We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

"Keeping Vigil"

A question: why not still?

In the liturgical organization of the week three days were very soon given a privileged place: Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

As early as the end of the first century, the Didache speaks of Wednesday and Friday as fast days. In the next century, the Shepherd of Hermas, Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian speak of them as 'stational' days, that is, days of fasting and penitential prayer.

All of Christian antiquity, without exception, observed the Wednesday and Friday fasts. Rome added Saturday. In the West we find the discipline being softened between the sixth and tenth centuries: first, the Wednesday observance was reduced to one of abstinence, then the Wednesday abstinence disappeared, as did the Friday fast. Only Ember Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays remained as witnesses to the ancient discipline down to the Second World War.

I suspect that the Embertides are very ancient practices. A most helpful dissertation, named in the post title, is found here. I reproduce the tables of lections for the Saturday vigil masses contained therein. Click images to enlarge.

Here (above) we see the roots of the Trinity Sunday mix ups,
with Luke 6:36 making an early appearance.

March is the first, June the fourth, September the seventh, and December the tenth month


Put together the Ember Saturday Gospel pericopes and what have you got? Perhaps an extended meditation on the complex interplay of the gaze (being seen) and the voice (being called) in the New Dispensation? A new order in which, if we are watchful, a clearing, and cleaning, and straightening, and setting right will occur?

No comments:

Post a Comment