Today is the feast of the Holy Apostles SS Philip and James. The feast is a double of the second class.
In the Western rites SS Philip and James have been honoured together as their relics were placed together in the confessio of the Church of the Apostles in Rome at its consecration in the sixth century. The anniversay of this, the church's dedication, is May 1st. St. Philip, tradition tells us, was from Bethsaida. He was crucified at Hierapolis in Phrygia. St. James the Less was from Cana and was the first bishop of Jerusalem. St. Paul says (Galatians 1:19) 'I did not see any apostle except James the brother of the Lord'. St. James was cast from the pediment of the Temple on the orders of the Jewish High Priest and then clubbed to death.
(The above photograph shows the tomb of the Holy Apostles Saints Philip and James in the confessio of the Church and was taken by Rubricarius in the early 1990s when he had been invited to examine some archive material of the former Sacred Congregation for Rites in Rome.)
The feast began with first Vespers yesterday afternoon. The antiphons were proper to the feast, the rest of the Office from the Common of Apostles in Paschaltide. A commemoration of the preceding Office of St. Catharine of Siena was made but, as the feast is a double of the second class, without commemoration of the Octave of St. Joseph.
At Mattins there are the usual three nocturns. In the first nocturn the lessons are the Incipit of letter of St. James from the fourth Sunday after Easter. The Gospel in the third nocturn is from St. John and the pericope where the LORD tells St. Philip that if he wishes to see the Father to see Him and that in the Father's house there are many mansions. At Lauds and at the Hours the antiphons from Vespers are used. There are no commemorations at Lauds. Prime is festal.
Mass is sung after Terce. The Gloria, Credo and preface of the Apostles are sung. In second Vespers a commemoration is made of the following Office of St. Athanasius.
The 'liturgical books of 1962' contain the execrable 'Joe the Worker' day. Pius XII's Commission for General Liturgical Reform had discussed making May 1st a Marian feast but settled on S. Giuseppe Artigiano (c.f. minutes of meeting 45; 19 Oct 1954 and 59; 17 Jan 1956 in Giampietro). Clearly feasts of antiquity were not considered particularly sacred - well neither was much else! So from 1956 the beautiful feast of the Solemnity of St. Joseph and its Octave were scrapped and today's venerable and ancient feast of the Holy Apostles cast aside to the first free day, May 11th. On May 1st was placed perhaps the nadir of two thousand years of Christian liturgy with a modern liturgical compostion that instead of honouring St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church made him some type of shop steward. The Office is truly appalling with lessons about multitudes of working men gathering in St. Peter's Square. It really is atrocious rubbish. In an excellent article on the highly inorganic Pian changes Fr. Francesco Ricossa quotes a Jean Crete:
"Fr. Bonneterre recognizes that this decree [Cum nostra] signaled the beginning of the subversion of the liturgy, and yet seeks to excuse Pius XII on the grounds that at the time no one, except those who were party to the subversion, was able to realize what was going on. I can, on the contrary, give a categorical testimony on this point. I realized very well that this decree was just the beginning of a total subversion of the liturgy, and I was not the only one. All the true liturgists, all the priests who were attached to tradition, were dismayed.
"The Sacred Congregation of Rites was not favorable toward this decree, the work of a special commission. When, five weeks later, Pius XII announced the feast of St. Joseph the Worker (which caused the ancient feast of Ss. Philip and James to be transferred, and which replaced the Solemnity of St Joseph, Patron of the Church), there was open opposition to it.
“For more than a year the Sacred Congregation of Rites refused to compose the office and Mass for the new feast. Many interventions of the pope were necessary before the Congregation of Rites agreed, against their will, to publish the office in 1956 — an office so badly composed that one might suspect it had been deliberately sabotaged. And it was only in 1960 that the melodies of the Mass and office were composed melodies based on models of the worst taste.
"We relate this little-known episode to give an idea of the violence of the reaction to the first [? hardly] liturgical reforms of Pius XII".
If any reader knows who Jean Crete was/is I would be most grateful if they could kindly inform me.
I understand, on good authority, that liturgically minded Romans refer to this parody of St. Joseph as 'San Giuseppe Comunista'.
One of my happiest memories of the late Mgr. Alfred Gilbey is of his early morning Mass on May 1st. Mgr. Gilbey would come into St. Wilfrid's Chapel at the Brompton Oratory, radiant in red vestments, and approach the small, loyal, congregation and say "Today is the feast of the Holy Apostles Saints Philip and James. For some curious reason some of you may find Jerz the Werz [I think to pronounce a title such as Joseph the Worker would have been offensive to the good Monsignor's refined lips] on this day but that has been abolished and Saints Philip and James restored to their rightful date." Alas, not quite true although in the 1970-2002 calendar Joe the Worker has been reduced to an 'optional memoria' and SS Philip and James place on May 3rd. Certainly there is a lot of restoration to do...
Pray for us Holy Apostles! Pray for us Holy Patron of the Universal Church! Pray that we may be rid of the stain and stench of the 1962 books.
Art: Melkite Church in Australia