As part of the forthcoming upgrade to the breviary, I’ve been tinkering with the way that I generate my liturgical dates. I did have a system where I had to sit down and figure everything out for each year for each kalendar. Needless to say, this took a fair amount of time and caused a certain amount of duplicated work (which programmers hate).
I’m moving to a rule-based system that determines the temporal date, checks for major BCP occasions, then adds in any Days of Optional Observance based on the preferred kalendar. In order to make the magic happen, I’ve been sorting through a whole bunch of liturgical kalendars:
- the BCP
- Holy Women, Holy Men
- the current Roman system
- the Order of the Holy Cross
- the Order of Julian of Norwich
- Exciting Holiness (the CoE’s)
- the Knott/English Missal
- the Anglican Missal (functionally the Roman ’62)
All told, this makes 806 liturgical observances.
There are a lot of overlaps between the kalendars (i.e., some observances are celebrated in all 8, many are in at least 3 or 4), nor does this reflect the number of saints within these various kalendars (given that some observances celebrate no one—like days within the octave of the Nativity—and some celebrate several—like the feast of Basilides, Cyrinus, Nabor, and Nazarius or, a personal favorite, Ursula and the 11,000 virgins…)
Having all of this data collected in one table opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities for looking at it and reflecting on it. While I haven’t even begun to do that, some very general observations do come to mind:
- The people we pray with and about have an awful lot to do with how we construct our own mental ecclesiology. If one of the things that a sanctorale does is to remind us of who all is contained in the communion of the saints, then different kalendars end up giving us very different answers and, as a result, sketch different pictures of who the church is.
- Holy Women, Holy Men—which I’ve bashed many times in the past for a variety of offenses—takes on a new light when placed in relation to the Exciting Holiness, the ordo of the OHC (particularly the one in the monastic breviary that clearly predates HWHM), and the Knott Missal. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this new light becomes a favorable light, but adding in these relationships does help me see where some of the commemorations are coming from and why they are placed on the dates that they are.
- That having been said, a very interesting diagram could be made mapping two different axes, the genetic relationships and theological intentions of the kalendars. Of course, two more kalendars would have to be added in first: a “pure” pre-conciliar kalendar, most likely the Pius X revision, and the Sarum kalendar…
- The one major factor that immediately comes to my mind is the place of the martyrs. Within the big list, 213 of the 806 observances are of martyrs (26%). When we parse individual kalendars or groups of kalendars distinct patterns emerge. The highest martyr count goes without a doubt to the Anglican Missal and this is not solely due to theological grounds but rests partly on logistical grounds: this kalendar is one of few that includes commemorations and thus can—and does—have multiple observances within a single calendar day. (Which , yes, is in and of itself a theological decision…) That having been said, of the Anglican Missal’s 339 discrete liturgical observances, 138 are of martyrs (41%). By way of comparison, of Holy Women, Holy Men’s 272 discrete observances, only 39 are identified as being occasions celebrating martyrs (14%). One factor here is chronological—on the balance, HWHM has more observances from and relating to the modern era than the AM (no firm breakdown on this yet, but that can be obtained…) and thus far fewer individuals from the era of Roman persecution, but this sends a major theological and ecclesiological message. The church sketched by the Anglican Missal is a church composed in large part by those who died rather than alter their faith. However, the church sketched by Holy Women, Holy Men with both its lack of early martyrs and its many modern entries sketches a church made up of more “ordinary” people in “regular” (to us) contexts embodying their faith.
- There’s quite a lot more to be said here in relation to these few issues that I’ve raised and the additional material contained within this data. I’m thinking a decent-sized journal article could easily come out of all of this…