Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Solemnity of St. Joseph

Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph Spouse of the Blessed Virgin and Patron of the Universal Church. It is a Double of the First class with an Octave and is the primary feast of St. Joseph. The feast was introduced into the Universal Kalendar by Pius IX in 1847 as the 'Patronage of St. Joseph' as a double of the second class to be celebrated on the third Sunday after Easter. In 1870 the feast was raised to a double of the first class and given an octave with 'Patron of the Church' added. In 1911 the feast was renamed the Solemnity of St. Joseph and became a primary double of the first class. In 1913 the celebration was moved to the Wednesday after the second Sunday after Easter. Although relatively modern the feast is a fine example of typology with the Patriarch Joseph being used as a 'type' of the foster-father of the LORD. This year the feast of St. Anicetus is not observed.

At Vespers yesterday afternoon the antiphons Jacob autem etc were sung with psalms 109, 110, 111, 112 & 116. The chapter was proper and the hymn was Te Joseph celebrent agmina Caelitum. At Compline the Dominical psalms were sung, Te lucis had the Paschal Doxology.

The Office is proper. At Mattins the invitatory is Laudemus Deum nostrum In veneratione beati Joseph, protectoris nostri, alleluia. The antiphons of the nocturns are proper and, as at Vespers, rather beautiful:

Angelus Domini apparuit in somnis Joseph, dicens: Surge, et accipe Puerum et Matrem ejus, et fuge in Ægyptum; et esto ibi, usque dum dicam tibi, alleluia.

Angelus Domini apparuit in somnis Joseph, dicens: Surge, et accipe Puerum et Matrem ejus, et vade in terram Israel; defunct sunt enim qui quaerebant animam Pueri, alleluia.

Consurgens Joseph, accepit Puerum et Matrem ejus, et venit in terram Israel; et habitavit in civitate, quae vocatur Nazareth, alleluia

In the first nocturn the lessons are from the book of Genesis and are extended in comparison to those for St. Joseph's 19 March feast. In the second nocturn the lessons are from a sermon on St. Joseph by St. Bernardine of Siena and in the third nocturn the homily is from St. Augustine on the Gospel fragment from St. Luke. At Lauds the antiphons from Vespers are sung with the Sunday psalms (92, 99, 62, Benedicite & 148).

At Prime the festal psalms (53, 118i & 118ii) are sung under the first antiphon of Lauds. At Prime and the Hours the hymns are sung with the Paschaltide Doxology.

Mass follows Terce and is proper, with the introit Adjutor. The Gloria and Creed are sung and the preface is that of St. Joseph.

At second Vespers the antiphons, psalms and hymn are those that were sung yesterday at first Vespers. The vericle and its respond along with the antiphon on the Magnificat are proper. At Compline the Domincial psalms are sung.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the Solemnity of St. Joseph simply does not exist as this beautiful feast was shamefully supressed in 1956 to be replaced by the appalling 'San Giuseppe Comunista'. Today is merely a fourth class feria of Paschaltide with a commemoration of St. Anicetus at Lauds and Low Mass.


The Rad Trad said...

I would encourage all your readers to listen to the offertory chant of Jerz the Werz day:

The principle of those who penned this melody seems to have been "just keep moving to new notes, it doesn't matter which."

Joshua said...

How can this feast be said to be eminently traditional, if it were only introduced in 1847, and thus was suppressed after just over a century?

Surely the older feast of St Joseph on the 19th of March is quite sufficient - as the Holy See seems to have concluded.tiv

Anonymous said...

Some salient points. The April/May feast was introduced in part because 19 March always falls during Lent/Passiontide, which does not allow for anything like the usual festal celebration traditional to the Roman Rite (octaves, for example, are not observed for any feast in this time). Further, the Office of the Patronage and its octave is entirely patristic and "western masters" (Bernard, Bernardine of Siena); there is no lesson comparable to the frankly embarrassing 1 May-Joseph Opifex passage about crowds of workers in St. Peter's. In other words, the Patronage liturgy is constructed on classical lines (and, indeed, the Octave devotes one day to the image of Joseph as laborer...and far more elegantly than the Pian composition does).

In short, it may not be a particularly old feast, it lost octave days in some years because of occurring feasts (though this year the octave is celebrated nearly intact)...but the Office of feast and octave = a splendid composition according to the best traditions of the Rite, and to chop it all out and replace it with a composition widely derided as inferior that displaced an ancient apostolic can certainly complain about such impoverishment.

- Dr. Lee Fratantuono

The Rad Trad said...


This is not the feast of St. Joseph in the same sense as the March 19th feast. This particular day invokes his patronage of the Catholic Church, not specifically for his role in our Lord's life.

The feast might be new(ish), but it is very traditional in its texts. Read the Mattins lessons, particularly the first two nocturns' worth and you will see beautiful typology from the patriarch Joseph in Egypt and a very sensible sermon from St. Bernardine on why St. Joseph was the last patriarchal figure and only one to enjoy our Lord's fruits. The feast is tasteful and well founded in tradition, which is something fairly remarkable for the Roman rite in the last few centuries.

Joshua said...

Thank you both for your helpful elucidations. Like you, I certainly acknowledge the ironically poor workmanship of the feast of St Joseph the Worker!

I suppose the most serious objection to the old feast of his Patronage is its obtrusion into the fine ancient Paschaltide liturgy - is that not a presumable motive for its removal therefrom, whatever may be said of its unhappy replacement?

+DM said...

Joshua, the presumable motive for removing this octave - along with nearly every other octave - was not in honour of "fine ancient Paschaltide". Simply put: motive = Bugnini and Co.

Joshua said...

Yes, that may be taken as read! I can understand the removal of the Octave of a minor saint, or a recently-introduced Octave (e.g. that of the Sacred Heart, only observed from 1928 to 1956), but the removal of such ancient Octaves as those of the Ascension and the Epiphany was sheer madness!

But my own point - that this feast &c. does rather obtrude into Eastertide - remains unanswered. Whyever not simply put it somewhere else?

Yes, Bugnini is the answer, but to a different question.

The Rad Trad said...


I would not blame Bugnini for this particular act. The credit falls more with his employer at the time, Pope Pius XII, who was pursuing a lot of "simplification" of the calendar by eliminating the semi-double rank (compressing most of them into simples, a forerunner of the 1, 2, 3, and 4 class rankings of John XXIII) and most every octave that did not have a unique Mass for each day (Pascha and Pentecost) or at least allow a substantial number of different of other feasts (Christmas octave).

The reason St. Joseph falls during Easter is because Pius IX put it there. This feast was originally on the third Sunday after Pascha, but St Pius X, in an effort to clean up the calendar's cluttering of "Feast of XXX which falls on Yth Sunday of month/season Z," moved it to the Wednesday before its old date. I hardly think it impedes on season. There would have been 3 octave ferial days last week, but also two ferial days to repeat the Sunday Mass and ferial Office. Feasts would take precedent up to, but not including, the octave day this week. Seems a fairly balanced system to me.

+DM said...

The Solemnity of St. Joseph and its Octave does not take away from Paschaltide. If it were seen to do so, following the Paschal Octave itself, we would not have the observance of Saints' feastdays; there is no provision to forbid the observance of common octaves,, the patron of a diocese or religious founder, during Paschaltide.

Having St. Joseph's Patronage with its Octave amid the Kalendar which has the feasts of other Saints cannot be seen as as superseding Eastertide.

Joshua said...

Two very helpful further explanations - thank you both!

I suppose I still wonder if perpetually impeding a fixed day of Eastertide (the Wednesday of the feast of the Patronage) is a "good thing" - the saints of the Calendar have their feasts fixed to certain dates, and, with Easter shifting to and fro according to the moon &c., they take precedence of differing days of Eastertide each passing year.

Certainly it is better to have this feast on a Wednesday (when the ferial Mass simply repeats the Sunday), rather than have it take precedence of the feast itself... (reaches for a book)... I see in my 1796 "A Companion to the Altar, or compact Pocket Missal" (London: P. Keating) that in those days in England, the Sunday within the Octave of the Assumption was the feast of St Joachim, the Sunday within the Octave of Our Lady's Nativity was the feast of her Holy Name, and the first Sunday of October was (of course) the Feast of the Rosary.