The Epiphany Season
Glancing at the Liturgical Calendar, I noticed there's not a single feast this week. (Nor are there any fasts.)
There's nothing! Sunday is, of course, always cause for celebration,
All Sundays of the year are feasts of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Book of Common Prayer, p. 16
but aside from that, there is no feast on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday this week.
This is unusual.
Back in the first week of January, we almost squeaked by without one, but then there was that whole matter of the Feast of the Epiphany. But looking closer, I see that Sunday itself was the Feast of the Holy Name that week.
When does Sunday become a named feast day? Only for Holy Name, Presentation and Transfiguration. (see page 16 of Book of Common Prayer)
This is the first of the two feastless weeks that occur this year (the other is the week after the Second Sunday in Advent).
This happened last in Advent 2005 (the week of 12 December 2005). Looking closely at that time frame, one can see that there are no feasts on the calendar from 8 through 20 December (13 days!).
Looking closely at this February dry spell we're encountering, however, we see that this is a little more uncommon. There are no feasts from 6 through 12 February (only 7 days). We didn't hit it last year because Ash Wednesday fell during "February dry week" (9 February 2005). Ash Wednesday, technically a fast, is still a liturgical observance (and an important one!).
When was the last February fastless/feastless week? (i.e., when was the last time there were no liturgical observances during the week in the month of February?)
Sunday has to fall on either the 5th (Martyrs of Japan) or the 6th of the month in order for the window of feastlessness to open up.
The Feast of the Martyrs of Japan is a lesser feast and is not transferred when it falls on Sunday; it is simply not observed.
6 February 2000 was a Sunday. There would have been no liturgical observances that week either (Ash Wednesday wasn't until 8 March).
That was six years ago! I was in high school! I was Presbyterian (USA)! I didn't even know what the Transfiguration was!
This occasional feastless time in the calendar is like walking by the empty shelves in the library. Someone has wisely left a little space to grow. Maybe they'll be filled some day.
But it is also a good time for personal feasting. If our personalities are gradually undergoing change to the extent that every six years we would have trouble recognizing who we were, maybe once in a feastless February we should look inward and see how far we've come.
And how far we have to go.
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