Barring a funeral (which may God graciously prevent!) the next liturgy to be celebrated in St. Paul's will be the Divine Service for Pentecost. So today I took down the Easter banners and stowed them away until next year. I put the red paraments upon the altar, pulpit, and lectern, and hung up our single Pentecost banner. Pentecost will be the last Sunday on which our choir will sing till next Fall. The Paschal Candle was snuffed out at Ascension, and on Exaudi it was returned to its usual home by the Baptismal font. The Church is readying for us a return to what Roman Christians call "ordinary time."
The Day of the Spirit is the border between the Semester Domini and the Semester Ecclesiae. It belongs to both, I think. It points in both directions. We have stood to receive the Holy Eucharist all during the Paschal season, but on Pentecost we kneel again. Yet, like all of Eastertide, there will be no gradual on Pentecost, and the alleluia will be doubled, but unlike Easter we will return to the "normal" alleluia and set aside the jubilant celtic alleluia till Easter returns again. In numerous little ways like this, we prepare to go back to the way things usually are. And yet, I hope we go back a changed people - a people in whom the Paschal joy is not quenched, but in whom it burns in the hidden heart. It's not that the joy is less, it is that is more interior - deeper, abiding, and yet much less on display in the Church's liturgical life. If Easter has given us a veritable foretaste of heaven on earth, Pentecost and following Sundays remind us that it was, after all, only a foretaste, and so the yearning remains for the fullness of what is yet to be. Thus, we pray:
Come, Holy Spirit! Fill the hearts of your faithful people and kindle in them the fire of Your divine love!