Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Week of Weeks

With egg hunts over and chocolate bunnies having lost their ears, Easter’s over in the secular order as this day ends. In the liturgical calendar, however, Easter is just beginning. Easter Sunday marks the beginning of Eastertide. The season lasts fifty days. It’s called a “week of weeks” because seven weeks have 49 days, and with Easter Sunday added to make 50, the period takes us to the feast of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit; it falls on May 27 this year.

The graphic, which I have from liturgicalyear (link), shows the liturgical year. The Eastertide is shown in yellow on the upper right. The liturgical calendar has five divisions centered in the Christian faith—Advent, Christmas, Lent, the Triduum, and Easter—at least on this calendar. The Triduum is a short period of three days, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday; in simpler calendars it isn’t specially noted. Separating Easter from Advent and Christmas from Lent are periods called Ordinary Time.

I’ve known about this time division for a long time, but vaguely—much as I know that Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong are all Chinese cities, but if I had to place them on a blank map of China, I’d have difficulties. Different conceptions of time have long interested me, but I’ve never looked at the Church Year in closer detail. Now that I’ve dipped a toe, I find it fascinating—especially the discovery of those vast green spaces of Ordinary Time.

Ordinary time is where we live in this secular world—where national and bank holidays sometimes produce brief respites. Above it is the liturgical year. It too revolves. And above that? A quote in a comment from Brandon yesterday pointed to yet another level. The quote was Crux stat dum volvitur orbis. It is the motto of the Carthusian Order, formed in 1084. It means The cross is steady while the world turns. The order’s symbol is the insert, from Wikipedia (link).

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