Chapel News November 2012


Hang up your clothes!

Thanks to Barbara Miller and others for organizing the surplices, cassocks and albs on hangers that do not slip – so NOW if we find liturgical clothing on the floor it will not be because it “slipped off the hanger” – put items back on the correct hangers and hang up in the right closets – and your sacristans will be happy (and we will not have to email your mom)!

Unlock the doors!

A reminder that if you are officiating for morning prayer, we rely on you to unlock the door heading toward the sacristy and the right hand door (from the inside – right) on the office side. They have still been locked mid-morning recently, and this prevents people without the code from getting into the chapel

Attend to the rota!

There have been a number of missed rota assignments the week before reading week and the week after reading week. Please be attentive to your slots, if you cannot make it find a substitute and make sure the sacristy knows what arrangements have been made. With all of us rushing from class, trying to find subs at the last minute is not easy or very time efficient. Also, if you are willing to take an extra rota slot – let the sacristy know, there are a couple coming up because students slotted on the rota were really not supposed to have been there in the first place…

We now have a Prosphoron seal!

if you would like to use it in making Eucharistic bread. Prosphoron is the name given to the Eucharistic bread in the Greek Orthodox tradition, and like many traditions historically and contemporarily, the bread may be pressed with a particular design. We have a children’s book (actually quite lovely!) that explains the symbolism of this particular bread press. If you have other Eucharistic bread presses, feel free to use those also.

The Kiss of Peace

Our chapel is both a real place of worship for a real community and a model and lab for shaping future leaders. There is always an opposing set of tensions with regard to the latter – do we reconstruct what goes on in parishes in order to learn how to do that (partially), or do we take the time to reflect on what we do and what it means in order to challenge some practices in parishes (partially). The sign of peace falls toward this second end of the spectrum. In many Episcopal parishes, the exchange of the sign of peace is coffee hour without the coffee. If you are a visitor (read: stranger) in a local parish around the area, watch what actually happens. People go out of their way to greet their friends, have conversations, ask about new haircuts or adult ed forums after the liturgy, and bypass the stranger and those they do not particularly like. This is a travesty of what the kiss of peace actually is – and perhaps by reflecting on its meaning and changing our own practices (or being conscious of our own practices here in the chapel) we can influence parish practices too.

What does it mean to say that this is completely the opposite of the theological tradition of this ritual engagement? Like many traditional liturgical units, the kiss of peace has multiple theologies – the seal of the prayers, reconciliation (following Matthew 5:23-24), but above all in the first millennium of Christianity the emphasis was on recognition and honor of Christ between and in one another – seeing and knowing the body of Christ before the whole body of Christ together makes eucharist. In a brand new essay, Paul Bradshaw addresses this so clearly it is worth repeating here:

In the early church “people normally only exchanged kisses with members of their immediate family or very close friends. Thus, for Christians to kiss those with whom they were not so related was in effect to proclaim that these were their true brothers and sisters in the household of faith…Thus, the real emphasis was on the act of kissing as a powerful countercultural symbol: it was “the KISS of peace”, not “the kiss of PEACE.” Modern practice not only interprets the meaning of the gesture differently but usually employs a quite different ritual action-the handshake-which at least in American society is generally reserved as a greeting for those with whom we are not closely connected, not for those in our intimate circle, and so tends to symbolize the opposite of what the earliest Christians were doing.” (“The Relationship between Historical Research and Modern Liturgical Practice”)

We are intimately related one to another in Christ through the waters of baptism – how will we recognize Christ in one another, and more to the point, recognize ourselves together as the body of Christ that efficaciously offers the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving: perhaps by trying to see this encounter with all those in our immediate area not as a social encounter, but as a sacred encounter, between Christians who may or may not be friends, but most profoundly are brothers and sisters.

Praying with the Dead

The month of November seems an appropriate time to reflect on dying and the dead. In the Northern Hemisphere the days grow shorter, evening comes early and, even here in California, it will turn cold and grey. The lectionary at the end of the year reflects that first theme of Advent, the end of the world and the second coming of Christ, a corporate memory of a longer Advent season. The month begins with the Feast of All Saints and adds to that the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed, commonly known as All Souls. What is the difference between these two days?

The description of All Saints Day in Lesser Feasts and Fasts (LFF) and Holy Women Holy Men (WHM) (page 436 or 662) traces the complexity of the dating and origins of the November 1st feast; but whether we can accurately pinpoint its origins, it was, like other martyr and saint observances, a day to remember, to honor and to encourage emulation of those who had lived and died extraordinarily faithful lives in their conformation to Christ. But by at least the 5th century, Augustine of Hippo and others were distinguishing between those dead Christians to whom we prayed for assistance and those who were in need of our prayers, the roots of the difference between All Saints and All Souls. While this distinction, and its abuse in systems of indulgences and other practices led to the abolition of All Souls in the various Western Christian Reformations, “a renewed understanding of its meaning has led to a widespread acceptance of this commemoration among Anglicans, and to its inclusion as an optional observance in the calendar of the Episcopal Church.” (LFF, 438) But a much more profound shift needed to occur in Anglicanism first, that is the shift in understanding the relationship between the dead and the living. Is it to be understood as none or acknowledgement or assistance or prayer of remembrance or efficacious prayer effecting change? British Methodist theologian John Lampard has written a fascinating book on the biography of a prayer, Go Forth, Christian Soul, and in his reflection on this ancient Christian prayer for the dying, he traces this changing relationship at work in Anglicanism. From the reformed Protestant stance that prayers for the dying and the dead were unnecessary because “the dying were left on their own with God and no prayers of commendation to God on their behalf would help them” (xix) to the watershed event of WWI, about which Alan Wilkinson wrote “In 1914 public prayer for the dead was uncommon in the Church of England; by the end of the war it had become widespread…if the nineteenth century laid the intellectual and cultural conditions for the revival of prayers for the dying and the dead, the First World War was the cataclysmic event which brought them back into the liturgical and spiritual life of the churches” (115) a ritual, linguistic and theological change had occurred.

This shift is apparent in the language of the burial rite in the prayer books also. The 1662 had no proper collect for the church service, and at the graveside the ancient prayer of commending the soul to God was omitted, only the body committed to the ground, (language similar to the US 1789 BCP). By the 1928 US BCP two medieval prayers were back,, “Remember thy servant”, in which the dead person is portrayed as “increasing in knowledge and love of thee, he may go from strength to strength, in the life of perfect service, in thy heavenly kingdom…”, as well as “…blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…that the good work which thou didst begin in them may be perfected unto the day of Jesus Christ.” These prayers reflect the possibility that, unlike a more Calvinistic understanding of immediate and individual judgment at the moment of death, there may be change after death and before the final judgment. While our contemporary Burial services (BCP and EOW) live in the ambiguity that none of us know completely what happens after death, the theology drawn from our common prayer is markedly different than that found in the 1552 and 1662 prayer books: “O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of your servant, and grant her an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of your saints…” “Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.” Within the intercessory prayers of the Eucharistic liturgy, we have prayed “we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear, (1662)” to the multiple forms in the 1979 BCP (“I ask your prayers for the departed. Pray for those who have died.”)

In the CDSP chapel this month, there is a dia de los muertos altar, borrowing images from Latin American traditions, on which we invite you to place photos, objects of memory, or prayers to remember the dead. There is also a book of the names of the dead in which you may want to record the names (and death dates) of loved ones who have died and whose names will be read at Eucharistic liturgies from November 2 to Thanksgiving. Above all, this month is a time to reflect on your relationship with the dead – what is your theology? Do you speak to those who are dead? Do you pray to God for the dead? What do you pray? Where do the dead go? Are they capable of change? What have we to do with the dead? What do the dead have to do with us? What does “The Communion of Saints” mean to you?

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever.

(this reflection is a repeat of last November’s Chapel News article, 2011)

Should you have any comments or questions about the CDSP Chapel News, please contact the Sacristy.


© 2012 Church Divinity School of the Pacific