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…

Getting radical on the dating of Easter

Yesterday I had the rare privilege of celebrating conventual Mass in the abbey church for the Annunciation (transferred from 25 March, of course, since it fell in Holy Week this year). It is normally the prior’s day, but the prior is ill, so muggins was on deck in loco prioris.

In thinking about what to say I was struck by the fact that this year the Annunciation fell on Good Friday. This last happened in 2005, but will not happen again for another 141 years. So we will never live to see this liturgical collision again. Or will we?

Continue reading “Getting radical on the dating of Easter”