Monday, February 16, 2009

The Puzzle of "Ordinary Time"

Every now and again I glance at a new blog or at least a blog that's new to me, rather than just checking out ones I already know and like. In that vein I started looking at My Heart was Restless, a blog kept by a convert lady from Yorkshire. She describes her experience of the pre-Lent season (from Septuagesima onward) in the Old Rite as richer than the continuing "Ordinary Time" of the new liturgy.

I had an analagous experience some time ago. A friend who stayed over after coming to dinner accompanied us to Mass. He made a reference to "the [whatever] Sunday of Ordinary Time" and assumed that we were on the same calendar. However, my wife and I are members of the diocesan TLM chaplaincy, and thus we keep to an annual cycle rather than a 2 or 3 (or A/B/C) system. (A bit like nature itself, in fact.) So we had to point out that everything in the traditional form is dated to or from a feast, or a fast. Theologically it makes more sense too; after the Resurrection at Easter, and the start of the Apostle's ministry at Pentecost, how could time ever be "ordinary" again? There is in reality no "Ordinary Time". All of time before Christ was a preparation for the Incarnation and the Nativity; since the Passion and the Resurrection, all of time waits for the Parousia, the Coming in Glory of Christ at the end of time. We come from a definite point and we are progressing toward a definite consummation of time (albeit on a timetable known only to our Heavenly Father).

Of course, that leads to my other favourite hobby-horse. We are emaphatically NOT an "Easter People". I wasn't there on Easter Sunday, I don't know (as Doubting Thomas does) that Christ rose bodily from the dead. I do firmly believe it, however and profess it as all orthodox Christians do. So unlike the Apostles themselves but exactly like the people they preached to on that first Pentecost, I believe in Christ Crucified and Risen. And I believe in a very literal sort of way; not a Resurrection "experience" but a real Man who ate fish, cooked breakfast and when necessary showed off his physical scars. So I am (like most of the Church's year in the real Roman calendar) a Pentecost Person. I believe and I hope while gratefully receiving and practicing Charity. I will know when I see God face to face, if it pleases Him to save me. But this side of Heaven, we have no utter abject sorrow because we always have Hope; thus Laetare in Lent. We also have no unalloyed joy, because we have not been finally saved yet. Thus we always have Christ and Him Crucified, even on Easter Sunday.

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