Well, this morning, as permitted by the rubrical dispositions of the 1960s, I put on red vestments and said the Mass of the Holy Maccabees: the seven pre-Christian Jewish brothers whose martyrdom, described in II Maccabees 7, reads so much like a preview of the acta of the Christian martyrs under the Roman Empire.
There is no strictly theological reason why we should not celebrate the saints of the Old Covenant liturgically; as Catholics we know that we are in organic continuity with the Jewish faithful remnant who did accept their God and Messiah. The practical reason why we do not have more 'Old Testament' saints in our Latin calendar lies in the the origin of our Sanctorale in the local cult of the martyrs: they were celebrated liturgically where their bodies were venerated. The relics of the Maccabees, of course, are indeed preserved in Rome. [I preserve, on the thread, a valuable comment appended by a Byzantine writer to an earlier piece of mine upon the Maccabees.]
But this admirable Feast did not make the cut in the post-Conciliar 'reforms'! Interestingly, the post-conciliar revisers of the Calendar have left us an account of their thinking. I translate [my italics]: "The memoria of the Holy Maccabees, although it is extremely ancient and almost universal, is left to particular calendars: until 1960 only their commemoration happened on the feast of S Peter ad Vincula; now indeed August 1 is the memoria of S Alfonso and, according to the rubrics, another memoria cannot be kept on the same day". The revisers know that this commemoration is of immemorial antiquity and amazing universality; they feel embarrassed and sheepish about abolishing it; they can't think of any defence to make for their actions, except to appeal to their own novel man-made liturgical dogma (which is out of continuity with the traditions of both East and West) that you mustn't combine celebrations. The fact that today's commemoration is unique in the Calendar of the Roman Rite had no power whatsoever to influence them. The totalitarian inflexibility of innovators! The triumph of blind self-imposed dogma over every indication of history, doctrine, and common sense!
There is a tiny but telling detail I can add here: the 'reformers' left the Maccabees "to particular calendars" ... so they may have said ... but when they authorised, in 1973, Propers for the Liturgy of the Hours for the Clergy of Rome herself, the city where the relics of the Maccabees rest, they omitted these Holy Martyrs even from that Calendar (Prot. n. 928/72).
Today's Mass makes clear that the Maccabees are truly our martyrs who pray for us. It calls them the true brotherhood which followed Christ; who were proved by the testimony of Faith and Found in Christ Jesu our Lord; who confessed the Son of God, whose Faith we hope to follow. Yet they died before the Incarnation! Because they followed the Torah! But Christ is the Wisdom, Word, and Torah of the Father, to whom they, in the only way possible before His Incarnation, did bear witness. (You might like to read, in Ratzinger's Jesus of Nazareth, the brilliant dialogue between Ratzinger and Rabbi Jacob Neusner, about the Sermon on the Mount.) Their liturgical commemoration by us does not imply the novel error that Jews now, after the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, are left outside his gracious call to share the redemption and the new covenant which he, the Incarnate Torah, brings to all mankind without racial distinction. It would not now be possible for a Jew to be deemed one of our martyrs because of an exclusive act of obedient witness to what the Incarnation rendered old and "fulfilled" (although S Edith Stein, killed propter odium Iudaeorum is a Patron of Europe). But this highly important commemoration reminds us of our continuity with the the Old Testament (just as the Canon of the Mass does in its daily reference to Abraham as our Patriarch), warning us against Marcionism, its revival by the 'German Christians' of the 1930s [how enthusiastic German Christians seem to be in every age about clinging to the Zeitgeist], and any sort of hint, however tiny, of racial prejudice against people of Jewish origin.
In the true descent which, as S Paul insistently teaches, is rooted in Faith, we are The Jews, true children of Abraham; and the Maccabees are among our most glorious martyrs.
Intercedant pro nobis.