Conducted by Fr. JOHN SYMON
Question — Could you please give me a complete list of all the Saints who were demoted, and would you explain why this was done, in particular to my favourite who is St. Christopher? Mrs. M. W., Warwick Answer—Most of us like the saints and even Protestants have their particular favourites among them. It was not altogether surprising that, when in 1969 the Vatican revised the list of feast-days, this evoked quite a storm of uncomprehending protest.
In point of fact the new General Calendar, as the offending document was called, is an extremely balanced and well thought out piece of work. On this New Year's morning I would like to explain the principles behind it.
Of course, in the space available it is impossible to give the entire list for which this week's inquirer asks and, so far as 1 am aware, the complete new Calendar and its thorough commentary are at present available only in Latin. However, it constitutes a part of the new Missal and so doubtless some beaver-like translator is already putting it into English, and our enterprising publishers will shortly have it on the market.
The new Calendar scarcely affects the Sundays and major feasts and so the majority of Catholic worshippers, who are only able to take part in Mass on these days, will not be disturbed. For many married lay-people this one weekly Mass on Sunday mornings is preceded by the complex liturgy of washing, groom ing, and possibly feeding their offspring.
When these fathers and mothers thankfully sink into their pews a few minutes before, or possibly after, the beginning of Sunday Mass, they will hardly be troubled by puzzles about whether or not on the following Monday a new saint will be honoured, or an old one, or none at all.
In revising the Calendar the predominant consideration has been that the whole Church year should make clear the Easter triumph of Christ's resurrection. If we celebrate the memory of Our Lady and the saints, our principal motive is to honour different aspects of OUT Lord's own Paschal victory. Although we also ask for the prayers of the saints, we are mainly concerned with them because they are outstanding instances of how in his followers Christ has triumphed over sin and given us new examples to imitate.
We all know that we can have too much of a good thing. If we observe too many saints' days, the Church year becomes saintcentred, rather than Christcentred, and so the total number of days when the priest normally must celebrate Mass in honour of our Lady or the saints has been reduced to about ninety. In technical language these days are called solemnities, feasts, and obligatory memorials.
Besides these, there are other days when the Masstext may be either about Christ directly or about a saint. In the Calendar these optional memorials, as they are called, number about 95. If we add the days observed locally in this or