20 February 2009


Lent is upon us; preparing us for Easter. Can I briefly seek help on something that is perplexing me about the liturgical structure and meaning of Eastertide.

The New Missal considered all the Eastertide Sunday collects in the Old Missal as utterly inappropriate for Eastertide, let alone for Sundays within Eastertide; it transferred them all to Sundays in Ordinary Time.

The New Missal had trouble finding replacement Sunday collects which it deemed adequately "Paschal" elsewhere in the Roman sacramentaries. It ended up having to manufacture some from shreds and tatters elsewhere.

The collect which used to occur on the Saturday of Easter Week reads " ... festa paschalia peregimus ..." [we have finished the paschal feasts]. The New Missal transferred this to the Saturday before Pentecost.

I know that throughout the whole Fifty Days, we add alleluias to chants and things. I know the patristic citations which support the decision of the post-Vatican II revisers to enhance the Paschal emphasis of the whole Fifty Days.

But what the Old Rite suggests to me is that Easter, the real festivity, lasts for a week, and the remaining six weeks before Pentecost are AFTER Easter rather than "within the Easter Season".

In other words, that the 'Reform' created a new kind of Easter season previously unknown in Western Liturgical books.

Is this right? Can those more learned than I am suggest refences in primary or secondary literature?


Paul Goings said...


As with most questions which involve historical and organic liturgical development, I think it's difficult to difficult to say that a certain perspective is conclusively either right or wrong.

That said, some observations can be made:

Paschaltide, as a season, extended from after the Easter Vigil until I Vespers of Trinity Sunday. It is perhaps more accurate to speak of it as a supra-season, because, although there were liturgical characteristics common to all of Paschaltide, there we also several sub-seasons. So, Easter Day and its Octave, which included the proper Communicantes and Hanc igitur, and "on this day" for the Preface; the Sundays after, which continued to use the Easter Preface and the Gloria on ferial days, and then the Ascension and its Octave, and Pentecost and its Octave, all of which had their own liturgical character. But the additional alleluias, and the use of the Regina Coeli, were common to all of Paschaltide.

This is in marked contrast to the seasons after Epiphany and Pentecost, which had little in common liturgically with those feasts.

Andrew said...

T&T Clark are publishing Collects of the Roman Missal: A Study of Liturgical Reform by Lauren Pristas in 2009. Dr Pristas addressed the Society of St Catherine of Siena a year or two ago. She was addressing the subject of why the OF Lenten collects had gone soft on penitence and self-mortification compared with the EF ones (not that OF and EF were then known terms). What the book will say about Paschaltide I don't know.


John F H H said...

Dix has a long discussion o the Sanctification of Time and the introduction to the Synaxis, including the Collect.
If I read him aright, the fixed lections for the season of Eastertide [which are relevant to the great fifty days] are earlier than the use of a Collect before the lessons.
Perhaps the emphasis of the Collect was more on disposing the people of God to the Eucharist which was to follow rather than a specific link to the lections. The Feast of the Resurrection merited a week's observance, the season merited relevant lections.

Could it be that once set collects were in place for the great feasts which fell on a Sunday someone said "Well, we had a prayer at this point last week, let's have one this week" - chosen ad libitum from the collections of prayers?

A further question arises as to the origin of the Collect which follows each of the readings at the Paschal Vigil. Are they as old as the Vigil itself? What is the relationship between these Collects and the opening Collect of the Mass?

John UK