If you’re a highchurch sort of person, perhaps you dream of a day where you have the opportunity to celebrate or attend a daily Mass. This is a staple of Roman Catholic practice, and only the most devotedly-Anglo-Catholic Anglican parishes have brought this practice back in full. The season of Advent, being so explicitly thematic and conveniently short, is a great time of year to consider taking on a special sort of devotion beyond what you usually do throughout the year.
Holding a Communion service every day of the week is nearly impossible for most of us these days, but what can be done is to read and pray parts of the Communion service on your own. This is basically the “Antecommunion” liturgy – follow the Prayer Book service up until the Offertory and end it there with a few extra prayers. Given the resources available to us in the 2019 Prayer Book, there is no one way to do this. As an example of how one might go about this, here is what I’ve mapped out, and hope to observe as a special daily devotion in addition to the Daily Office.
(Remember if you’re an Anglican, especially a clergyman, it’s more true to our tradition to be praying the Office daily before adding optional extras like daily Mass!)
A few words of explanation so you can see where this comes from and why I did it this way…
Contemporary versus Traditional: The classical prayer books have a different logic for Advent than the modern calendar, and is worth learning from. So I have appointed the “traditional” lessons for Advent on each Monday. (With the 2019 Prayer Book, the Collects for each Sunday are the same as the traditional ones, unlike in the 1979).
Votive Mass: This is a Roman Catholic term for what the 1979 Prayer Book called “Occasional Observances” or something like that. In this case I’m electing to repeat, essentially, Christ the King Sunday’s collect & lessons as an Advent devotion.
O Sapientia: in the Episcopalians’ Lesser Feasts and Fasts book, a number of optional seasonal observances are offered. “O Sapientia” refers to the final week leading up to Christmas Eve, and are related to the “O Antiphons” from which the hymn O come, O come Emmanual is derived. In a break from tradition, I decided to spread these eight observances out throughout the season.
Hybald of Lincolnshire: No, you’re not crazy, this guy isn’t on the ACNA calendar of commemorations. He’s on a list of Anglo-Saxon Saints that I compiled a few years ago. When the new Prayer Book comes out, then I will finish my and my church’s transition to full conformity with its rubrics. This is on my last flings with extra commemoration days.
Ember Days: These are in our Prayer Book, and I’m sure I’ll write about them when they approach, later this month. Noteworthy this year is the fact that Ember Friday will be replaced by the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle.
December 24th: In Latin Christian discipline, a Priest had to get permission from his bishop to “binate” – celebrate two masses on the same day. Assuming we’ll just be doing Antecommunion, or even just reading the Collect & Lessons as an extra devotion during the day, there’s no reason to pay that old custom any heed. Besides, it’s good to finish the Advent Sunday contemporary & traditional pairings, even if it is a little crowded with Christmas Eve.
Whether you choose to copy this or do something else entirely, I hope this at least gets you thinking about how to approach a special daily Advent devotional this year. You could get really creative, and make these observances part of the family devotion, or link it to an advent wreath, or something else like that!