On Kalendars

I’ve been putting my own kalendar together. I just can’t swallow “Holy Women, Holy Men” because I have some fundamental disagreements with its criteria, premises, and theology. Neither can I use the current Roman kalendar as it contains far too many who—I’m sure are quite wonderful and holy people but—aren’t part of my heritage and theological landscape being post-Reformation. (We won’t even get started on John of Capistrano being venerated as a saint…)

As the BCP gives perfect freedom in identifying and celebrating Days of Optional Observance and the Roman documents on the kalendar discuss celebrating those with whom you have an affinity, I figure I’m well within my rights as a Prayer Book Catholic to do just that…

My particular kalendar can be characterized as the 3M kalendar as, in looking over it, it seems to be dominated by mystics, martyrs, and Mary. (Well, ok, it could be the 4M because there are an awful lot of medievals too.)

The mystics (most of whom are also monastics) and Mary are fairly self-explanatory. Martyrs, though, are a key category for me. There are two main reasons for this.

1. It reminds me that the faith is something worth dying for and that there are those who have exemplified this in their flesh. Sometimes we treat the faith, theology, “church matters” like some kind of game. As we do so we dishonor the martyrs who took this stuff seriously enough to make the ultimate witness. (That having been said, I think there were some martyrs who were rather careless or heedless in their martyrdom, but I wasn’t there either…)

2. It gives me a healthy historical perspective on our own time. I was reminded of this by Anastasia’s post on Republicans for Jesus. I honestly have no patience for Americans who proclaim how Christianity is under persecution here. There are places in the world now—let alone historically—where you can be pulled from your house in the night and shot or have your church and house bombed simply for being a Christian. That’s persecution. Having your parents turn you in to the government for execution—that’s persecution. Kerfuffles about mangers on public property or crucifixes in classrooms are not even on my persecution radar.

15 thoughts on “On Kalendars

  1. John-Julian, OJN

    Well, you might considerlooking at the OJN Ordo — I think it probably meets the criteria you mention as well as anything — and it has the advantage of not being wholly “private” (not a Good Thing liturgically), but representing the life and work of a fairly large community (monastic and otherwise). That sort of keeps one honest…..or at least “open.

    (And we have NO intention of going with HWHM without a lot of qualifications, omissions, and additions.)

  2. Michelle

    I’ve been working on my own calendar for quite a while. The thing about doing my own is that it tends to change frequently as I keep changing my mind. Mine is a rather eclectic mix with a lot of medievals.

  3. Derek the Ænglican

    Jay, thanks for the link! I glanced at the Amazon preview and it raised as many questions as it answered… The major one is the topic that the protestant denominations circle rather than tackling head on: who are the saints and what do they do for us? As a presumable confessional Lutheran, I would expect Dr Pf. to point to CA 21. I, however, would suggest that I am working from a different ecclesiology—and perhaps even a slightly different *Christology*—that has implications regarding who is and who is not a saint.

    In short, while an ecumenical Sanctoral Cycle is highly desirable, I don’t see it being theologically attainable.

    {ETA: perhaps I can turn this into a question—can an ecumenical Sanctorale be theologically attainable? Under what conditions?]

  4. Derek the Ænglican


    I hear you—and I think that’s at the heart of what Fr. John Julian and Brian M are getting at: how do base it on something other than personal whim? On the other hand, if we’re talking about personal affinities, how can it be other than that?

  5. John-Julian, OJN


    Currently our copying machine is acting up, so there is delay. The Ordo has been compiled and is ready to print — just need the techno guys to get there and fix the machine.

    I’ll send you a copy as soon as it is available.


  6. Christopher

    I recommend looking again at Michael Ramsey’s thoughts on the matter. At our best Anglicans forgo the Roman approach and come closer to the Orthodox approach. Saints as guides and friends and most of all as family. And this need not require the sort of Medieval gymnastics of purgatory, etc., getting hung up around merit and all. This allows space for others of our family and friends not on the calendar.

  7. Derek the Ænglican

    Thanks, Fr!

    Christopher, I hear you…but I’m to the point where I’d prefer something more formal to remind us of what’s at stake and give us some distance for critical awareness. I believe we need the distance so we can talk meaningfully about God’s eschatological acts through humans and humanity. It’s only once we’ve established that point—and that theology—that we can come back and look at friends and family with new eyes. My fear is that the contemporary over-sentimentalization of the concept (see most every protestant “All Saints” service I’ve ever attended…) creates an artificially low bar for what constitutes the kind of sanctification and mature embodiment of the Mind of Christ that is possible in this human life.

  8. rick allen

    I do think that there is some mixing here of two different things, a personal list of admired exemplars, who we will wish to emulate, and from whom we may ask intercession, and, on the other hand, a Calendar of saints who have been approved by the Church for common and public honor, communal requests for intercession, festal days, patronage of parishes, and so forth.

  9. Derek the Ænglican


    That’s correct. What I’m trying to do is negotiate the first in light of the second. My great difficulty is with the category of “approved by Church”. The most recent list approved by my church is clearly optional; the Prayer Book says so. Furthermore, I feel the need to supplement it with people and occasions observed (and therefore authorized) by your church. To do so is in consonance with long-standing practice in my church (see specifically the inclusion of Our Lady of Sorrows in the OJN kalendar…).

    What makes this more difficulty for me than simply it being a matter of creating 1 in light of 2 is the theology of sanctity I hold which is within the bounds of my church belief but which seems not to be held by the mainstream of my church’s leadership (i.e., those who create approve kalendars in particular).

  10. Lee

    So if I feel social pressure to wish someone “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” I’m not going to make it into the martyrology? Man! This stuff is hard.

  11. Michelle of Heavenfield

    I have both saints feasts and memorials on my calendar. Among the memorials are all four of my grandparents, remembered on the day they died. Why not have a family calendar that remembers some of your loved ones? I reform the saints on my calendar 2-3 times a year. :-) I expect that you will have more discipline. However over time I think its getting more stable and I expect that trend will continue.

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