Monday, June 16, 2008

Santa Feria

Santa Feria has many devout clients, especially - alas! - among proponents of the aptly-named Ordinary Form, including many sad old dodderers still limping round the altar in tatty polyester green (when not ambling round the presbytery in foodstained cardigans) like the priests of Baal of old...

But traddies must not let the appalling votaries of Santa Feria put them off devotion to this ancient matron!

Santa Feria, and her younger sister Lectio Continua, are of the oldest noble Roman stock; and, if neither virgin nor martyr, she at least has the distinction of owning the greatest number of liturgical days in the calendar. In June alone, she possesses five days, and has four more as well, if one remembers that on those days other saints are only allowed a commemoration at Lauds. What wonder that, whenever the calendar has become overgrown with the multiplied feasts of lesser saints, the very Roman Pontiffs themselves have decreed a general purgation of such minor characters, the better to exalt Santa Feria.

Consider how the traditional Roman Divine Office, in its stark Scriptural beauty, shines forth most purely on its many days devoted to Santa Feria:

* on these days, Matins is of one Nocturn, with three Lessons, all devoted to her sister, Lectio Continua, who rules as the moon the night, while Santa Feria as the sun rules the day;

* all the antiphons, psalms, hymns, versicles and responsories are called ferial, in her honour;

* out of modesty, the collect of each day is drawn from the weekly festival of her elder sister, Dominica.

(It is for utterly the same reason that Santa Feria, as befits the sister of Dominica, should attire herself in the verdant green of nature, nature blossoming because raised up by grace to a new and supernatural effulgence.)

Santa Feria is shy, and gladly gives place to another: her so-called ferial Mass is instead in fact the repeated Mass of her sister Dominica - therefore she minds not if, at Mass, the priest chooses to offer up the Sacrifice as a votive in honour of some other saint or holy mystery on her days. But, jealous of her honour, her mother and ours, Sancta Mater Ecclesia, binds every priest to read his Breviary Hours in honour of Santa Feria on all such occasions. (When after some years during which Pope Leo XIII had permitted votive Offices to be read on ferial days, it was St Pius X who won for Santa Feria the greatest restoration of her cultus.)

Her name itself, which originally in Latin meant "a feast", has lost that meaning over time: but she is still much to be loved, not least by those who style themselves devotees of Sacra Liturgia, another of her holy relatives.

Indeed, the well-known song "Santa Lucia", it may appear, was surely written in honour of her: "Santa Fer-i-a, Santa Fer-I-a!"

3 comments:

Mark said...

Did you think about that blog idea, by the way? I think you have the right tone for it...

Joshua said...

I have, and thanks, but no ideas for it as yet - must wait for inspiration to strike...

Reminds me of a priest saying that if the next Pope named himself Sylvester II, his first encyclical should begin "Sufferin' succotash"!

(Neither of us knew the Latin for succotash.)

Ritualist said...

Haha, very witty. You should come up something about Santa Feria in Lent though.