How American Catholics Pray

In “What We’re Reading Wednesday” last week, I mentioned James McCartin’s new book, Prayers of the Faithful (Harvard University Press, 2010). I’ve just finished reading it, and thought that a few comments about the book might be a good starting point for some discussion here on PrayTell about the spiritual life of American Catholics.

Let me say first of all that I thought Prayers of the Faithful was an excellent, intelligent study of an important topic, and quite accessible to a broad readership. The scholarly apparatus is thorough but not intrusive; the book is a good read. It certainly helped me to systematize my knowledge of an important area that doesn’t get enough attention—the history of spirituality among American Catholics. The author’s research brought to light many important facts and highlighted developments helpful to understanding how American spirituality has changed over time.

I found myself surprised by some of what I read. For instance, he has quite a write up on Father Peyton’s Rosary Crusade and his work as the “Hollywood priest.” I never knew that “praying the family rosary” was an international movement started by an American, much less a door-to-door project. I also did not know that it was a group of Catholic laity who convinced Jerry Falwell to start the Moral Majority. I was surprised to learn that a majority of Latino Catholics currently self-identify as charismatics. The sections on devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Little Flower are a must-read. These were a big part of my grandmother’s generation, but not so much my own. Also a must-read is McCartin’s account of the curious history of the post-conciliar charismatic renewal.

The basic idea of the book—that there has been an evolution in spiritual practices among Catholics from the immigrant church to 21st Century Catholicism—is sound. He makes it real, with vivid examples and quotes you couldn’t make up. It also seems to me that he avoids silly caricatures that would suggest either that we’ve “gone to hell in a handbasket” or that we’ve “left behind sterile practices” and so on.

What seems to me a little dubious is the premise that the immigrant church relied so much on the mediation of hierarchical authority figures in its devotional life. Hasn’t popular piety always flourished as a sort of antipode to clerical control? If there is a sizable population of Catholics today who feel themselves to be far from Catholicism’s approved leaders, yet who hold fast to their own spiritual practices (and I don’t doubt there is), we’d benefit from knowing more about precedents for this.

I applaud McCartin’s effort to manage a huge amount of material. Charting the history of spirituality, as seen from the ground, is a massive undertaking. Thus it feels a little churlish to complain about what the book doesn’t cover. Still, I think a couple of lacunae are worth mentioning.

First, McCartin is really good about telling the stories of individual lay women. But it seems to me that women religious, whose contributions to American Catholic spirituality are substantial, don’t get the coverage they deserve. Second, liturgical changes brought about as a result of Vatican II are discussed, but the spotlight did not dwell enough on how these changes have affected how Catholics pray. I especially would have liked to see some reckoning with the effects of the restoration of Holy Week and the catechumenate. It seems to me these essentially liturgical developments have powerfully affected the religious imagination of Catholics in the latter part of the twentieth century, and thus influenced the way they pray. It is no accident that the photo on the cover of the book is taken from an Easter Vigil service of light. (And, if I’m not mistaken, the people pictured are participants in the RCIA.)

OK, James McCartin, for your next book…


  1. “the restoration of Holy Week and the catechumenate. It seems to me these essentially liturgical developments have powerfully affected the religious imagination of Catholics in the latter part of the twentieth century”

    How so? Aside from professional liturgists and converts who go through RCIA, this development directly impacts comparatively few Catholics. Do we have any evidence that the restoration of Holy Week and the catechumenate have filled the religious imaginations of Catholics? Are more Catholics attending the Holy Week liturgies today than at any time in the 20th c. before the introduction of the catechumenate?

    “the spotlight did not dwell enough on how these changes have affected how Catholics pray”

    My guess is that many here would be disappointed because his research would probably have shown that the post V2 liturgical changes did little to affect Catholic prayer life positively, certainly far less than its originators had hoped. Those places where it did directly impact popular piety and personal prayer seem to have been essentially negative. Experience seems to indicate that family prayer and popular piety are most stable in places where pre and post V2 continuity is most evident.

    Vocations to the priesthood and religious life are pretty good indicators of this. Vocations are often a byproduct of habitual personal prayer and regular prayer within families. It seems a decline in the former is a result of decline in the latter.

    1. I do believe that the Holy Week liturgies have captured the imaginations of those who are willing to go. I can’t say whether there are more or less people attending them than before the 1950’s, but I’ve found them packed in small towns, suburbs, and urban cathedrals. My guess is that it’s a pretty important part of the devotional life of those who do attend (and would say that it is for me personally).

      I generally agree with Jack’s comments below regarding RCIA. In that, I think it is pretty comparable to Youth Ministry.

    2. Robert, yes, we have it on good authority that the Holy Week liturgies, at which attendance was on a decline since the 18th century when they were removed from the list of obligations for the laity, rose precipitously with the restoration of these liturgies by Pius XII in the 1950s. They are still optional, but quite popular. The restoration of the catechumenate (begun with the 7-stage model in 1962, then the 4-stage model in 1972) infused new energy and interest into the proceedings of Holy Week. My sources for these claims are the Holy See (Circular Letter on the Paschal Triduum), the American bishops (Journey to the Fullness of Life), and the pastors and lay faithful I’ve talked to more than 75 dioceses where I’ve visited as a speaker or resource person for the catechumenate.

      Remember every convert has a sponsor, and each convert and sponsor has a family; groups of lay catechists, deacons, and so forth typically have toiled for a year to prepare them for font and table. I daresay in most parishes the “people in the pew” are not unmoved by seeing this all unfold. For bishops, the rite in which they have direct contact with the catechumens (the Rite of Election) has been identified by many of them as “the high point of my year.”

      1. “attendance was on a decline since the 18th century when they were removed from the list of obligations for the laity, rose precipitously with the restoration of these liturgies by Pius XII in the 1950s.”

        But there’s a confounding factor, that the time of the liturgies was changed. It seems much more likely that the time change is more responsible than the changes to the liturgy itself in the 1950’s.

      2. Samuel, it’s always hard to say when several things change at one time whether one factor can be isolated as the cause of a rise in attendance. You are right about the Easter Vigil being held at night rather than on Saturday morning (I think this was true of Holy Thursday too). But, to take the Easter Vigil example, if I were to guess whether more people would come out for something close to midnight as opposed to a Saturday morning in 1951, I’d assume they’d sooner come in the daytime hours. That leaves us with the rest of the reform—the candles, the renewal of baptismal promises, and the rest—which really do seem to have captured people’s imaginations.

  2. Rita,

    Finke and Stark in the Catholic chapter of the Churching of America, 1776-1990 view popular devotions as a conscious attempt by the hierarchy to provide something emotional in English to offset the attractiveness of Protestant revivals.

    Having not read this book, I can only say that no matter what was covered there is probably a tremendous amount that was left uncovered because of the immense complexity and diversity of the situation.

    In each decade since the 50’s there was been a great amount of change, new things that were not there before. Some of these things become popular for a while. They have a lasting effect on people which you don’t realize until you talk to them about their experiences. Some spiritualities take on a continued life in small groups even if not prominent in the parishes.

    The big change in the last several decades is the permeability of Catholicism to all sorts of spirituality because of extensive, unofficial grass roots ecumenical and interfaith developments. People just get to know many other people outside Catholicism through mixed marriages and the relaxation of workplace norms about religion (where talking about spirituality is now common).

    The RCIA effect is complicated. Yes the process is important to people who are a part of it (including sponsors, etc). However, “converts” are influencing us, e.g. their views on bible, stewardship, etc., as much or even more than we are influencing them.

  3. Thanks for the review Rita. I’ll be sure to put it in my book lineup.

    What seems to me a little dubious is the premise that the immigrant church relied so much on the mediation of hierarchical authority figures in its devotional life.

    The ethnography of immigrant religion is an entire academic discipline in its own right. While I haven’t read Dr. McCartin’s book yet, I suspect that the wide range of his historical study precludes an extensive discussion of this topic. This is not meant to be a premature evaluation of his work. Rather, no one historical work can evaluate a particular phenomenon through every theoretical lens.

    I suspect that much of the “immigrant Catholic experience” will pass with septuagenarian and octogenarian American Catholics. I was glad to capture some of my grand-aunt’s devotional practices before her dementia. Often times people take certain devotions, rituals, etc. for granted and are surprised when someone else takes interest. Perhaps it is time to collect the “immigrant experience” from the elderly before that experience fades entirely from the American Catholic conscience.

    I wonder if the eclipse of popular devotions by “official” or hierarchical devotions derives from the the familial and oral nature of popular devotions. I would think that devotions with parish, diocesan, and even national promotion would obscure family and neighborhood practices. There’s little need to write down an “informal” community devotion if that practice is woven tightly into daily practice.

    1. Could you give an example of the eclipse of popular devotions of a familial neighborhood nature which were trumped by a more more official or hierarchical devotion? I’m aware of devotions being discouraged by some priests, but those cases have generally been devotions promoted by the Vatican (and would thus fit in your category of the hierarchicial devotions). what are some of the more local devotions you have in mind?

      1. In my Montreal parish it’s not uncommon for the rosary to be extended for quite some time. Often hymns and some Latin prayer to be grafted onto the basic rosary structure. Sometimes the rosary takes on a bilingual nature, with alternating English-French decades. Their version of the rosary can take thirty minutes or longer before Sunday Mass.

        St. Joseph’s Oratory, the devotional hub of Montreal, promotes the more standard rosary from an American standpoint. The local version of the rosary isn’t being suppressed to my knowledge. This “community rosary” coexists alongside the most common ways of saying the rosary. I rather like the “informal” version because it can accommodate changes in devotional needs as well as a bilingual presence.

      2. That clarifies a lot. You’re basically talking about local variation on something which is pretty universal. In the parish where I grew up the local variation was a bit simpler, with prayers for vocations and the prayer to St. Michael concluding. I imagine these devotions will simply continue to evolve with time. From an American standpoint, I wonder what would happen if we started to be told not to begin the Rosary with the Apostles’ Creed, but instead with, “Lord, open my lips.” I wonder what it would be like hearing that we’ve been doing it “wrong” all these years.

    2. I agree with your final comment; an excellent point, Jordan.

      That’s a good reminder too about the ethnography of immigrant religion. And as the immigrant groups of the nineteenth century, who participated in the great expansion of the Catholic Church in the United States are assimilated, we are seeing new immigrant groups entering our churches even now, from Asia and Africa, and of course Latin America. Quite a variety of spiritual heritages are active here.

  4. I’d be curious to know how modern prayer life has been influenced by increased mobility and the lack of “Catholic neighborhoods” in our time. Most of us don’t live in our parents’ neighborhood or even their state. ISTM that the rise of the traditionalists in all their varieties are one of many attempts to build praying communities within a widely dispersed Church.

  5. I wish Catholics were better at praying spontaneously. We are awful at it!!

    There is a great treasure of ways to pray in our heritage, but we seem unable a lot of the time to just talk to God, especially among other people.

    1. I guess Catholics have traditionally understood talking to God through the use of non-spontaneous texts as being just as authentic as spontaneous prayer.

      Let me give an analogy: At times of significant rituals of life – especially daith – spontaneous words are not often lacking, but often become obstacles, whereas ritual expressions convey the inexpressible more aptly.

      To some extent, that reliance on ritualized texts is a sign of the inexpressible dimension of our conversation with God. Yes, I can talk to God spontaneously in prayer. But the use of the ritualized texts has more dimensions to it, at least in my experience (and, I have reason to believe, in the experience of many others over the centuries). The one thing I would be wary of is the assumption that spontaneity=authenticity.

      1. How on earth I typed daith for death is just, well, puzzling. I assume it was just off in the right part of the comment field we can’t see (at least I can’t on Firefox); normally, I edit after submitting, but failed to correct in this case.

    2. Jack, I’ve often wondered if Catholics’ difficulty in spontaneous prayer is often a result of a lack of a prayer life generally (outside of Sunday Mass, anyway). I know that I couldn’t real pray in front of other people when I had no real prayer life of my own.

      I do believe that embracing our forms of prayer (whether devotional or liturgical) can often aid in our own more spontaneous prayer. I think that Michael’s point about drawing upon collects and presidential prayers illustrates this pretty well. I can say that praying the Hours helped me to form a wider prayer vocabulary from the psalms. Praying standardized prayers can also spur on further prayer. Having entered the presence, it can be a bit easier to “just talk to God.”

      Where Catholics often do engage in sponateous prayer, I’ve noticed that it that the form isn’t too different from that of a lot of Evangelicals. for instance, there is a pretty standard charismatic prayer format (generally spoken rather quickly) that we could probably characterize as a litany: “We ask you just to . . . and just to . . . and just to . . .” It doesn’t seem to be much different than the petitions in a round-robin prayer of the faithful.

    3. I’d like to speak to Jack’s concern about spontaneous prayer, which I treasure, while at the same time not denigrating praying from a prepared text. I think these two modes of prayer both have value. The analogy of classical music to jazz may be helpful. A jazz musician isn’t likely to feel “liberated” by playing from a score, but this hardly means that he hasn’t been formed by lots of practice, or that he doesn’t have finely honed skills learned by repetition and imitation, before he can play improvisations. And while classical musicians can indeed improvise, you’d hardly complain that a pianist playing a Beethoven sonata followed the score, much less that a symphony orchestra playing Beethoven’s ninth would be improved by a little improvisation!
      An example from my own life comes to mind. I was coordinating an institute in Kansas City during the week when a lone gunman walked into Conception Abbey and shot dead several monks and himself—a horrible, senseless killing. Some at the institute knew the monks. They were traumatized. All were shocked by this terrible event. Now, maybe there are prayers for just this sort of occasion somewhere out there, but if so, we didn’t have them on hand. I offered a prayer on the spot. I don’t remember what I said. But I do remember that people thanked me profusely, and one participant even wrote us a long letter afterwards saying that a specific phrase in the prayer opened her heart to healing of a long-ago trauma…

    4. in her own life. I don’t take credit for any of this, mind you, but neither do I feel the need to apologize for having prayed spontaneously in an all-too-unplanned circumstance. Sometimes the Spirit gives us the words to say. If we are formed in prayer, we can trust ourselves to pray well in our own words. Maybe spontaneous prayer is a gift; I don’t know. At any rate, I do not think it is an un-Catholic thing to do. Where would we be, had the great saints like St. Francis or St. Ignatius felt it better to restrict their praying to the psalms rather than using their own words?

  6. Karl, that’s right. I frequently find myself in the company of evangelical Protestants who rarely use written prayers and don’t quite understand why anyone would, outside of the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve become quite good at off-the-cuff prayer through practice, just like they have. I do, however, avoid their stock phrases and try to make mine a bit more Catholic sounding (based on the presidential prayers at Mass and collects). My colleagues have complimented me on my abilities since they don’t think Catholics can do this. Your reasoning is similar to mine. I usually tell them that our worship services train us in prayer – theirs are (seemingly) spontaneous and ours are more prescribed but no less heartfelt. Having done it both ways, I find our way a bit more liberating by not having to “compose”. In private prayer this is quite different though.

    1. Yes, liberating. This is the thing about creativity with rituals that, over the course of years, dawned on me: the constant tweaking revealed a form of enslavement that was very un-liberating to prayer and worship and community.

    2. “Spontaneous” prayer is more aptly called “Improvised” prayer based on models. In the Conversational prayer of the Little Rock Bible Study the model is given, but any fairly large sample of either personal, group, or congregational spontaneous prayer would reveal repeated and fairly predictable patterns.

      Whether these spontaneous patterns of persons, groups, and congregations are more varied than those in the fixed prayers of a prayer book or liturgical worship service is an empirical question. I suspect if we chose randomly a same size sample of verses from the Psalter, and pitted them against spontaneous prayer, the Psalter would win out every time on many dimensions.

      We should not pit fixed versus spontaneous prayer, nor personal versus communal prayer. It is a both/and rather than an either/or.

      The fact that the hierarchy promoted a variety of devotions does not tell us much about the people and their personal reasons for choosing among them and other available options.

      Robert Coles some time ago in the Spirituality of Children established that we are not blank slates written upon by our religious teachers, but that we actively from a young age process our religious environment and make sense of it for ourselves.

      From interviewing people about Conversation prayer, it is a skill that people acquire slowly through practice aided by information, models, etc. Some people dive into this; others are very reluctant (as with most skills).

      1. Thanks, Jack for your comments here and above. Just for the record, the McCartin book does not limit itself to hierarchy-promoted devotions, though there clearly are some. What you say about the concern to create devotions as an antidote to Protestant revivals sounds familiar. Also to communist fervor. St. Joseph the Worker, anyone?

        I am not familiar with Conversation prayer. Is this similar to Lectio Divina?

  7. A couple of thoughts about the “restoration of Holy Week and the Catechumenate:” In my adult experience (serving 6 parishes, 2 university churches, and 2 cathedrals), I have observed fairly widespread engagement in the Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper and the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion (though pretty much equal to the Stations of the Cross on that day where this devotion is offered), but relatively sparse participation in the Easter Vigil. I suspect that the devotional characteristics of the Holy Thursday and Good Friday liturgies tap into a fairly deep popular piety that is largely unaffected by the pre-conciliar reform of Holy Week (1951, 1955) and the consequent restoration of the Paschal Triduum.

    I have an intuition that the meager participation in (and even avoidance of) the Easter Vigil in some parishes has to do with the structural incoherence of the present form of this marathon liturgy, i.e. the Liturgy of Baptism relocated to its post-1955 position after the Liturgy of the Word, and the accompanying mutation of the night office of readings, psalms and collects into a massive synaxis with a vestigial Gloria and oration intervening. (This history of the reform of Holy Week is the subject of a dissertation by Dr. Anne McGuire of St. Gregory’s University, Shawnee, OK.)

    Sadly, corporate awareness of the Catechumenate in many parishes consists of periodic program-related dismissals at Mass.

    1. Kevin, I’m surprised at your findings. The Vigil is well attended in many, many places. I often ask for a show of hands when doing talks, and of the three Triduum liturgies the Vigil comes up as the most well attended–not always, but often. In one parish where I worked, we had to discourage people from coming because the worship space (a gymnasium) would not hold them all!

      Also, a clarification: actually, the 1951, 1955 reform of the Vigil kept baptisms after the Old Testament readings. It was only in 1969 that they were placed after the homily.

      As to popular piety pre-1955 contributing to the attendance at Holy Thursday and Good Friday today, that’s an interesting question. It seems to persist with Palm Sunday, in crafts made of blessed palms.

  8. Since I’m usually a “glass-is-half-full” person, I’d like to temper my comment above with an appreciation for Rita’s reminder that, ‘every convert has a sponsor, and each convert and sponsor has a family; groups of lay catechists, deacons, and so forth typically have toiled for a year to prepare them for font and table’ and that ‘in most parishes the “people in the pew” are not unmoved by seeing this all unfold.’ My focus on structural transformation and external participation certainly does not take into account the relational transformation that goes on “under the radar” and interiorly.

    My intuition persists, however, that the way Catholics pray within, witness to and live out the Paschal Mystery would be enhanced by greater clarity and coherence in this most solemn celebration of the year (e.g. similar to the 1951 reform and the ecumenical restorations…Service of Light, Vigil of Readings, Liturgy of Baptism, Easter Eucharist (with both a Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist attended not by the elect, but by the neophytes). Too much to unpack here in all of that. Once a year I see the glass half empty!

    1. Kevin, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I too have thought critically about how the Easter Vigil is structured at present. I would have preferred it if the baptisms were left after the Old Testament readings, with the Gloria sung after the events at the font, and the Romans reading and resurrection gospel proclaimed to neophytes rather than to a group awaiting baptism. That makes more sense to me. I also regret that the hour of midnight was abandoned in favor of an earlier, though still nighttime, celebration. On the other hand, I am happier that we have seven Old Testament readings than the four of 1951, 1955, and that is a big thing. So the glass is half-full for me too!

      The reason for placing baptisms after the Liturgy of the Word in its entirety seems to have been linked to a practical concern, namely, they wanted the people to attend the whole thing, and not come in for Easter Mass after the vigil of readings and baptisms were over. They were striving for a unified service, and I have no quarrel with this. But I do think something is lost, though other things gained.

      1. Doesn’t the placement of baptism after the homily reflect the principle in Romans 10:14?

        “how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?”

      2. Jim asked “Doesn’t the placement of baptism after the homily reflect the principle in Romans 10:14?”

        Well, actually, no. That sort of “proof-text” approach is rarely used to decide on questions of order in the liturgy. But the more important point is this: the text you cite is already admirably accounted for in the catechumenal process. The preaching of the gospel has been the centerpiece of the whole year-long period of the catechumenate, week-in, week-out. They’ve heard the gospel preached, plenty!

  9. Thanks for the clarification on the 1955 version, Rita. I need to review my facts on that. Do you have any insight into why Baptism was placed after the homily in 1969? I’d be eager to learn more about this to get rid of my obsession with this.

    As to my surprising findings, they are really only observations from not very broad experience. I’ll certainly accept your findings based on more complete data as good news. The glass is more full than I thought!

  10. There is, of course, another major problem attached to the Easter Vigil as presently structured. It is this:

    We have all that rich symbolism of the fire, the candle and the incense grains, the procession from darkness to light, the great Easter praeconium; and very dramatic it all is. But then we sit down and in effect say “Now let’s find out why we did all that” and listen to the rich fare of salvation history served up for us in the Liturgy of the Word.

    This structure has been questioned by pastoral liturgists since the early 1970s, and alternative structures evolved, to the extent that the Instruction on Celebrating Easter tried to call a halt to it all (but in vain — these alternatives still continue, certainly in Europe). Many academic liturgists also took a dim view of these variations — though not all of them. Kenneth Stevenson, in Jerusalem Revisited, examined the Easter Vigil, and posited the historical possibility of two “lucenaria”, the first a simple and functional lighting of a few lamps, the second, the full-blown Service of Light, taking place later in the service, in association with the Resurrection Gospel.

    What has been tried and where, what has worked well and what has not, is best left to a new thread. But in the meantime, I wanted to draw attention to the fact that the positioning of baptism within the Easter Vigil is not the only problem lurking in the revised Holy Week rites.

  11. Regarding the readings of the old Easter Vigil, I came across an essay by Fr. John Parsons about them, an excerpt of which I reproduce here:

    When I took the time to study the traditional series of twelve “prophecies”, each followed by a collect summing up its meaning in the mind of the Church, and to study the sung responsories mysteriously placed after the fourth, eighth and eleventh in the series, I realised that they were not twelve readings in a row, but rather three nocturns of four readings each, and that each nocturn had a theme that was summed up in the sung responsory that marked its end. The first four, the Creation, the Flood, the Sacrifice of Isaac, and the Crossing of the Red Sea, are about God’s creation of a Chosen People; the second four are about the increasing inadequacy of that people’s response to God’s Call; while the last nocturn is about God’s solution of this conundrum through the sending of the Messiah, who is foreshadowed in three readings as respectively Priest, Prophet and King.

    The twelfth reading, mysteriously placed after the final sung responsory and unaccompanied by the penitential gesture of kneeling, is explained by the fact that the Vigil, properly speaking, is over; the reading looks forward to what is immediately at hand. In the crowded Baptistery on Easter night, the candidates descend up to their waists into the waters of the enormous font and walk about in them, saved and praising God for their deliverance from the worship of the idol of Caesar which the Roman imperial power had so recently demanded. The baptizandi are seen by the Church, through its choice of Old Testament reading, as foreshadowed by the three young Hebrews who walk about in the flames saved and praising God in Nebuchanezzar’s fiery furnace, likewise delivered from the worship of the idol of the Babylonian king and from the dilemma of physical or spiritual death. The fiery furnace is a kind of anti-type of the Lateran Baptistery.

    1. Btw, as an aside, I’ve longed wished that Joshua 3 – where what began in the Red Sea is completed as Joshua leads Israel dry-shod across the Jordan (with the river as a wall to the right) into the Promised Land – were an option in the Vigil readings. There’s a bit of a back-story about Joshua 3 losing out to Exodus 14-15 in terms of baptismal associations among commentators, but it’s sad that Joshua 3 is only read on a weekday in Ordinary Time every other year if not displaced by another Mass…..

  12. Joshua 3; 7-17 is included in the 15 readings for 1st Vespers of the Theophany (Epiphany) of the Byzantine Rite preceded by

    Genesis (1:1-13) Creation
    Exodus (14:15-29) Red Sea
    Exodus (15:22-16:1) Waters made sweet by casting of tree

    Followed by
    2 Kings (2:6-14) Elisha receive Elijah mantle, parts the Jordon
    2 Kings (5:9-14) Elisha cures Naaman by washing in Jordon
    Isaiah (1:16-20) though your sins be as scarlet
    Genesis (32: 1-10) Jacob escapes Laban to cross the Jordan
    Exodus (2:5-10) Moses saved and named “I drew him out of water”.
    Judges (6:36-40) Gideon wrings dew out of fleece
    1Kings (18: 30-39) Fire consumes the sacrifice and water offered by Elijah
    2 Kings (2:19-22) Healing of the waters by Elisha with salt.
    Isaiah (49: 8-15) Can a mother forget her child
    1 Corinthians (9: 19-27) I have made myself servant of all.
    Luke 3:1-18 John the Baptist

    Followed by the Liturgy of Basil.

    Then Great Blessing of Waters, which is preceded by 5 readings
    Isaiah (35:1-10)The desert shall bloom
    Isaiah (55: 1-13) Let everyone who thirsts come to the waters
    Isaiah (12:3-6) with joy you shall draw water from the wells of salvation
    1 Corinthians (10:1-4) all were baptized unto Moses in the cloud & sea
    Mark 1:9-11 Baptism of Christ
    (Followed by baptism?)

    Matins (long) was followed by the Liturgy of the Day including the “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ, Alleluia” from which I conclude this Liturgy (not the Vigil) was where they communicated.

  13. We clearly need another thread on the Easter Vigil lectionary. I myself firmly support the order of light followed by word, but that is fodder for another discussion.

    I think we are getting far afield at this point, and I’d appreciate it if everyone came back to the subject of the original post. Thank you.

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