Monday, May 12, 2014

Criticism of the CTO

Unlike good 'ole American superficiality and faux niceties, we here welcome disputation and criticism. The avoidance of debate (or the discussion of religion and politics) in everyday society as an absolute is a pet peeve against which I have an axe to grind. Oh, and forget having the below discussion with certain kinds of devoted devotionalists who would think Bring Flow'rs of the Fairest* represents the pinnacle of Catholic hymnody!

Venting aside, this noted absence and the corresponding ubiquity of superficial chit-chat has given me more than ample material to ponder the usefulness of a medium such as Facebook (a point to consider further on my personal blog). That said, I have found some "redemption" on that medium in the existence of group pages dedicated to specialized topics of interest in which conversations, and yes debates, of substance can and are had freely among informed and interested brethren. One such group page is dedicated as a discussion group of the Breviary (Roman, Anglican, or otherwise). Recently, one of the members of this page, who is keenly apt also to develop a personalized liturgical Kalendar, posted his Ordo for the current week, and he likewise invited others to do the same, so I obliged and posted the CTO's Order for this week. Here it is (abridged for the sake of brevity):

Sunday - III after Pascha, sd; comm. of the Octave of S. Joseph
Monday - Ss. Nereus, etc., sd; comm. of the Octave
Tuesday - S. Robert Bellarmine, sd; comm. of the Octave
Wednesday - Octave Day of St. Joseph, gd; comm. S. Boniface
Thursday - Feria
Friday - Feria
Saturday - of the BVM, s

A criticism was leveled against the CTO by stating it is "too frozen in amber" followed up by mentioning that at least 50 prunings and the same number of additions ought to be made to have a minimally good Kalendar for current use. One of the core principles of this enterprise is to use the 1570 Kalendar as a baseline upon which to prune/add/modify to the present day, essentially a redo to rectify the multiplication of Duplex feasts since Trent about which our friend Rad Trad has discussed here. Another principle is to maintain, more or less, the same balance of the Sanctorale v. Temporale that Pius V achieved in 1570; to this end, he cut out all but six feasts (if memory serves correctly) of saints canonized between 1100 and 1570; in other words, the Sanctorale was rebased on its core foundation of ancient Roman martyrs with fewer additions of later confessors, doctors, and holy women. We aim(ed) to achieve the same focus -  a strong centering on the ancient martyrs with a spartan sprinkling of only the most prominent and universal cultus saints canonized in the second millenium. Our critic seems to channel more of Pius XII-John XXIII-Paul VI than Pius V in his stated objective to prune the ancient martyrs and add many of the post-Tridentine and even post-Vatican II canonized saints (i.e. a resultant Sanctorale more akin to 1970 than 1570), albeit mostly as Simplex feasts in order to keep the Psalter in actuality rather than in theory. I counter that the CTO is a universal Kalendar which aims to accord the Ferial Office a fair exposition, neither too rare like the 1954 Kalendar nor too strong like 1962 or 1970; by so doing, there is plenty of room to allow diverse local feasts without making the translations of feasts a cumbersome enterprise like it was by 1910.

So, I ask - leaving aside particular disagreements about which feast to admit or not (e.g. Christ the King), is the CTO's Kalendar too frozen? How many saints (ballpark number) canonized since 1570 do you consider worthy of being on the universal Kalendar? I would say no more than 50, or about one per week on average, and the great majority thereof as Simplex.

* An auricular penance if there ever was one!


  1. I think you are essentially correct in all this. The thing is, it's difficult for the faithful to relinquish the feast days of their dearly beloved Saints. Personally, I'm very devoted to the early Martyrs and the Martyrs of any age, as well as the great Doctors and Fathers. An easy call, in my opinion. for reassignment to a particular Calendar would be the Confessores non Pontifices of the last two or three centuries and possibly (perhaps) some of the devotional feasts inserted into the Christmas cycle (Holy Family, for instance), although I'm much less certain about the latter.
    ---Fr. Capreolus

    1. Fr. Capreolus, firstly thank you for your interest and feedback here and in previous posts. If you'll bear with a little personal history - until approximately five years ago, I was a staunch, by-the-book, 1962 devotee; it was all I had known and loved since my earlier days in the SSPX. Among its many features, the one perhaps less glaring item which caught my attention was its tedious and overpowering ferial cycle, no less even when so many ancient martyrs were downgraded as mere commemorations (outside of Advent and Lent); this always seemed odd to me. It was when I switched to using Divino Afflatu (DA) that I first came to appreciate the early martyrs for then their feasts joyfully radiated every week - especially during this time in the beautiful paschal Office of Martyrs. However, what I also came to realize with DA is that it tends to the opposite extreme of 1962; outside the penitential seasons, there is hardly a day to "come up for air" from so many 9-lesson feasts; I rejoiced when the rare chance came to pray a Ferial Office per Annum, and even more so with the rare chance of a strictly ferial Vespers. Then I switched to the Pius V psalter whilst retaining the kalendar of 1954; that was quickly lamentable in that so many psalms which I had hitherto become familiar and looked forward to each week disappeared entirely for months at a time. How many times could I pray the Office of Confessors before my mind went crazy with the monotony?!!! When did "Iste Confessor" become the hymn per Annum?

      And then I read Rad Trad's series on the reforms, particular about the increase of Duplex feasts, and thought to myself why not try to restore the Pius V breviary but with a sensible kalendar giving the ferial cycle a suitable place between the extremes of 1954 and 1962. Really how many of those confessor saints did I really know anything about or have a particular devotion? Still more so, how have their respective cultus fared in the Church at large over time? In all of it, going back to the early martyrs as the core of the sanctorale seems to be a most fruitful outcome of the last year.

      As for "idea/devotional" feasts, I am more in agreement than not with most of the commentators here. For instance, the Holy Family was not added to the CTO except as an optional Votive feast.

    2. Thank you for this background. I'm in complete sympathy with everything you've mentioned. I also agree with Mr. Goings (below) that this work must be done by those with the "zelus amatoris" rather than someone in officialdom to take notice at long last . (I think even the publication of a book would be very useful to the cause.) Personally, I never knew anything other than Divino Afflatu (in regards to the traditional Office) in the Rite of a particular religious Order that resisted the addition of most post-Tridentine Saints--the motive was to preserve days when the Missa Matutina could be offered for the dead rather than constrained to be offered for the Duplex Saint. So, I share your consternation at the "overpopulation" of the Confessores in the Calendar, particularly now that we can see how the 'cultus' of some has not really sustained the initial enthusiasm (for example, perhaps, S. Pascal Baylon or even the Founder S. J.-B. de la Salle from later this week). At any rate, that's all by way of saying that I hope you continue your efforts; I think they will prove to be the right thesis at the right time, as more and more young clergy and faithful come to know Tradition.

    3. Thank you, Father. You mention publication of a book - One of my pet projects since "time immemorial" has been to produce a Breviary accessible to a larger populace. The idea was borne at a time when newly reprinted breviaries were kept under lock and key only to be sold to "approved" buyers (i.e. the seminarians and priests in the SSPX). Fast forward to the age of Ebay and Baronius, it would seem a useless endeavor today, though perhaps there is now a possibility of producing an e-book/I-phone app that would conform to the CTO while including local options in a later version. Sadly, my technological expertise ends at the door of my mental conceptualization of such a task...I don't know quite where to begin (type everything in MS Word?).

      To this end, on a practical note, I do like that DA resulted in a separate section for the Ordinary of the Office, so I would definitely add that feature to a newly typset Pius V Breviary.

    4. This will be of little use to most people, probably, but I've been working on an English version of the Roman Psalter for about a year now. I intend to order printed copies (via Lulu) when I have the Psalter and the Commons done, and then turn my mind to the propers. It's mostly not my work at all, but a cento of existing translations, using the Coverdale Psalter or the Authorised Version where needed for antiphons, etc., of the Roman Psalter.

      I realize that Bute already exists, but it is terribly idiosyncratic. With Lulu this can be done very cheaply (on the order of about $9 per volume for the Psalter and Common) so it doesn't represent a prohibitive investment. I am fine with an eReader for recreational reading, but I prefer a physical volume for praying, whenever possible.

      The topic of whether or not the Office should/may be recited in the vernacular is of course something else altogether, and I don't intend to introduce that here, especially if some people might be offended by it.

    5. Do you use MS Word or similar word processor to typset (or copy and paste) the text?

    6. Btw, I had a friend take a sample page of chant notation I wrote using Word-compatible chant fonts and try to upload it into an e-reader format. The musical notes came across as errors but the text transcribed well enough. Either I have to rethink incorporating chant or find a different program to type the chant in a compatible format.

    7. I use MS Word for composition and formatting, and then make PDF documents for distribution. I have very limited experience with the St. Meinrad chant fonts, and I understand that this is fairly difficult to master, with a steep learning curve (although well worth it, if you put in the time).

  2. I run hot and cold on this. I love the idea of using the ferial office more, especially during Advent and Lent. At the same time I am reticent to lose sight altogether of many of the saints that have entered the calendar during the last 500 years.

    While this arrangement has no precedent, perhaps one solution is to allow some simples and semidoubles to be treated as commemorations (at I Vespers and Lauds) only, with the addition of a proper third lesson at Matins of the saint?

    In terms of losing sight, the worst example of this is the '62 rule against virtually all commemorations at the Mass and Office of Sundays. Even if the Sunday and ferial Office is to be preferred, to not even let these feast days have an antiphon and collect is too much in the name of purity, and, to be quite blunt, was done with malice aforethought, in my opinion.

    I think that those who are interested in these sorts of things should study and test out various options. There seems little chance that anyone in the curial bureaucracy has a whit of interest in this, and must therefore devolve to the amateurs (in the true sense of that term).

    1. There actually was some Curial interest in this subject quite recently, although politics have put any consideration of reviving the old Office on hold. I do not think reviving the ferial cycle loses sight of the saints of the last 500 years. John has given many of them the same Simplex rank that they would have received in the first millennium, given doctors semi-duplex rank, and even a few of the more major saints duplex feasts. I fear Fr Capreolus is right about the devotion to certain saints. Still, is not attachment to St Anthony Mary Claret really something confined to Traditionalist communities and not the Church at large? They might miss him now, but would they miss him in 100 years? They would certainly miss St Ignatius Loyola in 100 years, which is the difference to me.

      As for the Counter-Reformation saints: this is a difficulty because so many of them are attached to religious orders or apparitions and devotions. They are not like St Francis who, although he started an order, has always had universal appeal. Personally I think maybe a dozen of them should be on the kalendar. The largest category of saints on the kalendar of 1570 is that of Romans, which is only reasonable because we are talking about the Roman rite. I have noticed in my study of local usages that their kalendars often remove many of the simplex-rank Roman martyrs and saints (although keeping the major Duplex and semi-Duplex ones, as well as a few simplex popes) and instead keep either some local saints or promote saints of particular interest (France was keen on Augustine and Genevieve). A strong, open ferial cycle might allow local bishops to inculcate organic devotion and liturgical life by giving them places for their own saints!—living in America we do not seem to have this problem....

      Lastly, Tuesday should be within the octave with a commemoration of Bellarmine, given that it is a semi-Double.

    2. I checked both my 1854 and 1954 Breviaries' tables of occurrence; semiduplex feasts outrank a semiduplex day within an octave in both cases. Can you point to your source for the curial interest in the kalendar?