13 August 2009

Assumptive fastings

A little while ago I made a catty crack about Orthodoxophile Anglicans who go a bit light on observing the traditional Byzantine fasts. Perhaps I could balance it by pointing out that Western Traditionalists have a similar question to answer. Why are we so shy of taking seriously all those vigils in the old Western rites, the days preceding festivals? The question might, for example, be put to members of the Prayer Book Society whether they observe the 16 fasting vigils which the Prayer Book orders to be kept in addition to Lent and Fridays. Keen devotees of our Lady might ask ourselves whether a new devotion for us to adopt might be fasting on the vigil of the Assumption. Easterners, as I observed before, fast for a forthight before the festival and in some places give a Lenten character to the Liturgy. In some places, the Eve of the Dormition is celebrated with a Service of the Burial of our Lady, based on the rites used in Holy Week to commemorate the Burial of our Redeemer. A Roman version of such a celebration is described in my ORDO.

In the old texts, that day seems sometimes to have a sense of alluding to her death as a prelude to her Assumption. It is well-known that Pius XII deliberately left undecided, in the definition of 1950, whether her Assumption was preceded by a death. But the tradition of both East and West strongly suggests that it was.

I have in mind the old postcommunion for August 14: "Grant, we beseech thee, O God, thy protection to our weakness; that we who celebrate the repose [requiem] of the holy Mother of God, by the help of her intercession may rise from our iniquities".


Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

I have the full text of the Lamentations service for the Dormition on this blog page:


A modern English version can be found on this site:

I hope this is helpful.

Doctor Singularis et Invincibilis said...

'It is well-known that Pius XII deliberately left undecided, in the definition of 1950, whether her Assumption was preceded by a death'.

No, Father. In fact, it is well known, and wrongly known. Read the APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION :
"this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ" (no. 20).
"Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: "Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself."(no. 17). Here, Pope Pius quotes Pope Adrian to confirm his teaching.