Friday, September 8, 2017

A Memorial of the Passion: Praying the Saving Power of Christ

When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all the world to myself.
Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you;
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death.  Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life + and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever.  Amen

+   +   +

This short prayer form, called a memorial, comes to us from the Holy Week liturgies (especially Good Friday). It is a simple way to keep the cross of Christ before us in all times of need, anxiety, and spiritual oppression. It is also an excellent and easily-memorized form of prayer for use on Fridays, honoring the Episcopal duty to observe Fridays with “special acts of discipline and self-denial” in recalling the crucifixion (BCP, p. 17). In addition to fasting and works of mercy, a form of prayer for Fridays is a key part of this observance.

The prayer at the end of the Memorial is taken from the end of the Good Friday liturgy. It combines intercession for the living and the dead with a petition for our own forgiveness and peace. All of this is based on the fact that Christ’s Passion is the sure and certain sign of God’s love and forgiveness for all people; by contemplating his Passion, we are given the grace to live truly forgiven lives and cooperate with his will.

The time for silence in this prayer may be given to this contemplation, as well as making specific requests to Christ for grace, direction, strength, deliverance, healing, &c. The “+” indicates where to make the sign of the cross as part of this devotion, blessing one’s self with the very sign of God’s forgiving power and assurance. There is nothing “magical” in this, any more than hugging is “magical” when expressing our feelings for a loved-one; this is part of what living a sacramental life means—engaging the total, created self in our response to God.

The Friday observance is yet one more way Anglican spirituality provides practical ways for us to integrate holy living into the daily round of activities—revealing the implicit holiness of the Creation and disclosing the potential of New Life in Christ at every turn in our day and week.

[With gratitude to Forward Movement's St. Augustine's Prayer Book for making this prayer more widely available.]