24 March 2020

Our Lady and Passiontide

There is, I think, a little puzzlement, particularly among the liturgically literate, about the decision to rededicate this Kingdom of England to our Lady on Passion Sunday. O'Connell austerely remarks that, in Passiontide, "images are not to be uncovered on any pretext". Whichever apparatchik in the CBCEW bureaucracy induced Their Lordships to select this day must, surely, have been a rabid (but not unhumorous) anti-traditionalist. It would be jolly to find out who s/he was and to start a campaign to weed them out ... no;  I'm joking. I think I'm only joking ...

Amusingly, there are precedents for celebrating our Lady in Passiontide. After all, Friday after Passion Sunday would have been the celebration of the Dolorosa if the 1962 rite had been rather less ungenerous.

But I am principally alluding to middle-of-the-road Anglican precedents.

The Book of Common Prayer gives no instructions about what to do if the Annunciation falls on Good Friday or Passion Sunday.

There is some evidence that clergy of a certain brand of Churchmanship (how splendid it is that Roman Catholics now know what this nice old Anglican term means) preached on a combination of the Passion and of the Annunciation when such collisions occurred.

Because of the way the Calendar operates, there were during the Tractarian/Ritualist periods unusual clusters of years when such a combination presented itself. The Annunciation occurred on Good Friday in 1842, 1853, and 1864. It happened on Passion Sunday in 1849, 1855, and 1860.

In addition to those opportunities for preaching on the subject of our Lady's Sorrows, the "Three Hour Devotion" became popular in 'moderate' Anglican circles in the earlier twentieth century. One of the Seven Last Words which the homilist needed to expound was, of course, the Ecce Mater.

(This service was invented after an earthquake in Lima, Peru, by some Jesuit called Messia, and  reached Rome in 1788. In 1815 Pius VII even indulgenced it. Younger readers may need to be informed that, in those days, the Good Friday Mass of the Presanctified happened in the morning, and so the period from noon onwards was enticingly vacant. Anti-Catholic Anglican bishops were furious with their 'extreme' clergy who restored the Mass of the Presanctified, despite its very primitive origins and its Byzantine analogues. Their Lorships never tried to secure adherence to the elegant but austere Prayer Book provisions for Good Friday, but, although sarcastically heckled by Dom Gregory Dix, instead encouraged the Hispanic and Jesuit confection of The Three Hours. A quick flip through The Alternative Service Book, Lent Holy Week and Easter, and Common Worship has revealed not a surviving whisper of this once almost universal paraliturgy. In their 1989 book on The Sacrament of Easter, Roger Greenacre and Herr Flick of the Gestapo referred ironically to the previous "surprising popularity" of the Peruvian Jesuit Three Hours.)

A practical suggestion: since the Not very nice Ordo does not peremptorily require the veiling of images during Passiontide, in churches where both versions of the Roman Rite are in use, our Lady could, just this year and for the Rededication, be left unveiled ... thus using visual symbolism to mark and emphasise this special year ...


Nicolas Bellord said...

Many years ago in Mauritius one of the very poor locals informed me that one of the advantages of Lent was that as the statues of saints were veiled they would not be able to see that he had put nothing in the collection plate.

StMichael said...

I celebrated a couple of years ago in our Byzantine church the very fascinating case of Annunciation, followed by the Good Friday liturgy. Our typikon mandated the celebration of Divine Liturgy before the entombment Vespers service. Very odd.

frjustin said...

The "Non admodum grata Ordo" peremptorily requires the absence of the faithful from public worship in most churches of the world. To paraphrase St John Henry Newman, "The churches will look foolish without them".

frjustin said...

Correction: that should be "gratus", of course. I was lapsing into Portuguese, where "Ordem" is feminine.

Vincent 1967 said...

I'm told that in England in 1586, under the Julian calendar, Good Friday occurred on the 25th March. It was on that day that St Margaret Clitherow was martyred. That fact always moves me greatly.

Oliver Nicholson said...

Third nouns masculine prefer
Endings -o, -or, -os, and -er,
Add to which the ending -es
If its cases have increase.

Is there any truth in the notion that these great verses were written by Dr. Kennedy's daughters ?

frjustin said...

John Donne has something "Upon the Annunciation and Passion Falling upon One Day" 1608

Tamely, frail body, abstain today; today
My soul eats twice, Christ hither and away.
She sees Him man, so like God made in this,
That of them both a circle emblem is,
Whose first and last concur; this doubtful day
Of feast or fast, Christ came and went away;
She sees Him nothing twice at once, who’s all;
She sees a Cedar plant itself and fall,
Her Maker put to making, and the head
Of life at once not yet alive yet dead;
She sees at once the virgin mother stay
Reclused at home, public at Golgotha;
Sad and rejoiced she’s seen at once, and seen
At almost fifty and at scarce fifteen;
At once a Son is promised her, and gone;
Gabriel gives Christ to her, He her to John;
Not fully a mother, she’s in orbity,
At once receiver and the legacy;
All this, and all between, this day hath shown,
The abridgement of Christ’s story, which makes one
(As in plain maps, the furthest west is east)
Of the Angels’ Ave and Consummatum est.
How well the Church, God’s court of faculties,
Deals in some times and seldom joining these!
As by the self-fixed Pole we never do
Direct our course, but the next star thereto,
Which shows where the other is and which we say
(Because it strays not far) doth never stray,
So God by His Church, nearest to Him, we know
And stand firm, if we by her motion go;
His Spirit, as His fiery pillar doth
Lead, and His Church, as cloud, to one end both.
This Church, by letting these days join, hath shown
Death and conception in mankind is one:
Or ‘twas in Him the same humility
That He would be a man and leave to be:
Or as creation He had made, as God,
With the last judgment but one period,
His imitating Spouse would join in one
Manhood’s extremes: He shall come, He is gone:
Or as though the least of His pains, deeds, or words,
Would busy a life, she all this day affords;
This treasure then, in gross, my soul uplay,
And in my life retail it every day.

– John Donne

George said...

A couple of years ago, I published on my blog a way, inspired from the Byzantine rite, of combining the Good Friday with Lady Day: link here. As for the Mass, it can easily be adapted from Palm Sunday, but the other way round. In short: the first part of the Presanctified Mass could take place up to the veneration of the cross; afterwards the introit of the Annunciation with the rest, and the Preface of the cross. See also Prof. Eleanor Parker's excellent article This doubtful day of feast or fast: Good Friday and the Annunciation.