I want one of these (the full monastic edition) in the worst way. I think that part of what keeps me from praying the Daily Office when I don't pray it is the language.
Interestingly, sexist language bothered me less when I went to pray with the monks in Berkeley (they've now closed their Priory and merged with the two other houses in the U.S.), the brothers of the Order of the Holy Cross, Anglican Benedictines. Perhaps because of the chant, perhaps because there isn't much macho-ness or hierarchy there. I miss those times of going up the street for Vespers.
In Berkeley, I worshipped at a congregation that had done a thorough revision of the liturgy, under the careful shepherding of a liturgical scholar who is also a priest and a feminist, and it was the first time I didn't have what I call "the cringe reflex," both because there were women clergy (and men clergy too) and because of the language. Female clergy alone won't do it, friends. What words do we use to talk about God and about each other?
It really is possible to name God and to preserve the Holy Trinity without being male-dominant. It takes work and mindfulness. I am always amazed that the conversation about inclusive language, which began when I was in divinity school 35 years ago and which we took to congregations and judicatories of many denominations and communions, is still in its infancy in some parts of our church -- and invisible in others. It's as if our conversations of the 1970s (and 1980s, and 1990s), with some serious thoughtful work and plenty of theology and poetic compositions by now) had never happened.
This is true in other communions, but I wonder if in the Episcopal Church it has to do with a certain literalism of the Prayer Book and the way we use the book. Is the Prayer Book a springboard or a stranglehold? Discuss.
The New Zealand Prayer Book is beautiful and many of us use it. But we are mostly not authorized to use it in public worship, e.g. for the Eucharist. And it is inculturated for Aotearoa New Zealand, not for the U.S. The issue isn't only language that is gender-inclusive (or, as some in the Episcopal Church formal commissions and publications name it, expansive language) but also language that includes images of nature and creation and that is rooted in the life of our local church, in the country or rather countries of the Episcopal Church.
In any event, as soon as I have a bit of disposable income I am going to invest in a St. Helena Breviary and Psalter.
Note: The great irony is that there is sometimes more linguistic change going on in Roman Catholic churches than in Episcopal churches, because parish priests sometimes just go ahead and change the language. Because hierarchy in the Episcopal Church is in some ways more functional than it is in the Roman Catholic Church, it has more of an influence on whether or not folks change language at the local level. I have seen far more Episcopal churches not change the language "because the bishop won't allow it" than Catholic churches; the Catholic churches just go ahead and do it. The bad side of this being that often it's spontaneous and less studied and thoughtful, with a few exceptions. In the Episcopal Church, when the language changes, it's often after a lot of work. (Note: when we changed the language in Berkeley after all the scholarly and pastoral study, it was with the bishop's permission and blessing.) But does this also hold us back?
Yes, we have Enriching Our Worship. But if it's not in regular use at Sunday Eucharist and other public prayer of the church, what use it is?
You want to start a firestorm in the church? Never mind the discussion on lgbt people (well, do mind it) - try changing the language.
And these discussions are not unrelated. They all upset people's cosmologies -- the way they view the order of the universe and who decided and decides what it should be. (Certain blog sites that will remain nameless, in fact, are as upset about language as they are about gay bishops.)
Also, remember, the Daily Office isn't everyone's way of praying. Just a reminder brought to you by When in Doubt, Sing. ;-)
Photo: Sr. Cintra Pemberton, OSH, with the Breviary.