Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Liturgical Year and the sanctification of time

Pic: NLM May 19, 2007.
Happy New Year. Mm, well the Church New Year began weeks ago in Advent.

Recent changes in the Church calendar are not without problems. Yes it was good to add a number of new saints into the calendar and have them celebrated,.
However, radical structural reform to the Liturgical Calendar , such as moving important Feast days like Christ the King to different days have caused and at times signified changes in belief.

In the last few years, the transfer of Holy Days of Obligation to the nearest Sunday has contributed to the secularisation of time. There was plenty of pressure on from the surrounding culture to do that already without the Catholic bishops of Ireland and of Britain contributing to this effect.

Changing the calendar not only caused a rupture with traditional calendar of the Church but also added to break with Anglican tradition who more or less held to old Roman calendar.

Currently, under Pope Benedict's moto proprio, in the one Roman rite, there are now two calendars at work. I think it is best to go back to the traditional Roman Calendar to avoid confusion and conflict. It shall be another important movement in the the Benedictine reform of the reform. It can also show new rite of Mass is in organic continuity with traditional liturgical practice of the Church.

Senior Church prelates such as Cardinal George in the US has pointed out the niaviety and harm changing the Church calendar has done.

Cardinal George in 2003 said:
Liturgical renewal after the Council, he suggested, had shown in hindsight a "kind of naive innocence", with inadequate "thought being given to what happens in any community when its symbol system is disrupted."

The liturgical calendar was an example. For since the Liturgy "is the place where time and eternity meet", changing the liturgical calendar, he said, "means to change our way of relating to God".

This can flow over to thinking on doctrinal matters. "Pastorally, every bishop has been asked: 'Since we no longer recognise certain saints on the Church's calendar, why can't the Church correct her teaching on sexual morality, on women's ordination and on other difficult doctrines?'"

He continued: "A change in space, in architecture and in the placement of altars and other liturgical furnishings has similar effect, as has a change in language, which carries and conditions our thinking and evaluating. A change in Liturgy changes the context of the Church's life.

Interestingly as Fr Ray Blake of Mary Magdalene blog pointed out that "Protestant hatred of the Blessed Virgin ended the start of traditional English New Year on Lady Day, the Feast of the Annunciation, 25th March, the hangover from that was the start of the Tax Year, a few days later, from 1st April."

He was corrected by a commentor who said:
Father, I am sorry to be a pedant but the tax year starts on 6th April. This came about when Britain adopted the Gregorian Calendar in September 1752. Because of the differences between the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the delay in Britain adopting the new calendar, this required a correction of 11 days, 2nd September 1752 being followed not by 3rd September but by 14th.

After 1753, the British tax year in Britain continued to operate on the Julian calendar and began on 5 April, which was the "Old Style" new year's day of 25 March. A 12th skipped Julian leap day in 1800 changed its start to 6 April. It was not changed when a 13th Julian leap day was skipped in 1900, so the tax year in the United Kingdom still begins on 6 April.

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