This sermon is by St. Peter Chrysologus (c. 380 -- c.450), bishop of Ravenna. It is a wonder of beauty, economy, and insight. Use it as a guide for your Lenten journey and you won't go wrong:
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Friday, January 15, 2021
This prayer, called an "Obsecration," is a pleading of God's mercy in the face of human sin. In the midst of a world bent on its own destruction, it is tempting to turn our backs in either indignation or disgust. Yet, the Christian faith embraces the Cross of Christ, and in so doing, intercedes for the world. Such pleading also confronts us with the truth of our own complicity, leading us to repentance and amendment of life. This prayer is especially suitable for Fridays throughout the year, as well as in Lent, Holy Week, and as an examination of conscience.
+ + +
Lord, by this sweet and saving Sign,
Defend us from our foes and thine.
Jesus, by thy wounded feet,
Direct our paths aright:
Jesu, by thy nailed hands,
Move ours to deeds of love:
Jesu, by thy pierced side,
Cleanse our desires:
Jesu, by thy crown of thorns,
Annihilate our pride:
Jesu, by thy parched lips,
Curb our cruel speech:
Jesuby by thy closing eyes,
Look on our sin no more:
Jesu, by thy broken heart,
Knit ours to thee.
And by this sweet and saving Sign,
Lord, draw us to our peace and thine.
- Richard Crashaw, and others.
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
This excerpted sermon on the Epiphany by St. Leo the Great illustrates a number of features of classic Christian faith. It shows how deeply imbued with the Holy Scriptures all true teaching and preaching in the catholic faith must be. It delivers a message both of hope and of clear direction for how to savor this feast and how to apply it—in this case, by taking a lesson from the star that guides the Magi on their way, to help others come to their destination in God. It is a fine example of what faithful preaching has always been (and must always be), so human hearts may be nourished in the unique and joyful message of Salvation.
Monday, January 4, 2021
for God’s Blessing on a Home
Also known as "Chalking the Doors" this service may be used during the first weeks of the New Year. Chalk is used, along with candles and holy water (obtainable through church).
[The electric lights are dimmed in the room where the opening section of the service is to be celebrated. Candles are lit and arranged on a table, around which participants stand. Holy water may be placed in a bowl or other container for use at the service’s conclusion.]
All: + In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Leader: Peace be to this house.
All: And to all who enter it in this year of God's favor and grace.
Leader: The Magi came from the East to worship the Lord Jesus.
All: And falling at his feet and beholding the radiance of his glory, the glory he had with the Father before the world began, they gave him precious gifts of mystic meaning.
Leader: They presented him with gold because he is the world's only true King, the one merciful Lord worthy of our gifts, our service and our vows. They blessed him with incense that sweet-smelling smoke might evermore rise up from our altars to the Throne of his majesty, worshipping and blessing and magnifying him, the one, true God. They offered him myrrh because it would soon anoint his immaculate body, preparing it for his burial.
A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew: (2:1-12)
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
All: Our Father....
Leader: Gracious God, you revealed your Son to the nations by the brilliant Star of Bethlehem. O Uncreated Light, Morning-Star of Epiphany and the world's New Dawn, lead us, warm our hearts, fortify our wills, enkindle our devotion to you, enlighten and illumine our inward vision. Lead us, guide us all the days of our earthly pilgrimage until we are received into your glory. We implore your great mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[With chalk, the leader makes this inscription on the lintel of the main entrance: 20+C+M+B+21. The letters stand for the traditional names of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. The numbers are for the year of our Lord. If holy water is to be used, it is brought forth for use at this time. If holy water is not used, the bracketed portion of the following prayer is omitted.]
Leader: Eternal God, we ask that you send your blessing to be upon this home. [Let the sprinkling of this holy water recall for us the gift of baptism, our consecration to Christ's service. May it drive far from this house and all who enter it all snares and assaults of the enemy. Wherever this water is sprinkled may safety be guarded and hospitality be made manifest.] Grant that faith, charity, and good health triumph over evil in this house. May your Word always be cherished and obeyed here. We give praise and thanksgiving to you, and to your Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
[Holy water, in the sign of the cross, may be applied to the door. All may then bless themselves with holy water; holy water may be applied to the doorway of each room in the house; those present may sing appropriate Epiphanytide hymns as they move from room to room.]
Saturday, December 5, 2020
The Great “O” Antiphons
The Magnificat (also called “The Song of Mary”) from Luke 1:46-55 is sung or said every day at Evening Prayer (as the Benedictus, Zechariah’s song, is used with Morning Prayer and the Nunc dimittis, Simeon’s Song, at Compline). It is customary to use short phrases, called “antiphons,” usually drawn from Scripture, before and after these canticles or songs. Antiphons change by season or special commemoration at each service.
In the week before Christmas there is a special group of antiphons for use with the Magnificat at Evening Prayer. These antiphons all begin with “O” and have been collected together to form the words to Hymn 56, “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” Each verse of this hymn may be said as an antiphon to the Magnificat in the evening during the week before Christmas, in addition to its being sung as a hymn on its own. Many recordings of these antiphons in Latin and English are available online; the chants associated with them are often extremely beautiful.
The “O” antiphons, based mostly on prophesies from Isaiah, address the Messiah in various ways, focusing on his different attributes and gifts to us. Together, they form a rich array of images not only about Advent, but for how we live in Christian expectation throughout our lives.
December 17: O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.
"The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord." Isaiah 11:2-3
"He is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom." Isaiah 28:29
December 18: O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
“With righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins." Isaiah 11:4-5
"For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us." Isaiah 33:22
December 19: O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, to you the nations will make their prayer: Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
"A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1
"On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious." Isaiah 11:10
December 20: O Key of David and scepter of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
"I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open." Isaiah 22:22
"His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore." Isaiah 9:7
"To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." Isaiah 42:7.
December 21: O Morning Star, splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined." Isaiah 9:2
December 22: O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.
"For a child has been born for us, a son given us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
"He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." Isaiah 2:4
"But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Isaiah 64:8
December 23: O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God.
"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel." Isaiah 7:14
These antiphons have been arranged as an Advent litany in the revised edition of The St. Augustine’s Prayer Book, suitable for use each day in Advent as a way to focus our prayers to God for renewed hope and faith during this season. This litany is available on Fr. Brandon’s blog, as well.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Below is a litany for use during the Advent season. It is based on the "Great O Antiphons" used before and after the Magnificat at Evening Prayer in the week prior to Christmas, which are themselves based on various passages of the Old Testament which the Church has seen as prophetic of Christ's coming. This litany (and the prayers following it) may be used at morning, noon, or evening prayers, or as a way to meditate on the message of the Advent season at another time, such as a Quiet Day or a retreat.
X X X
O Wisdom, proceeding from the Most High, reaching from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Wednesday, November 4, 2020
I've been through quite a few elections now as a parish priest--both secular and ecclesiastical--and through them all, certain things stay constant. One is the tenderness following a vote. In our way of doing things, some must win and some must lose. Being on the losing side can be very painful, especially if we believe only that side possesses the truth. Another is the tendency for those who "won" to forget the Golden Rule and act with swagger and certitude.
My advice to all is to remember a verse from sacred scripture (Philippians 3:20, to be exact): But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Paul's words here remind us that our deepest identity is found in our membership in Christ's body, and through this body, in God's Kingdom of Love. That citizenship is secure and enduring.
While we work to proclaim God's kingdom here, and labor to fulfill our commission as ministers of His mercy and justice, we must not allow ourselves--however gradually or imperceptibly--to substitute an earthly counterfeit for our heavenly citizenship. Our earthly citizenship is passing, frequently incomplete, and involves us in much sin and tumult; our heavenly citizenship is the source of our hope, our peace, and our triumph.
No matter which "side" we found ourselves on Election Day, our real allegiance should be to Christ, whose perfect will and peace is only imperfectly known in the things of human governance. As we go forward from this week, let us bear this in mind with regard to our neighbor and (especially) with regard to our fellow parishioners, together with whom we have won over the forces of death and division through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A Prayer for the Election
Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the completion of this election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer for those who Influence Public Opinion
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.