Tuesday, 22 February 2011

"-gesima" Sundays

The more time goes by, the more we miss the three Sundays which in both the Book of Common Prayer and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite used to prepare us for the beginning of Lent. After all, it's far too late to reflect on how best we are to approach Lent when it's already upon us.
I suppose some of the modern Anglican calendars with their 'Sundays before Lent,' give the possibility of continuing in some form the older tradition, but five Sundays before Lent (as is the case this year) or only two (in some other years) seem either excessive or excessively paltry.
This is from an article from the NLM archive which speaks of the possiblity of 'mutual enrichment' which, I gather, is all the rage these days - not before time. [See here]
The article quotes Fr Christopher Phillips of the Anglican Use in the U.S.A.:
"There are things about the old calendar that I miss, and I hope there will be a restoration in a revised liturgical use for the [new Anglican] Ordinariate.
I always loved the old "gesima" Sundays - the three Sundays of Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, forming a pre-Lenten season which served as a bridge between Epiphanytide and the great Forty Days... The Collect appointed for the day makes for a real change of gears, as we moved from the outward-looking aspect of the manifestation of Christ to the world, into a more introspective attitude by looking into our own hearts and souls...
The Gospel reading then served as a reminder that the coming discipline of Lent was to prepare us for our work in building God's Kingdom...
There's a spiritual richness when these things are put into an historical context, and it would be a pity to lose it. It's all part of the treasury of the Church."
Read it all [here]

On a related theme, that of the pressing need for mutual enrichment, here's another wicked quote from Alice Thomas Ellis (see here): not perhaps my usual pre-Lent reading, but these are not usual times.

".......'There had always been a hint of catering about the Mass, but previously the priest had the dignity of a master chef busying himself with his spécialité. Now he seems like a singing waiter in charge of an inadequate buffet. One is tempted to stroll up and ask for a double martini and enquire who on earth forgot to put the doings on the canapés. I wonder why they didn't keep the real Mass for me and just bring in this one for the kiddies and the mentally subnormal?' " 
Again, from her first novel, The Sin Eater (1977)

I'm not a great fan of Cranmer's eccentric theology (what we can reconstruct of it). His prose style is another matter. This is the collect for Quinquagesima in the Book of Common Prayer (1549 onwards) - what better prayer to prepare us for the coming Lenten fast?

O Lord, who dost teach us that our doings without charity are nothing worth, send thy Holy Ghost and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and all virtues, without the which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee;  grant this for thy only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Today, the Feast of the Chair of St Peter,  has been set aside as a Day of Prayer for the Ordinariates.
Please pray for those who will be spending Lent in preparation for entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church as members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

O GOD, who didst bestow upon thy blessed Apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and didst appoint unto him the high priesthood of binding and loosing: vouchsafe; that by the help of his intercession we may be delivered from the bonds of our iniquities: Who livest and reignest, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
English Missal
Go before us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help;
that in all our works, begun, continued and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Resources can be found at the Ordinariate Portal [here]

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