Because of the size of our extended spiritual families, clergymen attend a greater number of graduation exercises than most ordinary citizens. A colleague and I have made a hobby out of commencement postmortems, if only to make our frequent exposure to “the prayer of the just” (O Lord, we just want to thank you for just being with us on this wonderful day, and we just want to ask you to just bless us, etc.) more bearable.
Some occasions, however, move far beyond the petty annoyance of poorly constructed prayers being recited by people who obviously had months to prepare themselves to offer something better. When my friend attended the commencement of a famous Roman Catholic college for women, he was appalled by the absence of any prayer at all.
The “invocation” consisted of the reading of a few thoughts from the works of a “spiritual writer,” without any element of praise or petition. Nor did the address, presented by a feminist theologian, stray into the biblical language of God the Father and his Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
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Louis R. Tarsitano (d. 2005), a former associate editor of Touchstone, was a priest of the Anglican Church in America and rector of St. Andrew?s Church in Savannah, Georgia. He also was the co-author, with Peter Toon, of Neither Archaic Nor Obsolete: The Language of Common Prayer & Public Worship (Brynmill Press, Ltd., 2003).
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