harmonizing two calendars which are hard to harmonize.

I don’t think it is impossible to do this, but it won’t be easy.  One reason why it won’t be easy is that some few people will completely freak out at the idea of changing one tittle or jot on any page of the 1962 Missal.   I can sympathize, because we need a long period of stability in the use of the Roman Rite in the older, traditional form.   However, we can maintain that stability and introduce the feasts of new saints with their own propers.

It seems to me entirely appropriate that we have available for the traditional Latin Mass, a Feast of St. Gianna Beretta Molla with her own proper, rather than use the generic Common.   We should have propers for saints who are important for our time, such as Sts. Maximilian Kolbe, Josephine Bakhita, Charles Lwanga, the Martyrs of Otranto, etc.

Happily, I know that some of these issues are being studied in Rome.  I don’t know what effect the transformation or suppression of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” might have on the project.  It seems to me that it won’t be wholly positive.

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31 Responses to ASK FATHER: Feasts of new saints in the Traditional Latin Mass

  1. DelRayVA says:

    I guess this raises the question of why was the calendar changed? Did Vatican II require changing the calendar? If so, what were the goods that the change was supposed to bring about?

  2. Traductora says:

    Very good points. I think the impact of the change to the calendar is seriously underestimated by many people, including TLM devotees, and had at least as much if not more impact on Catholics than the other changes. I lived through this, and I can say that most people could adapt to the 1965 Missal. Basically, it was a vernacular translation of the earlier Low Mass with a few sometimes misguided “simplifications” that could have been corrected over time.

    But what people were really upset about, at least in NYC where I grew up, was the changes to the saints days and the seasons and their readings. Thank you for calling attention to this.

  3. Eriugena says:

    There could be hundreds of Missae pro aliquibus locis , and the Mass of a Confessor Bishop specified according to the traditional lists.

  4. Imrahil says:

    Dear DelRayVA,

    well, no, Vatican II did not require the calendar to be changed – I guess, though I’d have to re-read Sacrosanctum Concilium to give a safe answer.

    All the same, there are things that make the change of the Calendar – the Proprium sanctorum, to be more precise – good in principle.

    One of the reasons is that we, happily, get new Saints every so often, and the faithful populace will want to celebrate them. Also, sometimes very old, traditional feasts fall off attention, and we might think it is a good idea to revive them.

    Another is an “inherited problem”, so to speak. I hope you don’t doubt my traditionalist attitude, but to my mind there’s no denying that all of the changes post-1570, while each (or most) defensible in itself, do add up to the Calendar taken as a whole going a little haywire with Saints, in the years up to 1911. Unfortunately, I’ll need to resort to a little bit of “technicalese” to explain.

    The original tridentine Calendar distinguished between three (big) classes of feasts, called the double (for whatever reason), semidouble, and simple. (Doubles were further subdivided into such of the I, of the II, and minor doubles, later inserting the category of “major double” between those of the II class and the minor ones).

    The original ideas was that doubles were the “big feasts”, semidoubles were the lesser feasts, and simples were what I might call, precision set aside, a sort of “weekdays”, where the weekday just took the form of celebrating a specific saint. (Though the simple was still festive, in having Gloria, Benedicite and Te Deum in the Office, white or red vestments, and things like that).

    One instance where this distinction survived until the 1950s is the case of the sisters of Bethany, where St. Mary Magdalen had a double (a minor double, actually) and St. Martha had a semidouble.

    – There also appears to have been a rule that layman Confessors, no matter how holy or popular, did not get a double; hence e.g. the feast of St. L0uis, St. Stephen of Hungary was a semidouble.

    Apart from that, though, what happened was simply that (almost) every time a Saint was canonized, the thinking seems to have been “if he’s good enough for the altars, he’s good enough for a double”. Quite understandable each on his own; after all, they were glorious examples of (in very many cases) monastic (and sometimes mystic) life, founders of congregations, great bishops of the Church, and so forth. But when all things were added up, the result was this:

    Suddenly there’s no feast of St. Margaret of Antioch virgin and martyr any-more (because it originally was a simple), but a feast of St. Geronimo Emiliani bishop and confessor, Commemoration of St. Margaret; no feast of Sts. Gervase and Protase martyrs, but a feast of St. Giuliana Falconieri virgin, Commemoration of Sts. Gervase and Protase; no feast of St. Maurice and Companions martyrs, but a feast of St. Thomas of Villanova bishop and confessor, Com. of St. Maurice &C., no feast of St. Barbara virgin and martyr, patroness of miners, artillerists, mathematicians and of the Barbara twig that grows green until Christmas, but instead a feast of St. Peter Chrysologus bishop, Confessor and Doctor of the Church, who actually died not on December 4th but according to the old reference books on December the 2nd and according to newer evidence on July 31st. He got the 4th of December because the 2nd of December had, back in the days, already been occupied by the feast of St. Bibiana virgin and martyr semidouble, who, I am sorry to say, has just about no popular cult at all, apart from the fact that due to her name she is sometimes remembered by people whose last beer didn’t really do them good.

    Or, take the popular case of St. John Mary Vianney. He actually died on August 4th, but he couldn’t be celebrated there, because that day was occupied by the feast of St. Dominic who didn’t die on August 4th, but on August 6th. He got the 4th, back in the days, because his natalis was occupied by the feast of the Transfiguration, and the following days were occupied by the feasts of St. Donatus bp and martyr (later to be replaced by the feast of St. Cajetan founder of the congregation of the Theatines, Confessor, Com. of St. Donatus), St. Cyriacus, Largus and Smaragdus martyrs semidouble, the Vigil of St. Lawrence, St. Lawrence himself and Sts. Tiburtius and Susanna martyrs. So they preferred to move him before his natalis and celebrated him on the 4th instead (the 5th also being occupied by the feast of St. Mary of the Snows). So the fourth was no longer free for St. Johnmary Vianney, and so they settled, at first, on reducing the Vigil of St. Lawrence to a commemoration – while all the time noone was really interested, I am sorry to say, in celebrating St. Cyriacus and St. Tiburtius and Susanna.
    Pope St. John XXIII then moved him one day nearer to his natalis, on the replaced feast of St. Cyriacus etc. This was the state that was frozen in in 1962, with St. Johnmary on the 8th, rather than 4th, and St. Dominic on the 4th, rather than 6th (occupied by the Transfiguration in any case). It does make sense to switch their places, as the Novus Ordo did.

    And with all that adding up, it just so happened that, according to Wikipedia, in 1907 there were 208 doubles (of their diverse ranks) on the calendar. To make ourselves clear what that means, we perhaps ought to think of doubles as “feasts” in the Novus Ordo sense or “2nd class feasts” in the 1962 sense (with the II class doubles being “1st class of the 2nd class”, the major doubles being “2nd class of the 2nd class”, the minor doubles being “3rd class of the 2nd class”) – and recall that until 1911, doubles took precedence over the Sundays after Epiphany and after Pentecost.

    Long story short:

    there were simply too many too high-ranked feasts on the Calendar; which is why Pope St. Pius X started a reform. And once reforms are started, both the principles “Rome wasn’t built on a day” and “good changes tend to be overdone and then need to be corrected again” hold.

    (So, somewhen in 1960 or so, major and minor doubles, and semidoubles were classified as “III class feasts” all put together, with the simples reduced to “commemorations” – a new category which previously had only been used for feasts commemorated in a celebration of higher rank. This means that St. Mary Magdalen or St. Augustine now have the same rank as, say, St. Marcellus pope and martyr or St. Antoninus bishop and Confessor. Also, they realized that hardly any weekday of Lent is said, as they originally gave way to semidoubles and above. Now they give only way to 1st and 2nd class feasts, which has the contrary effect that we almost never have a Mass of St. Thomas Aquinas, formerly a double, and never actually a Mass of St. Benedict, formerly a major double, unless they enjoy the privilege of higher rank locally.)

    Which is, long story short again, why the idea of further reforming, until things are really fine, is in itself right.

  5. Charles Sercer says:

    I suppose this is an example of why it is a “thorny” issue:

    Since you mentioned St. Maximilian Kolbe, it would be interesting to see how that would be worked out. The only way he could have his proper Mass said on his current feast day – August 14 – is if the Vigil of the Assumption was abolished. So that would be an example of one of the difficulties of resolving the new calendar. I am aware that one of the reasons given for changing up a lot of feast days in the calendar change was so that saints’ feasts days would match up with their death/birth into eternal life if it was possible. Personally, I think that is a good principle; however, in my opinion, this would be an instance that I would either say:

    1) Keep him on August 14th, and commemorate him at the Vigil Mass, along with St. Eusebius, who already exists on the ’62 calendar for this day; or
    2) Choose some other date for his feast so that he could have a proper Mass celebrated on his official feast day; whether that be the closest open date to August 14, or some other significant date in St. Maximilian’s life.

    In other words, for St. Maximilian Kolbe, the considerations are as follows:
    1) Are we adamant about celebrating his feast on August 14?
    1a) If so, ought he to take precedence over the Vigil of the Assumption, or is it sufficient to make a commemoration of him at the Vigil Mass?
    1b/2) If not – i.e. if we would rather that he have his proper Mass, but would wish that Vigil of the Assumption be kept in all its importance – then let us find an appropriate date on which can be said a proper Mass in his honor. This would be a purely preferential consideration, it seems, unless the competent authorities could accurately ascertain his importance for the universal Church. It would seem to go into the question of what honors a saint more – commemorating him at Mass, or saying a whole proper (or Mass taken from a common) for him; and is his feast day important enough that it should be fixed upon a day on which a proper Mass can be said – i.e. a day which would not displace another important liturgical day.

    Sorry, I probably repeated myself a lot.

  6. JSzczuka says:

    I would love this idea if it weren’t for the most recent, mostly “Francis” saints. If some go in, won’t they all have to go in? I can’t imagine celebrating Paul VI in the Latin mass.

  7. Imrahil says:

    Dear Charles Sercer,

    in my view the obvious choice for St. Maximilian is August 17th, with St. Hyacinth moved one day further ahead to the 18th, Commemoration of St. Agapitus.

    Or else, if the original idea of celebrating St. Joachim on the Sunday after Assumption should be revived (he was put onto the 16th only later, with the intention that the Sunday be free for the Sunday Mass) on August 16th, with St. Hyacinth (back then on the 16th) on the 17th (as he is now).

    Rather more complicated is the case of St. Edith Stein (whom by the way, like St. Maximilian, I really would like to see on the Calendar). The simple solution would be to put her to August 9th, reducing the Vigil of St. Lawrence to a commemoration. However, we might also think that August 13th is (comparatively) free, and put her there; perhaps with the additional rule that in years where August the 13th is on a Saturday and hence the anticipated Vigil of the Assumption (though I guess the anticipation of Vigils on Saturdays was abolished somewhen), putting her then on August 9th to have replaced rather the Vigil of St. Lawrence than the more important Vigil of the Assumption.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    I used to read the old Roman Martyrology daily, and was surprised to see that the post-Vatican II reform seemed to make a real attempt at placing the feast days of saints on their proper “dies natalis”. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.

  9. HvonBlumenthal says:

    AI agree with J Szczuka. The infallibility of some of the Bergoglian canonizations may yet come under scrutiny in a subsequent papacy. Some of them are not so much canonizations of saints but canonizations of Vatican II.

  10. WmHesch says:

    If St Maximilian Kolbe gets a martyr’s Office in the 62 calendar, then St Aloysius Gonzaga should as well.

    My point: St Maximilian was not a martyr by any traditional definition thereof and should not be celebrated as such on the traditional calendar.

  11. JonathanTX says:

    Who exactly would be composing the texts of these propers? If they are going to be written by Francisists, then I’d rather just wait another few decades.

  12. WmHesch says:

    If I were a crafty Curia bureaucrat, I’d:

    1) introduce feasts for Fatima and Padre Pio ad libitum- to the cheers of many misguided Trads

    2) wait a few years, then introduce more controversial feasts like Divine Mercy and JPII

    3) then go for the home run: incorporate the new Lectionary and temporal cycle in the name of liturgical unity

  13. grumpyoldCatholic says:

    why even bother with the 1962 missal? we need to go back to previous missals I use the 1950 St Joseph’s daily missal.

  14. MotherTeresa says:

    The problem is not “Francis” saints, it is the entire process of post-Vatican II canonization. If my numbers are right, only about 30 saints were canonized during the 19th century. But John Paul II canonized over 100 (much more counting groups), just during his pontificate, and both Benedict and Francis were on a similar pace. The 1983 change in canon law made it drastically easier to canonize, and at the same time completely [?] undermined the authority and legitimacy of the entire canonization process. I don’t think any post-Vatican II canonization–even those of true Catholic heroes, can be considered infallible. The “Francis” canonizations just make that glaringly obvious. [Does it?]

    [Perhaps your name is “Teresa” and you are indeed a mother. Otherwise, your comment and your username provide quite an ironical smile. Also, this is a reason why I am not a fan of usernames of real, historical people. What your position doesn’t take into consideration is that the modern tools of travel and communication can speed up greatly the process of a cause. It is easier to obtain, translate, and distribute documents. It takes much less time to investigate and to travel. These factors have also contributed to the numbers and the speed of causes.]

  15. Danteewoo says:

    Alas, after Josemaria Escriva was canonized, I cannot take any recent canonizations seriously. But then again, I have no trouble, since I attend an Eastern Rite parish, and its calendar looks like it hadn’t been updated for a thousand years at least, with the interesting exception of St. Francis of Assisi.

  16. Today, in the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, any saint in the Martyrologium Romanum (2004), not already on the Roman Calendar, may be celebrated as an optional memorial on the assigned day (or any other day when that votive Mass would not be impeded). The same was true (using the old Martyrology) in 1962. I see no reason why saints not on the 1962 Calendar cannot be so celebrated (on their day in the old Martyrology, if canonized before 1962; on their 2004 date, if after). Or if impeded, in either case, as a votive on a suitable day.

    On the other hand, the regular (going back to Trent) reforms of the calendar have always aimed at reducing the number of saints days (and their rank) so as not to obscure the ferial office—something that is now happening again with the large numbers of saints being added to the calendar. So use of this option should only be done for good pastoral reason.

  17. Nan says:

    My Ruthenian parish doesn’t move or suppress feast days. If Palm Sunday falls on the Annunciation like it did last year, we celebrate both.

  18. Charles Sercer says:

    That seems to be a good solution to me. I would agree that the Vigil of the Assumption should remain free and thus would put Maximilian Kolbe on a free (or free enough) day near his date of death. If it were August 17th, well, since I am a fan of restoring most of the octaves, the Assumption definitely being among them, the next question would be, would St. Maximilian be ranked higher than a day within an octave? I think previously the Assumption was a common octave, and so any feast ranked semidouble or higher could be celebrated during it.

  19. Charles Sercer says:

    I understand your “technalese” or whatever – lately I have done a lot of studying on pre-1955 rubrics, primarily for the office. I don’t know, I am certainly no expert. On one hand, it seems that the pre-1955 way of doing things was confusing, and in terms of saints, that there were a lot of obscure saints whose cult no longer really exists. And also that especially pre-1910 that the calendar was very crowded, with the result that Sundays were rarely celebrated as such in the liturgy, and ferias basically didn’t exist, with the result that there would be very, very much repetition from day to day in the office especially. And so with that in mind, it seems reasonable to have desired some reform; not because it is bad to celebrate saints every day in the office and Mass, of course, but perhaps more to reduce burdensome repetition in the office and to become more grounded in the temporal cycle. (Well, maybe a lot has been written about this in the course of the liturgical movement, but although I grew up with the Novus Ordo and the idea of the temporal cycle taking more precedence over the sanctoral, actually I think it would be okay to question/look into whether it is really such a bad thing to be celebrating a saint every day, perhaps with the exception of Sundays.)

    So Pius X of course began this reform. It seems that, aside from destroying the psalter as it had traditionally existed, his reforms were good. It restored some importance to the temporal cycle, and changed the ways that certain liturgical rankings dictated how to say the office so that there was less repetition of festal Psalms, at least. I question the removal of any repetition whatsoever – for example, it seems unnecessary to do away with the same Compline Psalms every day, and to remove the daily recitation of the Laudate psalms – but overall, it seems his calendar reforms were not too bad.

    Pius XII made the next major liturgical changes; with regard to the calendar, it seems he made some major changes, getting rid of semidoubles and then those corresponding ranking changes and getting rid of all but 3 octaves. Aside from that, though, he kept most liturgical days the same, though some rankings were changed. In evaluating his changes – well, again, I am no expert, but maybe the getting rid of semidoubles was okay; as you noted, a new saint was automatically given a double ranking, seemingly making the semidouble and simple rankings frozen. Perhaps after that was necessary simply to renew or create criteria for how a feast day is ranked, rather than creating a whole new system as John the XXIII did.

    I am going on much longer than I intended. I think what I originally meant to get into in replying was to mention that I question many of the changes to the calendar in the 1900s for the same reason you criticize the developments from Trent to Pius X – namely, the changes in the 1900s taken by themselves are not all that bad, or not bad at all (you used “defensible”) – things went “haywire” because the idea of reforming everything became the thing, became the driving force, with little to no attention/reverence being paid to what came before, and therefore, in some way, reducing the liturgy/office to something subject to the whims of what every new generation thinks is a good idea, rather than as something that must be understood as it is and loved for what it is and as it has already been handed down, so that each and every generation can truly be said to have simply handed down to the next generation what they themselves received. That, to me, is the worst thing about all these changes, beginning with Pius X – as a result, even if we concede that the changes in themselves were fine (but actually a lot of them were awful and misguided), we now think of the liturgy as needing to conform to us, to our modern concerns, as malleable to the age, rather than a timeless gem that is to be taken and understood as it is and lovingly passed on from generation to generation.

  20. Ossification is a real thing. And it can be bad, as so many good comments here illustrate. Ossification does not allow the good changes to occur while people are attached more to the details of liturgies instead of the love of God and obedience to Him [to-wit: the Old Catholics of Alaska and others cemented to their preferences].
    Our holy Church is a living breathing thing where good change can and should happen in an organic way, while being faithful to holy Tradition.
    Not being able to add in perfectly worthy observances for Our Lady of Fatima or Padre Pio and others to the present Tridentine Masses disturbs me too.
    The conflict occurs in that ossification has protected us from bad changes. Not only in the liturgies, calendars, disciplines, the Office, but the process of canonization also changed drastically and dangerously. Maybe some recently canonized are fine, while others I am not sure of at all. Canonizations used to be for those who demonstrated the best of the best behaviors and the highest examples for us to follow for our own sanctity. When the Devil’s Advocate no longer brings to light questionable behavior so that the process responds and explains, what are we to think? Therefore if the process is compromised, is the arguably infallible canonization actually a canonization? Form, matter, and intention are all required in everything the Church does – the canonization process must reflect that as well.

    So here we are, stuck in an ossified and perhaps imperfect calendar and disciplines because we have nowhere else to turn.

  21. MotherTeresa says:

    Goodness Father Z., with due respect, I did not expect a reply or correction!!! Thanks you for your attention. Please allow me to clarify my concerns. I am sorry if my assessment of the “infallibility” of recent canonizations was overly-frank but it is based on real concerns. Please correct if I am significantly in error. [Also, yes, yes, on name and station. ]

    1) I believe that papal approval for canonization did not arise until around the 10th century, and before that, most of those venerated throughout the Church were martyrs.
    2) The process of canonization evolved during the Middle Ages, but was firmly established at Trent as requiring 2 miracles for beatification, 2 additional miracles for canonization, and appointment of a “devil’s advocate” to actively work to uncover hidden character flaws. [The modern process which in its essentials remains today was established by Benedict XIV in the 18th c. The number of miracles required changed over time.]
    3) Very significant changes were made during Vatican II in the process of canonization. [No.] The number of miracles were reduced significantly, and the role of the “Devil’s Advocate” role became consultative rather than adversarial. [No.]
    4) Yes, communication became much easier in the last century, but I believe the great loosening of requirements for canonization were a much more significant factor. [No.]

    I accept that there are no dogmatic guidelines for canonization so the Pope can do anything he wants. [No.] But it is also true that there is no declaration of infallibility of the canonization process. [The opinion of the vast majority of theologians over several centuries is that canonization is infallible. Since the Council some theologians have developed anti-infallibilist positions. However, the great majority still hold to infallibility.]
    So there is no dogmatic reason that we faithful Catholics need to accept the “infallibility” of ANY modern canonization, but of course, we would all very, very much like to believe that when our Mother Church teaches a saint is “certainly” in heaven, she is speaking the truth. There is no doctrinal error involved, only the credibility of our institutions. It is a matter of trust. [And the bulls of canonizations issued by Popes in the past called for anathemas against those who doubted their declarations.]

    Unfortunately, the canonization of hundreds of saints in a short period, including several suspicious and controversial characters, [Like Jerome?] just does more to undermine trust in our institutional Church. [So do comments like this.]

    The frankness stops here!!! Thank you for your time.

  22. Perhaps this thought can be of comfort:
    Consider how Christ, St. John the Baptist and the faithful Jews were members of the Essenes. This group was truly pre-Catholic and had preserved the true faith of Judaism, which included belief in the resurrection. I don’t know a whole lot about the Essenes, but I have considered how these faithful straddled the bad and the good at their confusing moment in history.
    We see them obedient to the important things – the Circumcision, the Presentation, Christ who sends the lepers to the High Priest after healing them, the Passover [there appears to be two observances maybe – the one Christ and his apostles observed at the Last Supper, and then again after Christ’s crucifixion as they rushed to bury Christ’s body?], there were two high-priests, Herod the ‘king’ of the Jews wasn’t really the king, the Royal House of David was suppressed and impoverished, so much confusion! Yet these Essenes submitted in obedience, observing the chain of command where possible. When Christ sent the lepers to the High Priest, this is the same that He knew as unjust, hypocritical white-washed sepulchers, and would put Him to death – yet He submitted in obedience where possible. Christ submitted to unjust authority all the way to His death. And then there is the example of Joseph of Arimithea who must have suffered in his job for sure in the Sanhedrin as he was helpless to stop the execution of the Messiah – but was in place to get the body of Christ and bury Him.

    My uneducated point here is that like the Essenes, there is an example for us to comfort us as we live two calendars, two disciplines, and in hope that God is coming to get us out of this mess and make everything new again.
    [Let’s pray for endurance and perseverance of us all. For conversions. Pray the Rosary. Pray for the immediate triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.]

  23. Fr. Kelly says:

    So there is no dogmatic reason that we faithful Catholics need to accept the “infallibility” of ANY modern canonization, but of course, we would all very, very much like to believe that when our Mother Church teaches a saint is “certainly” in heaven, she is speaking the truth. There is no doctrinal error involved, only the credibility of our institutions. It is a matter of trust.

    MT, Don’t be so sure that we are free to reject the Church’s declaration of sanctity in a canonization.
    When our Mother Church canonizes one of her children, she teaches that this saint is certainly in heaven and recommends him for our veneration or devotion and as one to pray to for intercession.
    This person, being dead, has undergone the particular judgment and so has been judged definitively for heaven or hell. (If he is in Purgatory, that is on the way to heaven.)
    Thus if the Church could be wrong about the judgment that this canonizee is in heaven, then she could propose for our veneration or devotion a soul who is in hell. But this is impossible.
    Due to the gift of indefectibility, our Holy Mother the Church cannot fail by directing her children toward hell.
    Let’s not be too quick in claiming a freedom to deny the veracity of the Church’s formal declarations of sanctity.

  24. Imrahil says:

    Dear Charles Sercer,

    (referring only to your first comment; to the second maybe later),

    well, of course St. Maximilian would rank higher than the octave, and would either be ranked just high enough that he does so, or be given a special exception. After all, the Church decides about the ranks, and the Church can make exceptions from her laws.

    (And in the age of the computer, the thought “it must be simple enough that your average non-expert priest and other prayer of the office does not have to work too hard to figure it out” is maybe less pressing than it used to be.)

    After all, there were good aspects of the “celebrating all sorts of things together” of previous times. And this, though then not present, would be a great example. I cannot easily think of things more fitting than celebrating the Octave of the Assumption by way of celebrating the possibly greatest known specific devotee of our Lady Immaculate of the 20th century (with the possible exception of the seers of Fatima, and of Pope St. John Paul II). Of course, there would be an actual commemoration alongside.

    (In fact, he might have been canonized for that even if he had died peacefully in a free Poland.)

  25. MotherTeresa says:

    Fr. Kelly,
    Thank you again for your response and attention. I am very surprised to get not one, but two responses from good priests, and I greatly respect your position. But if I am wrong about this important point, I would very much like you to directly to the exact error in my thinking. My previous post, which you quote from but deleted, listed the precise reasons I have difficulty accepting modern canonizations. Notice, that I did not object to any individual canonization, just questioned whether we, as faithful Catholics were bound by any dogmatic constitution to accept canonizations as infallible. If there is such a teaching that applies specifically to canonization of saints, I would very much like to know.

    I teach Catholic theology to high schoolers, so I am well aware of the gift of indefectibility of the Church. But my students include good and faithful Catholics from both Novus Ordo and Traditionalist communities. I downplay the infallibility of canonizations, not to undermine the Church, but to prevent time and effort being spent explaining how certain controversial characters must be held up as icons for all faithful. My purpose is always unity among Catholics rather than division.
    Since my post was deleted. Let me re-iterate my main claims.
    1) There is no dogmatically recognized process for canonization. The pope is free to do what he wants with canonizations.
    2) The pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals ONLY. (ie. Not canonizations).
    3) The process of canonization was changed after Vatican II, to make it far less rigorous and to remove the adversarial function of the “Devil’s Advocate”.
    4) The number of saints canonized and blessed beatified in the last fifty years exceeds the number number canonized in the last 500 years. A number of these have been controversial.
    I am perfect aware that it is a dangerous path to go down to start doubting non-dogmatic Church teachings. But It is the rash and controversial actions of the Vatican that have set us down this path, not the ill-will of the faithful.
    Again, if you could be very specific in pointing out the error in my thinking, I would deeply appreciate it.
    God Bless, and thank you for your response.

  26. Alexander Verbum says:

    Incorporating the newer saints into the traditional Roman Calendar would be a good idea. However, only after there is a reform of the canonization process and certain candidates who have been canonized under the new system receive a more thorough reevaluation.

    First, the canonization process itself needs reformed so as to more critically examine the works and actions of a candidate in line with Catholic teaching and praxis. Examples: Paul VI’s writings were not completely examined – and John Paul II’s actions against the faith somehow went under the radar.

    Second, there needs to be some reevaluation of recent canonized persons in order to ensure that they are worthy of emulation and possessed heroic virtue (not necessarily about their heavenly status, but about them being a good example for the faithful).

    Example: John Paul II’s canonization was imprudent as he was a mixed example for the faithful. Some instances of his actions and writings are dangerous – particularly the Assisi meetings where he accommodated pagans in worshiping false gods and committing sacrilege on consecrated Church ground. He was an accessory to breaking the first commandment, sacrilege, and breaking the moral law – this is made worse when we realize that pagan gods are essentially demonic according to St. Paul.

    Additionally, JPII had his weird prayer to have St. John the Baptist protect Islam, errors concerning Christ’s knowledge while on earth, error about the mutual submission of husband and wife, liturgical abuses, scantily clad women appearing before him, etc. etc. etc.

    Such men do not deserve canonization and hence their cults should be suppressed in the new calendar and never introduced in the old calendar.

    We need to reform the canonization process and eliminate bad examples like JPII, Paul VI, Mother Teresa, etc. before moving forward.

  27. veritas vincit says:

    “We need to reform the canonization process and eliminate bad examples like JPII, Paul VI, Mother Teresa, etc. before moving forward.”

    Alexander Verbum,

    While the Post Vatican II canonization process arguably is too loose and needs to be rethought, when it comes to re-examining paragons of holiness like John Paul II (who many call the Great) and Mother Teresa, I think you are on shaky ground. Saints canonized for centuries have been known to be in error (St Thomas Aquinas disbelieving the Immaculate Conception) or had less-than edifying qualities (St Jerome’s temper and squabbles with others).

    One can argue against fast-tracking canonizations like John Paul II’s. More arguably, Pope Francis dispensing with parts of the process like some of the pre- or post-beatification miracles is very problematic. But as to 2 of the 3 saints you name (withholding opinion on Paul VI), we disagree.

  28. Tom says:

    “The Novus Ordo calendar has been massively changed around, eliminating . . . octaves”

    Well, the Novus Ordo calendar eliminated one octave — that of Pentecost. Ven. Pius XII did the honor of eliminating the other 15 in 1955 (along with about half of existing vigils)… St. Paul VI just delivered the coup de grace.

  29. spraffmeister says:

    I think that an approach similar to that of the “Current Tridentine Ordo” would be the best option, i.e. follow the principles of St Pius V, in that the saints on the universal calendar for the Roman Rite include primarily ancient martyr saints associated with Rome (these are usually third class or commemorations in MR1962), keeping them as simples and semidoubles, potentially doubles, or alternatively saints of truly universal significance, such as Ss Francis and Dominic, or Ss Teresa of Lisieux and Teresa of Avila, with the myriads of founder confessors as mentioned by Imrahil confined to local calendars and congregations. At the same time, all of the vigils and octaves abolished by Ven. Pius XII should be restored, most especially the vigil and octave of the Epiphany. The only octave I would call into question would be that of the Immaculate Conception, not because I don’t think it worthy of an octave, but mainly to prevent one third of Advent being hidden by it.

  30. Charles Sercer says:


    Those sound like some reasonable suggestions. I have nothing against having a full calendar of saints as long as modifications for how each ranking is carried out are made so that except for the bigger/biggest feasts, most of the ferial psalms are still said; however, I think it would be okay to have discussions about having a fairly bare universal calendar, primarily consisting of the traditional ancient martyrs and other saints with truly universal impact, and leaving the rest of the saints up to local/regional calendars.

    In November of this past year, I made the decision to simply pray the Office exactly as it appears in the books that I own, which are a 1934 Antiphonale monasticum and 1951 Breviarium monasticum for Matins. So that means sticking to the pre-1955 changes which includes the double/semidouble/simple classification and with all of the octaves, etc. Except it seems that the monastic calendar either was always different or in the 1930s foresaw some of the 1950s changes, because 1) the “semiduplex” ranking only exists for days within the octaves, and there are no “simplex” days except for simple octave days and Saturdays of our Lady; instead of simplex there is “memoria” which basically just amount to commemorations. Anyway, the reason I mention my decision to do this is because I noticed the same thing about celebrating the Octave of the Immaculate Conception – true, there was daily a commemoration of the Advent feria, and the 2nd Sunday of Advent took precedence over the second day within the octave, so there was at least that, but otherwise, it seemed very odd to be leaving out so much of Advent. Right, in itself, there is absolutely nothing against the Immaculate Conception having an Octave, but in order for a good chunk of Advent to not be left out, it would seem good to either make it a simple octave or a modified common octave, where the Mass and Office of the Immaculate Conception are never said in full but always commemorated each day within the Advent Mass and Office.

    I also mentioned my decision to do this because I wanted to see what it would be like to do things according to the old classification system, and so that I could be in a truly good position to “critique” the old(er) way of doing things pre-1955 changes. I say most of the 8 Offices each day in order to have this perspective. More and more I am realizing and becoming convicted that no matter how good (or at least not bad) by themselves each of the changes beginning in the 50s may have been, they resulted from nothing but wanting to “fix” the liturgy according to individual desires rather than understanding and loving wholly what they received and passing it on lovingly to the next generation.

    I’m just trying to come up with a coherent argument (one other than “let’s just go back to where we were before we tinkered with the liturgy and THEN, MAYBE re-evaluate” even though personally, with a bit of elaboration, I think that is a good argument) for why we should go back to the pre-1960s classification/ranking system. I know this argument would include the fact that it was always this way (though perhaps not exactly as it existed in 1955), but I wonder also if there is any commentary that exists – maybe commentary from the 1950s and 60s when this was changing – that supports and explains the old system. One might argue that the 1962 classification system isn’t really too different from the system that existed before it, with perhaps the one exception that antiphons are always doubled, and one might claim that is only a small, insignificant/unimportant detail. However, I haven’t yet come up with an actual argument of why it would be good to go back to NOT always doubling antiphons, other than a sort of “well, after doing this for a couple months now, I actually kind of like it, and it adds to the solemnity of the greater feasts, being able to double antiphons in their offices.”

    I don’t know. I’m rambling now so I better quit.

  31. irishromancatholic says:

    Those who frequent the Traditional Mass already pray to Sts. Kolbe, Pio, Fracisco and Jacinta. However, we know more than ever that those on positions of authority in Rome are seriously compromised with neo-modernism if not other outrageous scandals. How can we be sure that they won’t slip say… a Paul VI into the traditional calendar? Is changing the Traditional calendar really a can of worms we wish to open?

    I recall some years ago sitting across from an official from the Ecclesia Dei commission. I was struck by how arrogant and sanctimonious this particular Monsignor was in his comments about traditionalists. I have noticed a similar attitude with other conservative Bishop’s. It’s important to understand that this condescending attitude exists in Rome toward traditionalist’s as the lenses with which they will attempt to make changes to the calendar. Their attitude toward those who attend the traditional liturgy is really laughable in retrospect concerning how many problems or “beams” they should have been correcting before finding the “speck” in eye of those who love Traditional liturgy.

    Is it unreasonable to suggest that we wait 50 or 100 years to change the traditional calendar when Francis and the homo-communists around him are sure to be out of power? The traditional calendar has been a certain font of grace and stability for a long time. Let’s keep it that way.

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