Saturday, March 26, 2016

Against a Fixed Date for Easter

With Easter very near now, I think this a good time to denounce talk of fixing the date of Easter.  I would rain imprecations upon those proposing such an enormity, but Good Friday has helped me to be charitable.  Yes, the Lord uses the church calendar to work miracles.

Speaking of which, this Good Friday is one illustration of why fixing Easter is such a bad idea.  The rare correspondence of Good Friday with the normal date for the Feast of the Annunciation has inspired much worthy contemplation through the centuries, including from the Bede and John Donne.  And yesterday I mentioned less worthy (but fun!) speculations of the apocalyptically minded.

We’ve been fortunate to experience this conjunction twice, in 2005 and this year.  But it will not occur again until 2157 . . . or never if the liturgical vandals have their way.

And this potential loss would be just a part of the loss of tradition, the loss of links with the church through the ages should we fix the date of Easter.

In a wonderful post on the conjunction of Good Friday and Annunciation, A Clerk in Oxford contemplates this loss well:

As a medievalist, I found the discussion of the question of fixing a date for Easter a few months ago rather depressing. If there were any theological arguments under consideration, no one seemed to think it worthwhile to articulate them publicly; discussion focused mostly on solving the non-existent problem that some people (schools, maybe?) apparently find a movable date for Easter a bit inconvenient. I've never in my life heard anyone complain about being inconvenienced by the date of Easter, so I really struggle to imagine who considers this a pressing issue. And for that, churches would break with nearly two thousand years of tradition, a complex system worked out with great care and thought and invested over centuries with profound meaning. The fixed dates proposed for Easter are in April, so never again would Good Friday fall on the feast of the Annunciation. So much loss for so little gain!

Indeed.  May one of the lessons of this Easter be that it does not need to be fixed!

May all my readers have a glorious Easter.


Charlie Sutton said...

Who has expressed a desire to fix the date of Easter? Civil authorities? Lazy ecclesiastical authorities? I have not heard this proposal seriously put forth by anyone, so I don't know who is doing so.

Mark said...

A fair question. The current Lord of Canterbury seems to be among those who are pushing this enormity.