Second Sunday after the Nativity (aka Most Holy Name of Jesus)

This Sunday (or January 2 if there is no suitable Sunday) has been celebrated as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus since the sixteenth century.

In the 1962  revamp of the Benedictine calendar, however, this was replaced by liturgical wreckovators, by the 'Second Sunday of the Nativity', complete with new texts.  The 1962 Roman Missal however remained unchanged, leading to an odd disjunction between the Benedictine Use and the Roman.  The wreckovators did try again temporarily succeed in their aims with respect to the Roman rite: the 1970 Missal made the feast optional only.  But it was restored in the 2002 calendar (albeit this year on January 3 rather than the Sunday, which has, in most places become Epiphany Sunday aka Eleventh Day!).

Accordingly, the omission of the feast in the Benedictine 'traditional' calendar of 1962-3 is anomalous.  If you attend a Roman EF, or your monastery includes the older feast in its calendar, and so want to celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, you can find the (Latin) texts in the Antiphonale Monasticum, at pages 276 ff.  Alternatively you could either use this to say the Office devotionally, or say the Office according to the Roman Breviary (Divinum Officium has the text).

Either way, Vespers on Sunday is for the following feast of the Epiphany, as Nativitytide officially finishes at None on Sunday this year, though of course the season of Epiphany is still part of the broader Christmas season.

Readings at Matins

The readings for Matins this Sunday (according to the 1962 Benedictine Breviary) are as follows:

Nocturn I: Romans 1-11 (note that reading 3 for January 5 is split in two to make four readings, and responsories are for the Sunday)
Nocturn II: Sermon of St Augustine
Nocturn III: Sermon of St Jerome on Matthew 9:2
Gospel: Mt 2:19-23

The Office this week in summary

Sunday 5 January –  Second Sunday after the Nativity, Class II [EF: Most Holy Name of Jesus]
Monday 6 January – Epiphany of Our Lord, Class I
Tuesday 7 January – Class IV
Wednesday 8 January – Class IV
Thursday 9 January – Class IV
Friday 10 January – Class IV; St Paul the First Hermit, memorial
Saturday 11 January – Saturday of Our Lady (Sat 2 of Jan) [EF: Commemoration of St Hyginus]


Anonymous said...

There are some blatant errors in this post.

Those whom you inelegantly designate as "liturgical wreckovators" did not do anything other than take away from the General Calendar of the Monastic Breviary a relatively novel feast day: the feast of the Most Holy Name was introduced into the above-mentioned Calendar after the Benedictines adopted and adapted the radical reforms of Pope St. Pius X. In the Monastic Breviaries printed before Divino afflatu, the Offices for the Octave Days of the Feasts of St. Stephen, St John and the Holy Innocents, together with the Vigil for the Feast of Epiphany, are found for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th days of January (respectively) with no rubric governing the possibility of an occuring Sunday.

The Feast of the Holy Name was barely fifty years old in the Monastic Breviary when it was expugned, something which has various precedents in the reform of the Monastic Breviary in the 20th century: the Feast of the Holy Family, which had found way into most local Monastic Calendars, had been expunged at the wake of Pope St. Pius X's reforms. The Office for St. Placid and Companions had been entirely changed, replaced with the Common Office for Many Maryrs, and the proper Office approved by Pope Leo XIII never appeared in the Monastic Offices after the reforms of Pope St. Pius X because the sources for it were found to be apocryphal. Even the Roman Rite had kept the proper Collect for St. Placid and Companions, whilst the Monastic Breviary had the Collect in the above-mentioned Common Office.

The entire ethos of the Benedictine liturgical life is contingent on filial obedience to the Apostolic See, which alone has absolute and unquestionable authority over matters liturgical. To call the Benedictines who adopted the reforms of John XXIII "liturgical wreckovators" is in bad taste and tends to misrepresent those who yearn for the ancient Rites of the Latin Occident as cranks who disparage the authority and majesty of the Apostolic See in a sort of neo-Gallicanism that has been the standard of pseudo-Catholic conspiracy theorists who pander their private interpretations at the cost of Catholic esteem for the person of the Sovereign Pontiff and the authority of the Roman Congregations.

It is therefore erroneous to assert that "the omission of the feast in the Benedictine 'traditional' calendar of 1962-3 is anomalous." The Feast of the Most Holy Family, of the Compassion of the Blessed Virgin in Passiontide, and other Feasts that vanished from the General Benedictine Calendar after the adoption of the reform of Pope St. Pius X substantiate that the changes that appeared in the 1963 edition of the Monastic Breviary are only a logical consequence of the principles of Divino afflatu.

Prayer and research (unadultared by shoddy scholarship and the bias of extremists) will enable one to have a more balanced view of things, especially when it comes to the subject of liturgical reform.

Kate Edwards said...

Anonymous - I don't usually publish anonymous posts so please give your a name if you wish to comment any further.

But let me make a few points in reply.

First, there is absolutely nothing that rejects the Vatican's authority to regulate such things in this post (and my subsequent and related one). Quite the contrary, I've indicated how one can comply with the liturgical law while still retaining the feast.

But there is absolutely no obligation on us to think that the pastoral decisions of the Vatican are always correct, or always taken from good motives. History, and most particularly the history of liturgical reform in the twentieth century (much of which was driven and championed by Benedictines such as Archbishop Weakland) suggests otherwise.

Secondly, you haven't pointed to any actual errors in my post. I acknowledge that the inclusion of the feast in the Benedictine calendar. I didn't claim that the feast was of longstanding in the Benedictine calendar, but it does have a considerable history in the Church more generally. Accordingly, its adoption into that calendar certainly represented the process of organic development given the abolition of the various octaves; its exclusion (like the abolition of the feast in the 1970 calendar) was anything but, which was why the decision was reversed in the 2002 Novus Ordo calendar.

And if abolition of the feast was consistent with Divinu afflatu, why wasn't it removed from the 1962 Roman Calendar?

Moreover, why should Divinu afflatu principles have been applied at this level to the Benedictine calendar in any case? It is the use of a particular religious order, not the Roman Rite, and while some alignment between the two is desirable for practical reasons, there is no obligation for the OSB's to slavishly copy it.

Kate Edwards said...

PS The clean outs of many of the saints from the calendar in the 1960s reflected, in my view, an era of rationalism that rejected the miraculous, and an excessive emphasis on the need for contemporary written records instead of respecting the oral tradition.

More than a few of those decisions are now being questioned and rethought.

Kate Edwards said...

PPS For another example that raises interesting questions about the 1960s reformers of the Benedictine Breviary, consider the slashing of the traditional Saturday Canticle, Deuteronomy 32 from its full 65 verses (retained in the 1962 Roman Breviary) to a mere 27.

Was it something it said? Perhaps especially those references to the sin of homosexuality? You can find more on my views on this here:

Sean said...

For what its worth, the Feast of the Holy Name was suppressed because it is commemorated on Jan. 1st in the 1st reading and Gospel. The feast was brought to the universal calendar in 1721. There was nothing wrong with their decision to suppress it, and nothing wrong with brining it back. That's how the Church works. When you have thousands of feasts and saints, some decision needs to be made.

I think your post did display some derision by calling the reformers wreckovators. I wonder fi you would submit Pius V's reform committee to the same name, who were quite strict in their reform.

PS. I am not the anonymous above.

Kate Edwards said...


The normal pattern for liturgical feasts is that they start as local affairs and generally spread, not get suppressed once well established! The Holy Name was a classic example of the normal pattern, having started in the fourteenth century, adopted by the universal church in 1721, and finally incorporated rather belatedly into the Benedictine calendar in the early twentieth century.

The idea of suppressing such universally celebrated feasts, on the other hand, is pretty much entirely a twentieth century one.

And in terms of judging whether or not something is desirable reform, or simply wreckovation, you have to look, I think, at the accumulated evidence of just what they changed. In the case of the 1962 Benedictine calendar, some examples are downplaying the importance of the Holy Name, removing (first) Vespers of the office of Our Lady on Saturday, slashing key canticles containing hard sayings...the evidence is there for anyone who cars to look.

But for what it is worth I'm actually not a great fan of either Pius V or Pius X's liturgical reforms. Pius V' reforms suppressed legitimate diversity in the Church in my view, a very Roman thing, and perhaps a necessary response to the challenge of protestantism at the time, but not altogether a helpful precedent for the longer term in relation to the Eastern Churches for example.