Rorate Caeli

Feast of the Divine Maternity — or of Papa Roncalli?

Today, October 11, is a perfect illustration of the basic problem of the Catholic Church in the 20th century.

In 1931, Pope Pius XI instituted on October 11 the feast of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to commemorate the 1500th anniversary of the Council of Ephesus, which had bestowed on her the glorious title Theotokos or God-bearing-One. This feast was placed on October 11. Thus, it’s not an ancient feastday (as neither was Christ the King, instituted by the same Pius), but fits into that slow and loving process of amplification by which the traditional liturgy has been enriched over twenty centuries with ever-new facets of devotion.

Pope John XXIII comes along and decides to open the Second Vatican Council on October 11, precisely because it was the feast of the Divine Motherhood of Our Lady.

Fast-forward to after the Council: Bugnini’s Consilium decides to abolish the feast and to conflate it with January 1st, which had been the Octave of Christmas and the Circumcision of Christ, but which would now be styled “the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God.” Lots of busy scissors and paste...

And then along comes Pope Francis, who canonizes John XXIII and declares that October 11 will be HIS feastday.

So, hey presto!, October 11 has shifted from honoring the deepest mystery of the Virgin Mary  her being the Theotokos  to honoring Vatican II’s architect as elevated by the Council’s mutant progeny, Jorge Bergoglio. As Ratzinger said in a different context, we now celebrate ourselves and our achievements rather than the mightiest works of God.

This is the kind of thing I had in mind when I maintained that the modern Church is characterized by a Nietzschean “transvaluation of all values.”

It also seems a haunting coincidence (but there are no coincidences under Divine Providence) that Pope Francis has been reported this week by Scalfari to have denied the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, making Bergoglio a sort of Nestorian (at best), with Our Lady being demoted to Christotokos, Christ-bearer, as she is for Protestants who refuse her the august title “Mother of God.” Neither the Pope nor the Vatican is willing to confront Scalfari for egregious lies or misrepresentations or amnesia; instead, the the usual non-denial denial has been issued.  Unlike his predecessor Pius XI, who cared enough about the dogmatic formulation of Ephesus to institute a feast in commemoration of its principal definition, the current Pope said two days ago, in a homily painfully reminiscent of the anti-theological mentality of the 1970s: “Do I love God or dogmatic formulations?”

The silver lining on this otherwise dark cloud is that, in spite of everything that has transpired, despite all the wickedness in high places, October 11 continues to this day to be celebrated as the feast of the Divine Maternity, in all communities and parishes that avail themselves of the traditional Missale Romanum. The feast has not perished; it has merely been eclipsed, and it will return in splendor to illuminate the Church after this night of self-celebration has passed.

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