Liturgy of the Hours Write-Up

One of our parishioners has asked to open up a space in our leaflet to share personal devotions used through-out the congregation. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has kept us all apart from regular Eucharistic service, this parishioner was interested in what others have been doing in their own time to keep their spiritual lives rich. I thought this was a wonderful idea and a great chance to share my experience with the Liturgy of the Hours.

Here is my write-up that will appear in the leaflet next week.


When I had heard that there was a plan in the works for parishioners to share personal devotions in the Barnabuzz I was very excited. I have been praying the Liturgy of the Hours since I was in high school and I’ve always wanted an opportunity to share this wonderful catholic devotion with my Saint Barnabas family.

The Liturgy of the Hours bill themselves as the official corporate prayer of the church alongside the Eucharist. The Roman Catholic Church puts particular weight in the prayers because they draw a direct line to Jesus and the Apostles who prayed the psalms are various times during the day as per Jewish custom at the time. The prayers within the early Christian church grew out of monastic devotions and evolved to mark certain periods of the day. Over the centuries, their form and practice has changed and since the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s an emphasis has been made on the whole church, including laity, participating regularly in the prayers during the day. Reforms at this time made the prayers more accessible to laity (and dare I see more reformed in nature) and a wonderful English translation was produced in North America by the Catholic Publishing Company. Each Hour is typically composed of a hymn, a few psalms and cantles with antiphons, intercessions and a short reading. While each Hour is themed for a particular time of day (that aligns with the passion and death of Christ), there is absolutely no obligation to pray each Hour at a set time, although it is a useful practice. One of my favourite Hours can be prayed at any time, although it typically opens the day, called the Office of Readings. During this Hour one prays three psalms (or three parts of one larger psalm), reads an extended Old Testament reading followed by an extended reading relevant to the church season, saint day or feast from a church leader or Saint. This wonderful Office has enriched my faith and broadened my exposure to important liturgical writings and perspectives.

The mystic spirituality that surrounds the prayers are two fold. First, when we pray the Hours together and share in common prayer we join our single voices, no matter where we are and what we are doing, to the entire church and the hymn of praise which constantly rises before God. There is something tremendously powerful about praying an Hour alone but knowing that hundreds of thousands of other people are doing the same prayers with you and together you are all worshipping God. Second, we conform our own selves to the cross and die a little bit to Christ each time we engage in regular prayer especially in moments that we would otherwise give-up. These prayers are particularly powerful in sanctifying the day and reminding one of our place in the universe as a creature of God. Having the prayer book and the structure presents a form of prayer that calls out to me to engage at many moments during my day. The antiphons and prayers follow the liturgical calendar and saints and feasts are celebrated appropriately as they occur which assists greatly in living liturgically and continuing the church in our homes and lives outside of our Sunday obligation. They are particularly wonderful for communities and families because they are designed to be prayed as a group but can be prayed as couples or even alone (because you’re never alone with this prayer).

I have had a solid attachment to the Liturgy of the Hours for years particularly because they give me the words that I cannot find on my own. Regardless of how I feel in the moment, I have the prayers that I need to offer praise and thanksgiving toward God. Sometimes when I am angry with God but cannot find the words, the psalmist does it perfectly for me. Other times, when I am dry and have no words, again the psalmist fills my mouth. They have become an important aspect of my daily life, and greatly assist in my ability see Christ in all aspects of my life. I highly recommend this catholic devotion for any Anglican who is interested in living in the life the church every day and would like to clutch their prayer life into the broader catholic church. There are a slew of options to get started from apps for your phone to a single volume prayer book and a full four-volume prayer book with the entire church year. And I am always available to share my experience more and explain the Hours and the little prayer book you’ll usually see me carrying in church.

On John 16:33

"33I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 
John 16:33

I have a confession that of the entire Bible I have a single line that I can say is my favourite line and one I find myself repeating in my head daily. It comes from my favourite Gospel, the account of Saint John the Evangelist. In the brief line, Jesus tells his disciples plainly how and why they should have peace in the world despite facing struggles. It is through Christ that we find peace and it is because he has overcome the world that this peace is possible. This is a very powerful statement and I would like to take some time to explore its meaning and context within the wider teaching moment in which it was spoken by Jesus Christ.

The line itself comes as the understood finale of the Last Supper account according to John. His account is actually the longest of all of the gospel writers and the topics over the course of the evening range from the importance of serving one and another, the details of Christ’s looming Passion and death, the establishment of the New Commandment, an exhortation of Jesus as the true vine and a closing that emphasizes the shared pain and suffering that those who believe and follow Jesus will endure as well. This is a scene we can only view through a looking glass dimly because of our separation in time and space from Christ and his disciples but it is also a moment that is vivid and very real for any follower of Christ. Indeed, it is safe to say that this whole night that Jesus eats and shares with his followers is not just for the men and women around him that evening, rather they are words and lessons directly given to all faithful of all ages of past and those to come. His words are clear and universal and plain.

21 "When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you." 
John 16:21-22

Jesus does not mince his words when he speaks about the sorrow, pain and suffering his followers will continue to endure in the world. But these important words from Christ do not come in isolation. They come at the heels of Jesus explaining clearly the details of his Passion and death. And he does not do this to be morbid or gain their respect, he does this to demonstrate how he is going to overcome the world and why this important. Then he goes on to explain how the disciples have to comport themselves around one another and around new followers that will join their ranks in the coming era of the church. Jesus washes their feet to demonstrate unequivocally that all must serve one another. This is a clear and powerful statement. Moments after his disciples confess to him that they believe he is the Messiah and their Lord, he humbles himself and washes their feet even against the protest of some. If the Son of Man has washed the feet of his followers, how greater than we must serve our peers around us. He then institutes the New Commandment to love another another as Christ has loved us. And he stresses that there is no love greater than for a man to lay down his life for a friend. And finally, he teaches them, without fancy language, why he is the true vine and the Messiah spoken of in the prophecies. All of this leads up to a final reminder that the same pain and suffering the disciples are soon to witness with Jesus is awaiting them in the world as well. And that pain and suffering awaits us too. These are the last words of a friend to his brothers and sisters. He is making sure they have everything they need to get through the world while he is not there. The true meaning of the night will only become clear once the tomb is found empty and the triumph of the Son of Man has been completed. But these are timeless words, words that are relevant and bear great fruit for us today.

And we are to be of good cheer. Because Christ has overcome the world. Amen.

Cover photo by Jametlene Reskp on Unsplash.

Easter Sunday Mass – Live Stream – Saint Barnabas Church

Saint Barnabas Anglican Church in Victoria, British Columbia will be live-streaming their Sunday Easter Mass from 10am-12pm (PST) on Sunday, April 4, 2021. The live-stream will be available through this blog commencing at 10:15am (PST) with the service commencing at 10:30am (PST).

The holiest of holy evenings is about to commence…where will it find you?

Holy Week Schedule

I will be posting the videos for Holy Week from my church at Saint Barnabas (as I have been doing throughout COVID). We were busy last week filming and I was busy this week editing the final products. I hope that if you are unable to find in-person services that you benefit from these videos.

Be sure to watch this blog at these times for the release (all times PST).

  • Holy Thursday – Tenebrae service, Thursday April 1, 7:30pm
  • Good Friday service, Friday April 2, 10:30am
  • Holy Saturday vigil, Saturday April 3, 8:00pm

And I we will be live streaming a Mass on Easter Sunday. I will endeveour to make the live stream link available on this blog but getting the stream out to parishioners will be my priority that day. Expect to see the link for the service up regardless by noon that day.

May you have a holy and blessed Holy Week. God bless.

New Series: Being Christian

I would like to introduce a new series which this blog will be exploring over the next few months before the commencement of Lent in mid-February this year. The theme of the series is a catechismal look at the Catholic faith through the lens of an Anglican Catholic. My hope is that my personal experience and knowledge of the Catholic faith and unique perspective as a former Roman Catholic turned Anglican will assist in developing a worthy and (God willing) interesting series.

I’ll be using several sources for this series. Primary sources will be Holy Scripture and the writings of Saints and early Church Fathers. Secondary sources will include an Anglican catechism entitled Being Christian: An Anglican Catechism, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and relevant documents/writings from both Anglican and Roman Catholic sources. My hope is not to limit this exploration to one tradition of Catholicism or another, I wish to present both together which is what makes this series unique but fitting for the nature of my blog.

The entire series will be under the Catechism category of the blog and will carry the tag Being Christian for future reference and organization. I look forward to presenting the articles of the series!

Capturing the Liturgy on Film

A positive innovation that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic within my own church community has been the creation and development of a new ministry around recording and sharing of our services for viewing online. The need for this new ministry is obvious and undoubtedly a common change within nearly every active church in the world. For a variety of reasons– which almost all come down to having no one else willing to step forward in such short notice– I have become the sort of head of this ministry within my church under the guidance (as with all things of the local church) of the rector. The experience has brought with it a range of emotion from confusion and frustration to satisfaction and joy. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to develop a new found passion. The experience has also given me a chance to reflect on the meaning and value of capturing the liturgy on film for the faithful of my parish and friends from all walks of life.

Filmmaking and recording the various services, announcements and home worship packages has become a passion of mine. Which is my own personal positive innovation that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it has not only strengthened my relationship with God but also practically with my church and community. It has allowed me to continue a sense of purpose and meaning through my responsibilities to the church and another vector to give back my time and talents. And these are responsibilities which I might add are not isolated to just this new passion, I still remain the head of the servers guild and a member of Parish Council and ever-scrutineer of the Finance Committee. But with the entire life of the church seemingly coming to a halt alongside everything in the world, recording and playing a role in establishing a new media ministry has provided beyond ample work in the giant spans of time which make-up the COVID-19 lockdown. It is a gift from God.

There is a tremendously new perspective that I have gained seeing the liturgy through the lens of my camera. And I am coming more and more to appreciate the requirement of anyone who dares venture into a media ministry around the liturgy to understand the meaning behind the gestures, movements, transitions and moments within the service. And this is not unique to filming the liturgy, this is the general job of the director of photography of any movie or film– to capture the mood and tone of the scene, the moment physically and emotionally happening within the frame of the camera’s eye. In the case of the Mass (my “production”), there is already a director who has set the requirements for each scene during any liturgical filming, and that would be tradition which dictates the meaning and spirit of each aspect of how we worship and pray to God. Thus, I see my role as using every cinematographic tool available to me to capture that meaning and passing it seamlessly to the viewer. It is not merely about capturing the action and moving on, rather, each frame passes with it a story and everything from the lightening and the lens angle to the camera position and the sound must be deployed in unity of effort to convey that meaning, purpose and tone. And the ultimate key is that it must be done seamlessly. The video is meant to feel exactly like the real thing while being aware of the fact that it is not the real thing. This is how people begin to get lost in it, this is how we tell the story of the liturgy will the full force of the cinematographic tools available.

There are aspect of filming the liturgy which have become traditions in and of themselves for me through sheer repetition and force of conveyance. For example, I’ve taken to filming sermons using a 30mm lens, with the camera angled slightly below the pulpit to give a feeling of looking up (just as we do in the service when in church physically) and placing the preacher in the right 1/3 of the frame to leave a space for them to literally project their message into as it moves into the viewer’s heart and mind and to capture (slightly out of focus) the statue of Saint Barnabas, our patron, and, in this instance, shameless branding. Each sermon from every service is filmed in this way. The camera placement, the angle, the position of the preacher all tell a story together that helps to convey the liturgical importance of the sermon. And each sermon is filmed in the same way because together each sermon fulfills the same objective, is sourced from the same authority and is spoken in the same voice from the Spirit. That is the tradition and value of the sermon and the repetitive presentation, the stern, clean lines and look is conveying that meaning to the viewer each and every time they watch the film. I am using the tools available to me in order that in every way I may convey and emphasize the meaning and spirit of this moment in the liturgy.

And there are aspects of the liturgy which continue to allude me as an amateur filmmaker. For example, the Words of Consecration, which hold so much meaning and purpose within the Liturgy of the Eucharist still presents a problem to me in capturing its celestial and miraculous reality. It’s tempting to begin wanting to study computer generated graphics (CGI) and effect the roof of the church tearing open with choirs of angels singing and the joining of the Church Triumphant and the Church Militant that we profess occurs at each celebration of the Mass. But that certainly would not work, even with all of the flash, it would still not convey the significance and more importantly the reality of the miracle which takes place at the hands of the priest. For Christmas Mass this year, which was the only Mass service we have recorded since closing over Christmas, my hand was forced because of time and I filmed purely from the perspective of a person sitting in the pews. It was beautiful and it did the job but it was not seamless. The entirety of the Liturgy of the Word was seamless and the fact the Canon of the Mass did not fit made the whole thing jump out.

There is a natural development which comes with taking on any new passion. A chaotic period where one finds their own place and style within their chosen method of artistic expression. I am still very much in that phase with my photography and videography but I remain absolutely enthralled with filming the liturgy and seeing praise and worship through the lens of a camera. It has been an honour to provide these videos to people who cannot attend services and are feeling physically distanced from the church and our community. However, I remain grateful and in the debt of the church for providing me this chance to film the liturgy and focus on worship from an entirely new perspective.

St. Veronica, you gave Christ a towel on His way to Cavalry which He used to wipe the Precious Blood from His Holy Face. In return for this great act of kindness He left you His most Holy image on the towel. Pray for us to Our Lord that His Holy Face may be imprinted on our hearts so that we may be always be mindful of the Passion and Death of Our lord Jesus Christ, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Reflections on Fratelli Tutti

You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard already that Pope Francis wrote a new encyclical titled Fratelli tutti. There is a lot of commentary and thought being thrown around online from all factions within and from outside of the Roman Catholic Church. I’ve read the document once over fully and I’ve spent the past week going back and rereading certain parts and paragraphs as people have cited various sections in their own commentary.

One thing stands out for me about the encyclical itself. It is not unique or new. While the substance of the letter itself, dealing with capitalism, free markets and the broader globalization of economies around the entire world, the crux of the message and the core of the dogma remain completely in line with the existing body of catholic social teaching. Namely, that all forms of man-made political systems are flawed and are incapable of providing any “silver bullet” to save humanity and provide for all of our needs. In fact, that all fail to provide for the real needs of humans around dignity and spiritual development/growth. The encyclical focuses on the present day and our struggle with neo-liberalism largely because this political ideology remains today the dominate one in the world. But the letter can be added to the litany of letters, sermons and teachings from church fathers of the past that condemned and called out political ideologies of the past, such as socialism and communism. It is certainly not an endorsement of any man-made political ideology.

And this is where the Pope did not veer to the left or the right with his letter. The idea that Christians are apolitical but not apathetic is from Christ and is a Gospel message present within the entire body of catholic social teaching. We are called to be in this world but not of this world because His Kingdom is not of this world. And Francis acknowledges the body which his encyclical is added into at the very start of his letter.

6. The following pages do not claim to offer a complete teaching on fraternal love, but rather to consider its universal scope, its openness to every man and woman. I offer this social Encyclical as a modest contribution to continued reflection, in the hope that in the face of present-day attempts to eliminate or ignore others, we may prove capable of responding with a new vision of fraternity and social friendship that will not remain at the level of words. Although I have written it from the Christian convictions that inspire and sustain me, I have sought to make this reflection an invitation to dialogue among all people of good will.

Fratelli tutti (3 Oct 2020)

I am reading a lot of commentary from very learned people about how the document is the Pope endorsing socialism (with some even going so far as to say that he endorses communism). But that misses the mark. And those people ought to have a reread of the Gospel for this past Sunday. We are all tempted to impose our own vision of the Son of David on to Christ, but He was quick to turn the tables on the leaders of the relevant political factions in Jerusalem during His time and He continues to do the same through our church fathers today.

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

“The son of David,” they replied.

He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’

If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Matthew 22: 41-46

Fundamentally when I read the new encyclical I do not see the Pope moving to any single political ideology. I see him reminding us that capitalism, our most popular and often-touted most successful political ideology, has significant flaws that must be addressed. But his letter was not written in isolation, it is part of a large body of catholic social teaching that has condemned all forms of human political ideology. And furthermore, it is rooted in the Gospels which are clear in articulating our place in this world as followers of Jesus Christ.

Bearing the rebuke we all fear

In the Anglican Breviary, Major Doubles such as today’s Feast of the Guardian Angels, have psalms that are taken from the Sunday section of the psalter. The day Hours on Sundays are a chopping up of the largest chapter in the entire Bible, Psalm 119.

A particular line of that psalm stood out for me today during Terce.

39 Take away the rebuke I am afraid of; for thy judgements are good.

This is an incredibly powerful line from the psalms, which are never cliché and are always raw emotion directed toward God. There is also a lot to unpack in that little line.

Psalm 119 is almost universally about how great God commandments are, how great God’s wisdom is and how awesome it is to be a follower of God and to share in the wisdom of God. It is an amazing psalm and is one of my favourites in the whole psalter. But there is an underlying theme in this psalm that admits that although following God’s commandments is great because you are smarter than the older people and wiser than your teachers, it is also a burden because people rebuke and hate you because of it. And the psalmist even admits that the problem isn’t with God and the commandments themselves– they are perfect and wonderful because they are from God– but with us.

The psalmist sings, “…the rebuke I am afraid of…” because it is our own fears and our own shortcomings that cause us to bear the burden of rebuke and hatred from the world. But the sentiment is still never lost, following the commandments of God, following His word and conforming to His wisdom is not an easy path in this world. We will be hated and we will be rebuked.

We can pray for this rebuke and our fear to be removed from us. It does not mean that we will not struggle and will not feel the pain of the hate and sin in this world, but it will have been sanctified because it would have been given up to God. That is the purpose of this line in the psalm, to illuminated that idea for us and to provide us a vehicle for prayer to begin that process with God in our own relation with Him.

O God, Who in thine unspeakable Providence hast been pleased to give thine holy Angels charge over us, to keep us, mercifully grant unto our prayers, that we be both ever fenced by their wardship here, and everlastingly blessed by their fellowship hereafter. Amen.

Featured image by Cassidy Rowell on Unsplash.

Saint Barnabas Apostolate

The Need: Fellowship, Prayer and Work

Prayer and work in the name of God should never be done in isolation. We ought to work together because Christ tells us that where two or more gather in His name, He is there among them. And when two or more agree and pray on a thing that it shall be granted by the Father in Heaven. And Christ is merely emphasizing, or rather fulfilling, a known fact of Christian life which is that the Holy Spirit spreads its gifts among the congregation of people, among the Body of Christ in the church and only together are we truly whole and united under Christ as our Headship.

I spoke in my previous post about the need for Christian fellowship and how this need is even more present in COVID times. We have a guide in the past from Saints who gather people around them and formed systems and orders of prayer and work that formed the daily devotions and contemplation of their lives. And there is no question of the material and spiritual benefit that this had for the church. And there is no question of that same material and spiritual need today within the church.

The Response: The Apostolate of Saint Barnabas

I’ve been moved by the Spirit to explore the opportunity to start a lay group at my local church focused on daily prayer and a commitment to work and serve at the church. The canonical hours will form the backbone of the group as will the leadership roles that we assume throughout the church at the service to others and our own community. This is not a religious order or an institute. No one takes formal vows privately or publicly. We do not have an order or rule and we do not wear a common garb or any marks which distinguish us from non-members. We hold our Commons to be the same among us and what unites us an brings us together as a group. Our Commons are faith, liturgy, prayer, work, and way. You can read more about the Commons of Saint Barnabas here.

While we do not have a rule or order we do have an organization system that is articulated in our Constitution. We expand on our duties and obligation which arise from our Commons and desire to be in membership together in community which is articulated in our Ordinary. The Ordinary of Saint Barnabas can be found here.

It is my hope to develop a small group of dedicated Christians who are united in Christian prayer and a commitment to serve and work at the church. It is a modern take on the tradition Benedictine model which I think is a response to the need for Christian fellowship. We tend to the spiritual needs of the church through prayer and the material needs through work. Our motto is orata et opus which means pray and work which is more of a demand and institution that a reflect on the concepts of these words. They are actions and we are a group of Christian action.

The Method: The Way of Light of Saint Barnabas

Established around the Way of Light which was articulated in a non-canonical letter traditionally attributed to Saint Barnabas. We are peacemakers and peace builders first and foremost and seek to bring together the Body of Christ; temporal and spiritual; together in the unending hymn of praise inherent in the Divine Office.

Feature photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash.