Sunday, December 14, 2008

What to do on Dec. 28 and Jan. 4.

Much discussion has arisen concerning which Mass is to be celebrated on December 28, 2008. "This is the Feast of the Holy Innocents; but should we, perhaps, celebrate the Sunday after Christmas instead?"

In the pre-Vatican II missal, the Mass for Sunday within the Octave of Christmas (Sunday after Christmas, if you will), is to be celebrated on December 30th no matter what day of the week this falls on, should Christmas or any of the three days following fall on a Sunday. In the event that either Dec. 29th or Dec. 31st should fall on a Sunday, the Mass to be said on Dec. 30 is that of the Octave of the Nativity which is the same as the Third Mass of Christmas. The Epistle and Gospel, however, are to be taken from the Second Mass of Christmas. Dec. 30 is the only ferial day in the old calendar. Dec. 29 is St. Thomas of Canterbury, and Dec. 31 is St. Sylvester.

Then come the question of what to do for the Second Sunday after Christmas? You may follow this discussion at Gottesdienst Online. (Dec. 12 - What to do with Sundays after Christmas?)

According to the pre-Vatican II missals, the solution to this problem is easily solved. The propers assigned to the Second Sunday after Chrstmas are traditionally those of the Vigil of the Epiphany. TLH actually uses (most of) these propers for the Sunday after Christmas.

Introit: When all was still and it was midnight.... (TLH - Sunday after Christmas, second place.)

Almighty and everlasting God, direct our actions according to Thy good pleasure.... (TLH - Sunday after Christmas.)

Epistle: Gal 4:1-7 (TLH - Sunday after Christmas)

Gradual: Thou art fairer than the children of men.... (TLH - Sunday after Christmas.)

Gospel: Matt 2:19-23 (TLH - Sunday after New Year, TLH beginning at v. 13.)

Preface: Christmas.

This solution is in agreement with the historic use and the TLH propers.


Fr. Timothy D. May, SSP said...

Related to your discussion here is that of the octave. December 28 (The Holy Innocents, Martyrs) is the 4th Day in the Octave of Christmas. The Nativity of Our Lord is a universal feast of the first class so it would seem that the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity of Our Lord would take precedence over The Holy Innocents, Martyrs (2nd class) (?) The placing of the propers for this particular Sunday on December 30 as you discuss here answers the logistic question I had but then raised for me a different question about octaves (privileged, common, simple). "The octaves of Easter and Pentecost are privileged octaves." ( Would the octave of Christmas not also be considered "privileged?" If it is not, what class of octave does Christmas fall in and why? Also, based on your discussion here it appears that it is proper to commemorate The Holy Innocents on December 28. Thank you in advance for your response.

Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

Christmas is a feast of the first class; but the octave is a Common octave. A common octave does yield to feasts of the second class. The collect for Christmas Day (third Mass) is added, each day of the octave, as a commemoration after the collect of the day being celebrated.

The Western Rite celebrates St. Stephen, St. John and the Holy Innocents with Simple Octaves only, on January 2, 3 and 4. It seems that I have neglected to include these octaves in my original post.

In the historic (Roman) calendar, Dec. 30 is only one free day in the Christmas octave. Therefore, the Sunday within the Octave has been assigned to this day. This Mass has an assigned set of propers, and the collect from the third Mass of Christmas is also added as a commemoration of the Octave.

If one is inclined to celebrate St. Thomas and St. Sylvester, the Christmas Octave is also commemorated in these celebrations.

It is interesting to note that Germans commemorate St. Sylvester in their civil calendars. New Year's Eve is referred to as Sylvester Abend.

I have never quite understood why, after Vatican Council II, octaves have usually been relegated to the liturgical dust bin. The Twelve Days of Christmas have lost something in the translation.