O Eternal God, who through thy Son our Lord hast promised a blessing upon those who hear thy Word and faithfully keep it: Open our ears, we humbly beseech thee, to hear what thou sayest, and enlighten our minds, that what we hear we may understand, and understanding may carry into good effect by thy bounteous prompting; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
Category : Church Year / Liturgical Seasons
Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel Ferns and Ossory reflects on recent changes in legislation in reference to Good Friday
It is a truism to say that we live amid the challenges, opportunities and sometimes confusions of a rapidly changing Ireland. While I can get my mind round some of the more obvious and dramatic changes, it is the little things that occasionally pull one up. I have to confess I felt a little twinge of regret when the small piece of legislation allowing for the opening of licensed premises on Good Friday passed rapidly through both Dáil and Seanad.
Thus ended a symbol of public homage to the atmosphere of Good Friday which had been upheld by law since the 1920s. In a changing and more pluralist society this moment no doubt was bound to come. Yet both parliamentary speeches and media coverage seemed almost to delight in pouring scorn on a tradition deemed to be senseless, antediluvian, and an inhibition to spending by tourists.
The Christian religion cannot any longer prescribe how people out in the public square behave on its own days of special holiness; that indeed is clear. But, as the ‘secular’ Good Friday becomes just like the opening day of any other holiday weekend, there are one or two babies that are being thrown out with the proverbial bath water. It was good to have a day when the nation was reminded of its inseparable and dependent relationship with alcohol – in this land we apparently cannot celebrate, commiserate or even relax without it. I say this as someone who is certainly not a Puritan in these matters, and who is constantly aware that when we make Eucharist we drink from a common celebratory cup of wine. Secondly, there was something precious about the silence of the streets on a Good Friday evening – no shouting and mirth at closing time, no raucous singing drifting over the garden wall. It is good for people to experience an atmosphere of corporate silence sometimes, to be challenged to reflect, to eschew the escapism often associated with unending noise.
But this year it will be changed utterly. Or will it? Christian people will still day by day observe the Week of weeks, knowing that the way in which Holy Week is kept is a kind of barometer of the spiritual state of our individual and parochial lives. Perhaps, as the rest of the world seems to be fleeing from any sense that Holy Week is special, we are challenged all the more to witness to the uniqueness and the profound relevance of these saving events.
Write deeply upon our minds, O Lord God, the lesson of thy holy Word, that only the pure in heart can see thee. Leave us not in the bondage of any sinful inclination. May we neither deceive ourselves with the thought that we have no sin, nor acquiesce idly in aught of which our conscience accuses us. Strengthen us by thy Holy Spirit to fight the good fight of faith, and grant that no day may pass without its victory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty and eternal God, who has so made us of body, soul and spirit, that we live not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from thee: Make us to hunger for the spiritual food of thy Word; and as we trust thee for our daily bread, may we also trust thee to give us day by day the inward nourishment of that living truth which thou hast revealed to us in thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Almighty and everlasting God, who for the well-being of our earthly life hast put into our hearts wholesome desires of body and spirit: Mercifully increase and establish in us, we beseech thee, the grace of holy discipline and healthy self-control; that we may fulfill our desires by the means which thou hast appointed, and for the ends thou ordainest; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
My son and I are driving to pick up my daughter from preschool, passing houses with icicles the size of trucks hanging from the gutters. To our west, as we cross an overpass above the highway, the sky is starting to weep with pink as the sun begins to set.
“Do you know where God is?” my 5-year-old son Henry asks suddenly from his booster seat.
“Where?” I answer, surprised that he’s bringing up God and curious to hear more.
“He’s that sky,” he says.
“Yeah. Of course. God is everything! Do you know what else is God?”
“He is that light,” he says as we drive past a streetlight. “He’s this car. We are sitting on God,” he says. “Even this toy car….”
O God, who willest not the death of a sinner: We beseech thee to aid and protect those who are exposed to grievous temptations; and grant that in obeying thy commandments they may be strengthened and supported by thy grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
O Lord our God, grant us, we beseech thee, patience in troubles, humility in comforts, constancy in temptations, and victory over all our spiritual foes. Grant us sorrow for our sins, thankfulness for thy benefits, fear of thy judgment, love of thy mercies, and mindfulness of thy presence; now and for evermore.
Blessed Lord, who wast tempted in all things like as we are, have mercy upon our frailty. Out of weakness give us strength; grant to us thy fear, that we may fear thee only; support us in time of temptation; embolden us in time of danger; help us to do thy work with good courage, and to continue thy faithful soldiers and servants unto our life’s end.
O Lord and heavenly Father, who hast given unto us thy people the true bread that cometh down from heaven, even thy Son Jesus Christ: Grant that throughout this Lent our souls may so be fed by him that we may continually live in him and he in us; and that day by day we may be renewed in spirit by the power of his endless life, who gave himself for us, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
The Church of England is urging Christians to give up single-use plastics during Lent, in a bid to cut the environmental damage it can cause.
Worshippers have been offered tips to cut plastic use for each day up to Easter, such as choosing a fountain pen over a plastic ballpoint pen and buying music electronically rather than on CD.
The Church linked it to a Christian calling to “care for God’s creation”.
The calendar of tips has been sent to each of the Church’s 42 dioceses.
Each week of the Lent Plastic Challenge has a theme, for example food and drink, kitchen, clothing and travel.
Almighty God, spirit of peace and of grace, whose salvation is never far from penitent hearts: We confess the sins that have estranged us from thee, dimmed our vision of heavenly things, and brought upon us many troubles and sorrows. O merciful Father, grant unto us who humble ourselves before thee the remission of all our sins, and the assurance of thy pardon and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
–Prayers for the Christian Year (SCM, 1964)
Seeking a Lenten discipline? Don’t be surprised at what you need – An Ash Wednesday Message from Bishop Lawrence
The outward forms of Lenten discipline are not spelled out in the prayer book with any specificity, nor should they be. I suspect that if each of us went to a doctor of the spiritual life, as one goes to a physician for an annual checkup, the diagnosis, and subsequent prescription for our maladies would be quite different for each of us. I suspect that in many cases we would not find the soul doctor’s orders some dreadful duty of denial, but a welcome relief that we would readily embrace. I can easily imagine a devout, busy Christian exhorted by a doctor of the soul that what he or she needed for a Lenten discipline was some physical exercise; to keep Sabbath; to read a good novel; see a good movie once a week; or even to learn to laugh again.
One memorable spiritual master in Twentieth Century England was Fr. Hugh Maycock. Connected with Cambridge from 1944-1952, and Oxford 1952-1970, he was a formative influence on many young scholars. One of his former students, Kenneth Leech, in recounting what he learned from Fr. Maycock, noted two unusual disciplines: The value of sleep and laughter.
Sleep and prayer are closely related. Both call for slowing down, a relaxed condition, “an abandonment to trust.” Many committed Christians today live their lives in a permanent state of semi-exhaustion. To embrace a discipline of proper sleep would be spiritually helpful, a true preparation for the Sabbath rest of the people of God. Then there is the importance of laughter. Leech writes, “Laughter is necessary to our sanity: a person with no humor is like an iron bridge with no give in it. It is vital too that we learn to laugh at ourselves.” Laughter has been shown to have therapeutic qualities for the mind and body. It also has value for our life with the Lord.
So, how do you go about choosing a Lenten discipline? Don’t just decide in knee-jerk fashion to give up chocolate, coffee, or some equally unfruitful undertaking. Rather, seek the advice of a wise, discerning Christian friend. Ask the counsel of a priest or “lay pastor.” Prayerfully listen to God while in prayer or in church or out for a walk. Just don’t be too surprised at what you hear. It may be a surprisingly delightful prescription, such as, “slow down,” “sleep more,” “laugh a lot!” Of course, there are some who will need to hear, “get the lead out,” or “quit nursing your wounds,” or “ask me to help you forgive, and get on with your life.”
On that Wednesday, throughout the world,
as it is appointed, priests bless
clean ashes in church, and then lay them
on people’s heads, so that they may remember
that they came from earth and will return again to dust,
just as Almighty God said to Adam,
after he had sinned against God’s command:
‘In labour you shall live and in sweat you shall eat
your bread upon the earth, until you return again
to the same earth from which you came,
for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’
This is not said about the souls of mankind,
but about their bodies, which moulder to dust,
and shall again on Judgement Day, through the power of our Lord,
rise from the earth, all who ever lived,
just as all trees quicken again in the season of spring
which were deadened by the winter’s chill.
— Eleanor Parker (@ClerkofOxford) February 14, 2018
O God, Who through Thy blessed Son hast gloriously reconciled mankind to Thyself; grant us to keep such a fast as he has chosen; that following the example of our Lord, we may obey Thee with faithful hearts, and serve one another in holy love; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)
May we constantly be reminded that Ash Wednesday is a day of reflection and promise of the Lord's unconditional love and sacrifice for us. Let us not forget that only God has the power to create beauty from ashes.
— UST ASC (@UST_ASC) February 14, 2018