My fascination with liturgical calendars has been likened to Sheldon Cooper’s mysterious interest in national flags. I suppose I can’t help myself, but I am intrigued with the differences among the liturgical calendars of the various Christian denominations. This difference even extends to various congregations that identify themselves as being Catholic.
I noticed many such interesting differences during the week following the Fourth Week of Easter in 2022. Some Western Christians including the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) call this Good Shepherd Sunday, named after the Gospel Reading for the day. Historically, Good Shepherd Sunday fell on the Third Sunday of Easter, formerly called the Second Sunday After Easter. Byzantine Christians, including the Byzantine Catholic Church (BCC), call this the Sunday of the Paralytic as a completely different series of readings is employed than in the RCC and PNCC services. I know. Confusing, isn’t it?
A table might best be used to demonstrate the differences in the liturgical calendar in 2022 for the following weekdays:
|Date||Roman Catholic||Tridentine||PNCC||Byzantine Catholic|
|May 9||Easter Weekday||Gregory the Theologian, within the Octave of the Solemnity of St. Joseph||Gregory the Theologian||The Prophet Isaiah|
|May 10||Easter Weekday (St. John of Avila; St. Damien de Veuster)||St. Antoninus; St. Gordius and Epimachus, also within the Octave||Martyrdom of Bishop John Padewski||Simon the Zealot, Apostle|
|May 11||Easter Weekday||Octave Day of St. Joseph||Easter Weekday||Cyril and Methodius, Apostle to the Slavs; St. Mucius|
|May 12||Easter Weekday (St. Nereus and Companions)||St. Nereus and Achilleus; St. Pancras||St. Nereus, Achilleus||Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus|
|May 13||Easter Weekday (Our Lady of Fatima)||St. Robert Bellermine||St. Mucius||Glyceria, Virgin and Martyr|
- Gregory the Theologian (one of three saints in Byzantine Christianity to be given that title) was a personal friend of Basil the Great and presided over the Second Ecumenical Council. He died circa January 25, 390 A.D. This is regarded as his primary feast day in the Byzantine Church but he is also commemorated on January 30, the Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs (Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Gregory). The RCC celebrates Gregory the Theologian jointly with Basil the Great on January 2. Basil the Great died on January 1 but his feast is bumped to the following day because of the solemnity celebrated on that day. The Tridentine and PNCC calendars celebrate Gregory the Theologian on May 11. It is not surprising that the PNCC often (but not always) follows the Tridentine calendar as the PNCC separated from the RCC long before the RCC calendar reforms of the last century.
- The Tridentine calendar still contains a large number of octaves, including the Octave of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, beginning May 4. This feast was celebrated on the Third Wednesday after Easter and lasted through the succeeding Wednesday. This octave, like most octaves, has been previously abolished in the RCC. The PNCC also still maintains a number of octaves on its calendar.
- The commemoration of the Martyrdom of Bishop John Padewski is unique to the PNCC. Padewski was a Polish born member of the PNCC. He attended the PNCC seminary in the United States and subsequently returned to Poland as the bishop of the PNCC in that country. He was killed by the Polish Communists in 1951. Adopting local saints onto the calendar is not unique to the PNCC. For example, the RCC in the United States has placed Our Lady of Guadalupe on its calendar.
- The Byzantine Catholic Church commemorates Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles to the Slavs on May 11. Pope John Paul II named these brothers as co-patrons of Europe, along with St. Benedict. It is curious why the PNCC, at its root also a Slavic based church, does not commemorate them on this day.
- The RCC celebrates St. Robert Bellarmine on May 13. The fact the BCC and the PNCC do not have Bellarmine on their calendars may have something to do with the fact Bellermine was a cardinal and a Jesuit, two groups very closely associated with the RCC and not the PNCC.
- Glyceria was martyred in the Second Century A.D. under the emperor Antoninus. St. Mocius was martyred under the Emperor Diocletian. If anyone knows why the PNCC moved the celebration to May 13, please let me know!