Saturday, November 2, 2019

Experiencing the Communion of Saints: The De Profundis

Below are prayers for the dead from the new St. Augustine’s Prayer Book (published by Forward Movement and available here or here). These prayers may be offered at the close of day (traditionally at around 9 PM), or said at other times such as on All Souls’ Day (11/2), after the Eucharist, and especially in times of mourning and before the Burial Liturgy. 

Prayer for those who died is part of the Church's affirmation of the communion of saints. It is also part of the Church's healing ministry, in that through commending the souls of the faithful to God, we are being given grace to understanding more deeply the power of Christ's passion, death, resurrection, and ascension to unite all creation to God the Father in love and peace. 

Our prayers do not "make" anything happen; they connect us directly to what God is already doing, has done, and will do in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who calls forth our prayer and gives us true communion with God, we participate in the promise of salvation and in its first fruits already made known in Christ.

These prayers take their name from the first two words in Latin of Psalm 130, a psalm long associated with the sick, those in peril and extreme need, or the dead.

130   De profundis

1       Out of the depths have I called to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice; *
     let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

2       If you, Lord, were to note what is done amiss, *
     O Lord, who could stand?

3       For there is forgiveness with you; *
     therefore you shall be feared.

4       I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; *
     in his word is my hope.

5       My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen for the morning, *
     more than watchmen for the morning.

6       O Israel, wait for the Lord, *
     for with the Lord there is mercy;

7       With him there is plenteous redemption, *
     and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

V. Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord.
R. And let light perpetual shine upon them.

Our Father &c.

V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. From the gates of hell:
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. May they + rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. O Lord, hear our prayer.
R. And let our cry come unto thee.

Set free from every bond, O Lord, the soul(s) of thy servant(s) N.[N.], that in the glory of the resurrection, he may be raised up amid thy saints and elect unto newness of life. Amen.

Lord Jesus, whose loving heart was ever touched by the sorrows of others, have mercy upon the souls of the faithful departed, and grant them a place of refreshment, light, and peace whence pain and sorrow and sighing are driven away; and in thy goodness and mercy pardon every sin committed by them in thought, word, and deed; thou who art the resurrection and the life, and who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

- or -

Almighty and eternal God, to whom there is never any prayer made without hope of mercy, be merciful to the souls of thy servants being departed from this world in the confession of thy Name that they may be welcomed into the company of the saints, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

V. Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord.
R. And let light perpetual shine upon them.
V. From the gates of hell:
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. I trust to see the goodness of the Lord
R. In the land of the living.
V. O Lord, hear our prayer.
R. And let our cry come unto thee.

O Lord Jesus Christ, our shepherd and guide, grant us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death fearing no evil, lacking nothing, and accompanied by thee, who thyself hast passed that way and made it light and who now livest and reignest in glory everlasting. Amen.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Becoming saints even now...

A Blessed All Saints' Day to you!

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.
The Collect for All Saints’ Day

The feast of All the Saints, which begins the month of November in joy and triumph, is a celebration of the call to share in God’s holiness. So convinced were early Christians that this was their destiny they routinely referred to each other as “the saints of God” without irony or blush.

To become part of Christ’s living body is to partake of the life-blood of holiness. We are to follow God’s blessed saints “in all virtuous and godly living,” as the collect for this Principal Feast bids us. Ordinary people are being transformed in the Church into an extraordinary People: the Holy People of God. As the First Letter of Peter says: “…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” But what does that life look like? How will we know it?

The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) give us a clear and daring explanation. The saints of God—wherever they are and whenever they live—are all judged on the same basis. Are we peacemakers? Do we desire to be pure? Do we hunger and thirst after righteousness? Most importantly, do we live in poverty of spirit, wherein we become a vessel emptied of self so that we may receive and share God? These are the marks of the authentic saints. Even our worship is based on the Beatitudes: each Eucharist is both a revelation of God’s judgment of our life and a renewal in the grace to live a life worthy of the “ineffable joys” prepared for those who truly love God.

True saints are not interested in judging others but are keen to judge themselves. They submit all of their lives to the loving, redeeming, purifying care of the God who so fiercely desires to share Eternal Life with those made in his Image. When they fall, the saints turn back to God. When they succeed, they give the Love of their life the praise. When they are tried beyond their strength, they burrow down deep into the bosom of the one who was tried and found strong enough for all.

All Saints’ is but the greatest of the many feasts of the saints, scattered like seeds or gems throughout the year. The saints are people like us, indeed: human, limited, frail, and at times mistaken. But they are like us in another way: baptized into the power and strength of God. They beckon to us from every age and condition, reminding us that they know what it is to “fight the good fight” and to walk in our moccasins. They intercede for us because together we form “one communion and fellowship” of hope, endurance, and victory. For all the saints—their witness, their example, their encouragement—we give thanks not as passive observers but as active partners in God’s rescue mission to humanity through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.