Friday, June 27, 2014

I think I agree. Why replace 'after Pentecost' with 'Ordinary'?

George Wiegel hits a nail (or two) on the head. Here is the money paragraph from this railing against the ordinary:

"There are many reasons to deplore the change in liturgical nomenclature for the weeks after the Easter Season, from Sundays “after Pentecost” to Sundays “in Ordinary Time.” As has been noted previously in this space (perhaps to be point of reader-tedium!), there is nothing “ordinary” about time after the Resurrection and Ascension. For, as that Colossians text suggests and Augustine makes explicit, human “time” has now been drawn into the divine life through the mystery of Christ’s return to the Father and his being seated “at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3) as Lord of history. History, in that sense, is “inside” the Godhead."


liturgy said...

So, Peter, let me see if I have this right?

You are advocating returning not to the Anglican titles for current Sundays (“after Trinity”, as the Church of England has done) but to titles for this Sunday that in the past were used by the Roman Catholic Church but which Roman Catholics have, for good reason, long ago abandoned.

And you are doing this based on a man who thinks that “liturgical antiquarianism” leads to “the Pentecost Season lasting from Pentecost itself through midday of the Saturday before the First Sunday of Advent” when, of course, anyone who has read what we agreed to in the Council of Nicaea will know that the early church regarded the fifty days from Easter Day as being “the Pentecost Season”.

And you are doing this as a mathematician who knows full well what Ordinal Numbers are, with “Ordinary” Time deriving from the Latin “ordinalis” - relating to order in a series.

And you are doing this in a church that has relatively recently added to the counting confusion by eccentrically claiming that “Ordinary Time” starts counting after the Feast of the Presentation of Christ so that, if we take ourselves seriously (and follow our own rules logically, which of course we won’t) our Sundays will be about four numbers out from the rest of the Christian world.

And you are doing this with the presupposition, shared with George Weigel that somehow the liturgical year is play-acting (so that, for example, we should all balk when the feast of the Annunciation comes too close to Passion Sunday) rather than that everything we celebrate in the liturgical year is “after Pentecost”.

Have I got this right?

In my opinion the Christmas we now celebrate isn’t play-acting cute Baby Jesus born once more. And Jesus doesn’t die again on Good Friday. The whole year has now been drawn into the divine life through the mystery of Christ’s return to the Father and his being seated “at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3) as Lord of history – not just the period between the Day of Pentecost and Advent as your and George Weigel’s approach would have it.



Father Ron Smith said...

I feel myself to be in agreement here with you, Peter - on the issue of 'Ordinary Sundays' (the age of miracles is still with us) - especially when we understand Sunday as The Day of Resurrection.

However, I did also wonder why the Church chanegd from 'Sundays after Trinity' to 'Sundays after Pentecost'. Was that, I wonder, one of the influences of the Charismatic Movement?

No wonder the folks in the pews get confused about the lectionary. Even some of the clergy seem not too clued up on appropriate themes.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Bosco and Ron
Between the two of you I am placed in the position of pleasing one and not the other :)

I am advocating turning our NZPBs open to p.606ff and counting the Sundays after Pentecost as prescribed in our formulary. If the Romans want to follow us, then change their minds, that is their prerogative :)

I do not necessarily agree with GW on everything, but I like the sense that we would acknowledge the green shoots of the Spirit's life within us via both wearing green and counting the Sundays in terms of Pentecost and not the word 'Ordinary.'

Yes, mathematically GW is quite wrong but here is my challenge to you Bosco, as a mathematician and a wordsmith, how about a word other than 'ordinary' if one wishes to speak about 'ordinal' numbering? The common usage of 'ordinary' is 'ordinary/run of the mill/mundane/regular' so it makes the lectionary confusing if one has to explain to the uninitiated that an ordinary Sunday is a numbered Sunday not an ordinary Sunday!

liturgy said...

I am looking forward, Peter, to your vigorous arguing against Bill No6 when it comes before our diocesan synod for the twice-round process and of your encouraging other synods to, similarly vote against it - here on your site, and through your networks.

I would support its reconsideration if there is energy to do so, for different reasons

The Romans, of course, were already using "Ordinary Time" when we switched from "After Trinity" to "After Pentecost".

I certainly understand the issue of needing to eplain "ordinary" (and "awful" and "eucharist" and so on). We could use the original (Tempus per annum - literally time during the year). Whatever better word we come up with, I encounter the usual problem that the term "Ordinary Time" is the one used by the majority of English-speaking Christians.

Sure, it is always better to have both-and. I hope we encounter the reality of the Spirit, whether it be Advent, Lent, Ordinary Time, or Pentecost.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
Explaining is losing! That is part of the problem in liturgy: we use terms for a common language for all Christians that only a few of us understand.

I distinguish between my personal opinions which I would impose on the rest of you if I were the church's Autocrat [ :) ] and things I am going to try to achieve through Synod.

liturgy said...

Hi Peter

Only in liturgy do Christians use language that only a few of us understand...

Yeah right!

walking off muttering "Ecumenical, ordination, catholic, exegesis, communion, Trinitarian, codices, charismatic, dogmatic, eisegesis, synoptic, Johannine, resurrection, ascension, postmodern, hermeneutic, Theodicy, Triune, created, Calvinist, positivism, image, Evangelical, soteriology, anthropic, a posteriori methodology, Neo-Platonism, etymological, rabbinical, Mosaic,..." none of which would be words every used on this site...

Jean said...

Well I really enjoyed his description of how time and history changed after pentecost.

As for changing the wording referring to the liturgical year. I admit with some trepidation I never knew we had 'ordinary' Sundays. But you will be relieved, I do know about Easter and Christmas and even Harvest Festival.

Cheers Jean

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
With the terms you cite, either by blog post or by sermon there is opportunity to explain them. Also few of them have one meaning in everyday use and another in church use.

By contrast 'ordinary' seems to need constant explaining. That is because we are using it in a non-ordinary way!

I further think it a confusing term because, ironically, it is used of those Sundays that are not 'extraordinary' by virtue of being a feast day or special Sunday of some local kind (e.g. Te Pouhere) or of some other kind which is variable (noting Jean's reference to Harvest Festival). So the 'obvious' meaning for 'Ordinary' is 'ordinary' rather than 'ordinal'.

Time for a change. We could run an international competition between ADU and Liturgy to find a new term with a prize such as a free course on 'Liturgy and Preaching' jointly tutored by you and me :)

liturgy said...

Yes, Peter, “ordinary” like so many words in English is a homonym. Maybe we need a motion 31 to fully accept homonyms in church! Because, “charismatic” is another. And there are, of course, many, many more…

It is yet another fun opportunity for teaching. To quote myself:

“But there is a message when we don’t know where the word “Ordinary” actually derives from. There is a message from “Ordinary Time” when we think it means “usual”, “common”, “every-day”…
Most of the year, 34 weeks, is ordinary – usual, common, every-day… Most of our life, in fact, is ordinary. We need to learn to live with the ordinary. If every day was extraordinary – then that would be ordinary wouldn’t it…
The incarnation (Advent/Christmas), the death and resurrection of Christ (Lent/Easter), make the year extraordinary. Otherwise, all would be ordinary. The incarnation, the death and resurrection of Christ, make our life extraordinary.
How can we help each other make our ordinary lives extraordinary?”

Of course, like Jean points out, I don’t see any reason why Sunday-by-Sunday churchgoers need to be aware of the esoteric complexities of the way we organise the Sunday proper (another churchy homonym).

I cannot work out if you are merely stopping at the equivalent of e-banter-over-a-beer out of spite that no one will actually make you the church autocrat, or if you have any serious energy for pursuing questioning Bill 6 which is your shared duty and joy.

What is concerning is the tendency, once again, to abandon the primarily anamnetic nature of Christian liturgy and replace it with a mimetic simulacra.



Fatther Ron Smith said...

Bosco; thr time will come when even you will foget the meaning of 'anamnesia! ( As for me, Ive already forgotten what this post is about). AND! as for all them uther big werds! NEVAREDAVUM!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I need some time and quiet reflection to consider the matter of the Bill, energy, questioning. A beer may help too!

No one seems to be joining me in my campaign to recall and remember the glory days when we followed 'Sundays after Pentecost' so, no, I don't think I will be taking that any further.

Yes, education could help with 'ordinary' but I would save myself energy there too if I could come up with a better word!

Father Ron Smith said...

Of course, we could always substitute (for Ordinary) the word 'Simplex'. However, that might remind people of the herpes virus, so better not. We have enough trouble in that area!

Our biggest problem right now, is getting people to Church on 'Any' Sunday - let alone the various Feast-days in the week.