Differences in the Old and New Liturgical Calendars at Christmas and New Year

Much has been written about the tragic liturgical changes after Vatican Two, resulting in the strange introduction of the Novus Ordo Mass – often referred to as “Bugnini’s Mass” – that replaced the sublimely reverential Mass of the Ages, the Traditional Latin Mass, a.k.a. the Tridentine Mass. Although the TLM was never officially abrogated, it swiftly became lost to the vast majority of Catholics in the world, and a greatly inferior Mass in the vernacular took over. The negative consequences of this change have been catastrophic, and will continue to be so many years to come, despite the joyful arrival in July 2007 of Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Propio Summarum Pontificum, which gave permission for priests to celebrate this beautiful Sacrifice of the Mass freely once again.


But the disappearance of the TLM was not the only liturgical change to take place just after the Second Vatican Council: the whole Liturgical Calendar changed too!

It was incomprehensible and pointless to move feast days that people have been celebrating on particular days for hundreds (or thousands) of years, thus totally disrupting the annual nature of the liturgical year. And why change the calendar all around to a three year cycle named as years A, B, or C? Whoever thought that one up?

The reasons given for these changes still fail to convince most people as having been either necessary or an improvement to the life of the Church.

From “the Feast of Faith” By J. Ratzinger ( later Pope Benedict XVI) in 1986:

“One of the weaknesses of the postconciliar liturgical reform can doubtless be traced to the armchair strategy of academics, drawing up things on paper which, in fact, would presuppose years of organic growth. The most blatant example of this is the reform of the Calendar: those responsible simply did not realize how much the various annual feasts had influenced Christian people’s relation to time. In redistributing these established feasts throughout the year according to some historical arithmetic – inconsistently applied at that – they ignored a fundamental law of religious life.”

However, it should be pointed out that there is a lot that the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium called for that has been utterly ignored or expressly contradicted, whether by members of the Consilium, destructive elements within the Church, or simply by typical parish practice dancing to the modernist ‘Spirit of Vatican II’, is questionable. Perhaps it was a combination of all three. These include Latin, chant, parish vespers, etc. that SC still encouraged but which nonetheless simply disappeared.

It would take too long in one article to go into each aspect of the Liturgical Calendar changes, so seeing as how we are now in Advent let’s start with the season of Christmas and New Year. Brian Williams, in a discussion with Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, wrote about these differences last year, so I will let him take over to describe them….


Just How Different are the Old and New Liturgical Calendars at Christmas and New Year?

by Brian Williams on ‘Liturgy Guy’ in December 2019

The following post began as an email conversation with noted Catholic scholar and lecturer Dr. Peter Kwasniewski this afternoon. It has now been shared via his personal Facebook page. With his endorsement I am also sharing it here for readers of my blog.

More and more Catholics are waking up to the huge differences between the old and new Roman liturgical calendars — the one, a product of two millennia of organic development; the other, brainchild of a 1960s committee.

In the period from Christmas to Epiphany, one can see a massive difference in logic and emphasis. (The below graphic by Dr. Kwasniewski was compiled largely from memory as he is currently on holiday abroad).

With colors to identify particular feasts and periods of celebration, the reader will see immediately that the old calendar has a massive emphasis on Christmas, which is “repeated” multiple times during the Octave, even continuing alongside the saints (note in particular the use of the Gloria and the Creed); and a massive emphasis on Epiphany, which is a feastday even older than Christmas — though one wouldn’t know that from how it’s been demoted in recent decades. In the old calendar, the Most Holy Name of Jesus is an obligatory Sunday celebration, but in the new, an optional weekday celebration; and so on and so forth..

Also note that the Holy Family does not “intrude,” so to speak, until the great mystery of the Nativity in all its facets has been given plenty of room to shine. The focus is maintained: Christmas for 8 days, the circumcision when the Redeemer first shed His blood, the Holy Name he was given and by which we are saved, the Epiphany or revelation of God as savior of the Gentiles. Only then do we turn expressly to the family in which Our Lord grew up, His baptism in the Jordan, His first miracle at Cana (2nd Sunday after Epiphany), and the start of His preaching and miracles (subsequent Sundays).

It’s not that Our Lady and St. Joseph are neglected, for they are always present in the liturgical readings. Besides, they have their own major feastdays elsewhere in the liturgical year. It’s a matter, rather, of focused liturgical reverence towards the central mystery of the Incarnation of the Eternal Son of the Father.

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1 Response to Differences in the Old and New Liturgical Calendars at Christmas and New Year

  1. Pingback: Differences in the Old and New Liturgical Calendars: Slaughter of the feast days . . . – Dominus Vobiscum: Notes from a massgoer's underground

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