Pray Tell blog takes aim at our liturgy!

The Pray Tell blog has a post up about an Orthodox scholar andformerAnglican David Frost who is critical of importing Cranmerian language into Orthodox liturgy.  Then the blogger takes a swipe at the Ordinariates’ Divine Worship.

The Book of Common Prayer liturgy, in Frosts’s view, is theologically corrupt; it has an unbalanced and juridical view of sin and guilt, and it was heavily motivated by terror of ‘the uneducated, uncivilised mob’. It understates what Frost calls ‘the mighty acts of God’, especially the resurrection. It was, he says, unduly influenced by Calvinism.

And not only the implicit Calvinism but also the language he objects to!

He also criticises what he calls ‘sub-Cranmerian English’.

Despite being a lover of Renaissance literature, I have argued throughout my working-life that to create a special language for religion akin to ancient Hebrew or Sanskrit is the characteristic of cults — and the Christian faith should not be turned into a cult. It is contrary to the practice of the Apostles, for the gospel was communicated in the Greek koine, an international trading language whose counterpart today might be internet computer English.

To have a substantially different language for worship would seem to contradict the basic message of divine incarnation. When at Christ’s crucifixion the veil of the Temple was rent in two, the barrier between sacred and profane was shattered. It is all too easy to erect that barrier once again, and the barrier goes up imperceptibly as language grows old-fashioned and unfamiliar.

The greatest danger presented by imitation of Cranmerian English among the modern western Orthodox is that it may become yet another hierarchic, archaic language for worship that can protect and insulate one from its content, just as much as colourful ceremony and fine chanting.

The relevance of Frost’s lecture for Catholicism is slightly complex. After all, we are not Orthodox. Some of the texts that he attacks appear in the older Latin missal. Some of the texts that he cites as missing are also missing in the Tridentine Mass – the explicit epiclesis, for instance.

Nonetheless, I think he makes many good points. It is not at all clear that Thomas Cranmer’s heavily Calvinistic theology should be ‘cut and pasted’ into a post-conciliar Catholic Mass. His critique of ‘sub-Cranmerian English’ rings true to me. Even setting Catholic and Orthodox differences aside, I found his lecture a damning criticism of the new Ordinariate liturgy.

Well, most interesting.

I think some of Ordinariate members in England might be more sympathetic to this point of view. I would love to hear from you in the comments section.

As for me—the post-Vatican II view among progressive Catholics that we are “Easter people” and thus we stand before the Lord and can have all the fruits of the Resurrection without repentance of sin and crying out for mercy seems to me to miss the fact one has to go through a process of deep conversion to experience the renewal and regeneration that does make one able to walk by the Spirit.  Only walking by the Spirit and not the flesh makes us truly Easter people.  I see a lot of carnal Christians acting like they’ve got it made when I wonder if they have ever had an experience of meeting the Living God—and developed a healthy fear of Him.  Also, I think we can skate along thinking in our comfortable lives we pretty much are doing okay—humming along here being quite patient and loving and all that—until!  we get some neighbor who plays loud music late at night, or someone annoying starts attending our church services.

I dunno.  Try breaking a bad habit, even a small one, such as overreating. Try introducing new spiritual disciplines into your life.   See how quickly you realize how powerless you are, what a “miserable offender” totally dependent on God’s grace you are.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we are left in that place—but you have to experience that in order to receive what only comes to a contrite and humble heart.  And even having a contrite and humble heart—well, you can’t even give that to yourself. You need grace.   We are so, so presumptuous!  So, a little reminder in our confession at Mass not to be so, is a good thing.

I think many of the “We are Easter people!” crowd have made metaphors of the Bible.   ‘Oh, we’re adults now, we can see the Resurrection was symbolic.  All that sin and dying to self stuff, that was for a more immature and superstitious age.

Your thoughts?

H/t to the Anglican Ordinariate Informal Discussion group on Facebook for the piece.

18 thoughts on “Pray Tell blog takes aim at our liturgy!

  1. I think the root problem with these folks is that they feel entitled to the Resurrection without taking up the Cross and following Him.

    Besides, the whole “big bad legalistic-juridical West” canard is just silly. All of the Orthodox saints emphasize repentance. Cf. also the Jesus Prayer, the ultimate prayer of childlike humility. And as contemporary Orthodox (ROCOR) priest Fr. John Whiteford put it, yes, the Church is a field hospital, but at the end of our days we will still face the final judgment, not the “final medical exam.”

    Lastly, all of those so proud of their “adult faith” might do well to recall our Lord telling us, unless we become like children we will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.


  2. I have always been amused by those who defend “thee” and “thou” by saying that God is too important and special to be called “you”—failing to recognize that “thou” was the familiar, informal word in its day, as “tu” and “du” still are in French and German. I also feel that while one can defend BCP prayers on the grounds that they are a vital part of many Ordinariate members’ previous liturgical experience, at least in North America, the retrofitting of other prayers, such as the canon of the Mass, into “sub-Cranmerian English” is very suspect. Like fake half-timbering on Ye Olde English Pub, erected 2015. As you point out, Anglo-Papalists in the C of E elaborated a reasoned explanation for their rejection of the BCP, and most OOLW members came out of this tradition. They are very much in a cleft stick now, I imagine.


    • I don’t necessarily disagree with you, EPMS, in your general amusement, but a few points:

      1) How was the Canon retrofitted? My understanding is that we use the translation originally done by Miles Coverdale in his pre-heretical days.

      2) As regards things like sanctoral collects, for instance, what would you propose instead? That we keep the Coverdale Canon and psalter, and other original Cranmerian-style prayers now part of the Divine Worship Mass, but import the contemporary-style prayers from the 2011 translation of the Roman Missal? Or what? What good is transplanting the “Cranmerian” material from the BCP if you don’t provide “soil” (a liturgical context) for it? I would personally find the confusion and inconsistency of the resulting mishmash to be more off-putting than the idea of “retrofitting” some of the prayers to fit the rest.

      Besides, anyone (including entire Ordinariate communities) who have a problem with the “archaic language” are well within their rights to use the Novus Ordo for Mass, Office and Sacraments.

      In the broader scheme of things, I think you’ll agree that in this case, as in much else when it comes to the Christian life, St. Paul’s advice regarding fasting and feasting applies — viz., Romans 14, the “stronger” and the “weaker” brethren mutually tolerating and supporting the other, instead of treating him with judgment and contempt.


    • There is a strange phenomenon we see on Our Tradition. Popes reading and writing about Martin Buber’s I-Thou, which was translate Thou from the German “Du.” It would seem language is not static, and here we have a sunstantial contradiction to your claim in authoritative, philosophic, and contemporary circles amongst Catholics and Orthodox Jews. Your attempt to dismiss Thou as a possible real point then lies in a fundamental misunderstanding of how language Develops.

      This was a very popular methodology especially amongst the Genealogists like Nietzsche, and 20th c pop philosophers doing amateur linguistics, but Wittgenstein building on Blessed Newman’s understanding of Development applied to language out your argument into the grave in the 1940’s.

      Thus what once was familiar and casual (du, tu, you) may develop to be for fittingly, given the telos of Liturgy, to be translated as something Familiar but Not Casual (Thou, Thee). Such is arguably also the case with calling a spouse “Beloved,” whereas it may once have been regarded as too formal, It may now be used as a familiar yet non casual manner, such as when a lover seeks to seriously but intimately express their love to the spouse. So too it is with “Thee.”


      • The cogency of your argument is somewhat undermined by prose which is far from idiomatic. Are you a native English speaker? This is a serious question, not a put-down. It is very relevant to the discussion.


      • Once use of the familiar (thee, thou, thy, etc.) disappeared from every-day English, the popular perception of this form seems to have turned around completely. In the time of my childhood, it was widely perceived to be a very formal and reverent use reserved only for God and perhaps the virgin mother or another saint.



      • Greetings EPMS,
        I recently updated my slide phone to the iPhone 3 which has a very poor auto-correct, which I’ve discovering butchers most of what I type on it. (It frequently turns “in” to “on” or “of” or it changes tense forms for some reason. I’m getting used to the update 🙂

        To address the claim that cogency undermines my argument there’s two possible senses you might have. If neither is correct let me know. (1) not speaking well removes the logical strength of an argument (2) not speaking well removes rhetorical force of an argument.

        If we mean (1), we’d have to say my auto-correct non-sense only undermines the argument insofar it is made incoherent. A sentence such as “Round squares are green” could not be undermined for instance, since it never had strength the strength of logical coherence. Here I’ll try to check my text, or simply not use a phone in the future when typing 🙂

        If we mean (2), then we’re simply saying that the persuasiveness of the argument is not as strong. While this is important for reaching an audience, this isn’t actually essential to the soundness nor validity of an argument. I might blandly present a paper on the reconciliation of Newtonian Physics and Quantum Mechanics in broken English because my native tongue is, say Italian, but the truth of such claims is not effected by the language. Other instances might include St. Paul from this the MP Lesson this morning, “and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” or in Moses’ stuttering, or in Peter Maurin’s broken and poetic but enigmatic manner of speaking.

        If neither of these is the sense in which you mean an argument, or my argument, is weakened by my errors, lemme know! I don’t want to misrepresent your position.

        I will say that I got a kick out of you thinking I was not a native speaker. I didn’t know anyone had responded until several friends texted me about it. Apparently a lot of folks read this blog!


      • With respect to the logical validity of an argument, I agree completely. It does not matter how dull or boring a rigorous proof may be, whether it be in mathematics or in philosophy. It is either valid or not valid. There’s no middle ground.

        But when it comes to the public forum, most people don’t have a clue as to what constitutes rigorous proof and what falls short. Rather, credibility tends to ride on the reader’s or listener’s impression of the competence of the writer or speaker. In that context, errors in grammar and spelling, and even typographical errors, tend to give the impression that the writer or speaker is less than competent, undermining credibility.

        And I say this knowing full well that I seldom achieve perfection. My new computer is particularly frustrating — the cursor sometimes jumps from where I set it to somewhere else where I can’t tell where it is, causing keystrokes to go where I don’t intend without my being aware. Also, the “Backspace” key is not a viable option — if the cursor has jumped outside the text entry box in which I think that I’m typing, it can cause the browser to go back to the previous page, losing everything that I have already typed. On a post that’s already several paragraphs in length, starting over gets to be painful!

        So I ask everybody’s patience and forbearance with my typos, as well as everybody else’s. Hopefully there’s enough that’s right so we all can figure out what’s really intended.



  3. A couple of comments. First of all, to characterize Crammer’s theology as “heavily Calvinistic,” and his BCP’s (1549, 1552) as “unduly influenced by Calvinism” shows either such a lack of nuanced knowledge of the influences of European Protestant Reformers on the English Reformation or such a cavalier disregard of accuracy in the interest of scoring points, that I would be inclined to dismiss anything that such a person might write on the subject. Calvin’s influence on English Protestantism and, more subtly, on the Church of England, was a phenomenon beginning no earlier than 1559; he had no influence on Edwardian developments or upon Cranmer. From about 1546 onward Cranmer shook off whatever attractions he may have had to aspects of Lutheranism, and became firmly attached to the Swiss-originated “Reformed” tradition of Protestantism, and, in particular, to the Church of Zurich and its leading pastor and theologian (after the death in 1531 of Huldrych Zwingli, the Reformer of Zurich and originator of the Reformed tradition of Protestantism), Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575). Dom Gregory Dix (1901-1952) caused great controversy among Anglicans because of his insistence in his The Shape of the Liturgy (1945) that “Cranmer was a Zwinglian” and that Zwinglian views underlay both (in a Catholic “guise”) the 1549 Prayer Book eucharistic service and (more openly) that of 1552; much modern scholarship (e.g., Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Thomas Cranmer: A Life [1996]) would suggest, rather, that “Cranmer was a Bullingerian,” and that there were small, but significant, differences between Bullinger’s views and Zwingli’s. This is important, from the perspective of this comment, because Calvin had a view of the “Lord’s Supper,” its meaning and importance, that attributed far more spiritual significance to it – but only for the Elect – such as conveying “spiritually to the mind not physically to the mouth” the Body and Blood of Christ than did Zwingli, Bullinger, or Cranmer. Calvin’s great ambition would be to find “a middle way” on the Lord’s Supper that could unite Lutherans and Reformed, but Lutherans, by and large, spurned his views, and in the end, in 1549, he reached an accord with Bullinger on the Lord’s Supper on which Calvin made all the significant concessions to his opponent’s views, and Bullinger none. (For all this, see Paul Rorem’s Calvin and Bullinger on the Lord’s Supper , Grove Books, 1989.) Reformed Churches throughout Europe in the 16th Century and later tended to incline variously more towards Bullinger’s (Hungary, Poland, Transylvania, most of Protestant Switzerland) or towards Calvin’s views (France, the Netherlands, and,above all, Scotland) on such matters as the Lord’s Supper and how to treat Predestination and Election; in England, most Elizabethan and Jacobean Calvinists were “Calvinist” as regards “predestinarian spirituality” (and perhaps moral legalism), but displayed little interest in, or sympathy for, his sacramental thought.

    Secondly, the comments on “sacral language,” or rather disparagement of it, in the comment, seem to reek of the same “back to the apostolic church” mentality that has characterized, from time to time, certain strains of Protestantism (such as the “Restorationist” movement in the early 19th century that produced such bodies as “The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)” and others), and which Thomas Day satirized so incisively and so memorably as regards the “music” (if one can so term it) of the American Catholic Church, both before and after Vatican II in his Why Catholics Can’t Sing (1990), and which so often turns out to be more a fanciful projection on the part of such “restorationists” than anything resembling historical reality. The Church came to be in an environment in which the Jews used, and have continued to use, a “sacral language,” Hebrew, and in the Semitic world as liturgical Aramaic became more and more remote from common speech, it was never rendered into the Aramaic vernacular. The same could be said of liturgical Greek, liturgical Armenian, and liturgical Ethiopian Ge’ez. Church Slavonic itself, when it was created in the Ninth Century, was forged from a particular Slavic dialect, and so in that sense intelligible to its initial auditors, but its creators so loaded it with “technical theological terminology” translated literally from Greek that it is hard to say how “accessible” it was to those that experienced it in the Liturgy. Finally, what can one say about “liturgical Latin” other than to refer those who seek accurate knowledge to the works of Christine Mohrmann (, who has demonstrated that liturgical Latin, a creation of the Roman Church in, roughly, the century from 360 AD onwards, was deliberately modelled on Classical Latin grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and “style,” and thus would have been largely unintelligible to Roman Christians of the Fourth and Fifth centuries, save for those few of them who had received a literary education.

    On all accounts, then, “the wish is the father of the thought,” plus a degree of historical ignorance, seems to underly the critique at “Pray Tell.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, William, for this informed response to the comment at _Pray Tell_. Revealing the ignorance underlying the _Pray Tell_ comment points to a deeper issue: _Pray Tell_ is the project of the Saint John’s University’s School of Theology, a Catholic school of theology and seminary. (Full disclosure: this institution is supported by my monastic community.) Scholarly honesty and integrity ought to be upheld on the blog.

      Another blog has often claimed that Anglican/Episcopalian clergy who wish to be reconciled with Rome and ordained into the Ordinariates need to study at Catholic seminaries to assure solid academic and theological foundations. In theory, yes. In practice … ?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Full disclosure: St. John’s Seminary has a terrific reputation for outstanding theological, pastoral, spiritual, and personal formation of its students. I have no personal ties to that school, but I do know an alumnus who is now an abbot of another Benedictine monastery and another monk who is currently a student there personally.


        Bishop Lopes addressed the subject of theological formation of former Anglican and Episcopal Clergy who seek ordination in the Catholic Church in considerable detail in his lecture in Vienna a few months ago. (I had to download the file and then load it into Acrobat Reader running in its own window, as it would not display in my browser.) The following paragraph appears verbatim at the top of Page 7 of the bishop’s text (emphasi in original; boldface mine).

        The cases of individual former Anglican clergy seeking ordination as Catholic priests are rather formulaic. The former cleric and his sponsoring Catholic bishop prepare a dossier for review by the Congregation in order to ensure that no canonical impediments to ordination are present. Having made that determination, the Congregation issues a nihil obstat for the man to be accepted as a candidate for Sacred Orders and begin his period of formation for Catholic priesthood. The governing legislation of the Pastoral Provision established this period as two years for former Anglicans given the similarities between Anglican and Catholic formation. Other former Protestant ministers must observe a minimum three-year period of formation. Once the candidate successfully completes an assessment examination, the case is once again submitted to the Congregation which, after a careful review of all the documentation, presents the case directly to the Pope for a dispensation from the obligations of clerical celibacy. This dispensation is communicated back to the bishop and ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood may proceed.

        And the following paragraph appears verbatim in the middle of Page 11 of the bishop’s text (again, emphasis in original; boldface mine).

        Respect for the pastoral bond between pastor and faithful also motivated an expedited priestly ordination of the converting pastor. A minimum of two years of priestly formation is required for each former-Anglican clergyman seeking ordination in the Catholic Church. Again, prior to Anglicanorum coeibus, these two years of formation came before ordination without exception. But when one is dealing with parochial groups, there is a clear danger in depriving that coetus of its pastor, the very person who had led, formed, and prepared the community to seek Catholic communion. Now, when there is a converting group and we are not dealing any longer with an individual clergyman, it is possible to anticipate priestly ordination earlier in that two-year process of formation so that the pastor continues to exercise pastoral leadership and celebrate Mass and sacraments for his people, something that is rather essential in the experience of being received into full communion. The pastor still must complete two years of priestly formation, but a good deal of that formation comes after ordination in this case.

        Given the extensive training and ministerial experience of the preponderance of former Anglican clergy, two years of formation seems quite adequate.



  4. —“Unbalanced, heavily Juridical—
    The claim of an imbalance of juridical theology has an air of Dualism about it, not unlike Elizabeth’s “via media” which purports to be like Aristotle’s golden mean but in function is a mixing of good an evil. Not too much murder not too little murder, but just the right amount… As it goes for goods things, like the Lord’s jurisdiction power there can never be too much nor too little, there can be no “imbalance” because Justice is Good, for The Lord is Justice.

    I believe what he fears is not an imbalance but a misunderstanding of juridical power found in Luther. Orthodox theologians are notorious for attributing this to St Augustine when really it’s Luther’s reading of St Augustine. The fear is that our sins don’t matter and so a judge may see Christ when The Father sees us when we are “on trial” at Judgement Day. The Father pronounces a “not guilty” which shows Christ covers our sins but contradicts The Psalms and Revelation which tell us we will be judge according to our deeds. What we need is an account that can hold to both of these as true. Notice in Luther’s account The Father can be tricked and is somewhat (functionally, not explicitly) an ignoramus about the truth of our sins — or they just don’t matter. The Judge may be capricious or wrong just as it is in a human court case. Where Judgment Day differs from our courts is that The Father shall strike with arrow at the heart of man an all secrets will be revealed.

    Notice this is not an “imbalance” of juridical power on Luther’s part, it’s just a contradiction to God’s Being as Just, Good, Almighty, and Omniscient. The fear then is simply ill placed. “Mercy exalteth Justice;” the heavier the juridical the heavier the mercy, for God is not as odds with Himself, for He is both.

    —Archaic, Hierarchical Language—
    As regards to language being archaic, hierarchical, etc., the person above refuted this “problem” sufficiently as not a problem. But to add one more thing, Our Lord spoke to The Laos, the laity, the people in parables, riddles, and dark speeches, and “not a word did he speak to them that was not in a parable.” Liturgical Language takes it exemplar and standard from Jesus of Nazareth. The aim is not to de-mask the language and speak plainly, for — Not all truths can be expressed plainly. This is a great heresy and misunderstanding of truth and language, and part of Nietzsche’s Über-Man being applied to liturgical texts. Our job is not to demask, it is to learn beauty through veils. Our Lord was veiled in flesh, Our Lady is always veiled in Icons (here an Orthodox fellow should hear), the chalice by a nurse, the priest by a chasuble, an so on. There is no truth without a fitting vehicle. To say otherwise is to fall into dualism and requires one to “contradict [the] divine incarnation.” It’s not about insulating or protecting one from the content, it is about remembering what our forefathers, The Patristics, taught us, “like knows like.” To unveil ourselves is to cast our pearls before swine, lest we forget The People who abandoned Christ in John 6 or Judas’ betrayal at the Eucharist. An what’s more we ultimately can never know God fully or we are creatures, so masks will be removed, but the veiling of “hierarchical, archaic language” will continue. Do not The Angels sing “Hosanna” and “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Hosts?” Who talks that way? Should The Liturgy imitate heaven or earth?

    —“Easter People”—
    The attempt to declare God’s People, the Congregation/Assembly/Ecclesia according to One Event in Christ’s life assumes we may put that event asunder from other events in Christ life. Such folks would do well to remember it is not an event or events that save, but The Person Jesus Christ. In him alone is found The 40 Days, The Passion, The Crucifixion, The Resurrection, The Ascension, etc.

    Assume we’re “just” Easter people and not Ascension people, them the human nature never ascended to unite to The Father through Jesus Christ by The Hily Ghost that rose him from the dead. If this is the case, then only Jesus resurrects, and the rest of us rot in the grave. Or we are raised only to die again. This would not make Jesus Lird and Saviour, granting eternal life to us mortals. But we declare he IS Lord and Saviour. Reductio Ad Absurdum. We must reject any hypothesis that identifies us according to an event in Christ’s life rather than to his Person: two natures and one body.

    One thing we don’t need to being over to The Ordinariate is this nonsense talk of “we’re Incarnational” or “we’re more about the Transfiguration,” for it puts Christ asunder, and re-enters us into The Chrisological Debates and all the Exumenical Councils about Our Lords’s natures and body. Anyone saying such things is usually up to no good.

    Anyone who lives the calendar will find the true beauty of living liturgically is as The Preacher tells us, there is a time for all things. Here, a time for standing in Easter, a time for kneeling in Lent, a time for Crucifixion in Holy Week, a time fr Tramsfiguration in Epiphanytide. Part of “communio” and “active participation” is about those parts of Christ descended to us, and us being raised and conformed to them. It’s too down and bottom up.


    • I retract my comments on your fluency in English. I see that you were ordained in the Episcopal church in 2013, married last year, and were received in the Catholic church this Easter A friendly word of advice: don’t get into the habit of commenting on blogs until you are ordained–or possibly thereafter. The internet is forever.


  5. If we, the People of God, are to engage in the liturgy (that is, “the work of the people”) and in sacred scripture with full, active, and conscientious participation, the language of the liturgy and of our translations of scripture must enable that to happen. Thus, there are two options.

    >> We can teach the ancient language of the liturgy in all of our programs of spiritual formation (the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, our programs of catechetical formation for our children, instruction for baptized Christians seeking reception into full communion, etc.).

    >> Or we can revise our translations of the liturgy with sufficient frequency to keep up with the evolution of contemporary usage.

    In view of the abysmal quality of catechetical formation in many of our parishes, I don’t see how we can add instruction in an ancient language and expect a better result. I think that the second approach is the more viable.

    Here, I’m also reminded of the experience of the early missionaries to Alaska, back in the 19th century. The Roman Catholic missionaries insisted that the liturgy had to be in Latin, as that was the Roman Catholic practice of the day, whereas the Russian Orthodox missionaries celebrated their liturgy in the language of the indigenous peoples. The indigenous peoples gravitated to the latter because they could not comprehend why an omniscient God could not comprehend their language, making it necessary to pray in a language that was foreign to them.

    Yes, OUCH!

    And let us not forget that the Vulgate translation of scripture got that name precisely because it was translated into the “vulgar” Latin of the common people, and not the high Latin of the aristocracy, thus making the scriptures accessible to the “man in the street.”



    • “And let us not forget that the Vulgate translation of scripture got that name precisely because it was translated into the “vulgar” Latin of the common people, and not the high Latin of the aristocracy,”

      Precisely the opposite is the case; the Latin language of St. Jerome’s translation was almost as remote from whatever forms of late Latin the common people of Rome spoke in the Fourth Century. the origin of the term “vulgate,” is, rather:

      “The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the Vetus Latina. Its widespread adoption eventually led to their eclipse. By the 13th century this revision had come to be called the versio vulgata, that is, the “commonly used translation”. In the 16th century it became the definitive and officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible in the Roman Catholic Church.”


  6. I’ve known of this article by Professor Frost for some time and have been baffled by the argument, especially as it comes from a worshipper in the Byzantine Orthodox tradition. One need only glance at the pre- and post-communion prayers (official/liturgical, not merely devotional) to find that the Byzantine tradition embraces language such as

    “Defiled by misguided deeds, wretched as I am, I am unworthy…”
    “Whirled about in the abyss of sin … ”
    “wholly yielded myself to sin … ”
    “lips defiled, a vile heart, an impure tongue, a soul defiled … ”
    “I have sinned more than the harlot … ”
    “the multitude of my evil … ”
    “evil thoughts and reasonings and intentions, fantasies by night, brought by dark and evil spirits …”

    Perhaps Professor Frost also finds these prayers of his own tradition unorthodox and harmful. That would be at least consistent.


  7. Norm,

    Your use of the term “full disclosure” suggests you’re responding to my comments in which I use the same term. But your comments do not respond to mine. I don’t question candidates for ordination for the Ordinariates studying at Catholic seminaries. The issue is whether studying at any given Catholic seminary assures such candidates of “solid academic and theological foundations.” On paper, the directives for Catholic seminaries are impressive. But those ideals aren’t always realized in practice.

    As for the St. John’s School of Theology (SOT), regardless of what its reputation is and whether it lives up to that reputation, it did not do so in the case of the comment about the DW liturgy. I think I’m safe in speculating that the _Pray Tell_ blog exercises a significant influence in some circles and that this is in part because it is associated with the SOT, which means readers assume they’re relying on scholarly standards. That assumption should not be disappointed.

    The SOT also has a reputation for being “liberal.” A “liberal” or “progressivist” stance would not be a problem, in my opinion, as long as this perspective is supported by the standards of sound research and reasoning and of not dismissing other points of view that are also substantiated by scholarly integrity. The aim taken by _Pray Tell_ at the DW liturgy indicates neither standard was maintained in this case.

    As for your “full disclosure” that the SOT has a “terrific reputation,” it reminds me of the previous abbot of St. John’s relating to us the reputation the SOT has had among his brother abbots and priors. After he explained this general reputation, he shrugged and said, “but that’s only the reputation.” Exactly. Academia gets away much too easily with relying on mere reputations. And even if an institution has a high reputation that is well-earned, it can easily allow the basis of that reputation to slip. Which is why I think my comment about the un-scholarly post on the _Pray Tell_ blog was warranted. Just because it’s the St. John’s SOT and just because it’s the _Pray Tell_ blog doesn’t mean academic standards needn’t be maintained, especially when there’s apparently an agenda.

    I’m not sure why you mention acquaintances of yours who have studied at the SOT or do so now. I know many of the SOT’s former and current students, especially since I have an M.A. from the school. (My full disclosure wasn’t full enough, I suppose, since I didn’t mention being a graduate of the SOT.) But again, I don’t understand what relevance knowing students of the SOT has to the point I made.

    It might be worth adding that Catholic diocesan seminarians haven’t been sent to the SOT since the mid 1990s. Does this mean bishops are in fact serious about maintaining standards for seminary education (which would be reassuring) and that they think the SOT does not provide sufficient assurance in this regard?

    Br. John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B. (M.A. from the St. John’s, Collegeville, SOT 1998)


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