The new editor of American Magazine, Drew Christiansen, S.J., seems a bit wistful about the loss to the Ordinary Form of the Octave of Pentecost. In this matter we wholeheartedly concur.
America – June 18th, 2012
By the time this column appears in print, Pentecost will have come and gone. In the waning days of the Easter season, the liturgy prompted us to wait for the coming of the Spirit; but there is no comparable liturgical effort in the days following the feast to help us relish the Spirit dwelling in us. The liturgy once encouraged Christians during the now-suppressed octave of Pentecost to meditate on the Spirit. [Dear Br. Christiansen: It is suppressed in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, but not in the Extraordinary Form.] Medieval monks savored the Spirit’s gifts deeply enough to give us the so-called Golden Sequence, “Veni, Sancte Spiritus,” which we still chant today. Rabanus Maurus in the ninth century gave us the equally rich “Veni, Creator Spiritus”; and in our times the monks of Taizé popularized their own importunate round, “Veni, Sancte Spiritus.”
According to Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, [It is nice that this good priest is cited....] even Pope Paul VI, when he prepared to vest to celebrate Mass the Monday after Pentecost in 1969, was surprised and saddened to learn that under his authorization the day now belonged to Ordinary Time. [Dear Br. Christiansen: I am the origin of that anecdote, which is now wide-spread. I pubished it many years ago in The Wanderer and also on the COL Forum, but let that pass.] The older octave, Kirby writes on his blog, Vultus Christi (snipurl.com/23r4tee), “was eight days under the grace of the Holy Spirit, eight days of joy in the fire and light of His presence, eight days of thanksgiving for His gifts. The Octave of Pentecost was one of the most beautiful moments in the Church Year, not only by reason of the liturgical texts, but also by reason of its effect in the secret of hearts.” [Nice!]
What the suppression of the octave deprived us of is the opportunity, in Dom Mark’s words, to “linger over anything momentous…to bask in the after-glow of events rich in meaning…to prolong the feast.” [Linger, yes, but not in inactivity. We also have the chance to reflect on the mystery of the feast from different points of view.] People have an innate capacity and desire for meditation, he writes. “Meditatio is the act of repetition by which truth, or beauty, or goodness passes from the head into the heart. There it becomes life-changing.”
This Pentecost 2012 we sorely need to appreciate the beauty and the power of the Spirit alive in us—and to celebrate the Spirit moving in the wider church and in the world. For it so often seems we are living in a time of “the quenched Spirit,” when God no longer sends prophets to speak his word and the prophets we hear are often false prophets. We need the gentle comfort of the Spirit to nurse our bruised hearts and the Spirit’s light to guide us through dark times. Most of all, we need the divine gift of reform and re-animation.
That is a taste.