27 May 2008

MAY 31

God willing, I shall be at the High Mass in the Brompton Oratory on Saturday at 11, organised by CIEL as part of their charism to promote the scholarly study of the Classical Roman Rite, as well as to support and encourage the traditionalist faithful. It is to be a Mass of the Immaculate Heart of our blessed Lady, which is the Oratory's Patronal Festival. But herein lies an interesting Calendarical detail. The Mass is to be in the 1962 Rite. Goodie. But, while Saturday, being the day after the solemnity of our Lord's Sacred Heart, is the Novus Ordo day for the Immaculate Heart, the 1962 date is August 22. So Mr Provost Harrison - or whoever - will be using Extraordinary Form propers but doing so on the Novus Ordo date. I have commented before on this blog on the need for an authoritative ruling from PCED on whether, in churches where the postConciliar Calendar is in use, 1962 texts may be used on their Novus Ordo dates (and vice versa). It makes sense.

However, this year most people won't be observing the Immaculate Heart at all because it will be 'trumped' by the Visitation of our Lady, regularly fixed by the Novus Ordo on May 31. It was placed here so that it would 'logically' come between the Annunciation and the Nativity of S John Baptist. But I feel that this date is a mistake; for three reasons. Firstly: May 31 is a vulnerable date. This year it clashes with the Immaculate Heart; next year with Pentecost (so that the Visitation will be 'trumped' by Pentecost). Secondly: the original date, July 2, is interesting ecumenically. Among Byzantines, it is the festival of the Deposition of the Protecting Robe (homophorion) of the Mother of God in the Basilica of Blachernae in Costantinople. In brilliant initiative by a flawed pontiff (Urban VI appears to have been a murderous psychopath; he executed five of his cardinals), the Visitation was extended to the whole Western Church in 1389 as a day to pray for the unity of East and West. And thirdly: May 31 had become in many places (by particular papal grants) the Feast of our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces. It seems a pity that this development was stymied by the placing of the celebration of Mary, Queen, upon this day (subsequently moved, if you're still following me, to the old Octave day of the Assumption, August 22, where it is indeed very suitable). The committee which did the hymns for the postConciliar Breviary explicitly acknowledged that May 31 was, for many, associated with our Lady's Mediation, and incorporated a stanza on this theme in the new hymn they composed for Vespers on that day. But this. surely, is not enough.

When I become prefect of the CDW, I shall simplify everything and get the best of all possible worlds by arranging Marian feasts, in both forms of the Roman Rite, like this: Saturday after the Sacred Heart: the Immaculate Heart of the BVM. May 31: the BVM, Mediatrix Of All Graces. July 2: the Visitation of the BVM. August 22: the BVM, Queen.

That is how a typical Anglican would cut all these Gordian knots.

3 comments:

William Tighe said...

"Secondly: the original date, July 2, is interesting ecumenically. Among Byzantines, it is the festival of the Deposition of the Protecting Robe (homophorion) of the Mother of God in the Basilica of Blachernae in Costantinople."

This is news to me; I thought that the date of this feast (that of the "Protecting Veil" or "Pokrov" among the Slavs) was 1 October. I had the impression, moreover, that this feast has largely fallen into desuetude among the Greeks and Arabs of the Orthodox Church, and is maintained only among the Slavs. Am I mistaken, or doubly mistaken, in these impressions?

William Tighe said...

Ah, well, live and learn. The July 2nd feast commemorates the deposition of the robe of the Mother of God in Blachernae under the Empress Irene ca. 790, while the Pokrov commemorates a vision of the "Protecting Veil" of the Theotokos extended over the City in 911, at the time of a pagan Russian attack on it.

Geoff said...

I have to say I've changed my mind about the date of the Visitation. I find it provides an excellent conclusion to Our Lady's month. Here in Toronto, the big observance is at the Church of St Mary Magdalene, and is transferred to the last Saturday in May (which of course this year *is* the 31) to coincide with the final observance of the May Festival of Our Lady.

I suspect that the Saturday observance will be unimpeded by Pentecost next year. I doubt anyone will shed a tear over bumping Roberta Elizabeth Tilton, Founder of the Anglican Church Women.

Of course, I'd rather be at a proper Vigil of Pentecost with the full prophecies, but that's the Italian Museum Religion lover in me.