Octaves and the Easter Vigil
  • Can someone recognize some good sources on the question of Octaves? I’m not sure I understand why people care. Even less do I understand why Pius V was free to suppress celebrations but Pius XII was not.

    Same with the 1955 reform of Holy Week.

    Many thanks.

    Kenneth
  • Bugnini wrote a small book (compared to his much later work, which runs 1000 pages, this one is more like 150 or less) on the reforms of 1955.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,773
    What celebrations do you have in mind that St Pius V suppressed and that weren't reversed? The missal which bears his name went a little hard on the humanism, but St Anne and St Joachim were both back on the newly-established universal calendar by the early 17th century. In any case, St Pius V largely passed on the curial usage of the Roman rite, one among many and one that happened to be especially conservative compared to other diocesan and religious usages, but in any case, they all had the same general structure and many common features, such that some were invariable, e.g. the Introit for the I Sunday of Advent is always Ad te levavi.

    Any and all articles written by Gregory DiPippo on Holy Week will answer your question. I'd start with hiscompendium of the reform. He's also written a number of articles about the timing, including the related myth of the Ember Saturday implausibly lasting until Sunday morning.

    Why people care? The Epiphany octave is older than the octave of Christmas, and I believe that of Pentecost is. Corpus Christi always had an octave from its institution, and I believe that the Assumption, S. John the Baptist, Ss Peter and Paul, S. Lawrence, and All Saints each had one from very early on (sometime towards the latter part of the first millennium), as did the Comites. In other words, the reforms of Saint Pius X had already largely reduced some octaves by giving rules corresponding to the preexisting situation of 1910, but Pius XII completely destroyed that system while leaving a huge gap with respect to the former octave of the Epiphany, and it was only natural, I suppose, that Pentecost got the ax, as it is almost trivial to subordinate the feast to Christmas and Easter; plus, there were deep grumblings about how the octave didn't fit within the literal fifty days of Easter… even though the octave, or at least the Ember Days, existed in the lifetime of Pope St Leo the Great. We know that, because he preached on it, and while medieval dioceses mucked around with the date of these Ember Days, they were permanently fixed to their original and current date in the eleventh century.

    You might say that some of the other octaves are too much. Fine, but the Ascension octave, a later institution, doesn't exclude saints, and several octaves aren't even commemorated except on the octave day, including that of S Lawrence… I wish I could find for you an old Facebook post listing the years in which each octave was assigned, and then you could see how the octaves were thus treated so as to largely be a non-issue. The Catholic Encyclopedia article is not very good, unfortunately.

    The only real issue is the praying of the ferial psalter, but the 1955/1969 solution is not a good solution. The rubric on which Vespers to say (I or II, depending on the next day's office) and therefore which antiphon to use for the commemoration should have been simpler, but the solution was, again, not to ditch octaves.

    Anyway, some reasons why i care: Romanitas, observing the faith as handed down, not just moving on from the feast the next day… The fact that today is now the time per annum is just appalling to me, especially given that Pentecost Monday was still a public holiday in much of Catholic Europe, and it still is in some countries, so the newly-implemented feast which sadly the rite of Milan celebrates today instead of moving it like the Ordinariate did clashes with the Pentecost octave, which was like that of Easter: no feasts can intrude whatsoever on Monday and Tuesday, and from Wednesday to the conclusion, saints may be commemorated; the most important feasts are moved out of the octave.
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  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 1,063
    Even less do I understand why Pius V was free to suppress celebrations but Pius XII was not.

    Either of them can do what they want, but some traditionalists seem to think that any change they personally dislike, or can build a case against, is somehow uniquely anti-Catholic or an abuse of power.

    The 1955 Holy Week reform was questionable, which is why much of it was reversed by the 1970 Missal.
  • reversed by the 1970 Missal.


    Now, if only it had stopped at the reversals....
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  • MatthewRoth, I don't know which ones he suppressed. What you are implying is he suppressed some and then later Popes restored them, which bolsters my point. I simply do not understand why Popes today would not have the same authority and latitude of action that previous Popes had. That said, your information is very helpful.

    I don't come here as often as I used to, because of all the fighting, but I am strictly a "Roma Locuta Est" kind of guy.

    Kenneth
  • What in general makes me put an asterisk on all these discussions is a whiff of Gnosticism I have gotten from articles I have found, not here. Special, hidden knowledge.

    On whether the octaves made sense, Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB, (RIP) recounted how four started on four successive days, and so they would say four propers on four of those days.

    Kenneth
  • Kenneth,

    Gnosticism, hidden knowledge, most effectively and succinctly explains why, despite a lack of mention of these in the Council documents, we must have EMHCs, communion in the hand, altar girls, an altar reversal, and wholesale hacking to death of beautiful texts in the Mass of Vatican II, and we may not have Gregorian chant, Latin, beautiful prayers, and "no innovation" unless the good of the Church surely and certainly requires it in the Mass of Vatican II, despite the explicit instructions of the Council to promote all of these.

    It might, also, explain why people who "reject" Vatican II can not be told, in the form of propositions, what they refuse to accept which is, at the same time, binding.
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  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,452
    No celebrations were suppressed, the ancient Missal of the clerks of Rome was a simple affair, and became the Trent Missal. Generally around that time many other Missals had a whole host of feasts etc. As people transferred to the Trent Missal say from the Sarum Missal that fell out of use due to persecution, some people may have noticed how the Trent Missal did not have as many feasts. This was not a problem as over the next few hundred years, many feasts were added to the Trent Missal, many of which had be celebrated in other Missals for hundreds of years.

    The wholesale editing of calendars, the editing of ancient hymns, and the writing of a Missal from scratch are modern inventions...
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,773
    MatthewRoth, I don't know which ones he suppressed. What you are implying is he suppressed some and then later Popes restored them, which bolsters my point.


    As far as St Pius V goes, this one particular change was so small and largely in keeping with what had been done hitherto, it was just monumentally stupid to get rid of the grandparents of Our Lord from the public celebrations of the church, and his successors restored them in an opportune fashion as soon as it could be done without embarrassing the by-then deceased saintly pope.

    The reforms of the twentieth century have basically nothing in common with how the Roman rite worked at any point in its history.

    Fr Columba only got it half-right: Rome and Gaul privileged the Christmas octave, whereas German dioceses favored the offices of the Comites. The Divino Afflatu reforms of 1911 crystallized what was already done according to the rubrics of each day: Vespers takes the psalms and antiphons of II Vespers of Christmas, and from the chapter onward, the office is of the day, the hymn of the common or proper is sung to the melody of Jesu, Redemptor omnium, and there is a commemoration of the following day. So on Dec. 25, Vespers are of Christmas, commemoration of St Stephen; the next day, Vespers begin as on Christmas, the chapter etc. come from the office of the saint, there is a commemoration of the following day (St John), and then of the octave. However, at Mass, there is only a commemoration of the octave of Christmas, and then of the octave day when that falls, e.g. on Jan. 2, the feast of the Holy Name this next year (as there's no free Sunday); on January 3, the Mass is of the octave of St John, but no commemoration is made of the Holy Innocents. Only the orations prescribed for the season (the second is of the BVM, the third is pro Papa or pro Ecclesia). No commemorations of intervening octaves are made at Vespers, e.g. nothing is done on Dec. 27 for St Stephen, on Dec 28 etc. for St Stephen and St John.

    That's because the simple octaves only have the feast and the octave day; in practice, the octave of the Nativity of Our Lady is gone now that the second, later feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is the octave day (this feast was added universally after the Napoleonic Wars ended; the original feast is the Friday of Passionweek), as you only commemorate a saint once.

    It's possible, admittedly, for octaves to stack at the Mass and office alike when Corpus Christi or Sacred Heart, St John the Baptist, and Ss Peter and Paul fall such as to overlap. But that doesn't always happen! It's possible to finish each more or less independently of the others if Easter is sufficiently early. Now, it was not this year… but, on the other hand, the I class and II class feasts also cancel out commemorations, so there are only three days with three commemorations (octave of the Sacred Heart, of St John the Baptist, plus the saint, or otherwise the collect of the BVM if there's no double feast commemorated).

    Also, on the finality of Roman decisions: I mentioned the headscratcher of the Ambrosian rite's addition of the new feast on Pentecost Monday while maintaining the octave otherwise. That diocese took a decade to promulgate a revised breviary, during which time they took note of flaws of the Roman breviary. All feasts have I Vespers in the Ambrosian rite; solemnities have II Vespers. Now, I would have extended this to feasts, e.g. the Apostles, and other saints (the traditional Latin Doctors plus the ones to whom the privilege was extended after Trent) but not to every memorial etc. The Roman rite properly so-called has gotten this backwards for sixty years: most feasts have II Vespers, almost none have an office the previous evening, not even the commemoration at Vespers of a feast of greater rite.

    Speaking of the Comites, actually celebrating the Sunday within the octave of Christmas on Sunday didn't happen for most of the history of the Roman rite. It was moved to the first free day, Dec. 30 after the introduction of St Thomas Becket's feast as a double feast on every calendar. The Benedictines shamefully reduced his feast in 1915, and Rome followed suit in 1960. Sunday therefore takes precedence, and now the feast of the Holy Family was moved from its-already awkward placement within the Epiphany octave to an even worse position after Christmas.

    What does Milan do? What they've always done: S Stephen, S John, and the Holy Innocents are celebrated on Sunday. The Holy Family is celebrated towards the end of January, mimicking the practice before the 1920s of celebrating the feast on the III Sunday after the Epiphany when this "Québécois devotional feast" was added to local calendars. That a Sunday is bumped by a feast is unusual for Milan. Not even the Assumption of the BVM or the feast of St Charles Borromeo take the place of Sunday; they are always transferred to Monday.

    Hopefully that makes sense. We've lost almost all of the rich variety that comes over the course of the liturgical year to privilege one element, the ferial psalter, which doesn't even make much sense now that it's said over the course of a month, and not even in its entirety. Gregory DiPippo's qualified defense of the 1911 reform was important; the recitation of the ferial psalter is worth preserving, but so are things like the important feasts of Lent that 1960 and 1969 both obliterate, in whole or in part.
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