Years ago I told this Pentecost Monday tale and it has made the rounds. It has made the rounds everywhere, but I am the origin of the anecdote, which I published years ago in the pages of The Wanderer and also on the now defunct Catholic Online Forum in its Compuserve days. (Remember Compuserve? I’ve been at this since 1992.) Lots of people have picked it up.
It bears repetition.
This stands as a lesson for what happens when we lose sight of continuity.
Take this for what it may be worth.
Some years ago … gosh, it was decades now… I was told this story by a retired Papal Ceremoniere (Master of Ceremonies) who, according to him, was present at the event about to be recounted.
You probably know that in the traditional Roman liturgical calendar the mighty feast of Pentecost had its own Octave. Pentecost was/is a grand affair indeed, liturgically speaking. It has a proper Communicantes and Hanc igitur, an Octave, a Sequence, etc. In some places in the world such as Germany and Austria Pentecost Monday, Whit Monday as the English call it, was a reason to have a civil holiday, as well as a religious observance.
The Novus Ordo went into force with Advent in 1969.
The Monday after Pentecost in 1970, His Holiness Pope Paul VI went to the chapel for Holy Mass. Instead of the red vestments, for the Octave everyone knows follows Pentecost, there were laid out for him vestments of green.
Paul queried the MC assigned for that day, “What on earth are these for? This is the Octave of Pentecost! Where are the red vestments?”
“Santità,” quoth the MC, “this is now Tempus ‘per annum’. It is green, now. The Octave of Pentecost was abolished.”
“Green? That cannot be!”, said the Pope, “Who did that?”
“Holiness, you did.”
And Paul VI wept.
For more on that era check these PODCAzTs (perhaps some of the best I ever made):
093 09-11-16 40 years ago… Paul VI on the eve of the Novus Ordo
094 09-11-20 40 years ago… Paul VI on the eve of the Novus Ordo (Part II)
095 09-11-24 40 years ago… Paul VI on the eve of the Novus Ordo (Part III)