On this Octave Day of the Church Unity Octave (otherwise known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity), the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, a prayer by Blessed John Henry Newman:
O Lord Jesus Christ, who, when thou wast about to suffer, didst pray for thy disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as thou art in the Father, and the Father in thee, look down in pity on the manifold divisions among those who profess thy faith, and heal the many wounds which the pride of man and the craft of Satan have inflicted upon thy people. Break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another… and bring them all into that one communion which thou didst set up in the beginning, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Teach all men that the see of Saint Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is thy Vicar and Representative; and that in obeying him in matters of religion, they are obeying thee, so that as there is but one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be but one communion, confessing and glorifying thy holy Name here below. Amen.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
‘The journey of the Magi gives us a mystical interpretation of the life of prayer. The Magi are represented to us as oriental sovereigns, who had everything that could satisfy their senses. Their first condition may represent the life which seeks to find satisfaction in material things. It is the witness of the soul, and of these wandering Wise Men, that we cannot be satisfied with the life of the senses. Hence that urge which the Wise Men felt to leave their comfortable life, their glittering courts, and go out they knew not where, following a beckoning which they felt certain called them – without, by the following of a star; within, by some spiritual hunger.
That urge is something which we all know. We cannot rest in the material; we must seek the spiritual. Sometimes we get tired, and perhaps we give up the quest for a while and try to settle down into material things, but we cannot do it. God is Spirit, and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth, because we ourselves, created in His image, are spiritual beings’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
Lastly, let us remember before the Lord that multitude of which no man can number,
who in the hope of the resurrection have passed through the valley of the shadow of death;
and let us pray that the Lord may grant unto them his eternal light.
V. Rest eternal grant unto them, O Lord,
R. And may light perpetual shine upon them.
Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend the souls of the all the faithful departed,
as into the hands of a faithful Creator and most loving Saviour,
beseeching thee to grant unto them forgiveness and peace; Jesu, mercy.
Grant that all stain of sin may be done away,
and that in thy light they may see light; Jesu, mercy.
Grant unto them the renewing and enriching of thy gifts to them,
that with all their powers they may serve thee and thy kingdom; Jesu, mercy.
Grant to us, Lord, in our pilgrimage the help of their prayers; Jesu, mercy.
Grant to thy Church, Lord, the assurance of the communion of saints
and the joy of their fellowship: that they and we may be for ever one in thee; Jesu, mercy.
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father...
Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before
the presence of his glory with exceeding joy; to the only wise God our Saviour
be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
from Cambridge Offices and Orisons, 1949
arranged by Eric Milner-White and BTD Smith
A visit to Chester Cathedral yesterday which, before the Reformation, was a Benedictine abbey in communion with Rome. The cloister has a remarkable collection of stained glass windows dedicated to the saints and holy men and women commemorated within the kalendar of the Church of England. Here is the window to Saint Gabriel the Archangel, and an accompanying prayer to Our Lady Mary for the conversion of England. Let the reader understand!
O BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England thy Dowry and upon us all who greatly hope and trust in thee. By thee it was that Jesus our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more. Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee, in our heavenly home. Amen.
On this First Friday of the month, a day of devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, a prayer:
My God, my Saviour, I adore Thy Sacred Heart, for that heart is the seat and source of all Thy tenderest human affections for us sinners. It is the instrument and organ of Thy love. It did beat for us. It yearned over us. It ached for us, and for our salvation. It was on fire through zeal, that the glory of God might be manifested in and by us. It is the channel through which has come to us all Thy overflowing human affection, all Thy Divine Charity towards us. All Thy incomprehensible compassion for us, as God and Man, as our Creator and our Redeemer and Judge, has come to us, and comes, in one inseparably mingled stream, through that Sacred Heart. O most Sacred symbol and Sacrament of Love, divine and human, in its fulness. Thou didst save me by Thy divine strength, and Thy human affection, and then at length by that wonder-working blood, wherewith Thou didst overflow.
Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
A Celtic prayer on this memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels.
Thou angel of God who hast charge of me
From the dear Father of mercifulness,
The shepherding kind of the fold of the saints
To make round about me this night;
Drive from me every temptation and danger,
Surround me on the sea of unrighteousness,
And in the narrows, crooks, and straits,
Keep thou my coracle, keep it always.
Be thou a bright flame before me;
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a smooth path below me,
And be a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today, tonight, and for ever.
I am tired and I a stranger,
Lead thou me to the land of angels;
For me it is time to go home
To the court of Christ, to the peace of heaven.
O God, who in thine ineffable providence dost vouchsafe to send thy holy Angels to guard us: grant, of thy bountiful goodness; that we thy humble servants may continue in safety under their protection, and hereafter rejoice in their abiding fellowship; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Let thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants: and that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity from Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘To pray is to speak to God. Our Collect is about prayer. We ought to be able to speak to God about anything, including our thoughts and actions. He is interested in us and likes us to speak to Him. We may want to ask Him for something, that is petition, or we may want to thank Him for His gifts, that is thanksgiving, or we may want to pray for others, that is intercession, or we may want to praise Him for being what He is, that is adoration. Or again, we may want to confess our faults and failings, that is confession. So you see there are five different kinds of prayer, all of which have their place in our prayer life. Confession is often very necessary, but intercession and adoration are the best kinds of prayer because they are unselfish. All types of prayer are acceptable because God is our Father.
The Collect asks that we may pray in such a spirit that we may obtain our petitions. It prays that we may ask such things as shall please Thee. We shall only please God in our petitions if we ask for the right things - if we pray in the spirit of the Lord Jesus. Then it will be in His Name. So we must learn to love God more and more. We must thank Him for His gifts, we must learn to pray for others, and this means that we shall confess our sins. We must try and use the best type of prayer, Adoration. An old peasant who could not read or write used regularly to go in church each day and kneel before the Blessed Sacrament. One day the Cure D’Ars asked him what he said, and the reply was that he said nothing, “I just look at Him, and He looks at me”. That is adoration. If we learn this type of prayer, and pray more for others, when we come to our own petitions they will more and more become the things that will please God’.
from Teaching the Collects, 1965, by H.E. Sheen
O Blessed Virgin Mary, who can worthily repay thee thy just dues of praise and thanksgiving, thou who by the wondrous assent of thy will didst rescue a fallen world? What songs of praise can our weak human nature recite in thy honour, since it is by thy intervention alone that it has found the way to restoration. Accept, then, such poor thanks as we have here to offer, though they be unequal to thy merits; and receiving our vows, obtain by thy prayers the remission of our offences. Carry thou our prayers within the sanctuary of the heavenly audience, and bring forth from it the antidote of our reconciliation. May the sins we bring before Almighty God through thee, become pardonable through thee; may what we ask for with sure confidence, through thee be granted. Take our offering, grant us our requests, obtain pardon for what we fear, for thou art the sole hope of sinners. Through thee we hope for the remission of our sins, and in thee, O blessed Lady, is our hope of reward. Holy Mary, succour the miserable, help the fainthearted, comfort the sorrowful, pray for thy people, plead for the clergy, intercede for all women consecrated to God; may all who keep thy holy commemoration feel now thy help and protection. Be thou ever ready to assist us when we pray, and bring back to us the answers to our prayers. Make it thy continual care to pray for the people of God, thou who, blessed by God, didst merit to bear the Redeemer of the world, who liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen.
St Augustine of Hippo, 354-430
from The Prayers of Saint Brigid of Sweden
O Jesus! Inexhaustible Fountain of compassion,
Who in a profound gesture of love
Cried from the Cross ‘I thirst’,
Suffering there the thirst for the salvation of the human race.
I beg of Thee, my Saviour,
Inflame within our hearts a yearning towards perfection in all we do,
And extinguish in us the fire of concupiscence
And the passion of earthly desires. Amen.
O Jesus! Strong Lion, Immortal and Invincible King,
Remember the pain which Thou didst endure
When all the strength of Thy body and mind was utterly spent,
Thou didst bow Thy Head and say
‘It is finished!’
Through this anguish and grief, I beg of Thee, Lord Jesus,
Have mercy on me in the hour of my death,
When my mind will be in turmoil
And my soul in anguish. Amen.
‘Sweet Jesus, in my imagination I will prostrate myself on the soil, and lower still if I can manage, because I am the perpetrator and the criminal in [all your] painful death. I want to embrace the foot of the cross, prostrate on the ground... Like this I will lie here to catch some of your blood, sweet Jesu; I will not stir from here until I am marked with your precious blood as one of your own (flock), and my soul is softened in that pleasant bath; and in this way it may come about, sweet Jesu, that it may open my hard heart, which now is as hard as stone, to make it soft, to make what was dead in sin spring to life for your sake through the special influence (of your blood). Sweet Jesus, your precious passion raised up dead men out of their graves, it opened heaven, shattered the gates of hell, the earth trembled at it, and the sun lost its light... Come then, sweet Jesu, as it's your wish, and set alight a tiny spark of love within my soul, as you best know how, a touch of compassion for your suffering, from which my heart can be set ablaze and I can be brought to life through it, until I would be aflame with your love above everything else; and lave me in your blood so that I may forget all the prosperity of the world, and all physical attractions’.
from The Longer Meditations on the Passion by Richard Rolle, 1290-1345
‘All laud, honour, glory, and thanks be given to thee, O Lord Jesu Christ, for the sacred wound of thy right hand. For this holy wound sake forgive all such offences as I have committed by my five senses, and remit also all such things as I have displeased thee, in thought, word, and deed, in negligence when I served thee, in sinful delectations, whether the same was in sleep, or when I waked, wittingly or ignorantly. And for thy blessed passion sake, give me thy grace to remember as I should do thy holy death and blessed wounds, utterly to mortify my body and to give thee thanks. Amen.
Laud, honour, glory, and thanks be to thee, most sweet Jesu, for the sacred wound of thy left hand. For the same holy wound sake, be merciful to me, and vouchsafe to change in me whatsoever is displeasant unto thee: give me victory, against all my spiteful enemies and let me by thy grace subdue them all for thy bitter passion sake, deliver me from all perils both in this life & in the life to come and make me worthy of thy grace in thy heavenly country. Amen.
Laud, honour, glory, and thanks be to thee, most gracious Jesu, for the sacred wound of thy right foot. For this holy wound sake grant that I may do worthy penance for my sins. And I most humbly beseech thee for thy holy death sake, that thou keep me thy servant both day and night in thy grace and favour: deliver me from all misery both of body and soul: take my soul to thy protection and tuition at the dreadful judgement day: and bring it to thy celestial joys. Amen.
Laud, honour, glory, and thanks be given to thee, good Jesu, for the sacred wound of thy left foot. For this holy wound sake give me pardon and full remission of my sins, that being protected by thee I may deserve to escape the rigour of thy judgement. And for thy holy death sake I beseech thee most merciful Jesu that before my soul part from my body, I may worthily receive the sacrament of thy most holy body and blood, with unfeigned contrition of heart, sincere confession of my sins, perfect penance, with purity of mind and body: And being comforted with Avail, may come to everlasting salvation. Amen.
Laud, honour, glory and thanks be to thee, most benign Jesu, for the sacred wound of thy blessed side. For this holy wound sake, and for thy infinite mercy sake, which thou showed us, when thy side was pierced with the spear I beseech thee my saviour Jesu that as thou hast cleansed me by Baptism from original sin: so likewise by thy precious blood, which was now at this time both offered and received, all the world over, thou wilt deliver me from all perils, both such as are past, and present, or to come: And for thy holy death sake, give me a right faith, a sure hope, and perfect charity, that I may love thee, with all my heart and all my strength.
Strengthen me in all good works, and give me grace strongly to continue thy servant to the end: that I may both here and in the life to come, please thee. Amen.
Imprint Lord Jesus Christ thy holy wounds in my heart: and moisten my soul with thy holy blood: that whether so ever I turn I may ever see thee crucified before me: and that whatsoever I cast my eye upon, it may seem to me besprinkled with thy holy blood: and that I may being thus wholly directed to thee, may behold nothing but only thee: who livest with thy Father and the Holy Ghost forever. Amen’.
from Certayne devout Meditations very necessary for Christian men devoutly to meditate upon Morninge and Eveninge, every day in the weeke: Concerning Christ his lyfe and Passion, and the fruites thereof, Anon, c.1576
O MOST HOLY SPIRIT, thou comest,
as once came Christ to Bethlehem,
to a most mean dwelling, even to me.
But thou canst cleanse and make it a temple,
THY temple, full with holiness, love and joy.
So come, O Spirit of GOD,
with GOD the Father’s love;
by Christ's Body and Blood;
in the new birth of thine own breath.
Come to cover my littlenesses and consume my sins,
to direct all my desires and doings;
come with counsel on my perplexities,
with light from thine everlasting scriptures;
come to reveal the deep things of GOD,
and what he prepareth for them that love him;
come with thy prayers into mine.
O most Holy Spirit,
possess me by thy peace,
illuminate me by thy flame,
enable me by thy power,
be made visible in me by thy fruits,
lift me by grace upon grace
from glory to glory,
O Spirit of the Lord;
who art with the Father and the Son one GOD,
world without end.
from My God, My Glory: Aspirations, Acts and Prayers on the Desire for God, 1959
by Eric Milner-White OGS CBE DSO, 1884-1963
O Lord, have mercy upon us. O Christ, have mercy upon us. O Lord, have mercy upon us.
O Christ, hear us. O Christ, graciously hear us.
O God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy upon us.
O God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy upon us.
O God the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, Have mercy upon us.
Holy Trinity, Three Persons, and One God, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, King of glory, Who, leading out Thy disciples as far as to Bethany,
didst, in their sight, ascend up into Heaven, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Lord and Christ, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Prince and Saviour, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who didst ascend up far above all Heavens, that Thou mightest fill all things
and be Head over all things to Thy Church, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who didst ascend up unto Thy Father and our Father,
unto Thy God and our God, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who leddest captivity captive, and gavest gifts unto men, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who art by the Right Hand of God exalted far above all principality and power,
and every name that is named, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, at Whose Name every knee must bow, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who art seated in glory at the Right Hand of the Father, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, unto Whom all power is given in Heaven and in Earth, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who in Thy sacred Manhood art crowned with glory and honour
at the Right Hand of the Majesty on High, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who must reign until Thou hast put all enemies under Thy Feet,
and of Whose Kingdom there shall be no end, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who art adored by all the Angels of God, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who art anointed with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who art the happiness of the Blessed, and Whose Presence is Life, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who hast opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, our High Priest for ever, the Mediator of the New Covenant,
Who hast entered into the true Holy of Holies, even Heaven itself, for us, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,
Who art the One Propitiation for our sins for ever, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who ever livest to make intercession for us,
pleading evermore Thy Precious Body and Blood before the Father for us,
both openly on the one Altar in Heaven, and mystically on the many altars on earth,
Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who art able to save to the uttermost those that come unto God by Thee,
Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who didst send down Thy Holy Ghost on Thy disciples,
and dost promise that whatsoever we ask in Thy Name, Thou wilt do it, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who art gone up into Heaven, and yet, by the power of the Holy Ghost,
art supernaturally present with us in the Sacrament of the Altar, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who art gone to prepare a place for us, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who wilt come again in glory to judge the world, Have mercy upon us.
Jesus, Who wilt receive Thine Own unto Thyself,
that they may be with Thee where Thou art, to behold Thy glory, Have mercy upon us.
By Thy glorious Resurrection and Ascension, Good Lord, deliver us.
By Thine all powerful Intercession, Good Lord, deliver us.
By Thy triumphant Majesty and Power, Good Lord, deliver us.
We sinners, do beseech Thee to hear us, O Lord Jesus, that we who are risen with Thee
may set our affections on things above, not on things on earth, Hear us, Good Lord.
That we, whom Thou hast blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places,
may be holy and without blame before Thee in love, Hear us, Good Lord.
That now, when the world seeth Thee no more, we see Thee by faith,
and live through Thee, Hear us, Good Lord.
That keeping Thy commandments, we may abide in Thy love, Hear us, Good Lord.
That through the power of the Comforter Thou wouldest abide with us,
and manifest Thyself to us, Hear us, Good Lord.
That the Spirit of Truth may testify of Thee, and may take of Thine and shew it unto us,
Hear us, Good Lord.
That in Thy spiritual presence with us our heart may rejoice with the joy
that no man taketh from us, Hear us, Good Lord.
That in Thee we may have peace, Hear us, Good Lord.
That in our tribulations which we have in the world we may be of good cheer,
knowing that Thou hast overcome the world, Hear us, Good Lord.
That, whilst we are in the world the Eternal Father may, through Thy intercession,
preserve from the evil, and sanctify us through His Word of Truth, Hear us, Good Lord.
That, as Thou and the Father art One, so all Thy people may inwardly
and outwardly be one in Thee, Hear us, Good Lord.
That the world may believe that the Father sent Thee,
and may know Thee and Thine Almighty love, Hear us, Good Lord.
That Thou wouldest draw all men unto thee, Hear us, Good Lord.
That Thou wouldest pour down plenteously Thy Holy Ghost upon Thy Church,
Hear us, Good Lord.
That Thou wouldest quicken the whole Body of Thy Church
by the power of Thy Holy Ghost, Hear us, Good Lord.
That Thou wouldest especially endue the Clergy with the Spirit of power,
and love, and of sound mind, and wouldest give them the graces of courage
and faithfulness and of fervent zeal, Hear us, Good Lord.
That Thou wouldest increase the number of Thy Ministers,
and wouldest stir up all Thy people to love and to good works, Hear us, Good Lord.
That Thou wouldest preserve Thy Church from the powers of the world,
and from all her enemies, Hear us, Good Lord.
That Thou wouldest give to Thy Church purity, unity, liberty, and peace,
and every needful means to do her proper work, Hear us, Good Lord.
That Thou wouldest shortly accomplish the number of Thine Elect
and hasten Thy Kingdom, Hear us, Good Lord.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, O Jesus, spare us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, O Jesus, hear us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, O Jesus, have mercy upon us.
God is gone up with a merry noise. Alleluia! And the Lord with the sound of the trump. Alleluia.
Let us pray. Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications: and grant,
that like as we do believe the Saviour of mankind to be seated with Thee in Thy Majesty,
so we may feel that He abideth with us, according to His promise, even unto the end of the world;
Through the Same Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the Unity of the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
from The Treasury of Devotion: A Manual of Prayer for General and Daily Use, 1869
edited by TT Carter, 1808-1901
V. Let us bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost;
R. Let us praise and exalt him for ever.
BLESSING and honour and glory and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne
and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty;
Just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints;
All glorious thy gifts, thou Spirit of life.
Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might
be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
O GIVE thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious; And his mercy endureth for ever.
Who hath loved us from all eternity; For his mercy endureth for ever.
And remembered us when we were in trouble; For his mercy endureth for ever.
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven; For his mercy endureth for ever.
And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man; For his mercy endureth for ever.
Who by his cross and passion hath redeemed the world; For his mercy endureth for ever.
And hath washed us from our sins in his own blood; For his mercy endureth for ever.
Who on the third day rose from the dead; For his mercy endureth for ever.
And hath given us the victory; For his mercy endureth for ever.
Who ascended up on high; For his mercy endureth for ever.
And opened wide for us the everlasting doors; For his mercy endureth for ever.
Who sitteth on the right hand of God; For his mercy endureth for ever.
And ever liveth to make intercession for us; For his mercy endureth for ever.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
For the gift of his Spirit; Blessed be Christ.
For the Catholic Church; Blessed be Christ.
For the means of grace; Blessed be Christ.
For the hope of glory; Blessed be Christ.
For the triumphs of his gospel; Blessed be Christ.
For the lives of his saints; Blessed be Christ.
In joy and in sorrow; Blessed be Christ.
In life and in death; Blessed be Christ.
Now and unto the end of the ages; Blessed be Christ.
(Here may be added thanksgivings for particular mercies,
and at their end all shall say together the General Thanksgiving)
BLESSING and honour and thanksgiving and praise more than we can utter,
more than we can conceive, be unto thee, O most adorable Trinity,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by all angels, all men, all creatures, for ever and ever.
Amen and Amen.
from Cambridge Offices and Orisons, 1949
arranged by Eric Milner-White and BTD Smith
Antiphon. Behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation: in these days therefore let us approve ourselves as the servants of God, in much patience, in fastings, in watchings, and by love unfeigned.
V. God shall give his Angels charge concerning thee.
R. To keep thee in all thy ways.
O GOD, who dost purify the Church in the yearly observance of these forty days: grant unto this thy family; that as by abstinence we strive after thy blessings, so we may receive them from thee as the fruit of good works. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
O LORD Jesu Christ, Maker, Redeemer, Lover and Benefactor of mankind, who graciously hearest those who earnestly call upon thee, have mercy upon me. Cleanse me, I beseech thee, by thy most holy Incarnation and passion from all sin. Cast down in me all haughtiness of pride; destroy all arrogance; break in pieces and utterly crush all hardness of spirit which is contrary to sincere love. Calm the troubled risings of impatience. Repress and quell the wild impulse and madness of anger; extinguish the wrong desire of vain glory. Root out and destroy the evil motions of wicked lusts. Take from me whatever in me displeaseth thee, and give me what is pleasing unto thee. Teach, enlighten, direct, assist, protect and keep me every moment and hour of my life, that I may do those things which are pleasing to thee, and rest secure in thee for ever. Amen.
from A Manual of Catholic Devotion for Members of the Church of England, 1950
O Lord, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights: give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the First Sunday in Lent from Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘On the first Sunday in Lent we are reminded of our Lord’s own forty days’ fast, on which this season of Lent, having begun with the preparation of candidates for baptism, was modelled. With a view, no doubt, to the proper framing of our own Lent rule, we are invited to pray that we may observe the right kind of fasting, and that whatever we do may issue in true holiness to the glory of God.
Following [Jesus’] example we are to see to it that our Lent rule has a definite objective and that our fast is observed for the right purpose. It is not, of course, just for show: it is not to let people see how good and serious we are. Indeed, it is not at all necessary that other people should know what our private rule is. Enough if they see us following the public rule of the Church.
[T]he purpose of our fasting is that our flesh may be subdued to the spirit. St Paul seems to have thought of the flesh and the spirit as two highly ratified but still corporate entities, each striving for the mastery of the individual personality. The flesh was the seat of the lower emotions, selfishness and egotism; the spirit was the seat of the higher, the desire to serve both God and man.
Our fasting is not, as it sometimes suggested, intended to help us to achieve some kind of semi-ecstatic condition in which we appear to float off into the region of spirit. It is intended as a reminder of the difference between the two worlds of flesh and spirit and to give us a greater expertise in the latter.
The reason why we wish to bring the flesh under the control of the spirit is that we may with greater readiness obey Christ’s “godly motions in righteousness and true holiness”. The “motions” are the impulses, the incentives, the interior movements of the affections and will, started in us by God, when by his prevenient grace he directs our thoughts to some good end. There is always the question whether we shall follow his lead or not. Our prayer is that by our Lenten rule we may so quicken our power of spiritual perception that we shall not be held back by any apathy, slothfulness or rebellion of the flesh.
The end will be righteousness and true holiness... a real active intention to serve God and our fellows. It is that which will truly redound to the glory of Christ’.
from Reflections on the Collects, 1964
by William Wand KCVO, 1885-1977 (Bishop of London 1945-1955)
The Very Reverend Eric Milner-White, Dean of York from 1941 until his death in 1963, was one of the most remarkable and accomplished Anglican clergymen of the last century. A committed Anglo-Catholic, he founded the Oratory of the Good Shepherd at Cambridge in 1913, and as Dean of King’s College from 1918 to 1941 he skilfully adapted Bishop Benson of Truro’s Christmas Eve service of Nine Lessons and Carols for use in the college chapel. That festal service, with its familiar structure of well-crafted and chosen prayers, lessons, choral music, and congregational hymnody, is now a firm fixture in the liturgical and musical calendars of Anglican parishes and cathedrals the world over. But it is also a much cherished part of Anglican liturgical and pastoral patrimony that those who have entered the Ordinariate now seek to preserve - and promote - within the Catholic Church, as a version of it included in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham bears witness.
Dean Milner-White authored several collections of prayers and, in my experience, their use in the context of public worship - at the Offices, and at Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, especially - has always greatly enriched and deepened the dignity and character of the extraordinary encounter with God in Christ in prayerful intercession and adoration. Milner-White’s words speak engagingly and fervidly and, in the best tradition of the Book of Common Prayer, to heart, mind, and soul, whilst avoiding any hint of sentimentality. As one biographer put it, ‘He filled a great need for occasional prayers, and their literary quality is what it is because of their author's deep understanding of Anglican spirituality’.
That spirituality shines brightly in this Lenten prayer, composed at York in 1954, from Milner-White's collection My God, My Glory: Aspirations, Acts and Prayers on the Desire for God.
Lord, bless to me this Lent.
Lord, let me fast most truly and profitably,
by feeding in prayer on thy Spirit:
reveal me to myself
in the light of thy holiness.
Suffer me never to think
that I have knowledge enough to need no teaching,
wisdom enough to need no correction,
talents enough to need no progress,
humility enough to need no repentance,
devotion enough to need no quickening,
strength sufficient without thy Spirit;
lest, standing still, I fall back for evermore.
Shew me the desires that should be disciplined,
and sloths to be slain.
Shew me the omissions to be made up
and the habits to be mended.
And behind these, weaken, humble and annihilate in me
self-will, self-righteousness, self-satisfaction,
self-sufficiency, self-assertion, vainglory.
May my whole effort be to return to thee;
O make it serious and sincere
persevering and fruitful in result,
by the help of thy Holy Spirit
and to thy glory,
my Lord and my God.
Fr Lee Kenyon
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