From our Canon Chaplain
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
When Thomas Cranmer embarked on his monumental task of creating a book of 'common' prayer for the Church of England (Ecclesia Anglicana) he used sources from the existing Sarum, York, and other English Rites, as well as ancient Greek and continental Lutheran liturgies.
The result as we know was a rich, yet concise, manual of regular daily prayer, eucharistic worship, and many other resources for the sacramental, pastoral and teaching ministry of the church. Included too was an earlier translation of the Psalter for daily recitation. There never had been (nor for that matter has there ever been since) such a single 'one stop' handy (literally) compendium for the use of both the faithful and the clergy.
Yet, the one feature of this work that stands out so clearly is its Benedictine character. Even though compiled from so many and various sources, this Book reflects the simplicity, piety, and comprehensiveness of Benedictine spirituality. At the very least, it can be seen as an Office Book containing a simple discipline of daily prayer and scripture reading. At a more expanded level it can be seen as a liturgy for the sanctification of time (days, weeks, months, and seasons) and for the blessing and contemplation of the stages of life (birth, maturation, marriage/family, sin, and reconciliation, sickness, aging and death).
In collects and prayers, this Book places our lives firmly in the context of the world around us, "defend us from all perils and dangers." It takes account of the power structures within which we exist, "you have bound us together in a common life, help us in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth."
Throughout the Book, there are numerous invitations to contemplation – whether it be of the mysteries of the Divine or of the Creation, "Lord of heaven and Earth, we humbly pray that your gracious providence may give and preserve," or of the conditions of our lives, "creation, preservation, and blessings." And perhaps most important of all, there is a stream of theological education running through the whole work that we can hold in our hands.
What could be more Benedictine than this: prayer, contemplation, daily discipline, learning, love of God's creation, regard for community and the well-being of God's people, reverence for the natural order and a right relationship with the realms of Heaven and Earth as God's Kingdom made manifest in the times and seasons of our lives 'sub specie aeternitatis.'
We have the Book – let's use it and share it with the People of God. Perhaps Anglicanism is just another name for a worldwide Benedictine Community inspired by the work of Thomas Cranmer.
Peace and Blessing,