19 December 2009

Preparation for the Blessed Sacrament

The Anglican bishop Lancelot Andrewes is one of the well-springs of mature Anglican Incarnational and Sacramental theology who drew his source material from the Fathers, both of the East and the West, the Sacred Scriptures, and the Divine Liturgies of the East. The following is one of Andrewes' devotional prayers to be offered before receiving the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist:

O merciful Lord Jesus, I confess myself to be a most grievous and wretched sinner, not worthy to approach into thy presence, altogether unfit and unmeet to receive thee under the roof of my soul, in respect of the stains and pollutions thereof, and that it is not decked and fitted, with such good graces, as thy majesty and presence requireth, and therefore am afraid to come near unto thee: yet, O Lord, considering thy comfortable saying, that thou dost nor desire the death of a sinner, but that he should turn unto thee and live; and thy blessed invitation, how lovingly, with the arms of thy mercy stretched out, thou hast called all, that are heavily oppressed with the burden of their sins, to come to thee for comfort and ease. And lastly, thy usual practice, in pitying and relieving those which were cast down with the thought of their misdeeds; as the Thief on the Cross, Mary Magdalen, the Woman taken in Adultery, the Publican, Peter and Paul, I am comforted and emboldened to come unto thee, assuredly trusting, that thou wilt of thy goodness supply my defects, and make me a worthy receiver of the high mystery and benefit of thy blessed Sacrament, whereof of myself I am altogether unworthy. Stretch out thy right hand, O sweet Jesus, to me thy poor servant, and give out of thy rich store-house of mercy what I want; that thereby I may be made a living temple to thee, and an acceptable habitation for thine honour to abide in: and grant, that being cleansed by thy mercy and goodness, I may, by thy grace and power, persevere in all godliness of conversation, to the end of my days, and attain to that blessed place, where thou reignest, with the Father and Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

Here also consider this thrilling conclusion to a prayer of Lancelot Andrewes for use after receiving the Blessed Sacrament:

Give me a heart, which may love thee with so true, faithful, and constant affection, as that nothing under the sun may separate me from the love of thee. Let me not follow the love of the world, or delight in the vanities of it any longer: but give me power to kill and quench all other love and desires, and to love thee only, desire thee only, and only think of thee, and thy commandments: that all my affections and thoughts may be fixed on thee; that in all temptations and adversities, I may have recourse to thee only, and receive all comfort from thee alone, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.