Monthly Archives: May 2007

On Preaching

Here’s an interesting response to the issue discussed previously about sermon stealing.

I do have to take issue with the history of preaching presented by the author, however; it’s not entirely accurate.

Nevertheless, one of the things that left me scratching my head after my last preaching class is the ways that my students did or didn’t rely on the Bible in their sermons–or when they did use it the depth to which they engaged it.

(h/t T19)

Anglican Monasticism

Fr. Marshall Scott of Episcopal Chaplain at the Bedside has a great article up at the Episcopal Cafe on Anglican monasticism. Two points struck me in particular.

First, the monastic orders are one of the Episcopal Church’s best-kept secrets—and they shouldn’t be… Those of us who have experiences with them need to talk about them and invite other people to learn about them too.

Second, I confess that in the past I’ve sometimes considered the Anglican orders to be something less than the Roman ones—that the Roman ones were somehow more real or authentic. But the lives and commitments of modern Anglican monastics are no less real and no less earnest than those of Roman monastics.

Today I’d like to lift up in particular three groups who have influenced me and who have taught me about the monastic heart of Anglicanism:

  • The Order of the Holy Cross. Also, don’t miss the blog by the Prior. From my time in New York and afterward, I’ve met or have corresponded with a number of people connected to the order either as monks or associates.
  • The Order of Julian of Norwich. This is an order whose cause is close to my heart—it values tradition in its worship and common life and seeks to make the riches of the contemplative life better known and meaningful to those of us on the outside.
  • The All Saints’ Sisters of the Poor. This is a very Anglo-Catholic order of nuns who maintain the traditional hours of prayer and are situated on a beautiful rural campus (more than suitable for retreats…)

Those of us who are devoted to the Daily Office and to the Benedictine way of life in general owe it to ourselves to not just be in conversation with books. And, as great as blogs and blog communities are, even they are no substitute for actually spending time absorbing the monastic spirit from those who have really committed to living that way. Look some of these up. Look over the full range, see who’s near you, and start making some connections.

Feast of St. Bede

Blessed Feast of St. Bede to all! At haligweorc, it’s an important feast as he’s the patron here. There’s a note on him up at the Cafe as well, but–like most things written for popular consumption on Bede–it regards him primarily as an historian. History was just a small part of what he did. Here’s his reckoning of his accomplishments:

Thus much of the Ecclesiastical History of Britain, and more especially of the English
nation, as far as I could learn either from the writings of the ancients, or the tradition
of our ancestors, or of my own knowledge, has, with the help of God, been digested by me,
Bede, the servant of God, and priest of the monastery of the blessed apostles, Peter and
Paul, which is at Wearmouth and Jarrow; who being born in the territory of that same
monastery, was given, at seven years of age, to be educated by the most reverend Abbot
Benedict, and afterwards by Ceolfrid; and spending all the remaining time of my life in
that monastery, I wholly applied myself to the study of Scripture, and amidst the
observance of regular discipline, and the daily care of singing in the church, I always
took delight in learning, teaching, and writing
. In the nineteenth year of my age, I
received deacon’s orders; in the thirtieth, those of the priesthood, both of them by the
ministry of the most reverend Bishop John, and by the order of the Abbot Ceolfrid. From
which time, till the fifty-ninth year of my age, I have made it my business, for the use
of me and mine, to compile out of the works of the venerable Fathers, and to interpret and
explain according to their meaning these following pieces –

On the Beginning of Genesis, to the Nativity of Isaac and the Reprobation of Ismaal,
three books.

Of the Tabernacle and its Vessels, and of the Priestly Vestments, three books.

On the first Part of Samuel, to the Death of Saul, four books.

Of the Building of the Temple, of Allegorical Exposition, like the rest, two books.

Item, on the Book of Kings, thirty Questions.

On Solomon’s Proverbs, three books.

On the Canticles, seven books.

On Isaiah, Daniel, the twelve Prophets, and part of Jeremiah, Distinctions of Chapters,
collected out of St. Jerome’s Treatise.

On Esdras and Nehemiah, three books.

On the Song of Habacuc, one book.

On the Book of the blessed Father Tobias, one Book of Allegorical Exposition concerning
Christ and the Church.

Also, Chapters of Readings on Moses’s Pentateuch, Joshua, and Judges.

On the Books of Kings and Chronicles.

On the Book of the blessed Father Job.

On the Parables, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles.

On the Prophets Isaiah, Esdras, and Nehemiah.

On the Gospel of Mark, four books.

On the Gospel of Luke, six books.

Of Homilies on the Gospel, two books.

On the Apostle, I have carefully transcribed in order all that I have found in St.
Augustine’s Works.

On the Acts of the Apostles, two books.

On the seven Catholic Epistles, a book on each.

On the Revelation of St. John, three books.

Also, Chapters of Readings on all the New Testament, except the Gospel.

Also a book of Epistles to different Persons, of which one is of the Six ages of the
world; one of the Mansions of the Children of Israel; one on the Words of Isaiah,
“And they shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited;
” one of the Reason of the Bissextile, or Leap-Year, and of the Equinox, according to

Also, of the Histories of Saints. I translated the Book of the Life and Passion of St.
Felix, Confessor, from Paulinus’s Work in metre, into prose.

The Book of the Life and Passion of St. Anastasius, which was ill translated from the
Greek, and worse amended by some unskillful person, I have corrected as to the sense.

I have written the Life of the Holy Father Cuthbert, who was both monk and prelate,
first in heroic verse, and then in prose.

The History of the Abbots of this Monastery, in which I rejoice to serve the Divine
Goodness, viz. Benedict, Ceolfrid, and Huetbert, in two books.

The Ecclesiastical History of our Island and Nation in five books.

The Martyrology of the Birthdays of the Holy Martyrs, in. which I have carefully
endeavored to set down all that could find, and not only on what day, but also by what
sort of combat, or under what judge they overcame the world.

A Book of Hymns in several sorts of metre, or rhyme.

A Book of Epigrams in heroic or elegiac verse.

Of the Nature of Things, and of the Times, one book of each.

Also, of the Times, one larger book.

A book of Orthography digested in Alphabetical Order.

Also a Book of the Art of Poetry, and to it I have added another little Book of Tropes
and Figures; that is, of the Figures and Manners of Speaking in which the Holy Scriptures
are written.

Emphasis added to highlight what he considered to be his most important work; history is literally the smallest part…

As specifically his works on the gospels show, Bede saw his role to complement and complete. That is, his cycle of 40 homilies was specifically designed to fill out Gregory the Great’s own book of 40–the almost complete lack of overlap signals this. Too, Bede’s commentary efforts were not on the two gospels most often used in the liturgy for which good commentary already existed but, rather, Luke and Mark–the two used the least and for which good commentary was hard to find. He sought to plug the gaps, fill in the holes. That is, he saw himself as part of a team effort for edifying and building up the Church.

And that’s why he’s the patron here.

Young Clergy

There’s an interesting post up at the Episcopal Cafe on whether there should be age-limits/work requirements for candidates before they enter seminary. I know some diocese already have an informal rule on this but I don’t know how many…

It’s an interesting topic and one well worth discussing: what’s the trade-off between a young person with fresh ideas and a true passion for ministry who has followed it at great personal cost (like–say–massive student loan debt that a clergy salary really doesn’t help pay down…) and a second-career person with “real-world/life” experience who has deferred their calling or come to it later in life. I do think there are benefits to both…

One word on the experience note, though, some people seem surprised at the recent trend of bishops who have so little experience as priests… For second-career people, the time that they will be priests and be able to actively serve the church is shorter than the first-career folks…

I didn’t go into that over there, and I won’t go into it now because I get so fixated on one particular facet of this problem that hits painfully close to home–it’s on the conflicting messages and the reality of the church.

The church says it wants young clergy.

The church says it wants women clergy.

But what it demonstrably doesn’t want is young women clergy. I haven’t done any kind of systematic survey but I’d bet money a systematic one would confirm my suspicions currently based on anecdotal evidence. The absolute last group of people to be hired out of any group of new priests are young women of childbearing age–especially those who have small children.

It’s a disgrace. The message we get over and over again is that the church really doesn’t want to ordain women unless they promise to act like men.

If you’re going to say that you ordain women then ordain them–then hire them!

“Traditional” Office Hymns

One of my favorite words that gets thrown around–“traditional”–is inherently slippery… “Traditional” for whom? When is the ideal time when something stops and starts being traditional?

The notion of tradition is always a contemporary construct–an idea of how we view things and privilege things that appeared and/or happened in the past. There was discussion on Ship of Fools about whether the “Traditional Office Hymns” in my “traditional Anglo-Catholic” ordo were, in fact traditional. It’s a perfectly fair question and my response is that the list I give matches the list in the first edition of Ritual Notes supplemented and checked with the Anglican Breviary meaning that the list stands firmly documented within Anglo-Catholic tradition.

On the other hand…

Here’s another list:

From Nov 1 Matins: Primo dierum | Lauds: Aeterne rerum | Vespers: Lucis Creator (Sunday, O lux beata) | Compline: Christe qui lux es
Advent Matins: Verbum Supernum | Lauds: Vox clara | Vespers: Conditor alme siderum
Christmas Matins: A Patre unigenitus | Lauds: A solis ortus cardine | Vespers: Christe redemptor omnium
Epiphany Matins: A Patre unigenitus | Lauds: Iesus refulsit omnium | Vespers: Hostis Herodes impie
LXX Matins: Alleluia piis edite laudibus | Lauds: Almum sidereae iam patriae decus | Vespers: Alleluia dulce carmen
Lent Matins: Clarum deus ieiunii | Lauds: Iesu quadragenariae | Vespers: Audi benigne conditor
Passiontide Matins: Arbora decora | Lauds: Auctor salutis | Vespers: Vexilla Regis
Easter Matins: Iesu nostra redemptio | Lauds: Aurora lucis rutilat | Vespers: Ad cenam Agni prouidi
After Asc Matins: Optatus votis omnium | Lauds: Aeterne rex altissime | Vespers: Hymnum canamus gloriae
Pentecost Matins: Veni creator Spiritus | Lauds: Beata nobis gaudia | Vespers: Iam Christus astra ascenderat
Until Nov 1 Matins: Nocte surgentes | Lauds: Ecce iam noctis | Vespers: Deus creator omnium (Sunday, Lucis creator) | Compline: Te lucis ante terminum

There are a number of commonalities between this list and the other, the chief difference being static hymnody through the week in Ordinary time in this listing… But there are other differences as well. This list comes straight from a 10th century English Benedictine customary (Ælfric’s LME for the OE folk in the crowd)–so it’s pretty darn “traditional” too. But which is more traditional? How do we adjudicate?

If we push it further, though, we find that this isn’t even “the” Office Hymn cycle for 10th century English Benedictines. Rather, there were two different hymnal types in circulation, the Winchester-Worcester type and the Canterbury type, that reflect how continental influences shaped local practice during the Benedictine Revival (the 10th c. rebirth of monasticism in England after the Viking depredations of the previous centuries). This present list, while an important witness of actual(?) use, isn’t even a “pure” form of the Winchester-Worcester type. Furthermore, how we even define “pure” is up in the air–do we consider “pure” to be what is in the majority of the sources that have survived? And if so–we need to consider how representative the books are that have survived…

“Traditional” is simple until you start pushing on it and defining it;”tradition” is one of those things that becomes fuzzier the more you look at it.

Tradition isn’t a static thing and it isn’t a single thing. As any medievalist will tell you, there isn’t a common “medieval” anything. Rather, we can only talk about what certain texts represent about what was happening in certain places at certain times (…and discussions will ensue about whether any of it actually happened as it was represented…). Much of what appears as Anglo-Catholic tradition is a Victorian adjudication about what is properly medieval in light of their construct of the high medieval period as an English golden age. (Which is why the contemporaneous pre-Raphaelite paintings of the Arthurian cycle have the 5th century characters in 14/15th century accoutrements…)

Thoughtful discernment is key here. The answer on the Office Hymns is clearly that both lists—the Anglo-Catholic (presumably Tridentine) one and Ælfric’s one—have a place in the tradition. The one we choose positions us in relation to that tradition. Personally, I like Ælfric’s because it has more static elements and thus fits the peculiarities of my current Office practice. Too, it aligns me with the English Benedictine pre-Scholastic practice which I think most fully and properly illuminates the Anglican way. At the same time, I recognize that it falls outside of what is “traditional” for classic Victorian-inspired (heavily Scholastic) Anglo-Catholicism.

I guess if there’s a note I want to end on, it’s this: “tradition” often gets used in churchy circles as a rhetorical blunt instrument meant to end discussions. It doesn’t have to be. Tradition can also be a way of understanding the fullness of what we have received and understanding how adjudicating among the manifold options makes a difference for how we understand ourselves, our faith, and our practices of faith now.

Life Moving into High Gear

Things are heating up and hard deadlines with very short turnaround times are appearing for both the dissertation and a major work-related side-project. Time and resources will be sucked up by those rather than other endeavors (I spent last night wrestling with web server configuration rather than psalm pointing comparisons–same level of geekiness, just different fields…) As I threatened before, pieces will still appear at the Episcopal Cafe but I will be posting less here and commenting less as well.

The Anglican soap opera will have to manage without me for a while…

As a parting gift, though, I commend to those interested–especially the Anglican Breviary crowd–this four-volume translation of the pre-Pian Roman breviary:
I’d love to compare it to the AB but that’s a project that–well–I don’t have time for at the moment…

(h/t the Breviary page at Wikipedia which has a great collection of links at the bottom)

Mainline Renewal in the Next Generation

Here in this corner of the blogosphere, we’re hard at work at implementing various strategies for renewing the mainline denominations in the generations that follow. At our house, Lil’ G (the three-year old) already knows the abbreviated Compline by heart and has been clamoring for us to teach her the abbreviated Morning Prayer.

Lutheran Zephyr and his lovely wife have decided on another option: they’re well on their way to breeding themselves a new synod. Congratulations!!