A few days ago on Rorate Caeli‘s twitter feed, they mentioned the story of Paul VI crying on the first Pentecost Monday after the reform. As the story goes, he was surprised to find green vestments laid out for him. He asked where the red vestments were, and was told by his MC that there is no more octave of Pentecost, it’s right into “ordinary time” now. Shocked, Paul IV asked “who is do this?” The MC told him, “you did.” Then he wept.
Rorate called this story a myth, and I couldn’t agree more. This story comes around every Pentecost, and frankly I find in literally incredible (unable to be believed). In fact I think I left a comment to that effect on their blog years ago. Anyway, I suppose who ever came up with this tale had the good intention of absolving Paul VI from some his culpability for the liturgical destruction he unleashed. But to my mind, the story does just the opposite.
One of the pope’s primary duties is to safeguard the faith, which includes the liturgical practices which are part and parcel of it. Paul VI promulgated the most sweeping changes to the liturgy ever in the 2000 year history of the church. To suggest, as this myth does, that he didn’t know what he was doing, but just willy-nilly signed off on these changes, would be charging him with dereliction of duty in the extreme. I mean, you couldn’t be that negligent if you tried. Then to top it off, he didn’t even bother correcting the mistake after he realized it. Ridiculous. I simply cannot believe this story.
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