12 December 2013

Whatever happened to Genesis? (5)

The Church of England's 1922/1928/1961 Lectionary for the Divine Office is not now its most commonly used lectionary. I think this is a shame (although, of course, this is no longer any business of mine). Its 'Common Worship' replacement is unbelievably complex and convoluted and, following the Bugnini abandonment of the 'gesimas', can make no attempt to start Genesis with Septuagesima. But the 1922/1928/1961 Lectionary is a product of the Catholic Revival's high summer of liturgical erudition. It bases itself patristically on what Pope Gregory the Great devised and explained about the meaning of his 'Gesima' season. It then uses the 'lectio continua' instinct and provides a systematic reading-through of most of the Bible each year (the New Testament, twice a year). This embodies, of course, an aim which the Anglican Patrimony owes to the Reformation period (together with the entire structure of the Anglican Divine Office): the principle that clergy and laity together should "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" the Scriptures.

Eventually, I imagine, Rome will authorise an Office lectionary which will be available to the whole Ordinariate world. I hope she does not base it on the untraditional English lectionaries devised more recently, or upon the equally untraditional lectionary of the American Prayer Book; and I hope Rome does not attempt to construct it out of the post-Conciliar lectionaries of the Latin Church. These were not devised for an Office structured like the Anglican Office, and attempts to adapt them to an Anglican format would only demonstrate what a painful knife and uncomfortable bed Procrustes had. No such option would fulfill the aim of Pope Benedict: that Anglicans should bring into the unity of the Catholic Church the finest elements of their own inheritance. And at a time when some elements of the post-Conciliar settlement in the Latin Church are coming increasingly under critical scrutiny, I think it would be a shame to produce a chopped-up-rearranged-and-pasted version of one of its weakest features - its Office lectionary - and to impose this upon the Ordinariates.

This is the moment to return to the lectionary system the outlines of which go back at least to Pope S Gregory the Great, and which has served not a few provinces of the Anglican Communion well from 1871 until just recently.
This series has now reached its conclusion.


Little Black Sambo said...

The 1922 lectionary is particularly convenient as it is available as a book of lessons printed in the order in which they are to be read, so you only need two bookmarks.
Cannot ordinariate members simply use the best lectionary on their own initiative, or do they have to wait for permission?

Anonymous said...


I'm wondering if you can share which edition of the Office you pray privately?

Being in America, I haven't seen the Customary of OLW. I'm assuming you use that for public celebration. I've read however that it's a cumbersome volume size-wise and also lacking that Lectionary of which you speak.

A member of an FSSP parish and a Ben. Oblate, I use the Roman Breviary or the MD. I also have an ancient association with High Anglicanism I won't go into which has left me with an attachment to Anglican forms. I find the Office of the BDW lengthier than RB Lauds or Vespers however, so rarely attempt it, although I sometimes give it a shot as I'm very much delighted with the liturgical approval given the Coverdale Psalms.

Thank you again, and I'm so very happy to see you back to blogging and being your old self again. A merry and blessed Christmas to you, the Mrs., and your fine family! (I've seen the pics!)