Sundays After Trinity

[The image is of a fourteenth-century limestone sculpture representing the Holy Trinity.]

Following is an excerpt from a post on Fr. Hunwicke’s blog about the Ordinariates’ characterizing this part of the liturgical year as flowing from Trinity Sunday rather than from Pentecost or as being “Ordinary Time.”

It has always seemed to me that this Prayer Book way of reckoning time has provided another one of those subtle distinctions that characterize the Anglican patrimony.  To return once again to St. John Henry Newman’s observation in his essay, “The Mission of St. Benedict,” “To St. Benedict, then, who may fairly be taken to represent the various families of monks before his time and those which sprang from him (for they are all pretty much of one school), to this great Saint let me assign, for his discriminating badge, the element of Poetry; to St. Dominic, the Scientific element; and to St. Ignatius, the Practical.”

The deep roots of the monastic charism in English spirituality—along with monasticism’s patristic theological perspective—have fostered in Anglicanism a spirituality of listening.  The “poetry” of St. Benedict is one that expects enough time to pause and listen, to ruminate upon the words of Holy Writ and the liturgy.  The typically Anglican approach to liturgy is one of attentive, contemplative listening.  Rivers of praedicatorial words crowd out time and space for listening.  Liturgical function over form so that worshipers can get back to practical action also works against time and space for listening.  There is also a heavily logocentric view of the liturgy—one that values the text more than the context of liturgy—that works against time and space for listening. 

Anglicanism has never denied the value of good sermons, good works, and due attention to liturgical texts.  But both monasticism and Anglicanism appreciate the paradox that good preaching, good works, and good liturgy follow more often than not from pausing and listening.  And where better to pause and to listen than in the heart of the Triune God?

From Fr. Hunwicke’s blog:

“Well, we are into the Season in Ordinary T… … no, let us not go down that path, consecrated as it is to the inculcation of Dreariness. Neither let us call the next twenty-odd Sundays “after Pentecost”, even though that was, I admit, the old Anglo-Saxon custom and the habit of the Byzantines and of the Missal of S Pius V. We of God’s own Ordinariates call them the Sundays after Trinity … Cranmer also preserved the Sarum custom, prevalent all over Northern Europe, of calling these Sundays post Trinitatem. I have always felt that ‘After Pentecost’ has an activism subliminally within it; as if we are thinking all the time about what the Holy Ghost is inspiring us to do next. After Trinity, however, suggests adoration. The exquisite Reading at Mass in Northern Europe on Trinity Sunday (continued throughout this ‘Trinity Week’ in Northern Europe, and preserved in the Book of Common Prayer) was Revelation 4, with its tremendously, ecstatically, ‘doxological’ conclusion. One feels in need of a rest, a pause, a silence, after reading it! How exhausting it must have been, to be a Seer!”

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