Monday, May 20, 2013

Pentecost and Ordinary Time.

In February, I wrote a bit about the problem with Ordinary Time. In a New Liturgical Movement post from Friday, Father Guy Nicholls of the Birmingham Oratory addresses the same topic in the particular context of the relationship between Ordinary Time and the Feast of Pentecost:
The transition to Ordinary time on the Monday after Pentecost is disjunctive. It is not simply the return to Ordinary time per se that jars, since that must happen at some time anyway. No, the problem that several of your [NLM] correspondents share with me is the sense that the first green Monday after Pentecost has come from nowhere. In addition to the abruptness of this transition, the ferial days which now follow Pentecost belong to an entirely disconnected sequence that was broken off before Lent and so has no token of continuity with what has immediately preceded it. The transition was formerly more intelligible since the Octave of Pentecost came quietly to an end on Ember Saturday, emerging easily in First Vespers of Trinity Sunday, the beginning of a new week and season, and a feast, indeed, which celebrated and contemplated the mysteries which were fulfilled in the descent of the Holy Spirit "leading the Church into all truth."

What is the effective result of the loss of the Pentecost Octave?

First, it has the most unfortunate effect of reducing Pentecost to a mere end point. Because it is now simply a single day at the conclusion of Paschaltide from which all that follows is discontinuous, Ordinary Time does not seem to succeed Pentecost, but to supplant it. Thus Pentecost now seems only to look backwards to Easter of which it is the concluding celebration, rather than both back to Easter and forwards towards “green time” representing the post-Pentecostal life of the Church until the Second Coming.

Secondly, this rupture and discontinuity is further increased by the nomenclature of "Ordinary Time". While from the designation of "Time after Pentecost" alone the Church might have posited a relationship to that feast (albeit in a different way from "Time after Easter" to Easter Day itself), there was indeed a more than merely nominal connection. Of course Paschaltide is more organically and thematically linked to Easter than is the whole "post Pentecosten" period to Pentecost. Nevertheless the correspondence between Time after Pentecost on the one hand and the entire era of the Church, endowed with the Spirit and awaiting the Parousia on the other, was formerly more manifest in this long "green" period of the Church Year. This was especially clear both at the outset of the season with the Mystery-contemplative feasts of Trinity and Corpus Christi, and at the very end on account of its eschatological Sunday Gospels.
To read the rest, click here. AMDG.


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