Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Prayers before a journey



These prayers, collectively referred to as the “Itinerary” (sound familiar?), may be offered privately or as a group when setting out on a journey.

V. X In the Name of God.
R. Amen.

Antiphon
May the Almighty and merciful Lord direct us into the way of peace and prosperity, and may the Angel Raphael go with us on the way, that we may return to our home in peace, joy, and safety.

The Song of Zechariah Benedictus Dominus Deus (Luke 1: 68 79)

X Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
   he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
   born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
   from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
   and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, *
   to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear, *
   holy and righteous in his sight
   all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, *
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give people knowledge of salvation *
   by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God *
   the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
            shadow of death, *
   and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
   as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.

Antiphon
May the Almighty and merciful Lord direct us into the way of peace and prosperity, and may the Angel Raphael go with us on the way, that we may return to our home in peace, joy, and safety.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
            Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
   hallowed be thy Name,
   thy kingdom come,
   thy will be done,
      on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
   as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

V. Send us help from your sanctuary.
R. And strengthen us out of Zion.
V. Be unto us, O Lord, a strong tower.
R. Let the enemy have no advantage over us.
V. Blessed be the Lord day by day.
R. May the God of our salvation make our journey safe.
V. Show us you ways, O Lord.
R. And teach us your paths.
V. O that my ways were made so direct.
R. That I might keep your statues.
V. The crooked shall be made straight.
R. And the rough places plain.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to you.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with you.

Let us pray.

(Any or all of these prayers may be offered)

O God, who made the children of Israel pass on dry ground through the midst of the sea, and who by the leading of a star opened to the Magi the way to yourself: grant us, we pray, a good journey and calm weather, that, attended by your holy Angel, we may safely reach the place we go, and happily attain the haven of eternal salvation.; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in all our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of your servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation: that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by your most gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, we pray you would grant your servants to walk in the way of salvation: that they may attain unto him whom blessed John the Forerunner foretold, your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel [in particular _____________]; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; accompany them with an angel of peace and an angel of blessing; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

V. Let us go forth in peace.
R. X In the Name of the Lord. Amen.

Praying for the State, the Church, and Others




One of the main reasons I work on this blog is to get various traditional Anglican prayer tools “out there” in circulation again. While there are many new prayers being written, and a whole host of trial/provisional/supplemental “liturgies” being drafted and flung around in the contemporary Church, I often find that when I introduce people to the classical prayer resources, they are amazed that something so useful has been kept so hidden. 

It is my belief that, eventually, we are going to have to stop running from our own tradition and begin to engage it in a more positive, organic manner. Much that is good has been forgotten and should be recovered. I hope that these and other tools found on this blog for a grounded, rich prayer life will be found useful when that time comes.

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Below are prayers that were once part of Morning and Evening Prayer in the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer. In the current (1979) U.S. version of the BCP, they have been moved to the “Prayers and Thanksgivings” section, which while making sense has also tended to bury them, obscuring their value.

The Daily Office provides for various kinds of intercessions and thanksgivings following the Lord’s Prayer/Suffrages/Collects near the end of the service. While there are many options available in the Prayer Book and beyond for this, I often find it helpful to return to these earlier prayers, especially in the summer. They are extremely well-written, bear repeated use, and open many doors for reflection and action in Christian life.

The first prayer is for our leaders and for all Civil Authority, which Holy Scripture enjoins us to pray for as Christians. In our partisan day, I think many fail to take this important duty in prayer seriously. In its current state, our nation certainly could use it. 

The second prayer is for the Church, something often taken for granted but intensely necessary as members of a common and interrelated Body. No Christian's prayers are complete without prayer for the Church (not merely the institution, but the Church in its widest sense).

The third is a form of intercession both for the Church to witness in authentic truth and love to the Gospel, and for the needs of others. 

Taken together, they address a wide variety of essential concerns in the Christian life. When praying them, say the prayers slowly and with attention; in the prayer for “All Sorts and Conditions,” space is made to bring to mind the specific concerns or people you wish to pray for. (I have cast this latter prayer in a slightly more modern idiom, for those wishing to use it in a Contemporary English setting). As with all ancient prayers, the focus is not on "tossing off" the prayer, but in a complete immersion in it, letting God transform us even as we offer the prayer to him.

The entire set may be concluded with the General Thanksgiving, the Prayer of Saint Chrysostom, and the Grace as found in the 1979 BCP.  It makes a rich, nuanced, and balanced “diet” of intercession as we respond to Our Lord’s call to be a Priestly People.

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Traditional Language:

For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world:  We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace.  Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

For Clergy and People

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops, and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace;  and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing.  Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

For All Sorts and Conditions of Men

O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of men; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided and governed by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to thy fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; [especially those for whom our prayers are desired]; that it may please thee to comfort and relieve them according to their several necessities, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy issue out of all their afflictions.  And this we beg for Jesus Christ’s sake.  Amen.

Contemporary Language

For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world:  We commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace.  Grant to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State (or Commonwealth), and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in your fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

For Clergy and People

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops, and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of your grace;  and, that they may truly please you, pour upon them the continual dew of your blessing.  Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

For All Sorts and Conditions of People

O God, the creator and preserver of all, we pray for all sorts and conditions of people; that in your mercy you would make your ways known to them and your saving health to all nations. Especially we pray for your holy catholic Church; that it may be so guided and governed by your good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth, and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life. Finally, we commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are in any ways afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate; [especially those for whom our prayers are desired]; that it may please you to comfort and relieve them according to their needs, giving them patience under their sufferings, and a happy outcome in all their afflictions. And this we beg for Jesus Christ’s sake.  Amen.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reflections on Commemorating Bishop Scott


Almighty and everlasting Father, by whose grace and power your servant Thomas Fielding Scott triumphed over hardships and sufferings to bring your good news to the people living in a new land.  Grant us, who now remember him with true thanksgiving the courage and devotion to gently and persistently share the new life that you give through the love of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


At its last Convention, the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon chose to make July 13th of each year the annual commemoration of our first Bishop, Thomas Fielding Scott. Scott was not just another Bishop. He was a man of tremendous personal courage, skill, vision, and faithfulness.

This commemoration, currently locally observed and not yet part of the wider Episcopal Church’s calendar, is a good example of how the Episcopal Church remembers and celebrates those whose “heroic sanctity” serves as a model for all of us.

A local community or region discerns that a Christian known to many has lived a life worthy of being remembered by all. The local diocese or regional dioceses determine the validity of such claims and whether or not to place the commemoration on their local calendars. If so, a date for the commemoration is determined (often the date of the person’s “entrance into heaven” through death; but sometimes another appropriate date), a proper collect is drafted, scripture lessons selected, and a biography compiled. All of this is then accepted at Diocesan Convention.

 After a period of use on the local level, a diocese may then approach the wider Church (through appropriate governance committees and finally the General Convention) with the request that the commemoration be added to the National Church’s calendar. If the wider Church consents to this, the commemoration may then be officially used by anyone in the Church.

The proposed collect above deserves consideration and revision, in my opinion. It is a fine prayer that both recalls the person being commemorated and asks God for the grace to live holy lives based on Bishop Scott’s pattern. It uses language appropriate to the person and era being commemorated, and (perhaps often overlooked in the drafting of such prayers) it reads/prays aloud well. However, it uses language that has significant problems (I would think) for many Native Peoples. Oregon was not “a new land” to them, though it may have been for Euro-American settlers. I would suggest a re-write replacing “…a new land” with something like “the Oregon Country,” which was a geographical term used in that period that covered the area Bishop Scott served so well.
 
A fine overview of the bishops of our diocese may be found at the Diocesan web site here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Remembering Christ in the Eucharist -- and God in our all our life




A Memorial of the Blessed Sacrament

To be used in daily prayers (at the conclusion of the Daily Office, especially on Thursdays), as a separate devotion, a devotion following communion, or when in the presence of the Reserved Sacrament.

Antiphon
O Sacred Banquet wherein Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is renewed; the mind is filled with grace and a pledge of future glory is given to us. (In Easter Season, add: Alleluia.)

V. Thou gavest them bread from heaven (ES: Alleluia)
R. Containing within itself all sweetness (ES: Alleluia)

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who in a wonderful Sacrament hast left unto us a memorial of thy passion: Grant us, we beseech thee, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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This devotion is an example of something called a Memorial…a way of remembering some important aspect of the Christian faith in our prayer life. It recalls the privilege and blessing of participating in the Holy Mysteries of Christ’s Body and Blood. It is particularly connected to Sundays (The Lord’s Day, the Day of Resurrection, the day when Christians are called especially to celebrate the Eucharist as a gathered community of faith) and Thursdays (the day when the Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper).

This Memorial also bids us recollect the holiness of what we may, in our haste and lack of examination, come before in an unthinking manner. When we enter the Holy Temple of God, we must remember that we are coming into a place of consecrated, dedicated holiness and peace…not just another utilitarian “space.” Thus, it is our custom to genuflect or make a profound bow before the Blessed Sacrament  as an acknowledgement of the Presence of Christ in the Mysteries—and the truth that we who receive these Mysteries are to live lives worthy of Our Lord’s love, presence, and offering of his life for us. We then take this knowledge and purpose out with us as our Christian Mission.

Many modern American Christians, deeply conditioned by consumerism, have come to regard everything we see and use as so much “stuff,” implicitly rejecting the holiness of the Creation and the meaning of Christ’s Incarnation. Catholic Anglicanism, on the other hand, takes very seriously the holiness of Creation. This Memorial is but one tool in that vast array of resources for the “re-enchantment of the world” that can only happen when our scientific understanding of the universe is reunited with the revelation of God’s purpose and presence as made known in the Holy Scriptures and the sacramental life of Christ’s Body, the Church.