More on the Saints:HWHM

There’s more discussion emerging on the blogs about the proposed replacement for Lesser Feasts & FastsHoly Women, Holy Men.

Christopher’s latest post points to both Mark Harris and Dan Martins and their debate on the issue. I made some initial comments on it here. Too, I had this work much on my mind when I wrote my recent post on the saints for the Episcopal Cafe. In that post I talked two issues primarily. The first—on whether saints needed to be baptized and conscious followers of Jesus—was directed toward Donald Schell’s previous posts. The second—on the meaning of sanctity itself and the notion of eschatological power—was directed as much if not more to the issues raised by HWHM than to Donald.

I’ve been wrestling much with this issue. The that end, I’ll tak out some of my concerns as as we move forward.

First, what are the directly theological consequences?: I’m concerned about what this document says about how we consider the dead. Do we simply have the dead we remember, the dead we emuylate, or do we still believe in the Blessed Dead? The question is equal parts Christology, ecclesiaology and pneumatology. Are those who sleep in Christ still active on our behalf or can they function and assist us only as we remember them and their deeds? Out of curiosity, I looked at one of the “new” feasts—the re-inclusion of St Cecilia—and the collects appointed. The Tridentine and Anglican Missal collects are functionally the same:

O GOD, which makest us glad with the yearly
festival of blessed Cecilia thy Virgin and
Martyr : grant, we beseech thee ; that as we do
venerate her in our outward office, so we may follow
the example of her godly conversation. Through.

A few notes… First, despite some protestant concerns, the prayer is not directed to the saint but to God. However, it does note that we “venerate” her as well as “follow the example of her godly conversation (piae conversationis; ‘godly life’ works too…)” Furthermore, the collect offers two reasons why we venerate her: she was a virgin who dedicated her life to the service of God rather then men (literally); she was a martyr who took the faith seriously enough that she died for it.

Now the new collect:

Most gracious God, whose blessed martyr Cecilia didst sing in her heart to strengthen her
witness to thee: We thank thee for the makers of music whom thou hast gifted with
Pentecostal fire; and we pray that we may join with them in creation’s song of praise until
at the last, with Cecelia and all thy saints, we come to share in the song of those
redeemed by our Savior Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and
reignest, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

A quite different collect with a different emphasis and theology. “Martyr” remained in (I’m pleasantly surprised…), “Virgin” did not (no surprise). The heart of the collect, though, is to use Cecilia as a particular example of a general group: “the makers of music”. The collect is really about these and not Cecilia. No veneration, no example, rather a hope that we join with makers of music now and “at the last”.

Skipping down a couple of days to St John of the Cross (I don’t understand Friar John’s compaint—this date is the Tridentine one) we see a similar thing. Here’s the old collect:

O GOD, who didst give to thy blessed Confessor
Saint John, grace to shew forth a singular
love of perfect self-denial and of carrying thy
Cross : grant, we beseech thee ; that we, cleaving
steadfastly to his pattern, may attain to everlasting
glory. Through.

And now the new:

Judge eternal, throned in splendor, who gavest Juan de la Cruz strength of purpose and
mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul: Shed thy light
on all who love thee, in unity with Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy
Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Once again, Juan de la Cruz becomes a particular example of a general group (“all who love thee”) and neither his intercessions nor example are asked for us.

To summarize: In these collects selected at random there’s no intercession and even the idea of following the saint’s example is not explicit. Rather, the saints are particular instances of a general group upon whom we ask God’s favor. Thus, the saints are not isolated as examples but highlighted as specific instances of general groups.

Second, what is the direct liturgical effect of these additions?: The sanctoral cycle, its size and scope, has always been an issue in Christian liturgy. Saints continue to be made in every age. As a result, the ever-growing company constantly impacts our celebrations and meditations upon the temporal cycle. The Reformation answer was clear and reflected a backlash against the late medieval cult of the saints. In most places they were abolished entirely in others, cut back severely. However, moves like this had already been afoot in the Roman church. The principle of local kalendars had always ensured that local folks were venerated and certain unconnected foreigners were always dropped or lowered in rank. Too, at every major Roman liturgical change—starting at Trent— the sanctoral has been pruned back, most recently at Vatican II.

One of the ways that the growth of the Sanctorale was managed was by using ranks. Some saints were doubles having certain liturgical implications, others were semis or simples, having other and lesser liturgical implications. Practically, this meant that saints could be added or retained and the greater shape of the Temporale would be less severly impacted. That’s not the case in HWHM, however; we have egalitarian sanctity:

Other provinces of the Anglican Communion have gone to laddered options within their calendars – Red Letter days, Black Letter days, and collects referred to common propers. For nearly half a century our pattern has been one of more equality, with collects and propers for all. We did not presume to break this Church’s traditional pattern.

and also:

8. Levels of Commemoration: Principal Feasts, Sundays and Holy Days have primacy of place in the Church’s liturgical observance. It does not seem appropriate to distinguish between the various other commemorations by regarding some as having either a greater or a lesser claim on our observance of them. Each commemoration should be given equal weight as far as the provision of liturgical propers is concerned (including the listing of three lessons).

One of the reasons why Cranmer cut back the Sanctorale was because it so greatly complicated the praying of offices and masses. You had to work out the liturgical calculus as to what bits to use for which folks on which days—especially if there were occurrence or concurrence issues.

Well, with this multiplication of the Sanctorale those begin coming back, except without the range of options for handling them. How are we supposed to use and celebrate these saints? It’s not clear and the book doesn’t give us guidance. I’ve always argued that, following the Cranmerian path, the biblical lessons provided are to be used at masses, not offices. Anything else breaks too severely the Daily Office lectionary’s (already abbreviated) pattern. Using these as office readings would destroy it entirely. I argue, therefore, that the collects alone be used in the Office and sometimes even as commemorations as occasions warrant (i.e., an additional collect after the Collect of the Day).

Third, are we venerating those who we believe are in the Church Triumphant, the company of the Blessed Dead, or are we remembering famous (or “oughta-be” famous) Christians?: I won’t say much more on this but to refer you back to my Cafe post.

Fourth, where are the Martyrs?: As Christopher notes, “the major lay category is now ‘Prophetic Witness'”. This concerns me because historically the largest lay category has been the Martyrs. A church that honors and remembers the martyrs is a church that remembers that its faith is both serious and sacred. Our ancestors died for it. They gave themselves to the flames, the sword, and the lions rather than desert it or alter its essences. How seriously do we take it? How willing are we to change it and, if change it we do, do we hold trust with the blood that has been shed in its defense?

To put a finer point on it, what doe s it say about the aims and theologies of our church where “prophetic witnesses” are multiplied—that a central function of the church is to change society, especially through its external fabric (laws, policies, etc.).  I don’t disagree that this is a task of the church, to serve as the conscience of a society, but I see an insidious either/or that equates holy change with political action. To get all H. Richard Neibuhr on it, it would seem that the dominant paradigm is “Christ transforming culture” and that it occurs pre-eminently on the political level.

I’d remind us that the transformation of Roman society was not begun, supported nor achieved through primarily political means. The martyrs, their witness, their fidelity also transformed it profoundly. Tertullian is correct: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”.

Fifth, What is a Prayer Book Catholic to do?: I’m not happy. With all due respect to those assembled in this resource, I don’t believe that all of them are members of the Church Triumphant. Furthermore, I don’t believe that these collects direct us appropriately to the life in Christ as the Western Historical Liturgy has traditionally done.  My “Prayer Book” and my “Catholic” are in conflict. That is, as a “Prayer Book” Anglican I confess that our current authorized prayer book really does stand in continuity with and participates in an authentic and legitimate expression of the  Historic Liturgy  of the West. I have real doubts about this supplement, though, and its implementation of both the historic liturgy and the catholic faith. On one level, it’s really not a problem. Looking at the prayer book itself, all of these observances fall into kalendar section 5: “optional observances”. IOW, we’re allowed to pick and choose. This makes my “Prayer Book” happy. But it doesn’t make my “Catholic” happy.

I’m considering  retaining all official Prayer Book feasts and observing the Roman Universal kalendar as my category 5.

22 thoughts on “More on the Saints:HWHM

  1. rick allen

    For comparison’s sake, the following are from the “Liturgia Horarum” from an older edition–post-consilar, but, at over thirty years old, perhaps not the current edition.

    For St. Cecilia:

    “Supplicationibus nostris, Domine, adesto propitius et, beatae Caeciliae intercessione, preces nostras dignanter exaudi. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit and regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecular saeculorum.”

    And for John of the Cross:

    Deus, qui sanctum Ioannem presbyterum perfectae sui abnegationis et crucis amatorem eximium effecisti, concede ut, eius imitatione iugiter inhaerentes, ad contemplationem gloriae tuae pervenianumsaeternam. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit and regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecular saeculorum.”

  2. Grant

    Alarm bells going off with the statement toward the end, “I don’t believe that all of them are members of the Church Triumphant.” I would hesitate to judge between who has made it and who hasn’t. The role of making that call is the church on earth (imperfectly), and ultimately God, rather than each of us individually. Perhaps your point is that some don’t rise to the level of being complete examples and models to emulate?

  3. Derek the Ænglican

    True, Grant, I don’t know anyone’s status before God. Perhaps it’s better to say I’m not confidant that the criteria used to select individuals seems in accord with traditional standards and therefore some are not models of the same kind as others in the kalendar.

  4. brian m

    Derek, you propose “retaining all official Prayer Book feasts and observing the Roman Universal kalendar as my category 5.” Your readers may wish to consider one possible implementation of that proposal in the Anglican Use Office edited by C. David Burt:

    (click on PDF link in above link, then look at the Calendar of the Church Year and the Holy Days propers)

    Mr. Burt retains the modern Roman Catholic schema of solemnities, feasts, and memorials, which takes care of the matter of rank, class, and precedence.

  5. Joe Rawls

    Out of curiosity: the Orthodox include the OT prophets in their sanctorals, probably because they were thought to have a foreknowledge of Christ. Still and all, they weren’t baptized. How would you respond to that? (I include them in my own [strictly personal]calendar).

    I have included people like Andrei Rublev, Bartolome de las Casas, and Thomas Merton for years. Nice to know I’m cutting edge (on some things).

    Most of these folks I’ve never heard of and they basically mean nothing to me. Good thing HWHM is meant to be optional. It is optional, right?

  6. Derek the Ænglican

    Joe, the Western Church tends not to regard the patriarchs and prophets as saints. There are a few odd and notable exceptions: the Maccabees, Job, and (for the Carmelites, at least) Elijah. According to standard consensus, though, at the Harrowing of Hell Jesus delivered the patriarchs and prophets from hell and took them with him to heaven. Thus they’d be in a position to make intercessions but again, this isn’t a normal Western custom.

    Another factor is that Western devotions tended to center around relics and there are very few if any credible relics of OT personages.

  7. brian m

    I also wonder if PB Catholics might still be able to avail themselves of the CHURCHMAN’S ORDO KALENDAR which tends to provide a mix of the current LESSER FEASTS AND FASTS, the ANGLICAN MISSAL, and some modern Roman observances. I wonder specifically if the editor will accommodate the new feasts or put even more emphasis on ANGLICAN MISSAL observances. See Fr. Alexander’s custom at S. Stephen:

  8. Ren Aguila

    Derek, you said:

    To put a finer point on it, what does it say about the aims and theologies of our church where “prophetic witnesses” are multiplied—that a central function of the church is to change society, especially through its external fabric (laws, policies, etc.). I don’t disagree that this is a task of the church, to serve as the conscience of a society, but I see an insidious either/or that equates holy change with political action. To get all H. Richard Neibuhr on it, it would seem that the dominant paradigm is “Christ transforming culture” and that it occurs pre-eminently on the political level.

    My comment:

    All I can say about this is that the words “prophetic witness” have been used to justify a lot of developments that have resulted in the Communion’s unhappy divisions.

    Those words were very wise, and dare I say, prophetic.

  9. Christopher


    I think Anglicanism though has not taken up only the thought of the West, but of the East, certainly our own Prayer Book tradition has done so. SS David and Isaiah are certainly among those to whom I’m partial.

  10. John Robison

    What disturbes me (very deeply) is that at least one of the persons on the proposed new sanctorial was raised a Scot’s Presbyterian and then a Cambelite. He then seemed to have become, at best, an agnostic and more likely an Athiest.

    Exactly what is the rational for the addtion of such a person?

  11. Tim Cravens

    Actually, there are a lot of OT saints in the Roman Martyrology, including most of the prophets and the patriarchs, etc. (Here is an online version: Theoretically, on any non-privileged feria (old rite) or any weekday without an obligatory memorial, feast, or solemnity (new rite), a priest can offer a Mass for any saint in the Martyrology, so there is the provision (however seldom utilized) to honor OT saints.

  12. Marshall Scott

    All right, everyone: let’s all sing along:

    Where have all the feriae gone?
    Long time passing.
    Where have all the feriae gone?
    Days simply good….
    Where have all the feriae gone?
    Swept in a sanctoral flood.
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?

    In one sense, this reminds me of my response when Bishop Pope bemoaned the failure of the Catholic movement within the Episcopal Church. Even more than the Eucharistic centering of Sunday in the 1979 Prayer Book, this speaks of the success of the Catholic movement; for it is only recently that daily Eucharist became that frequent a phenomenon in the Episcopal Church. It was long a part of monastic practice, and a few explicitly Anglo-Catholic congregations. But this suggests an effort for it to become normative.

    Of course, we no longer practice sabbath on days of obligation. If I recall correctly, that practice in the Middle Ages caused the nobility to press for simplifying the kalendar, because there were so few days when the crops could be managed or war could be made. As much as I appreciate using the sanctoral calendar in my daily offices for my own edification, I fear this is going to become unmanageable.

  13. John-Julian, OJN

    I haven’t had a chance to look at the list in any detail, but after a quick scan of it, it seems we need some new categories of sanctity, like “First One Who….” or “Effective Organizer” or “Trend Setter” or even “Nice Person Who Did Some Good Things”.

    At the monastery we’ve dealt with LFF in several ways. At first, we kept only feasts of those who would be sympathetic to us and our practice; then we decided to be more honestly “Episcopal” and included all LFF’s plus our own local commemorations. Now I think our Guardian will probably go back to sifting through the HWHM possibles and sorting them out as per relevance to our local reality.

    Early on we tried using the saint’s collect at Offices, but that felt like fence-straddling (and putting the Saint’s Collect with unrelated Office Readings was sometimes almost comical), so we keep the Office separate and do the LFF saints only at Mass.

    We lobbied the Commission strongly to get third readings for LFF saints (but, as is their right, they didn’t follow many of our choices).

    We’ve have also tried to press for pronunciation guides in HWHM which I hope they’ll include. (Even Ugandan friends couldn’t tell us if it was “Yanani Luwum” or “Dganani Luwum” or “Zhanani Luwum” because of tribal language differences.)

    It is so tiring to read these many, many Collects and to see how (sometimes almost awkwardly) they have avoided invocation. They are all so “product” oriented and “imitation” based. So often they sound like prayers to be offered at a secular Memorial Day celebration — utterly “unchurchly” and oriented toward personal and individual behavior! Perhaps we will just apply an earlier standard we once used: “Would Blessed So-and-so WANT us to ask her/his prayers?”

    I wonder how picky things will get at General Convention. I wonder if individual HWHM commemorations may be cut or added by deputies/bishops. I doubt it — or it would take at least two weeks. (Remember the flap about Florence Nightingale? And the removal of St. Lucy?)

    Finally, as a Prayer Book Catholic (like Derek) I don’t know how one justifies use of the Roman Calendar unless one uses only LFF Commons for the Roman commemorations. (And there are some real dopey doozers there, too.)

  14. Richard Elliott

    (I may have accidentally submitted a partial post) We seem to have moved from the idea of the saint as one who has “made it” to the saint as exemplar. The older vision put us into a client relationship with the saints, while the new vision makes them teachers by word or example. This is not in itself bad, but it limits the saints to the “good guys” rather than the redeemed.

    I’m pretty loose on who I’d include in the latter category, but my grounds for that have to do with a belief in the power of God to act in lives rather than the good things that good people do.

    Like several of the religious orders I keep a private kalendar, including a few folks condemned as heretics (Origen, Cassian, Eckhart [Meister not Tolle]). I think that their long term effect on the church is a sign of God’s grace acting in and through their lives.

    But one who I celebrate yearly “on the feast” will probably never make it through the current process, unless it’s as an exemplar in a process like ours.

    I speak of Thomas Merton, whose personal ups and downs, while not an unforgivable problem for an Episcopalian, certainly gave the Franciscans fits when he was young, and would keep a Devil’s Advocate busy now that he’s dead.

    However, Merton’s place as a channel of God’s grace into the lives of others, and an example of the power of God’s grace in even the most conflicted of lives speaks of a peculiar kind of holiness more approachable by the ordinary believer than the heroic holiness of some others.

    By the way, whoever wrote the John of the Cross collect was a peawit. John endured imprisonment and persecution, but he felt that the “dark night” was a graceful expression of God’s working in the soul.

  15. rick allen

    “I keep a private kalendar, including a few folks condemned as heretics [such as] Eckhart….”

    Maybe a quibble, but Meister Eckhart was never condemned as a heretic. Some of his theses were condemned as heretical after his death (and though many of the twenty-odd propositions were misunderstood, even I would agree that some of his assertions can’t hold water, such as “he who prays for anything particular prays badly and for something that is bad.”)

    But I think that he speaks best for himself: “Errare enim possum, hereticus esse non possum, nam primam ad intellectum pertinet, secundum ad voluntatem.”

    Personally I have a high opinion of Eckhart. But I understand, too, not only how difficult it is to understand him, but how easy it is to be led far astray by some of his expressions.

    His reputation within the Church appears to be rising, but whether he might someday be a candidate for public canonization will probably depend on whether he becomes identified with the errors which seemed to deny the difference between creation and creator or with the distinctive way he sought to articulate the divinization of the human.

  16. Derek the Ænglican

    When it comes to Eckhardt (whom I quite like but realize now that I understand much less of him than I thought I did when first I read him) I’m reminded of Vincent of Lerins words on Origen:

    “…although there was no error in Origen’s original meaning, yet Origen’s authority appears to be an effectual cause in leading people to embrace error.” (Commonitory 17.45)

  17. Christopher


    I think that is true of Eckhart, and hence, why he must be approached with care. As Fr. Bill has said elsewhere, Eckhart can be understood in entirely orthodox ways, but he can also be understood in other ways, as we have discovered again in recent days. This is why I tend to trust Patristics more…they had a first take at taking the sting out of neo-Platonism with a strongly Christocentric core.

  18. The young fogey

    Commented today at Martins’.

    I keep a private kalendar.

    Nothing wrong with that. Rite controls what you do in church. Home is nearly a free-for-all. You may venerate and ask the prayers of just about anyone.

    In liturgical worship, in a rite, in a Catholic church the bishops don’t claim the power to rule yea or nay on the holiness of people who lived and died outside their jurisdiction.

  19. metanoia

    I am seeking some help regarding the Procedure that the Episcopal Uses to additions to the Calendar of Saints. The criteria use to be in the back of an edition of LFF but I no longer have my copy and find it strange that their isn’t a link, as far as I can tell, on line. If you know how I may find this information, I would be very grateful. Thank you so much. I have enjoyed reading your blog. Fr. Tom Martin

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