Driving back from our first Sunday of the month Missa cantata yester-day, the first day of winter in Australia, got me musing on the way our southern seasons clash with the liturgical calendar inherited from our forebears in the northern hemisphere. Having examined the calendar and worked out a correction that puts all to rights, it seems Sunday the 1st of June should really have been, not the Sunday after Ascension, but Advent Sunday.
Christmas, as all men know, falls soon after the boreal winter solstice, when Christ comes to enlighten those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death - but this imagery is reversed Down Under. For too long have we Antipodeans endured heat waves and broiling weather while singing of snow and holly, fainting in summer warmth over a heavy Christmas dinner!
Hence, to fit sacred time to the southern seasons, all in Australasia, temperate South America and South Africa ought keep the Lord's Nativity on the 25th of June, shortly after the austral winter solstice.
For the same reason, Easter, that feast of our true Spring, Christ's Resurrection, should be kept on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the austral spring equinox - which, by my calculations, would fall this year on the 12th of October (basing all this on the true astronomically determined dates, not on the old-fashioned computus).
I determine that the new calendar (which good Pope Francis, a fellow hemispherean, will no doubt grant with a wave of his hand, once he's apprized of it by a known enemy of the Immaculate Franciscans) for the Southern Hemisphere would run as follows for 2014:
Christus Rex (Last Sunday in April) – 27th April 2014
Advent Sunday – 1st June 2014
Christmas Day – Wednesday 25th June 2014
St Stephen, St John, HH Innocents on 26th, 27th, 28th, then SS Peter & Paul on 29th (for a most pleasing gathering of all saints round the crib)
Epiphany – Monday 7th July 2014 (not the 6th, since it must be 12 days after Christmas)
1st Sunday after Epiphany – 13th July 2014
Candlemas – Sunday 3rd August 2014 (40 days after Christmas)
4th & Last Sunday after Epiphany – 3rd August 2014
Septuagesima Sunday – 10th August 2014
Ash Wednesday – 27th August 2014
1st Sunday of Lent – 31st August 2014
Holy Cross – Monday 15th September 2014 (transferred because of the clash with the 3rd Sunday of Lent)
Annunciation – Thursday 25th September 2014 (nine months before Christmas)
Palm Sunday – 5th October 2014
Good Friday – 10th October 2014
EASTER Sunday – 12th October 2014
Ascension Thursday – 20th November 2014
Pentecost Sunday – 30th November 2014
Visitation (based on Paul VI’s wise removal of it from 2nd July to 31st May): Monday 1st December 2014 (transferred this year from 30th November)
Trinity Sunday – 7th December 2014
Corpus Christi – Thursday 11th December 2014
Sacred Heart – Friday 19th December 2014
Nativity of St John the Baptist – 24th December 2014 (exchanged, as it were, with Christmas)
Apart from the moveable feasts shifted by six months, and the movement of various saints' days that seem inseparable from their setting relative to these, all other saints' days would remain the same, thus producing all manner of pleasing curiosities, such as the Immaculate Conception falling the day after Trinity Sunday, the Immaculata being the greatest of all after God himself.
You know it makes sense.