VNO 25: At the Beginning of the Civil Year

The 25th VNO Mass, for a celebration “at the beginning of the Civil Year” is an interesting piece. The Roman Missal gives this rubric:

This Mass may not be used on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, on 1 January.

Perhaps other cultures can find a New Year’s Day that doesn’t fall on a prime liturgical observance. After a busy Christmas season, it may not be likely that parishes, pastors, and liturgy people are ready for a big celebration of the commencement of a “civil year.” We largely leave it to the secular world and its liturgies–see the dropping Times Square ball, and New Year’s Day football.

For readings, the Lectionary gives a few choices. From the Torah, the sun and moon created on the fourth day (Genesis 1:14-18) or the blessing of Aaron (Numbers 6:22-27). From New Testament letters, Paul’s warning about time growing short (1 Corinthians 7:29-31) or James’ warning about making plans (4:13-15). The Gospel choices are also two, Jesus urging us to seek first God’s Reign (Matthew 6:31-34) or Jesus reminding us to be alert (Luke 12:35-40). Good choices all.

And for Lectionary Psalms we have the 8th, a hymn of praise from creation. We could choose the 49th, with selected verses that caution against wealth and arrogance. A third option includes some choice verses from the 90th. We blogged here last year on the psalm’s entirety.

From the Antiphonary, two possibilities for Entrance:

Entrance Antiphon Cf. Psalm 65:12

You crown the year with your bounty, and abundance flows in your pathways.

Or: Matthew 28:20

Behold, I am with you always, says the Lord, even to the end of the age.

I’ve long loved the 65th Psalm, and I think it’s a good choice for the beginning of a Mass celebrating a new year. I would use it even if the antiphon choice was the Lord’s promise after the Great Commission.

Communion Antiphon Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.

A New Testament Canticle, for sure. This web page contains a number of texts from Christian Scriptures that go beyond the choices found in the Liturgy of the Hours. I like this set of verses (22-24a, 28, 29) from the preceding chapter of Hebrews:

1 We have come before God’s holy mountain,
to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.

2 We have come before countless angels making festival,
before the assembly of the firstborn citizens of heaven.

3 We have come before God, who is judge of all,
before the spirits of the just made perfect.

4 We have come before Jesus,
the mediator of the new covenant.

5 We are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken:
so let us give thanks and offer to God acceptable worship,

6 Full of reverence and awe;
for our God is a consuming fire.

Some years ago, we blogged on Masses And Prayers For Various Needs And Occasions. In the GIRM, sections 368-378 cover the universal regulations on their use. You can check our brief comments here and here and here. The USCCB’s unannotated text on the matter is here.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to VNO 25: At the Beginning of the Civil Year

  1. Devin Rice says:

    Does anyone know what the time frame of this Mass is? Is it only meant for countries where the civil new year is not marked on Jan 1st? Or can it be used for example during the first week of January if there are no conflicts on the calendar? Or can it be used throughout the month of January?

    • Todd says:

      It’s an academic observance in some places to celebrate a votive Mass of the Holy Spirit when a school year begins. That might be interpreted as a civic observance of some sort. For westerners, maybe early January–when school’s back in session. This might be one of the least-used options in the Roman Missal.

      As for Liam’s observation, celebrating a World Day of Peace isn’t even on the radar anymore. Maybe we’ve given in to the war on that front.

  2. Liam says:

    I recall there used to be alternative propers for a liturgical observance of the World Day of Peace on January1st, at least under Paul VI – it was always a mystery if the celebrant was going to choose those. Now it’s just a papal message and perhaps someone chooses to include in prayers of the faithful.

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