Thursday, January 5, 2012

Propers, Commons or Current Weekday for your favorite Saint?


St. John Neumann


Today is the feast (well technically, the memorial) of St. John Neuman, forming the second of a kind of three-day North American saints triduum. (Elizabeth Seton yesterday, Andre Bessette tomorrow)

Online breviaries --at least two that I checked--give us the psalter from the current weekday between Jan.2 and the Epiphany, that is, Thursday, week II. These breviaries did make available the Readings specific to St. John. (the second reading, btw, is from a letter by the saint detailing a situation where a false rumor that he wanted to resign as Bishop of Philadelphia had circulated to his superiors in Baltimore and in Rome. A beautiful lesson in both gentle,calm self-defense and also holy detachment and submission to God's will.)

After mass at our parish this morning, our pastor had us do morning prayer from the common of pastors in honor of St. John Neuman, which of course, uses Sunday week I for the psalter. And of course,the concluding prayer for St. John Neuman.

Who was right?

Both. These are memorials, thus optional, rather than official Feasts. One can do as much or as little of these saints' offices, with the exception of the concluding prayer from the proper of saints. (If your breviary is an older edition, you may not even find John N. or Andre B., but Elizabeth Seton has been around since 1975.)

However, St. John's special status as an American, and, where I live, as a saint who lived and worked in Pennsylvania, gives him "patron" status. I'm not100% sure whether this status as patron is official--haven't had time to do the research--but in this case there is still what the General Instruction would term a sufficient "pastoral" reason to substitute a full celebration of St. John Neuman's day for the current weekday.
So, as a patriotic American--even if not a Pennsylvanian--you could celebrate St. John from the common of pastors.

This hold true for just about any saint that is special to you or an organization that you belong to. There are exceptions to this. You would not celebrate the saint's day if it fell on a Sunday, for example. Or if it fell on a movable feast of Our Lord, such as His Baptism, or on Ascension Thursday. Or during Holy week or on Ash Wednesday. Also, the Church has stated a preference  of keeping up with the normal cycle ofpsalms and  scripture readings  througout the year, so it would be prudent to avoid substituting too many commons on the memorials and commeorations  of saints you happen to like.
St. Andre Bessette


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