24 July 2017

From a Syriac daily prayer

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Lord, it is good to give thanks to you 
and to sing praise to your exalted name, 
to proclaim your goodness in the morning 
and your faithfulness in the night. 
Lord, hear my voice in the morning. 
May I be seen ready before you in the morning. 
Lord, have compassion on your people. 
Lord, pardon and forgive all our sins. 
Holy One, let your right hand overshadow us 
and your Name heal our weaknesses.


Prayers from the East 
Edited by Richard Marsh 
Fortress Press

15 July 2017

A Fervent Prayer (Anglican Patrimony)

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Yea, Lord, Thou rewarder of them that diligently seek Thee,
Who art rich unto all that call upon Thee ;
the spirit indeed is willing,
but the flesh is weak.
Grant me, then grace by Thine ineffable mercy
like Thee to be in an agony,
to strive in prayer,
to wrestle till the breaking of the day ;
in spirit and in truth,
in union with the ceaseless prayer
of the Church ;
that my prayer may come up
for a memorial before Thee,

And as of old the place was shaken
when the HOLY GHOST helped the infirmity
of the prayer of the Church ;
and as there was a great earthquake
when the Apostles prayed
and sang praises unto God ;
so may it be now
while even I pray and praise Thee ;
to the pulling down of strongholds of satan,
to the glorifying of GOD the FATHER in Thee ;
in Whose name I call,
in Whose promise I trust,
JESUS, my Intercessor, my SAVIOUR,
my LORD, and my God.

Sursum Corda
A Handbook of
Intercession 

and Thanksgiving
W.H. Frere, D.D.
A.L. Illingworth



10 July 2017

A Nuptial Prayer

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Most merciful God, 
our Maker and our Judge,
thou hast consecrated 
the holy covenant of Marriage,
that wonderful and sacred Mystery,
that in it is manifested 
the spiritual marriage and unity
betwixt Christ and his Church:
Look in thine abundant charity
upon thy servant and handmaiden
that N may love his wife
as Christ loves his Bride the Church
and that N may love her husband
as the Church is called to love her Lord.
Bless them both
that they may inherit thine endless kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.


01 July 2017

R. Somerset Ward: THE BLESSED SACRAMENT (Anglican Patrimony)

"Holy Communion"
To Jerusalem
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R. Somerset Ward and Bede Griffiths, Guildford Cathedral, England

Of the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ we may well say with the Patriarch Jacob, “This is none other than the Gate of heaven,” for assuredly at the consecration a door is opened into Heaven and through it comes the Lord of Love bearing His Life to men.  

Nevertheless this sight is not for all eyes to see, and it is with Christians at the Eucharist as it was with the blind man healed by our Lord ; at first they see nothing but hear a voice ; then they see but dimly “men as trees walking” ‘ and lastly they see the Glory that is there.  Let us, therefore, set down in poor words that which happens in the Blessed Sacrament, and then the way to know it.

It is hard for us who live in this world, manifest to our senses, to know that it is a prison ; that we are bound by earthly bodies in a circular prison while all round the outside of our prison is freedom and the other and true world : the world of eternal life.   Nevertheless so it is, nor are there any ways by which we may escape from prison into the true life save three : prayer, the Blessed Sacrament, and death.  in all these ways a soul may leave the body and pass through a door opened in the shell of the prison into the world of eternal life.  In the first two ways the soul must return from its excursion, but in the third it remains.  We may not compare these ways, for in order to make comparison we need to know the whole extent of each and no human being may do this.  Nevertheless we may say that each in its order is more universal than the one before it.

So in the Blessed Sacrament there is opened, before each Christian, a door.  Through this door our Lord Himself enters this world. I beseech you to consider this a moment.  We know that our Lord is in all things our perfect example.  Here daily He sets before us an example of perfect humility.  In all the glory of His Ascended Majesty, the Judge of all the world comes to us, not as in Bethlehem for all the race, but for a few poor dazed and blind souls gathered together to meet Him.  While they wait there, battling with distracting thoughts, cold and with little love, He lowers Himself in exquisite pity to come to their prison for love of them.  Truly He does, Himself, that which He requires of us in the Day of Judgement, for we are sick and He visits us, we are in prison and He comes unto us. 

Nor is this all, for He Himself brings with Him the food of life.  All life is in Him, and from this overflowing store He feeds the sick prisoners, giving them life and strength for their bodies in His Body and for their souls in His blood.  It is this Eternal Life, from the world of eternal life, which keeps alive the soul of the world ; which glows and vibrates in each soul, lighting something in other souls, and feeding the spiritual life of the world.  Daily is the prison of the world of our senses broken into by the victorious Lord, daily are the souls therein filled with the life which will enable them to break out of it into their true home, the world of eternal life.

It would, however, be a narrow view of this great means of grace which limited its purpose to this world of ours.  For the life which proceeds from the other world is like a wave which, passing through the door, floods those who receive it, and then like a wave recedes, drawing them with it through the gate.

Many are they who know these things to be true yet long to experience them.. It were well that they should remember in the first place that in general the approach to any spiritual experience is by a long and slow growth ; that, above all, long training and practice are needed.  This seems to be especially true of the Blessed Sacrament : for it is usually only by slowly learning devotion and concentration, by a long desire, and by the constant frequenting of this Holy Communion that the soul comes to the experience.  First comes the conviction, the certainty, that there is a Presence in the Blessed Sacrament.  Then perchance the soul is aware on certain occasions of a direct message at the time of Communion and this may happen frequently.  Then very dimly the Presence becomes more real, bringing a new sense of awe.  While, finally, for those happy few whom God brings to this state, comes the frequent entry into the world of eternal life, the overpowering sense of the entering Lord, and the moment of blissful Communion.

There is no royal way for those who seek the full revelation of this Sacrament.  It is only by patient discipline and long practice that clear sight comes.  I held as more important than they are, but I append a few maxims which may assist the soul.

I.  It is Desire which is they key to the door of experience.
2. True desire manifests itself in patience and perseverance.
3. Perseverance is chiefly shown in maintaining constant standard in preparation for Holy Communion, and thanksgiving after it.
4.  Distracting thoughts are not sins unless they are consciously persisted in.
5. It is as well to have certain places in the service at which the attention is always specially concentrated (e.g., Prayer for Church militant.  Sanctus.  Prayer of oblation) ; this serves as a safeguard against vagueness.
6.  The true experience may be known by the joy and vitality it brings.
7. There is no way to prolong experience beyond the time our Lord wills, but we can remove all hindrances to its prolongation on our part by complete and constant surrender.

It is painful to write words on this subject knowing their poverty and how little they touch even the fringe of that which is in this Sacrament. Nevertheless I pray that all who read them may be aware of the open door, and of the Lord Who enters, of the life He brings, and, if it be His will, of the world from which He comes.

+Panis Angelicus

Wales: Post-Communion 1984 (Anglican Patrimony)

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The Book 
of Common Prayer
for use in
The Church in Wales
1984


TREFN GWASANAETH
Y CYMUN BENDIGAID
A ELWIR HEFYD YR OFFEREN



Diolchwch i'r Arglwydd, oblegid graslon yw ef;
Oherwydd ei drugaredd sy'n dragywydd.


O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious;
For his mercy endureth for ever.

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for the spiritual food of the Body and Blood of thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, which thou hast given us in these holy mysteries, assuring us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us who are members of the mystical body of thy Son, and heirs through hope of thy eternal kingdom:


Wherefore, we offer and present unto thee, O Lord,
ourselves, our souls and bodies,
to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee,
beseeching thee
to keep us, by thy grace, in this holy fellowship
and to enable us to to do all those good works
which thou hast prepared for us to walk in;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit
be all honour and glory,
world without end. Amen.





I have quoted above the Post-Communion in English but placed the Post-Communion versicle and response in Welsh at the first as a way to indicate that this liturgy is as important in its Welsh form as it is instructive in its English translation. (The secondary note is that Ordinariate liturgies only in the English language are only half measures without a proper Anglican missionary purpose.)

Unlike the liturgies of the Church of England which at times have gone to some lengths so as to avoid the use of material from the Scottish Episcopal Church and the American Episcopal Church, the Church in Wales freely crafts its clearly Anglican rite by the incorporation and weaving of material from several sources in the Anglican Communion in order to produce a beautiful Liturgy that is Anglican not in the parochial Church of England sense but rather Anglican in the world sense of the Communion of Churches by that name. 

It is also rooted in its Celtic identity, and provides a clue to the Anglican diaspora in the Catholic Church how some beautiful Eucharistic language can be reclaimed and given new life in the Post-Communion. The lesson is one that can be taken from The Book of Common Prayer, 1662 but is given some refinement here. 

Also, of interest is the avoidance of rubrics preferring instead alternating typefaces to indicate the Celebrant on the one hand and the Faithful on the other.

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Dr Margaret Barker: Original Settings, Original Ideas

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"All religious belief is expressed, transmitted and received in code.  even the simplest statements, when they are examined carefully by an outsider, have very little meaning.  This is because every religious community has its own way of speaking about faith, and the most effective way to do this is in pictures.  People brought up in a Christian community recognise immediately what is meant by the Lamb of God, or by bread and wine; to someone from another culture, however, these are not vivd images but a solid wall which separates those inside, those 'in the know', from everyone else. 'Other cultures' are no longer those who can be identified as other faith communities.  The 'other cultures' now are the vast mass of people who have lost all touch with Christian tradition.

"It used to be thought that putting the code into modern English would overcome the problem, and make everything clear to people who had no roots in a Christian community.  This attempt has proved misguided, since so much of the code simply will not translate into modern English.  It was not the words themselves which were the problem, but rather the pictures, the signs and symbols which the words were describing.  The 'blood of the Lamb' is a phrase familiar to all Christians; it is perfectly good modern English, but, unexplained, is meaningless.

"There has also been an attempt to put the Bible, more particularly the New Testament, into a code-free form.  Remove the symbols and the pictures, it was thought, break the pure truth free from the story in which it was unfortunately embedded, and then all would be clear.  The result proved to be exactly the opposite; a fog of contemporary philosophical jargon was offered in place of the vivid symbols and stories of the Bible, and the problem remained.

"The task, then, has had to alter. The need now is not just for modern English, or modern thought forms, but for an explanation of the images and pictures in which the ideas of the Bible are expressed.  These are specific to one culture, that of Israel and Judaism, and until they are fully understood in their original setting, little of what is done with the writings and ideas that came from that particular setting can be understood.  Once we lose touch with the meaning of biblical imagery, we lose any way into the real meaning of the Bible.  This has already begun to happen, and a diluted 'instant' Christianity has been offered as junk food for the mass market.  The resultant malnutrition, even in churches, is all too obvious."


Margaret Barker

"On Earth as it is in Heaven"
[2009: Sheffield Phoenix Press]
pp. 1-2.