Monday, January 31, 2022
Candlemas: A Forgotten Holy Day of Obligation

Dominican Rite Solemn High Mass for Candlemas in 2019

Fasting on the Vigil of Candlemas

While not a liturgical vigil in the Roman Rite, the day before Candlemas historically was observed by some as a day of fasting and abstinence. For instance, our ancestors in the New World in Florida and Louisiana would have known the following days of fast

"The fasting days were all days in Lent; the Ember days; the of eves of Christmas, Candlemas, Annunciation, Assumption, All Saints, the feasts of the Apostles except St Philip and St James and St John, nativity of St John the Baptist; all Fridays except within twelve days of Christmas and between Easter and Ascension, and the eve of Ascension" (ACQ). 

Hearing Holy Mass on Candlemas

Candlemas, known formally as the Purification of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, always falls on February 2nd and it was kept in some places as a Holy Day of Obligation, though that practice has long since ended. For instance, the papal bull Altitudo Divini Concilii of Pope Paul III in 1537 reduced the days of penance and those of hearing Mass for the Indians out of pastoral concern due to the physically demanding lifestyle that they lived and also largely due to the fact that they fasted so much already. The natives were required to only hear Mass on a much smaller number of days: Sundays, Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Candlemas, Annunciation, Sts Peter and Paul, Ascension, Corpus Christi, the Assumption, and the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin.

We see this reflected in Canada as well under the Diocese of Quebec which, at the time, included some of the modern-day states in the Midwest. The American Catholic Quarterly Review lists the Holy Days in place as 1694:

"The holy days of obligation as recognized officially in 1694 were Christmas, St Stephen, St John, the Evangelist, Circumcision, Epiphany, Candlemas, St Matthew, St Joseph 'patron of the country', Annunciation, St Philip and St James, St John the Baptist, St Peter and St Paul, St James, St Anne, St Lawrence, Assumption, St Bartholomew, St Louis 'titular of the Cathedral of Quebec', Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, St Matthew, St Michael, St Simon and St Jude, All Saints, St Andrew, St Francis Xavier, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin 'titular the Cathedral', St Thomas, Easter Monday and Tuesday, Ascension, Whitsun Monday and Tuesday, Corpus Christi, and the patronal feast of each parish."

In 1750, Pope Benedict XIV extended to the Spanish American colonies the indult previously granted to Catholic Spain reducing the days of obligation to all Sundays of the year, Christmas, St. Stephen, the Circumcision, Epiphany, Candlemas, Easter Monday, Annunciation, Monday after Pentecost Sunday, Corpus Christi, Ascension, St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, the Assumption, St. James, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, All Saints, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the patron of each locality. Notice that Candlemas remained.

And the Catholics of the British Isles and colonies would have observed the following days as per The American Catholic Quarterly Review:

"The Catholics of the British Isles, after the reform of Pope Urban VIII kept as obligatory: Christmas, the feasts of St Stephen, St John, Holy Innocents, and St Sylvester, Circumcision, Epiphany, Candlemas, the feasts of St Mathias and St Joseph, Annunciation, Sts Philip and James, Finding of the Holy Cross, St John the Baptist, Sts Peter and Paul, St James, St Anne, St Lawrence, the Assumption, St Bartholomew, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, St Matthew, St Michael, Sts Simon and Jude, All Saints, St Andrew and St Thomas, and one of the principal patrons of the city, province, or kingdom. These were the holydays of obligation observed by the Catholics in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania."

Candlemas remained a Holy Day of Obligation in the British Isles and her colonies until the dispensation issued by Pope Pius VI on March 9, 1777, which eliminated Candlemas and a number of other days.

However, looking at our ancestors in the faith, we see both the importance of preparing for Candlemas and its importance. We may wish to observe February 1st as a day of fasting and abstinence and attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on February 2nd.

Sunday, January 23, 2022
Choosing Music for a Tridentine Requiem Mass

Some years ago I wrote a short article entitled "Choosing Music for a Tridentine Nuptial Mass." As a follow-up, I thought it worthwhile to consider some particulars on choosing music for a Tridentine Requiem (Funeral) Mass. First though a few key points:

  1. Make sure you explicitly state in your will that you desire to have a Tridentine Requiem Mass and should not be given a Novus Ordo funeral for any reason. Use those words: "for any reason." For practical purposes, list the parishes or chapels you attend that could offer this and which you would find acceptable (e.g. a reverent priest who will pray for your soul, ample parking for those attending, driving distance not too drastic for people, distance not excessive from the funeral plot where you will be buried, etc).
  2. Make it clear in your will that you are only to be buried and not cremated. Again state "for any reason." We know that cremation is not permitted for Catholics, despite what modern clergymen are prone to say.
  3. Most importantly, appoint an executor for your will that you know will see to your final wishes. Even if you state that you wish to have a traditional Requiem Mass and be buried, it is possible for the executor to deny your wishes and have you cremated with no funeral. Appoint an executor who will undoubtedly see to the completion of your wishes. 

As to choosing the music to help your executor and the priest when it comes to your funeral, there is thankfully little that needs to be done. Most of the music is already mapped out for you.  There is an Ordinary proper to the Requiem and the Propers themselves leave little room for other musical selections.  At best, you can select Communion music since the Proper is relatively short.  

"Help, Lord, the Souls Which Thou Hast Made" is always a good choice, as it is about Purgatory.  "My Shepherd Will Supply My Need" arr. by Virgil Thomson is a lovely setting of Psalm 23.  There is some flexibility with the procession out of the church as well.  The prescribed chant is "In Paradisum", which could be chanted or sung polyphonically or chorally. 

You may find these PDFs from the Institute of Christ the King very helpful as well.  The first is the burial service.  Typically there is no procession to the church, so you will want to start with the "Subvenite" as the processional piece and then proceed from there.  The second is the Ordinary and Propers for the Mass.  

Lastly, consider putting in your will a request for Gregorian Masses to be said immediately after your death. Indicate where and how to order them (here are some helpful links) and state the approximate cost of each. Other traditional orders beyond that list do offer Gregorian Masses and accept the stipend in the mail. Orders like the Traditional Carmelites in Clear Creek come to mind as doing so.

Many thanks to a long-time friend, Daniel, for his invaluable contributions here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022
Can A Valid Novus Ordo Mass Offend God? Are We Obligated to Attend It?

The Angelic Doctor goes on to summarize two ways in which worship directed to the True God is nevertheless evil. As to the first reason, St. Thomas Aquinas illustrates by way of example: “…in this way, at the time of the New Law, the mysteries of Christ being already accomplished, it is pernicious to make use of the ceremonies of the Old Law whereby the mysteries of Christ were foreshadowed as things to come: just as it would be pernicious for anyone to declare that Christ has yet to suffer.” Thus, observing seder meals, religious circumcision, abstaining from pork for religious reasons, etc. would now offend the True God.

As to the second example, the saint continues: “…falsehood in outward worship occurs on the part of the worshiper, and especially in common worship which is offered by ministers impersonating the whole Church. For even as he would be guilty of falsehood who would, in the name of another person, proffer things that are not committed to him, so too does a man incur the guilt of falsehood who, on the part of the Church, gives worship to God contrary to the manner established by the Church or divine authority, and according to ecclesiastical custom.”

Consequently, we can say that even valid worship offered by those who do so in a manner contrary to that established by the Church would offend God. This may be the case of a valid Catholic priest who ad libs the Missal and, while validly confecting the Holy Eucharist, mortally sins by intentionally neglecting the rubrics. This would also be the case of a valid Divine Liturgy offered by schismatic groups like the Orthodox Church. And this would certainly apply to rituals performed by heretical protestant denominations who do not follow the Church’s prescriptions, do not offer any valid Sacraments (exceptions aside ), and who teach a doctrine contrary to that taught by Christ our Lord.

Can A Valid Novus Ordo Mass Offend God?

Taken to the next logical question, we consider if it is possible for a valid Novus Ordo Mass to offend God. 

Even though it is possible for God to work good out of evil and lead to the Truth those in false religions, this does not make the Novus Ordo as praiseworthy or fitting for God. Rather, the defects in the Novus Ordo are not merely external but intrinsic in the prayers created for the New Rite of Mass.

The Holy Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. The purpose of Mass is to be present at the Sacrifice of Christ that is made present again through the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  We worship God at Mass in the manner which He has established for His worship. We are present at Calvary.  Rather than merely remembering the life and death of Christ, we are present at it and partake of its eternal fruits which flow to us from the altar and during the Canon when the priest stands in the place of Christ and offers the Eternal Victim on the Altar to God.  We can further receive grace by partaking of the Holy Eucharist if we are Catholics in the state of grace. This view of the Mass as a propitiatory Sacrifice has been lost in the Novus Ordo and replaced by notions of community, where the priest is a presider, and many Catholics falsely view receiving Holy Communion as the purpose of going to Mass, rather than being present at the august sacrifice of the Eternal Victim.

As Archbishop Lefebvre noted in Chapter 4 of the Open Letter to Confused Catholics, the changes to the Mass in the offertory, the sermon, the canon, and elsewhere mimic the changes sought by Martin Luther! They are in their very core protestant, especially for instance in the newly created prayers of the Offertory which bear no similarity to the Offertory in the Tridentine Mass.

Of course, while any validly ordained priest may consecrate bread and wine using the words of consecration, even while omitting the rest of the Mass (which is done at times in cases of necessity for instance by priests who are imprisoned and can only smuggle in a small piece of bread and a small amount of wine), this is not the same as promoting and saying protestantized prayers. 

Jean Guitton, an intimate friend of Paul VI wrote: “The intention of Pope Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the [New] Mass, was to reform the Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy. There was with Pope Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or, at least to correct, or, at least to relax, what was too Catholic in the traditional sense in the Mass and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist Mass.” And we know that the Calvinists - and any protestants for that matter - do not have a valid rite of Mass and do not confect the Holy Eucharist.

The Faith is not defined by merely external actions. Archbishop Lefebvre rightfully criticized the Novus Ordo – even when accompanied by Latin, ad orientem postures, and the external appearance of piety.  Our Lord Jesus Christ instituted a set of doctrines and established His one True Church as the means of bringing about the conversion of souls and their salvation. He did not institute merely external gestures while telling His disciples to ad lib the rest. And on the opposite extreme, the Lord also did not teach His disciples the precise words for Sacramental validity and tell them that their external postures, garments, and actions were useless since only the internal mattered. Our Faith not only includes heart-felt prayers, works of charity, and pious devotions, but also includes rich liturgical music, elaborate cathedrals, and ornate vestments. Even the presence of Eucharistic miracles in Novus do not mean that the Novus Ordo is pleasing to God.

Are We Obligated to Ever Attend Offensive Worship?

More than mere validity is necessary in the worship of God. If validity was the only basis for whether worship was pleasing to God, Catholics would be able to have their children baptized by an Anglican minister or attend receive the valid Eucharist from schismatic Greek orthodox priests. Yet, we know that attending the worship of any other denomination is a sin against the First Commandment. 

Consequently, we have an obligation to seek out not only valid Masses but those which are offered according to the Church’s immemorial rubrics and customs. We should not feel obligated to attend a Novus Ordo Mass – even on Sundays or Holy Days – since attending them is often a grave danger to our spiritual lives


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