Scripture Lessons, Lectionary & Humility


For quite some time I have entertained the thought of  “fixing” the Lectionary of the AB by somehow combining the AB with a BCP lectionary. Without much success. In the light of what we’ve read before from the rev. John Mason Neale I am wondering if one of the reasons that I have not succeeded is that perhaps the AB Lectionary isn’t broken and is not in need of fixing. After all nothing stops anyone from using the AB together with one of the many wondeful Bible-reading schedules that can be found by a simple google-search? Why should Bible reading be limited to Matins?

Perhaps it is all-too-human arrogance which presumes to ” fix” a traditional way of Prayer and Reading of Scripture, thereby missing whatever blessings God grants the ones who would faithfully and meditatively follow it? At this point, standing corrected by a man of God of more wisdom, I will give up fixing what is not obviously broken. Instead –  by Psalmody and Prayer (which includes the Scripture selections and Commentary) provided by the AB my sinful broken self can perhaps be “fixed.” Scripture is, of course, our primary way of knowledge of God, but tradition is certainly the way we relate to Scripture. This tradition includes, prayer, patristic commentary, local and Ecumenical councils, and also Breviaries. This tradition is dynamic and surely the Holy Spirit is the One behind and within this tradition. At least I think it is implied in what Paul says about prayer in Romans 8, 26:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

In a very real sense, the AB can function as an ascetic instrument to curb self-will. One of the vices which both Evagrius and John Cassian describe and try to heal in their disciples. By submitting to the AB – especially where I know better that it – we are in fact practicing the abdication of our diseased self-will not unlike our Monastic brothers and sisters.

Fr. Gregory Wassen

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About Father Gregory

I am an Anglican Catholic Priest, currently residing in Orvelte, the Netherlands.
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2 Responses to Scripture Lessons, Lectionary & Humility

  1. Jim Hicks says:

    One of Mr. Lula’s “marketing” points in selling the AB was to suggest its use with the 1928 BCP. For those, such as priests, who are under vow to say the Offices from the BCP, they could fullfill their vow by using the AB to supplement the tradional Anglican Offices. Adding the full round of Psalms, the hymns, etc., plus the day time offices.

    A suggestion I am drawn toward is using the lectionary from the 28 BCP to supplement the AB. The Scripture I would use is the NKJV as published in the Orthodox Study Bible. It contains footnotes explaining the Scriptures from a traditional Orthodox point of view.

    There is not necessarily a humility issue with wanting to include more Sripture into one’s daily life during Great Lent and perhaps the Advent Fast. But there is also a reason for the amount of Scripture included in the Roman and Anglican Breviaries. The emphasis is on praying the Psalms.

    • fathergregory says:

      Dear Jim,

      That is an excellent point! Did Daniel (Lula) write about combining AB and 28 BCP on his website? I am curious as to how he sees that work. Also the 1928 BCP’s usually do not include the “original” Lectionary but the later 1943 one. The main difference – as far as I can see – is that the 43 lectionary contains shorter readings and may be more fitting for use with the AB.

      The problem with the “original” 28 is that it’s readings are very, long and that they do not seem to take much account of the Season. The 43 lectionary seems to give more thought to the Season and to practical use. Including more Scripture in one’s daily life is – of course – not at all suggestive of a humility issue. Please allow me to express a little more clearly what I intended to say with that: to desire to fix a system of reading and praying as it is handed over to me, could usggest an issue with humility. The best practice with things traditioned to us is caution and humility. That does not mean that lectionaries can’t be touched – it just means that perhaps more thought and prayer ought to go into these things before one goes ahead and changes things …

      Thanks for that Jim!

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