Well, we are into the Season in Ordinary T... ... no, let us not go down that path, consecrated as it is to the inculcation of Dreariness. Neither let us call the next twenty-odd Sundays "after Pentecost", even though that was, I admit, the old Anglo-Saxon custom and the habit of the Byzantines and of the Missal of S Pius V. We of God's own Ordinariates call them the Sundays after Trinity ... how evocative that phrase is of parochial English summer Sundays as I knew them in the 1960s, of the poppies red around the ripening cornfields, of the smell of baking hay, of putting ones cassock back on after a drowsy and vinous afternoon and, as the ringers started up for Evensong, strolling back across to church to dive into a 'Sarum' surplice and to flip the red silk of an MA hood over ones head and Dearly beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us ... down to Illumina quaesumus Domine tenebras nostras ... or however it is that Cranmer translated that old Roman collect.
Cranmer also preserved the Sarum custom, prevalent all over Northern Europe, of calling these Sundays post Trinitatem. I have always felt that 'After Pentecost' has an activism subliminally within it; as if we are thinking all the time about what the Holy Ghost is inspiring us to do next. After Trinity, however, suggests adoration. The exquisite Reading at Mass in Northern Europe on Trinity Sunday (continued throughout this 'Trinity Week' in Northern Europe, and preserved in the Book of Common Prayer) was Revelation 4, with its tremendously, ecstatically, 'doxological' conclusion. One feels in need of a rest, a pause, a silence, after reading it! How exhausting it must have been, to be a Seer!
And the Athanasian Creed, ordered to be used on Sunday morning, said: fides Catholica haec est: ut unum Deum in Trinitate, et Trinitatem in unitate veneremur ... ita ut Trinitas in unitate veneranda sit. I never could even begin to understand those clergy, poor things, who disliked having to "think of something to say" on Trinity Sunday.
And consider the logic of the proper Preface of the Trinity, which Tradition encourages us to use on all these Sundays. What we believe of the glory of Father, Son, and Spirit is the ground for our adoration of the majesty of the undivided Godhead; a majesty which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim praise; who cease not daily to cry out, with one voice saying Holy Holy Holy. The mystery of the true and everlasting Godhead and the distinction in persons and the unity in essence and the equality in majesty are the object of the worship which we are privileged to offer, in eternity but already here in time, with all the company of heaven.
And on Saturday evenings we prepare for Sunday in the words of the ancient Office Hymn which John Mason 'Patrimony' Neale translated as
O Trinity of blessed light,
O Unity of princely might,
The fiery sun goes now his way;
Shed thou within our hearts thy ray.
To thee our morning song of praise,
To thee our evening prayer we raise,
Thy glory suppliant we adore
For ever and for evermore.
All laud to God the Father be;
All praise, eternal Son, to thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the holy Paraclete.
8 June 2020
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Reading that John Mason Neale hymn reminded me of happy days as an altar server in the Episcopal Church (pre Tiber swim) particularly one day where for some reason we were holding Evensong at the (Episcopal) Diocesan Cathedral in Philadelphia and we used so much incense we set off the smoke alarms. I suspect the Cathedral had not had much experience with incense given that the Bishop was particularly "low church" in temperament. Anyway once the alarms had been taken care of we sang that beautiful hymn.
Dear Reverend Fr.
“ . . . of parochial English Summer Sundays as I knew them in the 1960s, of the poppies red around the ripening cornfields, of the smell of baking hay, of putting ones Cassock back on after a drowsy and vinous afternoon and, as the ringers started up for Evensong, strolling back across to Church to dive into a 'Sarum' Surplice . . .”
Thank you for this magnificent Posting. It reassured one, so much, of what things were like prior to “the 60s' Revolution and VAT II”.
The only thing missing was a reference to “the sound of Willow on a Cricket Ball on The Village Green”.
With such stonking Postings, such as yours, those memories will never be lost.
Rest assured that, from now on, one will always say: “such and such Sunday AFTER TRINITY”.
There is a simpler explanation for your preference Father: Sundays after Trinity is poetic in a way that Sundays after Pentecost is not.
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