Saint Priorities

Like many Catholics, I have a fascination with saints. As a critically minded believer, I think these role models are underutilized in the modern Church. Some of the better examples of this poverty are found in liturgy.

Some of it involves an ignorance about liturgy. Magazines, ordos, and calendars tucked in the Missal aren’t going to inform a parish about the elevation of its patronal feast. But it’s an important day, especially if it falls on or even near an ordinary Sunday.

Regarding the Litany of Saints, in most parishes the only time this is sung is at the Easter Vigil. A small sample might be dropped on an infant baptism outside of Mass. But during? On the First Sunday of Lent? All Saints Day? And are these expressions inclusive of parish patron saints, and not just the name on the letterhead?

Finally, I do have a beef with how saints are listed in that litany as well as in the Eucharistic Prayers. I’m aware that apostles and martyrs take pride of place. For a long listing, I use them and have no problem including every one of them. But many have faded into the mists of history. It’s the rare effort to introduce them to Catholics, like here.

I think saints of a particular country can and should be used. And if that makes the list too long, perhaps Linus, Cletus, Clement, and so on can be left to the martyrology or Masses with the pope. In the US, Mother Guerin, Katharine Drexel, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Stanley Rother, John Neumann, and others should be regular inclusions. Even in the longer list of Eucharistic Prayer I. Other saints have strong associations like Vincent de Paul. His feast yesterday bumped Cosmas and Damian. And for good reason.

Other names I’ve included have been patrons of the diocese and deanery parishes. School Masses especially are times for the latter. Young children often think of saint names as connected to rival schools in athletics. That is a loss.

Let’s not lose our saints, especially the ones who sport close connections with us today.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Saint Priorities

  1. Liam says:

    Getting a bit recursive: Perhaps St Vincent de Paul was in the Ordo for Seattle yesterday, but not in the national ordo, where his obligatory memorial would have been on Sunday (and the optional memorial for Cosmos & Damian was on Saturday).

    Today was, for a very long time, first a dedicatory feast that became a primary feast of a saint, a common way for saints days to be pinned to the calendar if their historical date of death or other life fact was not known (the oldest such historiated calendar observance is the memorial of St Polycarp of Smyrna for his martyrdom on February 23rd, AD 155). It was the dedication of the basilica of St Michael the Archangel seven miles north of Rome on the Via Salaria, a basilica ruined so long ago that its specific place appears to be lost to history, but later dedications of churches to this saint were scheduled for this day and, well, there you have it. One postconciliar reform of the calendar I do appreciate was to refocus this feast from those roots to an observance of the three principal Scriptural archangels, Michael-Gabriel-Raphael, rather than having separate memorials for the latter two on March 24 and October 24, respectively – that last date was very late in coming to the general Roman calendar (late 19th century), as devotion to St Raphael was not as widespread as those for Gabriel and Michael. The city with the most public cultus of devotion to St Raphael appears to be Córdoba, Spain.

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