I increasingly find myself disheartened by the relative lack of depth to the current liturgical calendar [edited]. The following are just some thoughts I’ve had about how the calendar could be revised to bring back some of the uniquely Catholic elements that I feel were lost in the 1969 revision. I’ve divided them into three categories based on how difficult these changes would be to implement: “Easy” could be done with little effort; “Requires Some Work” would require some revision of the texts, but not a massive overhaul; “Fourth Edition of the Missal” refers to changes that would require a complete restructuring of the current Missal, as well as the Lectionary and other texts.
- Eliminate the practice of transferring holy days to the following Sunday (specifically, Epiphany, the Ascension, and Corpus Christi). The major feasts of the liturgical calendar should be celebrated on the same day throughout the entire Church. Allowing national conferences to move these celebrations invites a sense of disunity (e.g., why is Epiphany celebrated on January 6 in Rome, but on a different day in the U.S.?).
- Mandate that the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) be required on all Sundays, Solemnities, Holy Thursday, and the Easter Vigil. I would venture to say that this prayer, once unchanging and reliable, is now the least used of the four Eucharistic Prayers (with the possible exception of IV). Allow EP III on ferias during Advent, Lent, and Easter Time, unless a Solemnity or Feast falls on those days. Permit EP II only on ferias during the time after Epiphany and the time after Pentecost on which no celebrations of saints fall.
Requires Some Work
3. Restore many of the saints that were removed from the General Calendar during the 1969 revision to the calendar. There are far too many days, especially during the months of June, July, and August, that are merely ferias. “Green” Masses should be the exception, not the norm, during the week (compare the number of saints on the 1962 calendar to the current calendar to see just how radically simplified the current calendar is).
4. Restore the Ember and Rogation Days to the calendar. The current GIRM states that the national conferences may assign them to any time at their discretion. Unfortunately, many seem to think that “may” equals “optional.” Thus, these important celebrations have been MIA for decades, at least in the U.S.
Fourth Edition of the Missal
5. Restore the season of Septuagesima. There is absolutely no reason why this pre-Lenten season of preparation was removed, other than, from what I’ve researched, the fact that it wasn’t an ancient practice of the Church. This time would allow the faithful to truly prepare themselves for three weeks before Ash Wednesday. In the current calendar, Ash Wednesday comes right after a Sunday in Ordinary Time; it’s as if we are expected to suddenly realize, “well, I guess Lent starts now” without any formal preparation.
6. Eliminate the “tempus per annum” (Ordinary Time) and return to two separate seasons: Time after Epiphany and Time after Pentecost. Currently, there is no distinction between the two seasons, each of which have traditionally had unique theological focuses. Consequently, when Ordinary Time resumes after Pentecost, we are thrust right back into the middle of it without any warning. I personally find the experience quite jarring and disconcerting; the readings just pick up again without any sort of accommodation.
7. Get rid of all the separate liturgical books (with the exception of the Lectionary) and put everything into the Missal. The Missal has traditionally been a one-stop-shop containing everything needed to say Mass. Now, however, there is a Book of Blessings, a Rite of Christian Funerals, and countless other books, none of which are gathered in one source. As a result, the Missal, which has been freshly translated, uses English that is completely different from the older translation found in the other books, and it will remain that way until the new editions of those books are approved.
These are just some thoughts I have had. I don’t expect any of them to be implemented any time soon, but I would be interested in others opinions on this issue (the liturgy and the calendar have always been of interest to me).
These are the ideas that have come to me. I doubt they will ever come to pass, but I can