Coming clean

OK. So last night I was tired, still a little festal after the keeping of the Solemnity of St Benedict, and feeling a little mischievous. For some reason I was almost looking forward to a stream of hate mail, or at least a stream of opprobrium. It’s one of the areas in which I am touchiest when it comes to the blogosphere.

So it is time to come clean.

One tendency in our day that I find difficult is the transferring of solemnities to more convenient days. It is especially offensive to pious hearts when the days transferred have weighty historical and/or biblical reasons for being kept when they are set to be kept. Thus the Ascension belongs on the proper Thursday and not on the nearest convenient Sunday, to suit those who could not be bothered to make the extra effort to get to Mass on the proper day itself (and if they have a real reason for not getting to Mass they are excused – it is not a merciless system). Likewise with Epiphany, and even the Immaculate Conception. You get the idea.

So I am of the camp that says we should keep solemnities on their proper days, come hell or high water. It is the luck of the calendrical draw. Saving, of course, if they fall in the Triduum. That was my position.

However the discovery that the East keeps the Annunciation even when it falls on Good Friday—and with a Mass no less—has arrested my attention. The Annunciation, too, has serious claim to be kept on its proper date, 9 months before the Nativity. What a profoundly unsettling yet fruitful conjunction when they coincide.

So to put my cards on the table and to play no more games: keep Easter as it is reckoned and has been for centuries in the Church; keep all solemnities on their proper days except if they fall in the Triduum; and even then, should the Annunciation coincide with Good Friday, maybe there is something to be said for keeping the Annunciation even then, as it is the feast of our Lord’s Incarnation, the enabler of the central mystery of the Passion and Resurrection of the God-man by which we are saved.

That is one radical change I would like to hear more about…

7 thoughts on “Coming clean

  1. I’ve been arguing for the last ten days about NOT moving Easter. There are so many good reasons that you’ve mentioned. I also think that the joy of the lunar and solar calendars is that they work independently of each other, thus causing these exciting problems. Problems that upset the worldly view of things. Like a stone in my shoe, it niggles me and makes me think of the important things. And it is a good thing for the secular world to dance – once again – to ‘our’ tune!

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  2. Hugh, my birthday is on Jan 6th which was always celebrated on the actual day till 1969 in Australia when it was moved to the nearest Sunday being such an important feast. My parents, grandmother and aunt were really cheesed off. My consolation though is the fact that the Epiphany in Bavaria and Austria is still held on Jan 6th and for the last 19 years I have celebrated my birthday as a soloist in Salzburg Cathedral and I can think of no better way to celebrate my birthday in this beautiful city, cathedral and with the Dommusik. Literally the perfect day.

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  3. Hugh, somehow my post got lost.

    My birthday is on Jan 6th and we always went to morning mass as it was the Epiphany. My family were totally cheesed off when the y moved the Feast to the nearest Sunday in I think 1969?

    My consolation for the last 20 years has been the fact that the Epiphany is still celebrated on Jan 6th in Bavaria and Salzburg. I have been soloist in the Cathedral just about every year on this day singing the beautiful Schubert Mass in Bb and singing the 2nd verse as a duet of Silent Night in the Salzburg version. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIwKw9Bpfqw

    But I never liked the idea of moving feasts from their actual day but in non Catholic countries it seems the best option so the feast is celebrated with good numbers in the congregation.

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  4. Well said Father. The Church is being dumbed-down to satisfy those lazy Catholics who cannot be bothered. Perhaps if churches had a morning & evening Mass of the correct days there would be little excuse for anyone not to get to Mass. You can even watch your favourite TV programme (which you may miss by going to evening Mass) on Catch Up TV!!!!

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