Friday, February 26, 2010

1967 Ferial Lectionary

[Update: I finished charting the contents of the ferial readings, which chart you can now download]

Well, for a day that I should be finishing this paper, I've done three posts...oh well.

But I couldn't help it: my 1967 Weekday Lectionary arrived today!

I'll try to compile all the lessons into a chart and post that next week. Right now I'm just very excited. It turns out that the Series I and Series II "Epistles," though they were intended to be read on a two-year cycle (ie, they imagined keeping only two readings at each Mass; a lesson and a Gospel)...are in fact almost always a New Testament reading and an Old Testament reading!!!! I was so happy!

During Advent it's all Isaiah with no New Testament, and during Paschaltide it's all New Testament with no Old...but, generally, this Lectionary largely meets my dream of having three ferial readings (an Old Testament, an Epistle, and a Gospel) for the whole traditional one-year temporal cycle.

One can imagine, then, instead of alternating the readings year to year, simply doing the Old Testament one, then the Gradual, then the Epistle, then the Alleluia, then the Gospel, as was restored at the Novus Ordo (but with this totally artificial and iconoclastic three-year lectionary, ugh).

All that's missing are, somewhat ironically, Prophecies for Sundays and Feasts, and Epistles for the ferias of Lent. I'd like to see if any work has been done on the Old Roman Sunday Prophecy cycle to see if we can't reconstruct that. I also think Epistles for Lent (the one time of year at the Old Mass that has selections from the Old Testament instead of Epistles as the First Reading) could hypothetically be taken from Matins during the Weeks After Epiphany when Matins has Epistles instead of Old Testament readings (which would in turn have the effect of freeing up even more time then at Matins for even more Old Testament content).

So, I'll work on making a chart this week of the cycle. Right now, I'd just like to include some of the introductory explanatory material from the beginning of the Lectionary. It was apparently culled from a 39-page pamphlet called "The Supplementary Weekday Lectionary for the United States of America" which was published by the (then titled) National Conference of Catholic Bishops to explain/accompany the ferial lectionary (though I can't imagine what they needed 39 pages to say...)

This part explains when the lessons may be used:

This Weekday Lectionary contains the readings approved by the Holy See, at the request of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, for use at Masses of class III and class IV which do not have their own proper readings.

"This Weekday lectionary, if allowed by the Conference of Bishops in their own territory for Masses celebrated with a congregation, may also be used in Masses which are celebrated without a congregation; in this case the use of the vernacular is permitted for the readings.

"This Weekday lectionary may be used on certain class II days which are indicated in the lectionary itself, and in all Masses of Class III or IV, whether Masses of the season, of a saint, or votive Masses, which do not have their own strictly proper readings, that is, readings in which mention is made of the mystery or person being celebrated." (Instruction, Congregation of Sacred Rites, May 4, 1967, No. 2)
This explains a little more in depth, starting with the wonderfully rational option to conjoin readings if a day must be skipped due to an intervening feast:
Since the readings are chosen from successive parts of the respective biblical books, in a kind of lectio continua, it may be useful to add a reading which has been omitted (e.g., because of conflict with a feast of class I or II) on the previous day and join it to the passage appointed for the particular day. Or a reading may be anticipated in this fashion and be added to the assigned reading, if it must be omitted on the following day. In any case the unity of the biblical passage should be respected.

The lectionary provides two series of readings, designed for a two-year cycle, for the first reading (or Epistle) of Mass. In general the first series of these selections is from the New Testament, the other from the Old Testament. To preserve the continuity of the selections, one series should be used one year, the other the next year. No such cycle of choice is provided for the Gospel readings.
Though, as I said, I see no reason why it couldn't be done in a Three Lesson format like in the New Rite. Another part admits:
The readings...have been chosen always in relation to the particular seasons of the church year. Although the readings for the epistle are generally correlated with the gospels, no attempt has been made to achieve an artificial harmony or to connect each reading with a corresponding gospel theme.
Thank goodness! That would have been forced and awkward. Another part explains the logic behind the plan of the lectionary:
In the selection of the gospels, the person of John the Baptist is emphasized during Advent, the mystery of the Father and the Son during Christmas time. This is followed by passages from the life of Christ, taken from the Gospel according to Mark. (No readings are provided for the Lenten weekdays, either for the epistles or for the gospels, since these have their proper appointed readings.)

According to a venerable tradition, the sermons of Jesus from the Gospel according to John are read durng the Easter season. Beginning with the week following the First Sunday after Pentecost, the sermons of Jesus are presented from the Gospel according to Luke.

The other New Testament readings are taken from the letters of John during the Christmas season, then--according to an ancient tradition--from the letters of Saint Paul (especially Romans and Galatians) until Lent.

For the Easter season, both selections are from the New Testament: one series from 1 Peter and Ephesians, the other from Colossians and Hebrews.

Selections from the Acts of the Apostles are read during the weeks following Pentecost until the week of the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, when the letters of Saint Paul are taken up again. Beginning with the Sixteenth Sunday, the letters of James, 2 Peter, Jude, 1 and 2 Timothy are used. Finally the concluding weeks have passages from the Apocalypse to show that the church year looks toward the second coming of the Lord at the end of time.

In the case of the Old Testament readings, two series of passages from Isaiah are listed for Advent, followed by readings from the Wisdom books during the Christmas season. From Epiphany to Lent there are readings from the Pentateuch; the story of Abraham and the patriarchs is intended as a kind of parallel to Galatians and Romans.

After Pentecost, the Old Testament passages are taken from Josue, Judges, Kings, and other historical books. Finally, beginning with the week of the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, there are readings from the Prophets.
So, this wasn't arbitrary or artificial like the Novus Ordo Lectionary. As I look at the cycle, it does seem to follow various traditions as they describe. From what I can tell, the Old Testament readings parallel the cycle of books at Matins, which is really the best solution.

To me, it is most important to get as much of the New Testament in at Mass as possible. But the Prophecies , on the other hand, need only be the more important passages, as Matins is really the more natural place for attempting a lectio continua of the Old Testament.

This volume looks like a great basis for expanded scripture within the traditional one-year cycle. I certainly intend to use it to structure daily lectio divina, even if we can't use it liturgically yet. But I'm considering sending a dubium to Ecclesia Dei about it, I think it looks like a really solid piece of work, firmly grounded in traditional principles. One of the few good things that came out of that transitional period.

An appendix has extra options for the readings at Requiems and Weddings, as well for the Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart (which many parishes had every Friday or at least every First Friday). I guess because these common services could otherwise get repetitive. Meh, I don't really care either way. My concern is mainly with the "official" temporal cycle of the Conventual Mass, not the votive stuff priests could do at their private Masses. I suppose this makes sense for funerals and weddings.

At the end, however, there is also a set of epistles (only one series) and gospels given for "Masses with Children," though this gives one set for each week, not each day. I don't know how these differ from the "adult" cycle, or if these lessons occur other places in the main Lectionary (I assume they do), or if they're merely shortened or dumbed-down versions, or what. But to me this seems the only really bad thing in the whole volume. It can simply be ignored, of course; you don't have to have "Children's Masses"...and yet it is perhaps an ominous first sign of the sort of Novus Ordo kindergartening of the liturgy that was to come...

But, all in all, an amazing find. I am ecstatic!!


Anonymous said...

Any revision that keeps the cycle close to the traditional one year iss good. The A,B,C, cycle, having grown up with it did nothing to hel me reatin things in a solid way. People think in terms of 1 day, 1 month, 1 year. Besides as Catholics we should all own and read a Bible. Nothing would prevent more scripture reading if Priests would have simply encouraged it more and kept at it. Perhaps a discussion group weekly after conclusion of Mass schedules to talk about what we have all read from scripture at least once during the week. I know, no one would come. Nowadays, yes, but was it still possible in 1965, maybe. Opportunity lost. ABC has to go IMHO.

A Sinner said...

This keeps the one-year temporal cycle untouched, definitely, it just fills in all the "empty" space that ferias (and the lack of an Old Testament Reading) had left.

I agree, ABC is just so...artificial.