15 May 2008

The Octave of Pentecost

On Tuesday, to the Archdeacon's Visitation. A sad piece of Liturgy, however nice and civilised our Archdeacon is. It reminded me of all the reasons why I so dislike de facto modern Anglican establishment Liturgy. But one thing interested me: the theme was Pentecostal, of the gift of the Spirit. In other words: this was a motley gathering of high, low, middling, and broad, but their instinct was to stay within the influence of Pentecost Sunday, notwithstanding the fact that Common Worship, slavishly following the post-Conciliar Roman usage, expects Christian people to drop the theme of the Spirit like a hot potato at the midnight which concludes Whitsunday. The gut instinct of the ordinary Christian is pro-octave!

Looking at the collects given for Evensong infra octavas pentecosten (sic) in the ancient Gelasian Sacramentary, I notice that Saturday's goes like this: Grant, we beseech thee, merciful God, that like as by the name of Father and Son we do know the truth of the divine nature, so we may in the Holy Spirit acknowledge the substance of the whole Trinity. Having concluded Eastertide with a great celebration of the Spirit, it is natural to recollect, as this slightly naive collect does, that, the Spirit being as truly God as Father and Son, we have now 'done' the whole Trinity. So Trinity Sunday was a glorious feast which had long been waiting to happen in the instincts of the Faithful when that admirable pontiff, John XXII, imposed it upon the whole Western Church (I'll do a post sometime soon on how much of its liturgical and devotional patrimony the Latin Church owes to the Avignon Papacy in general and to that pope in particular). Here at S Thomas's, of course, Trinity Sunday is a great day for us because it was on Trinity Sunday 1162 that our Patron was consecrated to the episcopate.

For those who follow the Calendar which the Book of Common Prayer and Common Worship (each of which refuses to provide an 'ordinary time' collect and orders the Trinity collect to be used throughout the week) inherited from medieval English usage, the question arises of what to make of the week after Trinity. If Trinity Sunday's Mass is used, presumably it should be in white vestments. Some medieval uses ordained that (unless festivals intervened) Monday's Mass should be of the Trinity, Tuesday's of the Apostles, and Wednesday's of our Lady; Corpus Christi, of course, occupies Thursday, and then on Friday and Saturday we either return to the Trinity ... or observe an octave for Corpus Christi! What a tangled web we weave once we abandon the crisp certainties of the post-Conciliar calendar!

1 comment:

ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

It's good to find someone else who admires John XXII, Father. John XXII has had a bad press, but the wonderful prayer 'Anima Christi' is attributed to him and which later formed the basis of the Roman Catholic Hymn 'Soul of My Saviour', which is one of my favourites.
I look forward to reading your post on the Avignon Popes!