Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Defending the traditional Mass lectionary and pushing for more recitation of the office
Recovering from a life-threatening spider bite Derek has more good things to say about Mass-and-office Catholicism. As he knows I like to quote Fr Peter Robinson: a three-year lectionary means people hear three times as much scripture but know it only about a third as well.
The Mass lectionary is not supposed to be the only place where Christian people encounter Scripture. As I’ve ranted before, the Mass lectionary developed in conversation with the Office lectionary; the Office lectionary worked through the entire Bible every year while the Mass lectionary made selective engagement with the Scriptures to highlight the themes and theologies of the mysteries of redemption embodied in the Temporal cycle. We’ve lost that sense that the Mass lectionary is a pointed return to material that we already know and are re-examining from a different perspective...

I abhor that we seem to want to meld all of our traditions into some mushy whole...

I’d prefer the Mass selections that we used for centuries... The Sunday readings for the main seasons remained essentially the same from the 8th-century Comes of Murbach until Vatican II. There was an agenda — and it was Christ. Twelve centuries of millions of the faithful have been satisfied that they show us Christ.
In 1940 a British officer on Dunkirk beach sent London a three-word message: “But if not.” It was instantly recognized as from the Book of Daniel. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are commanded to worship a golden image or perish, they defiantly reply: “Our God who we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods.”

Britain then still had the cohesion of a common culture of shared reading.
Ordinary people in other times and places knew the Bible far, far better than most of us do or in all likelihood ever will.
Derek again:
One of the reasons that I love the Episcopal Church is because its liturgical intent as described in Cranmer’s preface to the 1549 book was to restore the balance of Mass and Office for the average Christian. That’s where we came from and that’s what our prayer book contains even if that noble goal wasn’t always met and if we’re in a period of amnesia now.
Cranmer and his friends hated the Mass, many places already had the daily office and literate layfolk already prayed it at least in the forms of the Little Office and books of the hours.

The ‘Reformation’ was evil... yet I read Coverdale. Services in the vernacular were the only good that came of it.

Speaking of which Fr Chris Tessone brought this to my attention:

A simplified office using Coverdale and the traditional psalmody for the little hours (like the Sunday one in the post-1911 Roman Breviary)

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