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.


Death Bredon said...

Excellent suggestion. I have always thought that reasonably intelligent laymen can be trained up as readers for the daily office and that, except for the smallest parishes, a team of dedicated members could sustain the reading of the daily office. Perhaps only a few people--those who are retired, or those who happened to live particularly close to the church, for example--could regularly attend such services, but many could make the occasional irregular attendance. In any event, a movement to restore the public reading of the daily office would be a powerful blessing for continuing Anglicans.

Donald said...

Thank you for this encouraging post! Our parish reads Morning Prayer every Wednesday, and it is one of the most blessed times of my week.

Canon Tallis said...

Donald, I hope with your help that your parish might grow into a place where the offices are offered daily, morning and evening, so that the prayer book could be seen to be completely obeyed.

If the saying of the office is one of the most blessed times of your week, I would hope that you would set out your own prayer book and bible so that you can give thought to the possibility that you have a call to say the office daily for the needs of the others but more especially the Church militant.

God Bless You.

Canon Tallis said...


Someone recently said that they wished that Christians were as devoted to their religion as Muslims. I don't know about all those who call themselves Christians, but I sincerely that Anglicans would give real thought to growing and educating their own spirituality. The daily recitation of the office is, as the writers of both The Ladder of Perfection and The Cloud of Unknowing argued one of the very best ways of opening your heart and mind to God. It breaks us out of the Sunday only faith that is one easiest ways of getting out of the Sunday only Christian syndrome. But it is sometimes hard to begin and too many of the priests (and bishops) of the Continuum have given little or no study to ascetic theology and spiritual direction. When people really see God making a difference in our lives, they will be more willing to respond to the meat of what we have to offer. Today they only too frequently see no depth, no reality.

A revival of the daily office would change all that.