Question: Why has the New Order changed the feast days of so many saints? Might they have done so to eliminate the graces received from the saints on their feast days? How valid is the new calendar?
Answer: Few things inspire more controversy than making changes to the calendar. In the early Church there was bitter discussion about the date on which Easter was to be celebrated. The Gregorian reform, eliminating ten days from October 1582, was bitterly resented by Protestant nations, and did not take place in Orthodox Russia until the Russian Revolution.
The revision of the Roman rite liturgical calendar by the Conciliar Church took place 14 February 1969 with the issue of Pope Paul IV’s Motu proprio, Mysterii Paschalis.
Pope Paul began by writing:
“Mysteries of our Redemption” is a better phrase than “Paschal Mystery,” for the latter is sometimes used by modernists to exclude the crucifixion and death of our Lord from the process of Redemption, and to focus on the “risen Christ” as being all that is important.
“The multiplication of feasts, vigils and octaves” would seem to mean that there were too many saints on the calendar, and that they somehow distracted the faithful from considering the “mysteries of our Redemption.” But later on he wrote:
So, maybe the saints are not so bad after all. One is reminded of Pope Paul’s reprobation of Communion in the hand in a letter that outlined procedures for obtaining permission for Communion in the hand! In any event, Pope Paul’s new calendar certainly cut back on the number of saints’ feast days. Yet it is not clear how this reduction put the “mysteries of our Redemption” into “sharper focus.” Curiously, the votive Masses commemorating the instruments of the Passion (Lance and Nails, Crown of Thorns, Holy Shroud, etc.) have disappeared from modern missals.
Except for Easter, all the octaves have been removed. The week following Pentecost takes its readings from the continuous lectionary—this year from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiasticus (“Sirach” to the moderns) and Saint Marks ninth and tenth chapters, which say nothing about the “mysteries of our Redemption.” There is no trace of the Ember Days—after Pentecost on at any other time. The feasts of the saints may be celebrated during what used to be a first class octave.
Easter still has an octave, the readings in the lectionary (both cycles), from Acts 2, 3, and 4 relate more to Pentecost than to Easter. The Gospel selections are similar to those of the traditional missal, only re-ordered, and the Gospel in which our Lord orders the Apostles to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28: 16-20) is among the missing—probably not ecumenical enough.
When no feast of our Lord or Lady or of the Saints is celebrated, the Mass text is taken from the season of the year. The collects are taken from the previous Sunday, and the readings from the new continuous lectionary according to a two year cycle—the same readings that would have been read if a saint’s feast were celebrated. Thus the collects “sharpen the focus” on the Redemption. The following three were picked at random:
Good works, truth, and reverence are certainly good things, but they don’t put the Redemption into particularly sharper focus—and probably could have been called to mind by collects assigned to saints who pursued good works, or truth, or reverence.
It is not difficult to imagine that suppressing the saints or making them optional might be an accommodation with Protestantism. The New Mass followed the New Calendar in the same year (3 April 1969), and downplayed the sacrificial nature of the Mass, always an objection of the Protestants. Both followed the new rite for the consecration of bishops, which removed mention that the episcopate is the fullness of the priesthood from the essential form—the function of a priesthood is to offer sacrifice, again objectionable to Protestants.
Or perhaps the New Calendar was part of the desire to change everything. One is hard pressed to find anything in conciliar Catholicism that remains identical with its pre-council counterpart:
“Validity” or “invalidity” is probably not an issue for the calendar (unless, of course, it has the wrong number of days in the year, or Wednesday follows Friday!). It would be better to ask whether or not a new calendar moves people to greater holiness, and whether or not the effort involved was worth it.
Moving a lot of the dates around was disruptive for some Catholics. Often people associate their birth date or some other important personal event with a particular feast day—that association is broken if the feast is moved. Since a goodly number of feasts have been suppressed, a number of Catholics will no longer be able to observe the feasts of saints important to them. Unless one is a priest, those days designated as “optional memorials” may never be celebrated.
If, as Pope Paul said (quoting Vatican II), “the feasts of the saints proclaim the wonderful works of Christ in His servants, and display to the faithful fitting examples for their imitation,” then removing those feasts was a grave error.
The new calendar ought to be viewed in conjunction with all of the modernist innovations of the Conciliar Church—they should all be rejected out of hand!
Question: On an Internet discussion site there was a discussion of “Liberation Theology,” and whether or not it always involved violence. Someone posted that “the Apostles were all commies” and gave a reference to the Acts of the Apostles. The post was taken down by a moderator, but could please you comment? (Fra. M.P., Boca Raton)
Answer: Acts 2: 44-46 and Acts 4: 34-5: 1-4 do suggest that the early Christians did share their goods:
The religious orders of the later Church operate in much the same way. The order owns everything from the land and buildings, down to the shoes and underwear worn by the monks, and there is generally an equitable sharing of resources and work assignments based on abilities and needs.
The critical distinction is that the Christians in the early Church and the religious of the later Church share voluntarily. The force of civil government did not require this sharing by Christians under penalty of law, nor does it decide which monk will do what or get what. In a communist or socialist society, the government may determine individual job assignments, where the individual will live and work, what and how much he will produce, and how the production is to be distributed among society’s members. If the government’s instructions are not obeyed, the citizen may be fined, interned, imprisoned, or set to forced labor—in some extreme cases communist and socialist societies have sentenced the disobedient to death.
We see in Acts 5 that the property owner held title to his property. A man named Ananias sold a piece of land and made believe that he was donating all of the proceeds to the Church. His sin was one of deception, not of theft. Saint Peter reinforces his title to the property, saying: “Whilst it remained, did it not remain to thee? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power?” The property was his, and the selling price was his, but he lied, trying to make himself look more generous than he was. God struck him down, and when his wife lied to confirm her husband’s lie, she was struck down as well.
The original idea of “liberation theology” was armed rebellion to take from the rich and give to the poor. It was the “theology” of Robin Hood and not Jesus Christ—based on violent theft instead of mutual charity. The modern thinkers in Rome mentioned in the Internet post seem to think that they can replace private armed rebellion with the enlightened rule of law. There might be less bloodshed (although this is not necessarily guaranteed), but in order for this to work the governing body still has to have the ability to use force to take from the producers and give to the poor. Fines and imprisonment are surely better than bloodshed, but they still amount to violent theft instead of mutual charity.
The socialist or communist society further attacks its people’s standard of living:
Men and women are physical creatures animated by a spiritual soul. Their spiritual wellbeing is linked to their physical wellbeing. Physical wealth can be abused and may tempt some to evil doing, but just try to imagine what it must have been like to see one’s children die for lack of food or medicine; to see precious food go rancid in the heat; or to work long hours with no tools or tractors, only to return to a home with no light. The resulting despair would not make anyone holy. But, paradoxically, the liberation theologians think they can solve the problems of the poor by making everyone live in such despair! While you cannot redistribute what has not been made, socialism freely redistributes despair and misery with no such productivity constraint.
Precisely because the medieval monasteries were not under government control, they were free to invent and produce marvels in their time. The monks were pioneers in scientific farming, hydroelectric power, the measurement of time, architecture, textile production, and metallurgy.  Religious orders founded the first hospitals and universities. As a community the monks knew that they could keep most of the fruits of their labor for their own use , and to improve the condition of the poor, and to relieve the sick.
Question: On some religious pictures there are letters or symbols that seem to associate with the figures in the picture. For example the Blessed Virgin often has letters like MP OY on each side of her head. What do these letters mean.
Answer: Eastern Christian art tends to be much more abstract than its western counterpart. Eastern churches rarely have any three dimensional works—statues or bas reliefs. Even the corpus on the crucifix is often painted. To insure that the figures in the picture (icon) are identifiable, labels are associated with the more well known figures of religious art.
The letters may seem to be symbols if the characters of the Greek and Slavonic languages are unfamiliar to us (or if they are highly stylized), for these are the more common alphabets used by Eastern Christian artists. Greek seems to predominate, often found even on Slavic icons.
The letters are often the first and last from the name of the figure. “ΜΡ ΘΥ” would be the abbreviation for the Greek words meaning Mother (Μητηρ) and [of] God (Θεου). The letters are often capitalized , and may have a tilde (~) over them to indicate that letters are missing between them. In Greek, Υ is the capital letter for lowercase υ.
When our Lord is pictured, the letters ΙΣ (Ιησους) ΧΣ (Χριστος) represent Jesus Christ in Greek: ΙΣ ΧΣ, (sometimes ΙC ΧC). Occasionally one will see ΙC ΧC ΝΙΚΑ, which means Jesus Christ conquers (or triumphs).
One can see ΜΡ ΘΥ on the sides of Mary’s head, and ΙC ΧC to the left of our Lord (right side of picture). Harder to see are the letters which designate the archangels on the left (Saint Michael: OAM: Ὁ Ἀρχάγγελος Μιχαήλ) and on the right (Saint Gabriel: OAΓ: Ὁ Ἀρχάγγελος Γαβριήλ) side of the icon.
Venerated by the Eastern Orthodox, Saint John’s name is spelled out in full, in Slavic characters.