Thursday, November 11, 2010

Saint Martin's Day - Again!

It should be clear to anyone reading this blog that I have a devotion to Saint Martin of Tours. But then I am an American and his feast days fall upon two major American holidays, his translation on Independence Day and the celebration of his celestial birthday on Veteran's Day. Somehow, in my own mind that makes him an almost essential American saint although he was born in what is now Hungary and died in what is now France.

Not only do I think of him as being uniquely American, but also as being quite a representative of classical Anglicanism. After all, his fame and possibly some of his relics were carried to the British Isles well before it interested the Roman Church. St Ninian of Scotland was a disciple of his and dedicated his major missionary church to him and it was in a church dedicated to St Martin in Canterbury, that the first Roman mission set up practice. In short, his cult was carried to the British well before they fell victims to the papacy.

Since the 1928 American prayer book has no calendar of black letter holy days although it does have liturgical provision for "A Saint's Day," those of us in the Continuum who reject the pseudo-papalism of the missals must look to the calendars of the English and Scots' prayer books with perhaps a nod to that of the Welsh Church with its richness of Celtic and early British saints. We can also look to their revisions of the 28/29 period for propers appropriate to these days as being well within the prayer book and Anglican tradition. We could, of course, look backwards to the Sarum and other English missals, but as long as we have recourse to the British books, I think we need not look elsewhere. The important thing is to look to our own history and its heroes to inspire us to do what they did which was to seek God completely and embrace and live the Christian faith fully which means we are called to follow the example of the saints.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Third Sunday Before Advent

Last Sunday was not only the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity and the Sunday in the Octave of the Feast of All Saints, but it was also the Third Sunday Before Advent. As the Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity, the prayer book rubrics requires that the collect, epistle and gospel shall be used at the celebration of Holy Communion. Because it was also the Sunday in the Octave of All Saints, the collect for that feast will be read at the communion service which will also be marked by the proper preface for that feast at the Sanctus. But what is required by it also being the Third Sunday before Advent?

Here reference must be made to pages xl and xli of the 1928 American Book of Common Prayer. There you will find a series of proper psalms, and lessons for both Morning and Evening Prayer These are ordered for every day, morning and evening, from the Mattins of the Third Sunday before Advent through Evensong before Advent Sunday itself. These psalms and lessons reflect the theme of the approaching Advent season so that we will be better prepared for the season to come.

Now I know that most of the parishes in the Continuum do not have daily celebrations of the offices. Indeed Evensong is almost extinct among us. This is extremely unfortunate because anything less complete use of the prayer book where missions or parishes have their own buildings is something which harms all of us who call ourselves Anglicans. Now the public reading of the offices does not have to be done by the priest. He should be doing so but there are times when he cannot. That means that the lay people in the parish have a very important role here and should be taught how to properly and in accordance with the rubrics properly read the offices. This is a legitimate part of the priesthood of all believers.

But even in those places which don't have buildings or other permanent meeting places, the congregation can be taught and encouraged to read the offices either by themselves or in their families. This will make us all more familiar with Holy Scripture. In fact the two things which we all need to know better is the Bible and our Book of Common Prayer.