Sunday 9 February 2020


I was explaining to a Protestant friend the other day why the concept of the 'January blues' didn't exist while England was Catholic. Having fasted and abstained throughout Advent right up until Christmas Eve, people could look forward to a joyful month of feasting and celebrating the birth of Christ at a time when nature was at its least hospitable. Food would have been stored and prepared for these happy weeks, and just as familiarity started to pall the merriment, Holy Mother Church calls time on the partying and focuses our minds on mortality, the Four Last Things, The Way of the Cross... It's time to prepare for Lent.

This last week between Candlemas and Septuagesima is a strange one: liturgically it feels like neither fish nor fowl. Like CS Lewis’s Wood Between the Worlds. Should we consider it the octave of the Presentation / Purification of the BVM, or prep-time for the start of the Easter cycle? On balance I've opted for the former -- so wine, cake and good Armagnac have been in evidence. Today, however, it was back to purple vestments and goodbye to the Alleluia and Gloria, at least until Laetare Sunday.

But today is still a Sunday and so we had a plain cake ('Winter Cake' -- a plain cake with mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg, stuffed with slivers of apple) with dinner and I have a nice glass of Janneau to keep me company as I write this.  Little pleasures, from which we will take our leave during Lent.

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