Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Green Time

Fr Rowe detests green vestments – he avoids wearing them whenever possible. (So he told me when I was one of his parishioners over in Perth some years back.)  Luckily, being a priest who only uses the Extraordinary Form, he has his wish, given the multiplicity of saints' days even in the somewhat pruned 1962 calendar, and so in most cases wears green solely on Sundays after Epiphany and after Pentecost.  I can well understand this rejection of green, recalling that when a priest in the old rite, er, form celebrates a feria in green (as one of Fr Rowe's many supply priests likes to), he reads the whole Sunday Proper all over again, complete with the very same readings repeated – which is incredibly tedious for the laity also.

Let us consider the awful suffering of most priests, however, who are constrained in various ways to celebrate the Ordinary Form more or less exclusively!  Even after Bl John Paul II canonized umpteen hundred new saints, more than all his predecessors put together, even after adding some of these into the General Roman Calendar, there are still so very many green weekdays per annum.  It is true that, in the new Mass, er, Novus Ordo, er, present normative liturgy, the readings do vary from day to day; but Boring Time is still very boring, semi-continuous readings of Scripture being very over-rated in my opinion, and the threat of us poor layfolk having to hear E.P. II, complete with its Preface, each and every day, being ever-present.

Compare and contrast the ways the E.F. and O.F. deal with the smaller of the two halves of "green time" now upon us: in the E.F., or traditional Roman Rite, this slice of "green time" begins on Saturday the 14th of January, the day after the Octave of the Epiphany, and concludes this year on Saturday the 4th of February, the day before Septuagesima, giving a total of 25 potentially green days before any feasts are considered; whereas in the O.F., or modern Roman Rite, this first taste of "green time" begins this year on Tuesday the 10th of January on the day after the Baptism of the Lord (in lands such as Australia where Epiphany is transferred to Sunday, and the Baptism, otherwise kept on the Sunday after Epiphany, to the Monday, when that Sunday falls on the 7th or 8th), and does not end for the time being until Shrove Tuesday, this year the 21st of February – so allowing for 43 days of Ordinary Time in 2012, or 70% more than in the E.F., owing to the foolish deletion of Septuagesimatide by an ill-advised Paul VI.

But it gets worse: in this initial span of green time, the modern Roman calendar provides only 12 mandatory feasts (10 white, 2 red), plus 11 optional memorials, including those of Our Lady on Saturday (in total 9 white, 1 red, and 1 either white or red ad libitum), leaving 20 days unaffected in their viridity, including six Sundays in Ordinary Time (2nd to 7th).  Yet Fr Rowe, and other lovers of tradition, have the great consolation of nearly every weekday filled with at least a 3rd class feast during the days in question, and the three remaining days are commemorations, meaning that at choice the saint's Mass can be said or not – hence each and every weekday is at least potentially white or red as to shade of vestment.  Extraordinary Mass-sayers and -goers need endure green only on the three Sundays after Epiphany, Deo gratias.

Now of course any priest using the modern Missal has the right, on a feria, to celebrate either a Votive Mass, or a Requiem, or a Mass in honour of any saint mentioned on that day in the Martyrology – and so avoid the colour green.  However, in practice it is rare to do so, and according to the General Instruction to do so on twenty days within a month and a half would be a little naughty (though it would glad the heart of this unwilling endurer of ferial Masses); and even if it were done, the O.F. priest and people must bear with green on six Sundays, double those the E.F. celebrant and congregation must put up with.  O the humanity!

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