Monday, 14 March 2011

Lenten Differences.

(St Basil the Great, whose Liturgy is celebrated in Lent)

This little bit of info intrigued me recently:
"On weekdays of Great Lent, the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated, because the joy of the Eucharist (literally "Thanksgiving") is contrary to the attitude of repentance which predominates on these days. However, since it is considered especially important to receive the Holy Mysteries (Holy Communion) during this season, the Liturgy of the Presanctified—also called the Liturgy of St Gregory the Dialogist— may be celebrated on weekdays. Technically, this is not actually a Divine Liturgy, but rather a Vespers service at which a portion of the Body and Blood of Christ, which was reserved the previous Sunday, are distributed to the faithful. Most parishes and monasteries celebrate this Liturgy only on Wednesdays, Fridays and feast days, but it may be celebrated on any weekday of Great Lent. Because the Divine Liturgy is not celebrated on weekdays, it is replaced with the Typica, even on days when the Presanctified Liturgy is celebrated. On Saturday and Sunday the Divine Liturgy may be celebrated as usual. On Saturdays, the usual St John Chrysostom is celebrated; on Sundays the more solemn and penitential Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great is used. "  (with grateful thanks to Wikipedia).

How fascinating.  Imagine if we stopped all weekday  celebrations in the SEC for the duration and had Reserved Sacrament Communions only.  We could use the nice shiny new Blue Book on Saturdays and only the 1929 Prayer Book on Sundays.  Doubtless this would utterly appal some - but might drive home the difference between Lent and the rest of the Liturgical Year to the majority of the people with some force.  I personally kinda regret the "sameness" of our liturgy in most parishes.  Yes, we change colour and drop the Gloria, but the music rarely really marks the difference nor does the severity of the penitential Rite.  Like it or loathe it, the old Prayer Book Confession came into its own in Lent.

Just a thought!


  1. I could not agree with you more and was thinking the very same thing last Sunday when I attended Mass at Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge. The Ordinary Form was celebrated in Latin, no organ and a Byrd four part mass setting, unaccompanied. The gradual and tract to plainsong. Periods of silence. I came away with a clear sense of that we were in Lent and the liturgy reflected this.
    Sadly OLEM is one of those rare Catholic churches which understands liturgy and the liturgical year.
    I wonder if the suppresion of the "gesima" Sundays also helped to weaken the idea of Lenten liturgy?
    The whole of the liturgical year is so beige in so many places...Papist or Piskie.

  2. Beige is the ideal word Anon! I'm not sure about the Gesimas - it made it rather longer in my youth than the 40 days. Or 3 more weeks of the Rector rabbiting on about fasting - which was less than effective after we servers rang the doorbell before one Lent Sung Mass and were answered by some one who cassock bore the unmistakeable signs of bacon and eggs for breakfast between the 8 and the 11! A stronger definition by music and propers, plus a greater emphasis on silence I think is "the way forward".

  3. I understand what you are saying about exrending Lent with the Gesima Sundays but they were a doorway into Lent. Now if one follows the Calendar of the Ordinary Form you go from Xth Sunday in Ordinary time bang into always comes as something of a shock.
    At the time of the reforms I believe someone commented that the faithful were now parachuted straight into Lent.
    The short season was a time of spiritual and mental preparation but was not one of penance and fasting, so I suppose sizzling bacon was permitted!
    I think the greatest loss in the suppression of the Gesima period are the texts of those Sundays, in the breviary and the missal, especially the collects. Such rich fare, most of which is lost to the public liturgy.
    I totally agre though about the way and propers!