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Motu Proprio of Pius X, promulgated 2 July, 1911, relating to Holy Days of obligation. On Holy Days of precept a twofold duty is incumbent on the faithful, of hearing Mass and of abstaining from servile work. Owing particularly to the high cost of living and to the necessity of caring in due season for crops, fruits, etc., the discipline of the Church has tended to lessen the number of Holy Days in certain countries. Pius X deemed it advisable to extend this policy to the Universal Church, thus effecting greater uniformity. Aside, then, from all Sundays, the obligation of hearing Mass and abstaining from servile work is now confined to eight days: Christmas, New Year's Day or the feast of the Circumcision, Epiphany (6 Jan.), the Ascension of Our Lord, the Immaculate Conception (8 Dec.), the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (15 Aug.), the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June), and, finally, the feast of All Saints (1 Nov.). Where, however, any of the above feasts has been abolished or transferred, the new legislation is not effective. In the United States consequently the Epiphany and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul are not days of precept (see Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, tit. III, a. ii and p. cv). Feasts of patrons are no longer Holy Days of obligation. Bishops may, if they choose, transfer the celebration of these patronal feasts to the following Sunday in accordance with liturgical laws. If it is desired in certain countries or dioceses to retain as days of precept one or other feast abrogated by the Constitution "Supremi disciplinæ", permission must be obtained from the Holy See.
There is no longer any obligation, as formerly in many countries, of assisting at the Holy Sacrifice or abstaining from servile work on the feast of St. Joseph (19 March), the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June), or Corpus Christi. According to the present Motu Proprio the feast of St. Joseph, with an octave, is to be celebrated on the Sunday following 19 March, unless that date fall on Sunday; the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on the Sunday preceding the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June); Corpus Christi on the first Sunday after Trinity Sunday. Scarcely, however, was the "Supremi disciplinæ" promulgated, when (S. R. C., 24 July) it was modified as follows: The solemn commemoration of St. Joseph without an octave remains on 19 March. The feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph, however, on the third Sunday after Easter is raised to a double of the first class, a primary feast with an octave. Likewise the feast of Corpus Christi with its privileged octave is observed as formerly on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but the solemnity of the feast is transferred to the following Sunday. Liturgical questions, to which the above changes gave rise, were settled by a Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, 28 July, 1911.
The present Motu Proprio institutes another important change in legislation. As feasting and fasting are incompatible Pius X has abolished the obligation of fasting as well as that of abstinence for the Universal Church, should such obligation coincide with any of the eight feasts, as above. According to the "Nouvelle Revue Theologique", November, 1911, by decree of the S. Cong. of the Council, 28 August, 1911, this dispensation is not for feasts already suppressed, like the Epiphany in the United States. The same general dispensation from the laws of abstinence and fasting is granted by the Holy Father on patronal feasts, abolished by the present Constitution, should they be celebrated solemnly and with a large concourse of the faithful.
Andrew B. Meehan