This is a shorter version of a longer and more technical (read: tedious) post with full cross-references , historical examples, etc. IOW, if you really want expansion of any of these items, I can do it but warn you in advance…
As far as the BCP’s kalendar goes there are 5 general categories of occasions that impact how we do liturgy:
- cat1: Principal Feasts (p. 15). These are the biggies (Christmas, Easter All Saints, etc.). They have Eves (1st Vespers in the old schemes) and the Mass and Office are always of the occasion.
- cat 2: Sundays (p. 16). They have Eves (see direction on collect use on p. 158) and the Mass and Office are always of the Sunday.
- cat 3: Holy Days (pp. 16-17). They have Eves (see collect note as above and most have explicit readings for the Eve with a few odd omissions that we can believe are actually errors) and the Mass and Office are always of the occasion.
- The vision of the BCP is that the three above categories are to be celebrated with a public Eucharist. (See p. 13.)
- (The cat 4: Days of Special Devotion (p. 17) have no liturgical effect unless one chooses to use the Confession of Sin and/or the Litany.)
- cat 5+: Days within the Octave until the Subsequent Sunday. This one’s not actually laid out in the book but I think it’s a principle of post-Vatican II liturgics which ought to be recognized. That is, following the general Western consensus found in Sacrosanctom Consilium and then applied in the General Norms for the Liturgical Year, regular ol’ weekdays (feria) now have a somewhat higher position by virtue of their role in the Temporal cycle and may even supersede Sanctoral occasions (as in the Roman Catholic “Optional Memorials” and our next category, “Days of Optional Observance”). These don’t have Eves. The Collect is of the originating occasion—a Sunday except for Ash Wednesday, the Ascension, and perhaps a few other occasions—and the Essentials of the Office are as found in the Daily Office Lectionary. Mass, well, you’ve got options including the Propers of the Sunday, Propers of the Day [following the 2 year Daily Mass Lectionary], or a votive of your choice.
- cat 5: Days of Optional Observance (pp. 17-18). This is where all of the black-letter days in the BCP & therefore all of the occasions in HWHM come in. And here we get to the issue…
So—we know how we’re supposed to celebrate the Mass and Office on days of cat 1-3; what’s the deal with a cat 5 as it bumps up against a cat 5+? Is it automatic replacement—and if so, how? As best I can determine, HWHM, like its predecessor LFF, appoints three readings and a psalm, yet doesn’t actually give directions for their use. What the heck are these and how do we decide?
As I see it, we have the following options moving from lesser impact to greater:
- Ignore It. The rubrics do indeed give us the option to ignore any cat 5 occasion we like. In this case, everything is, of course, of the cat 5+ “feria”.
- Commemorate It. This is the minimum level of observation. Mass and Office are of the cat 5+, but the Collect of the optional cat 5 is said immediately after the Collect of the Day (i.e., preceding Sunday/Observance). Alternatively, this collect with or without additional antiphonal material could be said at the end of the Office.
- Offer It. Here the Office is of the cat 5+ with a commemoration of the cat 5 (as above), but the Mass is of the cat 5 with the appointed lessons for the HW/HM used as Mass Readings.
- Observe It. Here the Accidentals of Office are of the cat 5—hymns, antiphons, and Collect; the cat 5+ collect would not be said. The Essentials—psalms and Scripture lessons—are of the cat 5+ as laid out in the Daily Office Lectionary.
- Celebrate It. Here the entire Office is of the cat 5 as is the Mass. No cat 5+ elements would appear at all. The HWHM readings and the appropriate Common of Saints (pp. 925-927) would be deployed, using one set of readings for the Office and the other for the Mass. In places where the Daily Mass is neither said nor reckoned, the HWHM readings would replace the appointed cat 5+ readings from the Daily Office Lectionary.
- Whoop It Up. Deploying appropriate Commons, the cat 5 becomes (effectively) a Local cat 3 complete with an Eve. This level is permitted as long as it doesn’t interfere with a higher level occasion (cat 1-3).
So, this gives us clarity on what we do, but we have yet to identify when these six levels of observance should be used. The books don’t really give us direction either. Therefore we’re flying subjective at this point.
We have two fundamental choices: 1) observe all black-letter/cat 5/HWHM occasions in the same way or 2) create local kalendars that have different levels of observation for different days.
This would seem to be the mind of the resolution at General Convention when it says in the princples of revision:
Levels of Commemoration: Principal Feasts, Sundays and Holy Days have primacy of place in the Church’s liturgical observance. It does not seem appropriate to distinguish between the various other commemorations by regarding some as having either a greater or a lesser claim on our observance of them. Each commemoration should be given equal weight as far as the provision of liturgical propers is concerned (including the listing of three lessons).
If we go this route, what is most appropriate?
I must register a strong objection against the practice that I’ve seen in some circles of Celebrating all cat 5 occasions (i.e., using option 5 for all Optional Observances). Especially given the multiplication of occasions in HWHM, this practice does exactly what Cranmer warns against in the Preface to the 1549 (pp. 866-7) and completely obscures the Temporal arrangement of the Daily Office Lectionary and any sort of regular Psalm pattern.
I would even suggest that option 4 is a bit much. I believe that the Collects appointed for Sundays are, overall, of a higher quality and better convey the full scope of the faith than many of the sanctoral collects. Thus, I’d rather we not overly obscure these liturgical gifts.
If, therefore, a uniform method is chosen, I’m of the opinion that it ought to be of the level of option 3.
There is, however, one major hitch in the logic of the “Principles of Revision”: they’re all optional… It seems like opting to celebrate versus opting not to celebrate would be a distinction of a kind, wouldn’t it? I think the main argument for uniformity fails through irony due to the optional nature of all of these occasions.
Let me say, though, that I think it’s fine for the national church to not make any distinctions—but that also does not preclude dioceses, parishes, and people from making distinctions; it just means the Province isn’t making the choice for us.
This is the option of greater antiquity and established Christian custom. Not that I’m biased one way or the other… In fact, I’d say that this option connects directly to Sacrosanctum Consilium‘s wise observation that there’s a difference between Universal observations and those of liturgical “families”:
Lest the feasts of the saints should take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the very mysteries of salvation, many of them should be left to be celebrated by a particular Church or nation or family of religious; only those should be extended to the universal Church which commemorate saints who are truly of universal importance.
To put this in BCP terms: you’ve got your cats 1-3—choose the cat 5 observances that resonate most with you.
Of course, this option then becomes the one that requires the most work, because it means sorting through all of the observances and assigning celebration options to them all. So:
- option 6 would be used rarely (2 or 3 times a year) for patrons (personal, parochial, or otherwise)
- option 5 would also be pretty darn rare (again, 2 or 3 times a year) for secondary patrons and such
- option 4 would be uncommon (say, 3 to 5 times a month) and for for the HW/WM with which you/your parish have a special connection or veneration
- option 3 would be more frequent for those classes of saints that best connect
- options 2 or 1 would serve for the rest. The choice between 2 or 1 would most likely have more to do with how you understand the place of these observations within the church as a whole. I.e., are these to be considered the proper prayer of this church—or are they truly optional.
- Let’s not forget that, these being optional, there’s nothing wrong with personal/parish kalendars adding in days (*cough* Marian feasts *cough*) that are not contained in HWHM…
That’s where I’m at. Time to start sifting, I’d say…