Theses Conversation with Christopher

In my response to my continuing theses, Christopher has put some of his thoughts up. He’s jumped beyond the point where I’m at and has made some practical suggestions. I’ll point there rather than engage it directly.

Well, ok, maybe one point—a six-year daily lectionary? I appreciate the concept but six years seems too long to retain everything! (Of course, most people aren’t reading the Bible on *any* schedule so maybe six isn’t that bad…)

14 Replies to “Theses Conversation with Christopher”

  1. If we consider one reading for each office on a given day, a four or six year schema as an option makes sense. As you say, given most aren’t hearing the Scriptures at all, and many will only take time for one (and that includes parishes in my experience), better to be honest and offer something that will be used.

    The reality that before the Reformation, the Office was not likely something most laity encountered regularly is something important to remember.

  2. My concern—which is not foreign to you—is setting expectations. I’d rather not set the bar too low. That is, a four or six year cycle should not be seen as the norm or the ideal. However, setting too high doesn’t help matters either. My preference is to work with a notion of progression from short &simple up to and through whatever people find themselves called to. Some may be fine remaining with short & simple but others may find themselves yearning for more once the foundations are put in place.

  3. It still astonishes me how little we read of Scripture, even given our big lectionaries. The greatest irony is the absence (almost entirely) of the Song of Solomon.

  4. The reality that before the Reformation, the Office was not likely something most laity encountered regularly is something important to remember.

    This is simply not true. There is copious evidence (e.g. Taft, Duffy) that the laity were accustomed to assist at the Divine Office on Sundays and on other occasions such as the eves of great feasts, during Holy Week, etc. True, the Offices were sung in Latin, which perhaps the majority of the laity did not comprehend entirely; that was also true of the clergy and religious in some places as well. But that’s still a far cry from saying that they didn’t encounter the public celebration of the Offices.

  5. If you say the appointed ’79 psalms, one or two lessons, one or two canticles, one or two collects, and maybe the Prayer of St. C or the General Thanksgiving and the Grace . . . this takes maybe 15 minutes. That isn’t simple enough?

  6. With a preschooler and a kindergartener who have to be ready/get dropped off/make it to the bus in the morning? No…

    Hence the brief version on BCP page 137 with the creed, 10 commandments, or gloria added in that we can all go through it together over breakfast.

    That is—we do this office with our children—we want them to be formed this way as well and they’re just not ready for a longer form yet.

  7. As Paul alluded to, Sunday Vespers was normative in Western Catholicism into the 20th century; for example the RC Archdiocese of Philadelphia still had the requirement (long not enforced) that parish churches have it on its books until a few years ago. The invention and popularisation of radio killed Sunday-night religion in most places.

    In the late Middle Ages the literate laity (a minority) had their Books of Hours of course.

    What’s nice for the laity not canonically required to pray the office is there are so many variations to fit different states of life, from the Little Office of the BVM (IMO a step up from the Rosary, which is a good fallback when you’re too tired or poorly to read) to simplified offices drawn up for lay brothers, oblates and tertiaries to the Monastic Diurnal used by layfolk (I like it) to the Anglican Breviary with all the complexity of the Roman original.

    As Derek has mentioned elsewhere the US 1979 BCP has long and short forms as well.

    So let’s start praying!

  8. Fair enough, Derek, I hadn’t factored kids into the equation. I have also used the family EP in the BCP before putting my own two to bed.

  9. We use the Compline on p. 140 for bedtime prayers.

    Some folks are amazed that Lil’ H who’s not quite 3 yet can make her way through most of the Lord’s Prayer; I’m not–she’s been hearing it every night practically since birth…

    Anastasia (if you’re reading this thread), do you use this too? If I remember right when Kizzy was over one night she joined right in on the canticle and LP.

  10. I don’t know how many of you live in areas where people commute by public transit, but here in Northern NJ commuting can be a wonderful way to make the Office part of one’s prayer life. And I encourage my parishioners to do so, especially in Lent – when thery are often ready to think about a spiritual discipline. I make up booklets of the BCP short forms. Then I encourage them to carry a pocket NT and Psalms. That leaves open the question of lectionary. It means they either have to photocopy or write down the lectionary citations or be doing a continuous reading of an episptle or Gospel. Come to think of it, I could include the citations in the booklet and have that available for them.

    Anyway, back when I was in college and first became an Associate of a religious community (in those days it was CSM, Peekskill)the Associate’s rule talked about finding time for prayer that would otherwise be wasted (standing on line in the store, the doctor’s waiting room, etc.) I learned then that public transit communting is a golden opportunity to pray the Office. Unless, of course if one is inclined to sing the Canticles and chant the suffrages!

    Vciki McGrath+

  11. Heh—I know NJ Transit all too well… When we lived at GTS and I worked in Midtown I would read the Office on the subway to and from. Once we moved to Philly and I continued to work in Midtown, I had all kinds of time to read the Office and the Fathers on my 6 hour commute…

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