Christopher and Fr. Chris on the “Office Ideal”

Christopher has been doing some good thinking recently on the Daily Office (and also here) and it’s place in our daily life. His conclusion is that Cranmer’s twice-daily Office should be seen as an ideal. Fr. Chris agrees and sees additional offices as a calling for some but not necessarily the ideal for all.

I quite agree with them both. I always fight a more-is-better tendency when it comes to the liturgy in general and the Office in particular. But, in the interests of both predictablity and sustainability sometimes we—ok, I—need to remember and relapse into what Christopher calls “Benedictine simplicity done elegantly”.

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2 Responses to Christopher and Fr. Chris on the “Office Ideal”

  1. Christopher says:

    I think it’s because of the realities of daily life that I’ve found myself letting go of “more is better”. I love resources, but I don’t generally have time to order a never-ending supply to a rhythm. Neither do most parishes. What worries me again about Rite II is not the increase in resources, many of which mirror the monastic office canticles and the like of Benedictine monastics, but that it’s too much increase for most on a daily practical level for the domestic and parochial. Dr. Weil, I think, is correct, that many of the new canticles would be more profitable if assigned to a season or feast day.

    At any rate, more is better is impractical for me, and probably for most. Anglican piety is if anything practical not for the sake of dumbing down but for the sake of being practicable by many.

    I’m reminded of the monks at Mt. Angel. When I was hanging around a lot, they were concerned about the increasing multiplication of cereal choices for their breakfast. I think that an apt analogy for the Office. We are inundated by choices. There are many delicious cereals and nutritious cereals out there, but I tend to stick to a very few that are a healthy start for morning because regularity in such things maintains a sense of stability.

  2. Yes.

    One of the deep struggles that I’m coming to believe defines the spiritual life is finding the middle path between overabundance and aridity, stability and stagnation.

    What makes our lives more complicated is that we no longer have strong communities that guide us in selecting and maintaining norms. Most spiritual seekers *remain* seekers, always on the path of the sarabite, propelled there because of a paucity of communities that give guidance and support.

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