29 December 2014

Just A Thought ...

As "Midnight" Mass at Christmas  moves backwards to become earlier and earlier on Christmas Eve (6.00 pm is the earliest I know of this year: any advance ... err ... retreat?) why do we have to have the Easter Vigil so late?  Could we not start moving it backwards too?  Give it a few years and a bit of elastic thinking that seems to fit the current Vatican mood if the subject under discussion has to do with modern marriage habits, we could be back to pre-1955 in no time!

27 December 2014

Sunday in the Octave of the Nativity 1862

28 SUNDAY. (Vacant.) The HOLY INNOCENTS, Martyrs, double of the second class with an Octave, during which sixth prayers are of the Octave.  Red. At Vespers, second Vespers of Christmas to the little Chapter, thence of St Thomas of Canterbury, Bishop Martyr, commemoration of Holy Innocents and Octave of Christmas only.

29 Monday. (Feast of Devotion.) St THOMAS of Canterbury, Bishop Martyr, double of the first class with an Octave, during which third prayers are of the Octave and the Creed is said. Commemoration of Christmas only today. Red. [In the dioceses of Westminster, Hexham and Newcastle, Liverpool, and Southwark, Plenary Indulgence.  In the dioceses of the North, the Plenary Indulgence is available during the Octave.]

30 Tuesday. Mass of the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, semidouble, with Commemoration of the Octaves of Christmas, St Stephen, the Holy Innocents, and St Thomas. White.

31 Wednesday. St Sylvester, Bishop Confessor, double, with commemoration of the Octaves of Christmas, St Stephen, the Holy Innocents, and St Thomas. White.

1 Thursday. The CIRCUMCISION OF OUR LORD, double of the second class. The Creed is said today and every day until the Octave of the Epiphany. White. Second Vespers of the Feast, and with commemoration of St Stephen only. Plenary Indulgence from first Vespers until sunset.

2 Friday. Octave of St Stephen, Proto-martyr, double. Commemoration of the Octaves of St Thomas, St John and the Holy Innocents. Red. Abstinence.

3 Saturday. Octave of St John, Apostle and Evangelist, double. Commemoration of the Octaves of St Thomas and the Holy Innocents.  Preface of the Apostles.  White. [In the dioceses of Clifton, St David's and Newport, and of Plymouth, principal Mass of the BVM with Gloria, one prayer, and Creed. White.]

Perhaps the biggest change the twenty-first century Catholic following this series will have to get used to is the fact that Sundays do not usually take precedence over other feasts, but this Sunday and next are rarer yet!  The Sunday between Christmas and New Year's Day is rarely celebrated on Sunday.  It is transferred to 30 December if any of 25-28 December falls on a Sunday, such as this year. (If 29 December is a Sunday, then Sunday's Mass is said and St Thomas is transferred to the thirtieth. If 30 December is a Saturday, the Mass of the Sunday is said and Mass on the Sunday is of St Sylvester with a commemoration of the Sunday (as well as all of the Octaves)).

Apart from the wandering Sunday, this week is relatively straightforward, though there are a lot of commemorations to keep up with.  Of note is the fact that Thursday, New Year's Day, the feast of the Circumcision, is a Holyday of Obligation, one of seven in the year (the Epiphany, the Ascension, Corpus Christi, SS Peter and Paul, The Assumption and Christmas Day are the others).

Most dioceses honour the feast of St Thomas of Canterbury with a Plenary Indulgence, available in the North throughout his Octave.  There is a plenary Indulgence on the feast of the Circumcision applicable to the Holy Souls (as there was on Christmas Day and will be on all feasts of Our Lord and Our Lady). In the diocese of Liverpool, a Plenary Indulgence is available every Sunday.

In the South West of England and in South Wales the first free Saturday of each quarter (January, April, July and October) is celebrated as Our Lady's Saturday, though if there is more than one Mass, the feast of the day will be celebrated:  this week  the Octave of St John.

The Pro-cathedral of the Westminster Archdiocese was St Mary's in Moorfields.  It opened in 1820, and had cost £26,000 to build and furnish.  It served as Pro-Cathedral until 1869, when the episcopal see moved, as the area had become denuded of parishioners.  The church was demolished in 1899, the site being sold for £200,000. (Another church with the same name was built nearby and stands to this day, the only Catholic church in the City of London.)

The church was served by the Revv Daniel Gilbert DD, J L Patterson, Thomas Cahill, Leo Pycke, and James Hussey.
Mass on Sundays and Holy Days was a 7.00, 8.00, 9.00 and 10.00, with High Mass at 11.00.  Catechism at 3.00 pm, accompanied on the Third Sunday of the month by Benediction.  Baptisms at 3.00 pm (and on Wednesdays and Fridays at 11.00 am).  Vespers, Sermon and Benediction at 7.00 pm. On weekdays, Mass at 7.30, 8.00 and 10.00. On Thursday, Rosary, Sermon and Benediction at 8.00, and on other weekdays Rosary and Night Prayers at 8.00.  First Friday of each month Sermon and Benediction in honour of the Sacred Heart.  Second Friday of each month the Way of the Cross.  Confessions daily except Monday and Tuesday from 8.00 to 11.00 am, and on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 6.00 pm.  Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament, Sacred Heart, Holy Angels for children, and Christian Doctrine.  Socieities: Holy Trinity Total Abstinence Society, Benevolent Society of the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor, and the Night refuge for Homeless Women of Good Character.
The priests also served Newgate Prison; the Old Bailey; the Debtors' Prison, Lower Whitecross St; St Bartholomew's Hospital, Smithfield; Metropolitan Free Hospital, Devonshire Sq, Bishopsgate; Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital, Blomfield St.
The Cardinal Archbishop, the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Nicholas Wiseman, had his residence at 8 York Place, Portman Square.  When in town he was at home every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday between 11.00 and 2.00, Tuesday being especially devoted to the clergy.  The Vicar-general, the Very Rev Dr Hearn would be in attendance at Archbishop's House on Tuesdays from 12.00 to 2.00.

20 December 2014

Fourth Sunday of Advent 1862

21 Sunday, 4th of Advent, semidouble. Second prayers of the BVM, third prayers for the Church or Pope. Violet. First Vespers of St Thomas the Apostle with commemoration of Sunday. Antiphon O Oriens. Red.

22 Monday, St Thomas the Apostle, double of second class (transferred from yesterday). Red.

23 Tuesday, Feria. Violet.

24 Wednesday, Vigil of the Nativity. Violet. FAST.

The Indulgence begins.

25 Thursday, THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, double of the first class with an Octave, during which second prayers are of the Octave, the Creed is recited in each Mass and the Preface of Christmas is said.  Three Masses, in the second of which there is a commemoration of St Anastasia.  The third Mass has as the last Gospel the Gospel of the feast of the Epiphany.  Vespers are Second Vespers of the feast, with commemoration of St Stephen. Plenary Indulgence.

26 Friday, (Feast of Devotion) St STEPHEN, Proto-Martyr, double of second class with an Octave during which fourth prayers are of the Octave. Red. Abstinence.

27 Saturday, (Feast of Devotion) St JOHN, Apostle and Evangelist, double of second class with an Octave during which fifth prayers are of the Octave. White.

The preparation for Christmas is completed by the fourth Sunday, which displaces the feast of St Thomas the Apostle to Monday (which should be a feria). Tuesday is another feria (so priests will say a votive Mass), and on Wednesday, Christmas Eve, there is a mass for the Vigil of the Nativity.  This is a very simple Mass, with only one prayer.  The Nativity is a feast on whose Vigil we are obliged to fast, but as it is a Wednesday in Advent, it is a day of fasting, anyway.

The Indulgence begins: there are eight periods in the year during which plenary indulgences can be obtained as long as certain conditions are met.  This was a way of encouraging people to receive Holy Communion more than once a year.  The conditions always include Confession and Holy Communion, but the other conditions fall into three categories according to the grant of the Indulgence.  The Christmas indulgence, which lasts until the Epiphany is one of four granted by Pope Benedict XIV (Fr Hunwicke's ghostly counsellor): Christmas, Easter, the Assumption and St Michael: whose third condition is to visit a Church or Chapel in which Mass is celebrated to pray for the peace of God's Church; and fourth, to assist the poor with alms, or to attend catechism or sermons as often as possible, or to assist the sick or those who are near to their end. (The fourth condition doesn't have to be met on the same day as Communion is received, but Communion must be received by somebody disposed to fulfil the condition if the Indulgence is to be obtained.)

Christmas Day is the only day on which priests can say three Masses: there are three proper Masses, of midnight, of dawn and of daytime. (The concession for All Souls' Day dates from 1915.)  In a parish or foundation with many priests, they can be said by each priest one after the other, with special rubrics associated with eg purification of the chalice, or they can be said at the appropriate times.  St Anastasia, whose feast is today, is commemorated at the Dawn mass.  As the Gospel for the daytime Mass is the first part of the first chapter of St John's Gospel, which is the default Last Gospel, the Last Gospel at this Mass is the Gospel of the Epiphany.

Christmas has its own Octave, but unlike the Octaves of the Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost, which are (figuratively) weeks on which the principal feast is relived on each day, the Christmas Octave has various major feasts each of which carries its own Octave. These would all have been Holydays prior to the Reformation and are marked as Feasts of devotion so that those who are able should treat them as such.  As they are Octaves, they are commemorated each day: this means that the nativity will be commemorated every day until 1 January, St Stephen until 2 January, etc.  Already by Saturday this means that there are five sets of prayers, and next week will be busier still!

Separate from the period of indulgence, there is a plenary indulgence available on Christmas Day itself applicable to the Holy Souls to all who confess, receive Communion, and pray for the Pope's intentions.

Remember that Friday is still a day of Abstinence, and that means no eggs as well as no meat.  Next year we will see the only occasion on which the rule of Friday abstinence is abrogated: when Christmas Day fall on a Friday.  (Remember that I'm talking about the immemorial customs of the Church here, not about the Catholic Church in England and Wales in 2014.)

St Mary Magdalene, Mortlake is served by the Missionary Rector, Rev J G Wenham, and the Rev Sylvester Donnelly. Mass on Sundays is at 8.00 and 10.30, on weekdays at 7.30 and 8.00.  Vespers, Catechism and Benediction on Sundays at 6.30.  On Thursdays and Feasts of Devotion, Benediction at 7.30 pm.  Exposition on Sunday in the Octave of the Epiphany, on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, and the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost.  There is a Catholic Boarding School for Young Gentlemen in the parish, as well as a cemetery. (Click on the image to view the school's prospectus if it isn't clear otherwise.)

Though there is no information about Mortlake Cemetery, the two public Catholic cemeteries in London, St Mary's Kensal-green and St Patrick's at Leyton, have chaplains in attendance for interments between 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm every day.  Single interments, all fees included, are a guinea (£1.05) for adults, and 15/- (75p) for children under 10.
(I offered a few weeks ago to include such details as are available for any parish which was open in 1862 or 1863: let me know if there's one you are interested in.)

13 December 2014

Third Sunday of Advent 1862

14 SUNDAY, 3rd Sunday of Advent, semidouble. Violet. Vespers of the Octave of the Immaculate Conception (the First Vespers of the Feast are used) with commemoration of Sunday. White. [In diocese of Hexham and Newcastle Plenary Indulgence.]

15 Monday, The Octave of the Immaculate Conception, double. White.

16 Tuesday, St Eusebius, Bishop Martyr, semidouble. Second prayers of 3rd Sunday of Advent, third prayers of the BVM. Red.

17 Ember-Wednesday, feria. Second prayers for the dead (Fidelium), third prayers of the BVM. Violet. FAST.

18 Thursday, The Expectation of the BVM, greater double. Creed. Preface of the BVM. White. Plenary Indulgence.

19 Ember-Friday, feria. Second prayers for the dead (Fidelium), third prayers of the BVM. Violet. FAST.

20 Ember-Saturday, Vigil of St Thomas Apostle. Mass of Ember-day. Second prayers of Vigil, third prayers of the BVM. Violet. FAST.

It is instructive that as we go into the third Sunday of Lent there is no mention of rose coloured vestments, of flowers being allowed on the altar, or any other of the small signs which would be indicated rubrically a century later. This is because the ornate Italianate style is still a novelty, indeed a dangerous novelty in the eyes of many, and most priests would still be suspicious of it.

This is an Ember Week, one of four weeks in the year where the faithful fast and implore blessings of God in the new season.  Fasting should also prepare by penance those who are about to be ordained, because ordinations would normally take place on the Ember Days.  Our fasting will help us pray more reverently for good priests.

We celebrate the Octave of the Immaculate Conception from first Vespers on Sunday until the end of Monday: this means that there are liturgical prayers to Our Lady every day this week, and two feasts: the Octave, and, on Thursday, a week before the feast of Christ's birth, we celebrate the Expectation of the BVM. 

This is one of the most affecting and human feasts of the year.  It is hard to imagine a man or a woman, a boy or a girl, who cannot sympathise with the discomfort of a mother a week away from giving birth, especially a mother who is journeying and who has nothing to sustain her but the love of her husband and the promise made to her by an archangel nearly nine months previously. The Mass is Rorate, except for the last verse of the Gradual, which is "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son, Jesus Christ, Alleluia".

This feast is celebrated pretty well everywhere, but an American visitor to England and Wales might have felt the lack of Wednesday's feast of St Lazarus Born Again to Life, which was particular (in the English-speaking world at least) to the United States.  I can't help feeling that the American dioceses are on to something here, much as the diocese of Salford's celebration of the feast of the Good Thief struck me as being particularly apposite.

Finally, on Saturday, we will celebrate the Vigil of St Thomas the Apostle (though for the third Sunday in a row the Sunday of Advent displaces the feast itself).  Because it is an Ember-day, the Vigil is only commemorated.  There are  five collects, lessons and graduals (and a hymn) which are proper to this Ember-Saturday, and precede the prayers listed above.

Ember Days are ancient: they date from the time of (if not personally from) Pope Callistus (217-223) and were probably instituted as Christian alternatives to the seasonal agricultural festivals celebrated by pagans. For some centuries they were observed only in Rome, but came to England with St Augustine, and were then taken by Anglo-Saxon missionaries to Germany and Gaul in the eighth and ninth centuries, from where they spread to Spain only in the tenth and eleventh centuries: they never were adopted in the East.  The celebration of all of the propers of Ember-Saturday seems to have become optional during the reforms of either Pius XII or John XXIII.

According to Bugnini: "The Ember Days are to be celebrated at times and on days to be determined by the episcopal conferences, provided that that they are in harmony with the seasons and thus truly correspond to the purposes for which they are established." Pope Paul VI insisted that prayers for vocations to the priesthood should be part of the replacement.  It is sad that 1750 years of tradition could have been tossed aside, unnoticed, such that few Catholics under the age of sixty will have any idea what the term "Ember Days" refers to.  I have no idea when the "not Ember Days" are celebrated in England and Wales: surely nobody was so cloth-earedly aliturgically illiterate as to offer us Family Fast Days in their place? That CAFOD rather than vocations should become their object? Surely, surely, not!

The Immaculate Conception, Hagley Road, Edgbaston, in Birmingham, is served by the Fathers of the Oratory of St Philip Neri.  The Very Rev John Henry Newman DD is Father Superior, and the Rev Fathers Ambrose St John, H Austin Mills, Henry Bittleston, Edward Caswall and William Payne Neville serve as priests.  Masses on Sunday are at 7.00, 8.00, 9.00, and 10.00, with High Mass at 11.00. Benediction is celebrated twice, at 4.00 and 8.00 pm. I imagine they used rose-coloured vestments on the Third Sunday.

07 December 2014

Bishops, Priests, Wigs, Powder

I came across a picture of Bishop Challoner with a full wig recently which I tweeted, never before having seen a picture of a Catholic bishop wearing a wig and a mitre.

A book on the practice of Catholicism in London in 1805 (written in 1905) gives a bit more information:

"The law of shaving was in force, but before the French Revolution the custom was so common that it was not particularly distinctive of the clergy; and when, later on, it became fashionable to let whiskers grow, the priests frequently wore what was called the "clerical inch", which equally prevented any distinctive appearance of their ecclesiastical state. This was in order to save them from being insulted in the streets-no doubt a useful precaution in the eighteenth century, but one which rapidly became unnecessary in the nineteenth. It is curious to note that Dr Milner always dressed in a brown coat and was not recognised as a priest, while the first to adopt a stricter attitude was Rev Joseph Berington, who was a well-known writer of doubtful orthodoxy: he began to dress regularly in black early in the nineteenth century, and was blamed by many for so doing. I need not say that the Roman collar was unknown till some thirty years later. Wigs were getting less common a century ago, though the older clergy still wore them. Dr Douglass is always represented with one of a close-fitting type, quite different from that which Dr Chailoner used to wear; but Dr Poynter never wore a wig, nor did Dr Milner. They would have powdered their hair instead, and this custom of powdering was strictly observed by all those who ministered at the altar almost till Wiseman's time. Dr Weathers, Bishop Auxiliary to Cardinal Manning, who was ordained priest in 1838, is reported to have been the first to discard the custom of powdering before singing Mass."

06 December 2014

Second Sunday Of Advent 1862

7 SUNDAY, Second of Advent, semidouble. Second prayers of the BVM. Third prayers for the Church or Pope.  Violet. First Vespers of the Immaculate Conception with commemoration of the second Sunday of Advent.  White. [In diocese of Hexham and Newcastle Plenary Indulgence.] [In dioceses of Liverpool and Salford collection for Church-building Fund.]

8 Monday, (Festival of devotion) THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BVM Patron of the Diocese, double of the first class (except in Beverley, Plymouth, Salford  and Shrewsbury where not the Patron so double of the second class) with an Octave, during which commemoration of the Octave, Creed, and Preface of the BVM. White. Plenary Indulgence [and in dioceses of Liverpool, St David's and Newport, and Southwark, throughout the Octave].

9 Tuesday, St Ambrose, Bishop Confessor Doctor, double (transferred from 7 December).  White.

10 Wednesday, Of the Octave, semidouble. Second prayer of the feria, third prayer of St Melchiades, Pope Martyr. White. FAST.

11 Thursday, St Damasus, Bishop Confessor, semidouble.  White.

12 Friday, Of the Octave, semidouble. Second prayer of the feria, third prayer of the Holy Ghost. White. FAST.

13 Saturday, St Lucy, Virgin Martyr. double. Red.

The second week of Advent begins in a straightforward enough way.  There are collections in Liverpool and Salford for new churches, and in Hexham and Newcastle there is a plenary indulgence.

(We will look at plenary indulgences in a separate posting soon: it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that, as so often, things aren't as simple as they are today.)

Monday's feast of the Immaculate Conception begins at Sunday Vespers.  It is a feast of devotion, so Catholics are encouraged to treat it as though it were a Holyday, as it had been in England from the thirteenth century until the Reformation.  This is a major feast with an Octave throughout England and Wales and there is a plenary indulgence available everywhere today (and, in three of the dioceses who have the BVM as a patron, throughout the Octave).  In fact, there are only four dioceses of which Our Lady is not Patron, but it would be hard to tell the difference between observance of today's feast in those dioceses and elsewhere.

On Tuesday, St Ambrose is celebrated.  He has been displaced by the fact that Sunday was privileged (Sundays in Advent and Lent must be celebrated as Sundays), and as 8 December is the Immaculate Conception, he had to move to the next available day, luckily a feria, so he isn't displacing any other saint. Both the Advent prayers from Sunday and the prayers of the Octave will be said today: the same goes for Thursday's feast of St Damasus, and Saturday's of St Lucy: we will celebrate the feast, and we will celebrate the Octave, all the time remembering that this is Advent.

Even on the two ferias, both of which are fast days, we celebrate the Octave and keep Advent. 

This week's parish is St Augustine in Ramsgate.  It is served by the Revv FF Wilfrid Alcock, Cuthbert Downey, Bede Whiteside, Suithbert Palmer and Isidore Pattlé.  On Sundays and Holydays, Mass is celebrated at 8.00 and 10.30.  Vespers, with Catechism and Benediction, is at 3.00.  Weekday Masses are at 7.15, 8.00 and 8.30.  Benediction is at 4.00 on Thursdays.

Ramsgate also serves the church of Ss Augustine and Gregory in Margate where there is no resident priest.  There is only one Mass on Sundays at 11.00 for most of the year, with an additional Mass at 8.00 in the summer.  At 4.00 pm on Sundays and Holydays, there is Catechism and Benediction.  Mass on weekdays is at 8.00.