Thursday, 11 June 2009

Holydays of Obligation

Today being the traditional day for the celebration of Corpus Christi, I am moved to reflect on another Catholic distinctive which is being eroded: the obligation to go to Mass on the great feasts.

For reasons wholly opaque to me, our bishops have transferred Corpus Christi, the Ascension and the Epiphany to the nearest Sundays.

And so one more piece of our Catholic identity is whittled away...

7 comments:

Old Believer said...

But there is nothing new in this. Pius X removed Corpus Christi as a holyday and it had to be restored by his successor.

Ben Trovato said...

OB

You keep saying this on a number of sites, but I'm not sure what your point is: do you think the moving of the feast is a good idea or not?

Also, you have missed my main point: Pius X did not move the Epiphany and the Ascension, nor did he oversee the removal of so many other aspects of Catholic Identity, which is what I am kicking against.

Old Believer said...

Ben

Yes, I keep saying it in the faint hope that it might sink in.

You, along with many others, seem to think it fine to castigate the Bishops of England and Wales for their action but ignore the fact that this is really nothing new. Prior to the twentieth century bishops would set the holy days for their dioceses and so one could have different holy day in neighbouring dioceses.


Pius X also moved the 19th March feast of St. Joseph to the following Sunday and the feast of St. John the Baptist to the Sunday preceding the feast of SS Peter and Paul - these were novelties. He also moved the feast of Corpus Christi to the Sunday in addition to moving the External Solemnity and removing the obligation.

If you want to consider the removal of an aspect of Catholic identity by Pius X look no further than the liturgical cult of the saints. That received its death blow with the 1911-13 reforms as Catholics who attended Mass only on Sundays and holy days would no longer find saints to whom they were attached celebrated on Sundays. The radical reform of the Office also set rather a precedent for papal-led reform of the liturgy which has hardly been an unqualified success. The liturgical cult of the saints is such that popular saints such as SS Anthony, Francis, Therese, Monica etc would not even get a commemoration in a Sunday liturgy after 1960.

As to the moving of the Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi a positive aspect is that the Sundays regain in part the character they once had of being Sundays within the Octave etc. With Corpus Christi the rubrics for the Old Rite prescribed a procession in Collegiate and Cathedral churches on the feast, and on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday following (and also after Vespers on the Octave Day). With the celebration of Corpus Christi on Sunday in many parts of the world some sense of the old praxis is revived and the faithful spared the sight of a 'green' Sunday in what should be the Octave of such an important celebration.

The Guild Master said...

OB,
The fact that a phenomenon is not new is no argument in its favour. The lesson to be learnt from what you have written is that monkeying around with the calendar and the liturgy is a very unwise and imprudent thing. The net result of abolishing the obligations on the Epiphany, Ascension and Corpus Christi is that most Catholics will go to Mass less often than before. Arguments about the colour of liturgical vestments become somewhat redundant when no one is there to see them.

berenike said...

Of course, they could just have left the octaves ...

Context is a lot. Old Believer, have you read Mary Douglas's Natural Symbols? Most of the relevant part is readable on googlebooks.

Qorban Ministries said...

Although I completely understand Holy Days of Obligation, the term 'Obligation' I have always had (personal) issue with. We (Catholic - Eucharistic Loving People of God) should not FEEL that we are Obligated to attend, we SHOULD do it out of our Love for Our Eucharistic Lord, His Church and ESPECIALLY for our Families. I don't feel that it is an 'obligation' for me to go home to my wife each and everyday, I do it because I LOVE my wife with all my heart and soul. I LOVE my family with all that I am and I do what I do out of the Perfect Love shown to me, from Jesus. Obligations, in my humble opinion, are keeping your word to attend a function, paying bills, et. al., I go to Church everyday, because I LOVE my Lord and I cannot survive without Him... "He IS, therefore, I am...".

We must stop being the "Frozen Chosen - attending out of Obligation", and move into the Freely Going who attend out of the Perfect Love, set before us in the Source and Summit of ALL Human Existence... The Eucharist! Baruch HaShem Adonai - Blessed be the Name of the Lord!

Ben Trovato said...

QM

That takes me right back to the '70s: it's what my RE teacher used to say - before he abandoned his vocation, ran off with a nun and dedicated his life to undermining (or as he'd say reforming) Church teaching.

I thought he was wrong then and I know it now. See my latest post for the reasons...