Harmonizing the traditional calendar with the post-Conciliar

I had an e-mail from the fine folks at  Messa in latino, an Italian site.  They wrote about the use of the traditional Roman calendar.  

You willr ecall that the conference of Bishops in England and Wales decided to move feasts which fall on weekdays to Sundays.  They said that would apply also to the use the 1962 Missale Romaneum.  At the request of the Latin Mass Society the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei clarified that while bishops could remove the obligation for Mass for one of these feasts such as Epiphany, which falls on 6 January in the older, traditional calendar (and newer), they cannot forbid its celebration on 6 January, whatever day it is, or require it only to be celebrated on the nearest Sunday in the same manner at the Novus Ordo calendar.  In other words, the PCED defended the integrity of the traditional calendar.

So, bishops can transfer the feast of precept, but it is still licit to celebrate those feasts with the 1962MR on the actual day.  In other words, people are free to attend Mass with the 1962 Missale and their legitimate expectation that the actual feast will be celebrated on the actual day.

On 22 September 2008 the PCED wrote to an Italian interlocutor about the situation of All Soul’s Day which fell on a Sunday this year.  It had been asked whether it would be possible to celebrate on the evening of 2 November also a Mass for All Souls, with the Mozart Requiem. In the older calendar All Souls, this year, was bumped by the Sunday to Monday, 3 November.   

The PCED responded positively through a letter from Mons. Perl, the Vice President.  Mons. Perl responded with something that I had maintained when asked about the situation:

"sembra logico che la celebrazione della ‘Commemoratio omnium fidelium defunctorum’ sia comune per le due forme del Rito Romano"


"il proposito di celebrare la Messa di Requiem solennemente la sera del 2 novembre va certamente nel senso giusto",

that it "It seems logical that the celebration of the Commemoration of All Souls should be common for the two forms of the Roman Rite" and "the proposal to celebration the Requiem Mass solemnly on the evening of 2 November aims in the right direction".

In conversations with several priests who have the older form, I proposed that having All Souls in the older rite on Sunday 2 November was a good thing, since it would bring a sort of harmony between the calendars on a day that is very important to the hearts and sensibilities of the faithful, since it touches on prayer for the repose of their loved ones.  This just makes sense.

The Italian site Messa in latino also suggests that this might be a good way to deal with, for example, the Feast of Christ the King.  Maintain the old calendar and customs, even in those parishes where both rites of Mass are in use.

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  1. Dr. LMF says:

    Originally, the postconciliar commission intended to drop All Souls when it fell on Sunday. A request made made to allow it to replace the Sunday Mass and public Lauds and Vespers, given the new “paschal” emphasis on the mystery of death.

    The result is a truly anomalous situation: you have Mass of All Souls, and Lauds and Vespers when celebrated publicly, but the rest of the Office is of the Sunday.

    The old system has logic here: a Commemoration can’t displace a Sunday. Cf. the similar case of January 13 on a Sunday, where Holy Family is celebrated and not the Commemoration of the Baptism. Moving All Souls to Monday, November 3rd makes sense, and frankly the new calendar could easily do the same.

  2. TNCath says:

    Fr. Z: “In conversations with several priests who have the older form, I proposed that having All Souls in the older rite on Sunday 2 November was a good thing, since it would bring a sort of harmony between the calendars on a day that is very important to the hearts and sensibilities of the faithful, since it touches on prayer for the repose of their loved ones. This just makes sense.”

    YES! Not only is All Souls very important to the hearts and sensibilities of the faithful, it is also much less confusing to all concerned. This past year’s observance was a perfect example of how work needs to be done on developing a universal calendar for both forms of the Roman Rite.

  3. Federico says:

    Small nit, forgive me for it, but slavish accuracy is part of this discourse, right? [Slavishly accurate liturgical translation, perhaps….]

    “va nel senso giusto” I would translate as “heads in the right direction.” More colloquially, I might say “the proposal […] is sensible.”

    I don’t think “just,” in the sense the word implies “justice,” is a good translation here. [I made an adjustment.]

  4. Fr. WTC says:

    It seems to me that when a conflict of dates exists in the calendars of both forms of the Roman rite it is best to change the new calendar to conform to the traditional calendar, rather than the other way. In the traditional use of Mass, all the elements–readings, propers, calendar etc are interdependent, they are parts of a whole. The ordinary use of the Roman rite on the other hand is different. In the N.O. each element of the rite of Mass can and often does stand independently of the whole, so that for example one can chose readings, antiphons, Eucharistic prayers, one can mix the office and the liturgy of the Mass, one can even chose between feasts when more than one fall on the same day, or chose the opening collect form the one feast and from the other use the collect as the post-communion to creat something like a commemoration in the older sense(this is possible since the new GIRM was issued in 2000). The new rite is made for change, constant change and options, the traditional use is not.

  5. Timothy Clint says:

    It seems to me that the solution to the question of offereing the mass for All Souls Day on Sunday, when the dates conflict,could be solved by using the traditional calendar and moving the Feast to Monday. Since Sunday has always commemorated the ressurection it seems oximoronish to celebrate the commemoration of death on Sudays which celebrate the ressurection. If following this rational to be able to celebrate All Souls day on Sunday then why not have funerals on Sunday too. I have always underestood that the chuch didnot alow funerals on Sunday for this very reason.

  6. Dr. LMF says:

    A very good case can be made for how commemorations of the dead are inappropriate on dominical feasts like Sunday. That’s why the old calendar moves Nov. 2, with all its rights and privileges, when it occurs with a Sunday.

    It’s a simple rubric to alter, and it would fix the current anomaly in the new liturgy re: Sunday Office with All Souls Mass.

  7. nw says:

    Can someone explain moving All Souls to Monday in the general context of how feasts (in the loose sense of the term) can or cannot displace the Sunday Mass in the EF? When can feasts be commemorated by “doubling up” the priest’s proper prayers? Could All Souls be celebrated on a Sunday before the 1950s calendar reform?

  8. Dr. LMF says:

    No, All Souls couldn’t displace Sunday before the 1950s changes.

    It’s important to remember that All Souls isn’t a feast. It’s a commemoration, in fact the only one left in the modern Roman Rite.

  9. Dr. LMF says:

    Not counting, of course, what happens to certain feasts in Late Advent and Lent, which isn’t really analagous.

  10. Berthold says:

    The situation about All Souls’ is even more confusing; I think that this year there were three different possibilities
    Old Rite: All Saints’ on Saturday, October 1, All Souls’ on Monday, October 3
    New Rite, standard: All Saints’ on Saturday, All Souls’ on Sunday
    New Rite, following the English use (or rather ab-use) of the translations of Holidays: All Saints’ on Sunday, all Souls’ on Monday.
    Generally, I believe that the Novus Ordo calendar is in such a mess that it should be sorted out before one thinks of starting to harmonize the old calendar with it.
    In case of All Souls’ there is an additional complication. In an earlier form (Pre-Pius X?) it is a feria, on which the Office of the Dead is to be recited in addition to the daily office, and a requiem mass is to be said. The reforms of the 20th century made it increasingly into a ‘holiday’ with its own office. If one follows this line one could think of celebrating it on a Sunday, but I still think the idea of wearing Black on Sunday quite bizarre.

  11. DAJL says:

    I fail to see why only the calendar in use in 1962 should be privileged in resisting mitigations of discipline. If it is licit to celebrate a solemnity (or feast?) on its proper day in the older calendar by means of the extraordinary form, does this not also imply the same in the ordinary form (i.e., it is licit to celebrate a solemnity (or feast?) on its proper day in the new calendar), for precisely the same reasons? In other words, does it not imply that it is possible and reasonable for a bishop to refuse the proffered mitigation of transferring such celebrations to Sundays in his diocese?

    Or, if this implication does not follow, by what argument is it excluded?

  12. I have problems with All Souls on Sunday, not for liturgical law reasons but that it seems to confuse the nature of All Souls.

    All Souls is a day we pray for all the faithful departed, yet it often is presented as just a day we remember that the dead will be resurrected, but not that we really need to pray for them. It’s similar to the funeral Masses I have been to where the priest will say during the homily that he thinks the deceased is already in Heaven, yet in the prayers of the faithful we are praying that they will be be taken to Heaven. (So is he in Heaven or not, do we need to pray for him or not, why the contradictions)

    Since All Souls is a more penitential day (for the sake of the faithful departed) I find it weird to celebrate it on a Sunday (a non penitential day). I mean, we already know that the dead will be resurrected (even the damned will be resurrected), the difference is where the saved and the damned end up.

    I would really think it would be more appropriate to treat All Souls in the new calendar the same way it was treated in the old calendar, not the other way around. And that would be an excellent example of the mutual enrichment where the old could actually change the new for the better. (Most things mentioned as mutual enrichment in the new form are just things that are already allowed, eg ad orientem).

    (Of course, I certainly liked the “loophole” we had this year where the plenary indulgence for the faithful departed could be obtained on two days instead of just one.)

    Just my 2 cents.

  13. Cerimoniere says:

    I agree with Fr WTC above, that the way to achieve a harmonization between the two calendars is for the newer to conform to the older. The traditional sensibility of the Roman Rite has been to avoid Masses of the Dead on Sundays, and never to allow All Souls’ to fall on a Sunday. The new rubric permitting this is anomalous in that respect.

    The Commission has defended the integrity of the traditional calendar previously, as Fr. Zuhlsdorf says, to the extent that it has refused the allow the English hierarchy to transfer feasts in the old calendar, when the feast is transferred in the new calendar. It has, however, effectively formed a new class of “external solemnity”, by encouraging the celebration of the festal Mass on the Sunday to which the feast has been transferred in the new calendar. This response concerning All Souls’ seems to be on the same principle.

    Obviously, this is better than actually transferring the traditional day entirely, but I think it does work against the effect that we hope the wider use of the traditional liturgy will have on the sensibility of the faithful at large. We ought to be re-inculcating a sense of the liturgical year as a whole, including the observance of great feasts and ferias that do not fall on Sundays.

    Incidentally, I greatly admire the gentleman who sought to organize a liturgical performance of the Mozart Requiem for All Souls’ Day, and his conscientiousness in seeking an indult as he did. I simply think that this is an unfortunate precedent, that is part of a trend that I regret in the Commission’s recent responses.

  14. Berthold says:

    What I regard as quite puzzling is the fact that two of the principles of liturgical reform in the last century were stressing the character of the Sunday in relation to holy days and increasing the scope of biblical readings. Transferring holidays of obligation to Sundays seems to be totally against these principles.

    It is very good that the Extraordinary Form keeps the holidays like Corpus Christi or Epiphany at their proper dates. However, if the new permission (or actually rather suggestion) for England, to repeat this Mass on the next Sunday, means that the faithful who come to Mass both on the ancient Holiday and the Sunday will never hear the readings from Sunday, and over the year this means about 1/12 or readings less. Who on earth should want that to happen?

  15. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    This year, I managed to convince our priest to celebrate three Traditional Latin Rites of Mass on three consecutive days: All Saints’ Day, the Sunday, and All Souls’ Day. And that’s how we’re keeping it. I note that we had a good turn-out for all three. Nobody seemed to feel a need to transfer anything, other than the odd bus ticket needed to get there. Liberals and semi-traditionalists love to transfer things. Let’s just hope that the Pope transfers them right out of office.


  16. mike says:



  17. David Kastel says:

    “Finally, there MUST BE NO INNOVATIONS unless the good of the Church GENUINELY AND CERTAINLY requires them” – Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctam Concilium

  18. athanasius says:

    The Italian site Messa in latino also suggests that this might be a good way to deal with, for example, the Feast of Christ the King. Maintain the old calendar and customs, even in those parishes where both rites of Mass are in use.

    If that is the case, then the feast of Christ the King in the Novus Ordo should be moved back to the traditional date in October, and the Mass of the last judgment restored to the last Sunday after Pentecost since the latter is traditional.

  19. Phil (NL) says:

    Wouldn’t it be time for Rome to collect a couple of great minds and come up with one calendar for both versions of the Roman rite? And limit the various bishop’s conferences habits of creating differences between countries, while they’re at it?

    I see no objection to changing aspects of either* calendar as long as it’s a reasoned choice, but having two seperate calendars will be increasingly cumbersome and in the end, counter-productive.

    *Sorry Mike, but why shouldn’t the Church be able to move a feast? The calendar is a tool, not an end in itself.

  20. Brian Mershon says:

    Mike and Castel are right. Leave the calendar alone.

    A requiem Mass (not even a FEAST day, mind you, but a commemoration)replaces a Sunday Mass?

    Boy, that certainly makes liturgical sense doesn’t it?

    Father Z, is the PCED going to continue giving us piecemeal answers to liturgical questions like this without a comprehensive document outlining all of this.

    This is simply ONE MORE reason to push for a ful traditional parish and NOT to harmonize the TLM within the normal Novus Ordo apparatus.

    The PCED just keeps giving us more reasons… And some wonder why the SSPX is so cautious when it comes to engaging with the PCED?

    How can we have a commemoration which is a REQUIEM as the ordinary Sunday Mass?

  21. Brian Mershon says:

    Phil, the reason is that the Traditional liturgical calendar is put together through the ages organically and is a product of the Holy Ghost, as Msgr. Schmitz, from the Institute of Christ the King has pointed out.

    The entire calendar is a harmonious masterpiece from a worship and theological perspective. The Novus Ordo is a hodgepodge that makes no sense whatsoever.

    Please point to the place in Sacrosanctum Consilium that authorized the Church to destroy the traditional liturgical calendar? Please find it and quote it for me.

    The philosophical positivists are in the Church EVERYWHERE–even those who are supposedly “frinds” of Tradition.

  22. athanasius says:

    I can only echo Mr. Mershon’s comments. Sancrosanctum Concilium only authorized an update of the calendar to reflect new saints, and to bring some saints into celebration only in some area where they had geographic importance or a cult or a grant by indult, so as to free up the calendar from the numerous saints, which was a goal of St. Pius X as well. There is nothing modernist about that. It did not say to destroy the calendar, move half the feast days around, move transfer feasts, etc. It also did not say to allow requiems on Sunday, which is totally inappropriate and terribly modernist.

    Secondly, I don’t know why everyone acts as if there must be “unity” on every point of the missals. This alleged “disunity” is tolerated in Eastern Rites who have different calendars and are still no less Catholic. No one advocates changing St. John Chrysostom or St. Cyril in their calendar to the date in the Roman Calendar in order to create some faux unity. Unity is maintained by creed and tradition, and adherence to the successor of St. Peter. It is not necessary to mess with the calendar which evolved from tradition in favor of one that evolved from theologically suspect committees such as the Concilium. Don’t forget it was the Concilium which authored a heretical definition of the Mass for the first Editio Typica of the Novus Ordo which had to be revoked by Paul VI because it was so clearly protestant. You want their calendar to be used in the Traditional Mass over the one which has the mark of such illustrious saints as St. Leo the Great, St. Jerome and St. Gergory the Great? Yeah right.

    As I said earlier, if anything ought to happen, it ought to be feasts in the Novus Ordo rolling back to their dates in the traditional Calendar, not vice versa. Let the newcomer adhere to the Mass of Tradition.

  23. Phil (NL) says:


    You said: “Please point to the place in Sacrosanctum Consilium that authorized the Church to destroy the traditional liturgical calendar? Please find it and quote it for me.” First of all, the Church does not need authorization from V2 or any concillium, the Pope is perfectly competent in those matters (the details are a bit too far back in my mind atm, but the issue of papal authority over the concilliar one was settled centuries ago). Your question is therefore beside the point, unless you want to enter a rabbit hole about Popes overstepping the mark – a rabbit hole which I decline to participate in.

    Now if you don’t like the new calendar, fine enough. But my point is that two calendars, used simultaneously – and often in the same parish – is going to be a continous problem. In the end, it’s much better to have one. For all I care they might decide on using the old one without changing one iota, but I don’t see at all why Rome would not be in its rights to make adjustments. Organical development doesn’t mean ‘no change’, not ‘we’ll change when everyone has been doing it in that manner anyway for decades’.

    Now one can argue if a particular change is wise, but that it is wise to end up with one calendar is something I haven’t seen anyone argue against. And that decision would belong to the Pope.

  24. Brian Mershon says:

    Phil, The current Pope himself has outlined the authority of the Pope over things liturgical and in this, he has come down on the side of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says the Pope is bound to Tradition. This is in the “NEW” Catechism of the Catholic Church.

    As for your assertion that “it is much better to have one,” I ask you why Athanasius and I and others cannot see the obviousness of your assertion that is so obvious as a given to you.

    You said: “Organical development doesn’t mean ‘no change’, not ‘we’ll change when everyone has been doing it in that manner anyway for decades’.”

    Are you serious? There have been more liturgical and architectural changes in the Church’s liturg and worship since 1964 than in the entire 1500 years prior to that. You cannot be serious with me here, can you?

    You and me and anyone still living has never seen organic development of the liturg in our lifetimes. And it appears that even traditionalists, outside of those who attend SSPX chapels regularly, will not see it in their lifetimes either.

  25. dcs says:

    Organical development doesn’t mean ‘no change’

    It does mean that the changes are not imposed from the top on down.

  26. Jordanes says:

    I’m curious how that interpretation of “organic development” fits with what Pius XII said in Mediator Dei, or, for that matter, with what St. Pius V mandated with the Roman Missal.

  27. Phil (NL) says:

    As for the problems with dual calendars: imagine a parish having both OF and EF. Every time a feast falls on a different day, one has to figure out what to do, especially when it makes no sense to celebrate the feast twice (e.g. Christ the King twice a year is more than a little silly). I also massively limits the compatibility with other parishes who make different choices – merely going to family over the weekend could lead to missing part of the calendar, or getting part twice.
    Athanasius seems to compare with different rites, while we’re talking here about one and the same rite, and by far the biggest one at that. It will not do to break the latin rite up – maybe even within parishes – by creating groups who follow different calendars, and undoubtedly even more people who get some mix. The days that just about everyone always attended one parish which offered only one Mass are long gone, and won’t return.

    As for the comments on Organical development doesn’t mean ‘no change’, nor ‘we’ll change when everyone has been doing it in that manner anyway for decades’. (changed ‘not’ to ‘nor’ as originally intended, but that doesn’t seem the issue here). Let me phrase the question the other way: if the decisions aren’t made at the top (where there’s at least the right to make them), we’ll see them being taken further down. That’s exactly what has caused a lot of problems and abuse!
    The very problem is that a lot of local priests and bishops are capable of doing the weirdest things. If ‘organical change’ is waiting till they have thoroughly instituted their own peculiar choices, I’ll pass – it would be a license to experiment. The changes of the last decades are at least as much a result from ‘bottom up’ change as anything from the top. Surely, that bottom-up method doesn’t make it organical change?

    On the contrary, I think it’s high time some more decisions are imposed from the top on down. At least the right to make them exists there, and the chance Rome messes up is – at least as I read the tea leaves – a lot smaller then your average bishop, let alone parish priest. (no offense to the numerous exceptions of course, but they are not average).

  28. Brian Mershon says:

    Phil, Time to go back to the drawing board. Go back and read Bugnini’s memoirs on why the Consilium made the changes it did to the liturgy.

    Then come back here and we can discuss. It would be enlightening Christmas reading.

  29. Phil (NL) says:

    Brain, you’re missing the point, or least my point.

    This isn’t about Bugnini, V2 or changes to the liturgy. It’s about the calendar – and while they are related they are certainly not the same. All I’m proposing is that Rome ends the messy coexistence of two calendars for the same rite. I remain silent about the rites themselves in this case.

    Now if I may hazard a guess from your posts elsewhere on this site, I assume you prefer that they leave the old calendar alone. I’m not even arguing against that, though I can very well imagine that in some cases changes would be a good idea (it’s not as that all calendar changes have been necessarily bad ones). All I’m saying is that it is quite messy to have two calendars, and that Rome would be in its right to make changes, as they have done for centuries – even millenia. (the early Church had a big problem with the date for Easter, for example)

    The particular form a single/revised/unified calendar would have is another debate. For all I care they strike the new one. However, I do not hold that the Pope would be obliged to do so if the decision to come to one single calendar would be made. And I think one calendar is desirable, even necessary in the long run, and trust BXVI a lot more to get it right than just about any bishop conference.

    Take this point as intended. Bugnini is, from my perspective, not relevant here.

  30. Brian Mershon says:

    Phil, Someone else already answered this canard. The Catholic Church has 21 or so rites. They have different calendars–sometimes drastically different. Your premise if faulty. You are arguing from a “practical” perspective with no knowledge of the intricate, coordinate manner in twhich the Traditional calendar is put together. This is not “engineering.” This is the Holy Spirit over years so that Catholics end up with a certain spiritual formation.

    Your premise is faulty, ‘K?

    Pope JPII asked the Eastern Churches to drop their Latin accretions that they acquired over the years. Therefore, many of the Eastern-rites do not say “and the Son” in the Creed any more and those who used to kneel, no longer do so.

    If this can be done for the East, why not for the true Roman rite?

    The Church already has multiple calendars.

  31. Jordanes says:

    Brian Mershon said: If this can be done for the East, why not for the true Roman rite?

    That’s the flaw in the “two uses, one rite” solution of Summorum Pontificum. It’s apparent that these uses are pretty much two rites, but juridically they are one rite. That gives Roman Rite priests the right to celebrate the traditional liturgy without need of an indult, but then juridically how do you keep the two uses of the one Roman Rite from getting mashed together, or the reformed rite’s particular features from being imposed onto the traditional rite? If the traditional Roman Rite is established as a separate rite, Roman Rite priests would have to be given faculties to celebrate it. Maybe the Holy Father could decree that the two uses of the Roman Rite are two different rites, but also decree that Roman Rite priests are biritual, lawfully permitted to celebrate according to either rite?

  32. ssoldie says:

    This word ‘loophole’ I dislike very much, my daughter used this word when she recieved an annulment,instructing me that is what the priest ‘left’ for her to obtain an annulment, after officiating at her wedding in the Church. So sad these last 40 years.

  33. Phil (NL) says:


    Jordanes pretty much already anwsers it. There’s no problem with different calendars for different rites, but it is one rite we’re talking about. And splitting it up, even partly, would be my biggest concern in it. (much more than the practicalities, which are merely the instrument by which such a split will happen over the years if no action is taken). The fact that there is one Roman rite, spread over the entire world, is one of the greatest parts of our Catholic heritage. No offense to people preferring other rites – they have their place due to history – but we certainly shouldn’t create one more.

    I don’t think we’ll get anything further from this (obviously, neither of us is going to be convinced even one bit), so I’ll wish you a Merry Christmas and let this rest from now on.

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