Although the following was penned 137 ago this Lent, Edward King’s words, especially in the first paragraph, seem almost prophetic. A reminder, perhaps, that the feelings and emotions associated with the present abnormality in our domestic, social, educational, working, and ecclesiastical lives, is nothing new, and that in all and through all there remains an abiding, unchanging, and objective joy underpinning all things and events in our individual and corporate lives. Can we, then, see this time as an opportunity to give up ourselves and so grow in trustfulness and hopefulness?
‘[Y]ear after year, as Passiontide after Passiontide goes round, and we see people getting old around us, and more nervously distrustful, and more melancholy, and undergoing all the manifold sufferings of this world, getting out of spirits, and feeling themselves failing, and that they cannot enjoy things as they used; money and pleasure will not do what they used for them; they feel physically used up – we feel that all this is not so with the spiritual nature. The nearer we get to God the more we see of Him; the more satiated we are with love for Him; the more spiritual power we receive; the more strength comes to us. And all this grows, as year after year in Passiontide we gain an ever-increasing trust in the death of Christ. And whether it is a wet or fine Easter; whether we have a fine service here in London, or a dull one all alone down in the country, this unchanging joy is the same in our hearts, the joy which makes Good Friday indeed good, and Easter Day exceedingly bright, the one thought, He died for me!
When we really realise this, we dare think of His coming again in great glory, we dare look forward to the Judgement Day, and on to heaven beyond!
We ought, each one of us, to be growing in this spirit of even trustfulness and hopefulness, for we know there is nothing of our own to trust in, but only the merits of Christ. And this spirit would be growing in each one of us, if we did not shrink from availing ourselves of all the helps He has provided for us in His Church. We should be able to say, “The Precious Blood of Christ cleanses me from all sin. It is mine. It marks my soul”.
… Do not let Passiontide come and go this year, as if the Atonement was a distant thing – with no particular application to yourself – but try and bring it home in this way to your own soul, and you will find an ever-increasing and abiding peace.
He gave up all, and died for me; the very least we can do is to give up ourselves entirely to Him. Do not go and use this means of grace selfishly, in order that we may say, “Oh, I feel so happy; I am cleansed from all my sins!” But what must follow? We must give ourselves to Him. Let this one act be our chief devotional exercise this Passiontide – to reconsecrate ourselves, for the rest of our lives to His service’.
from an address given in Lent 1883 by Edward King, 1829-1910
(Anglican Bishop of Lincoln, 1885-1910)
Today’s historic Rededication of England as the Dowry of Mary – centred naturally on the Image of Our Lady of Walsingham, the premier Marian shrine in that realm - brought to mind memories of many happy and peaceful pilgrim visits to Our Lady’s sanctuary there. Walsingham has long held a special place in my devotional and spiritual life; a place that offers safe harbour, protection, respite from the busyness of the world, and the sense of home beyond home. Entering into the Holy House – which remains the first pilgrim port of call in the village for those of us in the Ordinariate, as it did in our Anglican days – is an act to be accompanied by deep sigh of relief. Words from the 43rd Psalm, fittingly part of the Introit for today’s Mass for Passion Sunday, mark every pilgrim’s First Visit – ‘I will go into the house of the Lord, even the house of my joy and gladness’ – echoing and underlying that sense of homecoming and also of the joy – Mary’s joy – in the mystery of the Incarnation, to which Walsingham bears witness.
A fourth Canadian pilgrimage was planned for the spring of next year but, as with much else, that has had to be put on hold until a clearer path can be discerned in the wake of evolving circumstances due to the global pandemic. So for now, and for a little while longer, as with the Eucharistic fast, may we be content with and comforted by many spiritual visits to Walsingham, pledging our love and devotion to Our Blessed Lady, under that ancient title, and pleading to her for the conversion of England (and wherever else we may live), the restoration of the sick, consolation for the afflicted, and peace for the departed.
Here is Fr Alfred Hope Patten’s (Anglican) prayer ‘to Our Lady of Walsingham When Absent’, from an old copy of the Walsingham Pilgrim Manual.
Most holy Virgin! I prostrate myself in spirit before thy Shrine at Walsingham, that Sanctuary favoured by thy visits, favours and many miracles. I unite myself with all those who have ever sought thee, and do now seek thee, in that holy place, and join my prayers with theirs. But especially I unite my intentions with the intentions of the Priests who offer the holy sacrifice upon thy Altar there. I offer thee my love and devotion, asking thee to remember for all eternity that I am numbered among the pilgrims who have sought thy intercession in the Sanctuary of thy choice. I renew the promises and intentions I made when it was my privilege to salute thee at thy Shrine in the Vale of the Stiffkey. Dear Mother, Our Lady of Walsingham, remember me.
An overcast Mothering Sunday today, in more ways than one, brightened a little by the use of an old rose Low Mass set in the Spanish style. This set, used only once a year, was given to me almost two decades ago by my then-Anglican parish priest in Manchester. He had, in turn, been given it by his confessor, a monk of the Anglican Benedictine community at Nashdom. So, a nice bit a patrimony on this most patrimonial of Sundays.
Had normal service been in operation we would have enjoyed the return of the organ, flowers at the altar, beautiful Marian hymns, rosa mystica incense, and the distribution of daffodils and simnel cake. Alas. Our opening hymn for the Solemn Mass was to have been The God of love my Shepherd is - the 23rd psalm - appointed for this ‘Refreshment Sunday’ in the English Hymnal. Words by Herbert, music by Dr Charles Collignon, who taught anatomy, of all things, at the University of Cambridge in the second half of the 18th century. His tune is thus called ‘University’. I think it sublime and deeply fitting for this time.
1. The God of love my Shepherd is,
And he that doth me feed;
While he is mine and I am his,
What can I want or need?
2. He leads me to the tender grass,
Where I both feed and rest;
Then to the streams that gently pass:
In both I have the best.
3. Or if I stray, he doth convert,
And bring my mind in frame,
And all this not for my desert,
But for his holy name.
4. Yea, in death’s shady black abode
Well may I walk, not fear;
For thou art with me, and thy rod
To guide, thy staff to bear.
5. Surely thy sweet and wondrous love
Shall measure all my days;
And, as it never shall remove,
So neither shall my praise.
George Herbert, 1593-1633
1. New every morning is the love
Our wakening and uprising prove;
Through sleep and darkness safely brought,
Restored to life and power and thought.
2. New mercies, each returning day,
Hover around us while we pray;
New perils past, new sins forgiven,
New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven.
3. If on our daily course our mind
Be set to hallow all we find,
New treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.
4. The trivial round, the common task,
Will furnish all we need to ask,
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us daily nearer God.
5. Only, O Lord, in thy dear love
Fit us for perfect rest above;
And help us, this and every day,
To live more nearly as we pray.
John Keble, 1792-1866
‘As E.L. Mascall points out, it is the devil’s work which is always manifested in useless activity. Who as “a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” He does not need to devour anything because he is not hungry; he just cannot keep still, and I suspect that we can get Satan into something of a diabolic panic if we show him that we can keep still. “Whom resist steadfast in the faith;” the stand-up fight has to come in the end, but it was Jesus’ forty days of silent preparation that got Satan bewildered and groggy in the first place.
…Lenten discipline is not for seeking the Lord, but for adopting the position where he can find us, in silence and solitude, in patient waiting not in hectic activity’.
Martin Thornton OGS, 1915-1986
‘If there is one time in the Church Year when we ought to feel the need to exercise faith and to pray fervently in faith it is Lent.
The usual tendency in our prayers is to ask God to help us, to aid us, to assist us and to strengthen us. All well and good, but sometimes hidden in such verbal requests is the general idea that we can do so much for ourselves and we only need God to come along and give us the extra push, to top up our strength. But in this prayer we begin by recognising as we meditate before almighty God our Father, who is the Omnipotent One, that in fact we need more than a push and a topping up: we need his help, power, grace and strength completely and wholly. For we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves in the real battles of life against adversaries much stronger than we are.
Therefore, from the position of total dependency upon God’s gracious power we ask the Father in the name of his well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that in body and soul we may be daily preserved and protected from all forms of evil and sin. We cannot predict as each day begins what bad things can and will happen to our body, from accident, disease, carelessness, or the evil will of others. Further, and significantly, we cannot predict what can and will happen to our soul - our mind, emotions and will - as it is open to testing and temptation. Evil thoughts, desires and imaginations can be generated within our souls by all kinds of stimuli, by the world and the devil’.
Peter Toon, 1939-2009
Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; 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 Second Sunday in Lent, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Newman never changed from the view which he had expressed so forcefully in Lectures on Anglican Difficulties (1850) that Anglo-Catholicism was inherently illogical and inconsistent. In 1882, by now a cardinal, he wrote that what Anglo-Catholic ritualists lacked, for all their dedication and even heroism under persecution, was “an intellectual foundation - which, sufficient for practical purposes, the Evangelicals seems to me to have”. It was a devastating indictment, but there was also a damning corollary: the lack of any real authority for the Anglo-Catholic position, a position which seemed to fly so manifestly in the face of the historical facts of the English Reformation, also seemed to Newman to carry within itself the seeds of theological liberalism. For a religion without either the biblical authority of Evangelicalism or the Magisterium of the Catholic Church could only be “a form of liberalism”, however liturgical and sacramental it might be’.
from his chapter ‘C.S. Lewis, Newman, and Conversion’, in ‘The Path to Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church’, 2010, by Fr Ian Ker.
‘Something better and fuller awaits us, if we discern God’s will rightly, and have the courage to try to fulfil it... [T]he kaleidoscope is turning and entirely uncharted and unexpected territory will be coming into view. We have grown up against the background of an ecclesial view where we knew our place as Catholic Anglicans, and how we fitted, or hoped to fit, into the wider pattern of the Church militant. Now, it seems, the inadequacy of that view is being revealed, and we have to allow God to reveal something more to us. We all feel confused and disquieted and none of us likes to feel the rock we have stood on, with such surety, is shifting (and even proving to have certain sandy properties we have never wanted to admit), but Jesus’ prayer on the Cross is our surrender to the Father’s will, and that is where we must base our hope. In human terms, yes, so much we have worked for seems to have collapsed, for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters. But, perhaps, this is God’s moment, and through the breakdown of what we have known and valued, something infinitely grander and closer to his Heart, is beginning to emerge’.
Fr Christopher Colven, writing in the wake of the 1992 decision of the Church of England to ordain women to the priesthood. Fr Colven was Priest Administrator of the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham (1981-1986), and has been the (Catholic) Rector of St James, Spanish Place, London, since 2009.
‘I accepted for a time the borderland of Anglicanism; but only on the assumption that it could really be Anglo-Catholicism. There is a distinction of ultimate intention there which in the vague English atmosphere is often missed. It is not a difference of degree but of definite aim. There are High Churchmen as much as Low Churchmen who are concerned first and last to save the Church of England. Some of them think it can be saved by calling it Catholic, or making it Catholic, or believing that it is Catholic; but that is what they want to save. But I did not start out with the idea of saving the English Church, but of finding the Catholic Church. If the two were one, so much the better; but I never conceived of Catholicism as a sort of showy attribute or attraction to be tacked on to my own national body, but as the inmost soul of the true body’.
from ‘The Catholic Church and Conversion’, 1926, by G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936).
‘In my own case I was moved away from the rationalistic island mentality of a conservative Englishman, to a truly Catholic – that is universal – perspective. My mind, imagination, heart and soul were stretched. I had tried to package my God into being an English God: somewhat effete, consoling, and so understanding as to be undemanding. The relativism in faith and morals of many Anglican parishioners was summed up for me by one lady who had told me, “I love the Church of England, because it does not make any demands on you!” Like the National Health Service, the Church of England was the final state-approved emergency service to be used as and when you wished.
In my young arrogance [as an Anglican curate] I thought that I was not part of such a compromised Christianity and that I could change individual attitudes and whole congregations. Yet, I too had compartmentalised God and certainly thought I had my faith and my calling under decent middle-class control… How could I witness to truth and the universality of the faith in a denomination which had broken from the traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church? The institutionalised state Church here had more than stifled universality. The concept of authority had been rejected and thereby the teaching on faith and morals was Anglicised, almost in a politically correct way.
…It is not that I have rejected Anglicanism, only that Anglicanism wasn’t universal enough. Anglicanism is forever linked to England, and ecumenical work as an Anglican can only ever begin from that basis. As a Catholic, on the other hand, one works from a universal foundation… So I have come to understand more of our faith which I recognise now as the universal reconciliation and love offered by Christ on the Cross. The English cannot restrict such a Christianity to themselves and their own requirements, nor must I ever think again that I have got God boxed up, or figured out’.
from his chapter ‘Conversion and Ecumenism’, in ‘The Path to Rome: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church’, 2010, by Neville Kyrke-Smith.
‘Far from being a portrayal of Protestantism (as some might say), the Church of England’s reconciliation with Rome would be its vindication and fulfilment. It would be neither a triumph for Anglo-Catholicism, nor a defeat for Evangelicalism. Certainly it would fulfil many aspirations of the Oxford Movement leaders who began their work 150 years ago with reunion at the centre of their hopes and prayers, but it would also rejoice the hearts of the sixteenth century reformers to find their insights welcomed into, and acknowledged by, the Roman Catholic Church, through a union which leaves unharmed their cherished traditions.
John de Satgé has written: “If indeed Anglicanism is, as I hope, to lose its independence within the Catholic unity, it will be because its vocation is fulfilled. Rome has at last listened and learned. That which was held in trust for the whole Church within the Anglican boundaries has had its effect. Anglican return to Rome would signify not failure but success”.
We have come a long way: but one step more’.
from ‘One Step More between Rome and Canterbury’, 1982, by Fr Michael Rear
Today marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, originally conceived in the 1920s as an octave of prayer for the reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See.
‘For the “Anglican Papalists”, the Anglican tradition began with the mission of Pope St Gregory the Great. Because of his apostolic care in sending St Augustine of Canterbury to do what he could not do himself, the English Church can only be understood in relation to its Roman mother, even though for some centuries this has meant hostility rather than intimacy. England was evangelized from Rome, and historically the unity of the Church in England and the patriarchal jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury were both dependent on the link with Rome and the Pope’s grant of the pallium, as a sign and symbol of the authority that comes from Peter. England as a nation arose from the unity of the English Church, which, whatever distinctive features it may have had, was dependent on the Church of Rome’.
from his foreward to ‘Look to the Rock: The Anglican Papalist Quest and the Catholic League’, 2019
by John Hind, Anglican Bishop of Chichester, 2001-2012
‘The scripture saith not in vain, “Them that honour me, I will honour”. Neither was it a vain word that Eusebius delivered long ago, that piety towards God was the weapon and the only weapon that both preserved the Emperor Constantine’s person, and avenged him of his enemies. But now what piety without truth? What truth (what saving truth) without the word of God? What word of God (whereof we may be sure) without the scriptures? The scriptures we are commanded to search. They are commended that search and study them. They are reproved that were unskilful in them, or slow to believe them. They can make us wise unto salvation. If we be ignorant, they will instruct us; if out of the way, they will bring us home; if out of order, they will reform us; if in heaviness, comfort us; if dull, quicken us; if cold, inflame us. Take up and read, take up and read the scriptures (for unto them was the direction), it was said unto Saint Augustine by a supernatural voice, “Whatsoever is in the scriptures, believe me”, said the same Saint Augustine, “is high and divine; there is verily truth, and a doctrine most fit for the refreshing and renewing of men’s minds, and truly so tempered, that everyone may draw from thence, that which is sufficient for him, if he come to draw with a devout and pious mind as true religion requireth”. Thus Saint Augustine and Saint Jerome, “Love the scriptures, and wisdom will love thee”’.
from the preface in the first edition of the King James Bible, 1611
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent, Divine Worship: The Missal.
Today, the Feast of the Apostles Ss Simon and Jude, is a day of some personal significance. This was the day, in 1903, that the College of the Resurrection was founded by the Anglican monastic Community of the Resurrection, at Mirfield, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and this Foundation Day was always kept at the College with much rejoicing. Over the past hundred years a number of the men, myself included, who were formed for ministry in the Church of England at Mirfield eventually found their way into the full communion of the Catholic Church. One of the present members of the Community, Monsignor Robert Mercer CR (pictured above in a 1960s CR booklet entitled ‘Bread of Life’), the former Anglican Bishop of Matabeleland, is now a priest of the Ordinariate in England. Today, I give happy thanks for the invaluable contribution that Mirfield – College and Community – made in forming me for pastoral and sacramental ministry, and further teaching me the Catholic Faith within the Church of England. It was, though I’m sure unintended(!), for myself and many others, a great impetus towards communion with the See of Peter and, as such, the Collect for today is particularly fitting.
O Almighty God, who hast built thy Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the head corner-stone: grant us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their doctrine; that we may be made an holy temple acceptable unto 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. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘Divine Worship is more than a collection of liturgical texts and ritual gestures. It is the organic expression of the Church’s own lex orandi as it was taken up and developed in an Anglican context over the course of nearly five-hundred years of ecclesial separation, and is now reintegrated into Catholic worship as the authoritative expression of a noble patrimony to be shared with the whole Church. As such, it is to be understood as a distinct form of the Roman Rite.
…Understanding what patrimony is and how it “works” is a necessary first step before we are able to articulate something more about the liturgical expression of that patrimony. From the outset, the Constitution itself articulates the necessity of the approval by the Holy See for any liturgical provision. This fact itself indicates that the Church is the ultimate arbiter of what is or is not to be considered patrimony. Let’s call this the first key to unlocking the concept of patrimony. It is not what you or I, or this scholar or that community says it is, but involves discernment by the Church, which is then confirmed by the exercise of ecclesiastical authority.
In this age in which liturgical matters are more likely to be debated on blogs rather than in scholarly journals, the judgement of legitimate ecclesiastical authority becomes increasingly important. Indeed, the very affirmation that there is such a thing as an Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony, which enriches the whole Church as “a treasure to be shared” enters the Catholic lexicon in 1970. On October 25 of that year, Pope Paul VI canonised forty English and Welsh martyrs. In his homily, the Holy Father praised “the legitimate prestige and worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican” Communion, words that were viewed both as a crucial validation of the special relationship between Catholics and Anglicans and as a confirmation of the existence of an Anglican patrimony worthy of preservation. By his authority, Pope Paul articulated a principle: for whatever other ecclesial deficits resulting from the lack of full communion between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the Catholic Church acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit in this body of separated brothers and sisters so as to be able to say that the manner in which the faith was nourished, proclaimed, and celebrated in the Anglican Communion these past 500 years adds to the vitality of the Church and enriches the body Catholic. In Anglicanorum coetibus, we see Pope Paul’s insight framed in Pope Benedict’s concern “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church” not only “as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate,” but also importantly “as a treasure to be shared.”’
from the Hildebrand Lecture ‘The Worship of God in the Beauty of Holiness’, 21 June 2017
by Bishop Steven Lopes
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.
1. Her Virgin eyes saw God incarnate born,
when she to Bethlem came that happy morn:
how high her raptures then began to swell,
none but her own omniscient Son can tell.
2. As Eve, when she her fontal sin reviewed,
wept for herself and all she should include,
blest Mary, with man’s Saviour in embrace,
joyed for herself and for all human race.
3. All saints are by her Son’s dear influence blest;
she kept the very fountain at her breast:
the Son adored and nursed by the sweet Maid
a thousandfold of love for love repaid.
4. Heaven with transcendent joys her entrance graced,
next to his throne her Son his Mother placed;
and here below, now she’s of heaven possest,
all generations are to call her blest.
Thomas Ken, 1637-1711
(Anglican Bishop of Bath & Wells, 1685-1691)
In my first post as the new Parochial Administrator of St John Henry Newman, Victoria, a quasi-parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, it’s a great joy to be able to celebrate the canonisation today, in Rome, of our parish’s patron by Pope Francis. This happy occasion is the fruit of the many heartfelt prayers and hopes of those who have, since the time of his death, turned to St John Henry for his intercession and protection, not least Deacon Jack Sullivan and Melissa Villalobos, whose miraculous healings were attributed to Newman, and have been the cause of him being raised to the altars of the Church.
We are blessed in Victoria to have him as our patron and we mark this momentous day with a polyphonic setting of the Mass by Tomas Luis de Victoria, the Missa O Quam Gloriosum, a Solemn Te Deum, and the veneration of a first class relic of the saint following Mass, gifted to our community by the Oratorians in Manchester. Praise to the holiest in the height!
‘On the one hand Cardinal Newman was above all a modern man, who lived the whole problem of modernity; he faced the problem of agnosticism, the impossibility of knowing God, of believing. He was a man whose whole life was a journey, a journey in which he allowed himself to be transformed by truth in a search marked by great sincerity and great openness, so as to know better and to find and accept the path that leads to true life. This interior modernity, in his being and in his life, demonstrates the modernity of his faith. It is not a faith of formulas of past ages; it is a very personal faith, a faith lived, suffered and found in a long path of renewal and conversion. He was a man of great culture, who on the other hand shared in our sceptical culture of today, in the question whether we can know something for certain regarding the truth of man and his being, and how we can come to convergent probabilities. He was a man with a great culture and knowledge of the Fathers of the Church. He studied and renewed the interior genesis of faith and recognized its inner form and construction. He was a man of great spirituality, of humanity, of prayer, with a profound relationship with God, a personal relationship, and hence a deep relationship with the people of his time and ours. So I would point to these three elements: modernity in his life with the same doubts and problems of our lives today; his great culture, his knowledge of the treasures of human culture, openness to permanent search, to permanent renewal and, spirituality, spiritual life, life with God; these elements give to this man an exceptional stature for our time. That is why he is like a Doctor of the Church for us and for all, and also a bridge between Anglicans and Catholics’.
Pope Benedict XVI
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)
Grant to us, we beseech thee, O Lord: that we, who celebrate the festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary our Queen, being defended by her succour, may obtain peace in this world, and glory in that which is to come; 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. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Grant to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful: that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; 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 Ninth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This is a powerful petition in which we ask God to conform us, both internally and externally, to his righteousness (to what is rightful). Further, there is the honest admission that, in and of ourselves, that is in our wisdom and strength, we cannot please God by seeking to live what we consider to be the righteous and good life. (Note that this Collect is true to the meaning of the original Latin prayer, which is so terse that a literal translation of the second part would be, “that we, who cannot even exist without thee, may have strength to live according to thee”.)
Today we learn from our society and in our education and culture that each of us is an autonomous being. That is, I am in charge of my life and destiny and so are you! We think of the human being as being the centre of the universe and if we think of God at all in relation to the world it is as an Extra.
In contrast, genuine Christian thinking sees a person in total dependence upon God for his creation, his existence, his sustenance, his salvation and his eternal destiny. Whatever measure of free will and free determination a person possesses is itself from God and is only beneficial if conformed to the known will of God.
True freedom is not known in the exercise of personal autonomy and pursuing one’s own selfish will, but rather in thinking according to God’s ways and purposes and in doing his will, assisted and guided by his revelation and his Spirit. That is, the genuine life of righteousness and goodness is following the Way of Jesus Christ as his Spirit indwells the heart and mind and directs the will.
This Collect helps us to move from the mindset and spirit of the fallen world and evil age into the mindset and spirit of the kingdom of heaven and of God’s righteousness. And it presupposes that we are diligent readers of the sacred Scriptures where the mind and will of God is revealed to the Church’.
Peter Toon, 1939-2009
They laid her down, all woman-hood’s crown, with holy Mass and prayer,
And they carved the sign of the Cross divine above her with loving care,
They deemed she would lie till the trumpet-cry should waken the dead from gloom;
But He Who in fight had quelled death’s might, hath opened His Mother’s tomb.
The body fair hath passed away from out that hallowed ground,
And roses bloom where Mary lay, and lilies spring around:
The winding-sheet which wrapped her feet no longer holds the dead,
And useless lies the wimple white which bound the Virgin’s head.
Yet not for her a robe of gold with broidered art is meet;
Christ clothes her with the radiant sun, the moon is at her feet;
A crown of beamy stars is set upon her maiden brow;
Her soul doth magnify the Lord, high is the lowly now!
Richard Frederick Littledale, 1833-1890
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
Lord of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of thy Name; increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in 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 the Seventh Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘This is surely one of the most lovely collects in the book. The beauty of its phrasing is matched by the depth and soundness of its religious feeling.
In its address it emphasises both the power and the goodness of God. It carries over from the last collect the thought of the good things God holds in store for those who love him. It reminds us that he can not only create such things but bestow them on whom he will. He is the author and also the giver of all good things, and we are therefore happy to repose on his power.
We ask… that he will graft in our hearts the love of his name. The name, as we know, stands for the personality. We ask that love of him may be so grafted in our hearts that it may grow there and become part of our very being as the twig becomes part of the tree into which it has been grafted.
We think of the glowing and tender hymns that have been written on this theme: Newton’s “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds”, Bernard’s “Jesu, the very thought of thee”, and Theodosius’ “Jesu, name all names above”, and we realise that such love of God is the very breath of adoration in the soul, without which all life would become void and meaningless’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
O God, who hast prepared for them that love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards thee; that we, loving thee in all things and above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; 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 Sixth Sunday after Trinity, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Collect, Epistle and Gospel [in the Prayer Book] are the same as used in England before the Reformation in the Sarum Missal. Our Collect is the same as in the Roman Missal for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost.
…The Collect for today is based on the Epistle and gives a very beautiful interpretation of it. We pray that the exceeding love of God for us may move us so to love Him that we may obtain His promises, which exceed all that we can desire.
…The good things that God has prepared for us come only after we have washed ourselves in the water of baptism from the stains of sin, and have put off the old man, our sinful nature, and risen with Christ in the likeness of His Resurrection, to walk in newness of life. “Thou shalt show me the path of life”, says the Psalmist. We must walk along the path of life in which our footsteps are set at Baptism. We can only do this by using the helps God has given us. They are some of the good things, but only a foretaste of the good things to come. In this world we “see through a glass darkly”. In the life of the world to come we shall see God face to face. That does not mean that the good things God has prepared for us in this life are any less real than those of the future life. They are equally good, but in our present state we do not always appreciate them. That is because our love is weak and faint. If we progress along this path, it will lead us to God, in whose presence is the fulness of joy’.
from Teaching the Collects, 1965, by H.E. Sheen
Fr Lee Kenyon