Friday, September 27, 2019

Some Rubrical Notes for the Coming Weeks

Over the next several days, there are some rubrical matters which are a little out of the ordinary in the celebration of the Extraordinary Form; these regard the Masses of the next two Sundays, and the arrangement of the Scriptural readings in the Breviary.

1. In the Extraordinary Form, next Sunday will be celebrated as the feast of St Michael and All Angels (officially “the dedication of St Michael”), which is a first class feast, and therefore takes precedence over the second class Sunday, the 16th after Pentecost. At Mass, a commemoration is made of the Sunday, and in the Office, commemorations of the Sunday are made at both Vespers and Lauds. The liturgical books of St Pius V also prescribe that the Gospel of the Sunday (in this case, Luke 14, 1-14) be read at the end of Mass in place of the Prologue of St John, and the first part of the corresponding homily in the Breviary be read as the ninth lesson of Matins. Neither of these customs is retained in the Missal and Breviary of St John XXIII.

Page 118 of the summer volume of the Antiphonary of Hartker, (St Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 391), ca. 1000 AD. At the top of the page are the last parts of the Office of Ss Maurice and Companions, followed by a single antiphon for Ss Cosmas and Damian, and then the beginning of the Office of St Michael: the Magnificat antiphon for First Vespers (which are often called “vigilia” in medieval rubrics), Dum sacrum mysterium, is followed by the Invitatory, and the first antiphon of Matins.
Corpus Christi Watershed has all the Gregorian Mass propers available for consulation in pdf, recordings in video and MP3 format, and scores for organ accompaniment (in pdf); click the following link and scroll down to “Dedication of St. Michael the Archangel”:

The older rubrics of the Missal also prescribe that when the Mass of the Sunday is impeded, it is to be said during the week on the first day on which no major feast occurs, but without the Gloria or the Creed; in the case of the coming week, this would be done on Tuesday, October 1st. This custom was, of course, intended to guarantee that as far as possible, every Mass of the annual cycle of Sundays would be said at some point. In the Missal of St John XXIII, this is no longer done, but on October 1st, the priest is free to choose which Mass he will say, and may therefore choose to say the Mass of the previous Sunday, (again, without the Gloria or the Creed.)

In the Ordinary Form, the feasts of Ss Gabriel and Raphael were consolidated with that of St Michael, and the feast on September 29th is now titled to all three archangels. Wherever any one of them is honored as a principal patron, it is kept as a solemnity, which outranks the ordinary Sunday; elsewhere, the Sunday is celebrated, and the feast is omitted. This is one of the most ancient feasts of the Roman Rite, and prayer to invoke the protection and intercession of the archangels is older than Christianity itself; the total omission of it when it falls on a Sunday is a serious flaw of the post-Conciliar calendar. However, there are two free ferial days during the following week, October 3 and 5, and it would be an excellent idea to compensate for this flaw by celebrating a votive Mass of the Archangels on one or both of these days.

2. Prior to the liturgical reform of St Pius X, the feast of the Most Holy Rosary was always celebrated on the first Sunday of October; in the Extraordinary Form, it may still be celebrated on that Sunday as an external solemnity. This privilege is attached to the feast as a matter of law, and requires no special permission or indult, as specified in #358b of the General Rubrics of the 1962 Missal. No such provision exists in the Ordinary Form, in which the feast was downgraded from 2nd class (1962) to “memorial”, another mistake waiting for correction.

However, if the external solemnity is celebrated, it is still obligatory to say both the Mass and Divine Office of the feast of the Rosary on its fixed day, October 7th. An external solemnity is not the transference of a feast, but a non-obligatory pastoral provision which may be made when a reasonable number of the faithful are unable to attend the feast on its proper day. The Mass of the feast is repeated (in this case, by anticipation), but the Office is not changed to match it; the rubrics of the 1962 Missal (numbers 356-361) describe it as “celebratio … festi absque Officio – the celebration of the feast without the Office.” Whereas on the feast day itself, a church may celebrate as many Masses of the feast as are possible, desired, or necessary, only two may be said of the feast on its external solemnity (number 360), and only one of them may be sung.

The Madonna of the Rosary, by Guido Reni, 1598
3. I normally publish the following material each year towards the end of July or August, since it describes a change which the 1960 revision made to the Breviary which affects the arrangement of the months from August to November; in some years, it also displaces the September Ember days from their traditional date. This year, however, its first application only comes with the month of October.

The first Sunday of each of these months is the day on which the Church begins to read a new set of Scriptural books at Matins, with their accompanying responsories, and antiphons at the Magnificat at Vespers of Saturday; these readings are part of a system which goes back to the sixth century. In August, the books of Wisdom are read; in September, Job, Tobias, Judith and Esther; in October the books of the Macchabees; in November, Ezechiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor Prophets. (September is actually divided into two sets of readings, Job having a different set of responsories from the other three books.)

The “first Sunday” of each of these months is traditionally that which occurs closest to the first calendar day of the month, even if that day occurs within the end of the previous month. This year, for example, the first Sunday “of October” is actually September 29th, the Sunday closest to the first day of October. In the 1960 revision, however, the first Sunday of the months from August to November is always that which occurs first within the calendar month. According to this system, the first Sunday of October is the 6th this year.

This change also accounts for one of the peculiarities of the 1960 Breviary, the fact that November has four weeks, which are called the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth. According to the older calculation, November has five weeks when the 5th of the month is a Sunday, as it was in 2017. (This is also the arrangement that has the shortest possible Advent of 3 weeks and one day.) According to the newer calculation, November may have three or four weeks, but never five. In order to accommodate the new system, one of the weeks had to be removed; the second week of November was chosen, to maintain the tradition that at least a bit of each of the Prophets would continue to be read in the Breviary.

The Sundays for the rest of the liturgical year are arranged as follows according to the traditional system:

September 29 - the 1st Sunday of October (Commemorated on the feast of St Michael; the books of the Maccabees begin on Monday.)
October 6 - the 2nd Sunday of October
October 13 - the 3rd Sunday of October
October 20- the 4th Sunday of October
October 27- the 5th Sunday of October (commemorated on the feast of Christ the King.)

November 3 - the 1st Sunday of November
(The second week of November is omitted this year)
November 10 - the 3rd Sunday of November
November 17 - the 4th Sunday of November
November 24 - the 5th Sunday of November

The Sundays for the rest of the liturgical year, according to the 1960 system:

September 29 - the 5th Sunday of September (Commemorated on the feast of St Michael; the book of Esther is read during the week.)

October 6 - the 1st Sunday of October (The books of the Maccabees begin.)
October 13 - the 2nd Sunday of October
October 20 - the 3rd Sunday of October
October 27 - the 4th Sunday of October (The entire Office of the Sunday is omitted on the feast of Christ the King)

November 3 - the 1st Sunday of November
November 10 - the 3rd Sunday of November
November 17 - the 4th Sunday of November
November 24 - the 5th Sunday of November

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