Monday, December 26, 2022

Why 1962 Must Eventually Perish: The Case of St. John

Each year after Christmas comes the wonderful sequence of companion feasts. This week at NLM, I should like to make a brief reflection on St. John the Divine.

December 27th is the feast of the virgin disciple who rested his head on the breast of Jesus and who alone remained faithful in the hour of His Passion; the one who merited to receive the Mother of God as his mother, with whom he dwelt in Patmos; the author of the loftiest of the four Gospels, the Epistles of Agape, and the Apocalypse; the Theologian par excellence, model and measure of all mystics; the last living Apostle with the cessation of whose breath public revelation ceased.

St. John’s feast on December 27th is older than the octave of Christmas. In every missal known to Christendom, his feast would have been celebrated on this date, no matter what. Dignum et justum.

But in the 1960 code of rubrics that governs the 1962 Missale Romanum, whenever December 27th falls on a Sunday, the beloved disciple simply vanishes from Mass and receives a measly commemoration at Lauds and Vespers, as if we were suddenly catapulted into the middle of Lent.

The same thing happens, believe it or not, to St. Stephen and the Holy Innocents: all of them can be bumped off, liturgically speaking.

To make it even sillier, there’s always at least one universal feria, the 30th, to which the Sunday gets bumped when the Comites Christi or even St. Thomas of Canterbury takes precedence. Indeed, apostolic devaluation is infectious: all of the Apostles other than Saints Peter and Paul get shabby treatment in the 1960 rubrics. Needless to say, Peter and Paul were shorn of their octave some years earlier.

Such topsy-turvy rubrics and grave omissions point up the feebleness of the editio typica of 1962, the “missal of Bd. John XXIII” in the short-lived nomenclature of Summorum Pontificum, as well as the importance of restoring the Tridentine rite to its own proper principles. 1962 is a half-dismantled building waiting for the demolition crew called the Consilium. Such is the burden of the argument of chapter 12 in my book The Once and Future Roman Rite.

I should note that by the time the Novus Ordo Ambrosianus was designed, the folly of these feasts being impeded had been recognized, and the neo-Ambrosian rite does not allow it to occur. So, even though the Ambrosian rite normally does not allow any feast to impede a Sunday, even things like All Saints, Assumption, St Charles Borromeo, yet there is an exception during the octave of Christmas, when Stephen, John, the Holy Innocents, and even Thomas of Canterbury do take precedence over the Sunday after Christmas. Meanwhile, neither the 1962 and 1969 missals has rectified this egregious defect.

Pope Francis has made it clear that the Tradition is unwelcome and unwanted. If there is a place for the Tradition, it cannot rest on the shifting grounds of papal approval; it must be a matter of inherent worth and dignity. 1920 is the safe editio typica from which to begin the restoration; any editio post typicam until about 1948 will present no great difficulties.

The most urgent practical need right now in the new liturgical movement is the republication of all of the liturgical books before their post-War deformations.
Don't let the rigged rubrics of this John take away the homage owed to that John

The images below are taken from my 1951 Monastic Diurnal, reflecting preconciliar Benedictine usage (which is virtually identical to the pre-Pacellian Roman use):

The images of St. John and John XXIII are from Fr. Lawrence Lew's Flickr account.

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