St Gregory of Nyssa

In the fray of the internet debate about the Church of England diluting baptism by removing “sin” and “the devil” in alternatives, one blog post pointed to a much deeper issue.

Rev. Doug Chaplin, a mission development officer in the Church of England Diocese of Worcester, wrote about the devil being somewhere else than in the details.

He compared Roman Catholic rites with Anglican ones, and concludes that Anglicans

confuse participation by understanding with that of join-in-ability. The Roman Catholic pattern… essentially has one core response that parents and godparents join in. To nearly all the questions the priest asks them, they reply “I do”. (There’s an “it is” and one or two other variations thrown in during other parts of the rite.) … I’m…just noting the simplicity of joining in what’s going on. One main response, two words; repeated.

…I am quite strongly of the opinion that participation is about a lot more than understanding.

Doug is not commending the Roman Catholic rites wholesale, but I absolutely agree with him that we confuse heads in books (or staring at screens) reciting together long and complex theological poetry as being lay participation. [We also confuse dressing lay people up priest-like and putting them up the front to usurp priestly leadership of the service with lay participation – but that is probably better left for another thread].

Here (in NZ) the liturgists have conspired to almost make it impossible to remove our heads from books (or screens). There are different responses to the same, or similar, cues depending on which page (read: screen) you are on.

Just a few examples. The greeting of peace, surely supposed to be addressed to one another, not to a book, pew sheet, or screen:

The peace of Christ be always with you.
And also with you. (page 419)


The peace of God be with you all.
In God’s justice is our peace. (page 466)


The peace of God be always with you.
Praise to Christ who unites us in peace. (page 485)

And so on and on it goes… And just when you think you’ve memorised something, along will come some “creative” worship leader who will creatively provide a new response to your memorised cue because humans never use the same response to the same cue in normal situations do we?!

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