Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Multiple Sets of Propers for Feasts

Tonight we are celebrating the Vigil of the Assumption in the Dominican Rite.  The priest will be vested in purple, and there is no Alleluia for the vigil.

This has prompted some discussion among my friends about how we observe vigils and feasts, and how current observation of vigils and feasts differs between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, and between the West and East.  There are many differences, and I don't really have time to meditate on them now, but I just want to say that I really deplore the practice of using the readings for the feast day if vigil readings are available, and of using Mass at Dawn or Mass During the Day propers for all the Masses of Christmas or Easter instead of using the correct set of propers for the time of day.

This got me thinking a little about life here in Alaska.  The Church's rules for Masses linked to a time of day often have to be fudged a little because of our extremes of daylight and darkness.  For instance, in most places, Christmas Mass at Dawn would be your 7AM Mass and the 9:30 would be Mass During the Day.  But here, 9:30 would be Mass at Dawn and 7AM would be...what?  There isn't a provision for Mass between midnight and sunrise, but the sun comes up really, really late at that time of year in Anchorage.  And in some places in Alaska, the sun doesn't come up at all on Christmas Day.

I know that the archbishop here makes a yearly decision about when the Easter Vigil can start.  If we waited for "sunset" by some standards, especially if Easter is in mid-April, the sun won't be going down until 10PM.  I don't have an objection to Mass that late--I've twice been to Russian Catholic Pascha services that started at midnight and went until 4AM and loved it!  But it can be really hard for priests who are elderly or in ill-health to manage late-night Masses, so we make concessions.  I don't know if he does the same for Christmas.  As I said, it's not as big a concern in the Archdiocese of Anchorage as it is for the Diocese of Fairbanks.  But I will be interested, as we get nearer Christmas, to find out exactly how we do things here in the frozen north.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the sunshine and the remaining summer weather.

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