Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Thoughts on the Easter Octave from Fr Hunwicke

Speaking of the Byzantine Rite, the wise Fr Hunwicke has posted some excellent observations (as always) on the relationship between the Octave of Easter and the rest of the Easter season.
The post-Conciliar reforms made much of Easter being 50 days long and being one single Great Day of Feast. They renamed the Sundays as ‘of Easter’ rather than ‘after Easter’, and chucked out the old collects for the Sundays after Easter ... because they didn’t consider them ‘Paschal’ enough. To replace them, they cobbled together a set of collects which was substantially new. They gave their game away by transferring the Collect for the Sunday after Easter (with its talk about now having finished the festa Paschalia) to the Saturday before Pentecost.
... It certainly seems to be true that the reforms of the 1970s represented a new divergence between the customs of West and of East: by leveling out Eastertide we lost the ecumenical practice, which we shared with Orthodoxy, of marking the unique character of this one very special week by allowing it to retain a whole lot of unique (mostly archaic) liturgical features. The Byzantines delightfully call it ‘Bright Week’ ... and they make the service each day to be completely unlike that of any other week of the year. One example in our Western idiom of thus making Easter week ‘strange’ was the traditional Western disuse of Office Hymns during this week; in place of them and of other elements in the Office, we used simply to sing the anthem Haec dies. Considering the enthusiasm with which the ‘reformers’ orientalised so much of the Roman Rite, it seems extraordinary that in other respects, such as this one, their concern was to drag the West out of a usage common to both of the Church’s ‘lungs’. But then, they always did what suited their whimsy.
There is an even profounder ‘ecumenical’ aspect to this question. S Paul assumes the familiarity of his largely Gentile Corinthian congregation with the Jewish usages of a seven-day Passover Festival celebration ... This suggests that the Paschalia festa, that is, of Easter Sunday until Easter Saturday, represent not only Apostolic practice but are part of the immemorial continuities linking the Old Israel with the New. Which would make the post-Conciliar alterations seem even more irresponsibly capricious ...
Read the whole piece over at “Fr Hunwicke’s Mutual Enrichment.”

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