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 anniversary of this, the church's dedication in 560, 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.)
The feast began with first Vespers yesterday afternoon. The antiphons were proper to the feast, Domine, ostende nobis Patrem etc, the rest of the Office from the Common of Apostles in Paschaltide except the antiphon on the Magnificat and collect which are proper to the feast. A commemoration of the preceding Office of St. Catharine of Siena was sung.
At Mattins there are the usual three nocturns. The invitatory Regem Apostolorum Dominum Venite adoremus, the antiphons Stabunt justi etc and the Psalms are from the Common. In the first nocturn the lessons are the Incipit of letter of St. James from the fourth Sunday after Easter, i.e. those found in the Breviary for tomorrow. These lessons are followed by the responsories from the Common, Beatus vir, qui metuit Dominum, alleluia etc. In the second nocturn the lessons are proper to the feast. 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 sung with the Dominical psalms.
At the Hours the festal psalms are sung. The Paschal Doxology is sung at the hymns of the Little Hours. At Prime the lectio brevis is Scimus quoniam.
Mass is sung after Terce. The Mass is proper, Exclamaverunt etc. The Gloria is sung, the Credo is sung and the preface of the Apostles is sung.
(An illuminated capital 'E' from the introit of today's Mass showing SS Philip and James.)
In second Vespers the antiphons Domine, ostende nobis Patrem etc are sung with the Psalms of Second Vespers of Apostles in Paschaltide. Commemorations are sung of the Sunday and of St. Athanasius.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the ancient feast of SS Philip and James has been shoved aside until May 11th, the first 'free' liturgical day, and May 1st became 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 - but neither was much else - so from 1956 the beautiful feast of the Solemnity of St. Joseph and its Octave were abolished and today's venerable and ancient feast of the Holy Apostles cast aside to May 11th. On May 1st was placed perhaps the nadir of two thousand years of Christian liturgy (although Pius XII's reign resulted in much competition for that dishonour) with a modern liturgical compostion that instead of honouring St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church made him some type of shop steward ostensibly out of pastoral need. The Office is truly appalling with lessons about multitudes of working men gathering in St. Peter's Square: '...cum occasionem nactus opificum conventus Kalendis maiis...Romae celebrati, ingentum multitudinem in foro ad sancti Petri Basilicam...' It really is atrocious. In an excellent article on the highly inorganic Pian changes Fr. Francesco Ricossa quotes a Jean Crete:
"The Sacred Congregation of Rites was not favorable toward this decree [Cum nostra], 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 [It was hardly the first - R.] liturgical reforms of Pius XII".
Liturgically minded Romans refer to this parody of St. Joseph as 'San Giuseppe Comunista'.
Art: Melkite Church in Australia