Monthly Archives: February 2009

The End Is Near

I woke up this morning with the quiet certainty that it was time to begin writing chapter 6—the summary chapter of my dissertation.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not done with chapters 4 or 5—but Enough has gone by that it’s time to write the conclusion and make sure that the last bits of 4 and 5 line up with it.

I’ve started drafting the three or four paragraph block that sits at the heart of 6, and it’s an odd experience. These few paragraphs are the great apologia for how I’ve spent the last eight years of my life (not counting the whole “regular” life complete with marriage, jobs, kids, etc…). I find this great reckoning simultaneously exhilarating—and pathetic.

More as it evolves…

In other news, I celebrated February as Foot Trauma Month this year by—while washing the dishes—managing to drop a knife off the kitchen counter¬† and allowing it to sink halfway through my right foot. Thankfully, it landed right between two toe tendons and though it bled a lot initially seems to only be a minor flesh-wound.

The Golden Legend: Valentine

From that central source of Christian pious belief—the 1275 Golden Legend on S. Valentine.

Here beginneth the Life of S. Valentine, and first the interpretation of his name.

Valentine is as much to say as containing valour that is perseverant in great holiness. Valentine is said also as a valiant knight, for he was a right noble knight of God, and the knight is said valiant that fleeth not, and smiteth and defendeth valiantly and overcometh much puissantly. And so S. Valentine withdrew him not from his martyrdom in fleeing, he smote in destroying the idols, he defended the faith, he overcame in suffering.

Of S. Valentine the Martyr.

S. Valentine, friend of our Lord and priest of great authority, was at Rome. It happed that Claudius the emperor made him to come tofore him and said to him in demanding: What thing is that which I have heard of thee, Valentine? Why wilt thou not abide in our amity, and worship the idols and renounce the vain opinion of thy creance? S. Valentine answered him: If thou hadst very knowledge of the grace of Jesu Christ thou shouldest not say this that thou sayest, but shouldest reny the idols and worship very God. Then said to S. Valentine a prince which was of the council of the emperor: What wilt thou say of our gods and of their holy life? And S. Valentine answered: I say none other thing of them but that they were men mortal and mechant and full of all ordure and evil. Then said Claudius the emperor: If Jesu Christ be God verily, wherefore sayst thou not the truth? And S. Valentine said: Certainly Jesu Christ is only very God, and if thou believe in him, verily thy soul shall be saved, thy realm shall multiply, and he shall give to thee alway victory of thine enemies. Then Claudius turned him unto all them that were there, and said to them: Lords, Romans, hear ye how wisely and reasonably this man speaketh? Anon the provost of the city said: The emperor is deceived and betrayed, how may we leave that which we have holden and been accustomed to hold sith our infancy? With these words the emperor turned and changed his courage, and S. Valentine was delivered in the keeping of the provost.

When S. Valentine was brought in an house in prison, then he prayed to God, saying: Lord Jesu Christ very God, which art very light, enlumine this house in such wise that they that dwell therein may know thee to be very God. And the provost said: I marvel me that thou sayest that thy God is very light, and nevertheless, if he may make my daughter to hear and see, which long time hath been blind, I shall do all that thou commandest me, and shall believe in thy God. S. Valentine anon put him in prayers, and by his prayers the daughter of the provost received again her sight, and anon all they of the the house were converted. After, the emperor did do smite off the head of S. Valentine, the year of our Lord two hundred and eighty. Then let us pray to S. Valentine that he get us pardon of our sins. Amen.

Who could imagine—Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, compiler of the Legend, completely forgot the incident involving chocolate hearts and saccharine cards…

Ascesis and Beyond

Joe has a nice post up on Ascesis and Theosis. These are very important topics that we need to be fussing around.

The liturgy is bound up here as well, especially as liturgy is—at its heart—not finally about formation or theology but about arranging an actual encounter with the Living God which we then appropriate and emulate. It is an encounter that both enables and actualizes (however temporarily) theosis.

Back to the Liturgy Theses

Thesis 6: Liturgy forms—and it is both vehicle and content. Our liturgy doesn’t “inform” or theology or vice-versa; liturgy is kinetic theology.

  • To go a step further I’ll repeat a comment I made over at Bob+’s place, “Fuzzy liturgy implies fuzzy theology and fuzzy theology damn sure incarnates fuzzy liturgy.”

Thesis 7: Following on 6, any change in liturgy is also a change in the public theology of the gathered local community.

  • Yes, it does matter if the offering plates get put on the altar or on the credence or if they’re whisked away to the sacristy at the offering. Each decision makes some kind of statement about the whole and that’s a point I want to highlight for a moment. I fully recognize that human motion tends to be multivalent. A movement can mean several different things and individual movements can even be interpreted in contradictory ways. That’s why context is always an important factor in interpretation. For instance, some might say that placing the offering plates on the altar demonstrates that the congregation is truly offering the fruits of its labor and those things that matter most to secular society to God; alternatively, the plates may be whisked away to maintain an uncluttered sanctuary space that communicates a¬† “noble simplicity” and a focus on full attention to the divine. Neither one necessarily invalidates the other—and indeed the same action in two places may communicate two different things (if not more…).
  • It is precisely because of this multivalence, though, that the worship leaders of the parish—lay as well as clerical—should be able to articulate the theology incarnate in the liturgy and to articulate it at regular intervals to the congregation (preferably in educational settings rather than the liturgy-turned-didactic of an “instructed Eucharist.”)
  • I seem to remember Vicki+ talking about educating her parish by walking through the Eucharistic prayers and discussing the contents thereof; go and do likewise!

Thesis 8: Thus, the authorized liturgies of the Books of Common Prayer offer a complex and interconnected way of being that are intended to mystically unite us to the Triune God in the sacraments, spiritually lead us into the mind of Christ, and pedagogically form us in the faith of the Church

  • I want to especially highlight the phrase “complex and interconnected.” Christian theology and practice are woven in a complex web. Changing something in one place often logically and practically requires changes elsewhere—often unintentional but logically necessary changes that we may not see at the time of the initial change. When major changes are made in the liturgy, it takes a great deal of time and active work to understand all of the implications on Christian belief and practice. Naturally, the best time to do this work is before any change is made.

Amused

I’m realizing as I sit here at the computer that there are seven prayer books and three Gospel parallels within easy reach but no Bible…

(Upon further searching I’ve located a Septuagint (the Greek OT) and another prayer book but still no full English Bible…)

Chanting the Gospel, Episcopal Style

Previously I’ve noted a Roman Catholic site on chanting the Mass readings and pointed to Grace Church Newark’s (slightly idiosyncratic) collection of pointed Gospel texts, but here’s another resource for you:

One Man’s Offering

The one man is Fr. Bill Gartig who provides us with quite a number of fascinating chant items. Given my lead-in, you’ll not be surprised to see that he’s working his way through the RCL Gospels. His tones accord with both the Liber and the instructions in the Episcopal Altar Book.

Also cool are a number of other pointed items, particularly Eucharistic Prayer A and Eucharistic Prayer B and the Great Litany. Other items including Benedictions are here.