Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why Do Some Memorials get Their Own Antiphons?


Today is the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene. 

Even though this is not a feast, you will notice that it has it's own antiphons, readings, and responsories.

Well, good for her. But why do you suppose that is?

The answer lies in the changes in the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours that occurred following Vatican II. In the older form of the breviary, there were many more saints' days that were ranked as feasts. Many of these feasts were "downgraded" into memorials or even optional memorials (also called commemorations). The was due to the desire of the Church that we focus more on 1. the repeating cycle of the monthly psalter and 2. the cycle of the liturgical seasons.

There are ongoing arguments on the part of liturgy geeks over whether this change was a good thing or not. Since people who prefer the older Divine Office are free to use it, I see no reason for either "side" to criticize the other about how/why the newer version came about and it's relative worthiness. And happily, we don't get into those kinds of polemics here, except in occasional, friendly, and charitable comments.

But back to St. Mary Magdalene.   She is one of those whose feast was placed in "memorial" status. However, a number of saints who are both ancient and beloved, have kept elements from  their formerly "feastday" offices in their current "memorial" offices.   Other examples we have coming up shortly include Sts. Anne and Joachim*  on July 26th and St. Lawrence on August 10th. There are others, but right now I"m at McDonald's and don't have my breviary with me.

So now you know why St. Mary Magdalene has such a fancy--and lovely--memorial office.


5 comments:

  1. If you have a phone or tablet with you, don't you have a breviary with you? :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, yeah, but that doesn't have an index of saints days where I can look up who has a fancy memorial office and who doesn't. Print books do have their advantages.

      Delete
  2. Actually, I don't quite agree with you here. It's true that the Church wanted to emphasize ferial psalms on feast days, but that didn't start with the LOTH. It started, really, with the breviary changes made by Pius X. In fact, the EF breviary uses the ferial psalms today for most of the hours (maybe all, but I can't remember if Lauds is proper).
    I think the answer to your question is that the LOTH composers didn't want to lose all of the antiphons, etc. which were of great antiquity. God knows they lost most of them, though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your expertise, Ryan. My familiarity with older breviaries and all the revisions over the years is not that great, so I'm glad you've filled in a bit here.

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete