Saturday, January 13, 2018

JUST HOW EARLY CAN ASH WEDNESDAY BE?


Unfortunately we no longer have an Epiphany Season in the Ordinary Form but, thanks be to God, it continues in the Extraordinary Form concluding on February 2, Ground Hog Day, aka, the Purification of the BVM.

But this Sunday, January 14 is exactly one month to the day prior to St. Valentine's Day which this year is aka, Ash Wednesday! Does anyone know when Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday will fall on the same day again????

But how early can Ash Wednesday occur? Clue: it can never be on February 2 or before.

This is fascinating and from the New Liturgical Movement:

It is true that Septuagesima can arrive before the Purification; its earliest possible date (which has not occurred since 1818, and will not occur again until 2285) is January 18th. It is also true that when this happens, the series of Gospels after Epiphany is interrupted; this year, for example, Septuagesima falls on January 28th, and therefore, the Gospels of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Sundays after Epiphany will be read at the end of the liturgical year. These facts are, however, irrelevant to the original arrangement of the season after Epiphany, in which the first four Gospels continue the theme of that feast, an arrangement which predates the institution of Septuagesima. All of which is to say, the underlying theme of the Christmas season, the revelation of God’s salvation in the Incarnation of His Son, breaks off liturgically with the Purification, and not before.

We should also take note here of a much more significant fact about the arrangement of the liturgical year. The earliest possible date for Ash Wednesday is February 4th; there will therefore always be an interval of at least one day between the closure of the Christmas cycle on February 2nd, and the beginning of Lent.

The only fly in the ointment of me looking forward to 2285 is that Pope Francis might fix the date of Easter 🐣 and destroy my wait!

8 comments:

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

February 4th??? RATS! That means my birthday can be in Lent!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Ash Wednesday will fall on February 14 in 2024 and 2029. After that, you and I will not have to worry about it....

Although AW could fall on February 2, the earliest it will come before 2100 is February 7 in 2035 and 2046.

Anonymous said...

Historically, is Groundhog day a Protestant assault on Candlemas?

John Nolan said...

The Holy See, fifty years ago, had no objection to a 'fixed' date for Easter, say the second Sunday in April. Since the present dating system no longer coincides with either the Jewish Passover or the eastern Easter, this would be a sensible reform.

John Nolan said...

We don't have groundhogs over here, but snowdrops were traditionally (and charmingly) referred to as 'Candlemas bells'.

Rood Screen said...

John Nolan,

Agreed. Had they fixed the date of Easter and left the Roman Order of Mass alone, we'd be better off today.

Henry said...

Thumbs down to those colorless kiljoys who would fix the date of Easter. What would be left of the wonderfully variegated character of our Church calendar? (Now that octaves and vigils of principal feasts are gone, for instance.) In the "you gotta love it" category:

CAN PRE-LENT BEGIN BEFORE THE CHRISTMAS SEASON ENDS?
Yes. It happens this year with Septuagesima Sunday being January 28, whereas on the traditional liturgical calendar the last day of the Christmas season is February 2, the feast of the Purification of the BVM (Candlemas).

This is not so unusual—in 2008, Septuagesima Sunday was over a week earlier this year, on January 20. The last previous time Septuagesima occurred this early was January 19, 1913, over a century ago. And the next time it will happen will be next century--January 20, 2160.

The very earliest date on which Septuagesima Sunday can occur is a couple of days earlier—on January 18. But this is exceedingly rare; the last time it occurred was in 1818, two centuries ago. And the next time it will occur on January 18 will be in 2285, century after next.

Marc said...

It's interesting (and bizarre) to me that some here see no problem with the pope changing the date of Easter, something that has been settled since the first ecumenical council, while suggesting that the pope cannot change the order of the Roman mass.