The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Liturgy as provider of an ordered and bordered encounter with Scripture

From the blog Haligweorc comes an interesting post on the Daily Office:
...When people think of Anglo-Catholics or Anglo-Catholicism or even Catholic Anglicans, they tend to think of vestments and smoke and sacraments, clusters of candles, and racks of rosaries; the daily office – not so much. And yet, the daily office is a central liturgical discipline that grounds so much of what we do. The Mass and the Office are not alternatives, they are complements. To cleave to the Catholic faith East and West is to give the daily office the honor and the attention – and the attentiveness – that it is due.

The two public rites of the church – the holy Eucharist and the daily office – have the same primary purpose: the worship and glorification of God. And that always has to be kept central. But the secondary purposes are different. The Eucharist is mystigogical and leads us into the heart of the mystery of Christ. The office is catechetical and instructs and forms us in the foundations of the faith. Now, you might be wondering… The dominant theme of our time together is the Anglo-Catholic social tradition. So why am I taking up time talking about the office? (Or, as I’ve heard some Episcopal clergy say, why are you spending your time talking about prayer when you should be talking about justice issues!) It’s because the Anglo-Catholic social conscience must be formed, it must be crafted, and the distinctive characteristic that differentiates a secular drive for a just society from one formed in the Catholic Anglican tradition is the process and method of its formation. The greatest tool that we have for molding a Christian social conscience is Scripture itself, and more particularly, the attentive practice of the daily office.

The wellspring of the Western liturgical tradition and particularly the monastic practices that have nourished it is the concept that the liturgy provides an ordered and bordered encounter with Scripture. Again, the liturgy provides an ordered and bordered encounter with Scripture.This is true of the Eucharist, it’s even more true of the office. It was true of the Sarum offices that the reformers received, and the Anglican offices received an additional infusion from Cranmer’s own Protestant love of the Scriptures.

Alright, so what do I mean by ordered and bordered? ...

Read the whole presentation. It is a great essay on the importance of the Daily Office.


  1. Steve,

    Is there any word on the delayed publication of the Customary of OLW? Do you perhaps know when it might be ready?

    Thanks, & God bless!

    1. Hi Jon,

      No, sorry, I am as "in the dark" as everyone else. I had hoped to have the Customary when it was originally announced, but will just have to wait like you.

  2. As someone who prays all 7(8) hours of the Anglican Breviary every day, I have to say the Morning Prayer/Evensong tradition is pretty scanty--it makes the Liturgy of the Hours look rigorous by comparison.

    I hope that Anglo-Catholics will begin to take a serious look at some form of a traditional Office at some point in the next few decades--and I would highly recommend the Anglican Breviary as a good place to start. For those wanting a more monastic and traditional experience of the Office (as opposed to a "cathedral" or "pastoral" or "little" form), it's a great choice that's also part of the Anglican patrimony.

    I understand one can append lots of liturgical texts to MP/ES, but the skeleton is scanty at best. Certainly not very catechetical. Over time, a more robust Office should be available to those in the Ordinariate wanting to preserve their patrimony in a more complete way.

    1. You've mentioned "rigor" as a desirable quality for MP/EP before, Ryan, but as your own comment shows, the rigor of the Breviary tradition is really a monastic practice. For those able to adopt a rule of life that allows for it, that's wonderful, but for most of us it is not really practicable.

      What would be good is to have a psalm schema for MP/EP that harmonized with the Breviary (Anglican or Roman) that would allow those praying the more rigorous Breviary to join in parish celebrations of MP/EP without repeating psalms. It would dovetail, even as sharing the collect between Mass and Office on feast days does.

      Of course, if the AU and Ordinariate parishes were to institute daily MP/EP, that would be a huge advance over the current situation (as it would be with Roman Rite parishes, whether using Ordinary or Extraordinary form). That, I think, is the main point of the writer of the post; that there is great good and grace to be found in the daily office, and it is too little practiced.

  3. I just finished reading what I think is the only definitive history of the transition between the Roman Breviary and the LOTH by Fr. Stanislaus Campbell.

    He brings up a distinction which, in this context, would nicely-frame the MP/ES office with the Anglican Breviary/classic Roman breviary.

    He claims, and the 1960s consilium also believed, that the Office was a merger of two, older choral traditions: a "cathedral" office consisting of fewer hours and psalms, hymns, and longer readings; and a "monastic" office consisting of a workmanlike plowing through all the psalms every week.

    That's basically what we're talking about here. The MP/ES model is like the "cathedral" office of the Anglican tradition, and Cranmer probably had something like this in mind when designing it.

    My suggestion is that the Anglican Breviary serves as a counterweight, giving more "monastic" DNA to the Anglican office. It would be a shame if only the "cathedral office" found its way into the Ordinariate.

    As a true breviary geek, I of course agree that it's lamentable how the Office has fell into total disuse in Roman parishes and even cathedrals (and, to a lesser extent, religious houses). I am not interested in making the perfect the enemy of the good, and am all too aware how intimidating the full traditional Office can be (especially pastorally). I'd be thrilled if Anglican Use parishes were known for Morning Prayer, Mass, and Evensong every day. I'd also be thrilled if Roman parishes (or at least cathedrals) were known for Lauds, Mass, Vespers, and Compline every day (even from the deeply-flawed LOTH).

    But it's important to hold out a model of rigorous monastic or eremetic prayer life in all charisms of the Church. For those who want to go into the deep, the Anglican Breviary should exist alongside the Prayer Book tradition as part of the Catholic "yes/and" of the Anglican patrimony in the Ordinariate.

  4. I would also be remiss if I did not let people benefit from my experience of fitting the Anglican Breviary into a very busy schedule. I have a day job, a small business, and a family. And I can do it, so it is do-able.

    The secret is bunching it rationally. I would suggest this would differ depending on whether one is a "morning person" or a "night person."

    For a "morning person," they can say Matins and Lauds early in the morning. Then say Prime before leaving for work, on your commute, or upon arriving at work. Say the three day hours (Terce, Sext, None) at lunch. Say Vespers and Compline either just before leaving work, on the commute home, or when you get home.

    For an "evening person," they can start the day with Prime. Say the day hours at lunch. Say Vespers and Compline at the end of work or in the commute home. After dinner, anticipate the next day's Matins and Lauds (for those uncomfortable anticipating Lauds, link Lauds and Prime in the morning and only anticipate Matins during this time).

    I use a combination of my Anglican Breviary totus, the "Breviarum Meum" app on the iPhone, and the "Divinum Officium" website.

    If 100,000 priests and religious could do it in Latin two generations ago, we who have so many more ways to say it at our convenience can certainly read it in English. Takes collectively about an hour once you get the hang of it.

    1. It could be said that combining Matins, Lauds and Prime into Morning Prayer and Vespers and Compline into Evening Prayer (which were common enough practices in England, pre-Reformation) also represents a way of "bunching it rationally".

      However, what I see in your experience is your commitment to praying the full 8 offices, and a way for those who are so committed (by vow or office) to doing so.

      But just praying Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer from the BDW takes me nearly as long as it takes you to say all 8 of the Breviary offices. But that's because of chanting the psalms and canticles and collects and if it's a major feast (like today's Red Letter Day of St. Luke), all the rest too, except for the lessons. I would loathe to give up the chanting, which I think should be a regular part of saying the office.

      There's good reason to suspect that many of the "100,000 priests and religious" weren't faithfully praying the breviary in Latin two generations ago. Would that they had been! But with the exception of the monastics & cloistered religious, I think all too many either skipped offices, or bunched them all at once, just to be done with it.

      No matter how "convenient" the format of the office, it requires the inward discipline and commitment of the individual (in or out of community) to maintain the daily round of prayer. Would that the example of Nicholas Ferrar were better known and followed; he is a part of the Anglican Patrimony worth emulating.

    2. One of the projects I will get to one of these days is doing a "one day" psalter. That would be interesting. You would start with 94, have 50 and 148-150 at Lauds, do 118 during the day, the gradual psalms at Vespers, and 4/90/133 at Compline. The rest would have to get filled in based on the distributional choices of others over the years.

      I also did a "re-do" of the LOTH distribution. It's based off the Pius X psalter, but is spread over four weeks, with no Prime, and with one day hour. Almost no changes to Lauds and Vespers. Same Compline every night.