Monday, January 01, 2007

Announcing the Movable Feasts

The Christmas Season ends with the celebration of the Epiphany on January 6. Because the remainder of the Church Year is established by the movable date of Easter, it is customary to announce the Movable Feasts after the proclamation of the Holy Gospel on Epiphany. Paul H. D. Lang, (Ceremony and Celebration, p. 159, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO, 1965)suggests the following form:

"Dearly beloved brethren, you shall know that as we have rejoiced in the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, so there is announced to you by the mercy of God the joyous observance of the Resurrection of the same our Savior:

February 4th is Septuagesima Sunday.

On February 21st Ash Wednesday begins the most holy season of Lent.

On April 8th we shall celebrate with great rejoicing the holy Easter Festival of our Lord Jesus Christ.

May 17th is the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

May 27th is the Feast of Pentecost.

December 2nd is the First Sunday in the Advent of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be honor and glory, world without end. Amen."


Anonymous said...

Could you please explain what pre lent is, and how it came to be. Why do we need three more weeks added on to Lent?

Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

You asked, "Why do we need three more weeks added on to Lent?" Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima are not Sundays in Lent. They are Sundays in Pre-Lent. As their names indicate, they are approximately 70 , 60 and 50 days before Easter. The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.
Dr. Pius Parsch (The Church's Year of Grace, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, vol. 2) states: "With genuine pedagogical tactfulness the Church prepares us for Easter in three steps: Pre-Lent, Lent, and Passiontide. Pre-Lent, a time of transition from the joyous spirit of Epiphany to one of reserve and recollection, conditions us for Ash Wednesday. Lent is a period of penance and heart-searching. Passiontide is devoted to the memory of Christ's suffering; it is indeed a mystical participation in our Savior's passion according to the words of St. Paul, "With Christ I am nailed to the cross" (Gal. 2:19)."
A better question would have been "When did we discontinue observing the season of Pre-Lent?"
The liturgical structure of Pre-Lent dates from the time of St. Gregory the Great. I believe Pre-Lent was suppressed and Epiphany (or Ordinary Time) "extended" at the time of the Second Vatican Council. Both of these innovations were soon adopted by various Lutheran bodies and reflected in their calendars. Perhaps, like the Roman church and yourself, they asked, "Why do we need three more weeks added on to Lent?"
The suppression of the season of Pre-Lent should be lamented, because doing so rejects a part of the historic cycle of the Church Year that has been in place from the early centuries of the Church.