Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino: the feast of All Saints

Today, November 1st, is the feast of All Saints, and a holy day of obligation throughout the Church universal.


Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festival day in honor of all the Saints: at whose solemnity the Angels rejoice, and give praise to the Son of God. Ps. Rejoice in the Lord, ye just: praise becometh the upright.


Almighty and everlasting God, Who hast enabled us to honour in one solemn feast the merits of all Thy Saints: we beseech Thee, that, with so many praying for us, Thou wouldst pour forth upon us the abundance of Thy mercy for which we long. Through our Lord.

In the days when Melancholicus used to attend the rite known as Novus Ordo Missae, there occurred some seven or eight years ago a liturgical ‘incident’ at the university where Melancholicus was a student, and it has remained fixed in his memory ever since. This incident was in two parts, the first of which took place on All Saints’ day, in the university chapel. The young chaplain who celebrated the Mass at which Melancholicus assisted described today’s solemnity as “the feast of all the saints in the Roman calendar”. Now at that time Melancholicus was a younger, greener, happier, more foolish and more callow young man than he is today, but he was still struck by such a blatant error of liturgical fact in the mouth of an ordained priest. As its name implies, the festival of All Saints commemorates all the saints (as this article in the Catholic Encyclopedia makes clear), not just those famous worthies who are named in the general calendar—and who all have their own feast day anyway. It turned out that the chaplain had an agenda, although this agenda would not become clear until the following day—the commemoration of All Souls. Father’s inaccurate description of the former feast was simply to prepare the ground for his even more inaccurate (and some might say outrageous) summation of what the commemoration of All Souls is all about.

We will take up the story at that point tomorrow, but knowing the foibles of poorly-trained and half-Catholic Novus Ordo clergy, the reader has probably guessed already what is coming.

November 1st is also officially the first day of winter, although it is unseasonably mild at present; it is likely that Melancholicus will be mowing his mother’s lawn after Mass this coming Saturday.

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