Readings Review & Planning Propers 11/25

What we’re doing on this blog on Mondays is looking back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying, and list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.

Readings Review

Last week: Judith 11-16, Ecclus. (Sirach) 1, Acts 17-20:16, Isaiah 30-36, Luke 3-6:19
This week: Ecclus. (Sirach) 2-11, Acts 21-23, Isaiah 37-43, Luke 6:20-9:17

Special lesson for Morning Prayer on Saint Andrew’s Day: John 1:35-42

This weekend in Morning Prayer we began the book of Ecclesiasticus, the full title of which is The Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, often called Sirach for short.  This is a book of wisdom literature, like the book of Proverbs, but unlike that book is largely written (or compiled) by one man (whose name is in the title) and translated into Greek by his grandson.  This book even has a Preface (chapter zero, basically) which gives us a note about its translation, and that you always lose something in the process.  That in itself is a fascinating insight into the manner of self-awareness of ancient writers.  Anyway, if you’re not familiar with Sirach, check out my brief introduction to this book from last year.

Meanwhile, in Isaiah, we’re just getting into a brief historical interlude in the middle of the book, where we hear the story of some of King Hezekiah’s interactions with Isaiah.  If you have a keen memory you may recall some of this material from 2 Kings.

After that, starting with Isaiah chapter 40, we get to the second half of the book.  Some scholars think that this section of the book was written by Isaiah’s prophetic successors or disciples because it takes on a different tone and focus.  Although it may be an unnecessary stretch to assume a change in authorship, it is absolutely true that the style of the book changes.  Chapters 40-66 no longer deal so much with specific oracles and prophecies against specific nations and peoples, but take on a much broader scope.  Jerusalem, Babylon, and other important cities are still mentioned along the way, but the emphasis is not so much on what’s going to happen to them specifically so much as what’s going to happen to the whole world.  Almost every chapter from here to the end has at least a couple famous verses that the casual Bible-reader will recognize.

  • 40 = “Comfort, comfort my people…” and “They will soar on wings like eagles…”
  • 42 = “Behold, my servant, whom I uphold… I have put my Spirit upon him…”
  • 43 = “Remember not the former things… Behold, I am doing a new thing…”
  • 49 = “Can a woman forget her nursing child… yet I will not forget you.”
  • 51 = “Awake, awake, put on strength…”
  • 52 = “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…”
  • 53 = “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…”
  • 54 = “In righteousness you shall be established”
  • 55 = “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near…”
  • 56 = “my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples”
  • 57 = “thus says the one who is high and lifted up… I dwell in the high and holy place… to revive the spirit of the lowly…”
  • 58 = “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness…”
  • 59 = “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart…”
  • 60 = “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you”
  • 61 = “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me… to bring good news to the poor…”
  • 62 = “You shall no more be termed Forsaken… but you shall be called My Delight Is In Her…”
  • 64 = “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter”
  • 65 = “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”

Almost every one of these chapters find a home in the lectionary in Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, or near Easter…. most of the major feasts of the Christian year.  This is because, as we will see, reading through, a great deal of Isaiah’s writings point very clearly to Jesus, the New Covenant in his blood, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 29 (or Last Sunday before Advent in the traditional calendar), so keep in mind that the historic Prayer Book default is that a mid-week Eucharist will repeat the Collect & Lessons (the propers) for yesterday.  Otherwise, we recommend…

  • Monday 11/25 = St. Catherine of Alexandria (martyr) or Votive*
  • Tuesday 11/26 = Votive
  • Wednesday 11/27 = Votive
  • Thursday 11/28 = Thanksgiving Day
  • Friday 11/29 = Votive
  • Saturday 11/30 = SAINT ANDREW

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019).  The traditional appointments are Holy Trinity on Sunday, Holy Spirit on Monday, Holy Angels on Tuesday, of the Incarnation on Wednesdays, of the Holy Eucharist on Thursdays, the Holy Cross on Fridays, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturdays.

During the Anthem at the Communion

The bread and wine have been consecrated and broken, and we’ve just prayed the Prayer of Humble Access… now what?

The following or some other suitable anthem may be sun or said here

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;
have mercy upon us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;
have mercy upon us.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world;
grant us your peace.

This is the Agnus Dei, or “Lamb of God”, a classic feature of Communion liturgy.  It takes the words of St. John the Baptist (in John 1:29) turns them into a prayer.  The classical prayer book tradition does not appoint this (or any) anthem here.  In fact, a strict reading of the 1662 Prayer Book makes it difficult to work out where any music can be inserted into the liturgy!  The 1928 Prayer Book, however, notes that a Hymn may be sung at this point.  A liturgical traditionalist probably would have had the Agnus Dei in mind, although the Anglican hymnody tradition has produced some truly marvelous communion hymns, and I miss them terribly whenever I’m away from my congregation!

Behind the scenes, this where things are getting busy.  In a large setting, it may take a while to pour consecrated wine from flagons into chalices, and to break the large communion host into smaller pieces.  This anthem is a good time for the priest and deacon to make such preparations without spending too much time in silence.  It’s similar to how the initial preparation of the altar is typically done during the Offertory Hymn.

Don’t get me wrong though, silence is a good thing; and as a general pattern I think most of our celebrations of the liturgy need more silence.  But if it takes a significant amount of time to accomplish a mundane task, then an anthem (be it spoken or sung) can help people remain meditative upon the spiritual realities – the Holy Communion of our Lord.

As a final encouragement, don’t be afraid of the repetitive nature of this and similar anthems.  I avoided using it for most of Trinitytide, probably out of an over-anxious concern for time, but when I did finally use it again one Sunday, I got a comment after that it was nice to have it back, and that we should keep saying it.  I was reminded that it’s not just a “filler”, but a meaningful prayer.  Sometimes our pithy one-liner Acclamations and Antiphons are simply too short and abrupt for people to take them.  When we repeat the same thing a couple times, it gives us more opportunity to process (or digest) what we’re saying and praying.  So, please, if you have a habit of utilizing the option of skipping the Agnus Dei, try bringing it back for a while.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 11/11

What we’re doing on this blog on Mondays is looking back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying, and list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.

Readings Review

Last week: 2 Kings 18-22, 2 Chronicles 30-33, Acts 9:32-13:12, Isaiah 16-22, Mark 11-14
This week: 2 Kings 23-25, Judith 4, 8, 9-10, Acts 13-16, Isaiah 23-29, Mark 15-16, Luke 1-2

You may have seen something like this kicking around Facebook or other social media:

Adventwith-Lukea4[1]

It’s a neat idea, as Luke has 24 chapters, so if you read one chapter a day starting on December 1st, you’ll cover the whole story of Jesus just in time for Christmas.  If there was no such thing as a Daily Office, I would wholeheartedly endorse this sort of thing.  But, of course, we have a Daily Office, with a Daily Lectionary, that takes the entire year into account.  And so, reading a full chapter at a time is a bit excessive, especially for chapters 1, 2, and 20-24, which are quite long.  So instead we’re starting Luke on November 12th and finishing on December 31st.

By way of an interesting aside in version 2 (of 3) of this daily office lectionary, Christmas Day’s reading for Evening Prayer did not have a special Christmas-related reading, resulting in a reading on the passion and suffering of Jesus on CHRISTMAS DAY itself.  That struck me as inappropriate, and enough other people complained that we got the reading for Christmas Day fixed to be about Christmas in the final version.

Meanwhile, in Morning Prayer, we’re finishing 2 Kings and moving on to the deuterocanonical books, commonly called apocrypha.  Unlike historic Anglican lectionaries, we’re not getting the full story of Judith, just selections from that book to get the highlights of the story in 10 parts instead of 16.  An even stranger disappointment: the book of Tobit is omitted entirely from this lectionary – perhaps a first in Prayer Book history.  Nevertheless, enjoy what we’ve got.  The fall of Jerusalem, in progress today and tomorrow, is a dramatic turning point in biblical history, and sets up a very different situation for the later prophets and the intertestamental period – no longer are God’s people a distinct country.  A nation, or people-group, sure, but complete political autonomy under their own Davidic King is gone forever.  As we get into Judith later this week, and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) and Wisdom after that, that backwards-looking sentimentality for the fullness of Israel becomes quite a noticeable trend, accompanied with a growing forward-looking hopefulness for full restoration.  A restoration we see only in Christ!

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 27 (or 21st after Trinity in the traditional calendar), so keep in mind that the historic Prayer Book default is that a mid-week Eucharist will repeat the Collect & Lessons (the propers) for yesterday.  Otherwise, we recommend…

  • Monday 11/11 = Veterans/Remembrance Day or St. Martin (bishop)
  • Tuesday 11/12 = Votive*
  • Wednesday 11/13 = Votive
  • Thursday 11/14 = Votive
  • Friday 11/15 = Votive
  • Saturday 11/16 = Votive or St. Margaret

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019).  The traditional appointments are Holy Trinity on Sunday, Holy Spirit on Monday, Holy Angels on Tuesday, of the Incarnation on Wednesdays, of the Holy Eucharist on Thursdays, the Holy Cross on Fridays, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturdays.

All Saints’ to Advent

Autumn is my favorite time of year.  Autumn in New England, in terms of nature’s visual beauty, can’t be beat.  September has my ordination anniversary, and October my birthday.  And then there’s November with All Saints’ Day and Thanksgiving, and the excitement for Advent to begin after that.  And in the liturgical calendar, November is also an interesting time of year.  Both the traditional calendar as well as the modern anticipate the transition from Trinitytide to Advent in the last couple weeks (or last few weeks) before Advent.

In the traditional calendar (assuming Trinitytide is long enough on a given year) you’ve got the culmination of the massive discipleship course on the 24th Sunday, where a focus on absolution and perfection can be found.  The “last epiphany” often chimes in there too, making a connection to the return of Christ; and the Last Sunday before Advent translates that into one last kick in the seat to get on with good works as the next season is about to start.  Thus, on the heels of All Saints’ Day, the traditional calendar points us in the direction of sainthood, bringing the liturgical year full circle.

In the modern calendar (and the Revised Common Lectionary family), the context of what’s going is extremely different, but the effect at this stage is actually very similar.  Trinitytide is not a discipleship course in the modern lectionaries, but rather a survey through the Gospels and Epistles, cycling through different books in each of its three years.  Towards the end of the season, though, the gospels reach the last parables and teachings of Jesus, bringing us to the final calls to holiness (like the parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25) and the great eschatological discourse.  Christ the King Sunday, in its modern position directly before Advent, plays well into this scheme, transitioning the modern Trinitytide into the season of Advent.

(Yes, there are those who argue, quite fairly, that Christ the King is primarily supposed to be a feature of Ascensiontide instead, but that’s a debate for another time.)

Advent, then, both old and new, begins with the same end-times emphasis in the Gospels, smoothly picking up where the previous season left off, because the lectionary has prepared us for it.

For those planning the worship, particularly choosing the music and writing the sermons, this transition can be a great gift for the congregation if we just let it shine forth.  In these few Sundays between All Saints’ and Advent, we can mix in a nice pile of hymns for All Saints, or the Church Triumphant, the Kingdom of God, the Kingship of Christ, the return of Christ and Advent.  How to execute this mix and transition of themes will vary depending upon which calendar & lectionary you’re using, and what exactly the preaching plan is, but in general this all works together.

Fun fact: over in England, their modernization of the calendar is a little different than ours.  For them, Trinitytide ends in October, and All Saints’ Sunday kicks off what is essentially a Pre-Advent season, sometimes called ‘Kingdomtide.’  The liturgical color is recommended to be red.  This strikes me as somewhat unnecessary – the traditional lectionary and the RCL already provide a Pre-Advent time without specially marking one out.  This Kingdomtide addition also makes the removal of the traditional Pre-Lent Sundays rather hypocritical.  If you poke around the Anglican Communion today, you will find some provinces have a modern calendar like ours – the American style – and others will have one like the English one.  So if you ever travel abroad at this time of year, be aware that there may be some noteworthy lectionary divergences this month.  The good news is that, despite the various methods, the general effect is mercifully similar across the board.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 11/4

What we’re doing on this blog on Mondays is looking back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying, and list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.

Readings Review

Last week: 2 Kings 15-17, 2 Chronicles 28-29, Acts 5:12-9:31, Isaiah 9-15, Mark 8:11-11:26

This week: 2 Kings 18-22, 2 Chronicles 30-33, Acts 9:32-13:12, Isaiah 16-22, Mark 11-14

Both in Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer we are hurtling toward some major endings.  In Morning Prayer we are powering through the last century of the kingdom of Judah, recorded in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.  We’re in the reign of Hezekiah at the moment, who was one of the last great kings of Judah.  He’s featured heavily not only Kings and Chronicles but also in the middle of Isaiah, so we’ll hear some of his stories again from that book later this month.  We’ll then bounce through the lows and highs of Manasseh and Josiah over the coming week, and finally crash into the destruction of Jerusalem early next week.

In Evening Prayer we have been moving through Mark’s Gospel.  Last week we entered the second “half” of the book, where Jesus’ teachings and claims are increasingly tested.  Disagreements and questionings, even from St. Peter, characterize this half of the book, and things only continue to escalate this week.  We’ve just had the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, so now we’re in “holy week”, leading up to the crucifixion.  It’s an interesting experience reading through the Gospel books at this pace – you discover just how much attention is given to the death and resurrection of our Lord.  In this lectionary, for example, it takes about four weeks to read Mark, which means a quarter of the book is spent on Jesus’ final week in Jerusalem!  You’ll also note here (as in the other gospels) that the chapters dealing with the trial and crucifixion and death are the longest chapters in the book.

Many of us are used to thinking of the resurrection of our Lord as being “more important” than his suffering and death, so it’s thought-provoking to see the Gospels give more attention to the death than the resurrection.

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 26 (or 20th after Trinity in the traditional calendar), so keep in mind that the historic Prayer Book default is that a mid-week Eucharist will repeat the Collect & Lessons (the propers) for yesterday.  Especially this week a weekday communion service probably should use “Proper 26” if it was not used on Sunday!  Otherwise, we recommend…

  • Monday 11/4 = Votive *
  • Tuesday 11/5 = Elizabeth & Zechariah
  • Wednesday 11/6 = Votive
  • Thursday 11/7 = Votive or St. Willibrord
  • Friday 11/8 = Votive
  • Saturday 11/9 = Votive

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019).  The traditional appointments are Holy Trinity on Sunday, Holy Spirit on Monday, Holy Angels on Tuesday, of the Incarnation on Wednesdays, of the Holy Eucharist on Thursdays, the Holy Cross on Fridays, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturdays.

Happy Halloween or Reformation Day?

Perhaps the strangest thing I remember hearing in seminary was around this time of year when a classmate commented in class with great frustration that Halloween must be a satanic plot to obscure Reformation Day.  … yeah, he was actually serious.

Halloween, as most of you probably know, is a mash-up of the words “hallows’ eve”, referring to All Hallow’s Eve.  (Hallow means holy, just like in the traditional translations of the Lord’s Prayer.)  All Saints’ Day has been celebrated on November 1st for a great many centuries – I believe I read somewhere that it was previously at a different time of year, but 1,000-year-old liturgical detail is neither my forte nor the goal of this blog.  The noting of the Eve of this great feast day had been known for centuries before the Reformation began.  Furthermore, Reformation Day as a holiday is quite a recent introduction to the evangelical world.  German Lutherans have been observing it in some way for a long time, which makes sense.

Honestly, there’s something terribly strange about a church celebrating Luther’s Reformation when its own doctrines are violently at odds with Luther himself.  The fact that most evangelicals today refuse to baptize their babies and treat the sacrament of the altar as a bare symbol would be enough to earn them outright excommunication in Luther’s mind, not to mention the host of other theological disputes that would come up.  Although as Anglicans we are much closer to Lutheran theology than most other protestants out there, it still makes less sense for us to celebrate Reformation Day… we’re better off celebrating our own Reformation events – the promulgation of the first prayer book is a good example that I’ve advocated before.

Plus, the present Lutheran pattern of celebrating Reformation Sunday a week before All Saints Sunday is a liturgical faux pas.  The way the calendar works, “Proper 26” is usually overwritten by All Saints Sunday; occasionally Proper 27 is instead.  But with another holiday adjacent to All Saints Sunday, that means Proper 26 will never be observed at all, and Proper 25 will also rarely be observed.  So that’s a liturgical-logistic argument against Reformation Sunday, too.

Anyway, enjoy Halloween.  And here’s a halloween homily to go with Evening Prayer tonight:

Prayers to Note

Teen suicide rates are on the rise in the US.  The economy and workplace situations are worsening, as many people are forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, causing in loss of stable schedules, often minimal benefits, health insurance, and vacation time.  Depression and anxiety is commonplace, and the pressures of 21st century life can be crushing when exacerbated with social media.  To these and similar challenges, our new Prayer Book presents a number of Occasional Prayers that can direct our attentions and affections, and possibly ease the weary soul.  There are three I want to point you to today, on pages 663-665.

#59 FOR THE DISCOURAGED AND DOWNCAST

O God, almighty and merciful, you heal the broken-hearted,
and turn the sadness of the sorrowful to joy,
Let your fatherly goodness be upon all whom you have made.
Remember in pity all those who are this day destitute,
homeless, elderly, infirm, or forgotten.
Bless the multitude of your poor. Lift up those who are cast down.
Mightily befriend innocent sufferers,
and sanctify to them the endurance of their wrongs.
Cheer with hope all who are discouraged and downcast,
and by your heavenly grace preserve from falling
those whose poverty tempts them to sin.
Though they be troubled on every side, suffer them not to be distressed;
though they are perplexed, save them from despair.
Grant this, O Lord, for the love of him who for our sakes became poor,
your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

#62 FOR THOSE AFFLICTED WITH MENTAL SUFFERING

Almighty God, whose Son took upon himself the afflictions of your people:
Regard with your tender compassion those suffering from anxiety,
depression, or mental illness [especially _______];
bear their sorrows and their cares; supply all their needs;
help them to put their whole trust and confidence in you;
and restore them to strength of mind and cheerfulness of spirit;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

#63 FOR THOSE IN BONDAGE TO ADDICTION

O blessed Lord, you ministered to all who came to you:
Look with compassion upon those who through addiction
have lost their health and freedom.
Restore to them the assurance of your unfailing mercy;
remove from them the fears that beset them;
strengthen them in the work of their recovery;
and to those who minister to them,
give patient understanding and persevering love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 10/28

What we’re doing on this blog on Mondays is looking back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying, and list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.

Readings Review

Last week: 2 Kings 10-14, 2 Chronicles 26, Acts 1-5:11, Isaiah 2-8, Mark 4-8:10

This week: 2 Kings 15-17, 2 Chronicles 28-29, Acts 5:12-9:31, Isaiah 9-15, Mark 8:11-11:26

Special reading for St. Simon & Jude’s Day on Monday: John 14:15-31
Special readings for All Saints’ Day on Friday: Hebrews 11:32-12:2 & Revelation 19:1-16

If you’ve got a moment, check out this quick devotional on Isaiah 9 & 10, straddling Sunday and Monday evening’s OT lessons:
https://leorningcniht.wordpress.com/2019/10/27/and-his-hand-is-stretched-out-still/

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 25 (or 19th after Trinity in the traditional calendar), so keep in mind that the historic Prayer Book default is that a mid-week Eucharist will repeat the Collect & Lessons (the propers) for yesterday.  Otherwise, we recommend…

  • Monday 10/28 = SAINTS SIMON AND JUDE
  • Tuesday 10/29 = Votive* or James Hannington (martyr)
  • Wednesday 10/30 = Votive
  • Thursday 10/31 = Votive
  • Friday 11/1 = ALL SAINTS’ DAY
  • Saturday 11/2 = Commemoration of the Faithful Departed

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019).  The traditional appointments are Holy Trinity on Sunday, Holy Spirit on Monday, Holy Angels on Tuesday, of the Incarnation on Wednesdays, of the Holy Eucharist on Thursdays, the Holy Cross on Fridays, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturdays.

The Fraction: when to break the bread

On the night that he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it*…

And so when we celebrate Holy Communion, to this day, the celebrant breaks the bread.  The question we’re looking at in this entry in the walk-through of the Communion liturgy is when to break the bread.  The rubrics in the 2019 BCP, immediately above the words of institution in the prayer of consecration (pages 116 and 133) read thus:

At the following words concerning the bread, the Celebrant is to hold it, or lay a hand upon it, and here* may break the bread; and at the words concerning the cup, to hold or place a hand upon the cup and any other vessel containing the wine to be consecrated.

This is very nearly the only rubric in the prayer book tradition that tells the priest or bishop what to do with his hands during the prayers.  The Roman Rite is very specific – when to elevate, how many signs of the cross to make – but ours is very simple and free.  But the celebrant must touch the bread or the paten, and each vessel with wine to be consecrated.  This is as far as we go (at least officially) regarding the idea of “sacramental intent” – the notion that the priest only consecrates what he intends to consecrate, and nothing by mistake.  Physically indicating that which is to be consecrated for the Holy Communion is thus both an imitation of our Lord’s “taking” before blessing and breaking, as well as an act of verification regarding exactly what is about to be consecrated.

I have seen Anglican celebrations even by bishop where these rubrics have been ignored… please be sure you heed them!

But what’s interesting here for the 2019 Prayer Book is that it says the bread may be broken during the words of institution.  Those who are used to the 1979 Prayer Book’s liturgy may be surprised – there is a distinct “Fraction” or “Breaking of the Bread” soon after the prayer of consecration.  But the classical Anglican pattern is actually to break the bread during the words of institution.  In our new prayer book we have the choice of doing the fraction at this point or as a special act after the prayers of consecration and Lord’s Prayer.  This is what it looks like:

fraction

This is much like what is found in the 1979 Prayer Book and the modern Roman Rite, with the one difference being that instead of the traditional wording of the Pascha nostrum (“[Christ] our passover”) the celebrant can say another version of it.  Why two versions?

  • “… is sacrificed for us” indicates an immediacy to the Sacrifice of Christ.  Some will take this as an acceptably high theology of the sacrament, others may deem it too close to the Roman notion of the sacrifice of the Mass.
  • “… has been sacrificed for us, once for all upon the Cross” puts more scripture verses together to emphasize the Cross and ensure that the people are directed backwards thither in time.

That both are presented as acceptable options here indicate that insofar a present sacrifice can be inferred in the celebration of Holy Communion, it is one that is communicative of the one sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, and not a repeat or addition thereto.  As Anglicans we can speak of a participation in the Holy Communion with Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, even those of the “lower” Reformed stripe.

If your practice is to make the Fraction at this point, and use these two dialogues, consider using the first one most of the year and the second one during Lent and other occasions where the centrality of the Cross is made more explicit.

Anyway, back to the big question of the day: when should we break the bread?  And why do we have choices?

Option 1: Break the Bread during the Prayers

This is the theological preference of the Calvinists and (I presume) Zwinglians.  By breaking the bread at this point it emphasizes our remembrance of the Last Supper and de-emphasizes any notion of eucharistic sacrifice or offering.  Because most Anglicans-in-exile under Queen Mary’s reign spent their time with French Calvinists, the Elizabethan settlement saw the fraction enshrined in the same place in the liturgy.  So we have this as the standard pattern for every Book of Common Prayer with the probable exception of the original (1549) which doesn’t seem to specify.  Anglican precedent, therefore, pushes us firmly in this direction.  However…

Option 2: Break the Bread after the Prayers

That nice ritual breaking of the bread after the prayers is more historic, being the universal order before the Reformation.  The Lutherans retained it, too, likely due to their higher sacramentology compared to the Calvinists, et al.  And they rejected the Roman notion of eucharistic sacrifice as much as the rest of us, so that ought to assuage those who fear this form of the fraction is too “papist.”  To break the bread at this point, then, is to realign our liturgy with the greater ecumenical and historic consensus.  This is also in the “biblical” order.  Notice what we read: Jesus “took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it.”  The sequence is taking, praying, and breaking.  So why should we not let the priest finish “giving thanks” before breaking the bread?

Please Not Option 3: a bit of both

One practice I’ve come across (which seems quite common in my experience, though I haven’t traveled much) is for the celebrant to “snap” the bread during the words of institution without actually breaking it.  This, ideally, adds a dramatic effect in the midst of the prayers.  On my first celebration of the eucharist as a newly-ordained priest, I had perfect beginner’s luck and did this perfectly without breaking the bread on my first Sunday.  It took weeks to replicate that success.  But after a couple years I learned more about the theological reasons for the two different placements of the Fraction.  And so I took the advice given me: choose one point or the other.  People know what breaking bread is, means, and sounds like – you don’t have to pretend to demonstrate it for them, it doesn’t make things more dramatic or meaningful.

Readings Review & Planning Propers 10/21

What we’re doing on this blog on Mondays is looking back and forth at the Daily Office readings (or lessons) so we can better process together what the Scriptures are saying, and list the recommended Propers for the Communion or Antecommunion service for each day of the week.

Readings Review

Last week: 2 Kings 4-9, 1 John – 3 John, 2 Maccabees 8,10, 1 Maccabees 7,9,13,14, Isaiah 1, Matthew 28, Mark 1-3

This week: 2 Kings 10-14, 2 Chronicles 26, Acts 1-5:11, Isaiah 2-8, Mark 4-8:10

Special reading for St. James of Jerusalem’s Day on Wednesday: James 1

As is often the case with biblical authors, the Morning Prayer readings includes the opening section of the saint-of-the-day’s book.  We saw this with St. Luke last week, and St. James this week.  There is some unresolved debate regarding exactly who the various people named James are, in the New Testament, but we can say, regardless of the possible confusions of identity, that the James who became bishop of Jerusalem, whose authority we see in action in Acts 15, is most definitely the author of the Epistle bearing James’ name.

As for the Gospel according to St. Mark, there are a few different ways that this book can be outlined.  One of the simpler theories is that, after a 15-verse introduction, the book is in roughly two “halves”: the demonstration of Jesus’ authority, and the testing of Jesus’ authority (especially his persecution and suffering).  The change from the first half to the second takes place in the latter part of chapter 8, putting our readings this week solely in the first half of the book, and leaving us ready to transition over next week to the push-back, resistance, and persecution that would lead to the death of our Lord.  So for now, consider the Gospel lessons to be various stories that show us the divinity of Jesus in his ministry.  Next week, we’ll see that claim put to the test…

Planning Propers

This is the week of Proper 24 (or 18th after Trinity in the traditional calendar), so keep in mind that the historic Prayer Book default is that a mid-week Eucharist will repeat the Collect & Lessons (the propers) for yesterday.  Otherwise, we recommend…

  • Monday 10/21 = Votive *
  • Tuesday 10/22 = Votive
  • Wednesday 10/23 = SAINT JAMES OF JERUSALEM
  • Thursday 10/24 = Votive
  • Friday 10/25 = Votive
  • Saturday 10/26 = St. Alfred the Great

* A Votive is a “Various Occasion” (page 733 in the BCP 2019).  The traditional appointments are Holy Trinity on Sunday, Holy Spirit on Monday, Holy Angels on Tuesday, of the Incarnation on Wednesdays, of the Holy Eucharist on Thursdays, the Holy Cross on Fridays, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary on Saturdays.