Friday, September 01, 2017

Epiphany and Ascension restored to their proper days

Corpus Christi Procession in Oxford: on the correct day
As I've noted before, the 2006 decision of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales to celebrate Ascension, Corpus Christi, and Epiphany onthe nearest Sunday in the Ordinary Form is the most unpopular one I can think of in my experience. Letters in the press and blog posts criticising it appear year after year. The few who defended the decision when it was first made long ago gave up trying to respond. It is good to see the bishops are big enough to recognise that they made a mistake, although it is also true that there has been a big turnover of the Conference in the last eight years, and ironically enough today's announcement is accompanied by the news of the death of Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the architect of the original decison: requiscat in pace.

Here is the Bishops' Decree. We can now set our sights on restoring Corpus Christi to its proper date, and reversing the decision of 1984 to move the celebrations of all the Holy Days to Sunday when they fall on a Saturday or a Monday (except Christmas). At any rate, it seems we'll have a few more years to advertise the fact that if you want to attend Corpus Christi on its 'particular day' (as the CDW expresses it) you'll have to go to the Traditional Mass.

I've written about the importance of the precise dates here; about the importance of the obligation to attend Mass on these days here. There is a Position Paper on this subject here.

The wheels of the Church grind slowly indeed. The Bishops of England and Wales have been talking about reversing the 2006 decision since at least 2014. I see they made the decision on 17th November 2016, and that the Congregation for Divine Worship received their letter on 21st February. So it took them three months to compose and send the letter. It then too the CDW more than six months to reply, with the paragraph I past in below, simply to allow our bishops to revert, partially, to what is envisaged as the norm by Canon Law (Canon 1246). It then took nearly a whole month for the Bishops' Conference to release the letter from the CDW to the public.

I'm not complaining. I'm just awed.


Prot. No. 180/17 


To His Eminence, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, having taken into consideration the letter received on 21st February 2017, by virtue of the faculty attributed to this Congregation by the Supreme Pontiff FRANCIS, we willingly grant that in future, in the calendar specific to the same Conference, the celebration of the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord will be celebrated on its particular day, namely, forty days after Easter; the celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord on its particular day, namely, 6th January. When the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord falls on a Saturday, it is to be assigned to the Sunday following; when on a Monday, to the Sunday preceding. All things to the contrary notwithstanding. From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 4th August 2017, on the feast of St John Mary Vianney, presbyter. 

Robert Card. Sarah Prefect
+Arthur Roche Archbishop Secretary

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  1. And we live in an era of instant communication! But still better late than never. There will be many who will be delighted at this decision.

  2. As this decision applies only to the New Mass, I cannot understand why the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society would make a comment, nor why that comment would be so enthusiastic.

    1. There's a lot you don't understand.

      I care about the good of the Church and my fellow Catholics. Don't you?

  3. I may not be an academic but I understand enough and care enough to know that attendance at the new 'mass' is not good for any Catholic. Nor is is it good for the Church or pleasing to God. If you don't appreciate why, I suggest you read 'Work of Human Hands' by Father Cekada. Attending a service on the correct day is worse than useless if the service in question is not Catholic.

  4. Seems entirely good news to me, and greatly to be welcomed.

    It's a little puzzling that they haven't included Corpus Christi in this decision though; I'd have thought they'd prefer to tackle all three at once.

  5. I'm extremely grateful to Cardinal Murphy O'Connor: it was that idiotic E&W decision to remove Epiphany and Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday that first made me realize the NO had gone right off the rails, and made me seek out the Traditional Latin Mass, to which I remain blissfully attached. We must never take its provision for granted - many fought long and hard to ensure its preservation, and we are reaping the benefits of their tireless work. I pray that many more parishes will make it the norm for Sunday High Mass.

  6. Since when did thurifers incense the Blessed Sacrament using the left hand (or was the photograph reversed)?

    1. Ha good question! Not a regular thurifer.