‘We are now approaching that most sacred day when we commemorate Christ’s passion and death. Let us try to fix our minds upon this great thought. Let us try, what is so very difficult, to put off other thoughts, to clear our minds of things transitory, temporal, and earthly, and to occupy them with the contemplation of the Eternal Priest and His one ever-enduring Sacrifice;—that Sacrifice which, though completed once for all on Calvary, yet ever abideth, and, in its power and its grace, is ever present among us, and is at all times gratefully and awfully to be commemorated, but now especially, when the time of year is come at which it was made. Let us look upon Him who was lifted up that He might draw us to Him; and, by being drawn one and all to Him, let us be drawn to each other, so that we may understand and feel that He has redeemed us one and all, and that, unless we love one another, we cannot really have love to Him who laid down His life for us’.
St John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
We beseech thee, Almighty God: look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘We are here pleading with God not on the ground of anything that we have done, or any merit or deserving of our own, but on the ground of our hearty desires, the desires which come straight from the heart. The earnest desire of a loving heart is what God regards, but we are unable through our weakness to bring these desires to their fruition.
Not only are our hearty desires to be the ground of our appeal, but they must be the desires of thy humble servants. He who is humble possesses the passport to the Heart of God. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” God refuses nothing to the meek and lowly in heart. If at any time it seems that God’s response to our cry is slow, let us ask ourselves searchingly, “Am I walking humbly before my God?” It is promised: “He shall exalt the humble and meek.”
If we recognise the call of God in the promptings of conscience, and faithfully seek to follow that call, but fail through no fault of our own, God credits us with our good intention. In no case can we achieve anything save through His help. Let us pray with St Augustine: “Give what thou commandest and command what Thou wilt.”
This thought is a great comfort, and so wonderful is it that it scarcely seems credible, yet it must be true. Our Lord commands, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” He is never unreasonable, and this would be so if it were not that all He requires is that I do what I can, and leave the rest with Him.
So trusting in this, we ask Him: stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty to be our defence. He will protect and nourish us with a Father's loving care; He will accept our blundering efforts. The blessing of our hearty desires will be upon what we do, and, poor as may be our effort, God will direct it and it will stand for us in the great day of reckoning’.
Shirley Carter Hughson OHC, 1867-1949
Fr Lee Kenyon