Monthly Archives: November 2010

Brief Anglican Covenant Thought

Much ink, real and virtual, has been spilt over the Anglican Covenant. I’ve largely stopped commenting on the on-going inter-Anglican feuds but can’t resist just one little comment here…

The Archbishop of Canterbury is right: the Covenant has no ability to change what any one church does. It cannot make anybody do or not do anything. If we want to have either girl bishops or gay bishops, a Covenant will and can do absolutely nothing about it.

All the Covenant can do is more completely describe what other parties do about how one particular church acts.

A Covenant cannot and will not limit the actions of the Episcopal Church.

Take a look at the vote numbers from England’s General Synod for a second:

Bishops 39 for 0 against 1 abstention
Clergy 145 for 32 against 11 abstentions
Laity 147 for 25 against 8 abstentions

The passage of the motion for the Covenant to be sent to the dioceses for discussion and ratification was not half-hearted or narrow.

There are two ways to look at the Covenant: 1) a relatively province-neutral organizational scheme or 2) a referendum on North American actions. It seems that most of the rhetoric from the major players see it as the second. If this is true, then the English vote should be seen as a wake-up call to the Episcopal Church. Whether we’re doing the right things or not, our sister church has sent us a message—our actions will have consequences. Our response should be appropriate. That is, continued argument against the Covenant is, to my mind, pointless because it reads as a continuing argument for American exceptionalism, a statement that we don’t want to live up to the consequences of our actions.

A New Publishing Model?

I’ve got a couple of writing projects I’ve been working on that may be developing into books. Bits and pieces of these have appeared here on the blog in various forms. One is a practical guide to the liturgical year, the other is a text on liturgical/lectionary spirituality. I pitched the first to Church Publishing a little while back; they said that they were interested but that the timing wasn’t right. Of course, now we hear that there’s been a great deal of change at Church Publishing including a significant reduction of staff and therefore capability.

What does this bode for liturgical works for an Anglican audience? I don’t know for sure.

If I had to guess, however, it would indicate that the chance of being published through Church Publishing is shrinking. Furthermore, I’d imagine that they’re more likely to pick up works that are in line with the national church’s liturgical direction as exemplified by Enriching Our Worship. Material like mine with plenteous references to earlier times and other church traditions (e.g. the Missals…) may not be what they’ll be interested in publishing.

Where, then, to go? Will LTP start picking up the slack? Or is it time to look for a new model?

I’ve been following with interest the Simple English Propers Project as reported by Chant Cafe, NLM, and the CMAA. They just completed a fund-raising campaign which raised money for the completion of the project; the resulting work will, if I understand it rightly, be distributed freely on-line and for the cost of printing at Lulu. This was acheived through the use of digital micro-patronage–collections of $5, $10, $20 and, I’d assume, some larger donations that when pooled made it a viable project.

Now, there’s a certain cachet lacking in that it’s not produced by an official press. For the purpose of, say, a typical academic resume, a self-published work of this sort would have the credibility of—well—a blog posting. And the resulting work may lack something in not having the eye of an experienced editor looking it over. On the other hand…it works. It’s a means for circulating ideas, and particularly ideas that lack the financial viability need in the modern publishing market.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the patronage idea recently. I’d actually been considering making a standing announcement that I’d be willing to code a traditional calendar version of the breviary that would accept the use of pre/non-Vatican II lectionaries like the American or English ’28 versions or even the classical prayer book forms that don’t work with the current post-Vatican II scheme if I could get a patron, parish, or group of parishes to underwrite it. But that hadn’t bubbled to the putting-it-into-practice phase.

So here’s the thing: traditional print publishers are having a hard time. This is bad for niche writing and publishing. Nevertheless, there’s still interest in niche materials. Patronage, particularly in the form of digital micro-patronage, may represent a way forward for the production of work for which an author/editor deserves compensation but which can then be freely/cheaply circulated.



Seasonal Maintenance

There have been some seasonal oddities at the breviary as we shift into Advent. The breviary actually turned one a few days ago but there’s been enough change in the base code that I have no idea what the state of the Advent calculations is currently. So, I’ll be poking around there a bit in the coming week and no doubt the occasional weirdness will pop up. I’m also planning some Advent posts but those haven’t managed to write themselves yet…

SCP Meeting

I had a terrific time at the annual convention of the Society of Catholic Priests last week. My time there was regrettably short; since M is the eponymous “catholic priest” in the family, I stayed here with the kids, just popping up from Thursday evening and Friday morning while the in-laws came down to watch the girls. In any case, I got to meet people, some old friends, some blog readers I’ve known of for a while but never met in the flesh, and some new friends.

I think the presentation went quite well. I was speaking on Communion Without Baptism and my intention was to lay out the situation as I see it in order to foster a conversation. It worked as we had a spirited yet collegial discussion. And, yes, while most of the people at the conference were representing the traditional position, there were some who questioned it. I don’t know if any minds were changed but I think we all left with a better sense of where we were and where the the other arguments are located.

I had several requests for the text itself and I will be making it available once I get it filled in and smoothed out. So—I’m in the midst of finishing that off and preparing another presentation on letters of ascetic instruction comparing Jerome’s Letter 53 and Aelfric’s Letter to Sigeweard. Welcome to busy season…


I’m hacked off at the breviary’s inability to select second commemorations appropriately. Today in the House Use should be both the Octave Day of All Saints and somebody else but the somebody else isn’t showing… There’s an error somewhere in the date parsing code. Even more frustrating, there’s an old test file on the server that I think gets it right—and now I can’t locate it.

St Charles Borromeo on Parish Work

Speaking of S Clement’s… One of its former members, Br. Stephen, posted a great selection yesterday from the writings of St. Charles Borromeo whom we celebrated at mass last night. Again, I confess, I don’t know the writings of the Counter- and Post-Reformation Roman saints very well. What little time I have for study these days tends to go to the patristic and medieval saints who, happily, we have in common. In any case, these words deserve to be more broadly circulated:

Would you like me to teach you how to grow from virtue to virtue and how, if you are already recollected at prayer, you can be even more attentive next time, and so give God more pleasing worship? Listen, and I will tell you. If a tiny spark of God’s love already burns within you, do not expose it to the wind, for it may get blown out. Keep the stove tightly shut so that it will not lose its heat and grow cold. In other words, avoid distractions as well as you can. Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter.

If teaching and preaching is your job, then study diligently and apply yourself to whatever is necessary for doing the job well. Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. If you do not, people will notice that you say one thing, but live otherwise, and your words will bring only cynical laughter and a derisive shake of the head.

Are you in charge of a parish? If so, do not neglect the parish of your own soul, do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself. You have to be mindful of your people without becoming forgetful of yourself.

My brothers, you must realize that for us churchmen nothing is more necessary than meditation. We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: I will pray, and then I will understand. When you administer the sacraments, meditate on what you are doing. When you celebrate Mass, reflect on the sacrifice you are offering. When you pray the office, think about the words you are saying and the Lord to whom you are speaking. When you take care of your people, meditate on the Lord’s blood that has washed them clean. In this way, all that you do becomes a work of love.

This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work: in meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in other men.

One of the enduring problems that I see in the Episcopal Church is this confusion about the role of the priest. Most parish expectations are not clear, diocesan expectations are not clear, and in the seminaries where I’ve been this topic seems to be assumed far more than discussed. As a result, most clergy come out thinking that they are a mash-up somewhere between non-profit CEO, social activist, witch doctor, and entertainer. Throw in “being missional” into the mix and you have a guaranteed recipe for confusion.

One of the most encouraging things I heard from M concerning our diocesan clergy conference was that our bishop emphasized the importance of clergy as people of prayer. Prayer is not something that clergy should do when they have time to fit it in around the tasks of ministry—rather, it is one of the fundamental tasks of ministry. Now all we need is for the bishop to post that prominently on the diocesan website to inform congregations and vestries and to remind the clergy…

On the Mt Calvary “Story”

Paul put up a link to a story from Venom Online in the thread below on Mt Calvary. I usually make a habit of not going there, and I do not link to it for two reasons: first, I find the material there to be deliberately inflammatory and mean-spirited (I know, it’s not alone in that, but that’s not a tone that I take or tolerate here); second, I find that the material there usually contains wild inaccuracies.

The story posted there on Mt Calvary and what happened there Sunday is no exception to this usual rule. There are inaccuracies in the piece and I feel compelled to say something about them. The impression one receives from the article is that my diocese—and my friends—are behaving in a high-handed fashion that serves only to reinforce all of the stereotypes held by those who read that site.

Here are the facts:

Father Parker celebrated a Sung Mass using Rite I of the BCP. I’m assuming the ceremonial was English Use as that is Fr. Parker’s custom. Not Anglo-Papalist, it’s true, but not sloppy anything-goes by a long mile.

In thinking about it, I realized that there are only four priests in the diocese that I can think of who I would trust to properly celebrate solemn high ceremonial: Fr. Parker is one, my priest is another, another friend is the third and was out of town, and the fourth is M. Too, all four would be objectionable to the departed congregation; the only one not in a same-sex relationship is M and—well—she’s a girl.

Of the men, Fr. Parker is the only one who has more than one priest at his parish—he has two assisting priests (contra the article)—and thus could be there and have coverage at his parish.

It was a small congregation, a dozen, of whom Fr. Parker brought precisely one, his server. In other words, it was a larger one than is typical for Mt Calvary’s early mass.

I’m unclear on the “unscheduled” bit. I know that Fr. Parker told Fr. Catania that a mass would be taking place at his church, the only remnant of truth here may be that there was not clarity on the time it was to occur.

In any case the article is correct that Fr. Parker’s mass started late; they did so as to not interrupt the 8 AM mass which ran late. Furthermore, they used the side chapel so as not to disturb preparations for the later high mass.

In short, it sounds to me like the diocese handled the situation appropriately. It would be one thing if they’d sent a liberal female priest to celebrate on the high altar (and I can think of some Episcopal diocesans who might have done just that…). Rather, they sent Fr. Parker, himself from a parish that does not receive women clergy at the altar, who truly understands the theological reservations of the departing congregation. A proper, dignified, prayer book mass was sung with as little disruption as possible. Is it the best of all possible worlds? No. But it assuredly could have been much worse as well.

St Clement’s Online

I received a note the other day from Paul Goings, frequent commenter, long-time friend of the blog, and one of the people I go to when I have questions on liturgy. There are now two blogs connected with events at St. Clement’s, Philly, the great bastion of Anglo-Papalism in the Episcopal Church.

The rector’s blog is and while liturgically traditionalist he takes a more liberal position on some of the questions of the day.

The other is the new S Clement’s Church Blog and so far has an assortment of passages from classic Anglo-Catholic authors and sermons from former rectors. I assume that it will follow a more Anglo-Papalist line on questions of the day.

I don’t know what will be in the offing there, but I’d love to see some discussions and descriptions of the usual liturgical goings-on. That is, what exactly does “Anglo-Papalist” look like there—both now and in former days—in terms of kalendars, schedules, ceremonial, etc.?

RBOC, Feast of Blessed Hooker

  • Richard Hooker—get your mind out of the gutter.
  • I’ve been writing far less than I intend due to lots of stuff at home and work. Alas, blogging takes a distant place behind incarnate endeavors.
  • There’s some SBB work that needs to be done; I’d made some corrections, streamlined some table access points and had introduced an option for traditional language Lord’s Prayer in Rite 2 but due to versioning problems haven’t been able to apply it yet. (I.e., if I apply it now, there’s a good chance the collects will disappear…) I’m still trying to get the breviary blog up and going but that’s been forced to a back burner
  • Work on the presentation for the Society of Catholic Priests is proceeding well; I hope to meet some of you in the flesh there. I think my talk will be posted somewhere for those of you not attending.
  • Got confirmation of our registration for the American Sarum conference—M and I plan to prepare for it by reading more of Blessed Percy.
  • Had a fine All Souls Mass at church last night only marred by my obsessive thought that it’s a shame the ’82 Hymnal doesn’t have a proper Agnus Dei for requiems.
  • Note to Republicans: You won last night in some key races because of not one but two constituencies. Yes, the Tea Party folks were a factor. Don’t forget the other factor: the Independents and Moderates who voted for you because we like to see a government that must negotiate. Some of the best years in recent history were when Bill Clinton had a Republican Congress. Now Obama has a Republican House. Use this opportunity. Sand-bag, obfuscate, and we’ll toss your butts back out as quickly as we voted you in.

On the Observance of All Souls in the Office

Tomorrow is All Souls, noted in the BCP kalendar as Commemoration of All Faithful Departed. I’ve written on the importance and place of All Saints and All Souls before but, a quick scan of the archives turns up only one brief piece from 2005 (!) and a more poetic piece from the Cafe. I think a new piece on this topic may be needed…

In any case, I’m becoming increasingly convinced—and you will be hearing more about this in coming days—that one of the Episcopal Church’s main theological problems is a poverty of ecclesiology. One way to act against this trend is the proper observation of All Souls alongside All Saints. Naturally, we’re having a parish All Souls mass tomorrow but the question of the Office is a live one.

All Souls only ranks as an Optional Observance in the BCP meaning that, in most methods of saying the Office, it rates only a proper collect. In traditional Western practice, the usual offices for the day are the Offices of the Dead. As the Anglican Breviary notes, the Offices of the Dead retain some of the primitive characteristics of the early Office in like fashion to the Offices of Triduum. (On their antiquity, a quick scan of Taft (Liturgy of the Hours in East and West) and Vogel (Medieval Liturgy: An Introduction to the Sources) turns up nothing, raising a topic for later study.) Thus, the Offices of the Dead are unlike regular Offices since, due to their primitive character, some of the usual options are dropped. As in the case of Triduum, Anglican traditionalists must ask just how much the offices should be altered.

Looking back at the Tridentine form of the Vespers and Lauds Offices we note the following:

  • All initial verses and responses are dropped; the Office begins with the first psalm antiphon.
  • The psalms are proper and appropriate antiphons have been drawn out of those proper psalms.
  • All gloria patris are replaced by: “O Lord, grant them eternal rest, and let light perpetual shine upon them”
  • The psalms are followed by a Scriptural v/r only (viz.:  Answer. I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me : Verse. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. [Rev 14:13]).
  • The Gospel Canticle follows immediately.
  • After the Gospel Canticle is the Lord’s Prayer, then Ps 146 or Ps 140. [This is omitted on days of death, burial, and on All Souls, though.]
  • A brief litany concludes with the collect which ends the Office..
  • The Canticle of Hezekiah takes the OT Canticle slot in the Lauds Psalter.

Glancing at the Anglican Breviary and the Monastic Diurnal, they follow the Tridentine Offices.

Moving to the Anglican side of things, the English Office uses the structure of the Tridentine Lauds/Vespers. While the Lauds psalms are different (with correspondingly different antiphons) it is in other respects similar. The major difference is the usual change—the insertion of two full-length Scriptural readings and an additional morning canticle. The lessons chosen here are Wis 4:7-20, 1 Cor 15:35-58 || Job 19:21-27, 1 Thess 4:13-18. The Canticle of Hezekiah is used after the first lesson.

A Monastic Breviary from the Order of the Holy Cross (the first attempt to do a breviary based on the ur-text of the ’79 BCP) omits the opening material, uses one of the traditional antiphons but with the psalter for the day and replaces the gloria patri with the “Rest eternal.” The first Canticle of MP is replaced by a Respond drawn (as usual) from among the traditional Matins responds. A second Respond (composed de novo, I believe) replaces the hymn. The Office then proceeds as usual except that it ends after the collect using a brief verse-response. The readings are Eze 37:1-14, 1 Cor 15:35-49 || 2 Sam 12:15b-23, 1 Thess 5:1-11.

Galley’s Prayer Book Office retains a regular prayer book structure with the allowance for dropping the Prayer for Mission. Proper psalms are given—the evening two taken from the traditional Vespers. The readings given are Job 19:21-27a, Rom 8:14-19, 31-39 || [Lam 3:22-26, 31-33], John 14:1-6. The canticle after the first reading is Canticle 11 (Surge, Illuminare).

As I look back at my own efforts (Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer)  I’m still satisfied with the choices that I made. I abridged the Office following the Tridentine structure more closely in the same way that A Monastic Breviary did. My decision on the readings was, in keeping with the traditional Matins readings, to stick with Job texts. In fact, I think I simply took the texts from the three nocturns and squished them together in order to produce three readings (so there’s one missing from Evening Prayer).

I think what I’m doing to do for the St Bede’s Breviary is to leave the structure as is with the proper collect and Gospel canticle antiphons. However, I am going to try and get up the Office for the Dead in SSB format so that those who desire that can use it.

What are your thoughts—especially those of you who use the breviary?