Thursday, 8 May 2008

Octave Day of the Ascension...once upon a time


As we contemplate the prospect of further calendar crunching, I thought it was worth noting that prior to 1962, this was the Octave Day of the Ascension.

Assorted revisions have cleaned out most octaves these days, which is a great shame in my view. But this year, it being a feria in the Roman calendar, it is of course possible to celebrate a votive Mass of the Ascension to mark this great feast at least informally.

We've seen a consistent trend to the reduction of liturgical diversity and richness over the last few centuries - Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year highlights this for the Ascension by quoting some of the rather beautiful but long suppressed sequences composed for the octave, as well as prayers for the Ascension from the Mozarabic rite (preserved now in 'updated' form in two parishes in Toledo).

In response to the Reformation the case for liturgical unity was clear - unity of language and rubrics ensured orthodoxy and assisted in defining catholic identity. None of those factors have become less important today, quite the reverse!

All the same, I can't help hoping that in the longer term at least one possible good that could be brought out of the Novus Ordo reforms (as the novus ordo itself is consigned to the dustbin of history) in the longer term is something of a reversal of this trend. I'm not suggesting the particular multiple choices of canon etc in the novus ordo are a good thing - but the idea of liturgical diversity, it seems to me, potentially is.

And of course, the Motu Proprio is a recognition of this.
It is surely one of the stranger aspects of the last forty years that even as more options have been added to the Mass, seemingly pointing to a tolerance of diversity, there has been a consistent effort to suppress or homogenise the rites of the various religious orders and remaining active Western non-Roman rites.

There is an interesting discussion going in Fr Z's blog on the negotiations with the Traditional Anglican Communion:
It has some particular relevance to Australia inasmuch as there is a significant group of them in Brisbane (and a few other places), which could have some interesting effects on the balance of forces in that diocese between those traditionally inclined when it comes to liturgy, and liberals (depending of course on what kind of structure they end up operating under).

But it did occur to me that the solution to their liturgical issues might be to bring back the Sarum Rite.

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