Bullets of Kalendrical Crap

  • The ’79 BCP has commons for these classes of saints: martyrs, missionaries, pastors, theologians and teachers, monastics, and generic saints. The general idea of a “common” is that you designate in the kalendar what class of saint a given person falls in so you know which elements to use. If you look in the kalendar in your BCP you’ll find martyrs, missionaries, pastors (bishops, priests, deacons), monastics, and general saints. But why are none of them designated as theologians or teachers?
  • I wonder why Kings and Queens are noted in kalendars. There may be a hierarchical “divine right of kings” thing going on there but from my reading of histories and such I suspect it’d be like noting lawyers—the Church is so shocked a member of the royalty achieved sainthood that we mark it especially carefully.
  • I’ll note that lawyers don’t appear as a category. Draw your own conclusions…
  • The Romans counted days backward. That is, they counted down towards a fixed date (the Kalends, Nones, Ides). So a typical Roman date format would be “the 5th day before the Kalends of March”. Which is why by ancient tradition the Feast of St. Matthias moves a day forward in leap years. The official date is, in fact, the 5th day before the Kalends of March, not February 24th. Thus, when an extra day is added at the end of February, the feast remains on the 5th day before the Kalends.
  • This “Roman Datestamp” appears as late as the kalendar of the 1662 BCP.
  • Nevertheless, this BCP doesn’t mention the feast moving…
  • There are a number of minor date variations between the Universal Kalendar and the BCP. The date for St. Bede is one of them (25th vs. 27th). As I recall, there was a perpetual impedance issue that required some shuffling of dates in this particular case.
  • It (perpetual impedance issues) makes you wonder why saints don’t have the good sense to die on a day that no one else has died on… ;-)
  • Noting the number of entries in the Universal Kalendar followed by P.M. (Pope & Martyr) reminds us that there was a time when being pope meant more than occupying a chair in Rome and telling people what to do.
  • Ditto for St. Alphege, B.M. ([Arch]Bishop [of Canterbury] & Martyr).

7 thoughts on “Bullets of Kalendrical Crap

  1. bls

    That’s interesting, about the Theologians and Teachers. I know I’ve sung hymns for T&T at monastic joints, though – and all the Episcopal ones I know use a straight-ahead BCP Kalendar (I think), although with some Marian additions (I think).

    Not even Augustine, eh? They should really fix that.

  2. Christopher

    And for the Cappadocians, Anselm, Benedict…just saying.

    Ditto also for Archbishop Laud.

    What always strikes me about our calendar is that relatively speaking, few lay people (who are non-religious) and married folks reside therein. That’s changing, but I don’t think it due to a lack of holy laypersons or married folk. In that sense, kings and queens are often a welcome addition.

    In noting that popes are often noted, I wonder if that isn’t alongside the lines of lawyers as well?

  3. John-Julian, OJN

    Long ago we realized the problem with “classifications” of those we commemorate.

    So we worked out our own. Here is part of the index for our “Seasonal Blessings” booklet (which contains a three-fold blessing for every Commemoration). The pages references, etc. are irrelevant, but too much trouble to take out:

    K – BVM E-9
    L – Apostle E-9
    M – Evangelist E-9
    N – Martyr E-10
    O – Missionary E-10
    P – Monastic E-10
    Q – Mystic E-11
    R – Pastor E-11
    S – Theologian E-11
    T – Scholar E-12
    U – Artist E-12
    V – Reformer E-13
    W – Worthy Servant E-13
    X – Godly Disciple E-14
    Y – Saints E-14
    Z – Angels E-15
    AA – Candlemas E-15
    BB – Transfig. E-16
    CC – Holy Cross E-16
    DD – Baptist E-17
    EE – Magdalene E-17
    FF – Julian E-18
    GG – Ember Days E-18
    HH – Corpus Christi (and Euch. Votives) E-19
    II – Requiem E-19
    JJ – Harvest E-20
    KK – 4th July E-20
    LL – Founding Day E-21
    MM – Votive of Gratitude E-21
    NN – Votive of Repentance E-22
    OO – Votive for Peace E-22
    PP – Xt King E-23

    So far, we have not encountered any “saint” who falls outside these classifications.

  4. Michelle

    So how do you classify Queen Margaret?

    I think the kings are rather interesting, though I may be biased. I just don’t understand how Alfred is on our calendar but Oswald is not! I don’t understand why Joan isn’t there either. Both Oswald and Joan are on the calendar of the Church of England.

  5. John-Julian, OJN

    Michelle, we classify Margaret as “Worthy Servant” and use the following Seasonal Blessing at the end of her Eucharist:

    “May the Father to whose glory we celebrate this memorial of Blessed Margaret, pour his grace constantly upon you. Amen.

    “May the life and work of God’s worthy servant inspire you earnestly to give yourself to the service of Christ and his brothers and sisters in the world. Amen.

    “May the Holy Spirit grant you the vision to see the needs in the world about you, and the strength to meet those needs in his Name. Amen.

    “And the blessing of God Almighty, (+) the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you for ever. Amen.”

    Basically, I think our two classifications “Worthy Servant” and “Godly Disciple” are pretty close. The former is usually for a person who is primarily remembered for “serving others”, and the latter for one remembered primarily for personal sanctity, but they often (predictably) slide over each other.

    I’m also especially happy with our classification of “Reformer”, because some reformers don’t have much by way of personal sanctity to their credit, and are remembered only because they tried to clean things up….


    Aside from classically universally-recognized saints, mainly people are in liturgical calendars because someone(s) advocated for them — some folk found a person (and her/his story) to be significant in their own understandings and Christian experience, and put forward her/his name to the appropriate Commission/Committee/whatever and, in most cases, it was accepted by General Convention/Synod/whatever.

    And I support this method as in keeping with the historical development of the calendar: i.e., local recognition, gradually spreading, and eventually leading to wide. more universal acceptance. But there has also always been specifically local observance: e.g., Benedictine or Dominican calendars which vary from the universal calendars.

    There are names in the present Episcopal calendar list which are downright irrelevant and boring to me — as I am sure some of my inclusions would be irrelevant and boring to others. But the ones I seriously dislike (and try to avoid) are those who have been included for no good reason other than political (ecclesiastical) correctness and private axes-to-grind.

    But I must add that after spending six years researching each of the included “saints” in Lesser Feasts and Fasts (through GC 2006) I found evidences of a lot of serious, deep spirituality which I came to respect even among those I most disdained (e.g. some of those wretched Evangelicals like Simeon or Martyn)

    But, in fact, I think it all eventually “settles out” by something like “reception” — some names are remembered and maintained, some are forgotten and eventually fade out of use and notice. At least that is the way it has worked for us over the years.

    Anyway, Michelle, I think both Oswald and Joan are fantastic…why don’t you put together a proposal for their inclusion. I’d second it in a minute!

    May I add a personal plea: I have a 448-page, 377,043 word book called “Stars in a Dark World: The Stories of Saints and Holy Days in the Church Calendar” and I simply can’t find a publisher. (both Morehouse and Paraclete liked the content, but the sheer size is too much for them – and the problem is that it is “Episcopal-oriented” so some publishers obviously aren’t interested.) Any suggestions of a publisher I may have missed?

  6. Caelius Spinator

    “May I add a personal plea: I have a 448-page, 377,043 word book called “Stars in a Dark World: The Stories of Saints and Holy Days in the Church Calendar” and I simply can’t find a publisher. (both Morehouse and Paraclete liked the content, but the sheer size is too much for them – and the problem is that it is “Episcopal-oriented” so some publishers obviously aren’t interested.) Any suggestions of a publisher I may have missed?”

    Amazon’s Digital Text Platform. On one hand, your audience will be limited to those with Amazon’s Kindle Device (10000-400000 people) and they’ll take 65% of the price. On the other hand, they don’t charge you anything to offer it for sale.

  7. The young fogey

    Many thanks for the fourth one. In the Byzantine Rite calendar I think St John Cassian (a Westerner but not on the Roman Rite calendar) does the same thing (moves to 29th February)… possibly for the same reason?

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