Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints

Article excerpt

Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints. (New York: Church Publishing, Inc., 2010, Pp. xi, 785. $30.00.)

Liturgy is best studied in its orchestration of rite: actions, words, music, objects, places and people taken together, not as isolated words on a page. For that reason, a book that is intended to be living liturgy - the calendar by which a group of Christians lives into the revelation of God in time and space - needs to be reflected on with regard to both its content and the implications of its use. This review will attempt to do so for Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints.

Holy Women, Holy Men is the result of "a review and revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts," undertaken by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church at the bequest of its then presiding bishop, Frank T Griswold (vii). In addition to the foreword and brief preface, Holy Women, Holy Men reproduces the instructions of the Book of Common Prayer 1979 for the "Calendar of the Church Year" and the major feasts found in the prayer book, adds the approximately 170 individual commemorations of Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 and the additional 116 commemorations new to Holy Women, Holy Men. This calendrical overview is followed by readings and collects for the weekdays of Advent and Christmas, Lent, and Easter season (24-85). Then follows the sanctoral in which each commemoration is presented with a bibliography, a proper collect (in "contemporary" and "traditional" language), and three scripture readings plus the psalm (although noting in the rubrical introduction that "one or two readings may be used before the Gospel" (89). This section forms the bulk of Holy Women, Holy Men and precedes the expanded "Common of Saints." Many proposals in this section, however, are not commons but "votive liturgies" centered on themes (such as "Care of God's Creation," "Space Exploration," and "Reconciliation and Forgiveness." Between these and the concluding sections reproducing the two daily Eucharistie lectionaries of Lesser Feasts and Fasts and the helpful alphabetical index, is a section titled "Guidelines and Procedures for Continuing Alteration of the Calendar of the Episcopal Church," providing some of the rationale for changes and additions. …