Every Advent, at the start of a new liturgical year, I make a “New Year’s” resolution to more religiously pray the daily offices. I am grateful for John Covert’s site that updates the psalms, canticles and readings for morning and evening prayer so one really has no excuse not to pray them if one has a smart phone. Otherwise, it does require a stack of books, though I agree with Cardinal Robert Sarah that using the holy books adds to the sacred nature of the experience. But let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It’s better to pray the Office on a phone or a tablet than to not pray it at all.
So, with more diligent attention to the daily offices, I was very interested in this August 2016 article that Christopher Mahon discovered and reposted in an Anglican Ordinariate Facebook group from The New Liturgical Movement on the role praying the daily offices played in John Wesley’s “Method.”
David Clayton writes in The Power of the Divine Office to Transform a Church and Society:
The ‘Method’ of the Methodists!I was idly investigating forms of the breviary on the internet the other day (as one does), and came across a page about the history of the Anglican breviary, here.
Contained within it was the following:
Regular praying of the Divine Office was likewise central to John and Charles Wesley’s “method,” which included scriptural study, fasting, and regular reception of Holy Communion in addition to daily celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer. John Wesley’s Rule of Life is, in its essentials, thoroughly orthodox and Catholic. It has been said that if Wesley had only been born in 1803 rather than 1703, he would have been a follower of those great Oxford divines — John Henry Newman, Edward Bouverie Pusey, and Hurrell Froude — who by their preaching and Tracts turned the Church of England to its apostolic and sacramental roots.
Indeed, it was those 19th century “Tractarians” who kindled new interest in the pre-Reformation forms of celebrating the Holy Eucharist and daily prayer. In the mid and late nineteenth century, the Anglican Church in England and America witnessed nothing less than a Catholic Revival, including the rebirth of organized religious orders, renewed emphasis upon and appreciation for the Episcopate and Priesthood, the Sacraments, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the sacrificial nature of the Holy Communion, devotion to the Blessed Virgin and the Saints, and the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.
How about we revive this method within the Ordinariates:
” . . .scriptural study, fasting, and regular reception of Holy Communion in addition to daily celebration of Morning and Evening Prayer.”
Add to that, Marian consecration and the daily praying of the Rosary.
Clayton writes that as a former Methodist now Catholic, he was astonished to read this about the Anglican breviary. He also pointed out everyone used to talk about the method without laying out what it was. He adds:
This reinforces my belief that that if we want to transform the culture and revive the Church, we can do this through the Domestic Church and the family centered on liturgical piety, including the chanting of the Liturgy of the Hours at home. Furthermore, this means that we need to encourage this in the vernacular, so that people who are not fluent in Latin (i.e. most people) can genuinely pray it. I suggest that the Anglican Use Divine Office is a way to do this, as I described in a review of the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham. And it is the prayer of the family in the domestic church, centered on a liturgical piety, that can drive such societal change today as well as transform the Church. We need to form people as contemplatives as a matter of course, not as the exception.