New Post at the Cafe

I have a new post up at the Episcopal Cafe and (brace yourself) it has nothing to do with Communion without Baptism!

There is actually one more in the series that I intend to post but it currently sits half-finished on my hard drive. I thought it’d be better to post something else than to cast up half-baked thoughts to conclude a discussion that so far I’ve found very informative, respectful, and thought-provoking.

Update: The comment issues overnight seem to have gone away…

20 thoughts on “New Post at the Cafe

  1. The Anglican Scotist

    You are quite right to ask how the laity can more widely appropriate the Office.

    One thing though: I’ve heard–but can’t confirm of course–some Roman Catholics bemoan the dearth of Office praxis in their church as well. Some have distinguished the Rosary from the Office, and suggested the more popular practice of the Rosary took away from the practice of the Office.

    If true, that would be interesting. Maybe–who knows–the Office is too hard, and something like the Anglican Rosary would be easier to appropriate?

    Now you might say the Office is not too hard to do daily, but you have lots of practice and experience with its meaningfulness.

    And–I think you will agree–the Rosary is preferable to the BCP’s “Instant Offices” or family devotions. I mean, if you had to choose between a Rosary chaplet and the truncated versions of the Office….

  2. Derek the Ænglican

    There were comment issues overnight; they seem to be resolved now…

    Scotist, I know several Roman Catholics who bemoan the fate of the Office and are doing their part to both pray it and make it known. Of course, all but one of these are former Anglicans…

    I’m going to disagree with you on the rosary vs. truncated Office thing. I’d prefer to get people in the pattern of Psalter and Scripture even if they’re little bits of each. Like I said, I use the truncated Offices with my kids–for bedtime prayers and now Lil’ G has been asking to do morning prayer. These are the habits that will one day grow into Office disciplines(I hope).

  3. *Christopher

    Scotists, I too disagree with you. The Rosary, venerable as it is, is a personal practice. The Office is the prayer of the Church and should be preferred after Eucharist to all other practices because it establishes the important junction daily of bringing the world to the Life of the World in prayer.

    Derek, thanks for this post. I look forward to more. I offered some commentary at the Cafe and at my blog.

  4. Michelle

    In all the time I was Catholic, including my Catholic school days, we never prayed the daily office. It was either a full mass or the rosary. My great-grandparents said the rosary as a family every night from at least WWII until their deaths in the 1970s.

    My Episcopalian parish has the office one morning at week (Wed) at 9 am. Not too helpful…

  5. The Anglican Scotist

    Would you still prefer the short office if you took parts of the short office and applied them to parts of the rosary?

  6. Michelle

    I think an Anglican rosary or chaplet would be helpful in teaching kids how to pray. I have some chaplet material that basically does apply the office for a saint or feast day to the beads.

  7. Michelle

    First of all, for those of use who grew up with the rosary there is something tactile that aids prayer and memory. I can remember my prayers better with beads in hand than without (which is why I said it can be useful for kids). The more of the five senses you involve, the better your memory and experience will be. I suppose it could be similar to some people liking incense when they pray; they are involving another sense (smell).

    For the office, I think the chaplet form works better than the full rosary. If I have time tonight, I put one up on Heavenfield (if I get my computer back from the repair shop in good order!).

  8. Derek the Ænglican

    I’m still unclear on how the Office portions get associated with the beads/decades…

  9. The Anglican Scotist

    Say you’ve got the appointed lessons for the Feast of the Holy Virgin and an Anglican Rosary. You could do this:

    Cross–The Magnificat
    Invitatory–Psalm 34:8-11
    Cruciform–Galatians 4:6-7
    Weeks–Isa. 61:10-11

    That is, take parts of the rosary from the relevant readings.

    Of course, there is alot of pressure to choose the right verses for the format, esp. if you have a child on board. But when it’s right, wow.

  10. The Anglican Scotist

    The rosary could easily become a way to drive Scripture home, esp. if the verses for the cruciform and weeks beads are provocative.

  11. Michelle

    I tend to rearrange them some.

    From my Good Shepherd chaplet:
    Gloria patri
    John 10: 7,14-15

    Collect (BCP 225 – good shepherd)

    Psalm 100:2-4

    Weeks: Psalm 23

    Exit Cross: prayer from ‘Give Us Grace’ anthology.

    Chaplet for St. Luke:

    Cross: Gloria patri
    Ecclesiasticus 38:1-4, 6-10, 12-15

    Invitatory: Collect for St. Luke

    Cruciform: Psalm 147:2-3

    Weeks: psalm 39: 4-9a, 11-14

    Exit Cross: Two options
    1) prayer for healthcare workers (BCp 460)
    2) prayer for personal health (modified from bcp 460)

    I change the readings if I want, so sometimes I agree with the lectionary and sometimes I like my choices better. Unlike this two examples I have handy, most of my cruciforms usually have a gospel quote.

    For an example of lectio divina with prayer beads see my Book of Hours page on Heavenfield, the Song of the Three Marys at the Cross is for a full rosary.

  12. *Christopher

    As a memory device, this makes a lot of sense. However, associating the Office with beads tends to suggest it as a personal practice rather than the corporate worship of the Church. I get images of folks running around during Mass doing their devotions while the priest does the hocus pocus.

  13. The Anglican Scotist


    How medieval!

    I’ve seen Episcopal congregations do a truncated version of a Roman Catholic rosary together–though not during a Sunday Mass. It does not have to be an individual thing, though it works well that way.

    The pressing question–one which I have faced with undergraduates who have done no office–is whether the Rosary is a better evangelical tool that the Office? Of courser neither is merely a tool. But what to do with the “barely churched” or merely curious?

    Full disclosure: in the past I’ve chosen the BCP79 Compline over the Rosary, and as far as I can tell it did not stick. So I wonder.

  14. The Anglican Scotist


    Impressive. So–if I understand you–sometimes you follow the Office readings, but you also have a couple set Rosaries to use whenever? Sounds good.

  15. Caelius Spinator

    Many Episcopalians my age have a lot of poor Office associations, because some of us remember the transition in Low Church parishes from Morning Prayer as the principal Sunday service to the Eucharist. We liked the Eucharist, so Morning Prayer was a disappointment.

    I only snapped out of my Office dislike when I was serving at Evensong once a month.

    One of my Roman Catholic college roommates used to say something out of Shorter Christian Prayer every night, so I think some younger Roman Catholics are developing an Office habit.

    As much as I appreciate the Cranmerian-Quinonesian ideal of the Office as corporate prayer in church (and will officiate whenever necessary), we mostly live lifestyles which make that impractical. Church is a half hour walk for me. It’s not down the street in the village. Instead, we have to look for the roots of the Office in the prayer practices of Jews and early Christians (especially women), who prayed at home rather than in the synagogue or common assembly.

    Yesterday, I was walking home behind an Orthodox Jew. He was singing quietly but audibly and recognized it as a set of prayers in anticipation of Shabbat. I will admit that his prayer was contagious and so I ever so quietly began, “Let my prayer be set forth as the incense and let the lifting up of my hands be as an evening sacrifice.”

    Corporate worship is still somewhat exceptional. I like the Office because it is quotidian and brings the sacred so closely to my ordinary existence.

  16. josh

    Listen, here’s how you get the Daily Office to work for adults.

    1. You train laypeople thoroughly in the liturgy, and in the process help them become a praying community. It starts the very first session.

    2. At the end of the training (10 weeks, 12?), you ask if they want to take this praying community of theirs out into the streets – in the church, private homes, offices, wherever. This requires a commitment: five mornings or evenings per week, without fail, for a limited period of time.

    If they do, you build in dedicated times for feedback, plus a party at the end.

    3. You publicize the Office in the parish newsletter, e-mail, etc. so the whole parish is invited.

    (You might also make available links to online versions of the Office, which I believe are missing on this site.)

    In other words, you simply get a core group of people in the habit of saying the Office together. Let them lead the rest of the parish into a deeper appreciation for disciplined daily prayer.

    The dailyness of it is what leads us to stability, obedience and conversion of life. Therefore it is a tool of enormous spiritual power, which no parish in this Church should ignore.

    But we do, because we think running church services is the priest’s job.

    Equipping lay ministers to be confident officiants will change that right quick.

    I have one other suggestion: at suitable times, do a full Choral Evensong with Sermon. Let the priest preach and otherwise have nothing to do but pray; she’ll love that. Partner with the choir, organist and any other musicians nearby; in my parish it’s the Bach Chorale. Make it a cultural, artistic and spiritual experience for the whole city. Take up a collection but give all the proceeds to a local charity.

    The congregation will love it, and while you’re there, remind them, “We do a plain version of this five nights a week in the chapel downstairs (the nursing home, wherever). Come join us; it deepens your life in just 10 minutes a day.”

  17. Derek the Ænglican

    Thanks for the comments, all. I’ve never heard before of linking the various texts up with the rosary.

    I’m still too much of an Office guy to go that way, though, and I think because I do have faith in the communal corporate nature of it.

    Thanks especially to Josh for his method of promoting and teaching the Office within the parish. That is a key point. From what I can see, not many clergy are doing the kind of catechetical work to make this happen which means that it really is up to us laypeople to do it.

    (You might also make available links to online versions of the Office, which I believe are missing on this site.)

    This is an excellent point and something that I shall try to remedy…

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