14 May 2016

Pentecost Time

How splendid it is that the Extraordinary Form preserves for us this Pentecost Octave which stretches, like the Easter Octave, to Saturday next. But there is, I fear, something missing in what we have; an omission which undermines the liturgical integrity of Pentecost.

Your Roman Missal, if it preserves the Roman Rite as it was at the beginning of the Pontificate of Pius XII, will show you a Pentecost which begins with a Baptismal Vigil: just as does Easter. The rites are scaled down for Pentecost; there are only six lections: but it is clear that Pentecost is a secondary Baptismal Season. Practically, it was a useful back-up to Easter for those who, for whatever reason, had not received Christian Initation at Easter. But in any case, the association is theologically appropriate, since the Pentecostal Anointing of the Spirit is central to the full rite of Initiation. Dom Gregory 'Patrimony' Dix was, I am convinced, absolutely right to insist that Consignation/Confirmation is not a secondary adjunct to "Water Baptism", but one of the primary elements in Christian Initiation.

(I devoutly trust, by the way, that the Latin Church will not follow the boring old Anglican mistake of regarding Confirmation as an adolescent Rite of Passage, a sort of Christian Bar-Mitzvah; a misunderstanding as pastorally disastrous as it is theologically flawed. It most certainly is nothing whatsoever of the sort.)

The point of the Pentecost Octave is quite simply that it follows on logically from the Baptismal Vigil Liturgy. It is a week in which (as after Easter) the Illuminati wear their Whites (a meaning still, probably, alluded to in the English name Whitsunday). The Eucharistic Celebrant continues through the week to use the form of the Hanc igitur which is said for the newly initiated. On Saturday, the Neonati returned their Whites to the Pontiff; the statio was ad S Petrum in Vaticano.

It is best to have a whole cake. If one cannot have the whole thing, should one wish for a half a cake, or prefer, in austere liturgical purity, to have no cake at all? I have erudite friends who differ from my judgement; but, frankly, I am unashamedly a half-a-cake man. The abolition of the the Pentecost Baptismal Vigil does indeed do its best to make an illogical hash of Pentecost and its Octave; we really do have to admit this. But the Octave, and the proper Hanc igitur, constitute a foot in the door for a restoration of the full, integral, Classical, Roman Pentecostal celebration.

(1) The Vigil disappeared under Pius XII; we should never forget that the disintegration of the Classical Roman Rite has Pius XII for its godfather. The 'Council' and its aftermath merely formed a logical progression of what Pius XII and Mgr Bugnini and others had already enthusiastically set rolling in the 1950s.
(2) If one wished to restore the Vigil while remaing strictly legal in terms of the 1962 books, one could, surely, do the section preceding the Mass as a technically unofficial service of devotion; and then, having returned to Sacristy to change into red vestments, set out afresh from the Sacristy to begin the rubrically provided Eucharist with the Praeparatio and the prescribed Introit.
(3) The problem of administering Confirmation to adolescents, familiar to all Anglican parish clergy, is summed up in the old Anglican joke about one Churchwarden advising another about how to get rid of the bats in his belfry despite the fact that they were a protected species. "We just got the Bishop to climb up the ladder to the bell-chamber and clamber round the bells and confirm every single bat. We've never seen them in church since".


Victor said...

Father, as far as I know, the Pentecost vigil was restored in the newest edition of the Roman Missal...

Steve Cavanaugh said...

Of course, those fortunate enough to attend Mass at an Ordinariate community that uses the Divine Worship Missal can have the whole cake, as these excerpts from the Missal make clear:

43. The colour of sacred vestments for Mass is as follows:
b. Red is used for Palm Sunday, Pentecost Sunday (Whit
Sunday), during the Octave of Pentecost; on celebrations of
the Lord’s Passion; on the Feasts of Apostles and Evangelists;
and for the celebration of Martyrs.

(Whitsun Eve)
The Extended Form of the Vigil
The extended form of the Vigil of Pentecost may be celebrated on
the Saturday evening, either before or after first Evening Prayer of
Pentecost Sunday. Red vestments are worn for the Masses of Pentecost,
though the Priest may wear a white cope for the extended Vigil up to
and including the sprinkling with holy water.

Red vestments are worn throughout Whitsun Week.

Banshee said...

I was always puzzled as a Catholic kid by the comparative lack of info about Confirmation, but a lot of times the older books give more info (like Confirmation providing protection against demons, in certain ways). I am glad that the "Catholic bar mitzvah" idea is going away. The Sacrament strengthens us in faith; we aren't confirming anything ourselves, as one often hears.

But I had never heard that Pentecost was a Baptismal time, although it makes sense!

Tee Pee Gee Eff said...

The disintegration of the Classical Roman Rite began under St Pius X who abolished the traditional order of psalms. He was the first who got the idea that a Pope can do WHATEVER he likes to the Liturgy. Urban VIII's tinkering with hymns is not quite the same thing. What Pius X did to the Breviary, Paul VI did to the Missal.

vetusta ecclesia said...

I think that in the modern Roman Church in England also Confirmation is rite of passage out of the church door.

Matthew Roth said...

Tinkering is putting it mildly. Pius X also forgot that Confirmation comes before Holy Communion.

Mike Cliffson said...

I cannot think of a time when I, nor anyone, did not know of Whitsun as baptismally associated in the past, but then my first holy communion and confirmation were both in the north before 1960, where Whitsuntide was big, and big far beyond the Catholic church {May God bless the individual human UK enemies who filched Whitmonday (I hope the organizations as such be not)}.
Spain has 15 to 18 ish confirmation , as I dunno what other parts of Europe or elsewhere; Latin America not traditionally as I understand it, (Ecuador certainly confirmation before the age of reason), but our Holy Father emeritus DID some years back I believe address the point along with the everlater ages for first communion , so as to pack in more catechesis in a few years before the child and parents darken not the church porch again : as I understood him we need the grace YOUNG given the devil's early access via the media and secularized schools and society, at a tradional age , that of reewason around sevenish (and the axiom surely cannot be limited to the Jesuits that if the essence, the kernel, of dogma cannot be explained to a child at the age of reason then it is NOT catholic dogma )whereas we are cerebral, overrational indelaying sacraments until a big ' intellectually essential , but nonetheless mainly mental load is on board looks a bit whatever the heresy is , a sort of merit award for examinable knowledge looks like secondguessing the Holy Ghost.
This is what I can find on internet but there must be exactly what I read somehere :http://www.americancatholicpress.org/Father_Turner_Benedict_XVI_Sequence_of_Sacraments_of_Initiation.html.
Priests who do or do not exclude the mentally handicapped from communion, especially first communion: It's like euthenasia : their soul IS present however badly their brains are working.