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The Daily Office Tutorial, part VI: Celebrating Principal Feasts and Holy Days, and Lesser Feasts and Fasts

October 25, 2010

One of the great benefits of marking time as sacred with the Daily Office is the opportunity to commemorate and remember the stories of those who have gone before us, as well as the major life events of Our Lord.  But doing so requires a little extra work, beyond what we’ve learned so far, and that is the purpose of this post.

The Commemoration of Holy Days and Saints in the Daily Office happens at Morning and Evening Prayer, and entails, simply put, replacing the appointed lessons for that day of the week with the lessons for the saint or holy day, and replacing the Collect of the Day with the Collect for that saint or holy day.  With that in mind, let’s grab our BCP’s and find out how we discover when the holy days and saints days are, and where their readings and collects are located.  Let us pray!

The first place we’re going to look for information on material for Holy Days and Saints days is in the very back of the Book of Common Prayer.  Remember how we found the readings for Morning and Evening Prayer?  This works the same way, it’s just located at the very end of that section.  Turn to p. 996 and check it out with me.

You’ll see the title “Holy Days” at the top of the page, but if you look at the bottom of the page, you’ll see we’re still in the “Daily Office” chapter.  This is important because otherwise it would be easy to confuse this section with the section of the Lectionary for the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, which can be found beginning on p. 921.

Back in our section, you’ll see the names of the various days listed, along with their respective dates.  This week, the week of October 24, we actually have a Major Holy Day, so let’s look at that one.  Turn to p. 1000, and there at the top you’ll see the entry for this week’s festival, the Feast Day of St. Simon and St. Jude, who were two of the original twelve apostles.

To the right of the feast day’s name, you’ll see two columns, one for Morning Prayer and one for Evening Prayer.  There, it lists the appointed psalms and two readings.  You can choose to read one of them at Morning Prayer and one at Evening Prayer, with your third and/or fourth readings coming from the regular portion of the Lectionary.  Or, you can choose to read them both at either of the Offices.  And it’s that easy for the readings!

 

The Collects for Holy Days and Saints Days are just as easy to find.  As you might well guess they are located in the same section as the Sunday Collects, just at the end of the section, beginning on p. 237.  St. Simon and St. Jude’s collect is on p. 245.  When you reach the point of the Office when you would normally say the Collect of the Day, you instead say the Collect for that Saints Day or Holy Day.   Again, it’s that easy!

What if you want to do more?  Not every saint and feast day is listed in the Book of Common Prayer’s lectionary; in fact, only the major ones are.  If you would like to expand your prayer life beyond that, you will need an additional resource.  These resources are easily accessible in some forms online, but if you wanted to buy the books here are links:

 

Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2006 –  This book is the one I use and is very easy.

Holy Women, Holy Men –  This book is the new version of the book above and I haven’t used it or even seen a copy, so I cannot speak to it.

 

The easiest way to get this information without buying a book is to consult an online lectionary.  Two are linked to from the Home Page of the Daily Office Tutorial, but this one is my favorite.  It has an easy to use calendar function, where you can just click on the day or the saint’s name and it takes you to the page where the readings are listed and linked, the Collect is listed in both traditional and contemporary language,  and there is a very good history of the particular saint.  Check out St. Simon and St. Jude’s page for an example.

When commemorating a saint, I always enjoy reading their history, either on that lectionary webpage or in my copy of Lesser Feasts and Fasts before praying the Daily Office.  I feel like that helps me to know more about them, so that when I pray their Collects, or read their appointed lessons, I can know a little bit about why those are the lessons and what the prayer is saying.  The saints are wonderful tutors, if we allow them to be.

 

Congratulations!  Now you know how to commemorate Holy Days, Major Saints and Feast Days, and Lesser Feast Days!

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