The Daily Office as Patrimonial

Thanks to Matthew Dallman for pointing out this passage:

“The daily Office is so important to Caroline and Prayer Book ascetic that it must be given fuller consideration in the next two sections. Here it must suffice to insist, as strongly as possible, that everything is overthrown by regarding it as the ‘priest’s Office’, which is exactly what it is not. To the faithful Anglican layman, this can never be an optional extra … Everywhere in the seventeenth century it is regarded as linked with personal devotion, but unquestionably superior to it. … All is in line with the traditional principle that true individuality is better nurtured by the common life in the Body of Christ than by subjective self-culture.” Martin Thornton, English Spirituality, 265.

It is worth adding that the daily Office should be regarded not as the “priest’s Office” and not as the “monks’ and nuns’ Office” either. The early Church regarded it as the norm for all Christians. The monastic life developed simply so that some Christians (monks and nuns) could pray the Office more frequently (prayer without ceasing was the ideal) and with greater focus.

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