Sunday, June 05, 2005

After Pentecost is hardly Ordinary - or is it?

Now that we have passed the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary we are here in the Sundays after Pentecost.

It is one of the many heights of humor left us by those meetings of the early 1960s that the Sundays between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, as well as those from Pentecost (roughly) until Advent are called the Sundays in "ordinary" time. It has been explained that since Easter depends on the lunar cycle and therefore shifts, some felt it was awkward to have those extra "Sundays after Epiphany" come in November. What they hope no one notices is that they usually skip one of the week numbers, sort of like an elevator in a skyscraper with no "13"... But some of us have noticed, and laugh!

And of course, as they take up their green vestments today, some former seminarians, armed with their Semitic verbs, their Q-document, their deutero-Isaiah, and their Jose the Spanish Prophet (is THAT how it is pronounced?) will probably feel the urge to talk about how "it's back to the ho-hum, normal boring, ordinary time" since we are "finally done with the big feasts". (Yawn.)

Wow - they must have missed something. Maybe they live very sheltered lives?

First, it should come as no surprise that ALL the Sundays for roughly the last 1972 years have been Sundays after Pentecost - you know, that day over in Jerusalem when the Spirit came in tongues of fire. (Hmm. I hear Gandalf's challenge to the Balrog on the bridge...)

And if we were going to label those Sundays, we would have said, "first, second, third,..."

Now for the fun part. These numbers are ORDINALs - and indicate an ORDER or a position. The Church Militant has been marching to the orderly beat of Sunday after Sunday, all the weeks since that Pentecost. Obligatory GKC quote: "If the Church Militant had not been a thing marching, all men would have been marking time. If the Church Militant had not endured a discipline, all men would have endured a slavery." [The Everlasting Man CW2:372] Rock drummers have something called a "click track" - like a metronome which gives the beat - for us, each seventh turn of the Earth provides our marching tempo!

Moreover, just as each Friday ought to be a "fast" day in commemoration of Good Friday (solemnities excepted), each Sunday is (or SHOULD BE) a feast day and a "little Easter." Perhaps too many of us have treated Easter in too ordinary (ahem!) a fashion - not having had a good Lent, perhaps - but we still have time.

Do something out of the ordinary while you're marching. Have a little Lent on Friday, and a little Easter on Sunday.

All this talk about time and counting suggests two interesting asides:

1. Did you know that the first countdown in literature was actually a count-up? Yes, they counted up to forty! In Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon the great cannon in Florida was ignited on December 1 (in a certain year of the late 1800s) at 10:46:40 PM. Note that this was not the first trip to the moon; the Italian poet Ariosto uses a chariot drawn by winged horses to get there in his Orlando Furioso - this may have been the earliest science fiction story! (RE the Verne story: if the Pope had built it, he might have called it the Roman cannon.)

2. And speaking of Roman things: did you know that the ancient Romans counted their days in the month DOWNWARDS? They were always looking forward to the next feast day! It is almost as if they had some inspiration about the years B.C. - but, my dear Virgil, that is another topic for another time. Hee hee.


At 05 June, 2005 20:58, Blogger Marc the polar bear said...

Roman cannon. Yup, that is a always a good one.

The whole "ordinary" time is often explained by NO types as being not at all ordinary, giving some sort of explanation for the change. But just the name ordinary, especially as it has been understood in English literature, indeed removes any sense of the mystical grandeur of the liturgy. But hey, look at your NO mass, and you know, maybe it is sort of ordinary. This is the time of Pentecost, and we should love and love that mystery until the next liturgical season breaks upon us (like a cold blast of arctic air for us northern folk.) The Doctor is right. Each Sunday IS a little Easter, and every Friday a little Good Friday. And bless those who follow ember and rogation days.
The Latin Mass is thus the way for the West, and the Divine Liturgies for the East. V2 was a bomb, and I speaketh not of the German WWII projectile (wink wink).

The Orcs are definitely in the house, which is to be expected when you have Balrogs for bishops.

At 06 June, 2005 10:09, Blogger Joe said...

Not having a little Lent on Friday or a little Easter on Sunday would certainly be a dis-order.

I have always known "ordinary" time as "ordered" time. Perhaps it was just my good fortune to receive catechism in an orderly manner.


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