Saturday, January 3, 2009

Two liturgical calendars

Calendar above which makes reference to both traditional and new rite liturgical dates aptly illustrates the contradictions and problems caused by having two liturgical calendars.

Well-known blogger, Fr Z. highlights some of the signals sent out by moving Holy Days of Obligation to the Sunday here.

The Roman Station for Epiphany is San Pietro in Vaticano. The only problem is that Epiphany in the Vatican is celebrated on 6 January, when it ought to be. In the rest of the world, sadly, Epiphany is moved around, thus obliterating it’s fixed character in relation to Christmas Day......

The celebration of Epiphany stretches back to the Church’s earliest times. In the Greek East, Epiphany was of far greater importance than Christmas, which was a relative latecomer. In the Latin West, Christmas developed first, and Epiphany later.

In many countries people exchange gifts on Epiphany, in imitation of the Magi with their gifts. Epiphany truly falls on 6 January, the twelfth day after Christmas, as in “On the Twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”, and also the title of Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night. In the reformed, post-Conciliar calendar Epiphany is usually transferred to a Sunday, so that more people can attend the Mass.

I think it is a mistake to transfer important feasts like Epiphany, in Christmastide, and Ascension Thursday in Eastertide. These feasts are pegged to the great celebrations of Christmas and Easter for a reason. When we transfer these feasts to Sunday, we diminish the meaning of the liturgical year. By making our obligations as Catholics ever more lax and easier to fulfill, a subtle signal is sent that none of our obligations, practices or teachings are important enough to warrant a place and, at times, sacrifice in our daily lives.

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