Calendar Subcommittee Update: A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Update, March 1, 2015: The Commission submitted its report to General Convention in December 2014, and it will be published in the Blue Book online on the General Convention website. The shape of the proposal remains as presented below. As we prepare for General Convention, we welcome additional reflections for the deputies and bishops who will vote on the proposal.

We first published this update in February 2014, and we received a lot of positive response. The commission is now preparing its report to the 2015 General Convention, and we invite additional comments. As we said in February, please read, consider, and discuss our proposal—then let us know what you think about it in the comments section of this blog post.

At the last General Convention, the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music was directed to continue revising Holy Women, Holy Men with particular attention to the 2006 guidelines, renewed attention to the form, poetry, and seasons of liturgical life inherent in the Book of Common Prayer and to continue to seek responses from the wider Church. As we have reviewed responses to Holy Women, Holy Men and reflected together, the SCLM is proposing a new approach to commemorations tentatively entitled A Great Cloud of Witnesses. Posted on the SCLM blog ( is a document that explains what we are proposing and why. Because this is a matter of interest to the whole Church, we would like to get feedback from the Church concerning this direction we are taking. Please read, consider, and discuss our proposal—then let us know what you think about it in the comments section of the blog post where the document appears. Your comments will help determine whether we continue working in this new direction or whether we continue along the established model currently embodied in Holy Women, Holy Men. In the interest of moving forward in one direction or the other, we invite  comments on the blog before February 22nd so they may be taken into account at our meeting the following week.

At the last General Convention, the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music was directed to continue revising Holy Women, Holy Men with particular attention to the 2006 guidelines, renewed attention to the form, poetry, and seasons of liturgical life inherent in the Book of Common Prayer and to continue to seek responses from the wider Church. As we have reviewed responses to Holy Women, Holy Men and reflected together, the SCLM is proposing a new approach to commemorations tentatively entitled A Great Cloud of Witnesses. Posted on the SCLM blog ( is a document that explains what we are proposing and why. Because this is a matter of interest to the whole Church, we would like to get feedback from the Church concerning this direction we are taking. Please read, consider, and discuss our proposal—then let us know what you think about it in the comments section of the blog post where the document appears. Your comments will help determine whether we continue working in this new direction or whether we continue along the established model currently embodied in Holy Women, Holy Men. In the interest of moving forward in one direction or the other, we invite  comments on the blog before February 22nd so they may be taken into account at our meeting the following week.


“A Great Cloud of Witnesses”: Introduction and Summary

This volume, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses,” is a further step in the development of liturgical commemorations within the life of The Episcopal Church. These developments fall under three categories. First, this volume presents a wide array of possible commemorations for individuals and congregations to observe. Recognizing that there are many perspectives on the identity and place of exemplary Christians in the life of the church, this volume proposes that the metaphor of a “family history” is a fitting way to describe who is included. As such the title of this volume is drawn from the Epistle to the Hebrews, that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). Those people found in this volume are not all definitively declared to be saints but are Christians who have inspired other Christians in different times and places.

Second, a refinement of the core calendar of commemoration is proposed. The core calendar of commemorations for the Episcopal Church will center on the feasts of our Lord and other major feasts listed on pages 16 and 17 of the Book of Common Prayer. The calendar in “A Great Calendar of Witnesses” does not purport to be a definitive collection of saints but rather an additional calendar of optional commemorations that represent the breadth of the Christian family story. Many of the commemorations from Holy Women, Holy Men will be included with the possibility of adding other figures, including women and people from under-represented communities.

Third, materials for weekday celebrations during seasons of the church will be placed in a separate volume, The Weekday Eucharist Book. Thus, the seasonal propers currently found in Holy Women, Holy Men would be in a separate volume with additional materials provided.

On Commemorations and the Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer proudly proclaims in the ecumenical Creeds and in our prayers its belief in the “communion of the saints.” We speak of the saints as “chosen vessels of [God’s] grace and the lights of the world in their generations.”[1] The “obedience of [God’s] saints” offers the Church “an example of righteousness” and “their eternal joy” gives us “a glorious pledge of the hope of our calling.”[2] The canticle Te Deum laudamus calls out some specific categories of saints in classical terms, contiguous with both the angels in heaven and the Church on earth, when it speaks of “the glorious company of apostles,” “the noble fellowship of prophets,” and “the white-robed army of martyrs.”[3] Too, our prayers speak of the role of the saints within our baptismal community:

O God, the King of saints, we praise and glorify your holy Name for all your servants who have finished their course in your faith and fear: for the blessed Virgin Mary; for the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs; and for all your other righteous servants, known to us and unknown; and we pray that, encouraged by their examples, aided by their prayers, and strengthened by their fellowship, we also may be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[4]

The saints encourage us; they pray for us; they strengthen us.

Despite these affirmations of the saints as constitutive members of our baptismal community, the prayer book shows a great reluctance to define the term or to make specific identifications. The Catechism touches on this issue only briefly, identifying the communion of the saints in broad relational terms: “The communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise.”[5] In Christian language throughout the ages, “saint” has carried two referents, a general one that applies to the whole Church—which is the meaning invoked here—and a more specific one that applies to individuals who have been identified as “chosen vessels of [God’s] grace and the lights of the world in their generations” from among their fellows.

The Calendar in the prayer book contains a number of names. Of these, the term “saint” appears only a handful of times and always in connection to a limited set of people who appear in the New Testament: his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist, the apostles, the evangelists, Paul, and others such as Mary Magdalene, Stephen, James of Jerusalem, and Michael.

The state of additional persons not given the title of “saint” is ambiguous. These are the commemorations permitted within the Days of Optional Observance as described in the general rubrics of the Calendar (BCP, p.18). A clear definition of the status of these persons is absent.

This ambiguity is appropriate to the range of theologies around sainthood and holiness within the Episcopal Church. While some Episcopalians actively venerate the saints, others hold positions proceeding from Reformation desires to reform the cults of saints like those found in the 39 Articles. In other words, the ambiguity exists for the sake of inclusivity, and maintains the Anglican tradition of a comprehensive approach to questions not decisively settled by Scripture and the teaching of the received ecumenical councils.

In 2003, the 74th General Convention of the Episcopal Church directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music to:

…undertake a revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2000, to reflect our increasing awareness of the importance of the ministry of all the people of God and of the cultural diversity of The Episcopal Church, of the wider Anglican Communion, of our ecumenical partners, and of our lively experience of sainthood in local communities.[6]

And to also focus reflection upon

the significance of that experience of local sainthood in encouraging the living out of baptism.[7]

That, in turn, led to study and discussion resulting in Holy Women, Holy Men, which has been in a state of trial use since 2009.

The reception of Holy Women, Holy Men and additional commemoration requests brought to General Convention since 2009 suggests that the breadth of sanctoral theologies (that is, theologies of sainthood) within the Church remains as broad as ever, resulting in disagreements concerning who does and does not belong in the Calendar. At the same time, many people have expressed appreciation for the expansion of the Calendar because it has broadened their knowledge of the Christian family story.

In order to maintain a comprehensive stance towards differing theologies of sainthood and to recognize the desire to remember people important to the Church without passing judgment on their sanctoral status or requiring them to fit within a particular mold of saintliness, we propose the creation of a resource tentatively titled “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: Praying with the Whole People of God.” “This resource will recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to our understanding of our calling as the Body of Christ within the complexities of the 21st century world without making a statement one way or another on their sanctity.” It would serve as a family history, identifying those people inside and outside the Episcopal / Anglican tradition who help us proclaim the Gospel in word, deed, and truth.

Holy Women, Holy Men, and before it Lesser Feasts and Fasts, also included liturgical material for weekday celebrations during the seasons of the church year. To streamline our liturgical resources, we propose to place this material in a separate volume, The Weekday Eucharist Book.

On the Making of Saints

While “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” does not intend to be a calendar that presents a definitive list of saints, there is no doubt that many of the people within it will be recognized as saints. In its call to revise Lesser Feasts and Fasts, General Convention emphasized the importance of the local recognition of sanctity. As we look across the Church’s broad history, this is, in fact, the predominant level on which sanctity has been identified. Local communities celebrated local heroes. Too, local communities gave special emphasis to those fellow, yet heroic, members of the Body of Christ with whom they shared a special bond—whether through a common occupation, a common circumstance, or through their physical presence in the form of relics.

Saints were declared by parishes and by dioceses. In most places and times, there was no formal set of criteria that had to be met. Instead, the local communities operated on a broad basic principle: that Christ was known more intimately through them, and that the holiness of the person was both evidence of their participation in the greater life of God and was an inspiration for those around them to act likewise.

The centralization of the process of declaring saints occurred within the Roman Catholic Church with the Decretals of Gregory IX in 1234, asserting that canonization could only occur with the authorization of the pope. This was part and parcel of the centralization of authority to the papal office in the high medieval period. Over the following centuries, bureaucratic regulations and a specific legal process were created to ensure a formal process. Only at this point were specific criteria drawn up including the famous requirement of two documented miracles. In other words, this curial, top-down, centralized approach to naming saints has only existed in one part of the Church for less than half of its existence. Conversely, some of the most beloved saints within the Roman Catholic Church such as Benedict of Nursia and Augustine of Hippo never went through this process!

The Calendar of the first American Book of Common Prayer, authorized in 1789, contained most of the feasts now recognized as Holy Days and no others. In this regard, it follows the example of the earliest Anglican prayer books. The same Calendar appeared—with a few additions like the Transfiguration in 1892—through the 1928 prayer book. While some had argued for the inclusion of post-biblical saints in the Calendar of the 1928 prayer book, this did not come to pass; however, a Common of Saints was provided, officially permitting the local Eucharistic celebration of saints, while still retaining an official Calendar obligating only the universally acknowledged saints of the Apostolic Age. The publication of the supplementary American Missal in 1931 by noted church musician and liturgist Winifred Douglas containing an expanded Calendar of saints demonstrates the local desire for such celebrations during this time; the official condemnation of this work by some thirty bishops of the day testify to the differences of opinion regarding the expanded Calendar as well as many other matters.

In the first stages of revision for the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the Standing Liturgical Commission appointed a Calendar committee headed by the Rev. Massey Shepherd to study the issue of the Calendar once again. The process of additions to the Calendar has been of a piece of the broader development of the Book of Common Prayer. Additions to the Calendar typically begin with recommendations from individuals and dioceses, reflective of local commemoration practices, made to General Convention, which then asks the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to review the proposals and make a recommendation to the next convention. This process of proposal based on local commemorations and affirmation by General Convention represents the baptismal ecclesiology of the Book of Common Prayer in which constituent members of the Church contribute to the wider vitality and mission of the Church.

In responding to the diversity of theology of sainthood in The Episcopal Church, it seems best to identify two calendars: a core calendar of commemorations around which there is general consensus and a long tradition of observation and a broader calendar of commemorations that represents a wider family history that people and congregations will engage. The first, a core Calendar of the whole Episcopal Church is defined as those Holy Days bearing the title of “Saint” within the authorized prayer book:

  • All days bearing the title “Saint”
  • All feasts of Apostles
  • All feasts of Evangelists
  • Saint Stephen
  • The Holy Innocents[8]
  • Saint Joseph
  • Saint John the Baptist
  • Saint Mary Magdalene
  • Saint Mary the Virgin
  • Saint Michael and All Angels
  • Saint James of Jerusalem

“A Great Cloud of Witnesses” represents the desire of General Convention for a revision of the calendar of the Church that reflects the lively experience of sainthood, especially on the level of the local community. In this way, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” is a tool for learning about the history of the Church and identifying those who have inspired us and challenged us from the time of the New Testament down to the present moment. Some of the individuals within it are recognized as saints in many parts of the Church Universal today. Others are not. Some present special challenges—whether that be from their mode of life, what we now perceive as misunderstandings of the Gospel call, a lack of charity towards others, or other reasons.[9] We intend “A Great Cloud of Witness” to serve several purposes. First, it is a catechetical tool to educate the faithful about the breadth of witness to the transforming work of God in Christ Jesus. Second, it is a collection that provides a range of options for commemorations in the form of Eucharistic celebrations, prayer offices, or individual devotions.

Following the broad stream of Christian tradition, there are no formal criteria for defining saints. Rather, sanctity is celebrated locally by a decision that individuals so honored shine forth Christ to the world. They illuminate different facets of Christian maturity to spur us on to an adult faith in the Risen Christ and the life of the Spirit he offers. As illustrations, they mirror the myriad virtues of Christ in order that, in their examples, we might recognize those same virtues and features of holiness in people closer to our own times and stations and neighborhoods. And, seeing them in those around us, we may be more able to cultivate these virtues and forms of holiness—through grace—as we strive to imitate Christ as well.

Contents of “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” and “The Weekday Eucharist Book”

Following in the tradition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts/Holy Women, Holy Men, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” will contain all of those people authorized for the Calendar by General Convention through 2006. The majority of individuals submitted in 2009 and those approved at the 2012 General Convention will also be included. Criteria for the inclusion of additional names are laid out in detail below. As in previous works, names will be organized by date of traditional commemoration, usually the date of death.

Each entry will include a biographical narrative giving a sense of the person or event, and how their life and witness has contributed to who we are today. A devotional collect in both traditional and contemporary language is also included.[10] New to this resource is a set of indexing “tags” that will contribute to a better understanding of how the entry fits into the broader scope of Church history. These will identify main spheres of influence, how they are commemorated (if at all) in their home church and in churches across the Anglican Communion, and will identify Commons of Various Occasions and Commons of Saints related to the life, work, or impact of the occasion. Should a local community identify an entry for celebration as a saint, the Commons of Saints indicated will provide appropriate propers. Alternatively, a Eucharist celebrating a related Various Occasion might include the devotional collect within the conclusion to the Prayers of the People. The current Commons will be enriched, particularly through the addition of more options for biblical readings that will allow a celebrant to more closely tailor the set of readings to the witness of the saint celebrated.  Most of these Commons will be drawn from Holy Women, Holy Men with some revisions reflective of the feedback process following the 2009 General Convention.

The Weekday Eucharist Book will contain all propers needed for celebrations of the Eucharist on day for which a commemoration is not observed. Materials for the weekdays during the seasons of the church year will be collected together in their appropriate seasonal sequence, thus presenting a central resource for the church seasons. The Common of Various Occasions will follow. Despite their inclusion in the Book of Common Prayer, these commons have not seen widespread use. Giving them their due visibility, a more complete explanation of their function, and assigning them expanded biblical readings should help them become more widely known.

Criteria for Additions to “A Great Cloud of Witnesses”

As indicated above, “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” offers a wide and diverse collection of people from across Christian history and the Episcopal story. As our common life continues to unfold, new names will need to be added. These criteria provide guidelines for how these additions will be considered.

It should be noted at the outset that there is a certain necessary tension between criteria 4 and 5 that also existed in the criteria in Holy Women, Holy Men; criterion 4 notes that some people need to be remembered who have been forgotten. Those who have been forgotten will have difficulty meeting criterion 5, and its call for a widespread remembrance. Not all of the selections included within “A Great Cloud of Witness” will meet criterion 5 at the current time because the committee judged that the desire to create a more inclusive resource outweighed the need for broad commemoration in every case. However, going forward, names recovered from our collective memories should grow to the level of regional commemoration before being submitted for inclusion in “A Great Cloud of Witnesses.”

The criterion requiring an individual to have been deceased for at least fifty years has also been dropped. While that provision is useful for gaining appropriate perspective regarding the deceased, it has not been a universally observed rule in Christian history and practice. This requirement has been removed as a reflection of the need to retain some people with the collective memory of the church prior to fifty years since that person’s death. In light of this, criterion 6 speaks of a “reasonable period of time” elapsing.

Criterion 1

1. Historicity: Christianity is a radically historical religion, so in almost every instance it is not theological realities or spiritual movements but exemplary witness to the Gospel of Christ in lives actually lived that is remembered in our family story. Like all families, however, our family includes important matriarchs and patriarchs about whom little verifiable is known yet whose names and influence still exert influence on how we understand ourselves in relation to them.

Criterion 2

2. Christian Discipleship: The family story captured here is uniquely and identifiably a Christian story. This set of stories commemorates the ways particular Christians live out the promises of baptism. A worthy summary of these promises is captured in our Baptismal Covenant including a commitment to the Triune God as captured in the Apostles’ Creed, continuing in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship: the breaking of bread and the prayers, resisting evil and repenting when necessary, proclaiming by word and example the Good News of God in Christ, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, and striving for justice and peace among all people. Rather than being an anachronistic checklist, these should be considered general guidelines for considering holistic Christian life and practice. There may be occasional exceptional cases where not all of these promises are successfully kept, or when the person in question is not Christian, yet the person’s life and work still significantly impacts the ongoing life of the Church and contributes to our fuller understanding of the Gospel.

Criterion 3

3. Significance: Those remembered should have been in their lifetime extraordinary, even heroic servants of God and God’s people for the sake, and after the example, of Jesus Christ. They may also be people whose creative work or whose manner of life has glorified God, enriched the life of the Church, or led others to a deeper understanding of God. In their varied ways, those remembered have revealed Christ’s presence in, and Lordship over, all of history; and continue to inspire us as we carry forward God’s mission in the world.

Criterion 4

4. Range of Inclusion: Particular attention should be paid to Episcopalians and other members of the Anglican Communion. Attention should also be paid to gender and race, to the inclusion of lay people (witnessing in this way to our baptismal understanding of the Church), and to ecumenical partners and people who have had their own distinctive influence upon us. In addition to the better known, it is important also to include those “whose memory may have faded in the shifting fashions of public concern, but whose witness is deemed important to the life and mission of the Church” (Thomas Talley).

Criterion 5

5. Local Observance: Similarly, it should normatively be the case that significant remembrance of a particular person already exists within the Church at the local and regional levels before that person is included in the Church’s larger story.

Criterion 6

6. Perspective: The introduction of new names should be done with a certain economy lest the balance of the whole be overwhelmed. In the cases of the recently departed—particularly in the case of controversial names—care should be given to seeing them from the perspective of history. Names added should show a broad influence upon the church and result from a wide-spread desire expressed across the Church over a reasonable period of time.

Criterion 7

7. Combined Remembrances: Not all those included need to be remembered “in isolation.” Where there are close and natural links between persons to be remembered, a joint commemoration would make excellent sense (e.g., the Reformation martyrs—Latimer and Ridley; bishops of Lincoln, Robert Grosseteste and Hugh).

[1] Preface for a Saint (1), BCP, p. 348/380.

[2] Preface for a Saint(2), BCP, p. 348/380.

[3] BCP, p. 95. Cf. p. 53 for slightly different wording expressing the same content.

[4] BCP, p. 504. Cf. the Rite I version on p. 489.

[5] BCP, p. 862.

[6] General Convention resolution 2003-A100.

[7] Ibid.

[8] While this title does not technically contain the name “Saint,” the term “Holy” is directly equivalent.

[9] To name one challenge, the anti-Semitism/anti-Judaism of some writers and teachers is a significant stumbling-block to celebrating them as saints.

[10] [The subcommittee is of two minds on the nature of these collects. On one hand, we’d like to offer proper collects for each individual, but given the push-back on the previous collection, all of the collects would need to be reviewed and most rewritten. The other option is to go back to the use of a Common—but whether these would be adapted from the Common of Saints, the Common of Various Occasions, or a combination of the two is an open question. It should be noted that the idea of a biographical collect was first floated in the initial stages of Calendar creation and was deemed unedifying as recorded in Prayer Book Studies XII, p. 9. Their solution was an adapted Common. This approach was discarded in 1980 with the return of the biographical collect (LFF 1980, p. iv-v). It appears to be an issue again.]

94 thoughts on “Calendar Subcommittee Update: A Great Cloud of Witnesses

  1. I think the SCLM is moving in the right direction here. I perceive a more explicit backing away from the notion of “canonization,” and I think that’s a good thing. I do have a number of general suggestions that have occurred to me during our use of HWHM. (1) Any biographical sketches currently in HWHM need a thorough editing before being carried over. There are just too many errors (substantive and typographical) and infelicities. (Write me if you want a specific list!) (2) Greater care should be exercised in joining commemoratees together. Sometimes it’s appropriate, but sometimes not. (Example: Latimer and Ridley clearly belong together. Cranmer is related to them, but certainly deserves his own separate commemoration.) (3) Try to avoid “doubling” commemorations on the same date. (4) I suggest adding another level or “rank” of observances, so that in addition to the Prayer Book “Major Feasts/Holy Days” there would be a second level of “Lesser Feasts” (no, I don’t really like that phrase either, but it’s what we’ve used for fifty years) including those persons who have been very widely commemorated in the Church for a long time — other New Testament figures, patristic and medieval theologians and spiritual leaders, perhaps a few more recent Anglican figures who are widely celebrated in our Communion. And then a third level of “Commemorations” of figures whose remembrance is important but would be clearly more optional. (Perhaps the best level for figures who may still be controversial!) I also think that the bio sketches for all these folks should not dodge the “warts and all” aspects of the lives of some of them. (Jerome was a grouch; John Chrysostom was an anti-Semite; Bernard preached a Crusade….) They all, and we all, are called to follow Christ despite our flaws!

    • I for one have not been using *Holy Women, Holy Men*. At General Convention I intend to vote against almost all the requested additions. Although I appreciate the intention to draw attention to a greater number of people who should serve as exemplars for us, I find this multiplication of names and calendar dates to be dizzyingly wearisome. To follow the new calendar as part of the Daily Office–and, yes,I pray the office daily–causes such a disruption in the course of daily reading recommended by the prayer book that the daily flow of the readings get lost.
      The multiplication of saints’ days is contrary to Thomas Cranmer’s reduction of superfluous saints’ days from the calendar so that the daily reading of the scriptures would be foremost. By adding all these new saints’ days to the calendar, as well-intentioned as that might be, we are , in fact, reversing a basing Reformation practice.

      • I follow HWHM but I don’t let it interfere with the Daily Office sequence, particularly the lectionary. Normally I just include the HWHM collect among the additional prayers following the Office. I understand the HWHM lections to be intended for the Eucharist, not for the Office, so they are no disruption.

      • William Moorhead certainly is correct, isn’t he? Someone explain if he and I are wrong. The Book of Common Prayer clearly provides in the rubrics for the Daily Office Lectionary that the Daily Office Lectionary readings be used at the Daily Office, and I have never detected an intention in Holy Women Holy Men (or Lesser Feasts and Fasts) to contradict that direction. The only exceptions are for commemorations of the Dedication of a Church and of “patronal” festivals. (The major Holy Days with their proper readings are obviously found in the Daily Office Lectionary as well as in HWHM.) The references in the BCP’s Calendar to “Days of Optional Observance” are more ambiguous, but Dean Neal and Fr. Moorhead, and probably writers of comments I have not read, are correct that reading Lessons from LFF or HWHM at the Daily Office contradicts the spirit and letter of the Anglican Office. Like Fr. Moorhead, I had a practice of saying the Collects appointed in HWHM at the Daily Office, not because they provided an overarching theme for the day, but for general interest and educational purposes. If I currently had a church in which to sing the Office I would be tempted to hand out copies of the bios of the persons commemorated.

        So Dean Neal’s stated reasons for objecting to the new commemorations appear to be based on a misunderstanding of their purpose. I’m sure he has other, likely stronger, reasons. For my part, I am happy to have a large and diverse group of commemorations, and a recognition on the part of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of diverse understandings of sainthood.

        What I’m not clear about is how the proposal for A Great Cloud of Witnesses would “refine” the core calendar of commemorations. The core calendar they propose appears to be the same as it always has been, that is, the only commemorations which appear in the Office are Major Holy Days, essentially, the feasts of Apostles, Evangelists and a few other major New Testament figures. I don’t imagine the SCLM proposes to do away with the Annunciation, Visitation, Holy Name, Presentation, Transfiguration or Holy Cross, which are not commemorations of individuals in the same way. I also don’t imagine that they are just now noticing that the BCP already provides for the core calendar they propose, except for minor differences that may have escaped me.

        One thing I would appreciate from SCLM would be an exploration of possible alternative terminology for commemorations of the saints named in the titles of churches. Some Episcopalians undoubtedly do think of “saints” in accordance with Roman Catholic understanding as patrons of individuals, churches, and other groups within Christian society, whose intercessions on behalf of those individuals and groups are especially powerful before the throne of God. That’s what “patron” means, isn’t it? I realize the Anglican ethos has been to maintain traditional language about saints while embracing a wide range of theologies. Still, with our emphasis on the accuracy of the theology embedded in our prayers, I would love to hear suggestions of one or more suitable words in place of “patron” and “patronal.” Maybe someone has come up with such language already, and I just haven’t seen it. The language would not, of course, affect the BCP until that is revised, but it might be good to start thinking about things like this.

      • I also celebrate the Office each day, but interrupt the cycle of continuous reading only on the holy days for which proper readings are provided in the BCP. Even then, I usually try to combine readings on days in the week this may happen, either before or after the holy day so that the continuous readings are not unduly interrupted. Even the Roman Church has moved to this principle in its Liturgy of the Hours, in which continuous readings are interrupted only for solemnities and feasts (pretty much our “holy days”). Such a procedure is seems to be the intention of the BCP. LFF and HWHM.

        Greater inclusiveness seems to me to provide resources–collect prayers (and perhaps hagiographical material or texts from their writings) for the Office and readings for the Eucharist–for any who want to celebrate a particular individual. Without passing any judgement on their status as good and/or influential people, I must admit that there are names in HWHM which all the tea in China would not persuade me to include in my commemorations; others will hold a divergent opinion (mine, of course, is right!). There are, likewise, some names I find sadly missing.

        Greater inclusiveness beyond the bare-bones holy days of the 1928 BCP calendar is indeed a reversal of “Reformation practice.” It certainly is not the first reversal, and is a laudable one!

  2. I appreciate the mention in the proposed guidelines that “The introduction of new names should be done with a certain economy lest the balance of the whole be overwhelmed.” HWHM was created without due reference to this principle – it adds so many names all at once that the experience of using and perusing HWHM is indeed overwhelming.

    While the principle of adding names in order to make sure that groups and diversities are well represented is admirable, in practice it has led to what seem like some gratuitous additions, often in violation of previous guidelines – for example, John Muir, who does not appear ever to have acted in the name of the Church or of God. This seems to be a “we have to get an environmental ‘saint’ on the calendar!” kind of case.

    It is good to read that “The majority of individuals submitted in 2009 and those approved at the 2012 General Convention will also be included,” rather than to read that all names will continue to be included.

    I appreciate the effort to address ferial propers since such days are neither feasts nor fasts nor saints’ days of any description. I also appreciate the revised collects that were presented in 2012 which reasonably effectively address the “historical vs eschatological” problem with the 2009 collects. Reducing the available collects to only those in the Commons is an impoverishment of the project. Let’s please get the collects right rather than dropping them.

    The newly proposed approach addresses the problems posed by the Church’s fuzziness on what a Saint is. And it tries to address the fact that we so routinely ignore, which is that all of the commemorations are optional.

    However, it doesn’t address the fact that HWHM is a grossly overstuffed collection which feels like drinking from the firehose. It doesn’t address the fact that HWHM has only complicated the matter of observing the sanctoral cycle with days with two commemorations, etc. It doesn’t address the fact that saints which have been commemorated for centuries on their own days have been stuck together on shared days, diminishing their uniqueness and the Church’s attention to their due veneration. It doesn’t appear to address the tendency of HWHM to lean toward commemorating people as a way to get indirectly at historical firsts and social categories which are obliterated in Christ. And it doesn’t address the fact that if we re-emphasize that every commemoration is optional, the most likely thing that will happen is that in a particular parish, the saints which will or will not be commemorated will be likely decided solely according to the priest’s opinion.

    My requests:

    Keep it one volume. Put the ferial propers all together into one discrete and consistent section and system.

    Don’t try for a new approach – fix the problems with HWHM rather than creating a new approach which might end up exacerbating the issues of HWHM in a new form.

    If three readings are to be continued for each commemoration, please indicate which one is the new addition and which is the original, so that we have some way of making a decision about which to use if only two readings are to be offered. Daily Eucharists, where offered, are not supposed to be complete Sunday celebrations and can be hampered by three readings!

    We have to own up to the fact that not everyone who was a wonderful and exemplary Christian can be sanely accommodated on the Calendar of Saints!

    Give it a name which describes what it is (such as “The Proper for the Optional Commemorations”) rather than a name which tries to inspire with sweeping scriptural language.

    Eliminate “saints” whose theological and ecclesial traditions reject the commemoration or veneration of the saints.

    I could go on, but I won’t. You guys are doing hard work, and you are in my prayers.

  3. I commend the Standing Commission for recognizing the concerns of those of us who reviewed the biographical notes and collects from Holy Women, Holy Men.
    The proposed path forward seems very reasonable and helpful.

    Michael Hartney
    Diocese of Rochester

  4. Helpful, and an improvement. However, I am distressed by the comment in Criterion 2 that “There may be occasional exceptional cases where not all of these promises are successfully kept, or when the person in question is not Christian.” Certainly we all fail at our baptismal promises from time to time, but surely a person who is commemorated on a Christian calendar should be a Christian. If nothing else, recognizing a non-Christian within a Christian Eucharistic celebration runs the risk of insulting the integrity of the person and whatever religious tradition he/she did (or did not) follow. Even the most Protestant definition of “sainthood” acknowledges that being a baptized Christian is a prerequisite.

    I hope also that the biographical sketches will be rewritten to incorporate some information about how the person meets criteria 2 and 3. Christian discipleship and being “extraordinary, even heroic servants of God and God’s people for the sake, and after the example, of Jesus Christ” seem important in the context of sainthood, however it is defined. I have been frustrated by HWHM’s reluctance to give any information about how some persons’ Christian faith informed their exemplary actions.

    Thank you to Derek and the SCLM for your continued hard work on this issue, and blessings and prayers as the work continues.

  5. I commend the previous three comments, except that having a different book for the ferial days seems good. The book of proper commemorations are often used outside worship for instruction, devotion and reference.

    Please do not include figures, however important and influential, who were not doing what they did as conscious followers of Jesus Christ. The effort in HWHM to find a worthy for every possible constituency is annoying and even condescending .And do let all, or practically all of the collects chosen follow the classic formula of being “through Jesus Christ our Lord” or a similar formula including the name of Jesus. I don’t see a need to distinguish priority among the scripture readings, and, in special cases, would not mind seeing two readings from the same category (OT, NT, Gospel) offered with an “and/or” between them. Thanks for the hard work and good listening in which you are engaged.

    Hi Jim, Thanks for your comments. Next time please include your last name. –Ed.

  6. I am encouraged by the proposal to narrow the list of persons who are being commemorated, or at least to better clarify that these are not ‘mandatory’. However, I agree with some of the other comments above mine that trimming non-christian entries from the list and being more cautious about including individuals whose traditions do not venerate them would also be beneficial.

    Ian, Thanks for your comment. Next time please include your last name. –Ed.

  7. I echo Susan’s remarks. I appreciate the new criteria and the decision to balance the desire to add many names to our list with creating a manageable resource for weekday Eucharists. I particularly support the decision to include the normative need for a local observance before an inclusion (Criteria 5.)

  8. BCP 1979 introduced the practice of bumping some saints to the next open date when a saint of higher status already occupied a date. May I enter of plea for observing saints on the actual date of their death, when known, or on some other traditional date (such as the transfer or burial of their bodies or relics), even though this will result in multiple saints on some days.

    • I haven’t read all the way through other comments yet, but I’d like to second this. Someone above protested “doubling up” on dates – but if I understand the new approach (which I like!) correctly, there will be a “core calendar” and then a much broader calendar from which a local community is expected to select the saints of particular relevance to their life of worship and ministry – whether by cause, theological affinity, geography, church name, etc. I, too, find it irritating when things get “bumped” – and I would hate to “cap” our number of commemorations at 300-some! I believe a community vitally engaged with this material will be able to discern whom it wishes to commemorate.

  9. It sounds like a good plan to me, although the short bios certainly need to be rewritten to fix the errors in the current batch.

    Hi Jon, Thanks for your comment. Next time, please include your last name. –Ed.

  10. I am grateful for the Committee’s work. I like the direction in which you are going and hope it will continue. I also hope that there might be consideration given to including some commemorations from the Old Testament. There is precedent for this in Eastern Orthodoxy and the Roman Martyrology. While those persons may not be baptized Christians they certainly hold an important and foundational place in our spiritual family lineage. It might also offer some additional resources and opportunities for formation, teaching, and preaching around the Old Testament and avoid a “creeping Marcionism.”

    May God bless you, your work, and the Church.

    Mike, Thank you for your comments. Next time, please include your last name. –Ed.

  11. In the next revision, please include a pronunciation of names (even relatively familiar ones) for each person.

  12. I think this approach makes absolute sense. As you note, it honors the diversity of our church and allows for flexibility and inclusion. It honors the more ancient principle that sainthood or sanctity belongs to the local community rather than a central authority–and that, I think, is as it should be. And I like the metaphor of family history–it recognizes that families include complex people. After all, saints are human, too. Thanks for your work.

  13. In my first comment I wrote some ill-considered and uncharitable things. I apologize for my bluntness, rudeness, and lack of charity.

  14. This is a very encouraging proposal and apt new name which fits our reality as American Episcopalians. Because Christianity is a “radically historical religion”, as a historian I often found the canned biographies (the truth won’t hurt us) of “Lesser Feasts and Fasts” an embarrassment, and the selections of “Holy Men and Holy Women” not much of a step up: is the first woman seminary professor really the equivalent of ancient martyrs? I am all in favor of increasing the number of women and laity, but especially not lumping them together on one page as if to dispose of the issue quickly nor including those who are not Christian, as put so clearly above by Susan Brown Snook. I think a better option would be to create a day to remember all those who do works of Christ ( Matthew 25.31-46) apart from Christianity. Thank you for your hard work on these issues.

    Rebecca Lyman
    Diocese of California

  15. I also write to lend agreement here with Susan Brown Snook and Rebecca Lyman and others regarding the inclusion of non-Christians in the calendar. A day of commemoration for them as a group (as Dr. Lyman suggests) would be much preferable to giving them their own individual days, and I express that from a parish that has Muir Woods and Muir Beach within its boundaries!

    More broadly, the proliferation of choices in recent years has tended in my experience to generate more confusion at the congregational level around the ecclesiastical calendar rather than the intended sense of inclusion. I would urge resistance to placing multiple options on single days. If there is to be “lumping” I would very much like to see only multiple individuals drawn together in a single commemoration, as we have for Latimer and Ridley; Phoebe, Dorcas, and Lydia, etc. (a la Criterion 7).

    And an editorial quibble: the use of parenthesis in Holy Women, Holy Men for alternate names, nicknames, or translated names (e.g. Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc), Brigid (Bride)) strikes me as superfluous. I suggest the SCLM and editors of the next volume make editorial decisions about what version of the names to employ for the primary title of the commemoration and the calendar, and then only include alternates given in the tradition as necessary in the biographical material and cross-referenced in the index. In the internet age, it is simple enough to figure out that Bride is another name for Brigid and Joan of Arc is the anglicized name of a young French saint.

    A decision that might be useful is whether to consistently use the anglicized or indigenous names for a number of our beloved saints in the calendar (e.g. Juan de la Cruz,…) I would lean towards the latter, to reflect the growing multi-cultural makeup of our church.

    Richard Edward Helmer, BSG
    C-3, Diocese of California

  16. HWHM is overstuffed. My suggestion would be to give greater weight to the criterion of local veneration when adding names to the list of Christian worthies. In other words, how about a grassroots approach! Finally, Prudence Crandall, a worthy woman without a doubt, publicly renounced Christianity in favor of Spiritualism. Why should she be venerated, I ask?

    Darren Miner, SCP
    Diocese of California

  17. While not yet ready to comment on the proposed change in direction, if any of the materials from HWHM are carried over in either format, I suggest a correction to the commentary re Lydia, Dorcas and Phoebe (Jan 27 – p. 192): In the 4th paragraph, 6th line, “infers” should be “implies.”

  18. While this proposal doesn’t fix all of my concerns about HWHM, it certainly seems to be a great improvement and a good way forward. Congratulations to the those who have been working hard on this proposal.

    I’m grateful for the strong restatement of how commemorations are optional under the rubrics of the BCP. I also appreciate the expectation of the need for significant local commemoration prior to inclusion in the volume.

    I heartily echo Susan Snook’s comments about the criterion for inclusion and the need for more descriptive hagiographies.

    I would also urge that as the new volume is framed, some real attention be used to the composition, cadence, and rhythm of any new collects. The ones in HWHM, (and indeed, many in LFF) tend to be a bit long, have phrases that are difficult to speak and often are difficult to comprehend by those worshipping. Most often, they read perfectly clearly on the page, but the “speak” poorly in worship. Attention to this would help significantly.

    Cheers to those who have been hard at work on the new proposal. It’s clear that you’ve heard the comments and concerns of so many people about HWHM.

  19. I echo many of the comments above. I find it distressing that the commission would even consider adding non-Christians to The Great Cloud of Witnesses and would urge that all those included in this calendar be baptized Christians. I would also suggest that the 50 year window of adding a person to the calendar be preserved. Time allows us to more fully reflect the life of a particular person and to know them more deeply, even after the have entered into Eternal Life.

    Keith Voets+

  20. As the rector of a parish with a daily Mass, and as an enthusiastic user of the Two-Year Daily Eucharistic Lectionary printed at the back of LFF / HWHM, I would like to make a plea that in the “The Weekday Eucharist Book” the readings remain substantially unchanged. What is not widely known is that the two-year daily Lectionary has a wonderful ecumenical dimension, being essentially the same as that which is used in the Roman Catholic Church (even though we got it from the Anglican Church of Canada). This means that devotional aids and homiletical commentaries (such as the recent one by Aidan Nichols, OP) can be used with it to great effect.

    Also, the option should be allowed of combining commemorations of saints in the collect of the day (in Ordinary Time, anyway) with use of the daily readings from the weekday lectionary (as Rome permits in GIRM, Chapter 7, paragraphs 357, 358).

  21. Many thanks to Derek and the rest of the subcommittee for their continued work in this. I’ve been greatly impressed and encouraged as I’ve periodically followed these developments over the past year, and I think the proposal is well grounded. I would simply add my voice to those here who have already well expressed a few concerns/thoughts:

    The inclusion of individuals who were not Christians seems inappropriate, both for us and them.

    Similarly, I’ve some misgivings about commemorations for Christians who lived and died in a tradition which rejects the idea of veneration/commemoration of saints (it seems that this is being addressed by the ‘family history’ approach of Great Cloud of Witnesses, rather than strict sanctoral calendar; perhaps also the indexing ‘tags’ are to be utilized in such a way as to suggest how an individual should and should not be respectfully commemorated?)

    My concern (and that of others, I suspect) is born out of my strong belief in the value of ecumenism, not an inadequate regard for the same. Ecumenism depends greatly upon understanding and respecting differing views. Accordingly, I think we must be extremely careful about ‘appropriating’ individuals into an Episcopal calendar, if such inclusion would conceivably be offensive either to the individual or the present adherents of their faith tradition.

    I think the criteria are well thought out, particularly 2,3, and 5. I also think a rigorous attitude regarding whether or not a proposed individual satisfies these criteria (2 and 3 especially) would prevent the calendar from looking like a ‘Who’s Who’ of cultural significance or social reform. So, if an individual made a significant and positive impact on society, but there is no indication that he did so “for the sake, and after the example, of Jesus Christ” than I think inclusion in the Church’s official calendar would be inappropriate.

    Again, thank you, and blessings on your continued work.

    Clay Calhoun
    Diocese of Kansas

  22. The Commission is certainly moving in the right direction and is to be commended for their work. Many of the above comments are thoughtful and should be considered. I think the idea of several volumes rather than one very cumbersome one is a good idea, and I certainly support the idea of a “core group” of historically recognized primarily biblical and historic figures. The “Cloud of Witnesses” approach for others makes perfect sense, as does the elimination of an arbitrary 50 years for inclusion. Keep up the good work!

  23. I have two reflections to offer. I’m a full-time rector of a pastoral size parish in the Diocese of Massachusetts. We say a simple weekday morning prayer several times per week here with attendance of maybe 2 to 3 people. (Side note: we sing a hymn each day. Could we get hymn recommendations for the commemorations?). We read the biographical materials ahead of the office and then we return to the commemoration at the Collects. I’d like to make a plea for retaining (and continuing to develop) unique collects for each commemoration. Something valuable would be lost in our praying of the office if we don’t get to return to the commemoration in the worship itself — beyond simply reading the bio before the office begins. I share the opinion of many who find some of the newer collects too long and unwieldy, but to me its far preferable then simply praying a generic collect for saints or what have you every day.

    Second, I just want to say that I gave my now 3 year old son the middle name Muir, BECAUSE John Muir had been added as a trial commemoration to Holy Women, Holy Men. We wanted him to have a name saint to celebrate. I find his witness to the presence of God in and through the wilderness, and his thusly motivated conservation efforts, to be valuable and fit the criteria established. I think there may be a bit of carelessness in folks labeling his personal theology in as “non-Christian”. The young John Muir most certainly did explicate a Christian set of personal beliefs, and while his expression of Christianity changed in the later phases of his life, I’m not sure (given my admittedly non-academic study of Muir’s writings) that even the later Muir himself would have self-identified as a non-Christian. If he did not make such a self-identification, then I have a bit of a problem with contemporary commentators labeling his personal theology as not Christian or “not Christian enough”. Shouldn’t he (and perhaps God) be the arbiter of his own relationship with Jesus Christ? Frankly, beyond the environmentalism, the main reason I chose to give my son this name was because Muir found, through the course of his life, liberation from an oppressive articulation of Christianity without losing a sense of relationship with Christ’s love, majesty, creative and redemptive power, and mystery. Whether his later journal writings articulate an explicitly “Christian” narrative or not seems less relevant. We are commemorating him for the witness of his faith which was in an ever-evolving relationship with Jesus, not just for his theological writing.

    Ok, end of diatribe. Just my two cents. Anyway, here is one vote for keeping and observing the Muir feast day (well two, if you count my 3 year old son, who would like it so he can have a “second birthday” each year). If you decide to cut or combine him, I hope you will at least read this post at the meeting before you do so! Muir’s life of faith was unique, and to me he is a compelling Christian witness not just for environmentalism but for his personal spiritual liberation.

    In general, I’m very happy with the expanded commemorations and intend to continue observing them in whatever framework the SCLM offers them moving forward.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Chris Wendell
    Diocese of Massachusetts

  24. I love the name, and I like this direction. I echo a few of the previous comments though, like no non-christian saints, a day to commemorate “all those who do works of Christ apart from Christianity”, working on the biographical sketches, and keeping the biographical collects but definitely editing them and paying attention to cadence.

    Also, if we’re eliminating the 50 year requirement, Dorothy Day needs to be nominated for inclusion, stat. 😉

  25. I applaud the general thrust of this proposal in support of which I quote from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 1:1 (KJV). “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Love and peace,

  26. Thank you for your work. It is really, really encouraging to see the committee looking over this book. As a vestry member of a parish that offers daily MP and EP services at which HWHM has been used, I do agree that HWHM as currently “overstuffed” as it may go.

    I want to echo the above sentiments, primarily, that it is troubling that the Church would offer non-Christians (and, without passing judgment, some who even spoke negatively about the Faith!) Christian witnesses. Though I understand and appreciate the suggestions to demote these non-Christians to lesser occasions, I wonder why we should include them at all as part of our Church’s worship of the Lord. I have no intention of belittling natural goods or those who seem, to us, outside the faith who have achieved some semblance of it, but our primary goal is evangelizing and leading souls to the Jesus Christ, and it can be confusing for those in the church if souls are exalted who are not, at least to our knowledge and the confessions we have of them, in the Lord. Pastoral prudence and care for the least of these suggests, at least to me, the imperative to leave these people as emblems of excellence (if indeed they are such) to be held up in the world. Let’s do what the Church is meant to do, to hold up sure examples of Christian martyrdom and humility rather than the achievements that may be as dust without the love of Christ. Why put in uncertainties that may serve as stumbling blocks to those who may be led to assume that holiness and salvation come from anywhere but Jesus when there are so many beautiful saints on which we may surely rely? I beg the committee to keep the eyes of our hearts focused on the one thing needful, faithful witness and willful submission to the Lord of Heaven and Earth.

    A priest of ours also celebrates Daily Eucharist. I want to second the plea for maintaining these readings as are.

    Thank you!

    In Christ’s Peace,
    Leigh Edwards

  27. I would like to echo the comments of Rev. Susan Brown Snook and Rev. Rebecca Lyman. Please do not include people to fill a category, especially if they are explicitly not Christian. I also echo Rev. Chris Wendell’s idea that it would be wonderful if there were a hymn suggested for each commemoration.

    Thank you to the SCLM for continuing this difficult work.

    Rev. Lauren Lenoski
    Diocese of Arizona

  28. Many thanks for all of the thoughtful comments. One repeated comment is about the inclusion of non-Christians. I understand the concern, and I agree that the general rule should be that we should not include non-Christians on the calendar. But please consider some specifics:

    The Dorchester Chaplains, who offered a powerful witness on a sinking troop carrier during World War II (we just commemorated them, on February 3, and you can find their narrative in the Archives of this blog, probably February 2011), include 3 Christians and 1 Jew. Should we commemorate only the 3 Christians? Should we not commemorate them at all? In proposing them, the SCLM thought that the ecumenical and interfaith witness was important.

    A very different category are the New Testament saints. Was Saint Joseph a Christian? Was he baptized? What about the Holy Innocents?

    So, please think about the general rule and whether exceptions are ever to be permitted.

    Ruth Meyers
    Hodges-Haynes Professor of Liturgics, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
    SCLM Chair

    • These are very good examples that I was looking for of understanding when it would be appropriate to include non-Christians. I favor the “exception to the rule” approach, and your examples amply enlighten this issue.

  29. I want to throw in my support for the general direction being purposed by Great Cloud of Witnesses. It seems there are a lot of unknowns and much work left to do, but I think SCLM is on to something. I am grateful for the wise discernment, thoughtfulness, and hard work of this committee.

    James Stambaugh
    Diocese of the Rio Grande

  30. I caught a beautiful glimpse of what the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music is proposing in ‘A Great Cloud of Witnesses’ when I visited St. Gregory of Nyssa in San Francisco this summer. The iconography of 90 saints, twice life size, in vivid color, hand in hand dancing around the cupola with Jesus, the Lord of the Dance, in the center, gives a vivid image of at least one local congregation’s cloud of witnesses. The congregation literally nominated and voted on the saints to be included in this extensive work commissioned in the late 1990’s. Some of the selections, such as Patrick of Ireland, Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila are universally recognized as saints, but many of the dancing saints, such as Lady Godiva or Malcolm X would not be included in everyone’s cloud of witnesses.

    I like the flexibility the Commission is proposing. While I also appreciate the concerns raised about ‘Holy Men and Women’ being overstuffed and the risks of commemorating as saints people outside the Christian faith, I commend the direction they are proposing.

    As rector of a fairly mainstream parish in Connecticut, our faithful mid-week congregation and I have enjoyed learning about and celebrating a much wider breadth of Christian witnesses through Holy Men and Holy Women. I look forward to the next phase in this process of commemorating those who have radiated the light of Christ in their own day and still shine that light into our present time.

  31. I would ask for greater clarity about what local observance means, particularly in an era when many of the communities we engage in are not geographically formed anymore because of modern technology. What would be examples of “local”observance? This call for local commemorations seems to push us toward a more conservative approach that recognizes the already well known figures of history, working against the desire to broaden our vision to include more women and people of color who may be more readily known within particular enclaves of the church but not as well known across the church. …How many likes might it take to meet this criteria?

    • This is a heartily subjective reply, but the way I interpret “local observance” is, “we will celebrate the saints whose lives and witnesses connect meaningfully with the particularities of our local community.” For me, that means Dunstan – an obscure 10th-century bishop, but our name-saint, so we share his story and honor him; it means Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who is a saint of importance to me because he was important to communities in which I was formed; it means Janani Luwum, because I spent time in Uganda and because there has never been a season of the life of our world when we did not need people to inspire us to speak truth to tyranny; it means Dorothy Sayers, because her writings, secular and spiritual, nurtured and undergird my faith, and because her theology of creativity is meaningful for the artists and crafters of my parish. Others, too – but that’s enough to get my idea across.
      I don’t worry about these books, past or present, being “overstuffed,” because I’ll never try to commemorate everybody…! I think the SCLM is telling us, it’s OK to choose your favorite saints. Christian communities have always done that. Run with it.

  32. Regarding inclusion of non-Christians (or at least “not-explicitly Christians”): Can we not create a category for individuals who have done noteworthy work in the Kingdom of God and modeled for us values and a lifestyle consistent with the heart of Christ? They could be “tabbed” as such for the reader.

  33. A few months ago, Derek proposed, if I remember correctly, a distinction between an historical almanac of people (and I might add, categories) who are part of our corporate story, and a liturgical calendar of people/events whom we (in various levels of universality) celebrate. One of the things that HWHM does more or less well is to provide that almanac. It could, of course, do that task with more historical and literary finesse, but so could the best possible book we could imagine.

    This proposal is good, but I’d encourage a move to a rigorous standard of local celebration for the inclusion in the calendar. There is nothing in the rubrics or canons that preclude a parish or diocese from remembering and celebrating the lives of meaningful persons not in the calendar, and there are no rules as to who should be included. A local congregation could celebrate the four chaplains because their heroism meant that a soldier made it home to be the founding senior warden. That’s good enough for me. And it’s reason to include John Muir in an almanac, regardless of his personal religious stance, because he was an important influence on TEC’s ecological stance.

    A liturgical calendar for TEC, on the other hand, should be “universal” document, not a mishmash of an ideological checklist. Going back to Derek’s original proposal, how many churches are named after St. Cornelius the Centurian, have a shrine in his honor, or even have a potluck to honor him every five years? If the answer is (as I think it might be), none, then Cornelius probably doesn’t belong in the liturgical calendar (but in the almanac).

    One additional note: I’d recommend a larger number of small books, rather than fewer large books. It is trivial for us to solve the problem of the complexity of the “pie” (see the preface to the 1549) by some simple database rules and a bit of nearly trivial web programming. So let’s make the physical objects we use commodious rather than difficult, and use technology as appropriate in this area.

  34. I want to thank the committee for this work. What I have read here today is the product of tremendous effort. To that major effort, I would like to add my thoughts.

    The intentional ambiguity of the theological meaning, indeed the definition, of sainthood is outstanding. It is an practical example of Anglican inclusiveness and an expression of the via media.

    “Many of the commemorations from Holy Women, Holy Men be included with the possibility of adding other figures, including women and people from under-represented communities.” This last phrase strikes me as having the potential of being a minefield. Be very, very careful here: whatever one’s theology or notion of a saint is, surely “sainthood” or “saintliness” refers to holy, exemplary, instructive, etc. examples of the lives of individual human beings, not the sex, race, ethnicity or other aspect of his or her “identity.” Identity should not be allowed to trump the evaluation of an individual person for who he or she was, and how he or she lived a saintly life. To say, for example, that “we need a saint from Oregon” is to focus on Oregon or Oregonians as a group and not any particular saintly Oregonian. The difference is subtle, perhaps, but important. And this is from a progressive.

    Criterion 2 contains the following: “There may be occasional exceptional cases where not all of these promises are successfully kept, or when the person in question is not Christian, yet the person’s life and work still significantly impacts the ongoing life of the Church and contributes to our fuller understanding of the Gospel.” I think I understand the impetus in this sentence, but a specific example of a non-Christian is needed for clarity. Strictly speaking, the earliest Christians did not themselves self-identify as “Christian.” However, as we generally understand that term, I feel that the church should not make Christian saints out of non-Christians. There is enough division within the family; surely we don’t need to import additional controversies!

    There may be occasional exceptional cases where not all of these promises are successfully kept…” is an excellent point of departure for dealing with historical matters. For example, “Some present special challenges―whether that be from their mode of life, what we now perceive as misunderstandings of the Gospel call, a lack of charity towards others, or other reasons.” We need to face the past honestly, and not attempt to sanitize or rewrite it. What unquestioned norms of ours will future generations condemn?

    Criterion 4 states in part “Attention should also be paid to gender and race.” I suggest replacing “gender and race” with “context.” As noted above, paying attention to externalities– such as sexual or racial identity– shifts focus away from the individual and onto his or her group. “Context” allows for consideration of “gender and race” without explicitly calling for that in all cases. As a more inclusive term, it also has the advantage of allowing for the taking into account of other considerations (socio-economic hardship, overcoming a handicap, etc.).

    The dropping of the 50 year period after death in Criterion 6 seems unjustified (“it has not been a universally observed rule in Christian history and practice”). Because a rule has been violated is not a reason, ipso facto, to abolish it. Moreover, the purported reason for doing so (“This requirement has been removed as a reflection of the need to retain some people with the collective memory of the church prior to fifty years since that person’s death”) strikes me as circular reasoning. What, precisely, is this “need”? Who’s “need” is it?

    Proponents of this proposed change carry the burden of proof, and the reasons quoted above are unconvincing.

    I see no reason to abolish the 50 year rule, and many reasons to retain it, foremost of which is that we are stewards of a tradition which has existed for thousands of years. A saint is not about us (this current generation), but rather for the whole church, extending over time as well as geography. Retaining the 50 year rule will help guard against hasty decisions which, although they may seem urgent in the moment, run the risk of canonizing a specific generation’s styles or even fads. Saints should be catholic (little c).

    Finally, I urge reconsidering the proposed name. “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” does not comport with the dignity and splendor of our ancient tradition. Frankly, it just doesn’t sound like an Episcopal document. It is trendy (“Cloud”) and too reminiscent of terminology associated with fundamentalists (“Witnesses”), which may alienate many whom we wish to reach. I see nothing wrong with “Holy Women, Holy Men”, but if that title must go it should be replaced by something similar. As stewards, let’s write a title that will resonate with our descendants 200 years from now.

  35. I come to this conversation with some experience of this process and of the calendar at the center of it. My work in BRIGHTEST & BEST and DAYSPRINGS (both published by Cowley), based upon the older LESSER FEASTS & FASTS [LF&F] attests to my awareness of the value of commemoration in worship, education and homiletics. INQUIRING & DISCERNING HEARTS: VOCATION & MINISTRY WITH YOUNG ADULTS ON CAMPUS (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1993); CROSSING THE JORDAN: MEDITATIONS ON VOCATION (Cowley, 1999); and TRANSFORMING VOCATION (Church Publishing, 2008) indicate my appreciation for any and all attention given to vocations. Furthermore, I am grateful to have been included as a participant on a working subcommittee of the SCLM in considerations of the current iteration of HOLY WOMEN, HOLY MEN.

    While I voiced some of the concerns below in that subcommittee setting, I offer them here for consideration by the larger whole.

    A spreadsheet comparing LF&F with HWHM distributed to the subcommittee and presumably prepared by and/or available to the SCLM is helpful in framing some of the shortcomings of HWHM, and the challenges facing those entrusted with this project. It’s the source of the percentages below (which I’ve rounded for simplification).

    The original task given the SCLM in 2003 by General Convention to “undertake a revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2000, to reflect our increasing awareness of the importance of the ministry of all the people of God and of the cultural diversity of The Episcopal Church, of the wider Anglican Communion, of our ecumenical partners, and of our lively experience of sainthood in local communities” eventuated in 120 additions to the 146 commemorations in the last edition of LF&F (2006), making a total of 266.

    Despite the expansion of commemorations, the goal of increased “cultural diversity” was negligible. For example, commemoration of multiple persons within a single category (composers, architects, etc) increased the number of American and western European males. The 122 men or male groups named in LF&F were joined by 90 additional men or male groups in HWHM. That 74% increase resulted in shifting the male representation from 84% in LF&F 2006 to 79% in HWHM. Women or groups of women comprised 21 entries in LF&F—14% of the total 146 commemorations. A 46% increase of 18 additional women or groups of women, for a total of 39, increased their representation to only 15% in HWHM. While gender is only one of many indices of “cultural diversity” it serves as an example of how little HWHM advanced the goal.

    While I appreciate and applaud “our increasing awareness of the importance of the ministry of all the people of God” the addition of composers, architects, and others whose gifts certainly enriched the institutional and liturgical life of the church seems the wrong means for addressing this goal. Again, the names chosen for these categorical observances reflects a British dominance, often overlooking worthy examples from other cultures and from the American church for whom this calendar is intended. For example, while a sequence of white western European visual artists—Dürer, Grüenewald, and Cranach the Elder—share a date, the Japanese printmaker, Sadao Watanabe, whose art has graced many a parish newsletter or worship leaflet in this church is ignored.

    That said, I favor removal of these categorical multiples and greater attention to vocational Propers. While there are Commons for various artists and appropriate Collects for parents and other vocational roles in the BCP, perhaps gathering those in one place, and adding lections where lacking, would provide richer resources for the observance of secular occasions honoring mothers, father, parents, etc. and recognition of the vocations of all people. Recognizing the gifts of congregational artists, teachers, jurists, et al is no less important to our present life than attention to the seasonal work of planting and harvesting in Rogation were to an agrarian culture.

    Emphasis upon the local community is abundant in the work here undertaken, not least being the fifth Criterion for inclusion. I was therefore reluctant to recommend the inclusion in our American Episcopal calendar of any person not yet recognized on the calendar of our sister church of the Anglican Communion of which s/he was a member. Again, a research spreadsheet distributed to the subcommittee lists the names of each proposed addition to HWHM and the calendars of those Christian churches wherein they are remembered either in specific commemoration or in lists of notable Christians of that community. At the least, such inclusions represent an inconsistency in the application of Criterion 5 and crowd the calendar; at worst, premature addition seems overreaching, a mild expression of imperialism perhaps, but lacking in proper respect.

    Lastly, I appreciate the need for more and better education. Formation in community is grounded in the rich complexities of biography, incarnational history commonly and conversationally shared. But despite our Episcopal emphasis upon liturgy and worship, they cannot bear the full burden of the educational enterprise. I am deeply grateful to and appreciative of the good work of SCLM throughout my own ministry. We are richly blessed with an abundance of fine material resources. But there’s more to life than liturgy, and we can’t ritualize every facet of the human experience. We may be asking too much of this calendar.

    Moreover, we may attend to the necessity of silence, after the example of our taciturn Lord. We desperately need more and richer personal witness through the sharing of our own stories in conversation with others, including our forebears in faith. A few empty days on the calendar offer more, not less, opportunity—and leave pages yet to be filled with the mighty acts of God in and through us.

  36. This proposal is certainly a step in a good direction when set alongside HWHM. I would echo much of what has been said upstream: 1) do not include non-Christians or Christians whose ecclesial tradition rejects or knows nothing of the idea of a sanctoral calendar; 2) hold fast to the local observance criterion; 3) reinstate and strictly observe the 50-year post-mortem criterion; 4) simply call the volume what it is–“Propers for Optional Observances” is fine, though I personally prefer just keeping LF&F; 5) eliminate “category satisfying” nominations for inclusion–this is not a “Who’s Who.”

    All this said, I find myself disappointed that the process has become so politicized, and that there is not sufficient consensus around a sane and tradition-rooted approach to the recognition of heroic and exemplary discipleship and holiness. If I were more confident that the list that will be finally approved would be consistent with the enunciated criteria, I would join my voice with those calling for the retention of proper collects. But that not being the case, the “commons” approach is probably best. But this is a settlement, a compromise, and represents, in my view, a systemic failure.

    I really liked Derek’s original proposal. What “Cloud…” does is retain its basic two-tiered concept, but move the bar between Tier 1 and Tier 2 such that only the category of “major holy days” is included in Tier 1. If the question were not so fraught with other agendas, we could expand Tier 1 to include bona fide heroes and exemplars, each with proper lessons and collect, and adopt Tier 2 (“people we should all be aware of”), and appoint common readings and collects.

    Anyway, as I said, as step in the right direction, and probably the best we can do.

  37. Reference is made above to the American Missal and its publisher “Winifred” Douglas. The actual name of the liturgist and musician in question was Canon Charles Winfred Douglas (no second “i”). Perhaps you may want to correct this before Douglas makes his way onto some sanctoral list or another under the wrong name

    • While I don’t doubt that Canon Douglas (yes, “Winfred”) was the editor of the first edition of the American Missal, the copy which I have (kindness of a senior colleague and friend), published in 1931 by Morehouse Publishing in Milwaukee, was edited anonymously. A second edition, which many of us old coots grew up with, was I believe edited and published by the Society of St. John the Evangelist in the late 1940’s. I might add that many of us greeted the (Proposed) BCP in 1976 with a joyful cry of “THAT’S what we’ve been waiting for!”

  38. This seems like good work and a very positive direction. My hope would be that re-casting the calendars in this way would encourage clergy and parishes to be selective – identifying some saints to honor, celebrate, study – rather than feeling that they have to observe every date on the calendar. (While I do not find “The Proper for Optional Commemorations” falls trippingly off my tongue, I do appreciate the “optional” – we Episcopalians are sometimes wont to forget that, when a liturgical manual is in our hands, we have some discretion about how we use it!)
    I agree with those who yearn for more lively narrative and poetic language, in both biographies and collects. Sam Portaro’s “Brightest and Best” is wonderful – and I think, too, of Richard Schmidt’s delightful “Glorious Companions,” which in addition to very well-done biographies, includes snippets of the writings of his subjects, to give us a little of their voices.
    Maybe if you give us more, much more, absurdly more – more saints, more dates, more material on each saint! – we will realize we can’t possibly do it all, and we’ll pick a few, and honor and learn from them well.

  39. While the “Cloud of Witness” approach will allow expansion of the list of those included, I am concerned that the existing list has serious problems. I agree that non-Christians do not need to be on this list. In fact, I think that it is more important to include people who were actually members of our own faith tradition (Episcopal), and to remember that just because we use or like artistic works that does not mean that the creator of those works is an exemplar of a Christian life, nor that their art flowed from their faith.

    Secondly, I remain concerned that the current versions of biographies of several women ( Anna Julia Cooper) were edited to remove all mention of their feminism and commitment to equality which is a major part of how they expressed their faith.

    While the 50 years rule provides needed perspective on individuals, I do think that there are occasions when it should not apply. Cooper, for example lived to be more than 100. Many born after she was had been included in our lists when her longevity was barring her inclusion.

    As for “local observance” — this assumes that a person acts on a local level. There are people whose lives play out in may locations or on a national or international field.

    • Gina, thanks for your question. The commission will meet next week, and we’ll post an answer after that.
      Ruth Meyers
      Chair, SCLM

  40. I am very grateful for this conversation. I have a few comments. First, a very important Saint among Benedictines is missing, and that is Saint Scholastica, which is celebrated by Benedictines on February 10th. Please consider this addition. There is, and has been great concern over the commemoration of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman on July 20th. It is the only collect in which the last names of the Saints are not included. Some have interpreted this as inconsiderate when it comes to racial inclusion. Please consider correcting this in a later edition. Lastly, for the sake of clarity, I think there needs to be better labeling for Saints that are connected to Religious Orders. For example perhaps St. Bernard of Clairvaux could include the description: Benedictine, Trappist Cistercian, Abbot of Clairvaux. St. Teresa of Avila, could include the description: Carmelite Reformer, Nun….) You should also consider adding St. Theresa of Lisuix.

  41. I’m glad I’ve waited till almost the end of the comment period. Nearly all of what I would have said has been, especially regarding the criteria for selection. I especially like the idea of stressing the Common of Saints and using that as the basis for the observances (if I’ve understood the proposal correctly). I would add that if that is indeed the case, I urge with others that the ferial Eucharistic lectionaries be retained in a single volume. To me, that shows the unity of all the optional,observances, both sanctoral as well as ferial.

    One further suggestion: on average, the number of weekday Eucharists offered by an Episcopal parish is three per month, or not even one a week, and that may well include days like Holy Week, because of how we collect these data in the Parochial Reports. So even though the Observances are indeed optional, most parishes have little opportunity to observe much beyond the Principle and Major Feasts, since at least 29 weekdays are taken up by them. So I would urge the SCLM to consider how to encourage observance of the saints in the Office itself. It is completely rubrically permissible to use a saint’s day collect as the collect of the Day, and one could also rubrically read the biography as the last reading at one of the Offices. Since most parishes don’t have much opportunity to celebrate the Optional Commemorations with a Eucharist, official encouragement to do so in the Office would go a long way toward broadening their reach outside the relatively few parishes that can offer even one weekday Eucharist a week. Along those same lines, the 1928 BCP had a large number of “occasional” offices rather than Eucharistic Propers. We could use an official Office of the Dead, an Office for Weddings and Anniversaries, and perhaps other occasions. Because these could be drawn from the Commons and Various Occasions, it would seem apt to consider this alongside this new (and very welcome!!!) emphasis on the Commons and Occasions.

    I look forward to the next iteration of your work!

    Bob Solon+
    Church of The Advent, Baltimore

    • I agree with commemoration in the office but I was to loudly oppose use of proper readings in the office. We need to stick with the office lectionary to the degree possible. We are already too far from the Bl. Thomas Cramner’s goal of reading the whole the scriptures in course, using proper readings on minor holy days would make this worse.

  42. As a former Southern Baptist, I would like to suggest Lottie Moon be removed. It seems like an odd inclusion. I find it especially odd when I know how long individuals from the Diocese of Western North Carolina have tried to have William West Skiles, monk from the short-lived monastery at Valle Crucis, NC, added to an Episcopal calendar. Please rectify this.

  43. We did something like this in the Diocese of Maryland last year – and we called it “A Great Cloud of Witnesses.” Bishop Eugene Sutton had the initiating idea, to celebrate those African American “saints” already in HOLY WOMEN, HOLY MEN (or on their way) who had specific and important ties to Maryland for the annual UBE Maryland Chapter celebration of Absalom Jones: Harriet Tubman, Maria Stewart, Frederick Douglass, George Freeman Bragg, Thurgood Marshall and Pauli Murray. We included Absalom Jones who started it all. We expanded that “Cloud of Witnesses” by inviting all parishes in the Diocese to submit candidates for an ongoing local list and we received 18 names of people remembered informally and by story-telling in their parishes as “saints.” Our criteria were:
    – no longer living
    – of African American descent
    – connected by membership in, or other close affiliation with, the Episcopal Church in Maryland
    – made their mark in public life in Maryland, and remembered in your parish.
    Brief biographies of the new saints were included in the UBE Chapter’s celebration journal – which also included the program of the day and the order for the Eucharist.
    We did not select collects or lessons but on the day of the celebration we used the Propers for Absalom Jones AND arranged the 18 new names in recognized categories, e.g. educators, civic leaders, church leaders, etc. in a Litany of Thanksgiving..
    The plan is to keep adding to this list in the future, We know we have not exhausted the possibilities. This year’s celebration has had to be postponed because of whether, but we already have two new “saints” to add to Maryland’s own “Great Cloud of Witnesses.”
    What we believe we have done is to follow the traditional course of remembering saints in the places where they lived, served, witnesses tp the love of God and their neighbors. If they are lifted up beyond their ;ocal observance, so be it – but it is not necessary from our point of view we will celebrate them in any case

  44. Bill McKeown – February 20, 2014
    (I apologize for running on so long.)

    A. The work of the commission is very good, as are the diverse comments recorded here. As you doubtless realize, you cannot satisfy us all. Don’t try.

    B. I am a layperson with no training or expertise in the subjects principally under discussion here. I understand “saint” to be a word packed with meanings. Your effort to include our various understandings seems right. The broad approach should be made explicit in introductory material.

    C. We are doing this not just for ourselves, but for the larger Church and those outside the Church.

    D. On Tuesday the 18th by chance I attended a eucharist at which Martin Luther was remembered in accordance with Holy Women, Holy Men. The texts (including the very brief biographic statement) and collect (and homily) spoke to me. Martin Luther was not “saintly” in some respects, although in others he was. What a benefit it was to have the opportunity and challenge to try, in the context of worship, to respond to him, to his spirit and his deeds, our common history, the imperative to be faithful, and the need to be prepared to take risks, all in the light of Paul’s words to the Romans and the teaching of Jesus about the vine with many branches.
    Whatever the outcome of your deliberations, I hope you can find ways to encourage people, both lay and clergy, to use this resource, as you may modify it, in their spiritual lives.

    A few specific comments:

    E. Martin Luther does raise the question of Christian antisemitism. But how could you leave him out? We need to be honest with ourselves and others. If antisemitism is an issue with respect to a person commemorated by Christians, then that issue needs to be addressed thoughtfully and sensitively, but, in the context of a “calendar,” briefly. Perhaps a general discussion of Christian antisemitism somewhere in the introductory material would be helpful. See my comment above that we are not doing this just for ourselves.

    Antisemitism is the Church’s constituent sin — that is, the sin defining the Church in a fundamental way — just as chattel slavery is the constituent sin of the United States. The Church will never escape the one, as the United States will never escape the other. Each generation in the Church will have to address this, for itself and for others.

    F. I cannot follow the intricacies of the technical discussion, but I can endorse making the resource as simple to use as possible. To me that means one volume, perhaps divided between a more traditional calendar of observances (including the “real” “old” “saints”) and a listing by date of Recognized Optional Commemorations, with readings, collects, etc.
    Surely there can be commemorations that are not (centrally) recognized and not in this volume, otherwise how could proposals arise from local practice? — although I do not understand how usage is to be developed and recognized locally. By dioceses – parishes – communities– others?

    G. Do make it clear that optional commemorations are optional, but see my comment above about encouraging people to use this resource.

    H. I like the name Holy Women, Holy Men. I like the name A Great Cloud of Witnesses. To me it would be a shame to lose the former.
    I like the inclusive thrust of the “family” idea, but I am a little leery of emphasizing the family metaphor. If you do, be careful to explain what you mean. Americans today use the term “family” rather thoughtlessly – e.g., what are “family values”?

    I. Pope Francis has had respectful, engaged, even joyful things to say to and about atheists. He clearly recognizes atheists as part of the human family who can be engaged in common enterprise with persons of faith, whose efforts should be welcomed and encouraged by the faithful. He clearly indicates that persons of faith can learn from atheists.

    The question before us is quite different, but observing Francis in action reaffirms my conviction that, in this day, we should not exclude persons of different faiths (or no faith) from our discourse and commemorations.

    Baptism in the Church is both an overinclusive and underinclusive criterion for commemoration. Other commenters have noted that many of those long venerated likely were not baptized in the Church. (Consider John the Baptizer or Michael and other angels.) Also following other commenters, I endorse including persons from what we call the Old Testament – but I leave to you to recommend which ones.

    Do we not, in fact, now view persons of other faiths (or no faith) as worthy of remembrance, as guides, exemplars, models, ones who direct us toward the truth and faithful action – or who may discomfort us by their apparent faithfulness, in action, to values we espouse? “Saintly” and “Christlike” are adjectives that have been applied, in times past, across divides of faith. Are there no saintly or even Christlike persons we could now recognize who are not Christians?

    Clearly there is room for discussion on this point. Ruth Meyers mentions the Dorchester Chaplains. John Muir also was mentioned in the comments. (Since he was the son of a Presbyterian pastor, I suspect he was baptized, but that is not dispositive, of course.)
    What about someone not now included: Gandhi?

    We would be required to be sensitive and respectful to the beliefs and understandings of those we might include. We would be required to explain ourselves.
    We could do those things, and it would be worth it.
    Francis’s approach to atheists may not sit well with all persons of faith or all atheists, but Francis has gone ahead! – I would say, in love.

    Remember, we are not doing this just for ourselves.

  45. Thanks to the SCLM for proposing this new direction, and for the clear explanation and criteria. The separate volume for weekday celebrations sounds like a reasonable way to avoid the cumbersome nature of HWHM (we’ve heard “cumbersome” several times); I would certainly use the new volume at midweek Eucharists.

    I agree with Richard Helmer’s comment (Feb. 3) suggesting that attention be given to which version of names to be used (anglicized or indigenous). Using the indigenous one makes sense to me in our multicultural Church.

    Blessings on your continuing work.

    Raisin Horn
    Diocese of Iowa

  46. Thanks to the SCLM for their very good work. I am very excited about your proposed approach for a number of reasons:
    1. Maintaining a core calendar of the central saints as major feasts preserves an important liturgical tradition acceptable to all.
    2. Allowing for a very large and inclusive group of other saints that may be observed, but need not be acceptable to all meets many of the concerns of both sides. The idea of a family history makes sense to me. In preaching during weekday Eucharists on the saints from LFF and HWHM, the stories of how these often-colorful extended family members lived out their lives of faith and discipleship resonates with those in the pews. Having categories and other ways that a parish can use to easily commemorate some of the saints in our history will be a nice addition.
    3. An additional resource for weekday Eucharists makes sense, as well, and would be helpful.
    4. I use the Propers for Various Occasions somewhat regularly, and would be interested in additional readings for them.

    I would make a couple of suggestions, echoing comments made above:
    1. Outside of contemporaries of Jesus who were Jewish as he was, I would rather not include non-Christians for the reasons outlined by Susan and others.
    2. Chris Wendell’s suggestion of a hymn selection for each commemoration is a good one, and would be helpful to me as well.
    3. If Collects are to be included for each saint, I would second David Sibley’s request for more attention to the rhythm and poetry of the lines. I would also like to see the inclusion of the term “Lord” in the collects more regularly than it occurs in HWHM.
    4. With Brother Anselm, I would hope to see Saint Scholastica in this collection.

    I am very excited to see what you come up with, and to be able to use “A Great Cloud of Witnesses” in my parish.
    Adam Trambley
    Sharon, PA

  47. I agree with so many who have written that this is a step in the right direction. I congratulate the SCLM on your efforts. The one thought that I might add to what has been written is to encourage the Commission to include this much more detailed explanation of the thought process behind ” A Great Cloud…” in the preface section of the volume. I have found the preface to HMHW to have been somewhat weak in this regard. Having information such as is provided in this blog available in the volume will provide greater opportunity for understanding the context in which entries have been included. I also suggest that some consideration be given to including some type of reference index or suggested resources for further study as well. While I think the main purpose of the volume should always be use as a liturgical resource, I do believe there is opportunity to expand its functionality as regards its ability to serve as a theological reference and guide toward further study.

  48. W. Richard Hamlin, Diocese of Michigan

    I must admit to being a great fan of “Holy Women, Holy Men.” The additional observances it includes are a wonderful enrichment. I have found it to be a wonderful teaching tool, not only by using it for weekday Eucharists, but also by using the biographies and collects to open meetings, as opening or closing worship for EfM sessions, and, particularly the biographies, as supplements to a wide variety of educational offerings. (I agree with the observations above that there does need to be a review of the biographies–though I suspect we would not all agree what should be dropped and what should be added in any particular case!) I have found that using HWHM has increased the parish’s understanding not only of the particular people commemorated, but of the sweep of Church history as well–particularly in contexts where there is opportunity for discussion of how a particular person reflects or challenges the assumptions his/her era and/or of how the person relates to others also included in the calendar. This is especially true of those who have included the daily reading of HWHM as part of their daily devotions. The biographies have been a real gift to the teaching ministry of the Church.

    I strongly prefer devotional collects related to the life and ministry of the person observed rather than biographical collects. But if the choice is between individualized biographical collects and generic collects, I would opt for the former.

    I am of mixed mind about offering two books. I find it helpful in planning to have both resources available. While a single book would be large, two separate books makes it too easy to use only one and ignore the other.

    I like the idea of including information about where else the various people are commemorated (it is research I sometimes do in preparing for using one or another of the current observances). It can help provide a perspective for understanding the people and their contributions.

    In reflecting on the discussions about including non-Christians in the calendar, I think the proposed guidelines strike the right balance–as Dr. Meyers’ examples demonstrate. Similarly, the guideline about being judicious in adding the recently deceased seems to strike a reasonable balance, recognizing that some few probably should be included fairly quickly, but that for almost all we do need some perspective and sense of enduring significance.

    Finally an observation on the question of canonization: I would suggest that our procedure of General Convention approval for trial use, and need for a second approval for inclusion in the calendar, does represent a judgment by this portion of the Church and of the Anglican Communion that those included in our calendar (without brackets) have been considered and found worthy of commemoration by the Church. In effect, we are saying that their lives and works as a whole, or some particular aspect(s) of their witness and ministry are exemplary of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

  49. The SCLM asks for comments on a proposed new approach to commemorations tentatively called A Great Cloud of Witnesses. As I understand it, the conceptual difference between this proposal and HWHM is that no claim would be implied that everyone included is a “Saint” in the sense of someone close to perfection in their holiness. “Holy” seems to imply that sort of perfection, hence the change.

    I appreciate the suggested approach, especially if the biographies can be written to maintain the tension between those actions or characteristics of an individual which may help us in our own membership in the Body of Christ, and those actions or characteristics that present what the SCLM so tactfully calls “special challenges.” Personally, I believe that the “warts and all” approach is more helpful overall, as we gain courage from the fact that these individuals, like us, had blind spots, misunderstandings of the Gospel, and outright sinfulness.

    Having said that, I’d like to add that the proposed title Clouds of Witnesses and the extended family metaphor are, to me, unsatisfactory. They’re not inaccurate, and they would be fine if this were to be merely a reference book for the church (which of course it partly is). But for a liturgical work, title and metaphor strike me as condescending—maybe too folksy and lacking in gravitas. Since the plan is to keep two tiers of observance, I’d fall back on “lesser” or perhaps “optional.” Are the fasts going to be spun off with The Weekday Eucharist Book? Then the title could be something like “Lesser Feasts of the Church Year.” Or even “Optional Commemorations [or Observances] in the Church Year.” Clunky, but accurate.

    Personally, I would like to keep individualized collects for each commemoration, and would only say that we have to do the best we can about the language, since Archbishop Cranmer is no longer with us. Might we consider keeping the book in electronic form, so that inaccuracies and infelicities in both collects and biographies might be gently corrected a piece at a time at little expense? This would remove some pressure from the writers, although it might be less convenient for the end users.

    Also, would it be unkind to suggest omitting the collects in so-called traditional language, leaving only the so-called contemporary language? Of course I am not suggesting the people shouldn’t use traditional language if they want to, but since the differences involve only a few pronouns and verb endings, couldn’t the “translation” be done on the fly? (I notice, for example, that “Holy Spirit” has already replaced “Holy Ghost” everywhere.) I suspect that the SCLM has already argued this to death, but that’s my vote.

    Like some others, I don’t object in principle to combining commemorations for those who really have a lot in common. Also like some others, I do have objections to some particular HWHM combinations. As a rule of thumb, I would personally prefer more than one observance on the same day when the day is relevant to the persons, rather than a forced joint commemoration. That may involve a decision as to who trumps whom on some particular occasion, but that is nothing new in liturgy—which Eucharistic Prayer? which Prayers of the People? which canticle? There may be problems with double commemorations, but they won’t be new problems.

    I agree that the process of starting at the local level is desirable, but I suspect it is not as common as we would wish. Local communities, as well as individuals, have been marginalized in the history of the Episcopal Church, and in any case, “local” seems to imply a geographical solidarity which is not common any more in contemporary life. My experience has been that someone new appears in an edition of LFF or HWHM and we in the pews say “So what?” or “I’m glad to know about that person” or occasionally “What were they thinking?” I would hope that some sort of “suggestions from the experts” (as distinct from “edicts from the professionals”) might continue as an alternate process, subject to acceptance by the whole church (or a reasonable segment of it).

    I would also point out by whatever method, the number of commemorations has increased in every edition of LFF and HWHM, and will probably continue to increase, eventually forcing double observances—or requiring that somebody get dropped. While there seems to be a process for removing names, the devil will be in the details of deciding whose names to subject to the process. If it is important to our spiritual health to include the forgotten and marginalized in our commemorations (however much we may disagree about exactly who that means), it seems important not to make retention a simple popularity contest, any more than inclusion.

    As for the criteria for inclusion, I think they are generally good, although personally I would return the fifty years to criterion 6. But in exchange I would suggest that all of the criteria, while normative, be a little flexible. I would include a little wriggle room in even the historicity criterion (1) and the Christian discipleship criterion (2). As examples, the Holy Innocents are of questionable historicity, and, as Dr. Meyers pointed out, the Dorchester chaplains present a problem for the Christian discipleship criterion.

    Thank you for letting me have my say, and for the opportunity to read others’ comments, which have been thoughtful and have helped me clarify my own mind. And thanks to and prayers for the SCLM, who have taken on this task, even knowing that they won’t please everyone.

    Irene Lawrence
    Menlo Park, CA

  50. I second what many others have already said about the inclusion of non-Christians, and those whose faith was peripheral at best to the reasons for commemorating them. My biggest frustration with HWHM was its anthropocentrism: “Here are people who did good things, now go do good things also, with God’s help, sort of.” What would a truly Christocentric calendar look like? How would it be different if it focused on God in Christ as the acting subject in the lives of the saints?

    While I like the idea of individual collects, the HWHM versions need rewriting. (As someone who reads Barth and Kierkegaard for a living, I was utterly baffled by their collects – as well as their biographies.) It may be more feasible to put together a few good common prayers than to fix everything individually.

    Y’all have obviously done a lot of great work and a lot of listening, and I’m especially impressed with Derek’s contributions to the conversation. I hope the result will be a faithful, usable resource.

  51. Many thanks to the SCLM for taking a fresh look at HWHM and for re-asserting the core set of Holy Days observed by TEC, and the difference between them and all other optional observances.

    In the optional commemorations of saints that are included in “A Great Cloud of Witnesses”, it’s fine to list two readings besides the Gospel, though some indication of preference ought to be given to one or the other when only one reading is read before the Gospel. I suspect one reading before the Gospel continues to be the norm in those places where a daily weekday eucharist is celebrated; it’s certainly the norm in the Daily Eucharistic Lectionary.

    I think the collects for the optional commemoration of saints ought to be more generic rather than drawing from the devotional and other literary works of the person or from the person’s biography. The language of private devotion doesn’t always work well in the liturgy, which has to carry a different weight; obscure literary references within a collect tend to overwhelm it as a means of prayer, making it overly self-conscious (which militates against prayer); and biographical references are best left to the sermon. Efforts to assign collects particular to a commemoration should be sparing. A range of prayers from a common of saints would be most helpful.

    I think the SCLM ought to encourage dioceses and parishes and other communities to think in terms of a “local calendar” of saints: a listing of commemorations peculiar to the community of faith that doesn’t attempt to celebrate every possible saint, but which pays attention to what is of use to the community. A “Great Cloud of Witnesses” becomes a source book for such a local calendar.

  52. I am very glad that the SLC is proposing a major revision of the seriously flawed “Holy Women, Holy Men.” I have used that resource in my own saying of the Daily Office for over three years and am thus very familiar both with its virtues and with its major drawbacks.

    It has become clear to me during that time that the weakest part of HWHM is the collects: too many of them are over-wordy, tendentious, “too clever” in their attempts to quote writings of the person commemorated, and in some cases clearly ungrammatical. In many instances these prayers have abandoned the traditional succinct form of the collect and end up telling God what God needs to know or think, or they become substitute biographies providing information to the congregation. As an English major and as a priest of the Church for 45 years with a degree in liturgy, I often groan when I come to pray the appointed collect for a particular feast and I find myself moved to substitute one of the common collects from the Prayer Book or simply make up my own prayer ex tempore. The collects need a total rewriting by a person or persons with a precise knowledge of grammar and and a vivid sense of English prose style as well as a deep familiarity with the history of the Church and of the traditional form of the liturgical collect. If rewriting all the collects is too difficult and time-consuming a task for the present, then the SCLM’s proposal to substitute a broader array of carefully written and chosen common collects is a satisfactory temporary compromise, far better than continuing to use the sub-par, poorly cobbled together prayers of HWHM. Further I find the nearly systematic omission in the new collects of the reference to Jesus Christ as “Lord” unfortunate from the point of view both of theology and traditional piety as well as of the principle of euphony in English prose.

    The biographies also need review, as in some cases they contain mistakes or historical inaccuracies. Moreover, many of them seem to be largely cribbed from the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, with perhaps little consultation with wider or original sources.

    Further, I strongly believe that the criterion of 50 years after a person’s death for inclusion in the calendar should be retained. That lapse of time gives the Church the opportunity to consider with more calm and historical reflection the life and witness of a particular candidate for commemoration. The example of the hasty beatification and about-to-occur canonization by the Roman Church of the controversial John Paul II, before the murkier aspects of his papacy can be fully considered, should be a salutary warning to us. The only exception to the 50-year rule might be in the case of people who are clearly martyrs for the Christian faith, and there we have ample precedent in the practice of the earliest Church.

    In addition, I urge that no commemorations of non-Christians be included in the calendar. That practice would seem to contravene the SCLM’s own criteria nos. 2 and 3. It is difficult to see how non-Christians could be considered witnesses to Christ, and surely in almost all cases they would not have wished to be commemorated as such. Of course there are many heroic and exemplary non-Christians whom we can revere and from whom we can learn much, but they don’t belong in a calendar of witnesses to Christ. The only possible exception might be in the case of heroic Jewish witnesses to God. In their case they are part of the People of God to whom we Christians also belong, as St. Paul strongly reminds us in the Letter to the Romans and elsewhere. There is also precedent in medieval calendars for including commemorations of the patriarchs, the Maccabean marytrs, etc. However, including Jewish worthies in a Christian calendar might be considered by many Jews to be inappropriate and should not be done without careful consultation with our partners in Jewish-Christian dialogue.

    Finally, I commend the SCLM for proposing that new commemorations should be added to the calendar with economy and even a certain reluctance. It is important to respect the integrity of the Church’s observance of the liturgical seasons of the year and of the major feasts and commemorations of our Lord. An overfull sanctoral calendar obscures that liturgical rhythm as well as the very distinction between feast and feria, between extraordinary and ordinary time. The Preface to the First Book of Common Prayer alludes to precisely that problem in overpacked medieval calendars and service books. In the excess of ill-thought-through special days in HWHM the issue seems to have cropped up again. I realize that the commemorations in that volume were intended for optional use, but somehow their very presence in the calendar tends to make them more and more “required” and diverts our liturgical attention from the appropriate celebration of the main stages of the Christian year. I particularly beleive that no commemorations beyond the ones of long-standing tradition ought to be added to the season of Lent or the time between Christmas and Epiphany and also to a lesser extent perhaps in Advent, allowing us to concentrate our observance on the classic outlines of those seasons and the mysteries they celebrate.

    I commend the willingness of the SCLM to realize that HWHM needed a drastic and thorough revision and revisioning and to undertake that process. If for any reason it cannot come to agree on a carefully considered revision in time for the next General Convention, then I suggest it merely recommend continuing the authorization of the 2006 edition of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, until the Church can come to a clearer consensus in the whole matter. Better to slow the process down than to rush in to another faulty volume. As for HWHM, I personally have no objection to allowing trial use of it to continue until a satisfactory revision can be produced and agreed to. HWHM, despite all its difficulties, does expand our vision of the communion of saints and does present us with challenging examples of herioc and exemplary Christian living.

    I hope that the revision process will eventually include a careful rewriting of the collects as well. If possible, I would like to contribute to that process out of my own study and use of HWHM in personal prayer and public worship.

  53. I blogged about this at 7WD.

    Here’s what I said:
    The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music for the Episcopal Church has asked for feedback on their thinking about revision to our sanctoral calendar. I’d encourage you to have a look at the comments section on the latter link, where there are extensive comments, good conversation, and some thoughtful response from SCLM members. In the past, I’ve blogged about HWHM a couple of times (here and here). Other bloggers have written about this as well. Mostly, I hope the SCLM and other leaders in our church will give this much thought and prayer before the next General Convention.

    Before I share a few thoughts, I’d like to thank the SCLM for a thankless job. They have a great deal of work to do on minimal funding. For their trouble, they get snarky comments from the likes of me. While I don’t always agree with their recommendations and resolutions, I remain grateful for their commitment to our liturgical life. That said, I do want to offer some feedback as they have requested, acknowledging that I’m a liturgical dilettante at best.

    I have three chief observations about the proposed revisions (and most recent offerings) from the SCLM. There is a fourth related observation that must also be raised here.

    First, I think we continue to confuse the act of making saints and the act of commemorating saints. Saints are made not by legislative committees, but by baptismal fonts. In the New Testament, “holy one” or saint is the title given to members of the church. The communion of saints is the company of all the baptized throughout all time and space. The Roman Catholic church might have a formal process for granting the title of “saint” but even they believe the communion of saints consists in the baptized, apart from people who get the imprimatur of the Vatican.

    Now, then there is the matter of how we decide to remember particular people in our common life. That is what we ought to be focused on here. While a local community can remember any Christian they like to remember in their prayers, we set apart certain people to be commemorated by the whole church. It’s too easy to conflate these two communities of saints, so we must be on guard in our conversation and thinking to be clear about both the communion of saints and the company of saints we commemorate.

    We differ on how we remember saints. That’s fine. But we should all be clear on who is a saint. If you are baptized, you are a saint. Period. So the report does a disservice when it talks about, for example, “theologies of sainthood.” Sainthood is clear; how we remember them is less clear.

    Second, I do think the idea of establishing a threefold pattern of sanctoral commemoration is attractive. The core calendar would largely comprise New Testament saints (the “red letter” days) and maybe a few others. This would presumably be used across the church, either strongly encouraged or even compulsory. The proposed new volume (“A Great Cloud of Witnesses”) would include folks from HWHM and perhaps others. Here we get a set of optional commemorations, a kind of “who’s who” of saints for common use. Finally, local communities would be encouraged to remember saints important to a local community.

    This approach preserves a churchwide commemoration of the Major Feasts while allowing a great deal of flexibility in locally adapted use. It also takes some of the pressure of the “second tier” because the addition of a commemoration does not mandate its use. Perhaps most important, it provides a path to determine who to add in the future, because local commemorations are especially encouraged (even more so than today).

    So in general, I think the approach commended to us is a big step in the right direction from the current mess of a trial use calendar. It’s also an improvement, I think from our current official calendar.

    Third, the SCLM has consistently shown an unwillingness to embrace the criteria they themselves have developed for adding people to our sanctoral calendar. I really like the criteria they have developed (both the criteria in this report and the criteria approved by recent General Convention action). One could quibble with bits of it, but I think it’s a solid offering. So why can’t we follow our own criteria?

    To start with, it makes no sense whatsoever to propose the addition of non-Christians to our calendar of commemorations. Yet, the SCLM has been willing to suggest, for example, that a rabbi is in the communion of saints. That rabbi is doubtless a faithful witness to God’s love, but he was not a baptized Christian. It seems like the worst kind of anti-Judaism to posthumously declare someone to be a Christian. Just because someone was nice or inspiring does not mean they should be remembered as saints. We Christians can and should learn much from our sisters and brothers of other faith traditions, but we do not need to sow confusion by pretending that non-Christians were Christians.

    The stated criteria include “Christian discipleship.” See previous paragraph, but also note we have included people (John LaFarge, anyone?) who are known for their accomplishments more so than their discipleship. I could go on, and others already have, but you get the idea.

    Let’s establish clear criteria and stick to them.

    Fourth, though unrelated to this request for feedback, it’s important to note something. Amidst all our talk of Holy Women, Holy Men, our official calendar of saints is no longer available for purchase, as far as I know. HWHM is a trial use calendar, which means some churches will prefer to use the current, official calendar. Alas, it is impossible to get the current calendar of the church in print or electronic form, I think. (Maybe someone can correct me here. I hope I’m wrong.) Let’s make sure our official resources remain available while we’re in revision.

    I hope the SCLM will listen carefully to the feedback they are receiving. Let us all pray for them and their deliberation. And then when they issue the next documents for feedback or legislative action, let’s make sure we give due and careful consideration to their heartfelt work.

    In our increasingly fractious world, we do well to gain confidence first in our own identity, which allows us to be generous to others. Our sanctoral calendar would benefit from a clear identity and a generosity of local practice. Let’s set up clear criteria for churchwide and local commemoration and see what happens.

    Frankly, I picked the title of this blog post because of the humor and “poetry” of HWHMHC. Also, the image made me chuckle. But if we don’t get some clarity, we might soon adapt the custom of our Hindu friends of calling animals holy too, and then we’re one step away from commemorating St. Bessie the Cow. It will make for some good jokes but lousy church.

  54. I would echo and agree with many of the commenters above, especially Susan Snook, David Sibley, Adam Trambley, and James Lodwick. They have articulated in better ways than I could precisely my thoughts on HWHM, as well as the proposed revision. I was also very struck by Sam Potraro’s comments and his statistics. I hope that, whatever the “Great Cloud of Witnesses” might look like, it represents a MUCH scaled back version of the current HWHM. If all of the many additions to HWHM have not accomplished the goal of broadening the diversity of those represented, then to include so many seems silly, at best.

    I have two additional thoughts. One is in reference to the non-Christian inclusions, and the particular comment that excluding non-Christians might raise questions about Saint Joseph or the Holy Innocents. It seems to me all together a different thing to talk about those who lived at or before the time of the Word made flesh come among us than to refer to those who came after. Of course, those before the time of Jesus, those living during Jesus’ life, and even those right immediately following, were not “Christians” in the technical sense– the idea of Christianity was still coalescing. Yet they are mentioned in our canon of Scripture as those through whom Christ was made known; this seems to warrant a particular attention and allow us to claim them as “Christian.” But those who came after the time of Jesus, those who had the choice to follow Jesus but chose another path (and some, I believe, explicitly turning away from the Christian Church), are a different matter.

    Finally, I understand that the SCLM has put a great deal of time, energy, thought, and prayer into the work that has been done thus far. I want to honor that that level of commitment makes it very difficult to “let go” of any of what has been done. Please do the hard work of discernment and discipline of letting go of some of that work, in order to put together, not only the very best that the Church has to offer the world in poetry and beauty, but also a coherent theology. The work that you did on collects or biographies which need refinement or persons who don’t, perhaps, warrant final inclusion, was not wasted effort. It was good work, well done. It has helped us, as a church to have some deep conversations. The edited, pared down version will not make everyone happy, but it will likely serve the Church well; as long as you are willing to let go what needs to be released.

    Thank you, for all that you have already done and all that you will yet do. I’m grateful for your service to our Church, and I will keep you and your work in my prayers.

  55. This is an exciting piece of work and I look forward to reading more when it is available.

    When HWHM was first proposed, it was noted that it would take forever to go through the entire list and vote on the inclusion of each individual. That is still true even though most of us would love to do that. I trust the SCLM to work on our behalf.
    The Dorchester Chaplains is a difficult situation but I would hate to see us change it as it currently stands. When I read about those men acting together in faith, I see them all equally. To deny the Jewish chaplain inclusion with his brothers would be a travesty, I think.

    Maggie Zeller

  56. […] and Music of the Episcopal Church is seeking feedback on proposing a new approach to commemorations tentatively entitled A Great Cloud of Witnesses. The approach appears similar to some of what I have quoted above, “Those people found in […]

  57. A little off-subject, but I think relevant to the general issue of calendar review: It struck me yesterday (Ember Wednesday in Lent) that we should decide whether we want to continue observing the Ember Days. If so, let’s actually keep them, with four sets of Eucharistic lessons incorporated into the weekday Eucharistic lectionaries – something more than just the “15. For the Ministry” lessons buried nearly out of sight. Perhaps add a special Prayers of the People for those days. But if we’re going to continue to mostly ignore them, then let’s drop them altogether. (I vote for keeping them!)

  58. I apologize for the late response, but one other request. For the propers, please use psalms without any omitted verses. Doing a weekday service with BCPs and no bulletins, it is impossible to ask people to read, e.g., verses 1-2, 14-20. Picking either entire psalms or portions of psalms that are already marked off with extra spaces in the prayer book would be very helpful, as well.
    Thank you!

  59. I would like to repeat an appeal I’ve made in several places over the years, and that is to consider “elevating” Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany to a central place in the calendar, as they form a central witness in the Gospel of John. It has always bemused me that we recognize with red letter days apostles about whom little more is known than a name (in some cases a conflicting name!) but relegate the household at Bethany — in which Jesus actually shared in fellowship — to a lesser status.

    • I agree with Tobias — our “red letter” saints’ days are more a matter of historical liturgical tradition than actual importance in the New Testament. To some extent they may represent a narrow “apostles only,” “sola-scriptura” Reformation reaction against the late medieval “cloud indeed of witnesses” that dominated the liturgical calendar. Sound biblical and historical scholarship and some good common sense would be appropriate!

  60. Back before HWHM I sent to the SCLM staff person at 815 an entire year’s calendar of holy days, with proper collects and triple readings which had all been used by the Order of Julian FOR TEN YEARS. And NONE of them—not a one—was used or referenced in HWHM.SoIwrite with little confidence that anyone will hear.

    Please, please consider St. Gilbert of Sempringham (ca. 1083-1190). Founder of the ONLY religious order founded in England before the Reformation—founded a double order with both men and women, both lay and clerical—close personal friend of St. Aelred and St. Bernard— disguised Thomas Becket as a Gilbertine monk and saved him by spiriting him out of the country—lived 106 years and died blind—had his relics stolen by France’s prince Louis (Later King Louis VIII) during the first Barons’ War in 1216 and taken to Toulouse—was the first candidate to go through the new extensive Vatican process of canonization in 1212. Feast Day: February 4.

  61. A few thoughts:

    First, I appreciate the emphasis on the optionality of the commemorations. This does help address the issue of the multiplication of feast days, though I imagine there will always be debate over the question of how much is too much. On the other hand, some of the issue is not on the number of feasts, but the commemorations themselves. I would say to be strict about your own rules and remember that as “optional” as the feasts may be, once they are in print they become “official”, which is the bigger issue then if I or my parish must celebrate the feast.

    Second, we should not include non-Christians into the official calendar regardless of how wonderful a human being they may have been.

    I know I am echoing many of the other sentiments, but want particularly to voice the same concern as Kara Shade above. Her comment about anthropocentrism is spot on. I would like to also add that this is the exact problem that is leading many of our youth to embrace a form of “moral therapeutic deism”. This is, after all, a list of Christian commemorations for a Christian Church, not a list of humanist commemorations for a humanitarian service society.

    In addition I would go farther and note that the very title itself, “Great Cloud of Witnesses” along with your own analogy of “family” go against these inclusions. The passage from Hebrews 12 is about those who have had faith in the God of Israel and now have faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. (Heb 10:39-12:1) These are those who have not “shrunk back and so are lost” but “have faith and so are saved” (10:39) The list in chapter 11 includes several who committed sins (David for instance) but the point is faith, not great humanitarianism. this “Great Cloud” is said to be watching us as we pursue perfection in Jesus Christ. The actions of the person are the expressions of that faith by which we see it, but are not the reason for the celebration of them.

    Furthermore, our own Prayer Book teaches that a person is made a child of God through Baptism. Our catechism states that “Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ’s Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.” Simply put, non-Christians are not part of the family, wonderful virtuous people though they may be. It could also be construed as disrespectful to their free will to force those who rejected the Faith to be included merely because we think they should.

    The only exception I can possibly see is for when non-Christians are included in a group of Christians for some other reason. This may just be my military bias for the Dorchester Chaplains and my own inconsistency, however. Nevertheless the emphasis must be on the Christian discipleship of the Baptized in the group.

    Third, going along with this the inclusion of even some Christians is odd. This is not about someone being a great artist, or poet, or astronomer, or musician, or contributing to human civilization and culture. The calendar must be primarily about faith in Jesus Christ as risen Lord. This is about the discipleship as expressed in Hebrews 11-12. Going this direction is taking a decidedly different route from the traditional foundation of the calendar. which is rooted in the veneration of the early martyrs. It seems oddly unecumenical to abandon the sanctorale tradition. Perhaps consider standardizing the categories as well. This would make more clear it is Christian discipleship that is the nature of their honor (such as Martyr, Missionary, Theologian, Mystic, ect.) “Prophetic Witness” is fine, but not artist or writer.

    Fourthly, and speaking of ecumenism, I did not see this in the previous comments but please keep to the traditional ecumenical dates for Anskar and Cuthbert! Considering there are already some dates with more then one commemoration I do not see the justification for transferring them away from our bothers and sisters in other parts of the church catholic. Cyprian was moved closer to the Roman date but not exactly. Why not go the whole way? Aligning John Chrysostom with Rome, however, is fine. Even for those more unique to us, why move them if we already have multiple on the same day?

    Finally, as for the Collects themselves. I think it is best for them to have a well written devotional nature. I know this is the most time consuming aspect and to revise them all is a lot of work. However, I think it best to take the time to do this right even if that means continuing to officially use LFF 2006 a few more years.

    I do appreciate all the effort however, and hate to come across overly critical! You are, of course, trying to make everyone in a deeply divided church happy. I know a lot of work has already been put into this and I am thankful for the opportunity you have given on this blog to post feedback.


  62. I have enjoyed using Holy Women, Holy Men, and I even enjoy the somewhat unwieldy title. I like what the committee proposes going forward, with one exception: I would greatly prefer it to be two sections in one volume. We already have a thick stack of books (and bulging computer files). Keep everything needed for a week-day Eucharistic Celebration in one place, please. I will decide whether to use seasonal prayers or specific commemoration–and it will be much easier to do so if I have it all in one. BCP, BOS,Hymnal, WLP, Voices Found, LEVAS II–only ONE more is needed. My desk is about to collapse as it is.

    Please accept my gratitude for your good and faithful work.

    Nancy Webb Stroud+

  63. I have read much of the commentary here and have, in particular, found the discussion about non-Christians fascinating. When I first read that criteria, I thought of the Dorchester chaplains. There may be a compromise that will calm some of the concerns.

    That commemoration is as much about the event as it is about the people involved. I know nothing about those chaplains beyond what HWHM tells me; for all I know, they were complete jerks outside of that day (though I doubt it!). We are commending their actions on that day, just as Christ commends the actions of the Good Samaritan. Unless we want to baptize them in our imaginations, none of the characters in Jesus’ parables can be models for us either.

    So perhaps we need to rename this day after their actions rather than after their collective title. We have plenty of days on our major feast calendar that commemorate events rather than people (Christmas, The Annunciation, Pentecost, etc.). Why not a few on the ‘lesser’ calendar?

    • Kevin, I think your idea is a very creative middle path through this. It preserves everyone’s concerns.

    • October 3, 2014

      Dear All:

      Whenever and however they actually happened in history, Christmas, The Annunciation and Pentecost are all mythic events in the life of the Church.

      What happened on the Dorchester is not – at least not yet.
      Suppose we wanted to make it such, how could we do that?
      Let us start with what we know about what happened on the Dorchester. What “event” should we make mythic from that?
      I am not saying we should not, I am asking what exactly we are hoping to make part of the living memory of the Church that is not done by recalling the actions of these chaplains on that terrible occasion?
      I believe this to have been a great example of selflessness, or self sacrifice, if you like.
      How can you make sense of that without remembering and honoring those who gave their lives?
      As William Butler Yeats wrote, “how can we know the dancer from the dance?”
      So, is it not the chaplains we recall?

      Kevin has given us an excellent example: the Good Samaritan.
      Across time and space the Church has venerated, recalled and guided itself by the story of someone who could not have been a follower of Christ but whom Christ used to teach what a follower would look like.
      (Think of all the hospitals named for that figure.)

      In earlier times some in the Church sometimes found hidden Christians in Biblical and Classical figures — people, or characters, deemed “too good” not to be secretly, somehow, among the elect. I think that approach makes no sense today.

      If Jesus can hold up a Samaritan as thus so worthy, even “holy,” why must we quibble about the forms the Samaritan’s faith took? In fact, we do not.

      I offer you Gandhi, once more.

      And blessings on you all.

      Bill McKeown
      (no expertise here, just a person in the pew.)

  64. I do not find Holy Women Holy Men to have an excessive number of optional commemorations. Pretty much all the persons I have read about there seem to me valuable people to learn about and commemorate and I would be hard pressed to remove any.

    I also agree with Ormonde Plater, who argued for keeping traditional observances on their traditional dates rather than lumping them together with a larger group observed on a single date. I would prefer to observe traditional dates (almost always anniversaries of deaths) even where this means we have more than one person or group available to be commemorated on a given date. To me this merely reinforces the strangely widely forgotten fact that each commemoration is optional.

    For that matter, I lean towards more generally adopting the Eastern and earlier Western custom of not transferring dates at all. While I don’t expect a change that drastic to come out of a calendar of minor commemorations – it would require revising the BCP — I think it could very well help push us in that direction.

    Many of us already implicitly follow the Eastern practice in the Daily Office, when we read collects (preferably biographical collects) from the optional commemorations along with the psalms and lessons in the Daily Office Lectionary. In fact, it’s the only way consistent with the BCP rubrics to use the optional commemorations (other than patronal festivals) in the Daily Office and I think it should be acknowledged and endorsed. And probably more people use the optional commemorations in the Office than in the Eucharist (appropriately, since the BCP provides the Daily Office but not does not seem to contemplate daily Eucharists).

    I would strongly oppose eliminating “‘saints’ whose theological and ecclesial traditions reject the commemoration or veneration of the saints.” I can’t imagine the Church going down that road or I would argue against this at length.

    I am open to having more than the two categories of (1) (Major) Holy Days and (2) optional commemorations, but I’m not sure how it would be done.

  65. This is not really a reply but a suggestion to the page about Hildegard of Bingen which I used today for my blog post. ( ) which I have not done today because I am in here. Holy Women etc says that p she was raised by the anchoress . What the I learned in the wonderful Lutheran New Book of Commemorations … is that Jutta was her father”s sister… I think it helps to know that this woman she was entrusted to was actually her AUNT! and was wondering if you would add that in a future addition.

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