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Toward Columbus: Revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts proposed to continue until 2009

4/12/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  The other major task facing the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music this triennium was the revision of "Lesser Feasts and Fasts" as asked for in Resolution 2003-A100.

"Lesser Feasts and Fasts" is the calendar of saints that the church celebrates each year.

The 2003 resolution asked for a revision that reflects "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."

The resolution also asked the SCLM to study "the significance of that experience of local sainthood in encouraging the living out of baptism."

The SCLM's Blue Book report (link) said that the group soon realized that it could not accomplish such a broad and deep revision in time for Columbus and it asks to be able to work towards presenting the revision to the 76th General Convention in Anaheim, California, in 2009.

The Calendar Committee has created a set of principles to guide the revision and any possible expansion of the calendar of saints. Those principles include:

+ historicity ("exemplary witness to the Gospel of Christ in lives actually lived");

+ Christian discipleship ("the completion in death of a particular Christian's living out of the promises of baptism");

+ significance ("Those commemorated 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");

+ memorability ("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'");

+ range of inclusion (along with including Episcopalians and other members of the Anglican Communion, "attention should also be paid to gender and race, to the inclusion of laypeople, and to ecumenical representation");

+ local observance ("it should normatively be the case that significant commemoration of a particular person already exists at the local and regional levels");

+ perspective ("It should normatively be the case that a person be included in the Calendar only after two generations or fifty years have elapsed since that person's death");

+ levels of commemoration ("Principal Feasts, Sundays, and Holy Days have primacy of place [and] [i]t does not seem appropriate to distinguish between the various other commemorations by regarding some as having either a greater or a lesser claim on our observance of them");

+ combined commemoration ("Where there are close and natural links between persons to be remembered, a joint commemoration would make excellent sense…"); and

+ the common of saints ("Presently there are propers provided for martyrs, missionaries, pastors, theologians and teachers, monastics, and 'saints.' Possible additional categories could include musicians and other artists, reformers of society, and 'stewards of creation,' for example, scientists and environmentalists").

The committee will ask the convention to substitute these principles for the guidelines approved by the 1994 General Convention and listed on pages 477-479 of the 2003 edition of "Lesser Feasts and Fasts."

The commission promises major changes, saying that "this revision of the calendar will be more than simply a liturgical resource for daily use."

"We anticipate that its appearance will give birth to a wide-range of catechetical and evangelical resources that will engage and inspire persons of all ages," the SCLM report says.

Meanwhile, the commission will propose a number resolutions dealing with the current edition of "Lesser Feasts and Fasts." They include:

+ Resolution A059, Approve Liturgical Calendar Commemorations, would have the commemorations of Florence Li Tim-Oi, Janani Luwum, Philander Chase, William Temple and Clive Staples Lewis approved for trial use in 2003, be finally approved and entered in the Calendar of the Church Year (Book of Common Prayer, p. 15-30) and in future revisions of "Lesser Feasts and Fasts."

+ Resolution A060, Refer Proposed Commemoration, would refer consideration of the commemoration of the Rev. Dr. John Roberts, missionary to the Wind River Indian Reservation and founder of the Shoshone Episcopal Mission, to the appropriate subcommittee of the SCLM for research, consultation, and recommendation.

+ Resolution A062, Approve a Common for Space Exploration, would authorize, for trial use until the 76th General Convention, a Common for Space Exploration.

+ Resolution A063 and A064, Additional Calendar Commemorations, would authorize trial use for the triennium 2007–2009, for commemorations of
- January 8: Harriet Bedell, deaconess and missionary, 1969
- February 28: Anna Julia Heyward Cooper, educator, 1964
- March 13 (or November 8): James Theodore Holly, Bishop of Haiti, 1911
- March 24: Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, 1980, and The Martyrs of El Salvador
- April 7: Tikhon, Patriarch of Russia, confessor and ecumenist, 1925
- October 10: Vida Dutton Scudder, educator and witness for peace, 1954 and
- December 30: Frances Joseph-Gaudet, educator and prison reformer, 1934

+ Resolution A065, Commemoration Name Change, would change the name for the commemoration of the "Martyrs of Lyons" to "Blandina and Her Companions, The Martyrs of Lyons."