Sunday, 12 January 2014

Endings and discontinuities

A tradition worth keeping - the Crib stays up until Candlemas

Christmastide ends today:

 "... So that before the end, the eightieth Christmas 
(By “eightieth” meaning whichever is last) 
The accumulated memories of annual emotion 
May be concentrated into a great joy 
Which shall be also a great fear, as on the occasion 
When fear came upon every soul: 
Because the beginning shall remind us of the end 
And the first coming of the second coming."

T.S. Eliot: from 'The Cultivation of Christmas Trees' (1954)

There's a round up of recent and growing criticism of mid to late twentieth century reforms of the Western Church Calendar [here] at the New Liturgical Movement.  The Calendar's purpose, the sanctification of time, matters greatly to each and every Christian.

Interestingly, despite the present turmoil in matters of faith and order and our liturgists' and theologians' tendency to follow Rome in liberal inessentials rather than in those conservative essentials where she should always be followed, most Anglican calendar revisions have not gone quite so radically down the same road; to take a current example, the 'Epiphany Season' has not been abolished; although, for all kinds of reasons, to retain the Sundays 'after' Epiphany would have been much preferable to the present Sundays 'of' Epiphany, and the option to continue the Christmastide liturgical colour as white seems confusing and unnecessarily innovatory, akin to the invention (or importation) of the 'red' pre-Advent 'Sundays of the Kingdom' in some provinces ...   
The option to observe Candlemas as of seasonal importance does, however, provide a continuing link to the tradition.

In these days of rupture and discontinuity we have to find such tiny crumbs of comfort where we can ....  for us, paradoxically, while we survive among the wreckage, even 'local usages' may provide a way back to calendrical sanity.

Nous n'irons plus au bois, les lauriers sont coupés 

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