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Praying the Decalogue

Dear Cathedral Family,

Last week, on the first Sunday of Lent, you may have been surprised in worship to find us beginning with the Penitential Order, in Rite 1, no less. Or you may recall that it has been our practice for the last several years to shift our Sunday service to Rite 1. This is not because it is more penitential, necessarily, but primarily to call our attention back to the words we are praying, making us more mindful of the promises we have made as the people of God. Praying the Decalogue (or Ten Commandments) together at the beginning of Lent is a significant first step. From now on, our worship will open with the summary of the Law, Jesus’ words establishing the foundation of all the law and the prophets in love of God and neighbor.

We also return to Rite 1 in this season to remember the fullness of our tradition and to teach our children about it. Our children will be experiencing their own version of Rite 1 language in Children’s Chapel and having conversation about what is different in our worship during Lent. Some of you are quite familiar with Rite 1 language from earlier life in the Episcopal Church prior to the prayer book revision of 1979. Some of us came into the Episcopal Church later and are more familiar with the contemporary language and theology of Rite 2.

In general, Rite 1 liturgy reflects the language and piety of the Elizabethan era and the first Book of Common Prayer, although the structure of these rites in the 1979 BCP still reflects the influence of modern theological scholarship. Our Prayers of the People during Lent continue to be in contemporary language, as do some other elements of worship. Still, we do retain the “comfortable words” of scripture after the confession and absolution. We also keep the words of the prayer of humble access after the breaking of the bread.

In a spirit of communion with the young people and adults who are preparing for confirmation, I encourage you to spend some time with the Book of Common Prayer during this season. In its wholeness, it reminds us that the Church is universal and eternal, binding as one the living, those who have gone before, and those who have yet to come.

Speaking of the larger church, please hold in your prayers our 52nd Diocesan Convention of the Central Gulf Coast, being held March 3 and 4 in Pensacola. I will be sharing news from this gathering with you on Sunday.




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