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Catholics and Anglicans pray on the same day

Book of Prayers in CommonIn publishing my first edition of a Book of Prayers in Common I highlighted my discovery that not only do Roman Catholics and Anglicans (Episcopalians) share many collects in common – but pray them ON THE SAME DAY. No one else appears to have noticed this – or can explain why/how.

[If you have not yet obtained my book, you can get the PDF free here; other formats are here].

In amongst the stream of encouraging responses (thank you for your encouragement!) I received a terse email response to my above point from an Anglican organisation. It simply had the words: “It’s been that way for, oh, 600 years. We’re sure people have noticed.”

I have obviously not made my point clearly enough.

The first half of my point, that Roman Catholics and Anglicans (Episcopalians) share many collects in common, is not at all surprising. Somebody else can do the work of collating the collects that Anglicans and Roman Catholics had in common between the BCP (eg 1662) and the pre-Vatican II RC Missal (eg 1962). There was also, obviously, a commonality between their lectionaries. The lectionaries and the collect collection drew from a shared Western background.

Through Vatican II, Roman Catholics prepared a whole new lectionary system. Sunday readings after the Day of Pentecost no longer were assigned by their time since the Day of Pentecost (as they had been previously), but were fixed to move in quite a limited band of days they could occur (eg. the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, with its readings and collect, now always occurs on the Sunday between 2 and 8 October). Let us continue with that particular example. The Vatican also assigned the collect of the post-Tridentine Missale Romanum (1962) for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost to that Sunday, the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The English translation of the collect (ICEL 1973) was:

Father,
your love for us
surpasses all our hopes and desires.
Forgive us our failings,
keep us in your peace
and lead us in the way of salvation…

Episcopalians/Anglicans (we know) followed RCs in the new lectionary system. Anglicans also reassigned the collect collection. For the Sunday I am taking as an example, The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer (1979) assigned BCP(1662)’s collect from The 12th Sunday after Trinity:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray,
and to give more than we either desire or deserve:
Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid,
and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask,
except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

No one I know of ever suggested that the RC collect and the Episcopalian/Anglican collect on this same day are actually different translations of the same inherited collect!

Then came the new RC translation (2011). The RC collect was now more accurately translated (whatever else you may think of that translation) as:

Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Suddenly it is pretty obvious. Both the Episcopalian/Anglican and the Roman Catholic prayers are slightly different translations of a common collect, shared in the united history:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui abundantia pietatis tuae et merita supplicum excedis et vota, effunde super nos misericordiam tuam, ut dimittas quae conscientia metuit, et adicias quod oratio non praesumit.

Far from praying the same collect on the same day for the last six centuries as the email declared, historically RCs and Anglicans had been praying them on different days (Pentecost 11 and Trinity 12 are a fortnight apart). Now, without anyone explaining the process by which this happened, or commenting on this other than here, we not only share the same readings but also the same collect.

I have, so far, brought together 14 of these in my Book of Prayers in Common.

I rework the collect and I provide it with historical background and commentary. In this case my reworking is:

Let us pray (in silence) [that we may be open to God’s goodness]

Pause

Almighty everliving God, [or Compassionate God]
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray,
and to give more than we desire or deserve;
pour upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things
of which our conscience is afraid,
and giving us those things
for which our prayer dares not ask;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Thank you to all who have been encouraging me in this work. I am hoping that some will begin the venture of at least translating the collects in my book into Te Reo Maori. If you want to be part of that – do please let me know.

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4 Responses to Catholics and Anglicans pray on the same day

  1. Its my view this is a red herring. Anglican and RC theology is separated by a canyon (and correctly in my view). A few shared trinkets doesn’t mean anything in the greater scheme of things and various leaders playing politics is of little matter – God’s collecting individuals and as such we will stand before him. I see no hiding in the back row of a bunch of like minded people we communed with in this life (as much as part of me would like to be able to do so).

    • Thanks for your visit and comment, Brown.

      A red herring “refers to a type of logical fallacy in which a clue is intentionally or unintentionally misleading or distracting from the actual issue.” In this post the actual issue is the discovery that many times in the year Roman Catholics and Anglicans pray the same historic collect on the same day. There is no red herring.

      As to the canyon (focusing on which would become a red herring to this particular thread) I do not think that one can so easily talk of a single “Anglican theology” – there are plenty of chasms and gorges within Anglicanism. Nor is “Roman Catholic theology” quite as geographically monotonous as many may think – it has its own ravines and valleys.

      Many of us find that some Anglican valleys intersect with some Roman Catholic glens, providing some wonderfully refreshing swimming holes; at other times Roman Catholic hilltops lead to an Anglican ridge from where we together see some amazing vistas.

      Blessings.

  2. Thank you for this.

    One of our retired priests includes a good long silence before the Collect when he is Celebrant; I doubt that many people in the parish understand why (that included me, until I read your Book just now – “without this silence the ‘collect’ is in grave danger of being reduced to merely another little prayer…”)

    I can attest that it has always felt good and right to have the silence there, and made the liturgy seem less of a headlong rush.

    I also like your comment about the “Anglican valleys” and “Roman Catholic glens.” It goes further than that. Years ago when I was working in a PC(USA) (American Presbyterian) church, I heard Harold Daniels, then head of their Office of Worship, speak on several occasions about “convergence” among Christian bodies, with the increasing use among Presbyterians of the Revised Common Lectionary as one example. He saw this as the work of the Spirit, and I agree.

    • Thanks, Andrew for the encouragement. I wonder if more parishioners would understand the silence if (from time to time even) there was an extended bidding (as I suggest): eg. “Let us pray that we may use Lent wisely…” But as you say – silence is important in the liturgy in any case.

      I agree with you about convergence. It is why I am particularly saddened when there is a breaking of the few agreements we have come to.

      Blessings.

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Rev. Bosco Peters Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.