Enjoy Epiphany while it lasts

I had a realization this morning: this is our last Epiphany season together… (well, see correction below)

In the one-year lectionary that sustained the Western Church from the beginning of recorded Mass Lectionaries (the Comes of Murbach) up until Vatican II, the time after Epiphany was a season unto itself that focused on the revelation of Jesus as God to the world. This was done through some particular and pointed lections, especially those that emphasized miracles. There was the Baptism of Jesus, then the Wedding at Cana, then the healing of the Leper and the Centurion’s slave, then the walking on water, the miraculous feeding, etc.

With the Revised Common Lectionary, the season and comprehensive character of Epiphany goes bye-bye. Instead, we get the beginning of lectio continua that will be interrupted for Lent and Easter, then picked back up again after Pentecost. The last vestiges will be the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord which is retained as the first Sunday after Epiphany and then Transfiguration Sunday, the last before Lent. But that itself is weird—we already have a feast of the Transfiguration; it’s August 6th. In other words, the new RCL Transfiguration is an invented occasion that goes along with the character of the season they just abolished. Got that?

Anyway, say your farewells as the RCL becomes the official lectionary this upcoming Advent. (Correction–it begins in Advent preceding 2010.)

5 thoughts on “Enjoy Epiphany while it lasts

  1. bls

    Bummer. I was just getting to know Epiphany; I think it might be my new favorite season..

    But it doesn’t mean the season itself will be gone; it just means the readings will be different – right?. That’s what this page seems to say, anyway.

    So perhaps the new readings in the old season will bring out some ideas that haven’t occurred to anyone before? That sort of thing often happens.

    Anyway, I think I’m in favor of continuous readings, rather than having somebody muckety-muck on high decide what s/he thinks it’s important for us to be “taught.” (I’m a bit sick of clerics right now anyway, so that’s where that is coming from. No offense to any who might be reading this.)

  2. bls

    (I agree, though, that two Transfigurations is simply one too many.

    Although it actually makes more sense to have it here, right before Lent, doesn’t it?)

  3. John+

    I don’t see the change that you are talking about. The 1979 BCP has had two readings of the Transfiguration since well, 1979 or perhaps before. Always at the end of the Epiphany seaon and also celebrated on August 6.

  4. Derek the Ænglican

    John+, the lectionary in the ’79 BCP was an intermediary stage to the RCL. So–it was leading up to this, it just retained a sense of Epiphany. Contrast this to the pre-’79 readings to get the full effect.

    bls, there’s a time and a place for continuous readings–the Daily Office. Historically, the Daily Office was always about coverage. The Mass readings were always selected from this it becomes clear that the Daily Office lectionary was intended to be catechetical (i.e., it taught people the faith) whereas the Mass readings were designed to be mystagogical (i.e., leading the faithful into the mysteries of the Mind of Chjrist through the liturgical year).

    Annie, It’s a simplification for the sake of balance. The post Vatican II trend is to go for two major festal seasons (Christmas and Easter) with attendent prepatory seasons (Advent and Lent) and make the rest Ordinary (in the sense of Ordinal–counting) Time.

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