Rorate Caeli

Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer: The Octave of Pentecost should never have been removed

From Anscar Chupungco's What, Then Is Liturgy? Musings and Memoir, Claretian Publications, Quezon City 2010, p. 133:

Pentecost Sunday often fills me with melancholy, knowing that the following day will be Ordinary Time. Pentecost brings the curtain down on the drama of Easter and it does so with such finality that no echo remains. (How about every Sunday? CAP) Cardinal Augustinus Mayer, who as Rector of Sant'Anselmo on the Aventine had taken me under his protective wings as a student from the Far East, enjoyed arguing with me about the liturgical reform. One of his laments was the slashing of Pentecost to one day. The octave days, he said, should have been maintained. I replied lamely that the entire week before Pentecost talked of nothing else but the coming solemnity and that the traditional fifty days of Easter meant fifty days. But sometimes I tend to agree that the sudden ending does not allow what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven (cf. Acts 2:2) to reverbrate across the liturgical year. The antiphon for Magnificat concludes magnificently the celebration of the fifty days of Easter: "Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, alleluia; on this day the Holy Spirit appeared before the apostles in tongues of fire and gave them his spiritual gifts. He sent them out to preach to the whole world, and to proclaim that all who believe and are baptized shall be saved, alleluia."
Paul Augustin Cardinal Mayer (1911 - 2010) was Rector of Sant' Anselmo from 1949-1966, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship from 1984 to 1988, and first President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei from 1988 to 1991.


  1. This might be in the Roman Rite, and I will be the first to admit it was a Big Mistake (caps intended).

    But in the Byzantine Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, Pentecost has a post-feast of a week, concluding with All Saints Sunday on the next Sunday.

    The Monday afterwards, the Octoechos/Paraklitiki (corresponding to "Ordinary Time") is resumed for the weekday office, and the Fast of the Apostles traditionally begins.

  2. Jack:

    I think it is rather obvious that Chupungco and Cardinal Mayer were dealing with the Octave of Pentecost in the Roman Rite.

  3. Ponte7:02 PM

    Why oh why won't Pope Benedict XVI restore this beautiful octave? It just doesn't make sense.

  4. Cruise the Groove7:34 PM


    Human respect.

  5. Well, we still have the Octave of Pentecost if you go to the TLM.

  6. Anonymous9:35 PM

    I never fail to get demoralized and depressed when reading how liturgical wreckovators muse on what should or should not be hacked away from the liturgy of the ages, as if it were their own creation to begin with.

    And yet this posting shows definitively that their own perverted consciences tell them how wrong it is to do such a thing. For one can see that the beauty of this particular week's liturgy, now shattered, has caused even them a measure of sorrow!

    Perhaps this guilty conscience is the underlying motivator behind the whole "reform of the reform" movement - revolutionary leaders and apparatchiks alike, who so keenly aware of the relative ugliness of the Frankenstein they created in the so-called Pauline Missal sense their own hearts crying out to graft onto its parts even small patches of the beautiful flesh of its Apostolic precursor in the hope that some beauty might shine through their creation.

    The temptation herein is to comment on whether one agrees or does not that the traditional octave should be "restored" in the Novus Ordo, or not.

    But the underlying disdain for the Apostolic Ordo of the ages that leads priests and Cardinals like the ones in this posting to look upon it as a child would a "Lego" set setting oneself up as arbiter of how to put the blocks together into a new shape ... this is the real topic for discussion in my view.

    I can only see this "spirit" of "reform", and that milder turning back of it called the "reform of the reform" in a negative light for that one reason: the inherent arrogance that one must espouse in order to "play blocks" with the liturgy which was deposited by the Apostles, and them from Christ and His Spirit.

    How can it be consonant with Christian virtue to do such a thing?

    True development might have left in tact one same single Ordo with some participatory and vernacular allowances at certain points in the Mass if participation of the laity was one's primary concern. At least this way, the Ordo would not have been altered.

    But this is liturgical wreckovation not development.

    May God have mercy upon us.

    Sincerely, Neophyte

  7. Anonymous10:00 PM

    I can't wait for the day -- and I know it will happen -- when we are completely back to everything in 1962 time and the biggest argument amongst trads is whether or not to go back to the pre-50s Holy Week calendar "reforms."

  8. Anonymous10:45 PM

    May I additionally suggest a restoration of all of those octaves that were slashed in the '62 Missal?

  9. I can't wait for the day -- and I know it will happen -- when we are completely back to everything in 1962 time and the biggest argument amongst trads is whether or not to go back to the pre-50s Holy Week calendar "reforms."

    I nearly split my coffee when I read this...

    Many of the reforms incorporated in the 1962 Missal are just Bugnini's stepping stone to the deluge that is the Novus Ordo. Bugnini so much as admits this in his memoirs. It's only by returning to the Roman rite, free from any of his finger-prints, that we will have a proper liturgical renewal.

  10. Anonymous12:24 AM


    Exactly! God be praised, your observation is most certainly true in TLM parishes where the traditional calendar is followed. Of course, we may indeed live the Octave of Pentecost whether or not we are able to hear Masses during the Octave days. After all, is this not what many Catholics were forced to do with Sunday Masses over the last forty years because the Church, from top to bottom, declared the ancient Roman liturgy outlawed, forbidden, ripped it away from the faithful, installing in its place an ignoble and wretched facsimile of Catholic worship? Many Sundays over the last forty years I have prayed the holy Mass at home by necessity, outside of the occupied churches. Accordingly, I've never found myself bereft of an Octave of Pentecost, and, God willing, never shall. I remain stupefied at the number of Catholics still who will insist on slavishly bearing the myriad yokes of Modernism placed on them by priests, bishops, and indeed popes, while they decry that same yoke, contribute financially to their local parishes, accept a pariah status, often out of human respect, all the while nurturing within themselves the confusion and conflict caused by enduring the public worship found in their once Catholic parish churches. Only God knows all these things. How we must watch and pray to Our Lady, who pondered all things in Her Heart!

  11. Anonymous8:42 AM

    Thanks to Fr Chupungco - for this. Even the Devil can bring something positive.

  12. We need the Sundays after Pentecost back too. Ordinary Sundays may befit an ordinary church but certainly not The Roman Catholic Church. The Archangels were stripped of their own individual feast days and some feasts were needlessley moved. The net effect of disorientation so systemically demonstrable in the contemporary church is well illustrated by the subversion of the old liturgical calendar. While minor adjustments are acceptable with time the post-conciliar project was to give the new church with its new philosophy what appeared as a new calendar.

  13. The only safe haven remaining is in the Traditional Latin Mass and its liturgical calendar. This maintains direct contact with the Faith of Our Fathers. Anythinf else ruptures this lineage.

  14. Anonymous10:02 AM

    It reminds me of the English bishop who attended a Low Mass said in the Old Rite about ten years ago and came out of the church shaking his head and saying to the priest and a few people in a soppy, sentimental and quavering voice voice: "Oh my dears, I thnk we've lost something". Then after a while he climbed into his car and drove off,probably to a modern confirmation where the young mature people would sing the only hymn they know Shine Jesus Shine. I always though that the bishop had lost something.Alan Robinson.

  15. Anonymous4:08 PM

    Can anyone help me with a reference? You surely all know the story of Pope Paul VI preparing to celebrate Mass on Whit Monday and asking the then Msgr Virgilio Noe where the red vestments were.
    Now, I'd like to find the reference of this story. What is the primary source? Who went public about this? Is it in Giampietro's book about Antonelli or somewhere else?

  16. Anonymous11:36 PM

    Just as it was removed it can be restored. We are probably heading that way since so many lament its' loss.

  17. Its also true, as others have mentioned, that its largely futile to "restore" little bits and pieces to the NO. Why stop with the Octave of Pentecost? Why not restore the Ember and Rogation days? Or the Sundays after Pentacost? Or Septuagesima? The list can go on and on...

    Then, the obvious choice would be to restore the '62 Missal as the sole missal of the Latin Church to at least restore some sanity. After we gain back some measure of this liturgical orthopraxis, we can excise all of the Bugnini-ite errors from the TLM but also properly contemplate if anything would be properly reformed. For instance, it might be possible that the observance of an actual vigil for Easter was a good change. That said, these kind of questions can only be properly answered by people with a proper liturgical sense. At the current time, we do not have this at large.

    The worst thing that could happen was for some other budding litniks to get their greasy paws on the TLM to combine it with the NO. The "merging" of the two would be a complete travesty.


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