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!