Thursday, May 1, 2014

Ss. Philip & James

A happy feast of Ss. Philip and James to all readers! May these holy Apostles of the Lord intercede for you in your lives and lead you all to the awesome face of Christ which these men had the privilege to behold on earth.

Today is a liturgical curiosity in that in the Roman rite today is the feast of two Apostles, in the Pian rite it is the feast of Joe the Communist, and in the Pauline rite it is a ferial day (although masochistic priests may commemorate Joe the Communist). Indeed, once while reading an introduction to St. Athanasius' On the Incarnation I burst into an embarrassed hysteria when the writer lamented that the saint from Alexandria is liturgically obscured, losing his first Vespers to Ss. Philip & James and his second Vespers to the feast of the Invention of the Holy Cross! For more on just what the hell happened we turn to the esteemed Rubricarius:
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the ancient feast of SS Philip and James has been shoved aside until May 11th, the first 'free' liturgical day, and May 1st became the execrable 'Joe the Worker' day. Pius XII's Commission for General Liturgical Reform had discussed making May 1st a Marian feast but settled on S. Giuseppe Artigiano (c.f. minutes of meeting 45; 19 Oct 1954 and 59; 17 Jan 1956 in Giampietro). Clearly feasts of antiquity were not considered particularly sacred - but neither was much else - so from 1956 the beautiful feast of the Solemnity of St. Joseph and its Octave were abolished and today's venerable and ancient feast of the Holy Apostles cast aside to May 11th. On May 1st was placed perhaps the nadir of two thousand years of Christian liturgy (although Pius XII's reign resulted in much competition for that dishonour) with a modern liturgical composition that instead of honouring St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church made him some type of shop steward ostensibly out of pastoral need. The Office is truly appalling with lessons about multitudes of working men gathering in St. Peter's Square: '...cum occasionem nactus opificum conventus Kalendis maiis...Romae celebrati, ingentum multitudinem in foro ad sancti Petri Basilicam...' It really is atrocious. In an excellent article on the highly inorganic Pian changes Fr. Francesco Ricossa quotes a Jean Crete:
"The Sacred Congregation of Rites was not favorable toward this decree [Cum nostra], the work of a special commission. When, five weeks later, Pius XII announced the feast of St. Joseph the Worker (which caused the ancient feast of Ss. Philip and James to be transferred, and which replaced the Solemnity of St Joseph, Patron of the Church), there was open opposition to it.
“For more than a year the Sacred Congregation of Rites refused to compose the office and Mass for the new feast. Many interventions of the pope were necessary before the Congregation of Rites agreed, against their will, to publish the office in 1956 — an office so badly composed that one might suspect it had been deliberately sabotaged. And it was only in 1960 that the melodies of the Mass and office were composed melodies based on models of the worst taste.
"We relate this little-known episode to give an idea of the violence of the reaction to the first [It was hardly the first - R.] liturgical reforms of Pius XII".
 He also relates an amusing story about Msgr. Alfred Gilbey, who had little use for novelty and poor taste:

One of my happiest memories of the late Mgr. Alfred Gilbey is of his early morning Mass on May 1st. Mgr. Gilbey would come into St. Wilfrid's Chapel at the Brompton Oratory, radiant in red vestments, and approach the small, loyal, congregation and say "Today is the feast of the Holy Apostles Saints Philip and James. For some curious reason some of you may find Jerz the Werz [I think to pronounce a title such as Joseph the Worker would have been offensive to the good Monsignor's refined lips] on this day but that has been abolished and Saints Philip and James restored to their rightful date." Alas, not quite true although in the 1970-2002 calendar Joe the Worker has been reduced to an 'optional memoria' and SS Philip and James place on May 3rd. Certainly there is a lot of restoration to do...
Pray for us Holy Apostles! Pray for us Holy Patron of the Universal Church! Pray that we may be rid of the stain and stench of the 1962 books.

No Jerz the Werz....


  1. I was reading Lauds this morning, but kept choking on the antiphons. They were obviously written by the same morons who composed the Novus Ordo and the new Liturgy of the Hours.

    "The craftsman, holy Joseph, faithfully exercising his trade, shines forth as a marvellous example of work, alleluia."

    What corpulent banality.

  2. The winter’s sleep was long and deep,
    But earth is awakened and gay;
    For the life ne’er dies that from God doth rise,
    And the green comes after the grey.

    So God doth bring the world to spring;
    And on this holy day
    Doth the Church proclaim her apostles’ fame,
    To welcome the first of May.

    Two saints of God went by the road
    That leadeth on to light;
    And they gave up all at their master’s call,
    To work in their master’s sight.

    Would Philip’s mind the Father find?
    Lo, he hath found the Way;
    For to know the Son is to know the One
    Whom the earth and the heavens obey.

    And James, ’twas thine by grace divine
    To preach the Christian life,
    Where our faith is shown by our works alone,
    And love overcometh strife.

    Lord, grant that we may brethren be—
    As Christians live in deed;
    For it is but so we can learn to know
    The truth that to Thee doth lead.

  3. On may 1st I was in Lourdes, in an ICRSS pilgrimage. It was truly odd that the High Mass that day was truly traditional (not '62) in its ceremonies, but on the other hand it was that of st. Joseph the Communist... Traddy oddities.

    Kyrie eleison