‘Now it is certain that amongst our neighbours are to be reckoned the souls in purgatory, who, although no longer living in this world, yet have not left the communion of saints… Therefore, we ought to succour, according to our ability, those holy souls as our neighbours; and as their necessities are greater than those of our neighbours; and as their necessities are greater than those of our other neighbours, for this reason our duty to succour them seems also to be greater.
But now, what are the necessities of those holy prisoners? It is certain that their pains are immense. The fire that tortures them, says St Augustine, is more excruciating than any pain that man can endure in this life: “That fire will be more painful than anything that man can suffer in this life”… And this only relates to the pains of sense. But the pain of loss (that is, the privation of the sight of God), which those holy souls suffer, is much greater; because not only their natural affection, but also the supernatural love of God, wherewith they burn, draws them with such violence to be united with their Sovereign Good, that when they see the barrier which their sins have put in the way, they feel a pain so acute, that if they were capable of death, they could not live a moment.
…They are destined to reign with Christ; but they are withheld from taking possession of their kingdom till the time of their purgation is accomplished. And they cannot help themselves (at least not sufficiently, even according to those theologians who assert that they can by their prayers gain some relief,) to throw off their chains, until they have entirely satisfied the justice of God’.
from ‘Prayer, The Great Means of Obtaining Salvation and All the Graces
Which We Desire of God’ by St Alphonsus di Liguori, 1696-1787
‘Weep for those who die in their wealth and who with all their wealth prepared no consolation for their own souls, who had the power to wash away their sins and did not will to do it. Let us weep for them, let us assist them to the extent of our ability, let us think of some assistance for them, small as it may be, yet let us somehow assist them. But how, and in what way? By praying for them and by entreating others to pray for them, by constantly giving alms to the poor on their behalf. Not in vain was it decreed by the apostles that in the awesome mysteries remembrance should be made of the departed. They knew that here there was much gain for them, much benefit. When the entire people stands with hands uplifted, a priestly assembly, and that awesome sacrificial Victim is laid out, how, when we are calling upon God, should we not succeed in their defence? But this is done for those who have departed in the faith, while even the catechumens are not reckoned as worthy of this consolation, but are deprived of every means of assistance except one. And what is that? We may give alms to the poor on their behalf’.
from Homilies on Philippians 3.4-10 by St John Chrysostom, d.407
Heavenly Father, Lord and Lover of souls, we pray to thee for those we believe are living still, though they have passed through the grave and gate of death and we see them no more. After the darkness here, grant them the light of vision; after the restlessness of sin, grant them the rest of union with thy will. Nearer to thee, they will not be farther from us: loving thee more, they will not love us less. Fulfil and finish in them thy perfect work, that they may know the more abundant life that he came to bring, who is the Resurrection and the Life, thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost for ever. Amen. - Father Andrew SDC, from St Gregory’s Prayer Book.
‘“We will not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that you be not sorrowful, even as others who have no hope”. The Church today has the same desire as the Apostle thus expressed to the first Christians. The truth concerning the dead not only proves admirably the union between God’s justice and his goodness; it also inspires a charitable pity which the hardest heart cannot resist, and at the same time offers to the mourners the sweetest consolation. If faith teaches us the existence of a purgatory, where our loved ones may be detained by unexpiated sin, it is also of faith that we are able to assist them; and theology assures us that their more or less speedy deliverance lies in our power. Let us call to mind a few principles, which throw light on this doctrine. Every sin causes a twofold injury to the sinner: it stains his soul, and renders him liable to punishment. Venial sin, which displeases God, requires a temporal expiation. Mortal sin deforms the soul, and makes the guilty man an abomination to God: its punishment cannot be anything less than eternal banishment, unless the sinner, in this life, prevent the final and irrevocable sentence. But even then the remission of the guilt, though it revokes the sentence of damnation, does not cancel the whole debt. Although an extraordinary overflow of grace upon the prodigal may sometimes, as is always the case with regard to baptism and martyrdom, bury every remnant and vestige of sin in the abyss of divine oblivion; yet it is the ordinary rule that for every fault, satisfaction must be made to God’s justice, either in this world or in the next’.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB, 1805-1875
As Canada goes to the polls today, two patrimonial prayers from the Book of Common Prayer (Canada, 1962) for the election, and for the nation.
ALMIGHTY GOD, the fountain of all wisdom: Guide and direct, we humbly beseech thee, the minds of all those who are called at this time to elect fit persons to serve in the Parliament of this nation. Grant that in the exercise of their choice they may promote thy glory, and the welfare of this Dominion. And this we beg for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
O GOD, the fountain of all wisdom, we bless and praise thy holy Name that thou didst move our rulers and statesmen to bring together under one government the scattered communities of this land, and to unite them into one Dominion from sea to sea. We beseech thee to grant that the heritage received from our fathers may be preserved in our time, and handed down unimpaired to our children; and that from generation to generation we may remain a united people, loyal to our Sovereign and our Country; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants: and that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Prayer is the effort we make to take advantage of the open-handedness of God. If the open ear and the open hand belong to God, the open mind must belong to us. We need to learn what kind of gifts we should ask for, and what sort of petition is better left unsaid. Therefore we must have a mind ready to receive instruction so that we can learn what things are most pleasing to him.
Solomon won his way to God’s heart by abstaining from any selfish petition and asking only that he might have the wisdom necessary for the good ordering of God’s people. We who belong to the Christian Church and have the revelation of Christ behind us are in still better case, for we can judge God’s character so much more easily and accurately through knowing Christ. “Let this mind be in you”, says St Paul, “which was also in Christ Jesus”.
If we must possess the mind of Christ, what is foreign to him will be impossible for us. We shall instinctively reject what is bad and cultivate what is good. We shall be guided to understand better our own needs, and so to ask for the things that are really worthwhile. We shall not be afraid to ask in the name, that is, in the person of Jesus. We shall know that what is important is not the manner of asking but the thing asked for. We shall have special confidence in our petition being answered because we shall be saying the right prayer, and shall thus be observing the protocol of heaven’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
‘St Bernard was not only a remarkable preacher of grace, he was also a preacher of truth. “The fulness of grace”, he declared, in an astonishing phrase in Song of Songs, Sermon 74, “does not consist of grace alone”. The Word, it is true, delights to come to us as our redeemer and friend, and even sometimes, in prayer, as our bridegroom. But, when he comes, Bernard says, he comes to us as truth as well as grace, as judge as well as friend. “[B]y the movement of my heart... did I perceive his presence”. There is, first of all, then, an awakening to grace and a profound sense of consolation. But there is also, Bernard notes at once, an experience of purification and a new awareness of truth. Things within us, which are opposed to the new life, are “plucked out”, we’re told, and even “destroyed”. And the heart that was as “hard as stone and diseased” finds itself pierced through. “I knew”, Bernard says, “the power of his might because my faults were put to flight and my human yearnings brought into subjection. I have marvelled at the depth of his wisdom when my secret faults have been revealed and made visible”. Effectively, what St Bernard is saying here is that if, in prayer, we experience only and always a sustained series of spiritual consolations and delights, but never what he calls “the truth of our condition in God’s sight”, then what we are experiencing is certainly not God. For this reason, in Sermon 74, Bernard implores the Word to come to him “full of grace and truth”.
“I need both of these: I need truth that I may not be able to hide from him, and grace that I may not wish to hide. Indeed, without both of these his visitation would not be complete, for the stark reality of truth would be intolerable without grace, and the gladness of grace might appear lax and uncontrolled without truth”.
Clearly, all that applies to prayer in this context, applies also to preaching. Bernard is well aware that, in the hands of the preacher, truth without grace, is a harsh, fundamentalist weapon. But he is also equally aware that grace without truth, is a mere sentimentality. “How many people”, he writes, “have received grace without profit because they have not also accepted a tempering measure of truth? In consequence they have luxuriated in it too much, without reverence or regard for truth.... To them it could be said... ‘Go, then, and learn what it means to serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice in him with awe’”.’
Fr Paul Murray OP
O God, by whose grace the blessed Abbot Bernard, kindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and a shining light in thy Church: grant, at his intercession; that we may be inflamed with the same spirit of love, and ever walk before thee as children of light; 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. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
O God, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth: we humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us; 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 Eighth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Collect, Epistle and Gospel [in the Prayer Book] still follow the old English order of the Sarum Missal and are of ancient origin.
We admit that God’s providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth. Some people may say, why then pray? Why seek to alter what God has wisely ordered? The answer is that the arrangements of God’s providence leave room for prayer and its answer, that we may have the joy of being “fellow-workers with God” (2 Cor. 6:1). In the Collect therefore we pray that God may put away from us all hurtful things, and give us those things which be profitable for us.
…We pray, knowing that God’s providence will never fail. Each of us may need something different. What may be profitable for one may be useless to another, yet I think for all of us there are some things which will be profitable and which none of us can do without.
(a) Our Faith. Some people say that if God by His providence orders all things, then it is useless to try. That is foolish. God gave man a free will, so He limited Himself, and cannot force us to do His will. If man makes war, God cannot stop it, but He does bring good out of evil by His providence. Sin is war against God. Our faith in Him leads us to pray that He may give us things profitable for us, that our sin may not prevent Him from giving us these things.
(b) Our Hopes. When faced with difficulties or troubles, people lose not only their faith, but their hope. We hope for things unseen, not the things we can see. God will never let us down even though man may do so, because of His never-failing providence. That does not mean we shall not have to bear our troubles, which may be the Cross the Lord has called us to bear. Count your blessings, then you will bear your Cross cheerfully, knowing your hope is in God, and He will never fail us.
(c) Our Love. If we retain our faith and hope in God, then we are bound to love Him and for His sake we shall love others. Love begets love. The more love we give away, the more we shall receive in return, and so you see how God can give things profitable for us. We must use our free will aright, otherwise hurtful things may be our lot. God helps those who help themselves. Besides all this, we have the Church and Sacraments. They come through God’s never-failing providence, and they are profitable for us’.
from Teaching the Collects, 1965, by H.E. Sheen
On this feast of St Alphonsus de Liguori, and first day of the month traditionally dedicated to Our Blessed Lady’s Immaculate Heart, a prayer of St Alphonsus to the same.
‘O most pure Virgin Mary, I venerate thy most holy heart, which was the delight and resting-place of God, thy heart overflowing with humility, purity, and divine love. I, an unhappy sinner, approach thee with a heart all loathsome and wounded. O compassionate Mother, disdain me not on this account; let such a sight rather move thee to greater tenderness, and excite thee to help me. Do not stay to seek virtues or merit in me before assisting me. I am lost, and the only thing I merit is hell. See only my confidence in thee and the purpose I have to amend. Consider all that Jesus has done and suffered for me, and then abandon me if thou canst. I offer thee all the pains of his life; the cold that he endured in the stable; his journey into Egypt; the blood which he shed; the poverty, sweats, sorrows, and death that he endured for me; and this in thy presence. For the love of Jesus, take charge of my salvation. Ah, my Mother, I will not and cannot fear that thou wilt reject me, now that I have recourse to thee and ask thy help. Did I fear this, I should be offering an outrage to thy mercy, which goes in quest of the wretched, in order to help them. O Lady, deny not thy compassion to one to whom Jesus has not denied his blood. But the merits of this blood will not be applied to me unless thou recommendest me to God. Through thee do I hope for salvation. I ask not for riches, honours, or earthly goods. I seek only the grace of God, love towards thy Son, the accomplishment of his will, and his heavenly kingdom, that I may love him eternally. Is it possible that thou wilt not hear me? No; for already thou has granted my prayer, as I hope; already thou prayest for me; already thou obtainest me the graces that I ask; already thou takest me under thy protection. My Mother, abandon me not. Never, never cease to pray for me, until thou seest me safe in heaven at thy feet, blessing and thanking thee forever. Amen’.
St Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, 1696-1787
O God, who didst inflame blessed Alphonsus, thy Confessor and Bishop, with zeal for souls, and didst through him enrich thy Church with a new offspring: we beseech thee; that being taught by his wholesome precepts and strengthened by his example, we may be able to attain in gladness unto thee; 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. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
O how glorious is the kingdom in which all the Saints rejoice with Christ,
and, clad in white robes, follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
V. Let the Saints be joyful in glory. R. Let them rejoice in their beds.
O ALMIGHTY GOD, who hast knit together thine elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of thy Son Christ our Lord: grant us grace so to follow thy blessed Saints in all virtuous and godly living; that through their intercession we may come to those unspeakable joys, which thou hast prepared for them that unfeignedly love thee; through the same 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.
from the Wednesday Commemoration of the Saints, St Gregory’s Prayer Book
1. I sing a song of the saints of God,
Patient and brave and true,
Who toiled and fought and lived and died
For the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
And one was a shepherdess on the green;
They were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.
2. They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,
And his love made them strong;
And they followed the right for Jesus’ sake
The whole of their good lives long.
And one was a soldier, and one was a priest,
And one was slain by a fierce wild beast;
And there’s not any reason, no, not the least,
Why I shouldn’t be one too.
3. They lived not only in ages past;
There are hundreds of thousands still.
The world is bright with the joyous saints
Who love to do Jesus’ will.
You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,
In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea;
For the saints of God are just folk like me,
And I mean to be one too.
Lesbia Scott, 1898-1986
‘If we compare the indifference shown by the Catholics of the present age for the Rogation Days, with the devotion wherewith our ancestors kept them, we cannot but acknowledge that there is a great falling off in faith and piety. Knowing, as we do, the importance attached to these Processions by the Church, we cannot help wondering how it is that there are so few among the Faithful who assist at them. Our surprise increases when we find persons preferring their own private devotions to these public Prayers of the Church, which to say nothing of the result of good example, merit far greater graces than any exercises of our own fancying.
The whole Western Church soon adopted the Rogation Days. They were introduced into England at an early period; so, likewise, into Spain, and Germany. Rome herself sanctioned them by her own observing them; this she did in the 8th century, during the Pontificate of St Leo the Third. She gave them the name of the Lesser Litanies, in contradistinction to the Procession of the 25th of April, which she calls the Greater Litanies. With regard to the Fast which the Churches of Gaul observed during the Rogation Days, Rome did not adopt that part of the institution. Fasting seemed to her to throw a gloom over the joyous forty days, which our Risen Jesus grants to his Disciples; she therefore enjoined only abstinence from flesh-meat during the Rogation Days. The Church of Milan, which, as we have just seen, so strictly observes the Rogations, keeps them on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension, that is to say, after the forty days devoted to the celebration of the Resurrection.
If, then, we would have a correct idea of the Rogation Days, we must consider them as Rome does, - that is, as a holy institution which, without interrupting our Paschal joy, tempers it. The purple vestments used during the Procession and Mass do not signify that our Jesus has fled from us, but that the time for his departure is approaching. By prescribing Abstinence for these three days, the Church would express how much she will feel the loss of her Spouse, who is so soon to be taken from her’.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB, 1805-1875
O Almighty God, who hast created the earth for man, and man for thy glory: mercifully hear the supplications of the people, and be mindful of thy covenant; that both the earth may yield her increase, and the good seed of thy word may bring forth abundantly, to the glory of thy holy Name; 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. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it you’. – St John xvi.23
‘The real meaning of the prayer of intercession is that we seek in it to put the power of our own wills and the energies of our own affections at God’s disposal as a means of blessing for His world. Putting ourselves at His disposal, we implore His efficacious grace for the conversion of souls, for the spread of the holy Faith throughout the world, or for the welfare of our country, our friends, our family – for He would have us come to Him as persons with the individual petition which is the secret of each separate soul. But this petition will never have the character of reminding or instructing Him, but will rather be the soul’s confidence in His interest in the personal life, hopes, fears, and yearnings of each individual soul.
As every true act of satisfaction or reparation will always be in union with the everlasting Sacrifice of the Divine Son, so the prayer of petition will seek to unite itself with the intentions of the Sacred Heart, knowing that there is ever proceeding from Jesus our Lord the energy of a perpetual desire that all the human nature which He came to redeem may be wholly responsive to His Father’s love and wholly receptive of His Father’s blessing, and seeking to unite its own love, its own petition, with the stream of that desire’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
O Lord, from whom all good things do come: grant to us thy humble servants; that by holy inspiration we may think those things that be good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; 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 Rogation Sunday, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘By this action Christ our Master teaches us how in prayer we ought to use gestures by which the mind may be moved and uplifted, as we raise our eyes above, and join our hands, and bend our knees, using outward actions. Not that these outward signs make our prayer more effectual with God, for God is a searcher of hearts and he has not moved by outward signs. But these actions are done, or to be done, so that you may know that body and soul are united in prayer: for through the outer outward actions the body is conformed to the soul; and also that you, on your side, ought to help yourself to the utmost of your power; and then God will help you too. For he inspires you, and you ought to recognise his inspirations, and help yourself by following them; and you ought not to pray for yourself only, but for others also’.
from a sermon on St John 11:41, ‘Jesus raised his eyes to heaven’,
by St Bernardine of Siena, 1380-1444
O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst endue blessed Bernardine, thy Confessor, with pre-eminent love of thy most holy Name: we beseech thee; that, by the virtue of his merits and intercession, thou wouldest graciously pour into our hearts the spirit of love towards thee; who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Lord, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.
O Christ, hear us. O Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy upon us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy upon us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy upon us.
Jesus, the Eternal Widsom, have mercy upon us.
The Word made flesh, have mercy upon us.
Hated by the world, have mercy upon us.
Sold for thirty pieces of silver, have mercy upon us.
Sweating blood in Thy agony, have mercy upon us.
Betrayed by Judas, have mercy upon us.
Forsaken by Thy disciples, have mercy upon us.
Struck upon the cheek, have mercy upon us.
Accused by false witnesses, have mercy upon us.
Spit upon in the face, have mercy upon us.
Denied by Peter, have mercy upon us.
Mocked by Herod, have mercy upon us.
Scourged by Pilate, have mercy upon us.
Rejected for Barabbas, have mercy upon us.
Loaded with the cross, have mercy upon us.
Crowned with thorns, have mercy upon us.
Stripped of Thy garments, have mercy upon us.
Nailed to the tree, have mercy upon us.
Reviled by the Jews, have mercy upon us.
Scoffed at by the malefactor, have mercy upon us.
Wounded in the side, have mercy upon us.
Shedding Thy last drop of blood, have mercy upon us.
Forsaken by Thy Father, have mercy upon us.
Dying for our sins, have mercy upon us.
Taken down from the cross, have mercy upon us.
Laid in the sepulchre, have mercy upon us.
Rising gloriously, have mercy upon us.
Ascending into Heaven, have mercy upon us.
Sending down the Paraclete, have mercy upon us.
Jesus our Sacrifice, have mercy upon us.
Jesus our Mediator, have mercy upon us.
Jesus our Judge, have mercy upon us.
Be merciful. Spare us, O Lord.
Be merciful. Graciously hear us, O Lord.
We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee,
Because through Thy Holy Cross Thou didst redeem the world.
Let us pray. O God, who for the redemption of the world wast pleased to be born; to be circumcised; to be rejected; to be betrayed; to be bound with thongs; to be led to the slaughter; to be shamefully gazed at; to be falsely accused; to be scourged and torn; to be spit upon, and crowned with thorns; to be mocked and reviled; to be buffeted and struck with rods; to be stripped; to be nailed to the cross; to be hoisted up thereon; to be reckoned among thieves; to have gall and vinegar to drink; to be pierced with a lance: through Thy most holy passion, which we, Thy sinful servants, call to mind, and by Thy holy cross and gracious death, deliver us from the pains of hell, and lead us whither Thou didst lead the thief who was crucified with Thee, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, God, world without end. Amen.
from his Litany of the Passion by Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
‘How pleasing and dear to God is that soul, and how fruitful will his meditations be, in which he inwardly suffers the pains of Jesus’ passion, is wounded to the heart by His wounds, and by reflecting on his death experiences a love-death with Him.
…Most gracious Lord Jesus, I ask thee, who in thy vast love deigned to pray for thine enemies, to pray with that same love for me to the Father that He grant me full pardon for all my sins and mercifully free me from the punishment I deserve for them. Grant me a firm and abiding trust in thy love, that I yield not to despair because of the greatness of my sins, rather that I remember that thou hast come into this world to save sinners and that it was thy will to suffer, to be crucified, and to die for the sinful.
…Lord, let my soul rejoice in thee and find joy in thy salvation, as I reflect on thy most consoling words, your second utterance from the Cross, “Amen I say unto thee, this day thou shalt be with me in paradise”. May these words, more tender because they came from thee as thou hung upon thy Cross, be often on my lips and still more often in my heart. Words addressed to me from the lips of my crucified Lord are most endearing and eloquent, and for this reason they merit more serious attention and profound reflection.
…Let meditating on Jesus Christ and Him crucified be your daily prayer. Keep Jesus always before your eyes and keep ever near the foot of His Cross. Whether in life or death, enter the tomb with Jesus so that when Christ, who is your life, shall appear again, you will rise with Him in glory. Amen’.
from On the Passion of Christ According to the Four Evangelists by Thomas à Kempis, c.1380-1471
O Christ, my Lord, which for my sins didst hang upon a tree,
grant that thy grace in me, poor wretch, may still ingrafted be.
Grant that thy naked hanging there may kill in me all pride
and care of wealth, sith thou didst then in such poor state abide.
Grant that thy crown of pricking thorns, which thou for me didst wear,
may make me willing for thy sake all shame and pain to bear.
Grant that those scorns and taunts which thou didst on the cross endure
may humble me and in my heart all patience still procure.
Grant that thy praying for thy foes may plant within my breast
such charity as from my heart I malice may detest.
Grant that thy pierced hands, which did of nothing all things frame,
may move me to lift up my hand and ever praise thy name.
Grant that thy wounded feet, whose steps were perfect evermore,
may learn my feet to tread those paths which thou hast gone before.
Grant that those drops of blood which ran out from thy heart amain
may meek my heart into salt tears to see thy grievous pain.
Grant that thy blessed grave, wherein thy body lay awhile,
may bury all such vain delights as may my mind defile.
Grant that thy going down to them which did thy sight desire
may keep my soul, when I am dead, clean from the purging fire.
Grant that thy rising up from death may raise my thoughts from sin;
grant that thy parting from this earth from earth my heart may win.
Grant, Lord, that they ascending then may lift my mind to thee
that there my heart and joy may rest, though here in flesh I be. Amen.
St Philip Howard, 20th Earl of Arundel, 1557-1595
O MOST HOLY MOTHER, Queen of Sorrows,
who didst follow thy beloved Son through all the Way of the Cross,
and whose Heart was pierced with a fresh sword of grief
at all the Stations of that most sorrowful journey,
obtain for us, we beseech thee, O most loving Mother,
a perpetual remembrance of our Blessed Saviour's Cross and Death,
and a true and tender devotion to all the mysteries of His most holy Passion.
Obtain for us the grace to hate sin,
even as He hated it in the agony in the garden;
to endure wrong and insult with all patience
as He endured them in the judgement hall;
to be meek and humble in all our trials
as He was before His judges;
to love our enemies even as He loved his murderers,
and prayed for them upon the Cross;
and to glorify God and to do good to our neighbour,
even as He did in every mystery of His suffering.
O Queen of Martyrs,
who by the Dolours of thy Immaculate Heart on Calvary,
didst merit to share the Passion of Our Most Holy Redeemer,
obtain for us some portion of thy compassion,
that for love of Jesus crucified,
we may be crucified to the world in this life,
and in the life to come may,
by His infinite merits and thy most powerful intercession,
reign with Him in glory everlasting.
1. My God, who could have imagined, by any light of nature, that it was one of Thy attributes to lower Thyself, and to work out Thy purposes by Thy own humiliation and suffering? Thou hadst lived from eternity in ineffable blessedness. My God, I might have understood as much as this, viz. that, when Thou didst begin to create and surround Thyself with a world of creatures, that these attributes would show themselves in Thee which before had no exercise. Thou couldest not show Thy power when there was nothing whatever to exercise it. Then too, Thou didst begin to show thy wonderful and tender providence, Thy faithfulness, Thy solicitous care for those whom Thou hadst created. But who could have fancied that Thy creation of the universe implied and involved in it Thy humiliation? O my great God, Thou hast humbled Thyself, Thou hast stooped to take our flesh and blood, and hast been lifted up upon the tree! I praise and glorify Thee tenfold the more, because Thou hast shown Thy power by means of Thy suffering, than hadst Thou carried on Thy work without it. It is worthy of Thy infinitude thus to surpass and transcend all our thoughts.
2. O my Lord Jesu, I believe, and by Thy grace will ever believe and hold, and I know that it is true, and will be true to the end of the world, that nothing great is done without suffering, without humiliation, and that all things are possible by means of it. I believe, O my God, that poverty is better than riches, pain better than pleasure, obscurity and contempt than name, and ignominy and reproach than honour. My Lord, I do not ask Thee to bring these trials on me, for I know not if I could face them; but at least, O Lord, whether I be in prosperity or adversity, I will believe that it is as I have said. I will never have faith in riches, rank, power, or reputation. I will never set my heart on worldly success or on worldly advantages. I will never wish for what men call the prizes of life. I will ever, with Thy grace, make much of those who are despised or neglected, honour the poor, revere the suffering, and admire and venerate Thy saints and confessors, and take my part with them in spite of the world.
3. And lastly, O my dear Lord, though I am so very weak that I am not fit to ask Thee for suffering as a gift, and have not strength to do so, at least I will beg of Thee grace to meet suffering well, when Thou in Thy love and wisdom dost bring it upon me. Let me bear pain, reproach, disappointment, slander, anxiety, suspense, as Thou wouldest have me, O my Jesu, and as Thou by Thy own suffering hast taught me, when it comes. And I promise too, with Thy grace, that I will never set myself up, never seek pre-eminence, never court any great thing of the world, never prefer myself to others. I wish to bear insult meekly, and to return good for evil. I wish to humble myself in all things, and to be silent when I am ill-used, and to be patient when sorrow or pain is prolonged, and all for the love of Thee, and Thy Cross, knowing that in this way I shall gain the promise both of this life and of the next.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
For Saturday: A prayer against weakness in well-doing
I. O My God, merciful and gracious, my soul groans under the loads of its own infirmity, when my spirit is willing, my flesh is weak; my understanding foolish and imperfect, my will peevish and listless, my affections wandring after strange objects, my fancy wilde and unfixed, all my senses minister to folly and vanity; and though they were all made for Religion, yet they least of all delight in that. O my God pity me, and hear me when I pray, and make that I may pray acceptably. Give me a love to Religion, an unwearied spirit in the things of God. Let me not relish or delight in the things of the world, in sensual objects, and transitory possessions; but make my eyes look up to thee, my soul be filled with thee, my spirit ravished with thy love, my understanding imployed in the meditation of thy Law, all my powers and faculties of soul and body wholly serving thee, and delighting in such holy ministeries.
II. O Most gracious God, what greater favour is there then that I may, and what easier imployment can there be then to pray thee, to be admitted into thy presence, and to represent our needs, and that we have our needs supplied onely for asking and desiring passionately and humbly. But we rather quit our hopes of heaven, then buy it at the cheapest rate of humble prayer. This, O God, is the greatest infirmity and infelicity of man, and hath an intolerable cause, and is an unsufferable evil.
III. O Relieve my spirit with thy graciousness, take from me all tediousness of spirit, and give me a laboriousness that will not be tired, a hope that shall never fail a desire of holiness not to be satisfied till it possesses, a charity that will alwayes increase; that I making Religion the business of my whole life, may turn all things into Religion, doing all to thy glory, and by the measures of thy Word and of thy Spirit, that when thou shalt call me from this deliciousness of imployment, and the holy ministeries of grace, I may pass into the imployment of Saints and Angels, whose work it is with eternal joy and thanksgiving to sing praises to the mercies of the great Redeemer of Men, and Saviour of Men and Angels, Jesus Christ our Lord: To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and worship, all service and thanks, all Glory and Dominon for ever and ever. Amen.
from The Golden Grove or A Manuall of Daily Prayers and Letanies, 1655
by Jeremy Taylor, 1613-1667 (Anglican Bishop of Down and Connor 1661-1667)
On this Octave Day of the Church Unity Octave (otherwise known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity), the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, a prayer by Blessed John Henry Newman:
O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when thou wast about to suffer, didst pray for thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as thou art in the Father, and the Father in thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess thy faith, and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted upon thy people. Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another… and bring them all into that one communion which thou didst set up in the beginning, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Teach all men that the see of Saint Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is thy Vicar and Representative; and that in obeying him in matters of religion, they are obeying thee, so that as there is but one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be but one communion, confessing and glorifying thy holy Name here below. Amen.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
‘The journey of the Magi gives us a mystical interpretation of the life of prayer. The Magi are represented to us as oriental sovereigns, who had everything that could satisfy their senses. Their first condition may represent the life which seeks to find satisfaction in material things. It is the witness of the soul, and of these wandering Wise Men, that we cannot be satisfied with the life of the senses. Hence that urge which the Wise Men felt to leave their comfortable life, their glittering courts, and go out they knew not where, following a beckoning which they felt certain called them – without, by the following of a star; within, by some spiritual hunger.
That urge is something which we all know. We cannot rest in the material; we must seek the spiritual. Sometimes we get tired, and perhaps we give up the quest for a while and try to settle down into material things, but we cannot do it. God is Spirit, and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth, because we ourselves, created in His image, are spiritual beings’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
Lastly, let us remember before the Lord that multitude of which no man can number,
who in the hope of the resurrection have passed through the valley of the shadow of death;
and let us pray that the Lord may grant unto them his eternal light.
V. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord,
R. And may light perpetual shine upon them.
Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend the souls of the all the faithful departed,
as into the hands of a faithful Creator and most loving Saviour,
beseeching thee to grant unto them forgiveness and peace; Jesu, mercy.
Grant that all stain of sin may be done away,
and that in thy light they may see light; Jesu, mercy.
Grant unto them the renewing and enriching of thy gifts to them,
that with all their powers they may serve thee and thy kingdom; Jesu, mercy.
Grant to us, Lord, in our pilgrimage the help of their prayers; Jesu, mercy.
Grant to thy Church, Lord, the assurance of the communion of saints
and the joy of their fellowship: that they and we may be for ever one in thee; Jesu, mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father...
Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before
the presence of his glory with exceeding joy; to the only wise God our Saviour
be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
from Cambridge Offices and Orisons, 1949
arranged by Eric Milner-White and BTD Smith
A visit to Chester Cathedral yesterday which, before the Reformation, was a Benedictine abbey in communion with Rome. The cloister has a remarkable collection of stained glass windows dedicated to the saints and holy men and women commemorated within the kalendar of the Church of England. Here is the window to Saint Gabriel the Archangel, and an accompanying prayer to Our Lady Mary for the conversion of England. Let the reader understand!
O BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy Dowry and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.
On this First Friday of the month, a day of devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a prayer:
My God, my Saviour, I adore Thy Sacred Heart, for that heart is the seat and source of all Thy tenderest human affections for us sinners. It is the instrument and organ of Thy love. It did beat for us. It yearned over us. It ached for us, and for our salvation. It was on fire through zeal, that the glory of God might be manifested in and by us. It is the channel through which has come to us all Thy overflowing human affection, all Thy Divine Charity towards us. All Thy incomprehensible compassion for us, as God and Man, as our Creator and our Redeemer and Judge, has come to us, and comes, in one inseparably mingled stream, through that Sacred Heart. O most Sacred symbol and Sacrament of Love, divine and human, in its fulness. Thou didst save me by Thy divine strength, and Thy human affection, and then at length by that wonder-working blood, wherewith Thou didst overflow.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
A Celtic prayer on this memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels.
Thou angel of God who hast charge of me
From the dear Father of mercifulness,
The shepherding kind of the fold of the saints
To make round about me this night;
Drive from me every temptation and danger,
Surround me on the sea of unrighteousness,
And in the narrows, crooks, and straits,
Keep thou my coracle, keep it always.
Be thou a bright flame before me;
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a smooth path below me,
And be a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today, tonight, and for ever.
I am tired and I a stranger,
Lead thou me to the land of angels;
For me it is time to go home
To the court of Christ, to the peace of heaven.
O God, who in thine ineffable providence dost vouchsafe to send thy holy Angels to guard us: grant, of thy bountiful goodness; that we thy humble servants may continue in safety under their protection, and hereafter rejoice in their abiding fellowship; 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. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon
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