19 September 2009


According to the Book of Common Prayer, the Missal of S Pius V, my Ordo, and the admirable S Lawrence Ordo, today is the Saturday of the the September Ember Days, or 'Quater Tense' as I have heard them called (Quatuor Tempora, Latin for 'Four Times'). We observe them on the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after Holy Cross Day. But the silly old C of E Common Worship moved them to the week before the Sunday nearest to Michaelmass - which would be next week.

At this point my eye strays to the Gricigliano Calendar hanging, for its nice pickies, beside my computer. Di immortales! There I see that the Institute is keeping these Ember Days on the Common Worship date. I find this highly mysterious. Does anybody know the reason? As an Anglican Catholic I feel I have to warn them that this is a slippery slope which will end up with Women Priests (just imagine them in the blue pompoms!) and Episcopussies (apologies to Professor Tighe for not using his rather clever flaminicae).

In am not often moved to miss my breakfast, but after all those readings and collects about fasting in this morning's EF Mass (I said that option), and the fact that today is also the anticipated Vigil of S Matthew, I was shamed into doing so.

I shall make up later when the news comes through that Good S Januarius has liquefied. I hope Neapolitan readers will keep me informed.


William said...
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William said...

That's in accordance with the rubric in the 1962 missal (De Anno et eius Partibus):
"Quatuor Tempora celebrantur quarta et sexta feria ac sabbato … post dominicam tertiam septembris."

I don't know when (or why) this change was made. My Pius X missal says (as expected) "post Festum Exaltationis sanctæ Crucis". And the 10th edition (1956) of Ritual Notes (which I assume would have taken into account any change in the Roman rubrics) likewise says September 14th.

But at least the Pentecost Ember days are still in place, instead of being moved to what CW bizarrely claims is the "traditional" date of "the week before … the Sunday nearest to 29 June." Further evidence, were it needed, that they wouldn't recognise "tradition" (much less "Tradition") if it hit them in the face.

Rubricarius said...

In the 1961 truncated Breviary the first Sunday of the months August to November is the first Sunday that occurs on or after the 1st day of that month.

Prior to 1961 the first Sunday was the Sunday closest to the 1st of the month so, this year, the first Sunday of September was actually on August 30th. This means that those using the '1962' Breviary will have had different Scripture lessons to what the Church traditionally has used i.e. out by a week for the entire month. In October they will be in 'synch' again.

This rational change to the Calendar means that the Ember Days may, or may not fall in the same week as in the Old Rite. In years like this the Ember Days end a week later. As the 1962 books were used for such a short period that, along with the reduction of fasting, probably accounted for their demise

William said...

Fascinating! So if I've worked it out correctly, prior to 1961, defining the Ember Days in relation to Holy Cross Day had exactly the same effect as if they had been defined in relation to the third Sunday of the month: in either case, the first Ember Day would have been the Wednesday within the period 15–21 September; whereas, post 1961, it changed to 18–24 September.

William Tighe said...

Willis may discuss this in one of the essays in his *Essays in Early Roman Liturgy* (1962).

Rubricarius said...

Fr. William,

Yes, the Exaltation of the Cross is co-incidental in the pre-1961 liturgy to the calculation: the September Ember Days are the Weds, Fri & Sat after the third Sunday of September.

Professor Tighe,

Very amusing. May I suggest a better title: 'Essays in Roman Litury past its Sell-By Date.'

William said...

And there was I naïvely supposing that there was some great significance to the fact that Holy Cross Day and the Feast of S. Lucy were defined as the reference points for the September and December Ember Days – while all along it was just a coincidence of the calendar. Ho hum. Disillusion and bathos seem to be the lot of one's middle years.

Gengulphus said...

…the Exaltation of the Cross is co-incidental in the pre-1961 liturgy to the calculation

In most pre-1961 liturgies of the western church the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was not coincidental to the calculation of the autumn Ember Days, it was essential - as many pneumonics Latin and vernacular bear witness.

Post Luciam Cineres post Sanctum Pneuma Crucemque Tempora dat quatuor feria quarta sequens

The Ven Bede (to quote one example out of many) knew well enough that the rule that the autumn Ember Days were spancelled to Holy Cross Day. He doesn't appear to have payed the remotest attention to which 'Sunday in September' they followed.

Rubricarius said...

Ah, but Genugulphus it is precisely because of where the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross fall, as Fr. William demonstrates, in relation to the weeks of September. The feast may, as you state, have been perceived as essential, but the real issue was the third (mattins) week of September.streference to the September Ember Days. Advent and the reference to St. lucy will work but not the September Ember Days in the 1962 rubbish.

William said...

This has been most illuminating; but the question remains, what should a (traditionalist) Anglican do about the Ember Days? Sticking with the BCP (=pre-1961 Roman) definition is, I now see, tying oneself to an understanding of Sundays of the month which no-one now uses. Does one go with the short-lived 1961 redefinition? The ASB/CW "traditional" (sic) dates? (Or must one regretfully accept that the confusion is itself a sign that the Ember Days are to all intents and purposes dead?)

I look forward to Fr H grappling with this issue in his 2011 Ordo!

Rubricarius said...

Fr. William,

One of the greatest scandals in CW, IMHO, is the absolute stupidity of O Sapientia on December 17th. For Heaven's Sake nearly all of the English uses had that on December 16th so why ditch a venerable heritage?

But I tangent. You would be incorrect to state 'no one uses' the older system of calculating the first Sunday of the month. I am pleased to say one of the effects of Summorum Pontificum, and rather ironically, is that sale of the Ordo I compile are booming. The number of people keeping the traditional Ember Days may be a tiny fraction of Christians but they do exist!