Future, Present, & Past:

~~ Giving itself latitude and leisure to take any premise or inquiry to its furthest associative conclusion.
Critical~~ Ready to apply, to itself and its object, the canons of reason, evidence, style, and ethics, up to their limits.
Traditional~~ At home and at large in the ecosystem of practice and memory that radically nourishes the whole person.

Oυδεὶς άμουσος εἰσίτω

Sunday, November 6, 2011

All Saints' Day in time and vice-versa

The Feast of All Saints is not just the last major feast of the Church Year, but, as such, is also the eschatological Feast.
Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
The Book of Common Prayer (ECUSA) contains a rubric specifying that "All Saints' Day may always be observed on the Sunday following November 1, in addition to its observance on the fixed date." This is an unusual feature; All Saints' is the only Feast of which this double observation is permitted. It is the last major feast of the Church Year; the day when the Church celebrates the company of all the Holy (i.e., the Church itself). (As is usually the case, "scholars are divided," but there are reasons to believe that in some parts of the pre-Christian world, this day marked the New Year.) I do not say that the Church intended the meanings which I find in this curious rubric (and I have not been able to ascertain how venerable it is--it may go back only to the preparatory materials for the '79 Prayer Book), but I think one may read an eschatological significance in the fact that, in this way, the Feast can be seen as bracketing the "ordinary time" of the week, falling on November 1 and then recurring on the Eighth Day of the week, the day of eternity. The Feast's temporal bivalence underscores the way the ontology of the Church is fundamentally eschatology: the Church itself, "the company of all blessed people," is the kingdom that is both coming, beyond the horizon of chronology, and is also now here. To use language that is a bit misunderstood these days, the Church Suffering is the Church Triumphant.

1 comment:

  1. That's realy fascinating, although I would also say that I never heard/read this interpretation. The fact that God's message to human beings is by definition endless allows always for further interpretations.