Friday, June 12, 2020
Within the Octave of Corpus Christi
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We are currently in the Octave of Corpus Christi, another casualty in 1955 that few people know of or spiritually celebrate anymore. Yet, in an interesting development, the Vatican has given quasi approval for priests to begin to celebrate this Octave again. Dr. Peter Kwasniewski explains in a Facebook Post published yesterday: "The 2020 Ordo for the Usus Antiquior, published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says quite plainly that the Octave of Corpus Christi may be observed. (Incidentally, it also says that the Preface of the Nativity may be used.) It doesn't explain HOW it is it to be observed, but probably assumes that anyone who is competent to read these rubrics in Latin can figure out from an old missal what to do."

Brief History of Octaves:

By the 8th century, Rome had developed liturgical octaves not only for Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas but also for the Epiphany and the feast of the dedication of a church.

After 1568, when Pope Pius V reduced the number of octaves (since by then they had grown considerably), the number of Octaves was still plentiful.  Octaves were classified into several types. Easter and Pentecost had "specially privileged" octaves, during which no other feast whatsoever could be celebrated. Christmas, Epiphany, and Corpus Christi had "privileged" octaves, during which certain highly ranked feasts might be celebrated. The octaves of other feasts allowed even more feasts to be celebrated.

To reduce the repetition of the same liturgy for several days, Pope Leo XIII and Pope St. Pius X made further distinctions, classifying octaves into three primary types: privileged octaves, common octaves, and simple octaves. Privileged octaves were arranged in a hierarchy of first, second, and third orders. For the first half of the 20th century, octaves were ranked in the following manner, which affected holding other celebrations within their timeframes:
  • Privileged Octaves
    • Privileged Octaves of the First Order
      • Octave of Easter
      • Octave of Pentecost
    • Privileged Octaves of the Second Order
      • Octave of Epiphany
      • Octave of Corpus Christi
    • Privileged Octaves of the Third Order
      • Octave of Christmas
      • Octave of the Ascension
      • Octave of the Sacred Heart
  • Common Octaves
    • Octave of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM
    • Octave of the Solemnity of St. Joseph
    • Octave of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist
    • Octave of Saints Peter and Paul
    • Octave of All Saints
    • Octave of the Assumption of the BVM
  • Simple Octaves
    • Octave of St. Stephen
    • Octave of St. John the Apostle
    • Octave of the Holy Innocents 
The Octave of Corpus Christi is a privileged octave of the second order. This means that no other feast may be celebrated during the Octave except for Doubles of the First Class. All other feasts are either transferred to after the octave or reduced to commemorations.

Traditional Catholics still attached to the pre-1955 Missal will be familiar with the above list of Octaves. We can live out this forgotten Octave by adding to our daily prayers the Collect from Corpus Christi:

Collect:

O God, we possess a lasting memorial of Your Passion in this wondrous Sacrament. Grant that we may so venerate the mysteries of Your Body and Blood that we may always feel within ourselves the effects of Your redemption; who lives and rules with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.

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