11 August 2010

Ash Wednesday is being moved to Tuesday

You don't believe me? Well, pick up your copies of the Editio Tertia Missalis Romani and turn to the tables on page 117 giving the dates for major days over the next few decades. And check the dates of Ash Wednesday in 2012, 2016 ...etc.. You will discover that in the mad, bad world of Novus Ordo liturgical periti, in Leap Years Ash Wednesday occurs on Tuesday. I thought of saving this up on my blog for next April 1 ... but, well, it's not funny, is it?

This piece of daftness first impinged on me when I was compiling my ORDO for 2008, but I thought the mistake there was a one-off misprint. (We are all fallible. The first thing that happens when I open a nice newly printed copy of my own ORDO is that I spot three misprints.) It was only recently, as I did my first Year's Plan for the 2012 ORDO, that it dawned on me that there was a structural error in the tables in Missale Romanum, probably relating to somebody's incapacity to handle the mathematical subtleties of bissextilitas. Silly me. I should have realised that the illatinate incompetents who staff CDW would be innumerate as well ... after all, such people seem to have trouble counting forty days from Easter so as find Ascension Day. (Have I uncovered the real reason why Papa Ratzinger, crafty fellow, put the Ecclesia Dei Commission under CDF rather than CDW? What a mercy it is that Ordinariates also will come under CDF - thanks to the wisdom of the Holy Father.)

This sort of thing is not peculiar to the RCC. When the Anglican Liturgical Commission, under the influence of the self-confident Bubbles Stancliffe*, tried to do some fancy innovatory footwork with the "Epiphany Season", making it like the Easter Season by calling the Sundays of rather than after Epiphany, nobody realised that when January 6 was itself a Sunday, their whole silly game would collapse into lectionary chaos. To be philosophical about all this, it's the result in practical terms of a liturgical culture of discontinuity. When years just roll comfortably on, changing liturgically, if at all, only slowly and organically, problems only rarely crop up and when they do there are seasoned experts in charge with eagle eyes who spot them and make early and accurate provision. When a lot of not-very-clever people with an exaggerated idea of their own capacity for brilliant innovation get their hands on a tiller after redrawing all the maps, the next thing that is going to happen is that they will start trying to navigate their beautifully designed boat across the broad and deep waters of the Sahara.

There was an early example of this in 1955, when the first Bugnini Commission put together a decree 'simplifying' the rubrics. They made such an appalling hash of their job that when those humble, despised, practicioners and workers in the Lord's vineyard, the Compilers of ORDOs worldwide, started trying to give effect to what the Great Men had decided, Rome was inundated with hundreds of puzzled enquiries (dubia). One lot of answers in AAS (47, 1955, 418-419) failed to hold back the avalanche, and they tried then to save face by hiding their next load of corrections away in the pages of Ephemerides Liturgicae instead (70, 1956, 44-49). The entire episode was a foretaste of horrors to come.

As I've explained to you so often before, printing+committees=liturgical disaster.


*Bubbles Stancliffe is soi-disant Bishop of Salisbury. I put it like that because I am, as far as the See of Salisbury is concerned, a sedevacantist. He was originally one of us; got a mitre after deserting us; then turned nasty against us. In the last General Synod, when the archbishops were making their flawed but well-meaning attempt to create a Canterbury Ordinariate by stealing the Holy Father's idea of shared jurisdiction, Bubbles' contribution was to propose that bishops serving traditionalist parishes should be restricted to solely liturgical functions (he failed ignominiously). He's incredibly High Church in the very worst sense of those words.


Steve said...

And in respect of what other diocesan sees in the C of E are you a sedevacantist, Father?

Anonymous said...

"Ash Wednesday is being moved to Tuesday"

Oh, pooh! That means Monday is going to be that much more buggered up in preparations. Only some b!%@dy liturgical "genius" without a family or a real job could have thought this one up. And when do they propose we fast?

Rubricarius said...

I'd wager the reason is that some bright spark in CDW used an algorithm programme available on the Web to find the date of Easter and other moveable feasts rather than getting out his pen, paper and calculator.

Yours truly also 'cheated' by using the same thing when I provided the data for a table in Farnborough Abbey's 1963 Monastic Diurnal - very ecumenical of me. Only later was it pointed out to me that the algorithm programme needed correction in leap years.

Now I always start off with the BCP tables and work out the Golden Number and Dominical letter from there.

Having said that my 2004 printing of the Missale Romanum editio tertia etc has the correct dates for Ash Wednesday 2012 and 2016.

Peregrinus said...

Does this mean that we can sing Evensong on Monday morning so as not to interfere with Lundi Gras pancakes? Oh how this is going to upset things in Rio!