Changes to the Calendar

The Liturgical Commission in Brisbane has had phonecalls and emails since the new Missal appeared “blaming” it for the changes. Criticising The Liturgical Commission for the new Missal because its name appears on a pew card or some other printed worship resource is a bit like blaming the Government Printing Office for traffic regulations that one disagrees with!

Several recent complaints have concerned “misprints” in the Ordo or “omissions” from the Daily Mass Book with regard to celebrations of the Saints. In fact they are not mistakes or errors at all, but the result of the new liturgical calendar which was implemented with the revised Roman Missal and which of course we need to follow.

Some background about liturgical calendars might be helpful here.

Feasts such as Easter, Christmas, the Annunciation, St Joseph, and so on are set down in the “General Roman Calendar”, the universal calendar of the Church. Various regions have their own proper calendars which incorporate commemorations of local patrons and anniversaries. The Australian calendar includes Mary Help of Christians, Mary MacKillop, Australia Day and Anzac Day.

Each diocese forms its own particular calendar by adding to the general and national calendars celebrations of the dedication of the cathedral and of the diocesan patron and other saints with a special connection to the diocese.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a decree in December 2010 detailing a number of changes to the Australian calendar. These are included in the Australian Ordo from this year.

To make space for Australia Day, Timothy and Titus will no longer be transferred to 23 January but will be reduced to an optional memorial and celebrated with Angela Merici on 27 January.  To make way for the memorial of Peter Chanel, the optional commemoration of Louis Grignion de Montfort is moved to 27 April.  To allow for an upgrade to memorial of John Fisher and Thomas More, the optional memorial of Paulinus of Nola is moved to 23 June.

Most surprising is the downgrading of St Dominic to an Optional Memorial on 7 August (shared with St Sixtus and companions and St Cajetan).  In the 1990s, extensive consultation with the Dominicans restored Dominic to his original feast day (5 August) in the Australian calendar to make way for the feast of Mary MacKillop on 8 August. This change has been imposed without any consultation.

A regrettable alteration in the calendar and the prayers is the replacement of the universally known name of St Mary MacKillop by her generic name in religion, St Mary of the Cross, a name most Australians will not recognise.

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy explains why the Church includes days devoted to the memory of the martyrs and the other saints in its calendar:

“By celebrating the passage of these saints from earth to heaven the Church proclaims the paschal mystery  achieved in the saints who have suffered and been glorified with Christ; she proposes them to the faithful as examples drawing all to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she pleads for God's favours.” (#104)

Elizabeth Harrington