Sunday, February 06, 2005

Mid-Week Lenten Worship

This will be the second year East Koshkonong is using Holden Evening Prayer as the liturgy for mid-week Lenten worship. This is a solid choice. Lent is as good a time as any to (re-)introduce Vespers and the daily prayer offices. Part of my commitment as a member of the Society of the Holy Trinity is to provide opportunities within my congregation for praying of the hours, including Vespers, Matins, Compline, mid-day prayer, etc. I confess this is something I know more as an ideal than a reality. I am new to my parish and am a young pastor. Introducing such lost liturgies is no small task in any context.

It is hard to know exactly how to introduce such opportunities for prayer. Compline can be done to conclude an evening where people have already come into church for a meeting, etc., and Vespers can be prayed prior to such meetings, but otherwise, I don't know how many people have an interest in making a special trip into the church for such prayers. Matins could be offered prior to Sunday morning Mass, I imagine, or other mornings prior to the beginning of the work day. Mid-day suffrages are probably the easiest to accomplish. I have seen these offered quite often in urban congregations in Europe, but seldom here in the U.S. People are able to come for their lunch hour to pray.

For our Lenten "message", I am selecting readings from the "Great Tradition" that correspond to the three articles of the creed. So, five Wednesdays, five sets of readings, the first set on the first article, including quotes from Peter Seewald interviewing Cardinal Ratzinger, Luther's Large Catechism, Robert Jenson, and Mary LaCugna. Other weeks will include at least one reading from the confessions, one from a patristic source, and one contemporary source. Brief reading recommendations are welcome. Two weeks on the second article, and two weeks on the third article. I'll post the actual quotes the weeks that we use them.


  1. Something that might help grease the skids to getting your people more interested in congregation offices -- and hence, to making the effort to show up -- is to help your members discover more "liturgical" sources for their daily devotions.

    For example, the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau (publisher of Lutheran Forum and of Pro Ecclesia) has published the 4-volume "For All the Saints." It provides an all-inclusive package for every day of the year -- Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Psalter, 4 lessons (per the 2-year daily lectionary) per day (including one from a "saint" ancient or modern). It has the advantage of being drawn directly from LBW, so that there is easy identification with congregational offices. (If you do evening prayer as a congregation and then people do that office at home on other evenings, there is a two-fold result: First, the pray-er recognizes the link between "individual" piety and being church. Second, the pray-er sees how much is missing in
    private prayer, when compared with congregational prayer -- fellowship, harmony in song, setting.)

    Phyllis Tickle has done something similar (and her volumes almost look a little more like the Roman Office).

    There are a couple of websites that serve the function too, although the ones I know are less "traditional" in the office they make available.

    Such resources, and they are numerous, are, I think, better than the paper devotionals most of our congregations make available precisely they are more attuned to the cycle of church observances. By their structure, they keep one nested in the Church -- not off exploring one's own personal and private experience/faith.

    As an STS brother, you probably should read your commitment to include leading your parishioners (why is it spelled that way?) to a more "catholic" prayer life. This would be one way to do it.

    Peace to you. Thank you for thinking about this!


  2. Thanks your reminder of the link between private and congregational devotions. My only concern with For All the Saints is the price. I use it for my own devotions, but it costs $120, quite a sum to encourage people to spend. But you are correct in your linking home and church pray-ing. Thank you.