Learning the Office Part XIIB: Calendars and Ordos

In the previous part of this series, I started talking about how to construct your own Ordo, and the option of aligning the Office you say with that of the Roman Extraordinary Form. This time I want to tackle the slightly more complex issue of aligning the Benedictine calendar with the Novus Ordo, as well as take a brief look at the older, pre-1962 calendar. Finally, I want to say a brief word about Ordos.

The Novus ordo calendar compared to the 1962 Calendar

The Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal is essentially geared to the 1962 EF calendar. If follows exactly the same liturgical seasons, use of vigils etc. The differences are just in the inclusion and level of particular feasts. By contrast the Novus Ordo calendar:

  • uses a completely different season structure and Sunday numbering system - it has, for example, no season of Septuagesima at all;
  • many dates of saints feasts have been moved around;
  • many saints in the 1962 calendar have been omitted altogether and new ones added.

I really don't think it is possible to use the Monastic Diurnal and attempt to line up the liturgical seasons! But it is feasible - albeit with a bit of work - to align saints feasts. You will need to check the index of feasts in the MD (at the back, (238)) to see if there are rubrics in the book for the saint. If not, apply the same principles I discussed in the last part of this series, looking at the category of the saint. Note that the names of the categories are slightly different in the novus ordo - but it is pretty easy to work out where to put them! Pastors =confessors, etc.

Working out the appropriate level of the feast is a little harder. The newer calendar has four categories. They more or less (but not exactly) align as follows:

  • Solemnity (1970) = Class I (1962);
  • Feasts = Class II/III
  • Memorials and Optional Memorials = commemorations/memorials
  • ferias = Class IV/feria.

But note that there are a lot of memorials in the Novus Ordo calendar that were previously Class III feasts!

The pre-1962 calendar

Some people do prefer to use this calendar for various reasons, particularly in conjunction with older breviaries. For Matins in particular the older version does have some advantages. But the other reason for at least being able to recognise the terminology is that if you want to sing the Office, most of the chant books that will be of use to you still use this earlier categories of feasts.

In terms of the liturgical seasons there are differences between the 1962 and earlier calendars, but a few feasts aside, these mainly relate to the elimination of most octaves - which stretch the celebration of a feast over the next week - in the 1962 calendar.

In terms of the level of feasts though, there used to be:

  • Feria
  • Commemorations
  • Simple
  • Semidouble
  • Double of the I Class
  • Double of the II Class,
  • Greater Double or Major Double;
  • Double.

If you want to know more about this, the Catholic Encyclopedia (available online) has a good article about the evolution of the system over time, adn which feasts were put in which category!


Finally, a brief word on Ordos.

Ideally, you need an Ordo for the Extraordinary Form produced for your country, so as to capture all of the local feasts. Such Ordos are put out by the FSSP and others. There are a lot of useful Ordos online though, and I'd just like to mention two:

None of these can be followed exactly, as each includes feasts particular to the country and/or monastery. The way I construct the Ordo I put up on this site is generally to start from the Diurnal itself, then crosscheck it (and my assumptions about which feasts have priority) against those two Ordos plus two Australian ones. But they are very useful resources.

Hope that all helps!

The next part of this series can be found here.

1 comment:

James Garrity said...

The Benedictine Monastery at Clear Creek (which is from the foundation of Fontgombault) generally follows the Novus Ordo calendar but celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

Now, I don't know how they line up their liturgical seasons, but I suspect that they follow closely to 1962 calendar. But for feasts, I asked one of the monks and found out that they celebrate the new calendar (to celebrate the newer Saints), but use this conversion:

Solemnities = Class I
Feasts = Class II
Memorials = Class III
Optional Memorials = Commemoration/memorials
Ferias = Class IV/ ferias

I thought it was interesting how they interpret the memorials, and I really like this arrangement.

Thought you might be interested!