Spirit Days

Pentecost has come and gone and we are bounced back into Ordinary Time without benefit of an octave or even its dreary secular equivalent, the Whitsun Bank Holiday (now transferred to the last Monday in May). If, as a result of  this ecclesiastical minimalism, you feel a little bereft (or even quietly indignant), allow me to introduce you to the concept of Spirit Days.

Spirit Days are a monastic invention. Like most monastic inventions (e.g. champagne, private confession) they are capable of being very slightly subversive — although, if they catch on, in a few hundred years they will probably be enshrined in the calendar as an op mem at the very least. The rationale behind Spirit Days is beautifully simple. If we can’t have a proper liturgical octave, we can at least have two days of profound and joyous meditation on the Holy Spirit. Since we must follow the promptings of the Spirit in everything (or they would not be ‘Spirit’ Days), we are free to garden, make music, scribble poetry, knit, play with the dog or whatever (within reason) takes our fancy. This is liberty of spirit (small s) in action, and as Fr Baker would often remind the nuns of Cambrai, ‘Follow your call, that’s all in all.’• The only limitations are that we must pray, read, eat and sleep — hardly burdensome, surely?

Do you think Spirit Days could become popular outside the cloister? If so, the gifts of the Spirit might have more time to produce their fruits, and that would be a Good Thing. Perhaps we might even get our octave back . . . or is that wishful thinking?

Note for the Serious-Minded
Quoting Fr Baker out of context and with a slightly different purpose from the one he intended is a well-known monastic ploy.


14 thoughts on “Spirit Days”

  1. What a wonderful idea! But will it take off outside the monastery? In a world that has increasing difficulty to make Sunday a day of true freedom (“vacare Deo” and all that…), I fear people are loathe to remove their earplugs to listen to the Spirit (even the one with a small”s”).

    But do keep up your innovations in subversion, that’s one of the reasons the world needs monasteries… who knows what the Spirit will make of it… Isn’t Pentecost all about Optimism?

  2. Yes, a wonderful idea – and it feels like a timely gift for me: thank you. And it’s half term this week too! Sadly I have a dentist’s appointment tomorrow but I suppose I can listen to the Spirit there too.

  3. What a great idea! I was thinking in the week that we squash the Ascension and Pentecost right up next to each other in the liturgical calendar and so lose the sense of expectancy and mystery of waiting for Jesus’ promise to be fulfilled.

    Unfortunately I really do have to complete an overdue report today, but I guess I can subversively transfer my Spirit days ……

  4. How lovely, that makes me feel far less guilt at having spent several hours in the garden today – and the spirit is now calling me to play the piano for a few minutes, so I will (after all, I’ve already cuddled the dog several times this morning). Thank you 🙂

  5. It’s a holiday here in Canada, Victoria Day, so I suspect many people are gardening and enjoying their day off. Never heard of Spirit Days, but will keep the meaning in mind. I have a scan scheduled for tomorrow – perhaps the Spirit will move my kidney stone and provide some relief from this pain?

  6. Since reading about this several years ago (not sure where) I’ve tried to book a “spirit half day” for myself at appropriate times. Not always succeeded but I will persevere.

  7. Spirit days sound very much like opportunities for quiet, leisure and prayer, which could well take off, particularly if the Churches ‘get the idea’ and commend them to us.

    I try to think of Saturday as a Spirit day, because it’s the one that my spouse is home and we can share family, house, garden and friends in equal turns with some freedom, no agenda or even the need to rise early.

    Most of the secular world think of weekends as days of work and time to literally let their hair down, I prefer to be a little more restrained – this doesn’t eliminate social activity, just done in moderation and sharing with those we love and respect.

    I wrote something on the big bible project about reclaiming every day as Holy, rather than just Sunday, perhaps Spirit Days could help with that? Hmm…

  8. I didn’t know that there ever was a Pentecost Octave but I know I am feeling its lack. We hold our breath waiting for Christmas then celebrate like crazy and do the same thing for Easter. We hold our breath waiting for Pentecost… then its back into Ordinary Time and I’m not sure what to do with all this anticipation. I’m left singing Holy Spirit hymns with Lauds and Vespers because I’m not quite ready to let go. I spent ages learning the Pentecost antiphons and responsories, building up the anticipation of a special day and now it’s hard to come down again. I think the Solemn Sundays coming up will help.

  9. Thank you for all your comments. I’ve been offline for a few days so haven’t been responding in real time, but I have read each one and chuckled, prayed or done both simultaneously since! 🙂

  10. Mosaic law in the OT has seven weeks from Passover to Shavout(pentacost).The octave of the spirit is decidely precise. Jews to go “ordinary” now & wait with longing for the month of Elul(September) for release and the opportunity to prepare for surrender.This culminates in Yom Kippur-a day marking atonement.Thereafter in the 7th week Jews live for 7days in Sukkot(huts). suggesting inpermenance. Back then to the octave. I do like “spirit” days-the ordinary remains octave-challenged.

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