26 May 2018

Prayer for Memorial Day, USA

based upon a prayer by Leslie D. Weatherhead

We give you thanks, O Lord, for all who have died that we may live, for all who endured pain that we might know joy, for all who made sacrifices that we might have plenty, for all who suffered imprisonment that we might know freedom. Turn our deep feeling now into determination, and our determination into deed, that as men and women died for peace, we may live for peace for the sake of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Daily Novena Prayer in Hurricane Season


The following prayer was written by the late Bishop Schexnayder of Lafayette, La Louisiane after the tragedy of Hurricane Audrey.  In subsequent years it became a daily novena prayer prayed in St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral Basilica on Galveston Island, Texas.  A new pastor at the Cathedral eliminated the novena prayer, and in that same year Hurricane Ike struck Galveston causing untold suffering and loss.  Few would want to draw a direct correlation, but many ordinary folk believed there was one.  

I do not know if this sprayer is going to be prayed daily during Hurricane Season by any church or cathedral, but I commend it to all of us who live on the Gulf Coast, the Atlantic Coast, and those who live in the Caribbean believing we have a need of praying this daily on our own.  If possible encourage your pastor, to add the daily novena prayer to be said at sometime during or after Daily Mass and Sunday Mass.

O God, Master of this passing world, hear the humble voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed Your order and returned to its former quietude. 
You are still the Master of land and sea. We live in the shadow of a danger over which we have no control: the Gulf, like a provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming lethargy, overstep its conventional boundaries, invade our land, and spread chaos and disaster.
During this hurricane season we turn to You, O loving Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories are still so vivid and whose wounds seem to refuse to heal with passing of time.
O Virgin, Star of the Sea, Our beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with your Son on our behalf, so that spared from the calamities common to this area and animated with a true spirit of gratitude, we will walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to reach the heavenly Jerusalem, where a stormless eternity awaits us.
Our Lady of Prompt Succour, hasten to help us!

07 May 2018

Rogationtide: Rogation Monday


In a church of my childhood, the priest's vestments for Rogationtide were a dark violet with dark green trim.  There is, of course, a more technical name for the trim, but right now I am thinking of how appropriate it was to mix the two hues in the vestments for these days.

Today is Rogation Monday.  There is no appointed Collect in The Book of Common Prayer, 1662, but Bishop Cosin proposed a most excellent Collect for Rogationtide:

Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth, in whom we live, move and have our being, who doeth good unto all men, making thy sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sending rain on the just and the unjust; favourably behold us thy people, who do call upon thy name, and send us thy blessing from heaven, in giving us fruitful seasons, and filling our hearts with food and gladness; that both our hearts and mouths may be continually filled with thy praises, giving thanks to thee in thy holy Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect for Rogation Monday in The Book of Common Prayer, 1979 (USA) is a collect for fruitful seasons:

Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth: We humbly pray that thy gracious Providence may give and preserve to our use the harvests of the land and of the seas, and may prosper all who labour to gather them, that we, who constantly receive all good things from thy hand, may always give thee thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Although few Catholic, Anglican, and Methodist churches and chapels still observe Rogation Monday, we can certainly observe it at home by praying the Collect and a Litany (such as The Litany on page 188 in The Book of Divine Worship) and by especially thanking God for the abundance of the earth as well as praying for God's blessing upon those whose labour gathers in God's bounty for us to enjoy.


02 May 2018

The Narrative is the Thing


Robert Jenson: https://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/10/how-the-world-lost-its-story

"Late antiquity suffered and lamented the same blindness with which postmodernity is afflicted, the same inability to see any Fulfillment up there before us. Gradually, as the church worked out the theology, the church made herself a place of such seeing. She did this with the icons of the East and the windows and statues of the West. Protestantism supposed that folk in the civil society already envisioned glorious Fulfillment, and needed no specific churchly envisioning, and therefore Protestantism for the most part eliminated the images and even where it retained them forgot how to use them. Protestantism’s reliance on the world was here too an illusion, but here too an illusion it got away with for modernity’s time. That time is over.

"If we are in our time rightly to apprehend the eschatological reality of the gospel promise, we have to hear it with Christ the risen Lord visibly looming over our heads and with His living and dead saints visibly gathered around us. Above all, the church must celebrate the Eucharist as the dramatic depiction, and as the succession of tableaux, that it intrinsically is. How can we point our lives to the Kingdom’s great Banquet, if its foretaste is spread before us with all the beauty of a McDonald’s counter?"  — Professor Robert Jenson

Fr. Stephen Freeman:  https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory2godforallthings/2018/04/24/do-you-ever-think-about-being-a-hobbit/

"We live in a story that calls itself the “modern world.” It is about the “time” we live in. It invented terms such as the “Classical Period,” the “Dark Ages,” and the “Middle Ages,” naming history in such a way that it inevitably yielded modernity. It is the story of progress and evolution, not the unfolding of a divine plan, but the successive work of increasing understanding, science and compassion.

"It is not surprising that the “modern” world plays host to a growing number of people who identify as atheists or non-religious. The narrative of modernity has no place for religion, other than a condescending tolerance for people who “like that sort of thing.” Religion is frequently cast as the villain of the “Middle Ages,” and, thus, something that does not belong to our own day and age.

"Of course, the narrative that is the story of modernity is fictional. It’s power and strength come from repetition. Modernity did not end war; human suffering has changed but not disappeared; prosperity has come to some but very unevenly; democracy has created universal suffrage to little or no effect; human dignity is a popular slogan, but largely without content. Has the world truly left behind superstition and ignorance in an ageless march towards a consumer paradise?

"Modernity is only a story: it is a narrative disguised as history. The emptiness and pointlessness of the modern narrative begs for questions. I suspect it’s why our hearts ache from time to time and dream of Hobbits. The narrative of Middle Earth, though fictional, has a transcendent meaning and purpose, something that calls for the deepest courage and makes every sacrifice to be significant. That Mordor and Isengard both embody elements of the industrial revolution, endangering even the Shire, are not accidental. They intentionally represent the flaws of modernity. Tolkien’s mythology imagines that such forces can be defeated."   — Fr Stephen Freeman

17 April 2018

A Coptic Prayer at the Offertory


Receive, O Lord, the gifts of thy servants; 
the rich and the poor, 
the hidden and the manifest, 
those who offer much or little,
and of those who desired
and had not wherewithal to give; 
Grant unto them things incorruptible
in place of things corruptible, 
things heavenly for things earthly, 
things eternal for things temporal, 
and fulfill in them all manner of good
through Christ our Lord. 

16 April 2018

A Prayer for the Mission of the Church

Swiebodzin, Poland

who didst stretch out thine arms of love
upon the hard wood of the Cross,
that all men everywhere might come
within the reach of thy saving embrace:
So clothe us with thy Spirit
that we, reaching forth our hands in love,
may bring those who do not know thee
to the knowledge and love of thee;
for the honour of thy Name. Amen.

a prayer by Dr. Charles Henry Brent
The Episcopal Church  USA

John Donne: RESURRECTION (an unfinished poem)

The Resurrection by Louis C. Tiffany

Sleep sleep old sun, thou canst not have repast
As yet, the wound thou took’st on Friday last;
Sleep then, and rest; the world may bear thy stay,
A better Sun rose before thee today,
Who, not content to enlighten all that dwell
On the earth’s face, as thou, enlightened hell,
And made the dark fires languish in that vale,
As, at thy presence here, our fires grow pale.
Whose body having walked on earth, and now
Hasting to heaven, would, that he might allow
Himself unto all stations, and fill all,
For these three days become a mineral;
He was all gold when he lay down but rose
All tincture, and doth not alone dispose
Leaden and iron wills to good, but is
Of power to make even sinful flesh like his.
Had one of those, whose credulous piety
Thought, that a soul one might discern and see
Go from a body, at this sepulcher been,
And, issuing from the sheet, this body seen,
He would have justly thought this body a soul,
If not of any man, yet of the whole.

an unfinished poem by John Donne

Prayer to the Holy Ghost. (Saint Isidore of Sevilla)

Here we are before thee, O Holy Ghost.
We feel the burden of our infirmities,
but we are united all together in Thy name:
come to us, help us, enter into our hearts:
teach us what we should do,
the path to follow,
do for us what Thou askest us to do.
Be the only one to propose and guide our decisions,
because only Thou, with the Father and the Son,
hast a name that is glorious and holy.
Do not allow us to offend justice,
Thou, who lovest order and peace,
Let not ignorance lead us astray,
Let not human sympathy bias us,
Do not let people or office influence us.
Keep us intimately close to Thee
with the gift of Thy Grace,
so that we may be only one thing with Thee,
and nothing may separate us from the Truth.
Gathered in Thy Holy Name,
may we be good and firm,
so that all we do may be in one accord with Thee,
awaiting that the faithful fulfillment of our duty
may lead us to the eternal good. Amen.

San Isidoro de Sevilla

11 April 2018

Caryl Houselander: Excerpt from 'The Reed of God'

La fuga in Egitto - Giotto

Caryl Houselander wrote this during the Second World War:

Looking about us now we can see all these things which were started and lived so intensely by those unknown peasants Joseph and Mary.  We can see them happening all over the world, to everyone in the world.  We can see that the human race, with its great vocation to be the Mother of God, is experiencing the very things that Mary and Joseph experienced when Christ was still a child in the womb.

A little while ago I went to register for National Service, Compulsory Registration. A group of women were waiting outside the doors for our turn ; several carried babies in their arms ; one was pregnant (we gave her the only chair) ; one of them grumbled: "No use for us to register," she said, "for in any case those with kiddies will have to stay at home."

I looked at the pregnant woman, and I thought of that great Registration at Bethlehem, when a poor peasant woman came in obedience ; she need not have done so ; she could have claimed exemption. But Mary never claimed exemption from the common lot, from the circumstances that would be the common lot of all women for all time.

She knew it was "useful"—that those who are patient, obedient, humble, will be the mothers of Christ, will give Life back to the world.

"Be it done unto me . . ."

She spoke for all those poor women who stood with me waiting to register in the Second World War.

Everywhere the Flight into Egypt goes on : the little slain ; everywhere the refugees—Jesus, Mary and Joseph— come to us: strangers, foreigners in a strange land from Greece, Holland, France, Norway, Denmark, Malta, Gibraltar, Austria, Bavaria, Germany. For them all Our Lady has answered, long ago: "Be it done unto me."

In this great fiat of the little girl Mary, the strength and foundation of our life of contemplation is grounded, for it means absolute trust in God, trust which will not set us free from suffering but will set us free from anxiety, hesitation, and above all from the fear of suffering. Trust which makes us willing to be what God wants us to be, however great or however little that may prove.  Trust which accepts God as illimitable Love.

Caryll Houselander
The Reed of God
Pages 26-27
Copyright © 1944 by Caryll Houselander
Sheed and Ward, London

10 April 2018

The Canticle of the Lamb

Repost from 2015

For whoever believes in the power of the Blood of Jesus,
nothing is impossible.

After a rather vigorous discussion today concerning the late Mother Basilea Schlink and the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary , I was put in mind of her most important spiritual canticle — 'most important' in my humble opinion of course — a spiritual canticle to the Wounds of Jesus and the Blood of the Lamb entitled The Canticle of the Lamb.

Today I understand that the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary uses a new English translation of the Canticle, but liturgically I prefer the diction of the first translation — which one may find in Celtic Daily Prayer and printed below. 

     I praise the Wounds 
          and the Blood of the Lamb


     I praise the Wounds and the Blood of the Lamb
              that heals the weakness of my body,

     I praise the Wounds and the Blood of the Lamb
              that heals the weakness of my soul,

     I praise the Wounds and the Blood of the Lamb
               that heals the weakness of my spirit!

     Praise be to the Blood of the Lamb in His forgiving power.

     Praise be to the Blood of the Lamb in His cleansing power.

     Praise be to the Blood of the Lamb in His saving power.

     Praise be to the Blood of the Lamb in His releasing power.

     Praise be to the Blood of the Lamb in His victorious power.

     Praise be to the Blood of the Lamb in His renewing power.

     Praise be to the Blood of the Lamb in His protecting power.

     For whoever believes in the power of the Blood of Jesus,      

             nothing is impossible.

     I praise the Blood of the Lamb that covers all my sins
          so that they can no longer be seen,

     I praise the Blood of the Lamb that cleanses me from all my sins
         and makes me white as snow,

     I praise the Blood of the Lamb that has power to free me
          from all my bondages and chains of sin.

     I praise the Blood of the Lamb that is stronger
          than my own sin-infested blood
              and remoulds me into the image of God,

     I praise the Blood of the Lamb that is victorious
         over all powers that seek to oppress me,
              over every power of the enemy.

     I praise the Blood of the Lamb
          that protects me from all the devious attacks of the enemy.

     I praise the Blood of the Lamb
          that prepares for me the bridal garment.

     I praise the Blood of the Lamb
          that makes all things new.
              Hallelujah! Amen.
M. Basilea Schlink
as translated in Celtic Daily Prayer

For whoever believes 
in the power of the Blood of Jesus,
nothing is impossible.

09 April 2018

Lady Day: Solemnity of the Annunciation A.D. 2018

Ave gratia plena!

The Annunciation by John William Waterhouse
Click on the image to see it in larger format.

O GOD, who willed that your Word
should take on the reality of human flesh
in the womb of the Virgin Mary, grant, we pray,
that we, who confess our Redeemer to be God and man,
may merit to become partakers even in his divine nature.
Who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Roman Missal, 3rd edition of Pope St. John Paul II

WE beseech thee, O Lord, 
pour thy grace into our hearts;
that, as we have known
the Incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ
by the message of an angel, 
so by his Cross and Passion
we may be brought unto the glory of his Resurrection;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer

08 April 2018

Paschal Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom


My heartfelt prayers for all who are celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ today.  God grant you all a most blèssed Pascha!

The Catechetical Sermon 
of St. John Chrysostom
To be read during Matins of Pascha

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: 

Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. 

And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. 

It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? 

Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. 

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. 

Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. 

Christ is risen, and life reigns. 

Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. 

For Christ, being risen from the dead, 
is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 

To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. 

31 March 2018

Easter Blessings A.D. 2018 - JS Bach's Easter Oratorio


A blessed Easter to one and all !

O God, who for our redemption didst give thine only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious Resurrection hast delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his Resurrection; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth  with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. 

J.S. Bach's Easter Oratorio

28 March 2018

Maundy Thursday (BAS, Anglican Church of Canada)


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.”

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.

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet
Ford Madox Brown

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.