considering eastern-rite Anglican offices

by scholarspirit

pastor Senn brought to mind yesterday the vital but generally obsolete distinction between the cathedral office and the monastic office, and suggested that the cathedral office is a better place to draw from for contemporary congregational prayer offices.  this first came to mind for me through Taft’s “Liturgy of the Hours: East and West,” but Senn’s rhetorical highlights will prove good preventative medicine for avoiding a lot of frustration.

the fact of the matter is that monastic offices are too long and too abstracted from the daily experience of the average person to become popular.  Anglican offices generally stand in that line; indeed, they are more bloated than the average monastic office due to the attempt to consolidate the offices into two comprehensive services. 

Senn pointed out that in a daily prayer service, the average person needs the opportunity to sanctify the day, rather than intensive scriptural lessons, long-winded prayers or a lot of teaching.  the best way to provide this space is to have a short service with a simple, consistent structure and a lot of engaging ceremonial.  as an example of this, compline services have become quite popular.

inspired by this, i gave pastor Senn copies of my eastern-rite Vespers service — which is probably still too long to conform to these principles, but being eastern-rite, it meets some of those criteria automatically. 

i mentioned my grand ambitions to form an eastern-rite anglicanism, and he chuckled and noted that this was “not exactly a natural fit.”  that’s fair, and a good way to put it.  but as an instance of punctuated equilibrium, perhaps it would be a productive, faithful innovation.