Thursday, January 26, 2012

What is "Prayerbook Catholicism"?


The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek liturgia, meaning “work of the people.” The word “worship” comes from the English “worth-ship”, meaning “renown” or “honor”. Thus, when we talk about “going to worship” or “celebrating the liturgy” we mean that the work of the people is to go honor God, to celebrate God’s renown, what God is doing and has done for us. And it is in that context, in the service of the Divine, that we ourselves discover our own worth.
As we’ve spent time worshiping together over the past year you may have noticed changes and development in our Sunday liturgies and other services. In 2009 we’ve experimented with “emergent” style contemporary worship on Wednesdays, we’ve occasionally added the Sanctus Bell to the Eucharist, we now regularly chant the entrance at memorial services, and the use of salt has been added to the Baptismal rite. And these are just a few of our liturgical changes. As a result I have noticed a number of people wondering or questioning where we are going and what lies ahead.
The answer can be boiled down to a label that was suggested to me by a wise friend. What we have been and are developing here at St. Peter’s is a “prayerbook catholicism.” For any of you who, like me, have a Protestant side, this phrase may raise your hackles, but give me a moment to explain.
The word ‘prayerbook’ refers to the Book of Common Prayer, affectionately abbreviated ‘BCP’. The BCP is born out of a desire for the diverse multitudes to worship in unity while maintaining continuity with the previous revelations of God’s Spirit over the centuries. The BCP is both Protestant and Catholic, liberal and conservative, traditional and progressive, new and old.
The word ‘catholic’ literally means ‘universal’, inferring that it covers both geography and time. When we say we believe in the ‘One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church,’ we mean the Body of Christ across the whole Earth and throughout all Heaven. ‘Catholic’ means the believers of the past, present, and future wherever and whenever they are. 
Therefore, as ‘prayerbook catholics’ what we are pursuing in our worship is the following:
·           The People of God giving renown and honor to God in accordance with the pattern, prescriptions, and spirit of the current and past Anglican/Episcopal prayerbooks. (including Jewish practices, Celtic rites, the Sarum Rite, and the 1549, 1552, 1662, … 1928, and 1979 prayerbooks and supplemental materials.) 
·           Full and complete use of signs and symbols (candles, vestments, gestures, chant, etc.) so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be conveyed and experienced by all spiritual and bodily senses.
·           Adapting and preserving our ancient and living Faith in Christ to the language and practices of the present, that it may passed on to future generations as a living Faith full of Holy Tradition, and not a dead faith of obsolete customs. 
In the future we will be considering how we can conform more and be enlivened by the Anglican spiritual tradition as outlined in the Book of Common Prayer. This may include celebrating more of the Church’s calendar (saints’ days, lesser feasts, and fasts), promoting morning and evening prayer in our daily lives, and other liturgies such as the blessing of homes, confession, confirmation, and vigils. 
Thank you to the many who make our worship possible: to those who have put together so many Sunday bulletins; to those who organized many of our lectors and acolytes; to our Deacon who crafts the Prayers of the People; to our Music Director who selects our music; to our Acolyte Masters; to the Altar Guild members, Lectors, Lay Eucharistic Ministers, Acolytes, Ushers, and all volunteers and worshipers – thank you! The liturgia, the work of the people, cannot be done without you.
Soli Deo Gloria, (To God alone be the glory)

Fr. James+  

- from St. Peter's 2009 Annual Report

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