A special announcement for April 1
The Anglican Tradition has given us the beautiful liturgies of Morning and Evening Prayer, which we offer weekly at Holy Trinity. However, we have come to realize that we have sometimes overlooked the needs of a special segment of our community. As the recent Diocesan DEIC (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion among All Creatures) report embarrassingly noted, our parish has been extremely welcoming of dogs, but we have not always done our best to welcome cats. To avoid any kind of pastoral catastrophe, and through a happy concatenation of events, we have decided to pounce. Very soon, we will offer Meowing Prayer, a service especially groomed for the felines among us. We don’t have to be a cathedral, but we can do more.
Our own Catechism reminds us, “Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 856). Christopher Smart’s poem Jubilate agno, set to music in Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb (Op. 30) praises the piety of his cat, Jeoffry:
For at the first glance
Of the glory of God in the East
He worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body
Seven times round with elegant quickness.
For he knows that God is his saviour.
For God has bless’d him
In the variety of his movements.
For there is nothing sweeter
Than his peace when at rest.
For I am possessed of a cat,
Surpassing in beauty,
From whom I take occasion
To bless Almighty God.
In other words, purring is prayer.
Meowing Prayer will be an online service, of course, given most cats’ preference to stay home and sometimes participate by rubbing against the computer screen or gazing catatonically. Because many cats style themselves as aloof and indifferent, they are categorically predisposed to be good Episcopalians. Care will be taken to find the most resonant liturgical voices to lead Meowing Prayer, providing the faithful with a rich worshiping experience. A natural, cataphatic spirituality will inform the liturgy, making use of sound, symbol, image, and suggested textures to scrape, claw, or knead in response to God’s grace. As our Prayer Book allows us to include non-biblical Christian literature in addition to Scripture at the Daily Office (p. 142), this new service will draw liberally from T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a favorite in the feline community. Readings from the Showings of Julian of Norwich will also be used, since one of the earliest stained-glass windows of the fourteenth-century holy woman shows a cat living with her in her prayer room, obviously assisting her in dispensing spiritual and pastoral counseling.
In addition to our regular offering of Meowing Prayer, we will partner with the Tomcats of Yorkville for their quarterly “Hello Kitty” socials and provide space for the Feline Film Series of Brooklyn, currently housed somewhere among the dockyards. The Park Avenue Persians, of course, continue meeting at a neighbor church, but wish to reiterate that visitors are always welcome and proof of breeding is not required.
It will surprise no one that our Director of Music, Adam Koch, has already been a catalyst for music that is liturgical rather than litter-gical. With sufficient planning and publicity, we could please any clowder with the mew-sical performance of, Duetto buffo di due gatti, known as the “Cat Duet,” based in part on Rossini’s Otello, compiled and edited by R. L. Pearsall. A lovely version can be viewed in the video below. A cat-baret or a dramatic evening might also include Ravel’s Duo miaulé from L’enfant et les sortilèges and Mozart’s Nun, liebesWeibchen, “Miau! Miau!”
We hope this news will be catnip to our community and underscore our love for all God’s creatures. Should there be any ailurophobes, those who wish to raise theological questions about Meowing Prayer, or those who simply have their whiskers in a tangle, please visit the April Fool’s Day Office on the 13th floor of the Mission House, down the hall from the rooftop cannabis garden.