Friday, June 13, 2014

Pentecost: Old Rite, EF & OF

A correspondent and I were recently musing over the abolition of the vivacious, rich, and Paschal-like Roman vigil Mass of Pentecost in the "EF" rite, the 1962 liturgy. As one familiar with both the Pauline and the Pian/Johannine books will know, the 1970 books removed much ancient material and yet, in a twist of irony, re-inserted some other texts and rites that were cast aside under Pius XII. Pentecost exemplifies this queer phenomenon.

In 1951 Pius XII created the Easter Vigil as we know it today. He and his commission revised it the following year. Originally the Easter Vigil eliminated Vespers entirely in favor of a Communion verse. The renovators put psalm 116 back into the rite in 1952, but turned it into Lauds (????) and scrapped Compline, Mattins, and [real] Lauds. Also in 1952 celebration of the Pentecost vigil was automatically suppressed whenever the Easter Vigil had been celebrated, likely to avert Catholics from the fact that the sacred rites of Pentecost resembled most closely the sacred rites of Holy Saturday. Everyone would favor the shorter, easier Pian novelty, making the elimination of the old rite's unique ceremonies seamless.

Now the Pauline Missal allowed for an "extended" Pentecost vigil Mass with four Old Testament prophecies, something of a restoration in principle, although given the very different Ordo Missae one can hardly call it a complete restoration. Buyer's remorse?

Then there is the elimination of the octave in the Pauline rite, preserved in the 1962 rite. It was the second most important, and certainly the most beautiful, octave after that of Pascha. My correspondent did note the logic in axing the octave, that Pentecost is the 50th day and not the 51st, 52nd, 53rd etc. I would respond by noting that an octave is an extended celebration of one feast and that Pentecost, above any other feast, deserves an octave celebration. It is the Holy Spirit creating and re-creating for the first time since the creation of the world. The Resurrection happened on the eighth day of the week and Pentecost, as I said two posts ago, makes the Resurrection permanent in the world. The plunging of the Paschal fire into the Baptismal font means all who bath in the waters of regeneration are plunged into the Resurrection. We eventually agreed upon the matter.

Why does it have to be one or the other? Why must we have either the old Ordo and octave with no vigil or the new Ordo with a vigil and no octave? Were I a parish priest, and I am certainly not, I would not have the slightest hesitation about observing the un-reformed vigil and the full octave!

1 comment:

  1. Well no one can say the net ain't edgy. I tried to preview what I had just written. It told me it was publishing but seems to have plumped for deletion. As we were saying. ...

    Both Easter and Whitsun are special seven day octaves. One wonders if they were eight in past millenniums. We know Trinity Sunday is a newer feast but both low Sunday and Pentecost 1 are departures from the seven festal days proceeding.

    I got to the Ember Friday mass with a friend after some travel. Standard shaped mass - by 1960 only? Travel on the Saturday proved impossible so I went to a Sat evening mass and opened my 1960 missal. I had forgotten the five lessons before the Gloria and epistle - the last of which repeated from Advent. I just managed to read the whole thing before the canon while all around was novus ordo.
    So the Saturday After the Pentecost vigil is a mass with readings like the vigil - with collects but alleluias instead of tracts. Seems to be the vigil that is echoed an octave later.
    I also wondered if the theme of this ember day - fasting - in a big way - was a western counterpart to the Byzantine rite kneeling prayers that function to signal to the faithful that the special privileges of Eastertide are now over.
    That's all I had but it is clear from just reading a (slightly more) traditional missal that a "vigil" consisting of more readings collects and sung verses added to the standard mass was a (fairly?) widespread practice.

    Also looking at the end of Pascaltide, actually mourning the loss of the Vidi aquam since Sunday. Everyone who hasn't heard it sung this year has my personal sympathy. Go on. Read it one mo' time...
    You are quite right, and as the Whitsunday Gospel signals but you put it rather well, Pentecost confirms Pascha permanently for all the baptised. That's comforting! Thank you.