Sunday, June 7, 2020
The Athanasian Creed
edit_button

Today on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the Athanasian Creed is prayed in the 1961 Divine Office during Prime.

Before the changes to the Office in 1955/1956, the rubrics in place under Divinu Afflatu promulgated by St. Pius X were in force. And per those rubrics, the Athanasian Creed was said on all Sundays after Epiphany and Sundays after Pentecost which did not fall within Octaves or on which a feast of a rank of Double or higher was celebrated or commemorated, in addition to being prayed on Trinity Sunday.

Thus even Traditional priests who say the 1961 Breviary, will only pray this Creed once a year, on this Sunday. It is as follows:

Camedule Monks in prayer

WHOSOEVER WILL BE SAVED, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one, the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.

The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible,  the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.

And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.

So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord.

For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than another; But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved is must think thus of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of his Mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching his manhood; Who, although he be God and Man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh but by taking of the Manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life
everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.
Read more >>
Saturday, June 6, 2020
Our Lady of Grace (Our Lady of Mentorella)
edit_button

Distinct from Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces, which is celebrated in some places on May 31st, Our Blessed Mother is honored under the title "Our Lady of Grace" on June 9th. Like the Feast of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, Our Lady of Grace is celebrated only in certain places and is not part of the Church's Universal Calendar.



Feast Days of Our Blessed Mother for Every Day of the Year From The Woman in Orbit, Compiled by Sister Manetta Lamberty, S.C.C. Copyright 1966 and accessed via Our Lady's Rosary Makers states:

"High up in the Sabine Mountains of Italy, about 35 miles from Rome, stands an ancient and venerable Shrine of our Lady under the title of Our Lady Mentorella, Mother of Grace.  To Italian peasants who dwell in the surrounding country the place upon which the shrine stands is simply known as Mentorella.

"The place and Shrine of Mentorella are considered sacred because as a tradition tells us at the great cliff just behind the shrine, the miraculous conversion of Placid, an officer in the army of Trajan, who was later to be called St. Eustace, took place.  He there beheld, it is said, Our Lord crucified between the antlers of a great stag, which as a huntsman he had pursued.

"The Shrine of Our Lady of Mentorello, Mother of Grace, was built about a thousand years ago though various objects of religion contained therein are much older.  The statue of Our Lady encased in glass and placed upon the marble baldachino of the main altar, dates back at least to the twelfth century.  Mentorella’s greatest claim to renown lies in the fact that the shrine is a place of pilgrimage and of special devotion to the Blessed Mother of God.  The original church was built by Constantine and consecrated by Pope St. Sylvester.

"Tradition has it that St. Benedict lived for some time before he founded the famous monastery of Subiaco, in a cave immediately behind the Mentorella church."
Read more >>
Friday, June 5, 2020
Rubrics for Privileged Votive Masses on First Fridays and Saturdays
edit_button

Why do many parishes celebrate a Votive Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart on Friday Fridays or the Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on First Saturdays? In the pre-55 rubrics, may a priest say a votive Mass of the Sacred Heart on a First Friday when a feast of simple or higher is on that day? Same with First Saturday - can a Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart take the place of a feast day and have the feast day reduced to a commemoration?


The Celebration of the Mass by Rev. J O'Connell summarizes the uniqueness of these privileged Votive Masses:

The Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart for First Friday, the Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for First Saturday, as well as the Votive Mass of Jesus Christ Sovereign and Eternal Priest for First Thursday are Privileged Votive Masses specifically permitted by the Holy See. They are not general private Votive Masses. In detail:

1. The privileged votive Masses are certain votive Masses permitted by the Holy See, or prescribed by the rubrics, not for a grave and public cause, but for an appropriate reason approved by the Holy See, and endowed with certain liturgical privileges.

2. These Masses resemble a solemn votive Mass— they are permitted when a private votive Mass is not, and they follow the rite of a solemn  votive Mass (e.g., they have the Creed) —and so they are described as votive Masses celebrated "ad instar Missae votivae solemnis pro re gravi et simul publica causa."

3. Some of these privileged votive Masses are allowed only when they are solemn Masses, or at least sung, e.g., the Mass for the anniversary of the election or consecration of the bishop, the Mass for the Forty Hours' Prayer others may be celebrated as low Masses, e.g., the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart on the First Friday of the month.

4. Most of these privileged votive Masses are treated of in the general rubrics of the Missal; others are dealt with outside the Missal, e.g., the Masses for the Forty Hours' Prayer in the Clementine Instruction, those for the First Friday, or First Thursday of the month, in decrees of S.R.C.

5. Some privileged votive Masses are prescribed by the rubrics, or by a decree of S.R.C., or by command of the Ordinary; others are permitted by the rubrics, S.R.C., or Ordinary, and are in no way of obligation.

So, bearing these rules in mind, In 1889, to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Leo XIII granted this remarkable privilege that: "in those churches or oratories where, on the first Friday of each month, special exercises of piety are, with the approval of the Ordinary of the place, carried out in the morning, the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart may be added to these exercises, provided that on that day no feast of the Lord, or double of the first class, or privileged feria, vigil, or octave falls.

2. This votive Mass is permitted not only in churches, but also in oratories —public, semipublic, or private. The privilege is for the first Friday of the month alone. On any other day the votive Mass of the  Sacred Heart may be said only when private votive Masses are allowed, and only on the conditions which govern such Masses.

3. What the special exercises of piety in honour of the Sacred Heart are to be is not determined. Rubricists give as examples Exposition for a short time with Benediction, the recitation of the Litanies of the Sacred Heart, or of acts of reparation and consecration to the Sacred Heart, a general (or almost general) Communion in honour of the Sacred Heart. These exercises must be carried out in the morning, and be connected with the Mass so as to form morally one act with it. Though the words of the decree "Missa ... addi valeat," suggests that the devotions should precede the Mass, they generally follow it, and rubricists regard this interpretation of the privilege as permissible. (Same goes for First Thursday and First Saturday)

4. Since the consent of the Ordinary of the place is necessary to add lawfully any exercise of devotion to the Mass the decree requires this consent for the devotions in honour of the Sacred Heart. The permission may be given either to individual priests who seek it, or to an entire diocese.

5. One votive Mass only is permitted, and it may be solemn, sung, or even a low Mass. (S.R.C. 3773, 3972) If, however, for some special reason, the exercises of devotion in honour of the Sacred Heart were, with the consent of the Ordinary, repeated for an entirely different congregation, some authorities think that the votive Mass might, with its special privileges, be celebrated a second time.

6. This one votive Mass — even though only a low Mass—is given almost all the privileges of a solemn votive Mass celebrated "pro re gravi et simul publica causa." Accordingly :

(a) It is considered as a sung Mass, and so if there be another sung or Conventual Mass in the same church (oratory), on the same day, the rules of Rubricae Generales VII. 2 and Additiones, V, 4 must be observed ;

(b) The Gloria and Creed are said;

(c) Ordinarily, there will be one prayer only. However, an occurring double of the second class, (the Votive Mass is not permitted on a Duplex I. classis) or an occurring greater feria (i.e., a Friday of Advent or Lent, or a Quarter Tense Friday), must be commemorated —under a different conclusion from the prayers of the Mass" — all such solemn votive Masses pro re gravi. The oratio imperata is omitted, unless it be pro re gravi, then it is to be and under a different conclusion from the prayer of the Mass.

(d) The last Gospel will be that of S. John, except an Office which has been commemorated in the Mass (e.g., a Friday of Lent) has a proper Gospel; then this will be recited (Addit. IX);

(c) The Leonine prayers may be omitted

(f) If the Mass be sung, the festal (solemn) tone for the prayers, Preface, and Pater noster should be used by the Celebrant.

7. The Votive Mass Is Not Permitted:

(1) on any feast of the Lord — this means of the Second Divine Person, "festum Christi Domini," and not of the Triune God, which Dominus sometimes means. The votive Mass is excluded not only on feasts of our Lord that are "of the same mystery" as the Sacred Heart, but on any feast of Christ. Moreover it is excluded on the vigil and — even only a simple octave —of any feast of our Lord, or even when such a feast is commemorated, or should be commemorated but, per accidens, the commemoration is excluded. The votive Mass is, therefore, prohibited on the Feast of the Purification, which is a feast of our Lord but it is not excluded within the octave of the consecration of a church,(the Votive Mass of First Friday is of course, excluded on the feast itself - anniversary - of the Dedication of a church, for this is Duplex I. classis) nor on the octave-day, for this feast is "festum Domini," meaning the Triune God, and not festum Christi Domini.(S.R.C. 4372)
Special Cases :

(a) The first Friday of January: If the first Friday should fall on January 2, 3, or 4, the Mass of the Sacred Heart may not be said. Instead —if a votive Mass be said, and not the Mass of the day— the Mass Puer natus est nobis of December 30, must be chosen. This Mass will, in this case, however, have the privileges of a solemn votive Mass pro re gravi, and so the occurring octave-day (of S. Stephen, or S. John, or the Holy Innocents) will not be commemorated. Neither will the impeded votive Mass of the S. Heart be commemorated,48 for the Mass Puer natus est is a Mass of Christ.

(b) If, in a particular church, the first Friday should fall within the octave of the Circumcision (e.g., in a church which has this mystery as Titular, and so celebrates the feast with an octave) the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart is not permitted. Instead the Mass of the octave of the Circumcision is said, with the privileges of a solemn votive Mass," and without the commemoration of the impeded votive Mass of the Sacred Heart (for the Circumcision is a feast of Christ).

(c) If the first Friday should fall on the Friday which immediately follows the octave of the Ascension — which Friday is liturgically regarded as a feast of Christ — the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart may not be said, even though the feast of a saint be celebrated on that day. If the Mass of a saint be not said, the Mass of the day and not the votive Mass of the Sacred Heart, must be said. In this case, however, the Mass of the day will have the privileges of a solemn votive Mass, and so, e.g., the common prayers' will be omitted.

(2) The votive Mass of First Friday is excluded on a double of the first class, and, naturally, it is prohibited on Good Friday, and on All Souls' Day.

(3) The votive Mass of First Friday is also excluded on a privileged vigil. The only one on which the first Friday could occur is the vigil of the Epiphany, for a first Friday could not occur on the vigil of Christmas, nor could the vigil of Pentecost occur on a Friday.

(4) The votive Mass of First Friday is excluded within all privileged octaves, not within common octaves. The only privileged octave (of the Universal Church) which is not an octave of a feast of our Lord is the octave of Pentecost, and so the votive Mass is excluded, if the first Friday falls within this octave. Decree 3712 says that the votive Mass is excluded on privileged ferias, but the case cannot occur, for these ferias are Ash Wednesday, and Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week. The votive Mass is not forbidden on other major ferias, i.e., the Fridays of Advent, Lent, Quarter Tense; nor is it prohibited if the Mass of an impeded Sunday is to be "resumed" on a first Friday.

(5) The votive Mass is also excluded in a church where there is but one priest, and where a Conventual Mass must be said, in conformity with the Office of the day. In this case, however, the Conventual Mass will have the privileges of a solemn votive Mass. The votive Mass is also excluded on a Friday which is a suppressed holiday, when there is only one Mass, and this the Missa pro populo.

To conclude, we used First Friday as the primary example but the same applies to First Saturday. And to reiterate and stress - what was just described above are privileged and solemn votives for First Friday and First Saturday and not the rules for General Private Votive Masses.
Read more >>
Thursday, June 4, 2020
Does God Hear Your Prayers If You Are In Mortal Sin?
edit_button


Yes. We distinguish between sanctifying (habitual) grace and actual graces. Now the name ‘actual’ grace might make it sound like we’re implying other graces are not ‘real’ graces, but they are named ‘actual’ because they refer to particular and passing actions, whereas sanctifying grace refers to the state of being, the habit of holiness that persists after baptism as long as we do not sin mortally. It’s the difference between doing things, performing certain actions, and being human or, with sanctifying grace, being a child of God.

Mortal sin takes us out of the state of grace. We lose sanctifying grace and the theological virtue of divine charity, but God could still speak to us because those would be actual graces, passing actions that God can grant even to someone who is not in the state of grace. And He might grant them precisely to spur us to repentance, to Confession, and a return to sanctifying grace.

Source: Fr. Schmidt's Blog
Read more >>
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
A History of Holy Days of Obligation & Fasting for American Catholics: Part 2
edit_button

Archbishop John Carroll, the first Bishop in the United States


Holy Days in Early America:

At America's birth, the holydays of obligation, in addition to every Sunday, were as follows: the feasts of Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Annunciation, Easter Monday, Ascension, Corpus Christi, Ss. Peter and Paul, Assumption, and All Saints. The fasting days were the Ember Days of each of the seasons; the forty days Lent; Wednesdays and Fridays in Advent; and the vigils of Christmas, Pentecost, Ss Peter and Paul, and All Saints.

After the American Revolution, the Catholics in the 13 colonies that constituted the new United States of America were under the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Vicariate of the London District until the Diocese of Baltimore was established on November 6, 1789. This included the area of Maine that previously had been part of Quebec.

The history of holy days in the lands purchased in 1803 from France in the Louisiana Purchase is also interesting. Owing to the persecution of Catholics in France after the French Revolution, Pope Pius VII on April 5, 1802, reduced the holy days of obligation for Catholics in France to only Christmas, Ascension, Assumption, and the Feast of All Saints.

Spain, which was in possession of the Louisiana territory since 1763, agreed in 1801 to cede it back to Napoleon. Before even getting possession of the territory, he sold it to the United States in 1803. What is particularly interesting is that the Catholics of Louisiana - whose territory includes areas in modern-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, and Nebraska - adopted the reduced holy days granted to France in 1802.

A Divergence of Holy Days in the 1800s:

As America expanded, there was a divergence in the days of precept. When Florida was purchased by the United States in 1821, its old holy days were maintained. And the same likewise occurred of the Texas territory when it was acquired by the United States in 1845. And this trend continued as America expanded westward. As the American Catholic Quarterly Review, Volume 11 observes:
"In the Second Plenary Council [of Baltimore] in 1866 the feast of the Immaculate Conception was made of obligation as it had been in Oregon, where the feast of St Peter and St Paul had retained its place with the Monday after Easter and Whit Sunday, St John the Baptist, Candlemas, and St Stephen. Pope Gregory XVI in 1837 dispensed all the dioceses then in the United States from the obligation as to Easter Monday and Whitsun Monday and in 1840 from that of the feast of St Peter and St Paul and the same Sovereign Pontiff relieved the faithful from the fast on Wednesdays in Advent."
Uniformity of American Holy Days Established in 1885:

By the time of the Civil War, considerable changes had occurred to these holy days. It was not until the Third Plenary Council that uniformly was achieved, though at the cost of reducing the holy days observed by many Catholics in the New World. Quoting the same article:
"The effort to induce faithful to a more exact observance of holydays of obligation or least so far as hearing mass was concerned had not been successful. A general indifference prevailed. When zealous priests to give servants and mechanics every opportunity to fulfil the obligation Mass celebrated at an early hour to permit them to attend it proceeding to their usual work, it was found that almost the persons to avail themselves of the opportunity would be a pious old women while those of the very class for whose the Mass was thus offered were scarcely represented by a straggling individuals. 
"The Fathers of the Council renewed their petition to the See and His Holiness Pope Leo XIII on the 31st of December 1885 transferred the solemnization of Corpus Christi to the Sunday following the feast and made the holydays of obligation in all of the United States to be thenceforward: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, Christmas Day, the feast of Circumcision, Ascension Day, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and the feast of All Saints."
Sts. Peter and Paul was no longer a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States.

American Fasting & Abstinence Wanes in the Mid 1800s:

As Holy Days were reduced, so were fasting days. The Third Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1837, with approval of Pope Gregory XVI, dispensed from fast and abstinence the Wednesdays of Advent, except for the Ember Wednesday in Advent.

At this time, complete abstinence was observed on all Saturdays of the year too but over the course of the 19th century, the dispensations from Saturday abstinence became universal. Mara Morrow, author of Sin in the Sixties, illustrates these changes:
"In 1840 the Fourth Provinicial Council of Baltimore asked for a perpetual renewal of an indult dispensing from abstinence on Saturdays, and this indult was renewed for twenty years by Pope Gregory XVI. In 1866, the Second Plenary Council asked that all dispensations granted to the diocese of Baltimore be extended to other American dioceses, but Pope Pius IX preferred individual requests from each bishop in the United States. In 1884, the U.S. bishops who were meeting at the Third Plenary Council decided it would be difficult to pass uniform legislation on the subject of fast and abstinence and hence left it to the authority of provincial councils to determine what was best for their territories. Leo XIII in 1886 granted U.S. bishops the authority to dispense each year from abstinence on Saturdays."
Similarly, Pope Gregory XVI in a rescript from June 28, 1831, granted a dispensation to all Catholics of Scotland from abstinence on Saturdays throughout the year, except on Saturdays that were also days of fasting. Dispensations were granted in many nations, illustrating a weakening in discipline not only in America.

With the growing number of Irish immigrants to America in the early 1800s, special attention was given to dispense from the law of abstinence when St. Patricks' Day fell on a Friday. This was done for the members of the Charitable Irish Society of Boston in 1837 and would become customary in the United States.

Pope Leo XIII Continues the Relaxation of Discipline:

Throughout the centuries covered thus far, abstinence included not only abstinence from meat but also generally from eggs and dairy products, though exceptions were granted in various localities." Father Weiser in "Christian Feasts and Customs" clarifies: "Abstinence from lacticinia (milk foods), which included milk, butter, cheese, and eggs, was never strictly enforced in Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia because of the lack of oil and other substitute foods in those countries. The Church using common sense granted many dispensations in this matter in all countries of Europe. People who did eat the milk foods would often, when they could afford it, give alms for the building of churches or other pious endeavors."

The laws of abstinence also required abstinence from fish at the meals where meat was eaten on a fast day as well as on Sundays in Lent, as Pope Benedict XIV decreed. This too began to change. Anthony Ruff relates in his article "Fasting and Abstinence: The Story" the changes made by Pope Leo XIII in the document entitled Indultum quadragesimale:
"In 1886 Leo XIII allowed meat, eggs, and milk products on Sundays of Lent and at the main meal on every weekday [of Lent] except Wednesday and Friday in the [United States]. Holy Saturday was not included in the dispensation. A small piece of bread was permitted in the morning with coffee, tea, chocolate, or a similar beverage."
Fasting days were defined as days of one meal only until 817 AD when the monks of the Benedictine Order were granted permission to take a little drink and bread in the evening on account of the labors they performed. The practice of an evening collation on fasting days for all of the faithful was universal by the 14th century. The practice of an additional morning collation was introduced only in the 19th century as part of the gradual relaxation of discipline. Morrow in Sin in the Sixties expands on the concessions given by Leo XIII:
"It also allowed for the use of eggs and milk products at the evening collation daily during Lent and at the principal meal when meat was not allowed. [It] further allowed a small piece of bread in the morning with a beverage, the possibility of taking the principal meal at noon or in the evening, and the use of lard and meat drippings in the preparation of foods. Those exempt from the law of fasting were permitted to eat meat, eggs, and milk more than once a day." 
Consequently, the Baltimore Manual published by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1884 states: "Only one full meal is allowed, to be taken about noon or later. Besides this full meal, a collation of eight ounces is allowed. If the full meal is taken about the middle of the day, the collation will naturally be taken in the evening; if the full meal is taken late in the day, the collation may be taken at noon. Besides the full meal and collation, the general custom has made it lawful to take up to two ounces of bread (without butter) and a cup of some warm liquid - as coffee or tea - in the morning. This is important to observe, for by means of this many persons are enabled - and therefore obliged - the keep the fast who could not otherwise do so."

The Catechism of Father Patrick Powers published in Ireland in 1905 mentions that abstinence includes flesh meat and "anything produced from animals, as milk, butter, cheese, eggs." However, Father Patrick notes, "In some countries, however, milk is allowed at collation." The United States was one of those nations whereas Ireland and others were not granted such dispensations. The use of eggs and milk during Lent was to drastically change in a few years with the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

On November 30, 1879, Pope Leo XIII added the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception to the Universal Church's calendar, increasing the number of liturgical vigils from 16 to 17, which not including Holy Saturday, consisted of "the eves of Christmas, the Epiphany, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption, the eight feasts of the Apostles, St. John the Baptist, St. Laurence, and All Saints." At this time, the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception was not yet a fast day. These 17 vigils mentioned were still in place at the time of the writing of the Catholic Encyclopedia in 1909.

In 1895, the workingmen's privilege gave bishops in the United States the ability to permit meat in some circumstances where there was "difficulty in observing the common law of abstinence, excluding Fridays, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, and the Vigil of Christmas. This workingmen's privilege (or indult) allowed only for meat once a day during Lent, taken at the principal meal, and never taken in conjunction with fish. This particular indult was extended not only to the laborer but to his family, as well. The motivation of such an indult was no doubt to allow for enough sustenance such that the many Catholic immigrants to the United States who worked as manual laborers could perform their difficult, energy-demanding physical work without danger to their health" (Sin in the Sixties).

The Changes of St. Pius X to Holy Days of Obligation:

In the largest change to Holy Days in centuries, Pope St. Pius X in Supremi disciplinæ in 1911 drastically reduced the number of Holy Days of Obligation in the Universal Church to 8:
  1. Christmas
  2. Circumcision
  3. Epiphany 
  4. Ascension
  5. Immaculate Conception
  6. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
  7. Sts. Peter and Paul 
  8. All Saints 
In only 269 years, the number of Holy Days on the Universal Calendar had been reduced from 36 under Urban VIII to 8 under Pius X. Shortly thereafter in 1917, Corpus Christi and St. Joseph were added back, bringing the total to 10. The 10 currently observed on the Universal Calendar are the same as from 1917.

As for the Holy Days observed in the United States, the Catholic Encyclopedia in referencing Supremi disciplinæ noted, "Where, however, any of the above feasts has been abolished or transferred, the new legislation is not effective. In the United States consequently the Epiphany and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul are not days of precept." On a similar note, Corpus Christi when added back as a Holy Day in the Universal Church in 1917 remained transferred to the following Sunday in the United States as a result of Pope Leo XIII's indult from 1885.

James Cardinal Gibbons

The Rapid Decline in Penance from the Early to Mid 1900s:

We see likewise with the fasting days.

The Catholic Encyclopedia from 1909 in describing that fast immediately before the changes to occur under St. Pius X enumerates them as follows: "In the United States of America all the days of Lent; the Fridays of Advent (generally); the Ember Days; the vigils of Christmas and Pentecost, as well as those (14 Aug.) of the Assumption; (31 Oct.) of All Saints, are now fasting days. In Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and Canada, the days just indicated, together with the Wednesdays of Advent and (28 June) the vigil of Saints Peter and Paul, are fasting days." In 1902, the Holy Father granted a special dispensation for Catholics in England from fasting on the Vigil of Ss. Peter and Paul in honor of the coronation of King Edward VII.

The days of obligatory fasting as listed in the 1917 Code of Canon Law were the forty days of Lent (including Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday until noon); the Ember Days; and the Vigils of Pentecost, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, All Saints, and Christmas. Partial abstinence, the eating of meat only at the principal meal, was obligatory on all weeks of Lent (Monday through Thursday). And of course, complete abstinence was required on all Fridays, including Fridays of Lent, except when a holy day of obligation fell on a Friday outside of Lent. Saturdays in Lent were likewise days of complete abstinence.

Fasting and abstinence were no longer observed should a vigil fall on a Sunday as stated in the code: "If a vigil that is a fast day falls on a Sunday the fast is not to be anticipated on Saturday, but is dropped altogether that year." Before 1917, the fast of a Vigil that fell on a Sunday was observed instead on the preceding Saturday.

Effective per the 1917 Code of Canon law, the Wednesdays and Fridays of Advent were no longer fast days for the Universal Church. Wednesdays of Advent had previously been abrogated as fast days in America in 1837. Now Fridays in Advent likewise ceased being required days of fast not only in America but universally. The Vigil of St. Peter and Paul also ceased as a fast day on the Universal Calendar, although it had already been abrogated in the United States. And eggs and milk (i.e. lacticinia) became universally permitted.

But additional changes quickly ensued. Mara Morrow, writing on the fasting days around this time, states, "In 1917 Pope Benedict XV granted the faithful of countries in World War I the privilege of transferring Saturday Lenten abstinence to any other day of the week, excepting Friday and Ash Wednesday. In 1919 Cardinal Gibbons was granted his request of transferring Saturday Lenten abstinence to Wednesday for all bishops’ dioceses in the U.S. This permission, as well as the workingmen’s privilege, were frequently renewed, but, after 1931, this permission was only on the basis of personal requests from individual bishops."

Further, in 1931 Cardinal Fumasoni Biondi, the Apostolic Delegate to the United States, addressed the following to the American Bishops: "The Sacred Congregation of the Council, in a letter dated 15 Oct 1931, informs me that, in view of the difficulties experienced by the faithful in observing the laws of fast and abstinence on civil holidays, His Holiness, Pius XI, in the audience of 5 Oct. 1931, granted to all the Ordinaries of the United States, ad quinquennium, the faculty to dispense their subjects from the laws in question whenever any of the civil holidays now observed occurs on a day of fast and abstinence, or of abstinence" (Homiletic and Pastoral Review, 32-416; E.R., 86-65, 190).

Pope Pius XII accelerated the changes to fasting and abstinence as Father Ruff relates: "In 1941 Pope Pius XII allowed bishops worldwide to dispense entirely from fast and abstinence except on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, provided that there was abstinence from meat every Friday, and fast and abstinence on these two days and the vigil of the Assumption and Christmas. Eggs and milk products were permitted at breakfast and in the evening."

On January 28, 1949, the United States bishops issued a modified the regulations on abstinence in America again after receiving a ruling from the Sacred Congregation of the Council. Partial abstinence replaced complete abstinence for Ember Wednesdays, Ember Saturdays, and the Vigil of Pentecost.

Samuel Cardinal Stritch

Reductions in Fasting Intensify in the 1950's under Pope Pius XII:

Before 1951, Bishops were able to dispense laborers and their family members from the laws of abstinence, if necessary, under the workingmen's privilege that was introduced in 1895. This privilege of eating meat though excluded Fridays, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, and the Vigil of Christmas. In 1951, the abstinence laws in America were again revised as Father Ruff summarizes:
"In 1951 the U.S. bishops standardized regulations calling for complete abstinence from meat on Fridays, Ash Wednesday, the vigils of Assumption and Christmas, and Holy Saturday morning for everyone over age seven. On the vigils of Pentecost and All Saints, meat could be taken at just one meal. Fast days, applying to everyone between 21 and 59, were the weekdays of Lent, Ember days, and the vigils of Pentecost, Assumption, All Saints, and Christmas. On these fast days only one full meal was allowed, with two other meatless meals permitted which together did not make up one full meal. Eating between meals was not permitted, with milk and fruit juice permitted. Health or ability to work exempted one." 
As a result, the Vigil of All Saints was reduced to partial abstinence for American Catholics only in 1951.

In 1954, Pope Pius XII issued a special decree granting bishops the permission to dispense from Friday abstinence for the Feast of St. Joseph which that year fell on a Friday. A March 26, 1954 article of the Guardian elaborates: "Bishops throughout the world have been granted the faculty to dispense their faithful from the law of abstinence on the Feast of St. Joseph, Friday, March 19. The power was granted in a decree issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Council, which said it acted at the special mandate of His Holiness Pope Pius XII. The decree was published in L'Osservatore Romano made no mention of a dispensation from the Lenten fast."

1955 saw some of the most significant changes to the Church's liturgy since the Council of Trent. Pope Pius XII in "Cum nostra hac aetate" on March 23, 1955, abolished 15 Octaves in addition to the Octave for the Dedication of a Church, and particular octaves for patrons of various religious orders, countries, dioceses, etc. He also abolished roughly half of all vigils, leading to the removal of the liturgical vigils of the Immaculate Conception, Epiphany, All Saints, and All apostles except Ss. Peter and Paul. The total number of liturgical vigils was now reduced to 7.

Uncertainty existed on whether or not fasting was still required on October 31st, the Vigil of All Saints (commonly called Halloween). The US Bishops requested an official determination from Rome on whether the custom of fasting and abstinence on the suspended Vigil of All Saints had also been terminated. They received a pre-printed notice in a response dated March 15, 1957, stating: "The Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites...looks simply to the liturgical part of the day and does not touch the obligation of fast and abstinence that are a penitential preparation for the following feast day." The US Bishop thereafter dispensed both the fast and partial abstinence law for the Vigil of All Saints.

In 1956, Holy Saturday was commuted from complete to partial abstinence. Furthermore, the fast which previously ended at noon was extended to the midnight between Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, on account of the Holy Week changes enacted by Pius XII. And on July 25, 1957, Pope Pius XII commuted the fast in the Universal Church from the Vigil of the Assumption to the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception on December 7, even though he had previously abrogated the Mass for the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception.

On a separate note, in both 1953 and 1957 Pope Pius XII altered the more ancient Eucharistic Fast, and in 1957 introduced the practice of allowing Masses to be offered on Sunday evenings.

On October 9, 1958, Pope Pius XII died. John XXIII was elected and under him, as under his predecessor, changes to Church discipline continued. In 1959, John XXIII permitted the Christmas Eve fast and abstinence to be transferred to 23rd. While the United States, Great Britain, and Ireland kept the penance on December 24, other nations including Canada and the Philippines transferred it to December 23.

The Fasting Requirements of 1962:

By 1962, the laws of fasting and abstinence were as follows as described in "Moral Theology" by Rev. Heribert Jone and adapted by Rev. Urban Adelman for the "laws and customs of the United States of America" copyright 1961: "Complete abstinence is to be observed on all Fridays of the year, Ash Wednesday, the Vigils of Immaculate Conception and Christmas. Partial abstinence is to be observed on Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays and on the Vigil of Pentecost. Days of fast are all the weekdays of Lent, Ember Days, and the Vigil of Pentecost." If a vigil falls on a Sunday, the law of abstinence and fasting is dispensed that year and is not transferred to the preceding day. Father Jone adds additional guidance for the Vigil of the Nativity fast: "General custom allows one who is fasting to take a double portion of food at the collation on Christmas Eve (jejunium gaudiosum)."

He further elaborates on the significance of the changes that had been made under Pope Pius XII: "There is no longer any question about the interpretation of workingmen since the new formula makes no difference between manual workers, stenographers, white collar workers, students, seminarians, religious, etc. All may make use of the same privileges. The purpose of these new regulations and important modifications is to enable those who are engaged in hard and exhaustive occupations, to keep the fast by enabling them to eat meat once on (partial) abstinence days. Furthermore, Catholics serving in the Armed Forces, while they are in actual service, and their families too, when eating with them, are dispensed from abstinence except on Ash Wednesdays, Good Fridays, Holy Saturday (the entire day) and the Vigil of Christmas. The Ordinaries of the United States may also dispense their subjects from the laws of fast and abstinence on civil holidays, but they are to exhort the faithful to make some offering, especially to the poor, by way of compensation. Bishops may dispense the entire diocese or any part of it (e.g. a town) for the special reason of a great concourse of people or for one of public health."

The Turkey Indult

It must be further clarified that no "turkey indult" exists in the form many believe, even though many Catholics attached to the 1962 Missal claim a dispensation from meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving, citing Pope Pius XII as the source of the dispensation. The dispensation from meat on the day after Thanksgiving was granted in 1957 in the form of quinquennial faculties given to local ordinaries to dispense from abstinence on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, as stated by Bouscaren in the Canon Law Digest. The quinquennial faculties last 5 years and must be renewed. In 1962 they were renewed but not afterward because there was no need to because of Paenitemini and more importantly because of the November 1966 decree by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), which made abstinence on all Fridays throughout the year "especially recommended" but not obligatory.

Before 1962, the Bishops in the United States did not generally dispense from Friday abstinence on the Friday after Thanksgiving. After the renewal in 1962, more Bishops began to exercise this. In 1963 the Bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas made use of these privileges and dispensed the faithful from meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving:
"By reason of special faculties, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop, grants herewith the following dispensations: from the Law of Fast on the Feast of St. Joseph, Tuesday, March 19; from the Law of Abstinence on Friday, November 29, (day after Thanksgiving) and from the Laws of Fast and Abstinence on Saturday, December 7, Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception."
Such a dispensation from the law of abstinence was not permanently part of Church law by virtue of it being the Friday after Thanksgiving. While bishops or priests will today dispense from meat on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Pope Pius XII did not permanently dispense meat on that day as many allege. The research of Romanitas Press confirms this.

Nothing is Safe from Change Post-Vatican II:

Shortly after the close of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI issued an apostolic constitution on fasting and abstaining on February 17, 1966, called Paenitemini, whose principles were later incorporated into the 1983 Code of Canon Law. Paenitemini allowed the commutation of the Friday abstinence to an act of penance at the discretion of the local ordinaries and gave authority to the episcopal conferences on how the universal rules would be applied in their region. Abstinence which previously began at age 7 was modified to begin at age 14. Additionally, the obligation of fasting on the Ember Days and on the remaining Vigils was abolished. Paenitemini maintained the traditional practice that "abstinence is to be observed on every Friday which does not fall on a day of obligation."

The NCCB issued a statement on November 18, 1966. Abstinence was made obligatory on all Fridays of Lent, except Solemnities (i.e. First Class Feasts), on Ash Wednesday, and on Good Friday. Abstinence on all Fridays throughout the year was "especially recommended," and the faithful who did choose to eat meat were directed to perform an alternative penance on those Fridays outside of Lent, even though the US Bishops removed the long-establish precept of requiring Friday penance. The document stated in part: "Even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we ... hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to church law." And finally, fasting on all weekdays of Lent was "strongly recommended" but not made obligatory under penalty of sin.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law largely took Paul VI's apostolic constitution aside from the modification of the age at which fasting binds. Per the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the age of fast was changed to begin at 18 - previously it was 21 - and to still conclude at midnight when an individual completes his 59th birthday. Friday penance is required per these laws on all Fridays of the year except on Solemnities, a dramatic change from the previous exception being only on Holy Days of Obligation.

Per the 1983 Code of Canon Law, fasting and complete abstinence per these rules are required only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The notion of "partial abstinence," introduced under Pope Benedict XIV in 1741, was also removed. By this point, the days of obligatory fast had been reduced to merely two days.

For a chart comparing 1917 v. 1955 v. 1983 fasting and abstinence, please see Catholic Candle.

Holy Days Further Reduced in the 1990's:

Holy Days of Obligation, which had remained the same in the United States since 1917, were further modified in the latter part of the century.  On December 13, 1991, the United States Bishops issued a directive further abrogating New Years Day (the Circumcision), the Assumption, or All Saints in years when the feast falls on a Saturday or a Monday. And on March 23, 1992, in another reduction, the Bishop of Honolulu obtained an indult from the Holy See and approval from the United States episcopal conference to reduce the Holy Days of Obligation to only Christmas and the Immaculate Conception. With so many holy days reduced, and with priests largely not preaching on the necessity of attending Mass and of abstaining from servile works on them, the faithful have lost the sense of the sacred.

What We Have Lost:

Where has the rhythm and rhyme of the Catholic life gone? What have we gained from this slow erosion of the holy days and fasting days? The American Catholic Quarterly Review laments:
"The long line of festivals has been suppressed. Who has gained by it? The French Revolution seized and used all the property of the Church and the nobles. The poor were to be raised from their abject misery. By work and toil they were to acquire competence. After a century of trial the working class in France are desperate anarchists clamoring again for a seizure of property from those who hold it. Spain seized the Church property and has its discontented thousands. Italy did the same and drives her people into exile as immigrants to foreign lands. The gospel of work is now rejected by the poor. They have had too much of it. They clamor for fewer hours of work for more holydays for higher wages. The time and money they extort by combinations have no blessing both are spent in sensual indulgence. Their families do not gain by them but saloon keepers are enriched. These extorted holydays given by the nineteenth century do nothing to elevate or improve the masses. As a mere matter of political economy it may be asked whether the old time Catholic worker who had twenty religious holydays and spent much of them in ennobling and piety inspiring shrines was not happier in himself more prosperous in his home a more valuable element in the body politic than his modern representative."
Practical Considerations:

Consecration of St. Patrick's Cathedral. The day before a consecration used to be a required day of fasting. Father Dominic Prummer in "Moral Theology" published in 1949 states, "On the day previous to the consecration of a church both the Bishop and the people who ask for the church to be consecrated must fast. This is laid down in the Roman Pontifical."

While no authority in the Church may change or alter any established dogmas of the Faith, the discipline of both Holy Days of Obligation and fast days may change. The days of obligation and the days of penance are matters of discipline, not matters of dogma. Lawful authorities in the Church do have the power to change these practices.

In the observance of the two precepts, namely attending Holy Mass on prescribed days and fasting and abstaining on commanded days, we obey them because the Church has the power by Christ to command such things. We do not abstain from meat on Fridays for instance because the meat is unclean or evil. It is the act of disobedience which is evil. As Fr. Michael Müller remarks in his Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine from 1874: "It is not the food, but the disobedience that defiles a man." To eat meat on a forbidden day unintentionally, for instance, is no sin. As the Scriptures affirm it is not what goes into one's mouth that defiles a man but that disobedience which comes from the soul (cf. Matthew 15:11).

On a similar note, bishops could lawfully abrogate the precept of hearing Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation. While no bishop may dispense the obligation of honoring the Holy Day, which is a matter of Divine Law ingrained in the Ten Commandments, matters of discipline may change. In the Church, there is a clear distinction between doctrine and discipline.

Yet, even with such a distinction, the Church has historically been wise to change disciplines only very slowly and carefully. As Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once remarked, "It is a long-established principle of the Church never to completely drop from her public worship any ceremony, object or prayer which once occupied a place in that worship." The same may be said for matters concerning either Holy Days of Obligation or fast days. What our forefathers held sacred should remain sacred to us in an effort to preserve our catholicity not only with ourselves but with our ancestors who see God now in Heaven.

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves and our own families what we can do, even if not mandated by Church law, to recover these former holy days of obligation and fasting days. Cultivating a devotion to honor the many former Holy Days of Obligation by additional prayer, leisure, and assisting at the Church's official liturgies is certainly to be commended, even if not strictly required by law. Likewise, fasting and/or abstaining from meat and animal products on the forty days of Lent, the days of Advent, the Vigils of feasts, Ember Days, Rogation Days, and Saturdays year-round would be commendable. In a similar manner, observing the Apostles Fast or the Assumption Fast, which are still kept in the Eastern Churches, would also be praiseworthy for a Roman Catholic.

The Church has over time reduced the requirements required under penalty sin but She still implores the Faithful to do more than the mere minimum. But in reality, are we? St. Francis de Sales remarked, “If you’re able to fast, you will do well to observe some days beyond what are ordered by the Church.”

What days can you add? How can you better observe the feast days of the Apostles or the feasts of our Lord or our Lady? How can we fast better - both in terms of the number of days as well as by limiting the food we consume on fast days?

The 1962 Missal and fasting calendar is not the embodiment of Catholic Tradition. Even the practices in place in 1917 under St. Pius X are shadows of former times. To reclaim Catholic Tradition requires a radical return to the Faith of our ancestors and their observances. May those of forefathers and ancestors of ours who are in Heaven and who see the face of God pray for us and for the entire Church Militant to return to the happy days of eras past when the liturgical year was intricately tied to one's life.
Read more >>
Monday, June 1, 2020
Pentecost Monday & Pentecost Tuesday as Holy Days of Obligation
edit_button

When writing about the rank of days in the Catholic Liturgical calendar, there are various ways to label them. In the modern Church, they will use the terms solemnity, feast, memorial, or optional memorial. In the 1962 Missal, we have First, Second, Third, or Fourth Class feastdays. But before the 1962 Missal up until the changes made by Pope Pius XII in 1955, there were from least to most important: Simples, Semidoubles, Lesser Doubles or also known as Doubles, Greater Doubles, Doubles of the second class, and lastly Doubles of the first class.
 
Using the traditional pre-1955 calendar, we notice something very interesting about Whit Monday and Whit Tuesday. Both of these days, like their counterparts in the Easter Octave, are doubles of the first class whereas the rest of the Pentecost Octave is of Double rank. The Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of the Pentecost Octave are Ember Days and days of fasting and abstinence

Why the special treatment for Monday and Tuesday in the Octave of Pentecost? 

It is because they were universal holy days of obligation for a very long time. In 1642, Pentecost Monday and Pentecost Tuesday were listed as Holy Days per Universa Per Orbem. In 1771, Pope Clement XIV abolished both Easter Tuesday and Pentecost Tuesday as days of refraining from servile work. By 1778, they ceased being days of obligatory Mass attendance. Pentecost Monday was dropped from the universal list in 1911 by Pope St. Pius X's significant reduction in Holy Days on the Universal Calendar.

The Monday after Pentecost is still a holiday in Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Austria, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, The British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominica, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Ivory Coast, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montserrat, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Switzerland, Togo, and Ukraine. Until 1973, it was also a holiday in Ireland, and until 1967 it was a bank holiday in the United Kingdom. And Sweden also continued to observe it as a public holiday until 2004.

The Catholic Encyclopedia affirms:
The office of Pentecost has only one Nocturn during the entire week. At Terce the "Veni Creator" is sung instead of the usual hymn, because at the third hour the Holy Ghost descended. The Mass has a Sequence, "Veni Sancte Spiritus" the authorship of which by some is ascribed to King Robert of France. The colour of the vestments is red, symbolic of the love of the Holy Ghost or of the tongues of fire. Formerly the law courts did not sit during the entire week, and servile work was forbidden. A Council of Constance (1094) limited this prohibition to the first three days of the week. The Sabbath rest of Tuesday was abolished in 1771, and in many missionary territories also that of Monday; the latter was abrogated for the entire Church by Pius X in 1911. Still, as at Easter, the liturgical rank of Monday and Tuesday of Pentecost week is a Double of the First Class.
While the Octave of Pentecost may not be days of precept anymore, we can certainly in our own prayer lives observe the Octave of Pentecost, hear Mass these days, pray the Divine Office more regularly, observe the Ember Days, and strive to sanctify them so as to do more than the minimum required by Church Law.

Veni Sancte Spiritus!
Read more >>
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
A History of Holy Days of Obligation & Fasting for American Catholics: Part 1
edit_button


Note: I would like to thank Tyler Gonzalez for helping considerably with the research for this article.

The American Catholic Quarterly (ACQ) Review, Volume 11 offers an insightful series of reflections on Holy Days with a call for us to observe these as our forefathers in the life gladly did:
"The Church by one of her positive commandments requires the faithful to sanctify certain holydays in the year by taking part in the offering of the great sacrifice of the Mass and by abstaining from servile works. To many, it has doubtless seemed strange that the holydays thus prescribed were not the same throughout the world fixed irrevocably and known by all in every country on the face of the earth. Still more strange has it seemed that in a republic like our own where the Church though the oldest of all the institutions existing can boast of little more than three centuries and a half of history there have been diversities before the recently held Third Plenary Council of Baltimore [in 1884] made a step towards absolute uniformity.
... 
"In the days of faith and fervor not only were the great festivals prescribed by the Church, those associated with the life of our Lord and His Blessed Mother, those intimately connected with the work of redemption, and the feasts of the holy apostles by whose ministry the Church was established and the channels of grace led through the world - not only were these kept reverently but the patronal feast of each country, diocese, and church, the days of the most famous local saints were similarly honored. The devotion was general, and whoso refused to lay aside his implements of trade or traffic on their days was so condemned by public opinion that custom made the law."
Interestingly, because the Church enjoined on the Faithful both the obligation to hear Mass as well as to refrain from servile work, the number of holy days, which included Sundays, was significant. Some people began to revolt against the Church claiming that these practices only increased poverty. But as the Journal notes, an interesting phenomenon occurred:
"Protestantism therefore at once swept away all the holydays and Christmas remained almost alone to represent the Church calendar, and the Puritans even punished those who kept Christmas.With men working all the year round except on Sunday, wealth was to be general, the poor would thrive and prosper and be happy and contented, no longer lured from great and ennobling labor by being called away every week to idle some days in church and prayer. It was again unfortunate that this excellent theory did not work well. The poor seemed to grow actually poorer with all these days of labor than they had been before."
The first catalog of Holy Days comes from the Decretals of Gregory IX in 1234, which listed 45 Holy Days. In 1642, His Holiness Pope Urban VIII issued the papal bull "Universa Per Orbem" which altered the required Holy Days of Obligation for the Universal Church to consist of 35 such days as well as the principal patrons of one's one locality.
  1. Nativity of Our Lord
  2. Circumcision of Our Lord
  3. Epiphany of Our Lord
  4. Monday within the Octave of the Resurrection
  5. Tuesday within the Octave of the Resurrection
  6. Ascension
  7. Monday within the Octave of Pentecost
  8. Tuesday within the Octave of Pentecost
  9. Most Holy Trinity
  10. Corpus Christi
  11. Finding of the Holy Cross (May 3)
  12. Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  13. Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  14. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  15. Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  16. Dedication of St. Michael
  17. Nativity of St. John the Baptist
  18. SS. Peter and Paul
  19. St. Andrew
  20. St. James
  21. St. John (the December feast day)
  22. St. Thomas
  23. SS. Philip and James
  24. St. Bartholomew
  25. St. Matthew
  26. SS. Simon and Jude
  27. St. Matthias
  28. St. Stephen the First Martyr (the December feast day)
  29. The Holy Innocents
  30. St. Lawrence
  31. St. Sylvester
  32. St. Joseph
  33. St. Anne
  34. All Saints
  35. Principle Patrons of One’s Country, City, etc.
Some of the Holy Days of Obligation removed between 1234 and 1642 included Holy Monday through Holy Saturday in addition to Easter Wednesday through Easter Saturday.

In 1708, Pope Clement XI added the Conception of the Blessed Virgin to the list in his papal bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus. Before the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, the feast was often referred to as the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary without the word "Immaculate."

Holy Days of Obligation in the Colonies:

Not long after the proclamation of this bull do we see changes occurring for those living in the colonies in the New World as American Catholic Review illustrates:
"The Diocesan Synod held in 1688 by Bishop Palacios of Santiago de Cuba fixed as holydays for that diocese in which Florida was then embraced and from 1776 to 1793 Louisiana also the following: All the Sundays of the year, Circumcision, Epiphany, Purification, St Mathias, St Joseph, the Annunciation, Sts Philip and James, the Finding of the Holy Cross, St John 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, St Simon and St Jude, All Saints, St Andrew, the Conception of the Blessed Virgin, St Thomas, Christmas, St Stephen, St John, Holy Innocents, and St Sylvester, Easter Sunday and the two following days, Ascension, Whit Sunday and two following days, Corpus Christi. A bull of Pope Clement X added St Ferdinand, St Rose 'National Patroness of the Indies', and a bull of Innocent XI added St Augustine, August 28th."
Fasting & Abstinence Days in the South East Colonies:

The Church's Liturgical Year is a harmonious interplay of feasts and fasts interwoven in both the temporal and sanctoral cycles that define the rhythm and rhyme of Catholic life. 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).
For abstinence from meat, they would have observed:
"All Sundays in Lent, all Saturdays throughout the year, Monday and Tuesday before Ascension, and St Mark's day were of abstinence from flesh meat" (ACQ).
It should be noted that in 1089 Pope Urban II granted a dispensation to Spain from abstinence on Fridays, in virtue of the Spanish efforts in the Crusades. After the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, Pope St. Pius V expanded that privilege to all Spanish colonies. That dispensation remained in place in some places as late as 1951 when the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the last territory to invoke it, rescinded the privilege.

Fasting & Abstinence Days in the Western Colonies:

In Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California which were included in the ecclesiastical province of Mexico, the feasts and were regulated by the Third Council of Mexico in 1585, as American Catholic Quarterly Review states:
"In these parts besides those already [mentioned above for Florida], the faithful observed as holy days of obligation St Fabian and St Sebastian (January 20th), St Thomas Aquinas (March 7th), St Mark (April 25th), St Barnabas (June 1), the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin (July 2), St Mary Magdalene (July 22), St Dominic (Aug 4), the Transfiguration (Aug 6), St Francis (Oct 4), St Luke (Oct 18), St Catharine (Nov 25), the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin (Dec 18). 
"The fast days were all days in Lent except Sunday; eves of Christmas, Whit Sunday, St Mathias, St John the Baptist, St Peter and St Paul, St James, St Lawrence, Assumption, St Bartholomew, St Matthew, St Simon and St Jude, All Saints, St Andrew, and St Thomas."
Holy Days & Fasting Days for Native Americans:

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. As a result, the native 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. And the only fasting days were the Fridays in Lent, Holy Saturday, and Christmas Eve.

Holy Days in Canada & the Midwest:

Bishop François de Laval, the first Bishop of Quebec, on December 3, 1667, set the required Holy Days for Canada in accord with the bull of Pope Urban VIII. To those he added St. Francis Xavier, and in 1687, he likewise added St. Louis IX. Bishop François de Laval was declared a saint by equipollent canonization in April 2014 and is known to us now as Saint Francis-Xavier de Montmorency-Laval.

Quoting from the archives of Quebec, 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."
These holy days were likewise in force in many current American states under Quebec's jurisdiction as the journal elaborates:
"These were the holydays observed in the French settlements in Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as in Louisiana, Mobile, and the country west of the Mississippi till that district passing under the Spanish rule was reclaimed about 1776 as part of the diocese of Santiago de Cuba. East of the Mississippi they continued to be in force certainly till the Holy See detached those parts of its territory from the diocese of Quebec and annexed them to the newly erected diocese of Baltimore. 
Thus, we see that little more than 100 years after Universa Per Orbem the observance of various holy days and fast days in the life of Catholics in the New World was already significantly reduced from those observed in Rome.

Significant Changes Occur in the 1700s for the Universal Church:

In 1741, Pope Benedict XIV, who lamented the decline in the Lenten observance, issued Non Ambigimus on May 31, 1741, granting permission to eat meat on fasting days while explicitly forbidden the consumption of both fish and flesh meat at the same meal on all fasting days during the year in addition to the Sundays during Lent. The concept of partial abstinence was born even though the term would not appear until the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

Changes likewise occurred for Holy Days. In 1750, little more than one hundred years after "Universa Per Orbem," 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.

In 1771, Pope Clement XIV abolished both Pentecost Tuesday and Easter Tuesday as days of rest, according to Weiser's Christian Feasts and Customs. In 1778, the obligation to attend Mass on these two days was abrogated by Pope Pius VI, although they were not observed as Holy Days in most places, including in America.

Holy Days in Ireland


Table taken from the Irish Ecclesiastical Record

It must be stated that the gradual removal of Holy Days was not limited to the New World only. The Irish Ecclesiastical Record from 1882 describes a similar trend in Ireland:
"The full list of holidays of obligation as laid down in the Canon Law. This is the list drawn up by Urban VIII (Universa, September 13, 1642), with the addition of the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, instituted by Clement XI in 1708. The holidays thus enumerated are 35 in number. I have of course included in the list the feast of St. Patrick, as holding in Ireland the place of the [patron] mentioned by Urban VIII in the constitution of 1642." 
There was a distinction between days of single or double precept. Days of double precept required hearing Mass and restraining from servile works, while days of half precept only required hearing Mass. Pope Benedict XIV in 1755 removed 18 feasts from double precept and reduced them to single precept. Shortly thereafter in 1778, Pope Pius VI reduced the number of holy days to 13. And as the Record states, "On this occasion, the obligation of hearing Mass was removed, as well as the obligation of abstaining from servile works."

Regarding fasting, we likewise see a reduction: "The number of those Vigils to which the obligation of fasting had been attached [as of 1778] was in fact but eight - these being the Vigils of the feast of St. Laurence the Martyr (August 9th), and of seven of the nine suppressed feasts of the Apostles." No fasting was observed beforehand on the Vigil of St. John on December 26 or the Vigil of Ss. Philip and James on account of them always falling in Christmas and Pascaltide respectively.

This reduction was likewise occurring in the British Colonies.

Holy Days & Fasting Days in England and Her Colonies:
"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."
Unfortunately, the practice of the Catholic Religion was illegal in England. Catholicism was made illegal in 1559 under Queen Elizabeth I, and for 232 years, except during the reign of the Catholic James II (1685-1688), the Catholic Mass was illegal until 1791. Yet most Catholics could not hold any public office and had few civil rights even after 1791. It took the Emancipation Act of 1829 to restore most civil rights to Catholics in England. To these souls, most were unable to observe the Holy Days. The penalty of observing the Catholic Faith was death as the English Martyrs bear witness to. Likewise, due to persecution from the protestants, concessions were made for Catholics under the yoke of Protestantism in the British Isles.

On March 9, 1777, Pope Pius VI "dispensed all Catholics in the kingdom of Great Britain from the precept of hearing Mass and abstaining from servile works on all holydays except the Sundays of the year, the feasts of Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, Annunciation, Easter Monday, Ascension, Whitsun Monday, Corpus Christi, St Peter and St Paul, Assumption, and All Saints." These were the holy days in place at the time of the American Revolution.

The fasting days were also reduced at the same time to consist of the Ember Days; the forty days Lent; Wednesdays and Fridays in Advent; and the vigils of Christmas, Whitsun Sunday (i.e. Pentecost), Sts Peter and Paul, and All Saints.

Part II will cover the history of holy days and fasting from America's foundation to the present. Click here to read Part 2.
Read more >>
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Why is the Ascension Mentioned in the Canon of the Mass?
edit_button


Dom Gueranger reflects in his unparalleled Liturgical Year as to why the Ascension is always mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. Here he expresses similar noteworthy sentiments:
The feast of the Ascension shows us the work of God in its completion. Hence it is that the Church, in her daily offering of the holy sacrifice, thus addresses the eternal Father: the words occur immediately after the consecration, and contain the motives of her confidence in the divine mercy: ‘Wherefore, O Lord, we Thy servants, as also Thy holy people, calling to mind the blessed Passion of Christ Thy Son our Lord, His Resurrection from the dead, and His admirable Ascension into heaven, offer unto Thy most excellent Majesty a pure, holy, and unspotted Host.’ 
It is not enough for man to hope in the merits of his Redeemer’s Passion, which cleansed him from his sins; it is not enough for him to add to the commemoration of the Passion that of the Resurrection, whereby our Redeemer conquered death; man is not saved, he is not reinstated, except by uniting these two mysteries with a third: the Ascension of the same Jesus who was crucified and rose again.
Read more >>
Feast of the Translation of the Relics of St. Dominic
edit_button


May 24th is in the Dominican Order the "Translation of our Holy Father St. Dominic." This feast is in some places of the Order greater in solemnity than St. Dominic's feast day on August 4th. Today recalls the translation of St. Dominic's relics 12 years after his death.

Breviarium SOP summarizes:
Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the feast of the Translation of the Relics of Our Holy Father St. Dominic.  Since today is the Vigil of the Ascension, only a commemoration of the feast is at Lauds.  This is one of the three (3) traditional feast days in the Dominican calendar that were dedicated to our holy Father St. Dominic.  The other two being his feast day (August 4) and the miraculous appearance of a painting attributed to him at the Convent of San Domenico in Soriano Calabria in 1530 (feast day September 15 in the 1909 calendar, and September 25 in later calendars).
From the Martyrology:
At Bologna, the transferal of the body of our Father St. Dominic. At the time of Pope Gregory IX his sacred body was transferred to a worthier place. In addition to the other miracles which occurred, his body gave forth an aroma of such great fragrance that all who were present were filled with a wonderful joy. Thus did God beautifully indicate how pleasing to Him was the excelling sanctity of His apostle.
The account of St. Dominic's translation from the Dominican Nuns at the Monastery of the Infant Jesus in Lufkin, TX:
St. Dominic died on August 6, 1221. For some reason (his successor as Master of the Order of Preachers, Blessed Jordan of Saxony, refers gently to the "brothers whose simplicity outweighed their prudence") he was simply buried in the church of St. Nicholas of the Vineyards in Bologna, Italy and more or less forgotten by the brethren, who were apparently too busy carrying on Dominic's work to think of Dominic himself! Some, as Blessed Jordan points out, disagreed with this policy, but they "offered no opposition because they were fainthearted." It doesn't speak well for the first followers of St. Dominic! Finally, twelve years after Dominic's death, Pope Gregory IX encouraged the brethren to move his body to a more suitable tomb. The brethren had misgivings about this, fearing that Dominic's body--which "had lain in a mean tomb exposed to the elements"--would be found decomposed. However, their fears were foolish. When the tomb was opened "a wonderful odor poured out from the opening and its fragrance caused astonishment among those present. Everyone shed tears and feelings of joy, of fear and of hope rose in all hearts." The body was taken to its new  tomb (or "translated", hence the name of today's memorial). Blessed Jordan writes, "This marvelous aroma, which the holy body breathed forth, was evidence to everyone how much the saint had truly been the aroma of Christ." This day, May 24, 1233, was the beginning of the canonization process of Dominic and it was completed on July 3, 1234, when he officially became St. Dominic. Since 1267 St. Dominic's remains have resided in this tomb in Bologna.
Collect:

O God, you were pleased to enlighten your church with the merits and teaching of the blessed Dominic, your confessor and our father; grant, at his intercession, that she may not be wanting in temporal help, and may always increase in spiritual growth. Through our Lord...
Read more >>
Sunday, May 17, 2020
Minor Rogation Days
edit_button

Image Source: FSSP

This year the Minor Rogation, the days leading up to Ascension Thursday, are May 18 - 20 inclusive. Dom Alcuin Reid recently gave a monastic conference on the Minor Rogation Days where he said in part:
Their observance is now similar in format to the Greater Litanies of April 25th, but these three days have a different origin, having been instituted in Gaul in the fifth century as days of fasting, abstinence and abstention from servile work in which all took part in an extensive penitential procession, often barefoot. The procession and litanies only found a place in the Roman liturgy much later (around the beginning of the ninth century) and even then purely as days of rogation – of intercession – rather than as ones of fasting and penance; the latter being deemed incompatible with the nature of Eastertide.
He continued:
Indeed, this ancient tradition itself is now widely lost in the West. How many Catholics understand what is meant by the greater or lesser litanies, or by the expression “the Rogations” – clergy included? 
... 
Dom Guéranger himself lamented the lack of appreciation of the Rogations in his own day: “If we compare the indifference shown by the Catholics of the present age for the Rogation days, with the devotion wherewith our ancestors kept them, we cannot but acknowledge that there has been a great falling off in faith and piety. Knowing, as we do, the great importance attached to these processions by the Church, we cannot help wondering how it is that there are so few among the faithful who assist at them. Our surprise increases when we find persons preferring their own private devotions to these public prayers of the Church, which, to say nothing of the result of good example, merit far greater graces than any exercises of our own choosing.” (Ibid.)
The Minor Rogation Days go back to 470 AD when Bishop Mamertus of Vienne in Gaul instituted an annual observance of penance on the three days immediately before the Feast of the Ascension. He prescribed litanies (processions) for all three days. Thereafter they spread to the Frankish part of France in 511, to Spain in the 6th century, and to the German park of the Frankish empire in 813.  In 816, Pope Leo III incorporated the lesser litanies into the Roman Liturgy, and during the subsequent centuries the custom of holding these litanies being custom for each year.

While the Lesser Litanies (i.e. Minor Rogation Days) are kept on the three days leading up to Ascension Day, Father Francis Weiser notes an important exception: "Pope Pius XII granted to some Catholic missions in the Pacific Islands the permission to celebrate both the major and minor litanies in October or November" (Christian Feasts and Customs, p. 42).

Observe the Minor Rogation Days:

I greatly encourage people to observe these days and spend time praying the Litany of Saints not only for a bountiful harvest but also for mercy and repentance. Today is also a day we could fast or at least abstain from meat as penance to implore the mercy of God during our present chastisement. Rome enjoined abstinence from meat on everyone these days. Other places, like the Churches in Gaul where Rogation Days originated, required fasting. Fasting was championed as well by St. Charles Borromeo in Milan although Rome has never obligated fasting during the Pascal Season.

Prayer from the Rogation Mass of the ancient Gallican rite:

It is from thee, O Lord, we receive the food, wherewith we are daily supported; to thee also do we offer these fasts, whereby, according to thy command, we put upon our flesh the restraint from dangerous indulgence. Thou hast so ordered the changes of seasons, as to afford us consolation: thus the time for eating gives nourishment to the body, by sober repasts; and the time for fasting inflicts on them a chastisement pleasing to thy justice. Vouchsafe to bless and receive this our offering of a three days' penitential fast; and mercifully grant, that whilst our bodies abstain from gratification, our souls also may rest from sin. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect of the Rogation Mass:

Mercifully grant us our requests, O Lord, that the consolation we receive in our grievous troubles may increase our love for You.
Read more >>

Subscribe to Future Posts on A Catholic Life

Enter email address:



Copyright / Disclaimer

Copyright Notice: Unless otherwise stated, all items are copyrighted under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. If you quote from this blog, cite a link to the post on this blog in your article.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this blog are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”