24 April 2014

West Syriac Syro-Malankara Catholic Mass

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The divisions among the St. Thomas Christians of India are bewildering to the neophyte seeking to understand how they came to be.  As one Mar Thomite recently said to me, "We are the ruins of a great Church after its desolating encounter with Catholic and Protestant Europeans and a plague of Middle Eastern mischief that left each man to his own tent."  This friend of mine is one who wants to see all St. Thomas Christians reunited and using their original East Syriac rites and Syriac chants - a small but growing movement among the many splintered churches.   

By way of example of the confusing situation,  the actual celebrations of the Holy Qurbana of the Syro-Malabar rite are all over the place from Latinised pre-Vatican II to Latinised 'in the spirit of Vatican II' to those using the full revised rites that return to the Syriac origins of the Church.  

One can find YouTube videos of every sort all called "Syro-Malabar" and indicating clearly what the various levels of Latinisation (especially that of 'the spirit of Vatican II') have done to make a muddle of the rite.  [It is the young who are doing the heavy lifting now for the re-sourcing of the Syriac roots of the Syro-Malabar's East Syriac origins but they have an uphill battle against that rather wicked 'spirit' of Vatican II.]

The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church is another major body of St. Thomas Christians in Communion with Rome who lost their original rites not to Latinisation but to importation of the West Syriac rites of the Jacobites.  Today the Syro-Malankara rite is essentially West Syriac-Antiochene but has a number of local elements unique to its own liturgical order.

I am no expert but I feel much more at home with the average sort of Syro-Malankara celebration than a Syro-Malabar latinised Mass with 'inculturated' music that is more Bollywood than Syriac chant.  

But whenever the Syro-Malabar rite with Syriac chants is celebrated with serious attention to bringing forth the Mar Thoma Nasrani heritage (and suppressing the centuries of latinisations and eliminating those forced by the 'spirit of Vatican II') ... ah, it is a most beautiful thing to behold.  And I am blessed to worship with such a group of Syro-Malabarese Catholics from time to time.

The following video shows part of the Syro-Malankara Holy Qurbana celebrated in Malayalam, and this particular video is thought to be one of the better ones out there depicting this rite because its celebrant is the well-beloved Father Aji Puthoor — would that it had been the entire Qurbana recorded! :


St. Thomas the Apostle, pray for us.
Ut omnes unum sint!
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23 April 2014

The Blessings of the Syro-Malabar Holy Qurbana

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Click on the photo above to see an
Oshana Njayar (Palm Sunday) procession
from the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church
This afternoon I am ruminating upon the Syro-Malabar rite of the Catholic Church of the Malabar Syrians and that concluding portion of the beautiful text of its Holy Qurbana (Eucharist).  

Although the Syro-Malabar rite has a long way to go in recovering its authentic Syriac chant, the text itself is profound as it is ancient.

I have always been especially impressed that this sacred liturgy has two different forms for concluding the Holy Qurbana.  One form is for everyday use, and the other is for Sundays and Feasts of the Syro-Malabar liturgical calendar.

Always deeply moving is the Celebrant's final farewell to the Holy Altar at the conclusion of the holy liturgy. The translation below is a faithful attempt at translation of the holy text.  


Concluding Prayers

(On Sundays and Feast Days)

Celebrant
Lord, our God! It is right and just at every moment and in all seasons to offer praise, worship, and thanksgiving to Your Glorious name. In Your great compassion, though we are weak, You made us worthy, to relish the sweetness of Your life-giving and divine words, to glorify Your name with the angels, to partake in these holy mysteries You have given us, and to sing constantly hymns of praise and thanksgiving to You, Most High: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Lord of all, forever.

Congregation
Amen, Bless us, O Lord!

Celebrant 
Christ who is our Lord and God, King, and Savior, and Life-Giver, in His mercy has made us worthy to receive His sanctifying and precious Body and Blood. May He bless us, so that we may please Him through our thoughts, words, and deeds. Lord! In Your immense mercy, may the covenant we have received from You be for the remission of debts and for the forgiveness of sins, great hope for the resurrection of the dead and new life everlasting in heaven with all those who found favor in Your presence. Lord of all, forever.

Congregation 
Amen.

The Mar Thoma
Nasrani Cross
(On ordinary days)

Celebrant
Lord, Our God! In your mercy, You have given us these glorious, holy, life-giving, and divine mysteries for the forgiveness of sins. We are bound to offer Your Most Blessed Trinity everlasting praise and honor, thanksgiving and adoration for this gift. Lord of all, the Father, the Son, and, the Holy Spirit, forever.

Congregation 
Amen. Bless us, O Lord!

Celebrant 
Christ, hope of mankind! You have forgiven our debts, sins, and offences through this glorious, holy, life giving, and divine mysteries. May this adorable gift from on high be blessed! Lord of all, forever.

Congregation 
Amen.


Final Blessing

(On Sundays, Feast Days, and days of commemoration)

Syro-Malabar priest
blessing the congregation
Celebrant 
God, our Father, has blessed us with every grace through Jesus Christ. Our Lord has invited us to His Kingdom and has led us to imperishable and everlasting happiness. In His life-giving Gospel, He said to his disciples: "Amen. Amen. I say to you. Whoever eats my Body and drinks my Blood, will live in me and I in him. I will raise him up on the last day. He will not be subject to condemnation. Rather, he will enter from death into eternal life." In accordance with this promise, may the Lord bless and protect this congregation that has partaken of this Holy Qurbana. May we, who joyfully participated in these glorious, holy, life-giving, and divine mysteries, be crowned with glory. Now, + always and forever.

(Final Prayer on ordinary Days)

Celebrant 
We have praised, honored, and ministered to Our Lord Jesus Christ  through these glorious, sacred, lifegiving and divine mysteries. May He make us worthy of the glory of His kingdom, eternal happiness with His holy angels, and joy in His divine presence. May He enable us to stand at His right hand  in heavenly Jerusalem. May He bestow His mercy and blessings on us, on the whole world, and on the holy Church and all her children. Now, + always and forever.

Congregation 
Amen.

Celebrant
(In a low voice) Praise to you, altar of sanctification! Praise to you, the sepulchre of Our Lord! May the Holy Qurbana that I have received from you, be for me unto the forgiveness of my debts and the remission of my sins. I know not, whether I shall come again to offer another sacrifice.

(The celebrant kisses the altar).
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S. George

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Saint George's Feast Day is transferred from today in Easter Week to the week following Divine Mercy Sunday (Low Sunday).  For those praying the Novena to S. George today is a fine day to invoke the saint and pray that we may be as faithful to Christ as he was and is.

O GOD, who didst grant to Saint George strength and constancy in the various torments which he sustained for our holy faith; we beseech Thee to preserve, through his intercession, our faith from wavering and doubt, so that we may serve Thee with a sincere heart faithfully unto death. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Faithful servant of God and invincible martyr, Saint George, you were favored by God with the gift of faith and inflamed with an ardent love of Jesus Christ; you fought valiantly against the dragons of pride, falsehood, and deceit; neither pain, torture, sword or death deterred you from your love of God.

Honorable Saint George, I implore you for the sake of your great love of Jesus to help me by your intercession to overcome the temptations that surround me and to cope bravely with the trials that oppress me. Pray that I will patiently carry any cross that is placed upon my shoulder, and that neither stress, worry, pain or illness will separate me from the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. 



Valiant champion of the Faith, Saint George, assist me in my combat against evil so I may win the crown promised to those who persevere to the end.

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From Coptic Orthodox Office of Prime

The Agpeia of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in Egypt

The Breviary of the Coptic Orthodox Christians, the Agpeya or Agpeia, is of considerable antiquity and great beauty.  The following is from the Office of Prime:

The Pauline Epistle
(Ephesians 4:1-5)

Paul the servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, appointed to the Gospel of God. A Chapter from his epistle to the Ephesians, may be His blessing be with us all. Amen.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.


The Faith of the Church

One is God the Father of everyone.

One is His Son, Jesus Christ the Word, Who took flesh and died; and rose from the dead on the third day, and raised us with Him.

One is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, one in His Hypostasis, proceeding from the Father, purifying the whole creation, and teaching us to worship the Holy Trinity, one in Divinity and one in Essence. We praise Him and bless Him forever. Amen.


The Morning Prayer of the blessed day, we offer to Christ our King and our God, beseeching Him to forgive us our sins.

From the Psalms of our father David the prophet and the king, may his blessings be upon us all. Amen.

Then follow the appointed Psalms from the Septuaginta beginning with Psalm 1. 
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21 April 2014

From a Paschal Sermon

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If any be a devout lover of God, 
let him partake with gladness from this fair and radiant feast.

If any be a faithful servant, 
let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord.

If any have wearied himself with fasting, 
let him now enjoy his reward.

If any have labored from the first hour, 
let him receive today his rightful due.

If any have come after the third, 
let him celebrate the feast with thankfulness.

If any have come after the sixth, 
let him not be in doubt, for he will suffer no loss.

If any have delayed until the ninth, 
let him not hesitate but draw near.

If any have arrived only at the eleventh, 
let him not be afraid because he comes so late.

For the Master is generous 
and accepts the last even as the first. 

He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour 
in the same was as him who has labored from the first. 

He accepts the deed, and commends the intention. 

Enter then, all of you, into the joy of our Lord . . . 


Saint John Chrysostom

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20 April 2014

19 April 2014

Dubois: It is Finished

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Th. Dubois: Seven Last Words: It is Finished


Diane Bish, conductor

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18 April 2014

John Mason Neale: Seven Last Words

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Good Friday and Holy Saturday Rumination:
The Seven Last Words of Christ


 “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” 

 “I thirst.” 

 “Woman behold thy son; son behold thy mother.” 

 “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” 

 “Amen I say to you today, you will be with me in Paradise.” 

 “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” 

 “It is finished.


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SERMON XIX.
The Reverend John Mason Neale

THE SEVEN LAST WORDS. 
"IS IT NOTHING TO YOU, ALL YE THAT PASS BY ?"—Lam. I. 12.
We have all known what it is to stand by the bed of a dying friend. How, when all is over, we treasure up his last words: we think of his last looks, we try, so far as we can, to imagine what were his last thoughts.
Well, and all is over now. All was over when, as at three o'clock on this most holy afternoon, He bowed His Head, and gave up the ghost. I thought, as the few last short strokes of the church bell were chiming that hour out, how those holy women must have felt, when they plainly saw that the end was drawing nigh; when they beheld that greyness come over our Lord's Face, which none, who have ever seen, can mistake again; when they heard those words, "It is finished,"— and again,—" Father, into Thy Hands I commend My spirit;" when they found that the blood ceased to flow; when the lips that spake as never man spake, were white and pale; when the eyes that had looked Peter into repentance were glazed in death. I cannot tell —none of us for one moment can fancy that desolation. None of us can tell what was that agony of the Blessed Virgin Mary; whom holy men have not feared to call the greatest of all Martyrs. We know what it is to see some one whom we dearly love suffer, and to be unable to help him. What then for her? who so loved as no woman ever loved before or since: who could not help Him in that tremendous battle with the Devil: who could only stand by and believe, while others, the dearest followers of our Lord, trembled and doubted.
Well:—and when the disciples came back on this evening, and gathered together—it might be at the house of the mother of Mark, for that was nearest to the hill of Calvary— what must they have thought or said? First, how many were there? Judas had hanged himself. S. Peter having denied his Lord, dared not to mix with the brethren. S. James had bound himself by a great oath neither to eat, nor drink, nor to associate with others, till he should see the Lord again. But the nine that remained, how must they have spent the last hours of the First Good Friday?
And when they came to reckon, they must have remembered, that our Lord had spoken seven times on the Cross.
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." That first word, Father, shows that the whole petition would be heard. "I was content to do Thy will: 'though I were a Son, yet learned I obedience by the things which I suffered.' 'I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair,'—and all,—' That I might do Thy will, O God.' Father, forgive them." And how might that prayer be offered now? At this very time that I am speaking to you—at this very time that hundreds of thousands of God's people throughout the world are fasting, and weeping, and mourning—one of the largest pleasure gardens in London is opened for the first time this year. No doubt it is crowded with those who seek such sort of pleasure. No doubt the pleasures of sin for a season are sweet; but for them the Lord's prayer may still be, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." They little think that, while they are rejoicing in the delight which such a place offers—the foolish talkings, the jestings, which are not convenient—the Son of God a few hours since suffered—the Son of God an hour ago died—the Son of God at this time was buried. Who has taught them better ?" Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
But can that be said of you? You know, in your heart, it cannot. You know that to the best of my power—however unworthy, however much a sinner—I have warned you of this day. Our Lord may say, "Father, forgive them;" but He cannot say, "for they know not what they do." This last fortnight I have every day set before you life and death —a blessing and a curse: I have led all your thoughts to this day as the one day; as the great day; as the day that some one of you at least will never see more. If you now choose to sin it is with the knowledge of what you do. Sin if you will. Take the punishment if you must; but you never can say, "Father, forgive me; for I knew not what I did."
And if that speech be full of dread, how shall not the next be full of all comfort? "And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when Thou contest into Thy kingdom." Think what faith that was. He knew all the evil he had done; he knew all the good he had not done, and might have done; and yet,  "Lord, remember me." I know that of all faith that ever was, the Blessed Virgin's was the greatest. I put her, as the saying is, out of the question. But next to her, this faith of the thief's exceeded all others. In its first three words we learn this: "Lord, remember me." That malefactor a Lord? a King? one that had a Kingdom and a Court? Well; and if it were so: then, "remember me—me, a most miserable sinner—me, the wicked scoffer justly here, in whose company Thou vouchsafest to be crucified." And with the entreaty, there is also a doubt: "When Thou comest. Thou wilt come some time or other—it may be years or centuries hence— but, when Thou comest." And our Lord, the Good Shepherd, Who gathers in all the dispersed sheep—the kind Master, Who rewards the unworthy servant—answers, " Verily I say unto thee"—truly the message was so wonderful that it needed such a beginning—" Verily, I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise."
That 63rd Psalm might be called the Psalm of the Penitent Thief. "O God, Thou art my God." Thou art the reproach and ridicule of them that stand about us, but "My Lord and my God." "My flesh also longeth after Thee in a Darren and dry land;" on the wood of the Cross; in all the misery and fever and agony of my wounds; my soul thirsteth for Thee—not after any earthly refreshment. "As long as I live:" whoever may threaten, whoever may revile, however few hours I may live—" I will magnify Thee on this manner." And again. "Have I not remembered Thee in my bed,"—that hard deathbed of the Cross? And once more: "The King shall rejoice in God." Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. He shall rejoice indeed when He sees all the company of the Elect gathered unto Him: the last Saint, the last penitent brought into the Kingdom of Heaven.
And then again. "Woman, behold thy son;" and, " Behold thy Mother." And here He consecrates earthly love to Himself. We are not to think that He who said, " What could have been done more to My vineyard that I have not done in it?" would pass by that. And mark you, He consecrates both ties; that of relationship, in speaking of the Blessed Mother; that of friendship, in speaking of S. John. We can love no one, we can feel for no one, we can grieve for no one, without being thus far like our Lord. Like our Lord? Yes: and like Him at the moment of His greatest agony.
And then next, that most awful saying of all, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" We cannot tell what that means. We cannot tell how He That was from the beginning with the Father, That was His Delight, That was the Only-Begotten Son; how He could now be forsaken of Him; how He could thus utter this cry. But this we may learn: when we feel forsaken, when we feel alone, that then perhaps we may be nearest of all to Christ. This was the mid-most of His sayings: three went before, and three came after: and not only so; it was the only one which was spoken in an unknown language. Was this the reason? All may understand why we have to bear affliction. All may see that pain, sorrow, loss, come from God. But to feel that we are left by God, to feel that we have to face the world alone, that is a sorrow beyond all earthly sorrow. Why, consider it for yourselves. If there be any earthly friend on whose sympathy you have reckoned, and he fails you; if you had trusted on him, and he shrinks from you; can there be a bitterer grief? Yes, there may; but only one: when He that is the source of love, the source of friendship, seems to withdraw from us; seems to leave us to ourselves ; seems to make us say, "Then I said, I have laboured in vain, and have spent my strength in vain."
And next, His disciples would have remembered that He said, "I thirst." What! He endured the scourge, the crown of thorns, the nails, the Cross, and said nothing! Yes: and now He thirsts. He speaks this both as God and Man. He speaks it as man, feeling that dreadful thirst which all wounds give; so that after a battle, the cry among the wounded is, "Water! Water!" Yet He speaks as God too. He lately said, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." Now He says, "I thirst." Bitter as that cup was, now He longs for it: terrible as His Passion was, now He rejoices to wear His crown, that the Scripture might be fulfilled I Truly so. All the sayings of all the Prophets are bound up in this—all depend on that speech—" With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." If His desire had not been such, who would thus have borne the burden and heat of the day? If His thirst had not been such, we, like the rich man, might have thirsted for one drop of water to cool our tongues, and might not have found it.
And now—" It is finished."
What is that It? And who shall tell? The wrath of God, the promises of God, the pains and agonies of the Passion, all fear of death, all enmity to heaven, all that we could hope, all that we could fear. No need now to shrink back from death, which He has made the entrance into life. No need now to be afraid of pain, which He has made the porch of glory. Hope what you will, pray what you will, your hopes will be exceeded; your prayer will be surpassed—"It is finished."
And then, the great lesson of this Lent. "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit." So must we. Now and at all times. Every morning and every evening. But at this Passion time more especially.
For think. This word seals up the whole of our Lord's sufferings. With that speech He enters on His rest. The hours of this Lent, well spent or ill as they may have been, have given in their account to the throne of God. What we have done in it, what we have tried to do in it, He alone knows Who searches all hearts.
We have yet a day of rest for those who have laboured.
We have forty days of triumph for those who have conquered.
Have we laboured?
Have we conquered?
You must answer for yourselves.
For me, I say—and I advise you to say also (it is the same prayer we said this morning) —" God, be merciful to me a sinner !' Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom!'"
Now to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holt Ghost, be all honour and glory for ever. Amen.
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Pietà

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Good Friday: Lift High the Cross

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LIFT high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore his sacred name.

Come, let us follow where our Captain trod,
our King victorious, Christ the Son of God:

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine:

Each new-born solder of the Crucified
bears on his brow the seal of him who died:

This is the sign which Satan's legions fear
and angels veil their faces to revere:

Saved by the cross whereon their Lord was slain,
earth's fallen children their lost home regain:

From north and south, from east and west they raise
in growing unison their song of praise:

O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
as thou hast promised, draw us unto thee:

Let every race and every language tell
of him who saves our souls from death and hell:

From farthest regions let them homage bring,
and on his cross adore their Saviour King:

Set up thy throne, that earth's despair may cease
beneath the shadow of its healing peace:

For thy blest cross which doth for all atone
creation's praises rise before thy throne:

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore his sacred name.


G.W. Kitchin (1827-1912)
and M.R. Newbolt (1874-1956

Tune: CRUCIFER
S.H. Nicholson (1875-1947)

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From a Sermon by Pope St. Leo the Great

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Our understanding, which is enlightened by the Spirit of truth, should receive with purity and freedom of heart the glory of the cross as it shines in heaven and on earth. It should see with inner vision the meaning of the Lord’s words when he spoke of the imminence of his passion: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  

Afterward he said: Now my soul is troubled, and what am I to say? Father, save me from this hour. But it was for this that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your Son. 

When the voice of the Father came from heaven, saying, I have glorified him, and will glorify him again, Jesus said in reply to those around him: It was not for me that this voice spoke, but for you. Now is the judgment of the world, now will the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.

How marvellous the power of the cross; how great beyond all telling the glory of the passion: here is the judgement-seat of the Lord, the condemnation of the world, the supremacy of Christ crucified.

Lord, you drew all things to yourself so that the devotion of all peoples everywhere might celebrate, in a sacrament made perfect and visible, what was carried out in the one temple of Judea under obscure foreshadowings. 

Now there is a more distinguished order of Levites, a greater dignity for the rank of elders, a more sacred anointing for the priesthood, because your cross is the source of all blessings, the cause of all graces. 

Through the cross the faithful receive strength from weakness, glory from dishonour, life from death.

The different sacrifices of animals are no more: the one offering of your body and blood is the fulfillment of all the different sacrificial offerings, for you are the true Lamb of God: you take away the sins of the world. In yourself you bring to perfection all mysteries, so that, as there is one sacrifice in place of all other sacrificial offerings, there is also one kingdom gathered from all peoples.

Dearly beloved, let us then acknowledge what Saint Paul, the teacher of the nations, acknowledged so exultantly: This is a saying worthy of trust, worthy of complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. 

God’s compassion for us is all the more wonderful because Christ died, not for the righteous or the holy but for the wicked and the sinful, and, though the divine nature could not be touched by the sting of death, he took to himself, through his birth as one of us, something he could offer on our behalf.

The power of his death once confronted our death. In the words of Hosea the prophet: Death, I shall be your death; grave, I shall swallow you up. 

By dying he submitted to the laws of the underworld; by rising again he destroyed them. He did away with the everlasting character of death so as to make death a thing of time, not of eternity. As all die in Adam, so all will be brought to life in Christ.

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17 April 2014

Maundy Thursday: Canadian BAS

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In The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada the following is appointed to be said before the Ceremony of the Foot-Washing:

       Fellow servants of our Lord Jesus Christ,
       on the night before his death,
       Jesus set an example for his disciples
       by washing their feet, an act of humble service.
       He taught that strength and growth
       in the life of the kingdom of God
       come not by power, authority, or even miracle,
       but by such lowly service.

       Therefore, I invite you
              (who have been appointed as representatives
              of the congregation and)
       who share in the royal priesthood of Christ,
       to come forward,
       that I may recall whose servant I am
       by following the example of my Master.
       But come remembering his admonition
       that what will be done for you
       is also to be done by you to others,
       for “a servant is not greater than his master,
       nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.
       If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

Christ Washing Peter's Feet
Ford Madox Brown
It is a very simple, straightforward, and elegant solution for providing a standardised introduction to the pedilavium rather than leaving it up to the skills of the presbyter or to the employment of a lengthy exhortation from another book in Prayer Book English.   It is also very realistic in its ambitions as it is the right length for contemporary ears trained by sound bites and commercial advertising.

At the beginning of the B.A.S. Maundy Thursday liturgy the Celebrant is directed to say the following introduction weaving together the themes and Scriptures of the day ... and these words also serve as a good word for contemplating the meaning of this day in Holy Week:

         This is the day
         that Christ the Lamb of God
         gave himself into the hands of those who would slay him.

         This is the day
         that Christ gathered with his disciples in the upper room.

         This is the day
         that Christ took a towel
         and washed the disciples’ feet,
         giving us an example that we should do to others
         as he has done to us.

         This is the day
         that Christ our God gave us this holy feast,
         that we who eat this bread
         and drink this cup
         may here proclaim his Holy Sacrifice
         and be partakers of his resurrection,
         and at the last day may reign with him in heaven.
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"BLM committed animal atrocities ..."

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Learning the truth of US federal government tactics used by the BLM is enough to make one sick.  By clicking the link I am providing you will be taken to a story that unmasks the tactics of the US federal government against Cliven Bundy and his ranch. It is entitled "BLM committed animal atrocities, shot cows from helicopters, constructed mass graves at Bundy Ranch"

There are graphic images of violence committed against the animals by the federal Bureau of Land Management, so please be advised that the images are too graphic for those with more delicate sensabilities: click here.

It is another argument for the elimination of most functions of the federal government in the USA save for national defensive needs and international relations.  Seeing the BLM being  used as a weapon by the Democratic administration and Senator Harry Reid makes clear that such a weapon needs to be taken away from the federal government regardless of which political party is in office.

Without additional political commentary let me close by simply borrowing from another blogger: "Jesus beheld the United States of America.  And Jesus wept."

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16 April 2014

Passion Week: Of Your Mystical Supper




"Of Your Mystical Supper"
From the world premiere complete performance
of Maximilian Steinberg's Passion Week.
Cappella Romana
Alexander Lingas, artistic director
Friday, 11 April 2014
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'Our God, Our Help in Ages Past'

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The original version of Isaac Watts' hymn (known today as O God, our help in ages past thanks to the editing of the Revd John Wesley) was written as 'Our God, Our Help in Ages Past' in his Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament of 1719.  

Returning to the original text each Ash Wednesday and during Holy Week, I find it good for my soul to sing and pray all of the verses Watts intended for us to sing:

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
“Return, ye sons of men:”
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

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15 April 2014

Irvingite Liturgy & The Prayer of Humble Access

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The Irvingite version of the Prayer of Humble Access as found in the Liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church, 1847 USA edition is as follows:


I have had a great interest in the Catholic Apostolic Church, in part for familial reasons (re: Albury Park), but moreso because a wide range of Anglican, Episcopalian, Church of Scotland, and US Evangelical & Reformed liturgies
bear the clear signs of having used this magnificently structured Divine Liturgy for inspiration, guidance, and direction in developing liturgical theology based upon a three-fold blending of the Holy Bible, The Book of Common Prayer, and the ancient liturgies of the Apostolic and Eastern Churches in the language, form, and purpose of worship.

Liturgies as different as those of the Anglicans in India to the United Liturgy of Nigeria to the 1979 USA Book of Common Prayer all bear the marks of having grown in part from the fertile soil of the Catholic Apostolic Church's liturgies in English.

The Euchologion from the Church of Scotland perhaps best carried forward the extreme humility and deeply penitential qualities of the Catholic Apostolic Liturgy, but none of them managed to hold in tension that equal measure of humility and penitence with a like measure of rapturous adoration and praise so emblematic of the Irvingite liturgical offerings.

Penance and self-abnegation are never ends in themselves in the Catholic Apostolic liturgical orders: they always point brightly to the Divine Mercy of God the Father in the bestowal of spiritual and physical mercies and gifts together within the never-failing communion of the individual within the mystical Body of Christ.

I conclude with one of the acts of praise from the Liturgy and Divine Offices of 1847:


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Not Between Candlesticks

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This morning I am ruminating upon something written many years ago by the Reverend George MacLeod, Baron MacLeod of Fuinary, the founder of the Iona Community:
The Revd George MacLeod

“I simply argue that the cross be raised again at the centre of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. 

I am recovering the claim that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap; at a crossroads so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew and in Latin and in Greek . . . at the kind of place where cynics talk smut and thieves curse, and soldiers gamble. Because that is where he died. And that is what he died about.”

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14 April 2014

A Hymn of St. Nerses the Grace-Filled

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O DAY-SPRING, Sun of righteousness, shine forth with light for me!
Treasure of mercy, let my soul thy hidden riches see!

Thou before whom the thoughts of men lie open in thy sight,
Unto my soul, now dark and dim, grant thoughts that shine with light!

O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Almighty One in Three,
Care-taker of all creatures, have pity upon me!

Awake, O Lord, awake to help, with grace and power divine;
Awaken those who slumber now, like heaven’s host to shine!

O Lord and Saviour, life-giver, unto the dead give life.
And raise up those that have grown weak and stumbled in the strife!

O skilful Pilot! Lamp of light, that burnest bright and clear!
Strength and assurance grant to me, now hid away in fear!

O thou that makest old things new, renew me and adorn;
Rejoice me with salvation, Lord, for which I inly mourn.

Giver of good, unto my sins be thy forgiveness given!
Lead thy disciples, heavenly King, unto the flocks of heaven!

Defeat the evil husbandman that soweth tares and weeds;
Wither and kill in me the fruits of all his evil seeds!

O Lord, grant water to my eyes, that they may shed warm tears
To cleanse and wash away the sin that in my soul appears!

On me now hid in shadow deep, shine forth, O glory bright!
Sweet juice, quench thou my soul’s keen thirst! Show me the path of light!

Jesus, whose name is love, with love crush thou my, stony heart;
Bedew my spirit with thy blood, and bid my griefs depart!

O thou that even in fancy art so sweet, Lord Jesus Christ,
Grant that with thy reality my soul may be sufficed!

When thou shalt come again to earth, and all thy glory see,
Upon that dread and awful day, O Christ, remember me!

Thou that redeemest men from sin, O Saviour, I implore,
Redeem him who now praises thee, to praise thee evermore!

St. Nerses Shnorhali (1102-1172)
Armenian Poems Rendered into English Verse
by Alice Stone Blackwell
Boston, 1917
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13 April 2014

HOLY WEEK: Reredos • Closed

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Reredos - Closed position
by Nina Somerset

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Robert Klein Engler: Stations of the Heart

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This Holy Week I am reading again a book of poetry by Robert Klein Engler (of Chicago and New Orleans) entitled 'Stations of the Heart: A Book of Sonnets'.  The third part of the book is an extraordinary series of sonnets entitled "Via Crucis" which I read and revisit often in prayer and contemplation.

I cannot think of another recent North American poet who has done such a masterful job with putting the Stations of the Cross into poetry.  The following is an excerpt from the sonnet on the Sixth Station entitled "VI. St. Veronica Wipes Our Lord's Face with Her Veil":

       If Simon could remove the weight awhile,
       Then certainly her veil could help erase
       The rouge and rue that issued from his trial -
       So with her cloth she boldly blots his face...
              Then looks surprised ... expecting stains, instead,
              She finds her proof, within a mirror of thread.

Robert Klein Engler
"Via Crucis"
Stations of the Heart: 
A Book of Sonnets
Alphabeta Press, Chicago
1994
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