Maundy Thursday

This past Thursday my wife and I attended a Maundy Thursday Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Immaculate and really enjoyed the service. The architecture of the Basilica was absolutely stunning.

 

In the Gospel of John 13:1-17 we find the example of Christ washing the feet of His disciples. This example was lived out in front of the altar during the Mass.

“Before the festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that heJesus_washing_Peters_feet1.jpg should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And when supper was done, (the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray him,) Knowing that the Father had given him all things into his hands, and that he came from God, and goeth to God; He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments, and having taken a towel, girded himself. After that, he putteth water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. He cometh therefore to Simon Peter. And Peter saith to him: Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered, and said to him: What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith to him: Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him: If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all. For he knew who he was that would betray him; therefore he said: You are not all clean. Then after he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, being set down again, he said to them: Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also. Amen, amen I say to you: The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is the apostle greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them.”

The Mass with Procession of the Sacrament was powerful and moving. As the incense washed over us we sang “Pange lingua gloriosi corporis mysterium,” a hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274).

st. thomas.jpg

Tell, tongue, the mystery
of the glorious Body
and of the precious Blood,
which, for the price of the world,
the fruit of a noble Womb,
the King of the Nations poured forth.

Given to us, born for us,
from the untouched Virgin,
and dwelt in the world
after the seed of the Word had been scattered.
His inhabiting ended the delays
with wonderful order.

On the night of the Last Supper,
reclining with His brethren,
once the Law had been fully observed
with the prescribed foods,
as food to the crowd of Twelve
He gives Himself with His hands.

The Word as Flesh makes true bread
into flesh by a word
and the wine becomes the Blood of Christ.
And if sense is deficient
to strengthen a sincere heart
Faith alone suffices.

Therefore, the great Sacrament
let us reverence, prostrate:
and let the old Covenant
give way to a new rite.
Let faith stand forth as substitute
for defect of the senses.

To the Begetter and the Begotten
be praise and jubilation,
greeting, honour, strength also
and blessing.
To the One who proceeds from Both
be equal praise.
Amen, Alleluia.

By now it’s safe to say I am no longer a Baptist…no longer Reformed. What am I? I am a Christian who is searching, seeking and finding Christ where He may be found and that is in the liturgy of the word, in Holy Communion, where Christ literally is.

Our Lord said, “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.” John 6

Happy Easter! Christ is Risen!

jm

Wisdom from the book of Sirach

holy wisdom

Holy Wisdom

The author of the Wisdom of Sirach is Jesus ben Sirach who was a Jewish scribe writing

somewhere around 200 to 174 before the time of our Lord. The book was written in Hebrew but no copies of the original exist. Only Greek copies. The 39 Articles of Religion, a Reformed Anglican confession of faith, gives us a list of books that,

“(as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine…”

This list of books includes the Wisdom of Sirach sometimes referred to by its older name Ecclesiasticus. Honestly, this is one of my favourite books to read from as it offers clear, straight forward advice grounded in the revelation of God. Richard Baxter wrote, “A Christian Directory,” in which he offers sage Christian advice. I consider this book in the same vain, it is a support to religion, but not of Divine inspiration.

All quotations are taken from the text of the St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint aka The Orthodox Study Bible.

Grace

“My son, accomplish your works with gentlness, And you will be loved by people the Lord accepts. The greater you are, the more humble you must be, And you will find grace before the Lord.” 3.17-18 SAAS

“A man without grace is like a story told at the wrong time; It will continue on the lips of the ignorant.” 20.19 SAAS

“There is an astute man who is a teacher of many, But is useless to his own soul. A man who devises words craftily will be hated. This man will go hungry, For grace was not given to him from the Lord, Because he is destitute of all wisdom.” 37.19-21 SAAS

The Incarnation

“To whom has the root of wisdom been revealed? And who has come to know her great deeds? There is one who is wise and is feared exceedingly. He who sits upon His throne. The Lord Himself created wisdom. He saw and numbered her And poured her out on all His works.” 1.5-7 SAAS

Humility

“If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, And the Lord will supply it to you. For the feat of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and instruction, And His good pleasure is faith and gentleness. Do not disobey the fear of the Lord, And do not come to Him with a divided heart. Do not be a hypocrite in the sight of men, And be careful with your lips. Do not exalt yourself, lest you fall And bring dishonor to your soul. The Lord shall reveal your secrets, And in the midst of the assembly He will strike you down, Because you did not come in the fear of the Lord, And your heart was full of deceit.” 1.23-27 SAAS

“The greater you are, the more humble you must be, And you will find grace before the Lord.” 3.18 SAAS

“Forgive wrong done you by your neighbor; Then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.” 28.2 SAAS

“The prayer of a humble man passes through the clouds, And he will not be comforted until it reaches the Lord;” 35.17 SAAS

Praise and Glory to God

“Fill Zion with the celebration of Your divine virtue And Your people with Your glory. Give testimony to what You created in the beginning And raise up the prophecies spoken in Your name.” 36.13-14 SAAS

“The Lord did not enable His saints To describe all His wonders, Which the Lord Almighty established That the universe might be established in His glory. He traced out the abyss and the human heart And understands their craftiness; For the Most High possesses all knowledge And sees into the signs of an age.” 42.17-18 SAAS

Prayer

“O Lord, Father and Master of my life,
Do not leave me to their counsel,
Nor let me fall because of them.
Who will set whips over my thoughts
And the discipline of wisdom over my heart,

So they may not spare me in my  errors,

Nor neglect me in my sins?
Lest my mistakes be multiplied
And my sins abound,
Then I would not fall before my adversaries,

And my enemy would not rejoice over me.

O Lord, Father and the God of my life,
do not give me haughty eyes,
But turn me away from evil desire.
Do not let gluttony or lust overcome me,
Nor give me up to a shameless sou.” 23.1-6 SAAS

Yours in the Lord,

jm

The Life of God in the Soul of Man

lifeofgodsoulofman

Some quotes to entice you.

Correct orthodox or religious opinion is not true religion: 

“…I must regret that among so many pretenders to it, so few understand what it means ;  some placing it in the Understanding, in Orthodox Notions and Opinions, and all the account they can give of their Religion, is that they are of this or the other persuasion, and have join’d themselves to one of those many Sects whereunto Christendom is most unhappily divided .”

Works are not true religion:

“Others place it in the outward man, in a constant course of external duties, and a model of performances, if they live peaceably with their Neighbours, keep a temperate diet, observe the returns of Worship, frequenting the Church, or their Closet, and sometimes extend their hands to the relief of the Poor, they think they have sufficiently acquitted themselves.”

Emotional responses are not true religion:

“Others again put all Religion in the affections, in rapturous heats, and ecstatic devotion, and all they aim at, is to pray with passion, and think of Heaven with pleasure, and to be affected with those kind, and melting expressions wherewith they court their Saviour, till they persuade themselves that they are mightily in love with him, and from thence assume a great confidence of their salvation, which they esteem the chief of Christian Graces.”

True religion is:

“…Religion is quite another thing, and they who are acquainted with it, will entertain far different thoughts, and disdain all those shadows and false imitations of it.  They know by experience that true Religion is an Union of the Soul with God, a real participation of the Divine Nature, the very Image of God drawn upon the Soul, or in the Apostle’s phrase, it is Christ formed within us.  Briefly, I know not how the nature of Religion can be more fully expressed than by calling it a Divine Life ;  and under these terms I shall discourse of it, showing first how it is called a Life, and then how it is termed Divine.”

True religion is based in a relationship:

AGAIN, Religion may be designed by the name of Life, because it is an inward, free, and self-moving principle, and those who have made progress in it, are not acted only by external Motives, driven merely by threatenings, nor bribed by promises, nor constrain’d by Laws ;  but are powerfully inclined to that which is good, and delight in the performance of it :  The love which a Pious man carries to God, and goodness, is not so much by virtue of a Command enjoining him so to do, as by a new Nature instructing and prompting him to it ;  nor doth he pay his devotions, as an unavoidable tribute only to appease the Divine Justice, or quiet his clamorous Conscience ;  but those Religious exercises are the proper emanations of the divine life, the natural employments of the new-born Soul.

He prays and gives thanks, and repents, not only because these things are commanded, but rather because he is sensible of his wants, and of the Divine goodness, and of the folly and misery of a sinful life ;  his charity is not forced, nor his alms extorted from him, his love makes him willing to give ;  and though there were no outward obligation, his heart would devise liberal things.  Injustice or intemperance, and all other vices, are as contrary to his temper, and constitution, as the basest actions are to the most generous spirit, and impudence and scurrility to those who are naturally modest :  so that I may well say with St. JohnWhosoever is born of God doth not commit sin :  for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God. Though holy and religious persons do much eye the Law of God, and have a great regard unto it, yet is it not so much the sanction of the Law, as its reasonableness, and purity and goodness which doth prevail with them ;  they account it excellent and desirable in its self, and that in keeping of it there is great reward :  and that Divine Love wherewith they are acted, makes them become a Law unto themselves.”

To read the work it can be found online at: https://www.anglican.net/works/henry-scougal-the-life-of-god-in-the-soul-of-man-1677/

The Annunciation (Anglican)

i-keep-trying-to-get-out-but-they-keep-dragging-me-back-in

(rambling) Okay, I’m not really going back to the Anglican Church (I think), but the Pastor of the Baptist Church I’ve been at is “Lent Friendly” and Lent has been mentioned from the pulpit numerous times. I guess it is telling that I haven’t “joined” another Church yet but whatever.

The Baptist Pastor is preaching at an interdenominational service being held at…guess where!?! an Anglican Church! I’ve been attending the Lenten Luncheon services at the Anglican Church, after it was announced from the pulpit at the Baptist Church and really enjoying them.

The older I get (I’m not that old) the less idealistic I am.

I’ve always liked images of Our Lady of Walsingham and included one below along with a devotional from an Anglican source for The Annunciation of the Lord to the Blessed Virgin.

For All the Saints

Prayers and Readings for Saints’ Days
According to the Calendar of the
Book of Alternative Services of the
Anglican Church of Canada
Revised with an Appendix including
Recent Additions to the Calendar
compiled by
Stephen Reynolds

walsingham

click image to visit the Anglican Shrine

Holy Day 25 March

The story of the Annunciation is told by Saint Luke, who used it to introduce some major themes in his version of the Gospel.

The angel Gabriel visited Mary, greeting her as the one who was favoured by God to be the mother of Jesus, “the Son of the Most High.” It was not Mary’s virtues or merit that won her this favour; it was simply that God “remembered to be gracious” and bestowed such a gift of power on Mary so that the whole human race might know the still greater gift of salvation. Thus empowered, Mary was able to respond, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” By the grace of God which filled her, she was able to practise a graciousness of her own towards God; for it gave her a unique freedom to make God’s will the very thing that she herself willed.

In this gracious response to God’s gift, Mary may be seen as a forerunner of Christ himself. For her consent to God’s saving purpose foreshadowed her son’s consent to the fulfilment of that purpose, even at the cost of his own life. To the Annunciation Mary responded, “Be it unto me according to your word.” In a similar way, on the eve of his passion, Jesus prayed to God, “Not my will but yours be done.” The feast of the Annunciation, which celebrates the conception of Jesus, comes to full term on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter, when we celebrate the birth of the new creation in his paschal victory. All of God’s grace is imparted to our lives so that we might share in this one mystery, not all at once, but through the changes and chances of our daily living. The life of grace often leaves us puzzling, as the message of the angel puzzled Mary; and Scripture suggests that Mary herself did not understand the mystery she had borne until her son was raised from the dead. Her whole life was a discipline in grace for the revelation of glory; and so it may be for all who by baptism and the Eucharist bear Christ in their own lives.

Sentence
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory. John 1.14

Collect
Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord,
that we who have known the incarnation
of your Son Jesus Christ,
announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary,
may by his cross and passion
be brought to the glory of his resurrection;
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Readings
Isaiah 7.10–14 Psalm 40.5–10 or Psalm 45
Refrain I love to do your will, O my God.
Hebrews 10.4–10 Luke 1.26–38

Prayer over the Gifts
Almighty God,
so fill us with your grace,
that we in all things may accept your holy will
and with the Virgin Mary, full of grace,
rejoice in your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Preface of the Incarnation
Prayer after Communion
Almighty God,
your word proclaims our salvation;
your table gives us life.
Grant us the humble obedience we see in Mary,
that we too may respond as willing servants.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord.

Stay freshly blessed,

jm

Evensong

You have to admit Evensong is a beautiful form of prayer! Evening Prayer or vespers is the daily evening service of Bible readings and prayers prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer. I’ve really missed liturgical worship but I’m lucky in a way, the Baptist church I attend is almost 200 years old, and still uses a very old order of worship.

Maybe I’ll visit the local Anglican parish this weekend for communion.

Anglican Rosary

 

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5.17

Years ago, when I was new to the Christian faith and a member of the Anglican Church, I purchased a string of beads called the Anglican rosary. When I left the communion they sat unused with other religious paraphernalia until this year. I have recently decided to throw myself into Anglicanism, observing Lent and attending the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis. I have also decided to pray using beads and have still found them beneficial as an aid to prayer. I thought it might be a good to share how I have been using the beads and include some of the prayers and meditations I’ve found most useful.

beads

There is no set form of prayers like you would find with the Roman Catholic rosary so I have been free to choose more biblical prayers for my prayer times.

The Anglican rosary begins with the cross. I hold the cross in my hand and recite the Nicene Creed from the Book of Common Prayer taking time to reflect upon the words of the creed.

On the invitatory bead I make a confession of sins and ask for forgiveness. The Book of Common Prayer has a beautiful confession from the liturgy of the Lord’s Supper that I like to use before beginning the “weeks.”

Throughout the weeks I say the ancient Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, Have mercy on me a Sinner.” This is a prayer that I have used for almost 20 years without beads and one that I have found leads to a deeper sense of communion with Christ. As I pray I inhale and silently say, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God” and exhale, “Have mercy upon me a sinner.” This slows down the prayer and allows me to focus on Jesus Christ.

On each cruciform bead I like to pray the Our Father (Matt. 6). I find consistency the best way to pray so I use the same prayers changing little if at all.IMG_20180321_203432_230

The final invitatory bead is the conclusion of the rosary and I finish with, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” Psalm 19.14

While holding the cross I use the final moments of my prayer time to think of the Gospel readings from the Lectionary or some other theological work I’ve recently read. The prayers and the final meditation draw one closer to Christ by driving home biblical passages and concept.

A Note on Repetitive Prayer: 

Our Lord gives the warning that is often applied to those who use prayer beads and rosaries, one doesn’t apply to the Anglican Rosary,

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matt. 6.7

Let’s add some context. The footnote in the Geneva Bible reads on Matthew 6.7, “Long prayers are not condemned, but vain, needless, and superstitious ones. ” I believe this is actuate. Setting aside a specific time isn’t the issue but the motive is the issue. If one was to believe we could trade our prayers to earn a reward we would be in violation of the Lord’s command and acting superstitiously.

The People’s New Testament Commentary reads, “What is forbidden is not much praying, nor praying in the same words (the Lord did both), but making the number of prayers, length of prayers, or time spent in praying, a point of observance and of merit. 1 Kings 18:26 gives an example of the repetitions of the heathen. Mahometans and Catholics still hold that there is merit in repeating certain prayers a set number of times.” (emphasis added) I do not believe Matthew 6.7 is condemning rosary style prayers but pagan prayers performed to earn something and prayer done out of a superstitious need for comfort.

Christians are instructed to avoid “vain repetitions” when praying, but I must contend the Jesus Prayer or similar prayers are not in vain. The time I spend in prayer is not superstitious but soul nourishing. When I pray, each and every time, the words of the prayer are new. They strike me with fresh force and meaning. Prayer is needful to the spiritual life and must be meaningful so choose your prayers wisely. The prayers you choose should be taken from or relating to scripture with a motive to love the Lord Jesus more. May God through Jesus Christ forgive me if I am in error on this subject.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

Lectionary

I’ve started using the Revised Common Lectionary – it’s been a good experience. I still prefer reading a couple of chapters but have decided to try the lectionary for a while and I’ll admit, it’s been a positive experience so far and recommend trying it. It’s nice to walk into a church service being fed on scripture for a week in advanced on the theological themes being brought to mind during the worship service.

Here’s a quote highlighting 6 points or reasons for using a lectionary from Reformed Church in America :

THE REVISED COMMON LECTIONARY

The Revised Common Lectionary harmonizes the major variants of the three-year lectionary used in North America, bringing to church-goers across the continent the same Scripture passages each week.

The lectionary has several advantages:

1. It covers a great breadth of Scripture–the whole counsel of God.

2. It provides a sequence from week to week (frequently from the New Testament).

3. It relates the gospel of the New Testament to its Old Testament antecedents (including an appropriate Psalter passage).

4. It follows the Christian year, with its focus on Christ.

5. It speaks to the persons and work of the Trinity.

6. It protects the congregation from a narrow preoccupation with the New Testament to the exclusion of the Old Testament.

Yours in the Lord,

jm