16 June 2019

Sundays after Trinity

In a decree (1759), Clement XIII ordered the Trinity Preface to used on Green Sundays. This supports a strong case for the naming of these Sundays per annum in the old English (and North European) way as Sundays after Trinity.

I draw attention to several points.

The use of the Trinity Preface, or some form of it, is found in the little collection of Masses put together by Alcuin for clergy who could not possess a full Missal; and it is found in the earliesr (preGregorian) version of the Roman Rite, that in the Stowe Missal

The modern emphasis on Sunday as a weekly minipascha is not so much untrue as too narrow. As Clement XIII's document points out, Sunday is also the day of the Creation of Light; indeed, of the beginning of Creation. And also of the Resurrection; and also of the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit. And thus of all three persons of the Holy Trinity.

The same Magisterial document refers to the traditional use on these Sundays of the Quicunque vult. I believe, and have written before on this blog, that the disuse of this Canticle (since the corruption of the Roman Rite really got under way under Pius XII) is one reason why even some clergy don't really seem to have any sense of the Trinity, as defined by Mother Church, any longer - they are, it sometimes appears from their homilies, modalists.

It also reminds us of the antiphon which usually came towards the end of Sunday Mattins: "Two Seraphim cried one to the other *Holy Holy Holy Lord God of Hosts, *All the earth is full of his glory. V Three there are who bear witness in heaven, Father, Word, and Holy Spirit: And these three are one. Holy ... Glory be ... All ...". This lovely text, of course, draws upon the verse in the Vulgate and the Authorised Version (Patrimony Patrimony) in I John; commonly omitted in modern Bibles including the Neovulgate because of its extremely weak attestation in Greek mss..

We need to become very much more robust in embracing the Scriptures as the Church has handed them down to us rather than making an idol of the methodology (with its underlying conceptual assumptions) of Westcott and Hort. (Even in WH terms, I think one could make a case for this verse having been omitted so widely because of parablepsis due to homoeoteleuton.)

We need a reacceptance of a more holistic sense of Tradition ... and a recommitment to the noble crusade of rolling back the 'Enlightenment'.

And finally: Clement XIII, in the actual words of the Decree itself, refers to the use of the Trinity preface on Green Sundays and says "inde a [not 'in'] vetustissimis temporibus in usu fuisse dignoscitur". 

In other words, the Holy Father does not say: I've had a perfectly spiffing idea; let's do so-and-so. He bases what he decrees on Ancient Tradition and Precedent. That is very significant. It is the immemorial Roman instinct for preservation and continuity. We need more of it. Especially in Rome. Not least in the Casa Santa Marta. I wonder if the Quicumque vult has ever been chanted in the chapel there.


Unknown said...

Could you share the name of that decree, for pious reading?

Unknown said...

Sorry to have bothered you, found it.


RWJ Clair said...

Sed Contra, Sundays per annum are referred to as Sundays after Pentecost in both the other Roman-Rite regions of the West, and by the Greek Churches. Pentecost being a more ancient feast, it is more salutary to refer to them as Sundays after Pentecost. The fact that Pope Clement did not refer to these Sundays as "After Trinity" despite his decree of using the Preface of the Trinity afterward reinforces this. Perhaps it is best to think of Trinity Sunday as starting the season "after Pentecost," and thus its preface is used on the future Sundays unless another feast predominates.

Confitebor said...

I agree with you, Father, that I John 5:7 is an authentic Scriptural text, sanctified and confirmed by the centuries of its use in the liturgy. Its biblical manuscript witness may not be strong, but as you say, it's plausible that the text early on dropped out of an important exemplar and so was preserved mostly through the Vulgate.

In his "History of Heresies & Their Refutation," page 394 (2nd ed. 1857, transl. by Bishop Mullock of Newfoundland), St. Alphonsus Liguori deploys I John 5:7 in his extended proof of the distinction of the three Divine Persons (contra Sabellius). In that place, St. Alphonsus writes:

"The Socinians labour hard to oppose this text especially, which so clearly expresses the distinction of the three Divine Persons, and they object that this verse is wanting altogether in many manuscripts, or, at all events, is found only in part; but Estius, in his commentaries on this text of St. John, says, that Robert Stephens, in his elegant edition of the New Testament [i.e. the Codex Stephanus], remarks that, having consulted sixteen ancient copies collected in France, Spain, and Italy, he found that, in seven of them, the words 'in heaven' alone were omitted, but that the remainder of the text existed in full. The Doctors of Louvain collected a great number of manuscripts for the edition of the Vulgate brought out in 1580, and they attest that it was in five alone that the whole text was not found. It is easy to explain how a copyist might make a mistake in writing this verse, for the seventh and eighth verses are so much alike, that a careless copyist might easily mix up one with the other. It is most certain that in many ancient Greek copies, and in all the Latin ones, the seventh verse is either put down entire, or, at least, noted in the margin; and, besides, we find it cited by many of the Fathers, as St. Cyprian, St. Athanasius, St. Epiphanius, St. Fulgentius, Tertullian, St. Jerome, and Victor Vitensis [*] The Council of Trent, above all, in its Decree of the Canonical Scriptures, Sess. IV., obliges us to receive every book of the Vulgate edition, with all its parts, as usually read in the Church: 'If any one should not receive as holy and canonical the entire books, with all their parts, as they are accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church, and contained in the old Vulgate edition . . . let him be anathema.' The seventh verse quoted is frequently read in the Church, and especially on Low Sunday."

This latter argument from the Tridentine decree is a very strong one. I think, though, that St. Alphonsus may have been mistaken in including some of the Fathers as witnesses of the text -- I believe Athanasius and Epiphanius did not quote or refer to this text, nor is it in many other Fathers' writings. But it may have been cited in the editions of those Fathers accessible to St. Alphonsus.

[*] In a footnote St. Alphonsus cites St. Cypr. l. 1, de Unit. Eccl.; St. Ath. l. 1. ad Theoph.; St. Epiph. Haer.; St. Fulg. 1. contra Arian.; Tertull. 1. adv. Prax. 25; St. Hier. (aut Auctor) Prol. ad Ep. Canon Vitens. l. 3. de Pers. Afr.

I haven't tracked down all of these sources, but if I remember correctly St. Cyprian has at least a partial quote of I John 5:7.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mr Clair

I am uncertain what you are claimimg. Are you denying that the rites of Northern Europe, and the Dominican and Carmelite rites still in use, counted these Sundays post Trinitatem? If you are, I think we need references.

Oliver Nicholson said...

The elderly Saint Athanasius
Said, "The Public is always fallacious.
They've made quite a cult
Of my Quicunque Vult
But ignored my selections from Statius".

RWJ Clair said...

Fr Hunwicke,
I wouldn't go so far as to deny any of that. I don't recall seeing specifically that the Dominican and Carmelite Rites count Sundays after Trinity, but I was unclear about Northern Europe--thought I'd specified the Isles and Scandinavia--mea culpa. However, I think that this custom was restricted to these regions, in contrast to the rest of Europe, would suggest that time "after Pentecost" is probably more traditional. I would, again, cite that while Pope Clement did authorise the Preface of the Trinity for this time, he didn't rename the season on that account. Although, perhaps the gesture can reinforce that the two are fundamentally the same season, with the same goals: growth in the Divine Life.

Confitebor said...

Following up on my quote of St. Alphonsus Liguori above, I've found an extended analysis and argument in favor of the authenticity of I John 5:7 at a "KJV-Only" website. The writer of course is chiefly concerned with establishing the textual inerrancy of the Authorised Version -- and exercise in futility, obviously. Even so, his argument is essentially an expanded and much more detailed and documented version of St. Alphonsus' argument. He even cites several patristic sources as witnesses for the Johannine Comma, including some of the same Fathers cited by St. Alphonsus. In some cases, as the writer acknowledges, those are rather "Pseudo-" instead of the Father to whom the text has been attributed, but even when "Pseudo-" the evidence is relevant as testimony that I John 5:7 was present in their text. This writer even provides a good apologetic explaining while some of the Fathers didn't quote this text in their debates with Arians, Sabellians, etc.

Having gone over his extended argument, I say the basis for his position is solid. It would be even stronger if he'd considered liturgical texts as well.