20 May 2018

Pentecost Time

How splendid it is that the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinariate Missal preserve for us this Pentecost Octave which stretches, like the Easter Octave, to Saturday arternoon next. But there is, I fear, something missing in what we have; an omission which undermines the liturgical integrity of Pentecost.

Your Roman Missal, if it preserves the Roman Rite as it was at the beginning of the Pontificate of Pius XII, will show you a Pentecost which begins with a Baptismal Vigil: just as does Easter. The rites are scaled down for Pentecost; there are only six lections: but it is clear that Pentecost is a secondary Baptismal Season. Practically, it was a useful back-up to Easter for those who, for whatever reason, had not received Christian Initation at Easter. But in any case, the association is theologically appropriate, since the Pentecostal Anointing of the Spirit is central to the full rite of Initiation. Dom Gregory 'Patrimony' Dix was, I am convinced, absolutely right to insist that Consignation/Confirmation is not a secondary adjunct to "Water Baptism", but one of the primary elements in Christian Initiation.

(I devoutly trust, by the way, that the Latin Church will not follow the boring old Anglican mistake of regarding Confirmation as an adolescent Rite of Passage, a sort of Christian Bar-Mitzvah; a misunderstanding as pastorally disastrous as it is theologically flawed. It most certainly is nothing whatsoever of the sort.)

The point of the Pentecost Octave is quite simply that it follows on logically from the Baptismal Vigil Liturgy. It is a week in which (as after Easter) the Illuminati wear their Whites (a meaning still, probably, alluded to in the English name Whitsunday). The Eucharistic Celebrant continues through the week to use the form of the Hanc igitur which is said for the newly initiated. On Saturday, the Neonati returned their Whites to the Pontiff; the statio was ad S Petrum in Vaticano.

It is rumoured that Ecclesia Dei has been allowing pre-Pius XII Holy Week Rites. I can see no reason why they would object to a restoration of the Pentecost Vigil. After all, it has been restored ... sort of ... in the Novus Ordo.

(1) The Vigil disappeared under Pius XII; we should never forget that the disintegration of the Classical Roman Rite has Pius XII [if not S Pius X!] for its godfather. The 'Council' and its aftermath merely formed a logical progression of what Pius XII and Mgr Bugnini and others had already enthusiastically set rolling in the 1950s.
(2) The practical problem of administering Confirmation to adolescents, familiar to all Anglican parish clergy, is summed up in the old Anglican joke about one Churchwarden advising another about how to get rid of the bats in his belfry despite the fact that they are a protected species. "We just got the Bishop to climb up the ladder to the bell-chamber and clamber round the bells and confirm every bat he could find. We've never had a single one of them inside the Church since".


vetusta ecclesia said...

I think that in the modern Roman Church in England also Confirmation is rite of passage out of the church door.

Etienne said...

In the Catholic Church in America, Confirmation has been, for a long time and for most kids, "the Sacrament of Exit" from the Church. Just confirm them and never see them again until they want a wedding ceremony. The joke about the bats is repeated over here as well, told to me first by my bishop as he came to preside over the Grand Exit one year. I was an unhappy participant in this farce for over 36 years as a priest. Happily retired.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that many Roman Catholic dioceses have long since characterised Confirmation in just the way you describe. Worse than that, it is often presented simply as the young adults making their own independent commitment to Christ and his Church (talk about Pelagianism!). This is exacerbated by RE programmes in our schools which amount to little more than a weak, secular philosophy of comparative religion, within which it is very easy to relativise the sacraments as Catholic cultural equivalents of various non-Christian rites of passage. Of course, the urgent need for adequate catechesis of our young people and equipping them spiritually with grace to survive and be faithful in these aggressively post-Christian times is a separate issue. But suddenly trying to corral them all in mid-adolescence after years of inadequate formation is an object lesson in closing the door after most of the horses have bolted - in spirit if not quite yet in body.

Paterdorf said...

Father, do you think it at all a possibility that we could return to paedo-confirmation and communion? As a parent of two children under four years of age, I can attest to their need for those sacramental graces, and the receptivity of children to the sacraments. It seems a grave injustice (or at the least imprudent) to withhold full initiation until some distant age when all interest has faded and ecclesial credibility lost, perhaps in part due to a lack of the gifts supplied in confirmation.

John Nolan said...

The Dominicans at Blackfriars, Oxford, did celebrate a Solemn Mass for the Vigil of Pentecost using the older (Dominican) books.

The genius of Summorum Pontificum is that although it refers specifically to the Missal of 1962, it is based on the premise that the Church never suppresses an orthodox and legitimate rite.

We have already seen a revival of the pre-1955 Ordo for Holy Week in some places, and this trend is likely to continue.

Arthur Gallagher said...

Poor leadership, poor catechesis, liturgical innovation, bad hymnody and undue stress on the social aspects of baptisms, first communions and confirmations have each caused the massive defection of young people from the church.

So has the tampering with the calendar, and the suppression of countless popular traditions.

For the poorly catechized, what is left to stick around for once the big bash is over?

Dad29 said...

That rumor about 'pre-1962 Holy Week' --as I heard it, the FSSP had EXCLUSIVE permission from Rome ad experimentum.

Given the proclivity of ICK to do whatever they feel like, and knowing they prefer the older-style Holy Week, too, it would not surprise me to learn that ICK chapels are using that Rite, with or without permission.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

It is a tyrannical idea of papal positivism that insists one must gain Papal approval to either worship right or think straight.

Tradition has already approved of these Sacred Rites but let's just for a second imagine (surely impossible) that a Pope were to be elected who was opposed to Sacred Tradition and insisted that all must celebrate the Lil' Licit Liturgy (Licit because it possesses the bare minimum required to be licit) and not The Real Mass in its many mysterious good, true and beautiful forms.

But that would be an absurdity for our Pope is not a Czar.

Sitsio said...

Father, I would love a further post explaining the theology and proper pastoral application of the Sacrament of Confirmation, if you get a chance?!

Anonymous said...

I echo Stephen Hilgendorf's comment above. My four year old son wants to receive each week. Sometimes he reaches and sometimes he just opens his mouth and sticks his tongue out a little, but he wants to receive Holy Communion. It just about breaks my heart to deny him that.

Bill Murphy said...

Dear Father Hunwicke

As you note, the transformation of the Latin liturgy started more than 50 years before Vatican 2. Dr Carol Byrne wrote a long series of articles detailing the long term revolution which was incubated at places like Maria Laach monastery in the Eifel and at St John's Abbey in Minnesota. For once, it is the Benedictines rather than the Jesuits we can blame. This article is one of that long series hosted at the the same website.


Arsalan Hussain said...

This order is further demonstrated by the Pentecost Sunday fact that the apostles are portrayed sitting calmly occupying places in accordance with their importance and age.