If the first Christians were Catholic, it was because of their threefold prayer life (Acts 2:42) seen as the total, systematic means for repentence and baptismal reality taught by Saint Peter and the Apostles. That is the template, or Regula (Rule), of Catholic life; the threefold Regula orders the repeatable dimensions of Baptism by which we repent: orders, that is, our baptismal life which is our true spirituality.
The Book of Common Prayer, being a Regula inherited primarily from the tradition of Saint Benedict, likewise orders in a unique way such a comprehensive corporate response, with emphases of its own yet leaving nothing fundamental out. Since A.D. 1549, it has been the dominant liturgical book for English Christians, and those in that tradition. Although in the 21st century we see a wide variety of international versions of the Prayer Book, what has held constant throughout is its fundamental ascetical principles and purpose. That is to say, it is a seasoned system for liturgical spirituality. In this slideshow, that liturgical spirituality is described within its historical context to properly answer the question, ‘What is the Prayer Book for?’
Our position: Catholic renewal within Anglican parochial tradition—that is, Catholic Anglican vitality—demands a more profound embrace of the total life of obedience ordered by Prayer Book heritage. This slideshow is intended as a substantial resource for that purpose. Veni, Creator Spiritus.
“Because worship is the well-spring of all our activity, it is essential that we grow in our understanding and practice of personal prayer and corporate devotion. A cherished part of our heritage in the Anglican Communion is the Book of Common Prayer, which is a bond of unity between us and which provides the forms whereby we live the life of the Catholic Church
—Lambeth Conference 1958 Encyclical Letter of the Bishops
“So it is that the Benedictine Way really underlies the Book of Common Prayer, where the same trinity of liturgy, office and personal prayer is found for the joy of us all.”
—Archbishop Michael Ramsey, 15 July 1965 at Nashdom Abbey
“The Prayer Book system embodies the ethos of our Church which is founded on scripture, interpreted by tradition, which is not only articulated by the catholic creeds (perhaps more commonly used in the Prayer Book liturgies than in any other liturgical regime) but which is also expressed by the spirit-filled continuity of life in the Church and the ways in which we have sought together to respond to the demands of successive generations.”
—Bishop Richard Chartres from “Afterword” in The Book of Common Prayer: Past, Present, and Future, edited by Prudence Dailey. London: Continuum, 2011
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See also: What does Regula mean?
Icon by the hand of Monica Thornton.