Liturgical Year

Part 2 History

Chapter y20 History of The Liturgical Year

For an explanation of the divisions of the History Grid, see Chapter d21 Overview of the History of Liturgy

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

1. Apostolic [0-399]

2. Patristic [400-799] 

3. Early Medieval [800-1199]

4. Medieval [1200-1299]

5. Late Medieval [1300-1499]

6. Reformation [1500-1699]

7. After Trent [1700-1899]

8. Before Vatican II [1900-1959]

9. Vatican II [1960-1975]

10. After Vatican II [1975-2050]

To Think About

  

 

 

 

 

 

Preliminary Questions

How old were you in 1965 as the Mass began to be celebrated in the vernacular? What do you remember of the liturgy before the Second Vatican Council? With what feelings do you remember those rites?

Have you ever read the documents of the Second Vatican Council? Have you studied the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy?  What importance do you place on this type of document for your study of theology? For your spiritual life?

Bibliography

For an explanation of the divisions of the History Grid, see Chapter d21 Overview of the History of Liturgy

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1. Apostolic [0-399] 

Sunday).

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2. Patristic [400-799]

c. 400   Liturgical families or Rites develop around the great cities. 

The liturgy became fixed, organized, and established. Liturgical texts become fixed. 

Sacredness of "time" and "place" emerge.  Beginning of the liturgical calendar.  Celebration of Easter and Christmas.  Epiphany.  "dies natalis" of the martyrs.

"Norms" (rubrics) for organized religion were being established by bishops and regional synods.

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3. Early Medieval [800-1199]

Ciste

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4. Medieval [1200-1299]

Beginning of the split (distinction) between the "official" Liturgy and popular piety.   Liturgy becomes exclusive domain of the clergy (who can read Latin).

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5. Late Medieval [1300-1499]

1347 - 350 The Black Plague

Franciscans spread devotion to the humanity of Jesus; the Crib; the Holy Land; Jesus' suffering on the cross; Crucifix; stations of the Cross.  [Francis refuses to preach the crusade.]

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6. Reformation [1500-1699]

"Discovery" of the "New World"  brings new challenges to Liturgy and popular piety.

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7. After Trent [1700-1899]

Rise of the Enlightenment.  Liturgy becomes the religion of the learned and popular piety becomes the religion for the common folk who "don't know any better."   The gap between the wealthy and the poor had widened, and the more educated wealthy viewed the pious expressions as superstitious.

Individualism leads to a loss of the communal aspect of liturgy. 

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8. Before Vatican II [1900-1959]

At the beginning of the Twentieth Century the Holy Spirit inspired scholars in various countries to a renewed interest in the history, rituals, and meaning of the Eucharist.   Manuscripts and records which had been neglected or lost for centuries were re-discovered and studied.  A "Liturgical Movement" was born in the great monasteries of Solesmes (France), Mont Caesar (Belgium), Maria-Laach (Germany) and other centers of prayer and research.  These studies uncovered many new "facts" which made possible the liturgical renewal embodied in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the first document promulgated by the Second Vatican Council, December 4, 1963. 

The theology and pastoral practice regarding the Liturgical Year are at a low point.

A Votive Mass can be celebrated on almost any day of the year.  But usually on week days the priest celebrated the "Daily Mass for the Dead" -- as Mass was seen as a means for releasing souls from purgatory. 

The classification of liturgical days is extremely complicated.

The Liturgy is in Latin and not accessible to the laity.

The Bible is seen by many Catholics as a "Protestant Book" -- There is no Lectionary.  -- There are 52 selections from the Gospels (mainly from Matthew) one of which is read each Sunday; together with another New Testament reading (usually from Paul).  These two readings originally were coordinated but in the course of time they became unrelated one to the other.  On weekdays, the Sunday readings were repeated, or the readings from the "common" -- or most frequently, the Daily Mass for the Dead. 

 

The Liturgical Year for the laity consisted of
1.  The major feasts of Christmas and Easter
2.  The seasons before these feasts
3.  Lent - a period of fasting and penance
4.  Advent - a second lent
5.  Daily Mass for the Dead
6.  Months:  March, St. Joseph; May, Mary; June, Sacred Heart; October, Holy Rosary.

 

My Memories of the Liturgical Year

I was born in 1939 and attended daily Mass for as long as I can remember. (My mother attended Mass each morning and took me along. My father went to work each morning at seven, and so it was impossible for him to attend Mass except on Sundays – the “fasting from midnight” rule made afternoon and evening Masses prohibitive.)

When I was in grade school I remember that the congregation recited the Rosary out loud during Mass on most days, pausing only for the moment of consecration, the essence of Mass.

I don't recall any mention of “the liturgical year” in catechism class – or any other time, for that matter.

On Sundays the priest wore green, and on weekdays he wore black vestments. The only interruption was during the two periods of lent when he wore purple; the lent before Christmas, and lent before Easter. Lent was a time of penance, a time of “giving something up”– for example candy, soda pop, sugar on your breakfast cereal, etc.

There were two special times: Christmas Day and Easter. Christmas was special because it was the only day when Mass was not in the morning but began at midnight, because that's when Jesus was born. (And the “fasting from midnight rule” was not a problem for the priest.)

Easter was pretty much an ordinary Sunday but the Sunday before Easter had a very long gospel (the passion according to Matthew–but I didn't know that at the time) and we got Palm branches which we brought home to place behind the crucifix so that our house would not be struck by lightning. Thursday Friday and Saturday before Easter very special days. During my final years of grade school I was an altar boy. (The priest knew that my mother attended Mass every morning and so he was always assured of a server.)

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday had a very special Mass at 7 o'clock each the morning. Each day was unique.

Thursday morning after the solemn high Mass (our little parish and four Franciscan priests and on this day the pastor would celebrate Mass, one associate priest would be the deacon, the other priest would be the sub-deacon, and the fourth priest would be the master of ceremonies, and I would be the server. And the congregation would consist of my mother and Mrs. Lanzareth who lived across the street from the church and had two sons who were Franciscan priests. No one else was in church–just the seven of us.) Also on Thursday I got to ring the bells during the Gloria and then got to use the clapper at the consecration. After Mass, the four priests and I walked around the church carrying an empty chalice that had a consecrated host in it. And we went to the Blessed Mother's altar, which on this day had all the statues covered with white silk, and father placed chalice with the host in the tabernacle–the only day this tabernacle was ever used. [The matching St. Joseph altar on the other side of church also had a tabernacle, but as I was a server and got to see up close, I knew that St. Joseph's tabernacle wasn't real. The door, hinges, and keyhole, were all just painted on to make it look like a real tabernacle.]

On Good Friday the service at seven in the morning was very long as I recall. With the priests chanting endlessly in Latin. Finally one priest and I – I was carrying a candle – went to the tabernacle on the Blessed Mother altar and got the chalice with the host in it and brought it back to the high altar where the pastor ate it. And then mom took me home.

The church was packed from noon to 3:00 while Jesus hung on the cross. We heard sermons on the “Seven Last Words of Christ.”

Holy Saturday was a fun day to be a server because I got to do so many things. The service started at seven in the morning as on the previous days and one of the associate priests dressed as a deacon chanted “for hours”��it seemed – in Latin. But then we had the procession to St. Theresa's altar where there was a big washtub full of water. In this procession I remember I would get to carry the Paschal candle, the triple candlestick, a dish with five red wax things in it, an empty holy water sprinkler, a lit censer, and the incense boat. I was only 4 feet tall and it was quite a job carrying everything. I think that is where I got my vocation to be a priest. It was fun having so much to do during Mass. After Mass everyone took some of the water home to bless their houses. At the Gloria the church bells rang as the angels brought chocolate bunnies to all the children. Mass was over by noon; and noon Saturday marked the end of Lent; We all went home and had a big noon meal at which we ate all the things we had given up for Lent.

Except for these three big days with the early morning services before Easter, and the big Mass at midnight Christmas, Mass was pretty much the same every day.

Sometimes on Sunday the priest would read a short passage from the gospel of Matthew and then talk on a chapter out of the catechism. And on Sundays a few other people would go to Holy Communion besides my mother and myself. On weekdays when the entire grade school, first through eighth grade, attended Mass, only my mom and Mrs. Lanzareth, and me and Gracie Rotes (a classmate – a very cute classmate as I recall) went to communion. (And then Gracie and I would eat our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches [breakfast] during religion class in school.)

That was my experience of the Liturgical Year for the first half of my life. I found it very spiritually nourishing; and it was that experience of the liturgy that led me to enter the Franciscan Order and to become an ordained Priest.

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9. Vatican II [1960-1975]

Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium    For the complete text of Sacrosanctum Concilium, see the Vatican website at http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html

General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the New General Roman Calendar (Calendarium Romanum), Sacred Congregation of Rites, March 21, 1969.   Published in English by the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship in Norms Governing Liturgical Calendars,  Liturgy Documentary Series, Number 6.  Washington DC: Office of Publishing and Promotion Services, USCCB, 1984.  Publication number 928-9.  $6.95 paper.  The first half of the text is available online at The Catholic Liturgy Library

General Introduction to the Roman Lectionary for Mass (Ordo Lectionum Missae)  The text is printed at the beginning of the Lectionary.

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10. After Vatican II [1975-2050]

Rel

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To Think About

What do you see  

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter. All Rights Reserved. This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.   Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own. Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it. This site was updated on 03/20/15. Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org