Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Welcome, Q&A, Beheading (I mean, Passion) edition

I'll begin today's Q&A with a question of my own: when did we start calling the Beheading of John the Baptist the Passion of John the Baptist?  I noticed today's feast listed that way on two online breviaries, ran to my print breviary to assure myself that this title had not always been the case, and then began to ponder: when was this name change made, by whom and why?  I can reason out several reasons why the change might have been made, as well as a reason it might not be a good idea, but if this is an official action of the Church, my reasons are not important.  

So if anyone has light to shed on this topic, please let me know. 

I'm also chuckling to think how ridiculous my question would seem to so many people (whom I need not fear upsetting because they don't read this blog) when there are so many important things to worry and wonder about in the world and in our nation. Economic crises! The upcoming USA election! Who will advance to the finals in America's Got Talent! And here I am babbling about such minutiae as the name of a feastday.

Little do they know that my little quibble hovers at the border of one of the most important things in the world. The liturgy. The way in which we little ants on the bottom of the Creator's  shoe find ourselves able to be part of the conversation as God speaks to God. So yeah, maybe not so petty of me to wonder about the Beheading to Passion switch. 

Welcome new followers Geoff, Clifton, Tami, and I would also say, Michael Demers, since his picture just appeared on the followers list. But Mike has been making interesting and helpful comments on this blog for so long that I think this appearance just formalizes a connection that already existed. PS Mike, what kind of dog is that in your picture?

Lots of followers have blogs or websites  of their own, which I sometimes have mentioned but don't do consistently. That will now be remedied starting this week. New follower Tami is part of a wonderful bible study effort that you can learn about here,  although this page I just linked is for a particular article that I enjoyed, rather than the homepage. That would be here, at Turning to God's Word.

Okay. Question or comment time. Anything puzzling or remarkable about the Liturgy of the Hours that you'd like to talk about?

Shout out to "Cut Fastball" who asked a question on an old post but I lost the email message and so cannot locate which post you wrote on:
I'm sorry but I have no inside info on the Baronius Press breviary. Maybe try Father Z who really keep up on all things EF. 


  1. Hi Daria, it's a Shih Tzu. His name is Bubba.

    P.S. I also wonder what happened to the name change for today's feast (even though it's called a memorial).

    1. I raised Pomeranians a long time ago, and right now have an oversized and rather odd looking chihuahua(named Loki) cross whose silouhette resembles what I could see of the dog in your picture, which is why I asked.

      Did a search on the Passion vs. Beheading thing, and found nothing but someone who commented on Fr. Z.'s blog today that this was the result of the new mass translation. But if that were the case, wouldn't the feast of every martyr be called "the passion of st. X"? Which is clearly not the case. Or maybe St.John the Baptist gets singled out (as does his nativity) because of his lack of original sin? No way to test that theory, since there are no other martyrs who fit that criteria.
      I called it a feast using the generic sense of the word: any Catholic liturgical celebration. But I suppose this blog is a place where greater precision matters. So yes, memorial.

    2. I used to have a white Pomeranian. More pics of Bubba on my profile page.

      Universalis has Beheading. American vis-a-vis British usage? Still others have Martyrdom. Pretty messy.

  2. Thanks for the shout out Daria! I have been following your blog for awhile but hadn't thought of becoming an official "follower" until I saw your post to welcome new followers. Then I thought, "Oh, I should do that!" I have really enjoyed your blog. We recently put a link to your blog under "Liturgy of the Hours" on our links tab so that others can benefit from your easy to understand explanations and insights: There are not many people I can talk to when I get excited about the readings in the Office (besides Jennifer and Matthew, of course) so I love to come to your blog and see what you have to say. I have found that some of the days that I'm really excited (usually about something in the Office of Readings) that you were, too. Thanks for your blog and keep up the good work! ~Tami

  3. OK. Thanks...I'll see if Father Z can provide some info on why Baronius Press seems to be taking so long with the new EF 3-book set. That is really all my post was was posted against the McCauley Breviary #4 post.


  4. The reason for the change from "beheading" to "passion" is discussed on this episode of Catholic Answers Live:

    (Sorry I don't feel competent enough to paraphrase it for you!)

  5. Yes,I also, noticed this substitution of 'Passion' for 'Beheading'...just another insidious example of softening the tough realities of being a Christian with vapid has been going on for centuries...the horrors of martyrdom and persecution are toned down...the Pope apologizes for the Crusades and the Inquisitions...hell, purgatory, sin, confession...all getting glossed over or omitted entirely...the Church Militant long forgotten

    1. I don't think this switch from Beheading to Passion is part of the syndrome you describe. We describe our Lord's suffering and death as his passion, and because of that, this word, for catholics, connotes the full force and depth of his sufferings. So if anything, applying such a word to John might have if anything the opposite effect: to make his sufferings seem worse than they were by using the same word for those of Jesus. In any event I'm looking forward to checking out the Catholic answers discussion linked above.

    2. The Word on Fire blog (Fr. Robert Barron) has a nice article on both the beheading and the passion, although he does not discuss the change in terminology per se.

      Thank you for your posts, Daria. I am blessed beyond measure.

  6. Personally I can see where passion is a less gruesome word but I think it does mentally connect John's suffering and death to Jesus'. It also incorporates not just John's death but his suffering in prison as well.

    John's death would also incorporate more language than other martyrs because, like Mary and Joseph, he is exceptional with more than 1 feast.