On Sunday afternoon a friend of mine alerted me to this thread over on the New Liturgical Movement blog. Once again, it’s the old hypocritical controversy about the times of the Triduum services. Of course, I was barred from commenting on the New Liturgical Movement blog by its present editor four years ago (I wonder if that still stands?) for having seemingly compared Pius XII with Morgoth, so I can’t add anything there, but my own voice is hardly to be proscribed here!
I took exception most of all to the contributions of “Bonifacius,” whose sneering disparagement of traditional praxis seems to have been unchallenged. He writes:
“I don’t see why the ability to start Easter Sunday celebrations half-a-day early, during what should still be Lent, is dispositive. Liturgically, an evening Easter Vigil allows Holy Saturday, the day Christ lay in the tomb, to be observed as . . . the day Christ lay in the tomb, instead of as the beginning of Easter Sunday. Liturgically, an evening Easter Vigil allows the Exsultet and the Easter candles to shine in actual darkness, instead of having the light of morning stream through the windows.”
I can only imagine he came to the same conclusions as Alcuin Reid in his assessment of the reforms of Pius XII. He might also think that, on years in which Julian and Gregorian Pascha coincide, observing an Orthodox and a Roman church, they were celebrating the same mysteries, and the same events, at the same time. Only they don’t. The Byzantine Paschal liturgy on the Holy Night is the equivalent of the Roman Resurrexi Mass of Pascha morning, not the so-called “Easter Vigil” (whence came that name?). By contrast, the vesperal liturgy of St Basil is celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday, being the equivalent, in content and ethos, of the old Roman morning service (with the Exultet and the prophecies, &c). Paschal Mattins, the focal point in times past of the entire year for most people (you only have to observe the location of prominent benefactor tombs in mediaeval churches), were not reformed or abridged, they were just abolished.
As for the times, it seems hypocritical for people to be so “rational” about the times of the Triduum services when they don’t seem bothered about the abomination of evening mass at other times of the year. And why are they not consistent? Any modern timetable of Triduum services has the principal services at odd times, like 7pm Thursday, 3pm Friday and 10pm Saturday. Where’s the reason in this? As for me, as an Orthodox Christian I feel completely dispassionate about it. I have the Byzantine Rite now, which I am learning every day. The comprehensive reform of the Roman Rite will never be reversed, and the traditionalists are just tolerated. Who knows how long that will last? Even if it lasts a hundred years, the defective worship of these people, having no real spiritual foundation but rather a vicious and reactionary spirit, will just fizzle out anyway. If any good comes of this grotesque, rational experiment at all, it’s that the Orthodox Church looks westward and is warned off any systematic deconstruction and reform of the Byzantine Rite, and it would be unthinkable anyway. Who knows, it may be revealed in God’s eternal time that the immolation of the Roman Rite was for the Church of Rome what fire and brimstone was to Sodom and Gomorrah, in recompense for the hubris of the Papacy and their arrogant, filioquist doctrine.