A long while ago (2006? 07?) I scared some folks on my blog with a series of posts on Doxos Dot Com (they are still out there, but I can’t find them at the Internet Archive), as it then was, discussing a protestant group called “Praxis.” They met on Saturday Nights for dinner and a eucharist. They had a very high view of sacraments – so high, in fact, that the evening service was closed to visitors. They did a Sunday Morning thing with preaching and singing that was basically an Office of Readings plus Morning Prayer and a sermon. The point was to be welcoming – and the idea that closed communion would not be welcoming did not mean they shouldn’t do closed communion.
What scared folks was they thought I’d been worshipping with this group that had no orders, no communion with anyone else, etc.
It was a thought experiment that I made up in my head. Not only did it not exist, but I’m so much the Dreamer-not-the-Leader that I just wanted the ideas out there. Maybe someone would pick them up. This was all before my experience in the Buffalo Commune and knowing that such living together was possible.
These ideas still rumble around in my head, too. And on days like today, after I’ve been wandering in the world all day and I’m sitting home alone, I’m wondering what such a community would be like, attached to the Church. Not making up liturgical stuff, mind you, just to be cool and hip. But rather living together and praying one or two offices together, sharing meals and duties. It would be someplace between the cool life of the “Hippie House” in Buffalo and the not quite my thing life of the Monastery in Colorado.
It would have to start with my Cooperative Housing Plan for the Future or some other sort of the same ideas. It would need the Liturgy of the Hours, at least, and an Oratory space. It would also need at least a visiting priest. Everyone would need jobs (at least at first) and, it might need a Rule.
This feels like sort of a laypeople’s Oratory of St Philip Neri: in which the resident clergy have only their residency in common. They work in various parishes, they have jobs in the world. But they commit to a rule together in common living and prayer: it is that stability in common life together that seems to be what I’m talking about. The main difference is that it is not intended as, primarily, a religious order, but rather a lay community. The visiting priest is to keep the community centered, only. Maybe Mass could be said in the Oratory or not, confessions heard, etc. But it would be good to have such a center person.