VI. The Ordo de Tempore in the Roman Breviary(from the "Atlantis" of February, 1870.) THE ORDO DE TEMPORE{385} I DO not know where to find, what doubtless is to be found somewhere, a perfect analysis of the Ordo de Tempore, (that is, the succession of ecclesiastical seasons,) as it stands in the Catholic Calendar. The Ordo has to deal with some considerable difficulties, and its disposal of them is very beautiful. I sometimes fancy I could interest a reader in it, and I will try; and though I must do so in my own way for want of a better, and though in consequence I am obliged to speak under correction of any authoritative exposition of it, if such exists, still I do not think I can be much out in my analysis, even though it be incomplete. The Ordo de Sanctis is invariable through the year. Each saint has his day, which is never changed year after year, except by an accidental transference or postponement. Here, the only call for arrangement and adjustment in it rises out of the necessity of reconciling this Ordo with the Ordo de Tempore. For the Ordo de Tempore is far from invariable year after year; on the contrary, as I have intimated, it even disturbs the tranquil course of the Ordo de Sanctis. It is on this account especially that the yearly Directory called the "Ordo {386} Recitandi" is necessary; for the Ordo de Tempore is not only variable itself, but it interferes with the harmonious succession of Saints' Days in the Ordo de Sanctis. If we look at the table of Transferred Saints' Days in the yearly "Ordo Recitandi," we shall find that they are all occasioned by the collision between the two Ordines, de Sanctis and de Tempore. For instance, in the present year (1869), St. Thomas was thrown out of his day, March 7, because it was the Fourth Sunday in Lent; and the Seven Dolours lost its Friday because it was the Feast of St. Joseph. Left to itself, the Ordo de Sanctis is invariable, but the Ordo de Tempore is never the same two years running. Its chief features indeed, viewed relatively to each other, are always the same—Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost come in succession; but these seasons are not fixed to determinate days in the civil year, as the Festivals of the Saints are. Easter Day is in one year upon one day in March or April, in another year on another. The coincidence then of days in the civil year and in the ecclesiastical year has to be reduced to rule; and this is done, I consider, very beautifully by the provisions of the Calendar, as I propose to show in these pages. 1. The first and chief difficulty in the Ordo de Tempore is obviously this—that Easter Day depends upon, is later than, the full moon in March or in April, and the full moon is not fixed to any certain day in either month. The lunar month is about 29 days, the civil varies from {387} 28 to 31. As the full moon is not constant to one day of either month, neither is the Easter Day. Next, there is this additional disturbance, that Easter Day is always kept on a Sunday, the Sunday after the full moon (mean time) which follows upon March 21. Thus, even were the day of the full moon fixed to a given day of a given month in the civil calendar, say March 22, Easter Day would not on that account be a fixed day, for it must be a Sunday, and the Sunday after that March 22 may be any one of the seven following days. Easter Day then is variable, first, because the full moon may fall on any one day out of 29 civil days, and next because Sunday may fall on any day out of the seven, which follow the full moon. Nor is this the whole of the difficulty. Easter Day is one great centre of feasts and seasons in the ecclesiastical year; but there is another such centre, and that is Christmas Day. And though Christmas Day is fixed in the civil year, Advent Sunday, which precedes and depends upon it, is not. It is the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day; and since Christmas Day, as being fixed in the month, may be any one of the seven days of the week, it follows that Advent Sunday may be one or other of seven days of the month. When, for instance, Christmas Day is Monday, the fourth Sunday in Advent is the day before, that is, December 24, and the first Sunday in Advent, or Advent Sunday, will be December 3. When Christmas Day is Tuesday, then Advent Sunday will be December 2, and so on through the seven days. The range of Advent Sundays, then, is from November 27 to December 3 inclusive. {388} Christmas with Advent, then, and Easter, are the two centres of the sacred year, with an assemblage or body of seasons and feasts about each of them, and all inserted and having a place, a shifting place, in the civil year; and the problem to be solved in the Ordo de Tempore is how to overcome the disarrangement caused by the varying distance from each other of these two oscillating bodies, standing in relation, as they do, to the course of weeks and months. When are we to cease, for example, to date with a reference to Christmas? When with a reference to Easter? Were both Christmas with Advent, and Easter, fixed, there would be nothing more to settle; but the interval between Advent Sunday and the following Easter Sunday varies year by year, and also the interval between Easter and Advent; and it has to be determined when the one period is to end and the other to begin. And there is this additional difficulty, that the Easter before a given Advent being always a different day in the year from the Easter after Advent, there are three dates to be taken into account, and reduced to system, one Advent and two Easters. Now let us see how these variations are actually adjusted; that is, what is the abstract scientific arrangement, which, year by year as it comes, is to be appealed to and applied. I speak of the scientific theory of arrangement for obvious reasons; for instance, leap-year introduces a disturbance, which must be neglected in the theory—that is the sun's doing. The moon is the cause of a disturbance of a different sort, viz., though many consecutive days are, on this year or that, possible Easter {389} days, still Easter days do not actually proceed in course year by year in regular succession. I mean the 6th of April is not Easter Day in one year, the 7th in year two, the 8th in year three, and so on; but for the scientific theory I shall place them in sequence, that is, following, not the chronological order, as it is sometimes called, or order in fact, but the logical, or order in system. 2. I observe first, as a matter of fact, to be taken as a datum and not to be proved here, that Easter Day may fall on any one of thirty-five successive days, that is, on any day of five successive weeks, from March 22 to April 25, both inclusive. Let us suppose, then, a column made of these thirty-five days, one after another, March 22, 23, 24, &c., and so on to April 22, 23, 24, 25. This is the Easter Day range. Next, I shall place two other columns of dates, one on each side of this central column, and each of them dependent upon it. The one on the left of the Easter column shall be the Septuagesima column. Septuagesima Sunday is always nine weeks or sixty-three days before Easter Sunday. As then there are thirty-five days on which Easter Sunday may fall, so there are thirty-five days on which Septuagesima Sunday may fall. The first of these, counting back nine weeks from Easter Day, March 22 (and taking no account of leap year), is January 18; and the last, counting back from Easter Day, April 25, is February 21. {390} This is the Septuagesima range of days, on the left of the Easter column. The column on the right of the Easter column will consist of the Post-Pentecostal range; and the Sundays, which are marked down it, must be the days on which may fall the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost. This is the last proper Pentecost Sunday; there is no proper 24th, etc., and the "ultima" is shifting. Up to the 23rd Sunday, the order of Sundays after Easter Day is as regular and invariable as the nine Sundays back to Septuagesima before Easter Day. How many Sundays is it from Easter Day to the 23rd after Pentecost? Seven to the day of Pentecost, or Whit-Sunday, and twenty-three more to the 23rd after it; that is, altogether thirty Sundays or weeks—invariable, I say, following one the other in fixed order. This is the column to the right of the Easter column. Here then we have the whole Paschal period, from Septuagesima Sunday to the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost; nine weeks before Easter Day and thirty weeks after, altogether thirty-nine weeks, or precisely nine calendar months, or three-quarters of a year. Though the Paschal period, as I have called it, varies year by year in its place in the civil year, because Easter Day varies, the Paschal period does not vary in its length, it is always nine calendar months precisely. There is a fixed succession of thirty-nine weeks from Septuagesima Sunday to the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost. One other result is this: that as Septuagesima falls in January or February, and Easter Day falls in March or April, so does Pentecost 23rd fall always in October {391} or November. Nay, further than this, since it is exactly nine calendar months from Septuagesima to Pentecost 23rd, it follows that, whatever be the day of the month in January or February on which Septuagesima falls, on the same day of the month in October or November respectively does Pentecost 23rd fall. Thus, if Septuagesima is January 18, then Pentecost 23rd is October 18; if the former falls on February 1, the latter falls on November 1; if the former on February 21, then the latter on November 21. And all along the two series of possible Septuagesima and possible 23rd Pentecost Days, the number of the day of the month on which Septuagesima Sunday falls is the same as the number of the day of the month on which, in the same year, the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost falls. Now, then, we can fill up the dates in the third column or 23rd Pentecost, which is on the right of the Easter column. We shall have to go through thirty-five days from October 18 to November 21; putting October 18 against January 18, and so on till we end with November 21 against February 21. Thus:—
{392} Now, in order to apply a test to what I have said, let us have recourse to the "Ordo Recitandi," as in use with us, for the six years from 1849 to 1851 and from 1853 to 1855. It will be found to bear out the conclusions, at which I have arrived theoretically.
The years 1852 and 1856 were leap-years, which ought to throw out the exact correspondence of Sundays by one day; and hence, in accordance with the above rule, we find from the "Ordo Recitandi" in fact, that Septuagesima was February 8, but Pentecost 23rd was November 7 in 1852, and Septuagesima January 20, and Pentecost 23rd October 19, in 1856. 3. So much on the connection of Easter Day with Septuagesima and Pentecost 23rd; but can nothing be done to make the actual succession of Easter Days less variable than it seems to be at first sight? Yes, something, as I proceed to show. Let it be observed, that as Christmas Day is a fixed day of the month, it may be on any day of the week; it runs through seven days, and, as the days in the year {393} exceed fifty-two weeks by one day, a fixed day in any month travels forward along the days of the week in a succession of years. Thus (neglecting leap years), if the 25th of December, Christmas Day, be on Monday in this year, it will be on Tuesday next year, and on Wednesday the year after, and so on to Sunday inclusive; and, after completing the week, it will next year be on Monday again, and so on for ever. In consequence, the Fourth Sunday in Advent, being the Sunday immediately before Christmas Day, will travel backwards, in those same successive years, along the days of the month; when Christmas Day is on Monday, the 4th Advent Sunday will be on the 24th; when Christmas Day is on Tuesday, it will be on the 23rd, and so on successively the 22nd, 21st, 20th, 19th, and 18th, and so on, over and over again, for ever. And again, Advent Sunday, which is three weeks before that fourth Sunday, will be successively, as I have said already, on December 3, 2, 1, November 30, 29, 28, 27, in never-ending routine. To these seven days Advent Sunday is tethered. The feast of St. Andrew is just in the middle of them, November 30, with three possible Advent Sundays before it, and three after. Now let us observe what we have hereby gained. Advent begins with a Sunday, and must be one of a certain seven days; but Pentecost 23rd, which ends what I have called the Paschal period, is also a Sunday; therefore there must be also a whole number of weeks without any days over, between the last Sunday of the Paschal period and Advent Sunday, which is the commencement of the {394} Christmas period. If, for instance, Advent Sunday falls on November 27, Pentecost 23rd cannot fall on any whatever of the thirty-five possible days from October 18 to November 21, which constitute the range of the latter Sunday, but it must fall on such a day out of the thirty-five as will secure a round number of weeks between it and November 27. How many such days are there in its whole range? Of course, one in seven. Therefore out of the thirty-five possible days for Pentecost 23rd, only five are actually possible in this particular case of Advent Sunday falling on November 27. The possible days, counting backwards, are November 20, 13, 6, October 30, and 23. And in like manner when Advent Sunday is November 28, there are only five possible days on which the previous Pentecost 23rd can fall; and so on in the case of all the Advent Sunday month-days, November 29, 30, December 1, 2, and 3. And, since Easter Sunday and Septuagesima Sunday vary, as regards the day of the month, with Pentecost 23rd, it follows that out of the whole thirty-five possible days on which Easter may fall there are only five days possible, when Advent Sunday is November 27; and the same is true for all the other days of the month which are possible for Advent Sunday. It seems then that in every year Easter Day is one out of five days, and which the five days are is determined (practically) by the day on which the following Advent Sunday falls. And this is true of Septuagesima Sunday also. Moreover, as the day of the month on which Advent Sunday falls, depends on the day of the week on which {395} Christmas Day falls, on Christmas Day also depend the five days which in every year are possible for all three, Septuagesima, Easter Day, and Pentecost 23rd. Once more; it is awkward to make a day at the end of the year, December 25, the index or pivot of days and seasons which have gone before it. I observe then that (neglecting leap year) as December 25 falls on this or that day of the week, the preceding January 1 falls on a day in correspondence with it, so that, according to the day of the week on which the first day of any year falls are the five possible days determined for Septuagesima, Easter, and Pentecost 23rd in that year. When December 25 is on a Monday, then New Year's Day preceding was on Sunday; when on Tuesday, New Year's Day was on Monday, &c. I shall call the seven years which successively begin with Sunday, Saturday, Friday, &c., years A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and then we have the following table:—
{396} This table, which has been formed from the preceding analysis, will be found to agree with the Tabula Paschalis of the Missal and Breviary, the letter of the alphabet by which I have denoted the year, being the Litera Dominicalis of the Tabula. However, that Tabula has no occasion to mention, nor does mention, Pentecost 23rd, or its connection with Septuagesima, of which I have made such use above, and shall also avail myself in what follows. 4. Hitherto I have been speaking of the Christmas period only in its bearings upon the Paschal period: now let me speak of it for its own sake. The Paschal period varies in its dates in the civil year, but never in its length; it is always thirty-nine weeks, or nine calendar months. But, unlike Easter Day, Christmas Day is fixed; is its period fixed also, or does it vary in its length? I cannot answer this question till I know what is meant by the Christmas period; do we mean by it (1) that season which the Paschal nine months interrupt, that divided season, lying at the extremities, the beginning and the end of one and the same year, and which, because divided, has no proper title to be called a period at all? or do we mean (2) that continuous lapse of weeks lying partly at the end of one year and partly at the beginning of the next? Let us take these two cases separately, and the second case first. The actual continuous Christmas period lying partly in one year, partly in the next, between Pentecost 23rd of {397} one year and Septuagesima of the next, is not only variable in length, but too variable to admit of being reduced to rule. At first sight it admits of as many as twenty-five different lengths; for every year, as I have shown, allows of five possible dates for Septuagesima and Pentecost 23rd; now the continuous Christmas period is from the Pentecost 23rd of this year to the Septuagesima of the next; since then the Pentecost 23rd may be any one out of five dates, and the next Septuagesima also any one of five, there result twenty-five possible lengths of the continuous Christmas period. Nor is there any easy rule for determining the succession of their variations in consecutive years. I do not propose any formula then for determining the length of the continuous Christmas period; for it depends on two conditions, practically independent of each other, the dates of the previous and of the succeeding Easter. Some idea of these variations will be gained by the inspection of them as they occurred between 1848 and 1857:— {398}
{399} However, in spite of this irregularity in the continuous Christmas period, it has some kind of intelligible shape, thus:— In the first place, since we know the earliest and latest possible dates of Pentecost 23rd and Septuagesima, we can ascertain the longest and shortest measure of the Christmas period. Pentecost 23rd may be as early .as October 18; Septuagesima as late as February 21; this whole interval from October 18 in one year to February 21 in the next, is one hundred and twenty-five days, or eighteen weeks. Again, Pentecost 23rd may fall on November 21, and the following Septuagesima as early as January 18, that is, at an interval from it of fifty-seven days, or eight weeks. Thus eighteen weeks is the longest, and eight weeks the shortest continuous Christmas period. Next, this period, whatever its length, is made up of three parts: 1. The central portion, which I might call the Tempus Natale, from Advent Sunday to the first Sunday after Epiphany. 2. The Ante-natal portion between Pentecost 23rd and Advent Sunday. 3. The Epiphany or Post-natal, between the first Sunday after Epiphany and Septuagesima. Now the possible length of each of these three is easy to ascertain. 1. The Natal Time is ordinarily six weeks (i.e. except when Advent Sunday falls on December 3, for then, the Epiphany falling on Saturday, the Natal portion loses a week). 2. The Ante-natal portion varies from one week (viz. when Pentecost 23rd falls on November 20 or 21, and is the "ultima" Sunday) to six weeks (viz. when Pentecost 23rd falls between October 18 and 22 inclusive, {400} and there are twenty-eight Sundays after Pentecost). 3. The Post-natal portion also varies from one week to six; for, if the Sunday after Epiphany be January 11, 12, or 13, and the following Septuagesima be January 18, 19, or 20, it is one week; and if the former of these Sundays be January 7-9, and the latter February 18-21, then there will be all the six Sundays, as they stand in the Ordo de Tempore. It appears then that the longest Christmas period consists of six, six, and six weeks; that is, eighteen weeks, which agrees with my former calculation; and the shortest is one, six, and one, that is, eight weeks, which also agrees with what I have determined above. 5. Now, secondly, let us consider the Christmas weeks, as contained in one and the same year, that is, as partly at the beginning of it, and partly at the end: can we determine the length of these two portions taken together? Certainly we can, and, as it would seem at first sight, without any difficulty; for, as the Paschal period takes up exactly nine calendar months or thirty-nine weeks, there are three months or thirteen weeks left for the Christmas. And, as to the separate portions, they are always the same, though not in the same place in the civil year; for, in order to allow for the variation of the date of Easter Day (which ranges through thirty-five days or five weeks), of the six Sundays after Epiphany, those are omitted year by year, which would interfere with an early Septuagesima, and are introduced instead between Pentecost 23rd and Advent. This is so simple an arrangement, that it would seem as {401} if it could have no difficulty, and there would be nothing to observe upon it; for as many weeks as are taken out of the Christmas three months by an early Septuagesima of any year, just so many are paid back to it by the corresponding early Pentecost 23rd of that year; however, the arrangement does not run quite smoothly, as the following table shows:—
{402} It will be observed in this table, that of the six Epiphany Sundays (whether in their place or intercalated before Advent), in five years out of seven, one is dropped, that is, there is no place for it. The reason is this: the Calendar contemplates only one Sunday after Christmas; it does not contemplate a second, as if the Epiphany certainly fell in the week of that first Sunday after Christmas, and the first Sunday after Epiphany were the next Sunday immediately upon that first Christmas Sunday. But, in matter of fact, in five years out of seven, there are two Sundays between Christmas Day and the first Sunday after the Epiphany. For this second Sunday the Calendar makes no provision or room; it is as if it had reckoned it as one of the six Epiphany Sundays, and it (the Sunday) had, in those five years, got (as it were) by accident on the wrong side of the Epiphany. The consequence is, that in those years in which there is a Sunday too much before the Epiphany, there is no room for the whole number of Sundays after Epiphany, and one Epiphany Sunday has to be suppressed.
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