16 May 2016


The Pentecost Octave was preserved in the Anglican 1662 [see the rubric attached to the Preface] and Roman 1962 books. In 1662 and in the pre-1955 Roman Rite the Monday and Tuesday were especially privileged; in the older Roman books they are doubles of the first class with the rest of the week at only semidouble rank, while 1662 kept the traditional lections on Monday and Tuesday but returned to the Sunday readings for the rest of the week. This Octave is suitable if Pentecost is regarded as one of the times for Christian Initiation, since the neonati appropriately wore their 'whites' until Saturday and were catechised. It had survived even the pruning of the calendar by Pius XII in 1955, who curiously evened out the week by making every day a double of the first class ... fattening them up, as somebody once said to me, for the slaughter. Its abolition in the post-Conciliar period [by Rome and then, in mindless imitation, by Anglican revisers] finally 'forgets' the baptismal associations of Pentecost and abandons the message of Acts 2: 38-41. Is there a way in which someone who uses the Liturgia Horarum and has a canonical obligation to say the Divine Office, can, without breach of liturgical law, observe the Pentecost Octave?

One could invoke the General Instruction of LH paragraph 245 and repeat the Pentecost office every day up to Saturday as a Votive Office being celebrated devotionis causa. Indeed, modern Vatican Press Ordines Recitandi say that " where the Monday after Pentecost is kept as festive, Mass can be said as yesterday, or a Votive of the Holy Spirit, with Gloria and Credo pro opportunitate; likewise Vespers or even other parts of the Office if celebrated with the people". But in six days the priest - and the people - might get a bit tired of its inflexibility. Of course, one could simply follow the permission given in Summorum Pontificum and use the old Breviary during this week. Is there any reason why one should not continue to fulfil one's canonical obligation through the saying of the LH office, but substitute some offices from the Breviary for some from LH? The Apostolic Constitution Laudis Canticum (Paul VI, 1970), does envisage that permission might be given by Ordinaries to particular clergy, in their private recitation, "Breviarium Romanum, quod antea in usu erat, sive ex toto sive ex parte retinere [to retain the R Breviary ... in part]". One would argue that this is still the law, except that Summorum Pontificum has rendered the "consensus sui Ordinarii" unnecessary (and has not confined the permission, as Paul VI did, to the elderly or those with grave difficulties). So a priest could say Mattins, Lauds, and Vespers from the old book.

Incidentally, Pope Benedict XVI authoritatively made clear that the old Missal was never lawfully abrogated. I presume this is on the grounds that the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of 1969 contained nothing explicit about the new rite being compulsory and exclusive. But Laudis Canticum does say that, after certain dates, only the reformed office is to be used ( ... tantummodo ... adhibenda erit). Does it follow that the old Breviary, unlike the old Missal, was canonically abrogated until Benedict XVI resurrected it?


Protasius said...

Summorum Pontificum, art. 9 § 3, and Universae Ecclesiae, art. 32, seem to me to command that the breviary is to be recited in its entirety and in Latin, if one is to fulfill a canonical obligation. I am unsure what that would mean with regard to celebrations of the Divine Office with the people (e.g. privately reciting the Liturgia Horarum until None, solemnly celebrating Vespers and Compline with the People).

Fr. Butler said...

Hasn't the Ordinariate retained the Octave of Pentecost?

Matthew Roth said...

Yes to the suppression question, but one could claim some form could be used because of the parameters of tradition most especially set by Quo primum. Hence, many trads used pre-1939 but not 1962, seeing that one had tradition while one was clearly suppressed.

I don’t mind the doubles of the first class through the week, though maybe it is a bit much, and we need clarity on abstinence on Friday.

Colin Spinks said...

Dear Father,

A most interesting series of blogs on Pentecost. I've always felt it is a much neglected Feast and anything to give it a greater profile has got to be good news. It is often referred to as the "birthday of the Church", which I have never felt to be quite right. The Eucharistic birthday of the Church might be said to be Maundy Thursday (with an "official birthday" a la Her Majesty on Corpus Christi), but do we not believe that the Eucharist originated at the dawn of time with God's clothing of Adam and Eve in "coats of skins" (Gen. 3.21) and is further typified by the sacrifice of the righteous Abel, and those of Abraham and Melchizedek and the Passover Lamb? It does make sense of course to link our spiritual birth with the coming of the Spirit, but this is itself prefigured in Numbers 11.25f when the Spirit falls on Moses and the 70 Elders and the "outsiders" Eldad and Medad (types of the Gentiles?) Wasn't the original "Pentecost" a commemoration of the Commandments given to Moses, and thus a type of Christ's "New Commandment" closely linked with the promise of the Spirit? Or even the dawn of creation itself, when the "Spirit moved on the face of the waters". As you rightly point out, Pentecost is associated with Baptism, prefigured in the Old Testament by Noah, the Crossing of the Red Sea, Moses smiting the Rock etc. Any of these might be described as "Birthdays" of the Church, and perhaps it might be more accurate to describe Pentecost as the LAST birthday of the Church.

Best wishes,

Colin Spinks