Making things more complicated? Holy Days of Obligation in the Extraordinary form

It’s not my worry, but it would seem to me that things get more complicated, rather than less, when you try to apply this new ruling from Rome.

The Bishops Conference of England and Wales have received a clarification from the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to the effect that

in the Roman Rite, whichever Form of the liturgy is being celebrated, the Holydays of Obligation are held in common. Where the obligation has been removed and the Holyday transferred to the Sunday, the Epiphany of the Lord, the Ascension of the Lord and Corpus Christ, this is to be followed in both Ordinary and Extraordinary celebrations of Mass.

The Conference also provides a page giving exact details.

However, it would seem that this could get rather tricky, as it would mean that (for eg.) last Friday would have been celebrated as the “Friday after the Ascension” in the Extraordinary Form when the Ascension was still to be celebrated on the Sunday coming. Does this not mean that a whole set of new propers would need to be written to fill in the “extra days” when a feast is shifted to a Sunday?

And I can just imagine what Fr Z. has to say about this ruling that even when he uses his beloved Extraordinary Form he has to celebrate “Ascension Thursday Sunday”!

And by the way, what do they mean when they say “Where the obligation has been removed and the Holyday transferred to the Sunday”? Doesn’t the obligation still remain even if it now coincides with the equal obligation of Sunday Observance?

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18 Responses to Making things more complicated? Holy Days of Obligation in the Extraordinary form

  1. Joshua says:

    The whole thing is utterly risible and a terribly botched job. Luckily the nonsensical and contradictory ‘ruling’ only applies to Eng. & Wales, and the Australian, NZ, etc. bishops will never bother to get it extended to here.

    Traddies in England and Wales have basically thumbed their noses at this stupidity, and gone ahead with Ascension Thursday Masses irregardless.

    We certainly had Ascension Thursday here in Perth, and shall ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.

  2. Past Elder says:

    Don’t worry, Roman legalism will work it out.

    Bound to happen though, when you call two different things different forms of the same thing.

  3. Joshua says:

    Will you ever let up?!

    Deal with whatever LCMS controversies attract, I’m sure your zeal will find much to criticize among your fellow sectarians.

    (Beam first, then mote.)

  4. Schütz says:

    Yes, PE, as moderator of this ‘ere blogsite, I might just caution you over your enthusiasm to give us your four cents worth on EVERY topic (that’s MY job). I don’t really see what interest this issue might be to you, so please let us poor benighted fools argue about our own irrelavencies free of interuption, eh ol’ boy? There’s a good chap.

  5. Peregrinus says:

    As far as I know this is not new; the question has been asked before and the same answer has been given, but this is perhaps the most formal and authoritative statement of the position so far.

    I’m not sure why Joshua seems to think that the decision is binding only in England and Wales; the reasoning behind the decision seems to be universally applicable. The calendar is not established by the missal, but (in this respect) by the terms of canon 1246, the wording of which does not vary depending on whether the EF or the OF is being used. It’s questionable whether a national bishops conference could use canon 1246 to prescribe different days of celebration for those using the OF and those using the EF or whether the Holy See would approve it; how would this work in a parish which celebrates both forms? So far as I know, no conference has ever attempted to this so, so the point is moot.

    I’m puzzled by Joshua’s apparent endorsement of the view that individual catholics can decide for themselves when particular events are to be commemorated, and have no need to pay any attention to the liturgical calendar established by the church. (Didn’t the Russian Orthodox Church have a schism about this at one stage?)

    Incidentally, David, the answer to your concern seems to be that there is no objection to a [i]votive[/i] Mass of the Ascension being celebrated on Ascension Thursday. The point is that those using the EF on the Sunday after Ascension Thursday should celebrate the Mass of the Ascension, if the celebration of the feast has been transferred to that day in the territory concerned under Canon 1246.

    Oh, and Fr John Zuhlsdorf covered this in a blog entry on 26 April, without comment (although, of course, there was plenty of comment from his readers).

  6. Past Elder says:

    A little to close for comfort?

    What could be more of interest to someone who holds the post conciliar Roman Catholic church to be neither Roman nor Catholic than to find it stumbling over itself as it performs yet another both/and, as you call them, in calling an apple and an orange the ordinary and extraordinary forms of an apple?

    But I forget — the only real commandment: I am the Roman Catholic Church, thy god; thou shalt have no other gods before me.

  7. Mike says:

    I presume the bishops never moved feasts before the new rite came in? Unless they did, it does seem difficult to deal with the Friday after Ascension Thursday. I don’t think it’s supposed to be the “Friday after a regular Thursday in which we celebrated a Votive Mass of the Ascension”.

    Well, until they work it out, like it or not, we have somthing of a privilege. I went to two “Ascension xxxday” Masses this year. Both in Latin. One EF, one OF. One on Thursday, one on Sunday. Something you don’t get to do often!

  8. Past Elder says:

    Hey, both/and! Thursday is Sunday, Sunday is Thursday.

  9. Peregrinus says:

    Gotta point out, guys, that whether the Ascension occurred on a Thursday, a Sunday or indeed any other day of the week is (a) not known with any certainty, and (b) not important. Luke’s account in Acts 1 suggests 40 days from Resurrection to Ascension, which is where we get the idea of a Thursday, but the same author puts the Resurrection and the Ascension on the same day in Luke 24.

    The point of celebrating the Ascension is not actually to identify the anniversary. Since we’re Catholics, we like to celebrate collectively, not individually; hence the church prescribes days for celebrating the Ascension and other feasts. Catholics who use the EF do not form a separate (local) church; the Holy See is very, very emphatic about this this. Hence it would be very surprising if they were authorised to observe different holydays of obligation.

    Mike, of course feasts got move around before Vatican II, and furthermore the days which were holydays of obligation varied locally (as they still do). The calendar was often tweaked; new feasts got added; existing commemorations were shuffled to make space for them, etc. The Feast of Christ the King, for example, was added in 1925. The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus was added in 1721 on the Second Sunday after Epiphany, but under Pius X it was moved to the Sunday between 2 January and 5 January. Pius X did quite a bit of tinkering with the calendar, in fact, so it would be particularly ironic if the SSPX tendency were to treat it as immutable.

  10. Joshua says:

    As my P.P. said with respect to the news – only learnt of via the Internet (care of Fr Z) with but a few days to go – that supposedly St Joseph was to be solemnized before Easter, rather than afterward as the rubrics and all the Ordos suggested, this sort of flimsy ‘notification’ just isn’t good enough: if decrees are coming out moving feasts hither and thither, then they need to be properly issued and published, and not just referred to on some website, however well-known to the cognoscenti… My priest doesn’t even have an Internet connection!

    Documents need to be officially issued way ahead of time; how on earth would we in Australia know of some decree re England and Wales?

    I understand that canonically speaking documents do need to be sighted, and that a decree given to E & W would not apply universally; but I am no canonist.

    I object to these ad hoc, slipshod dealings.

    And the whole point is that, even if the decree were issued correctly, it is precisely opposed to the mutual enrichment of EF and OF – ’tis rather a mutual impoverishment.

    I have the right and duty to criticise prudential judgements.

    It completely mixes up the Trad. Calendar: what on earth would a priest be expected to do if he recited the ’62 Breviary? Neither it nor the Missal makes any allowance for this, and detailed instructions ought be supplied: what to do, for instance, about the Vigil of the Ascension – it would stay on Wednesday, all day, as is the ’62 rubric for the Mass and Office, and then what?

    I am not saying, pace my critic, writing from a neocon perspective blind to the value of tradition in a way opposed to the Holy Father’s hermeneutic of continuity (I say this in charity), that we can reject such decrees; but we certainly have the right to protest such decisions, especially as they are real causes of scandal that could cause souls to be lost to the SSPX and worse (e.g. PE).

    The decision was most vaguely worded, made no attempt to answer the most obvious rubrical questions about how to reconcile the Trad. Mass and Office, and was promulgated most hastily with no warning: hence, it is risible, botched, nonsensical and contradictory – what stupidity.

    The decree not applying to Australia, as I hear from a priest who I trust would know his canon law, and the local bishops being unlikely to bother legislating on this or asking for a ruling, we shall indeed continue to have the Ascension on Thursday.

  11. Joshua says:

    Oh, and PE, stop that mocking blasphemy, it’s rude and disrespectful of David, your long-suffering host and my friend!

  12. Peregrinus says:

    Hi Joshua

    This is not a decree which changes anything; it is a clarification of what the canon law already is. In the Roman Rite, holydays of obligation are fixed under canon 1246. That canon has not changed, and it makes no distinction depending on which form of the rite is used.

    The clarification is addressed to the bishops of England and Wales, because they asked for clarification. In that sense, it’s not formally “binding” on other national bishops conferences. However, if they ask for a clarification, they will get the same answer. Furthermore, there is no need for them to ask for a clarification; their knowledge of the answer given to the English and Welsh bishops means that they cannot really be in any doubt as to what canon law provides in this regard. But the fact that the clarification isn’t binding on the Australian bishops doesn’t mean that canon law permits Australian traditionalists to celebrate the Assumption separately from the Latin church at large; it doesn’t. Traditionalists may continue to do this, but they will not be taking advantage of a provision which allows them to do it; the will simply be ignoring the relevant provision of canon law.

    It may be fair to say that the present canonical situation is anomalous, and that the anomaly can only be eliminated be either (a) a new disposition under canon 1246 allowing those using the EF to celebrated holydays of obligation on different days from those using the OF, or (b) a revision to the EF missal so that it can reflect the current Roman calendar.

    Option (a) would be relatively straightforward in administrative terms, but it goes against everything which Rome has been saying about the signficance of the EF, and how it is not to separate those who use it from their fellows who use the OF. I would be surprised if Rome took this option.

    Option (b) makes more sense, and there is a precedent in that the EF missal has already been revised once since SP (to amend the Good Friday prayer for the Jews). But this would obviously be a larger exercise. At the very least, it would take time. And of course might open questions about whether the EF missal should be revised in [i]other[/i] respects, which I suspect is a can of worms everyone would want to avoid.

    Option (c ), of course, is to live with the anomaly, which at least in the short term is what we will have to do. Some people will live with it by ignoring canon 1246 and celebrating holydays when they used to be celebrated, and I imagine a lot of bishops will choose not to make an issue of this. As I pointed out earlier, there is no objection to celebrating a votive Mass of the Ascension on Ascension Thursday; the problem only arises if people refuse to celebrate the Mass of the Ascension on the Sunday after Ascension Thursday.

  13. Past Elder says:

    Hey, let’s move Christmas from 25 December to the Sunday nearest 25 December. For pastoral reasons, of course. I mean, hell, Scripture doesn’t record 25 December as the birth of Christ, we’re not celebrating an anniversaary for God’s sake, so we the People of God, the community of believers, set for ourselves when we the community celebrate his birth. Then we can figure out how to have a liturgy where 25 December and the Sunday nearest 25 December are different forms of the same thing — maybe work out how to bow right while we’re at it!

    Good God, the utter contempt and hostility, sometimes overt and sometimes covert, and sometimes apparently totally unrecognised in the worship of an institution, of the post-conciliar “Church” for Roman Catholicism knows no bounds.

    And true to form is starting to manifest itself nowhere more clearly than in its lying attempts to co-opt the historic liturgy into an extraordinary form of its modernist parody.

    The cafeteria is not closed, it’s just declared not a cafeteria. Never mind the trays. They’re ordinary forms of plates now. The silly season is not over, silliness is just declared normal.

    The church’s one foundation is … stop the music! … the church!

  14. Joshua says:

    I think the point is being missed that in the EF, the technical term is to celebrate the ‘external solemnity’ of the Ascension on the Sunday, by having one Mass thereof, while still having the actual Ascension Mass & Office on the Thursday – this is what used to be done in the past.

    It is not permitted to celebrate a “votive Mass of the Ascension”, just as one cannot have a “votive Mass of Christmas” or “of Epiphany” – the only votives are those provided in the relevant part of the Missal, plus the option to celebrate a votive Mass of any saint or locally venerated beatus using texts from the relevant Common.

    So the terminology mentioned in the above post is confusing.

    Also, as PE’s customarily overblown intervention demonstrates, the heavyhanded application of the canons as suggested would only cause scandal and confusion to the simple faithful, and rejoice the enemies of Holy Church (e.g. PE, the SSPX, et al.): so, for the good of souls, the suggested solution of ‘letting sleeping dogs lie’ – as I FIRST SUGGESTED IN THE VERY FIRST COMMENT, albeit perhaps too pointedly – seems the one most likely to be adopted.

    And no, we didn’t have Ascension on Sunday, we had Sunday after Ascension. Unless/until new Ordos come out that explain all this, that is what most Traddies will do: follow what the Ordo suggests. One cannot demand the impossible.

    And, well, of course Traddies avoid the Novus Ordo! If I never had to attend it again, I wouldn’t, and I would sing Alleluia Amen every day: I only go to it if I can’t make a Trad. Mass, because for very many cogent reasons well thought through over years of reading and study, I honestly prefer the sacred mutter of Low Mass and the grand majesty of High Mass, the Mass that would not die.

  15. Past Elder says:

    I’m an enemy of the Roman Church for damn sure; the SSPX is about all that’s left of it. No doubt to a conciliar “Catholic” it looks about the same.

    EF, phone home!

  16. Joshua says:

    If the cap fits, wear it.

    Ut inimicos sanctæ Ecclesiæ humiliare, et omnes errantes ad unitatem Ecclesiæ revocare digneris, Te rogamus, audi nos.

  17. Past Elder says:

    Can you chant that?

    I always thought the formula for Te rogamus audi nos was particularly succinct and in line with the function of chant to highlight the text rather call attention to itself as music.

    You know, if I had been able to endure the utter agony of being Catholic to this point in my life, I too would attend the “EF” whenever possible and the “OF” only as a last resort.

    I cannot help but think that it would strike me as odd indeed that here I am, whereas the overwhelming majority of what are supposed to be my co-religionists do just the opposite, find this something to which they just don’t relate and take something I avoid as regular straight-up Mass, a rite which the vast majority of current priests haven’t even been trained to offer, and something which, until lately proclaimed OK if you put up, pay up and shut up (pray, pay and obey, we used to say), for some decades most of the time put you outside the “Church” to follow.

  18. Joshua says:

    Fr Rowe, our priest, told me that he and the people sang the Litany on the Rogation Days last week (I was at work, unfortunately), and when the Brothers of the Oratory meet (see my blog for details) we also sing the Litany at the start. Fr sings the Litany, we all sing the responses. I like it.

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