14 March 2015

Fourth Sunday in Lent 1863

15 SUNDAY. Fourth of Lent, semidouble. Violet. Vespers of the Sunday. Suffrages.

16 Monday. Feria. Second prayers A Cunctis. Third prayers OmnipotensViolet.

17 Tuesday. St Patrick, Confessor Bishop, greater double. White. Plenary Indulgence.

18 Wednesday. St Gabriel, Archangel, greater double. Creed. White.

19 Thursday. (Feast of Devotion) St JOSEPH, Spouse of the BVM, double of the second class. White. [In Diocese of Liverpool Plenary Indulgence, and in Diocese of Southwark for eight days.]

20 Friday. The Most Precious Blood of OUR LORD, greater double. Second prayers and last Gospel of the feria. Creed. Preface of the Cross. Red. Plenary Indulgence. [In Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, St Cuthbert, Bishop Confessor, Patron of the Diocese, double of the first class with Octave. Second Prayers of St Cuthbert and Creed during the Octave. White. Plenary Indulgence.]

21 Saturday. St Benedict, Abbot Confessor, double.  White

From this time to the Eighth of July the Suffrages are not said. The Crosses and Images are covered with purple veils till Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

The calendar this week is different in two respects from that obtaining in the twentieth century: St Gabriel the Archangel is celebrated on 18 March, rather than on 24 March (he was moved there to be closer to the Annunciation, presumably for the benefit of devout people with an attention span of no longer than a day); and Friday's Passion-related commemorations reach the feast of the Most Precious Blood.  This feast is too important to lose, so it was transferred to 1 July, displacing the Octave of St John, but it loses the context of the Lenten journey towards Calvary, and, shorn of context, was ditched during the Bugnini revision of the calendar, although, after protests, the feast of Corpus Christi was renamed as the feast of the Body and Blood of OLJC.  Bugnini casually claims that this was "one of the early titles of the feast": even if this is true, it misses the point spectacularly. (At the same time he got rid of the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, but that was restored by John Paul II to 3 January, though only as an optional memorial, secondary to the main celebration of "Weekday of Christmas".)

This feast is, however, displaced to next week in Hexham and Newcastle by its own Patron, St Cuthbert, whose importance locally is underlined below. I wonder what folk memory there was of the importance of this feast.  It wasn't a Holyday in pre-Reformation England, so, unlike St Joseph, isn't marked as a Feast of devotion.

There are two references to the Suffrages, the prayers to the Saints, which were, before Pope Pius X's reform of the Breviary in 1911 a part of the Office said at certain times, and consequently something familiar to Catholics, most of whose parishes had provision for Vespers on Sunday evenings.  When said, they always included a commemoration of the Patron. 

This is the translation of the commemoration of St George, Patron of England:

Ant: The saints by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained the promises.
V: With the shield of thy good will.
R. Thou hast crowned him, O Lord.
Prayer: O God, who makest us to rejoice in the merits and intercession of blessed George thy Martyr, grant in thy mercy that, as we seek thy blessings through him, we may obtain them by the gift of thy grace.

In Hexham and Newcastle, however, the commemoration was of St Cuthbert, the Patron of the Diocese, not of St George. In Northampton, St Thomas of Canterbury, and in Plymouth, St Boniface, the diocesan Patrons, were commemorated before St George. These had proper antiphons, vesicles, responses and collects.

I don't ever remember a prayer to, of, or even about St George in a Catholic Church in this country, even on his feast day: when (and where) I was growing up Irish priests and nuns celebrated St Patrick as a patronal feast, and St George didn't get a look in.  But how different to see a diocese confident enough of its own status as a Local Church, and in possession of a perfectly good saint of its own, deciding that its saint could take patronal preference over the national patron: a different ecclesiology to today's.  In 1863 Irish immigration to England had grown sufficiently to mean that St Patrick merited a Plenary Indulgence, where Saints David and Andrew didn't.

The church of St Michael in Brecon is served by the Rev John Davies. Sunday Mass is at 10.30 in winter and 11.00 in summer.  Vespers in winter at 3.00, and at 6.00 pm in summer.  The congregation is entirely Welsh, numbering some 260.   There was always a Missioner in Brecon until the death of the Rev William Lloyd in prison under sentence of death for his faith in 1679.  From that period until 1788 there was no resident priest in Brecon, though since then it has seldom been vacant. 

We are very aware (particularly if we are from the North) of the fidelity of Catholics during the persecutions: this is the first I have heard of a community in Wales not attached to a recusant family which managed to cling on to the Faith until and beyond Emancipation.

Only eight national associations are listed in the Directory: click on the image to get a clearer view. St Anselm's Society seems to have had at its aim the publication of reputable books for Catholics about their faith.


Ben Whitworth said...

The feast of the Precious Blood is the most moveable of moveable feasts. Its two centres in medieval Europe were two cities that had relics of the Precious Blood: Bruges and Trondheim. In the former, the feast was kept on the octave day of Corpus Christi, using the same propers as on the day itself; in the latter, on 12 September, the day the relic was received at Nidaros Cathedral, and there was a proper Mass & office. Bruges was the main continental trading connection for Scottish merchants, who introduced the devotion and feast of the "Haly Blude" into Scotland.

Rubricarius said...

Does the Ordo even mention rose?

Ttony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ttony said...

Ben: fair points, but post-Trent the main focus of the feast was Jesus on Calvary, rather than on the Eucharist.

Rubricarius, no, not at all: "The words white, red, violet, green, black, in italics, denote the colour of the vestments of the day". It would be interesting to work out when rose became unsurprising.

Ben Whitworth said...

I think the Bruges, Nidaros & Lenten celebrations of the Precious Blood all have their logic, reflecting, as you say, different aspects of the mystery. I wonder why 1 July was chosen, though, as it does seem quite arbitrary.

Ttony said...

Ben: arbitrary is the word! That's what happens when you start changing calendars unorganically.

Rubricarius said...

The use of rose vestments, as opposed to the Cardinals wearing rose choir dress, is undoubtedly late and its widespread use even later I suspect.

Inspired by your series Ttony I was looking at an 1815 Ordo available on Google this morning and was surprised to see that all Saturdays were marked for abstinence as well as Fridays.

Ben Whitworth said...

In his articles on Laetare & Gaudete Sunday for the 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia, G.C. Alston insists that the wearing of rose vestments is both the current discipline of the Latin Church, and a continuation (or revival? - this isn't quite clear) of the practice of former times; but he is suspiciously vague about when these "former times" were!