III.Concerning the Claims to Pre-eminence of certain Feasts or Holy Days
The question of the pre-eminence of one Feast over another arises from Occurences, and if any of them must be transferred, the sequence of transference must be determined, with resultant questions of concurrence or of the order in which Commemorations are to be made. (N.B. In this rubric, and sometimes in other Rubrics, the word Feast is used loosely as a convenient term for the chief Holy Days, whether Feasts or not.)
The Lists and Tables at the end of these General Rubrics set forth the various categories into which Holy Days are divided, and the fundamental methods of subordinating the lower to the higher; but such rules of ready reference must be interpreted by the principles inherent in the celebration of Holy Days, viz., propriety, rite, solemnity, gradation within the rite, and the dignity of the person commorated.
Propriety is of two sorts, universal and local. But local propriety does not greatly affect the problem of Concurrence, and is therefore considered in section 2 below where is carefully defined what is meant by Feasts proper to certain places. Universal propriety, however, is the basic test, i.e., some Holy Days are proper to every time and place in the Church and preclude the keeping of any Feast whatsoever on their days. In general, preference is to be given to Feasts of the general Kalendar over those of local Kalendars except in cases of local propriety such as are noted in section 2 below. In particular, the Feasts in list 3 are primary I Class Doubles of the Universal Church, and sixteen of these are primaries of the Lord in the universal Church. All other I Class Doubles are secondary. It is these primary I Class Doubles which are proper t every place, among which are those of the principal Patron, the Dedication and the Title; and although these are Feasts of local Observance, they honour the headship of Christ over his Church, and thusattain the dignity of universal propriety. The priviliges of all Sundays and of certain Ferias, Vigils and Octaves must also be considered, for they too share in this note of universal propriety. (N.B. By Roman rule, as already noted, Doubles of the Lord are prefered to ordinary Sundays, but the editors of this Breviary recommend that Sundays be preferred to all Feasts lower than II Class Doubles, including the Octave Day of the Epiphany.)
1. Bearing in mind the aforesaid characteristic of universal propriety as the basic test when looking for pre-eminence in Feasts, the other principles inherent in the celebration of Holy Days are applied if necessary: –
(a) Rite, i.e., I Class Doubles are preferred to II Class Doubles, etc. But if there be parity of rite, then must be considered –
(b) Solemnity, i.e., whether the Feast be kept with an Octave or with feriation. An Octave attaches solemnity to a Feast and its Octave Day, but not to Days in the Octave. Feriation is the observance of a Feast as a public holiday because it is a Day of Obligation, but if a Feast have general observance as an important day of public devotion (e.g., the Prayer-Book Holy Days), solemnity by reason of feriation may be said to ensue. When this distinction as to solemnity is not relevant, then must be considered –
(c) Gradation within the rite, i.e., where there is equality of rite, Primary I Class Doubles are to be preferred to Secondary I Class Doubles etc. But a further distinction may be necessary –
(d) Dignity of the person commemorated, Feasts of the Lord being preferred to those of his saints, and Feasts of the Saints being arranged in the order of precedence established by the Litany of the Saints.
2. In occurence, and in sequence of reassignment or transference, or of making Commemorations of Offices falling on the same day, not only are the foregoing to be considered, but also another, viz., (e) The special nature of the Feasts in question. A Feast is said to be proper to a certain place when it deals with the Dedication or Title of one’s own church, with the principal Patron of the place, with the Title and Holy Founder of an Order or Congregation, as above, (including even secondary Patrons,) or with a Saint in places where the body or some other notable relick is possessed, or with a Saint who has special associations with a Church, a place, or a corporate body of persons. Accordingly, any Feast of this kind which is proper is preferred, other things being equal, to a Feast of the universal Church.