Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ecumenical Evening Prayer of the Papal Visit

If you're like me, you've been following the information coming out about Benedict XVI's Apostolic Journey to the UK. A lot has been said about the relative use of Latin vs. English in the Missal for the journey (i.e., the Prefaces and Eucharistic prayers will be in Latin). I have heard relatively little comment, however, on the Ecumenical Evening Prayer (Vespers, or Evensong). It can be found here, starting on page 57 (but really starting on page 60) of the document.

I find it noteworthy that the option chosen for the ecumenical gathering was a Vespers service. In the United States, for instance, the liturgy from the Book of Blessings for ecumenical gatherings was chosen for the comparable event. It is probably fair to say that we can see in this a recognition of the retention of the practice of praying the Hours in the Anglican tradition, as the style comes from the Anglican form of Evensong. The use of the more traditional version of the psalm and Magnificat might also point to the Holy Father's preference for sacral, beautiful language for the liturgy.

Owing to the publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus, we can be sure that the Holy Father sees great worth in the Anglican patrimony. Evensong would certainly count among this patrimony. We can probably see in this an affirmation of the Anglican Use Catholics, as well as those who may soon come into full Communion with the Church under the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

In the future, even in our parishes, I believe that Vespers would be an excellent way to engage in ecumenical prayer. This goes whether we use the texts of the Liturgy of the Hours, or those of the Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship.

I'm curious to know what you might think about this. Please let me know!

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