Monthly Archives: July 2009

Scripture and Naughty Bits

While doing lectio this morning, I ran across one of the passages in Scripture that most clearly spells out the Biblical Approach to “the naughty bits”—you know, that dangling portion of the human anatomy that gets the church and Christians into so much trouble. So, without further ado…:

5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Almost makes you think the Cistercians are on to something…

Had St James known about blogging, fingers would probably have received a mention as well.

Catholic Notes

Two interesting things:

Former Episcopalians often have quite a lot to say about Episcopal and Anglican dealings. Their words are often voluminous, often colorful, and not often “edifying”. It’s in light of these realities that I was interested to read a more measured take on the actions of General Convention from a Former Episcopalian now Roman Catholic, our favorite online Cistercian, Br. Stephen. While I don’t agree with everything he says there, of course, I did find his perspective and analysis quite interesting.

On the other hand, I do believe we’ve just been identified as the Antichrist by noted anglo-paplist Fr. Hunwicke:

The essence of the concept of the Antichrist is that he, the ultimate manifestation of evil, is skilfully dressed up so as plausibly to appear the genuine article. It occurs to me that the movement known as Affirming Catholicism is exactly this. The enthusiasm and the technical mastery with which they deploy their props – the lace, the monstrances, the music, the incense, the 39 buttons down their soutanes – are simply deceptions of the Evil One, designed to draw away the faithful from their Redeemer.

I mustn’t let my rhetoric run away with me. Some of them are decent and well-meaning, but misguided, people. I am not their judge; I shall stand before the same tribunal as they do. But there are some of them who have a virulent hatred of us. They do not say “These people who reject women priests are decent and good Catholics with whom I would wish to collaborate in every possible way because – except in this one issue – we share the same faith; and I wish them well because – although they’re just making this one mistake – they can share with us our mission to spread the Catholic Faith within the Church of England”. They want to see us persecuted, they want to see us denied a place within the Provinces of Canterbury and York. Their hatred of us seems visceral.

Now that’s where the devil really is.

Actually, I believe that I do and have said “These people who reject women priests are decent and good Catholics with whom I would wish to collaborate in every possible way because we share the same faith…” so I guess that makes me a well-meaning but misguided soul.

(Personally, I take real issue with the notion that “catholicity” is identical with the Neoscholasticism of the past hundred-and-change years, but now’s not the time for that particular discussion.)

Fr. Hunwicke is, of course, correct: the devil is in visceral hatred of other humans—especially fellow Christians no matter what their “party”. It’s unfortunate how often that point gets missed, and how often the opposite gets pushed on blogs.

HWHM Options: Kalendrical Minutae

This is a shorter version of a longer and more technical (read: tedious) post with full cross-references , historical examples, etc. IOW, if you really want expansion of any of these items, I can do it but warn you in advance…

As far as the BCP’s kalendar goes there are 5 general categories of occasions that impact how we do liturgy:

  • cat1: Principal Feasts (p. 15). These are the biggies (Christmas, Easter All Saints, etc.). They have Eves (1st Vespers in the old schemes) and the Mass and Office are always of the occasion.
  • cat 2: Sundays (p. 16). They have Eves (see direction on collect use on p. 158) and the Mass and Office are always of the Sunday.
  • cat 3: Holy Days (pp. 16-17). They have Eves (see collect note as above and most have explicit readings for the Eve with a few odd omissions that we can believe are actually errors) and the Mass and Office are always of the occasion.
  • The vision of the BCP is that the three above categories are to be celebrated with a public Eucharist. (See p. 13.)
  • (The cat 4: Days of Special Devotion (p. 17) have no liturgical effect unless one chooses to use the Confession of Sin and/or the Litany.)
  • cat 5+: Days within the Octave until the Subsequent Sunday. This one’s not actually laid out in the book but I think it’s a principle of post-Vatican II liturgics which ought to be recognized. That is, following the general Western consensus found in Sacrosanctom Consilium and then applied in the General Norms for the Liturgical Year, regular ol’ weekdays (feria) now have a somewhat higher position by virtue of their role in the Temporal cycle and may even supersede Sanctoral occasions (as in the Roman Catholic “Optional Memorials” and our next category, “Days of Optional Observance”). These don’t have Eves. The Collect is of the originating occasion—a Sunday except for Ash Wednesday, the Ascension, and perhaps a few other occasions—and the Essentials of the Office are as found in the Daily Office Lectionary. Mass, well, you’ve got options including the Propers of the Sunday, Propers of the Day [following the 2 year Daily Mass Lectionary], or a votive of your choice.
  • cat 5: Days of Optional Observance (pp. 17-18). This is where all of the black-letter days in the BCP & therefore all of the occasions in HWHM come in. And here we get to the issue…

So—we know how we’re supposed to celebrate the Mass and Office on days of cat 1-3; what’s the deal with a cat 5 as it bumps up against a cat 5+? Is it automatic replacement—and if so, how? As best I can determine, HWHM, like its predecessor LFF, appoints three readings and a psalm, yet doesn’t actually give directions for their use. What the heck are these and how do we decide?

As I see it, we have the following options moving from lesser impact to greater:

  1. Ignore It. The rubrics do indeed give us the option to ignore any cat 5 occasion we like. In this case, everything is, of course, of the cat 5+ “feria”.
  2. Commemorate It. This is the minimum level of observation. Mass and Office are of the cat 5+, but the Collect of the optional cat 5 is said immediately after the Collect of the Day (i.e., preceding Sunday/Observance). Alternatively, this collect with or without additional antiphonal material could be said at the end of the Office.
  3. Offer It. Here the Office is of the cat 5+ with a commemoration of the cat 5 (as above), but the Mass is of the cat 5 with the appointed lessons for the HW/HM used as Mass Readings.
  4. Observe It. Here the Accidentals of Office are of the cat 5—hymns, antiphons, and Collect; the cat 5+ collect would not be said. The Essentials—psalms and Scripture lessons—are of the cat 5+ as laid out in the Daily Office Lectionary.
  5. Celebrate It. Here the entire Office is of the cat 5 as is the Mass. No cat 5+ elements would appear at all. The HWHM readings and the appropriate Common of Saints (pp. 925-927) would be deployed, using one set of readings for the Office and the other for the Mass.  In places where the Daily Mass is neither said nor reckoned, the HWHM readings would replace the appointed cat 5+ readings from the Daily Office Lectionary.
  6. Whoop It Up. Deploying appropriate Commons, the cat 5 becomes (effectively) a Local cat 3 complete with an Eve. This level is permitted as long as it doesn’t interfere with a higher level occasion (cat 1-3).

So, this gives us clarity on what we do, but we have yet to identify when these six levels of observance should be used. The books don’t really give us direction either. Therefore we’re flying subjective at this point.

We have two fundamental choices: 1) observe all black-letter/cat 5/HWHM occasions in the same way or 2) create local kalendars that have different levels of observation for different days.

Uniform Observation

This would seem to be the mind of the resolution at General Convention when it says in the princples of revision:

Levels of Commemoration: Principal Feasts, Sundays and Holy Days have primacy of place in the Church’s liturgical observance. It does not seem appropriate to distinguish between the various other commemorations by regarding some as having either a greater or a lesser claim on our observance of them. Each commemoration should be given equal weight as far as the provision of liturgical propers is concerned (including the listing of three lessons).

If we go this route, what is most appropriate?

I must register a strong objection against the practice that I’ve seen in some circles of Celebrating all cat 5 occasions (i.e., using option 5 for all Optional Observances). Especially given the multiplication of occasions in HWHM, this practice does exactly what Cranmer warns against in the Preface to the 1549 (pp. 866-7) and completely obscures the Temporal arrangement of the Daily Office Lectionary and any sort of regular Psalm pattern.

I would even suggest that option 4 is a bit much. I believe that the Collects appointed for Sundays are, overall, of a higher quality and better convey the full scope of the faith than many of the sanctoral collects. Thus, I’d rather we not overly obscure these liturgical gifts.

If, therefore, a uniform method is chosen, I’m of the opinion that it ought to be of the level of option 3.

There is, however, one major hitch in the logic of the “Principles of Revision”: they’re all optional… It seems like opting to celebrate versus opting not to celebrate would be a distinction of a kind, wouldn’t it? I think the main argument for uniformity fails through irony due to the optional nature of all of these occasions.

Let me say, though, that I think it’s fine for the national church to not make any distinctions—but that also does not preclude dioceses, parishes, and people from making distinctions; it just means the Province isn’t making the choice for us.

Local Kalendars

This is the option of greater antiquity and established Christian custom. Not that I’m biased one way or the other… In fact, I’d say that this option connects directly to Sacrosanctum Consilium‘s wise observation that there’s a difference between Universal observations and those of liturgical “families”:

Lest the feasts of the saints should take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the very mysteries of salvation, many of them should be left to be celebrated by a particular Church or nation or family of religious; only those should be extended to the universal Church which commemorate saints who are truly of universal importance.

To put this in BCP terms: you’ve got your cats 1-3—choose the cat 5 observances that resonate most with you.

Of course, this option then becomes the one that requires the most work, because it means sorting through all of the observances and assigning celebration options to them all. So:

  • option 6 would be used rarely (2 or 3 times a year) for patrons (personal, parochial, or otherwise)
  • option 5 would also be pretty darn rare (again, 2 or 3 times a year) for secondary patrons and such
  • option 4 would be uncommon (say, 3 to 5 times a month) and for for the HW/WM with which you/your parish have a special connection or veneration
  • option 3 would be more frequent for those classes of saints that best connect
  • options 2 or 1 would serve for the rest. The choice between 2 or 1 would most likely have more to do with how you understand the place of these observations within the church as a whole. I.e., are these to be considered the proper prayer of this church—or are they truly optional.
  • Let’s not forget that, these being optional, there’s nothing wrong with personal/parish kalendars adding in days (*cough* Marian feasts *cough*) that are not contained in HWHM…

That’s where I’m at. Time to start sifting, I’d say…

Guerilla Evangelism!

I’m back from vacation and am now behind in every single facet of my life. It’ll take a while to fight back to the surface.

To keep you all occupied until then, I think it’s time that we take the bull by the horns. Given the slashing of the evangelism budget by General Convention, it really is up to us (kinda like it always has been…).

You have until July 31st to complete our first exercise in Guerilla Evangelism which is to create an evangelism tract to welcome any and all to the Episcopal Church—or whichever church you happen to belong to. Put it up on your site and I’ll link to it or send it on to me and I’ll stick it up here.

RBOC: Vacation Edition

  • We’re on our yearly pilgrimage to the Shore.
  • It’s more fun hanging at the beach with the family than reading General Convention reports.
  • Nevertheless, I have popped over to the Cafe on occasion to see how things are going.
  • In other news… A friend of the blog sends a request that we look over the Niagra Rite. I have given it a quick glance and must say that I agree with his assessment: “. . . I believe their new liturgy is the absolute quintessence of everything that is wrong with liberal
    Anglican liturgics. It’s so supernally bad, abysmally written, and theologically horrifying that if I were a gay man in the Diocese of
    Niagara contemplating marriage, I might throw myself over the falls in despair. It’s no wonder that so many anti-inclusion Anglicans see
    inclusivity as the path by which the Anglican Churches will abandon their fidelity to the Creeds and to the theology of the Prayerbook.” In the glance that I gave it, the rite seemed horribly strained to avoid anything that might be considered an orthodox invocation of the Triune God and that just sets us up for all sorts of problems…
  • In happier news, I’ve received an email that there’s a group working to bring the Society of Catholic Priests to American shores. Here’s their emerging website. Essentially this looks like the sort of spiritual norms centered on the sacraments, Daily Office and spiritual formation that one finds in the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) but welcomes women (and thus men who support women clergy).
  • I was struck in the email, however, how focused it was for clergy. Yes, clergy need their own groups as most laity don’t understand the issues clergy face if you”re not one or don;t live with one. At the same time, I wouldn’t mind seeing a nice fraternity/sodality/fellowship that promotes a catholic sense of the sacraments, Daily Office and spiritual formation for laity…

Roman Advice Regarding HWHM

The other night I was perusing my copy of Sacrosanctum Consilium, the main statement on liturgical matters from Vatican II. (This requires a much longer post which is in the works, but as the ’79 BCP is as much a fruit of the council as the Novus Ordo mass, I’ve been rereading the council’s documents.) I came across this little bit which I found of great interest, especially given the developing Episcopal situation with HWHM (thanks, Ren!):

102. Holy Mother Church is conscious that she must celebrate the saving work of her divine Spouse by devoutly recalling it on certain days throughout the course of the year. Every week, on the day which she has called the Lord’s day, she keeps the memory of the Lord’s resurrection, which she also celebrates once in the year, together with His blessed passion, in the most solemn festival of Easter.

Within the cycle of a year, moreover, she unfolds the whole mystery of Christ, from the incarnation and birth until the ascension, the day of Pentecost, and the expectation of blessed hope and of the coming of the Lord.

Recalling thus the mysteries of redemption, the Church opens to the faithful the riches of her Lord’s powers and merits, so that these are in some way made present for all time, and the faithful are enabled to lay hold upon them and become filled with saving grace.

103. In celebrating this annual cycle of Christ’s mysteries, holy Church honors with especial love the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, who is joined by an inseparable bond to the saving work of her Son. In her the Church holds up and admires the most excellent fruit of the redemption, and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be.

104. The Church has also included in the annual cycle days devoted to the memory of the martyrs and the other saints. Raised up to perfection by the manifold grace of God, and already in possession of eternal salvation, they sing God’s perfect praise in heaven and offer prayers for us. By celebrating the passage of these saints from earth to heaven the Church proclaims the paschal mystery achieved in the saints who have suffered and been glorified with Christ; she proposes them to the faithful as examples drawing all to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she pleads for God’s favors.

. . .

108. The minds of the faithful must be directed primarily toward the feasts of the Lord whereby the mysteries of salvation are celebrated in the course of the year. Therefore, the proper of the time shall be given the preference which is its due over the feasts of the saints, so that the entire cycle of the mysteries of salvation may be suitably recalled.

. . .

111. The saints have been traditionally honored in the Church and their authentic relics and images held in veneration. For the feasts of the saints proclaim the wonderful works of Christ in His servants, and display to the faithful fitting examples for their imitation.

Lest the feasts of the saints should take precedence over the feasts which commemorate the very mysteries of salvation, many of them should be left to be celebrated by a particular Church or nation or family of religious; only those should be extended to the universal Church which commemorate saints who are truly of universal importance.

How interesting…

I see here a specific injunction for local kalendars. Not bad advice given our possible upcoming odd proliferation.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that this document is binding on Anglicans, I simply raise it as an example of how a parallel ecclesial body has wrestled with this same issue…

Benedictine Spirituality of the Offices

Here’s a nice little excerpt at Speaking to the Soul today.

The image of water on rock is a favorite one that comes out of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Abba Poemen is one of the greater fathers who appears quite a bit in the Sayings, having a large collection of his own and appearing frequently in the sayings of others. According to Benedicta Ward, one-seventh of the sayings are his and his material may have formed the original core of the Sayings material. Here’s the full text from which the image comes as found in his saying 183:

Abba John, who had been exiled by the Emperor Marcian, said, “We went to Syria one day to see Abba Poemen and we wanted to ask him about purity of heart. But the old man did not know Greek and no interpreter could be found. So, seeing our embarrassment, the old man began to speak Greek saying, ‘The nature of water is soft, that of stone is hard; but if a bottle is hung above the stone, allowing the water to fall drop by drop, it wears away the stone. So it is with the word of God; it is soft and our heart is hard, but the man who hears the word of God often, opens his heart to the fear of God.'” (Ward, Sayings of the Desert Fathers, 192-3)

Liturgical Grumpiness: Prayer C Alterations

There’s a resolution out there to change the language of Eucharistic Prayer C (C077).

It doesn’t try and smooh out or update the rather dated language of the beginning, rather it shoots for gender equity:

Lord God of our Fathers; God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;

Lord God of our ancestors; God of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel and Leah, [God of _________], God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ: Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name.

Now, I have some questions here. They came to me on Sunday when our rector used these very variations.

I understand the desire here—to remind people that the people of God haven’t just been men. Ok, so far so good. However, we now open a serious can of worms.

  • Abraham and Sarah. Yes. I can see not putting in Abraham’s second wife, Keturah (Gen 25:1) even though she bore him 6 children. But what about Hagar (Gen 16 and 21), who was oppressed by Sarah yet rescued by God? Theologically, what does it mean that we choose to leave out (oppress/exclude/etc.) Hagar? Of course, the argument could be made that we are mentioning people from whom the Children of Israel spring. Well, ok…
  • As for Jacob and Rachel and Leah—how about Bilhah (Gen 30:3-8) from whom come Dan and Naphtali or Zilpah (Gen 30:9-13) who bore Gad and Asher? You can’t use the lineage dodge with these that could get you off the hook for Hagar.
  • So, what we see is that in the name of fairness and inclusion, we are honoring the wives and ignoring the concubines through whom God’s plans were also being realized… There seems to be an unpleasant message here about power dynamics and choosing women who are authorized by the patriarchy which seems especially odd given the attention that intimate relationships are receiving these days in the church.  Is this really what we want our liturgy to say?

When we make changes to the liturgy without thinking through their implications we open ourselves up to more problems than we solve.

Hymnal Changes?

David at Per Christum points to something I’d missed. There’s a new resolution coming to General Convention concerning a new hymnal. Now, we don’t need to hyperventilate yet—it’s looking at approval in 2015 for a 2018 publication date.

It is time, however, to consider what a revised hymnal might contain. The impetus for the change is stated this way:

The world of this new millennium is very different from that of the prior century, when The Hymnal 1982 and its predecessors were created. Rapid liturgical, cultural and technological change continue to have an impact on the lives of all the faithful. A study of the need for a new hymnal for the Episcopal Church would explore sensitivity to expansive language, the diversity of worship styles, the richness of multicultural and global liturgical forms, and the enduring value of our Anglican musical heritage.

The primary message that I get from this paragraph given its emphasis on a new millennium, rapid changes, rapid development, etc. is a drive for “new” things. The four central criteria:

  1. “sensitivity to expansive language”
  2. “diversity of worship styles”
  3. “richness of multicultural and global liturgical forms”
  4. “enduring value of our Anglican musical heritage”

also move in that direction, the last being the only nod to continuity; everything else is oriented towards change.

I’m currently “studying”—or perhaps “receiving”—this resoltion and considering what may be a helpful response to it. Several things come to mind.

1. Th current hymnal(s) paradigm—will it stay or will it go?

Currently, we have the ’82 hymnal—the normative hymnal—and two books that I regard as supplemental that meet certain perceived needs in the church: Lift Every Voice and Sing and Wonder, Love and Praise.

What will happen with a new normative hymnal? Will the supplements be rolled into it or will they be retained and, perhaps, strengthened or also re-issued?

2. Ecumenical Activity—how’s that working out for you?

Since the Great Liturgical Leap Forward following Vatican II, we’re now on our second generational of hymnals. There are lessons to be learned if we’re willing to ask the hard questions and take long looks at some sacred cows. Has our method of including multicultral hymns been effective; have they infomed our spirituality and worship styles? Which are the sucesses, which the failures, and what do we learn from this?

The Lutherans have just introduced a new hymnal which seems to incorporate these very same principles (only altering the proper adjective in point 4). What can we learn about how these changes have been received, and whether they were done well or ill?

What’s going on in Roman territory? The most interesting developments I’ve seen are a move away from hymnody at mass and back to the chant propers. However, you’ll note that the Parish Book of Chant—the hymnal of choice for the Reform of the Reform—has no propers in it; they’re in the Gregorian Missal which is intended for the choir/schola, not the congregation. What it does have is ordinary chants for the mass.

Which raises yet another issue…

3. Mass Settings

Will the new hymnal have new service music in it as well, and if so, what form will that take? I know the kind of things I’d like to see, of course

Current Thoughts

My current thoughts—subject to further input and reflection, of course—look something like this:

  • I doubt this is a train that will be stopping. Barring something unforeseen there will be a new hymnal come 2018. And it will implent at least the first three criteria above. I sincerely hope the fourth will be respected as well.
  • I’m of a mind to advocate for a spectrum of resources: one normative hymnal and a set of supplements that augment it.
  • Given that, I’d recommend a supplement that is directed towards a traditionalist/Anglo-Catholic constituency that would include chant settings for mass and office, the breviary hymns, and, to best fit with Rite I services, a selection of “traditional-language” hymns. I.e., hymns with words un-fooled-around-with.
  • Chant propers could either be included or be done separately in an “anthem” book.