Tag Archives: Lent

Ælfric of Eynsham on Almsgiving

This is a re-post from last year, and a little bit late as it is best suited to the First Sunday in Lent, but with the huge growth in the readership of The Anglo-Catholic over the past year, I thought it would be good to share an item from our (now vast) archive.

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Holy Church has traditionally kept a threefold discipline for the Lenten season.  The first two disciplines — prayer and fasting — are doubtless familiar to most of us, but we mustn't forget about the third.  Lent is a time for almsgiving — the granting, in charity, of material favors to those in need.  This material service rendered to the poor is done for Christ's sake and is an obligation of the Christian Faith.  The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) puts it this way:

The obligation of almsgiving is complementary to the right of property "which is not only lawful, but absolutely necessary" (Encycl., Rerum Novarum, tr. Baltimore, 1891, 14). Ownershipadmitted, rich and poor must be found in society. Property enables its possessors to meet their needs. Though labour enables the poor to win their daily bread, accidents, illness, old age, labour difficulties, plagues, war, etc. frequently interrupt their labours and impoverish them. The responsibility of succouring, those thus rendered needy belongs to those who have plenty (St. Thomas, Summa Theol., II-II, Q. xxxii, art. 5, ad 2am), For "it is one thing to have a right to possess money, and another to have a right to use money as one pleases." How must one's possessions be used? The Church replies: Man should not consider his externalpossessions as his own but as common to all, so as to share them without difficulty when others are in need. Whence theApostle says: Command the rich of this world to give with ease. This is a duty not of justice (except in extreme cases), but of Christian charity — a duty not enforced by human law. But the laws and judgments of men must yield to the laws andjudgments of Christ the true God, who in many ways urges on His followers the practice of almsgiving (Encyclical, Rerum Novarum, 14, 15; cf. De Lugo, De Jure et Justitiâ, Disp. xvi, sect. 154).

The following is Ælfric of Eynsham's Homily for the First Sunday in Lent in which the abbot preaches the obligation of all to give of their substance to those in need.

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Men most beloved, it is known to you all that this yearly course just now brings us the pure time of the Lenten Fast, during which we should confess our heedlessness and transgressions to our ghostly confessor, and wash ourselves from sins with fasting, and watchings, and prayers, and alms-deeds, that we may boldly, with ghostly joy, honour the Easter celebration of Christ's ascension, and with faith partake of the holy housel, for the forgiveness of our sins, and protection against devilish temptations.

Manifestly this fortyfold fast was established in the Old Testament, when the leader Moses fasted forty days and forty nights together, in order that he might receive God's law. Again afterwards the great prophet Elijah accomplished, through God's might, a fast as long as the other, and he was afterwards borne bodily in a heavenly car to the life above, and will come again, he and Enoch, against Antichrist, that they may confute the devil's leasing with God's truth. In the New Testament also the Lord, through his divine might, fasted forty days and nights, without all earthly food. Thus was our lenten fast established, but we cannot, by reason of our weakness, accomplish such a fast. Now it is allowed us, by the authority of teachers, daily at this lenten tide to nourish our bodies with abstemiousness, and soberness, and chastity. Foolishly he fasts the lenten fast, who at this pure time defiles himself with libidinousness. Unlawful it is for a. christian man to indulge in fleshly lusts at the time when he shall forgo flesh meats. Verily it is at all times befitting Christian men to perform good works and alms-deeds, and yet most of all at this general fast. He who on other days may be remiss in goodness, should at least on these days be active in good practices. To him who previously had gladly adorned himself with good works, it is fitting that he on these days more earnestly with ardent love show his goodness. No fast will be acceptable to God, unless a man abstain from sins. Be mindful of the two sentences which the Lord spake in his gospel: he said, "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Give, and to you shall be given." These two kinds of alms are to be practised by us with great diligence : that with inward heart we forgive other men, if in aught they have offended us, to the end that God may grant us forgiveness of our sins. And let us bestow some advantage of our goods on the poor and needy, for the honour of Almighty God, who has lent them to us, that he may give us more in the future.

Mercy is the medicine of sins; it redeems from eternal death, and allows us not to come to perdition. Mercy alone will be our guardian at the great doom, if in the present life we show it to other men. But to those shall be doom without mercy, who now without mercy judge others. From righteous gains one should distribute alms, as it is written, "Honour thy Lord with thy possessions, and of thy first fruits give unto the poor." The alms that are given from rapine are as acceptable to God as if any one, having killed another man's child, should bring to the father its head as a gift. God commanded alms to be given, and he forbade fraud and rapine. The unrighteous robs others and rejoices: then, if the needy ask alms of him, he is offended, and turns his face away, and forgets the saying of the prophet, who said, "He who turns his face from the crying poor, shall afterwards himself cry unto God, and his voice shall not be heard. Incline thine ear to the prayer of the needy, that God may afterwards hear thy voice. Deal from that which God hath given thee, and thy goods shall be multiplied. If thou neglectest to deal alms, God will take from thee thy goods, and thou shalt afterwards remain poor."

trans Ælfric of Eynsham on AlmsgivingGod gives to the rich wealth in abundance, and takes it away from the poor. Why so? That he may try the rich through the indigence of his poor. God made the wealthy and the needy, and would that the poor should be fed by the rich. God appointed the wealthy a distributer of his goods: why then should he appropriate to himself alone that which is given to both? If thou ascribe to thy labour that which thou hast, or if thou ween that the fruits of the earth are thine, then will the Almighty Ruler say unto thee, 'Behold now I will withdraw from thee my support, and have thou thy labour. I will withdraw my rain-showers, and I will make thy land barren. If the land is thine, the rain is mine. Draw thou forth rain-showers, if thou canst, and water thy fields. If thou canst, cause the sun to shine, that thy fields may ripen.' Verily the very land which thou ownest is not thine, but is the Almighty's, as the prophet said, "The earth and her fullness are God's." God will again say unto thee, 'My poor will live without thee ; live, if thou canst, without me. My poor will have all things, if they have me only. What hast thou, if thou hast not me?' Thou pretendest that thou sparest it for thy children, and knowest not to whom it may fall, as the prophet said, "In vain he laboureth who hoardeth gold, and knoweth not for whom he gathereth it." Though thy money fail not, yet thy life ends when thou least imaginest, as Christ himself said in his gospel of a rich man: he said, "There was a rich man in the world, and his fruits throve abundantly. Then the rich man meditated, and said, What shall I do, now I have not where I can gather all my fruits? Again he said, I will clear my barton, and enlarge my barns, and thither gather all my fruits, and say to my soul, My soul, thou hast much good for many years' use: rest thee now, and eat, and drink, and be merry. Then said God to the rich man, Thou fool, now to-night thou shalt yield up thy life. Whose then will be what thou hast provided? So is he who hoardeth for himself, and is not rich in God." Lo thou fearest to distribute: fear not to distribute, thou who knowest not whether thou wilt abide the morrow. Show mercy to poor men with thy gain; the Almighty God will not forsake thee, who has appointed thee as a distributer. Of this the Lord said in his gospel, "Hide not your treasure in the earth, where rust and moths destroy it, and thieves delve and steal; but hoard your treasure in heaven, where neither rust nor moth comes, nor thieves delve nor take it away. For where thy treasure is, there will be thy heart." How can we hide our treasure in heaven but through alms?

If all men in the world were rich, then would mercy have no place, that alms might extinguish the flame of our sins, as it is written, "As water extinguisheth fire, so do alms extinguish sins." No needy person is exempted from almsdeeds. Verily a poor widow had for her whole property but one farthing, which she brought to God's altar, in Christ's presence, and he straightways with his holy mouth praised her, and said, "Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath brought a greater gift than any other person on this day; for she hath brought all that she had with a devout mind." Again, in another place, the Lord said in his gospel, "Whosoever giveth to one thirsty man cold water in my name, shall not lose his meed for that deed." But it will not be accounted as alms, if we give to those men who themselves have for their need; for God commands us not to enrich those who have, but to aid the indigent.

We will yet recount to you one sentence of the evangelical narrative in this same sense: the Lord spake of his advent to the great doom, and thus said, "Verily the Son of man will come in his majesty, and all the angels together with him, to the great doom; then will he sit on the seat of his majesty, and all nations shall be gathered before him, and he will part them into two, as a shepherd parts the sheep from the goats. Then will he place the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left." We will now first manifest to you, if any of you know not who the Son of man is, that Christ himself is the Son of man, who is the Son of one person, the blessed Mary, in humanity, and his humanity will be visible in the doom, when he himself will sit on his doomseat, and the righteous be placed on his right hand, and the sinful on his left. "Then will the King Christ say to those who stand on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, and possess the kingdom which hath been prepared for you from the beginning of the world. I was hungry, and ye fed me; I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and ye received me in your hostels; I was naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came to me and comforted me. Then will the righteous answer Christ, and say, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and we fed thee? or thirsty, and we gave thee to drink? or when wast thou a stranger, and we received thee? or when saw we thee sick or in prison, and we visited thee? Then will the King answer the righteous in these words, Verily I say unto you, as long as ye did it for one of these least in my name, ye did it for myself. Then will he afterwards say to the sinful, who stand on his left side, Depart from me, ye accursed, into the everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his accursed spirits. I was hungry, and ye denied me food; I was thirsty, and ye gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and ye would not receive me; I was naked, and ye would not give me clothing; I was sick and in prison, ye would not visit me. Then will the unrighteous sinful answer, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and we would not serve thee? Then will the King answer them, and say, Verily I say unto you, so long as ye denied to one of these little ones, and would not give to them in my name, so long denied ye it to myself. Then will the avaricious and the unrighteous go into everlasting torment, with the devil and his accursed angels; and the righteous will pass from the doom into eternal life" with Christ and his chosen angels, with whom they will live and reign with body and with soul for ever and ever. Amen.

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Stations of the Cross for Friday

Here is a link to my post on Blessed John Henry Newman's Meditations for the Stations of the Cross, which is particularly appropriate for Fridays.  Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us!

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Sunday of the Rose

Today is the Fourth Sunday in Lent, called Laetare Sunday from the first words of the Introit at Mass, "Laetare Jerusalem" — "Rejoice, O Jerusalem".  On this Sunday, the mid-point of the season of Lent, the Church permits certain special signs of joy to encourage the faithful in their course, a relaxation of the stark penitence of the Lenten fast and a foreshadowing of our joy in the Risen Lord at Easter.  Flowers are permitted at the altar, the organ may be played at Mass and Vespers, the deacon and subdeacon wear dalmatics instead of folded chasubles as on other Sundays of Lent, and in place of penitential violet, rose-colored vestments are allowed.  By a happy blending of of significations, there is another rose-related tradition on the Fourth Sunday in Lent, on account of which the day is also called "Dominica de rosa" or "Sunday of the Rose".

By tradition, on this day the popes have blessed a golden rose, a precious and sacred ornament made of pure gold by skilled craftsmen, to be bestowed, as a token of special reverence and devotion, upon Catholic kings and queens, princes and princesses, other renowned and distinguished persons, governments or cities conspicuous for their Catholic spirit and loyalty to the Holy See, and, from the latter half of the 20th century, upon certain places of devotion, churches and shrines.

Pope Innocent III wrote about the significance of the golden rose.  As Lætare Sunday, the day set apart for the function, represents love after hate, joy after sorrow, and fullness after hunger, so does the rose designate by its color, odor, and taste, love, joy, and satiety respectively.  Adverting to the spiritual resemblance, he continues that the rose is the flower spoken of by the Prophet Isaiah (11:1), "there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root".

The golden flower and its shining splendor show forth Christ and His Kingly Majesty, Who is heralded by the prophet as "the flower of the field and the lily of the valleys"; its fragrance (the principal rose incorporates a tiny cup with a perforated cover into which the pope pours musk and balsam) shows the sweet odor of Christ which should be widely diffused by His faithful followers (Pope Leo XIII, Acta, vol. VI, 104); and the thorns and red tint tell of His Passion according to Isaiah 63:2: "Why then is thy apparel red, and thy garments like theirs that tread in the winepress?"

The design of the golden rose has varied over time.  Originally, the ornament appears to have taken the form of a single, simple rose of red-tinted gold.  For greater embellishment and in lieu of the red tint, a ruby was placed in the heart of the rose, and many precious gemstones were set in the petals.  Later a thorny branch with leaves and many roses (a half-score and sometimes more), the largest of which sprang from the top of the branch and the smaller ones clustered naturally around it, was substituted for the single rose.  More recently, the roses have been fashioned from heavily-gilt silver, with vases and pedestals of various forms and materials.  In addition to the customary inscription, the coat of arms of the pope who had the ornament made, and that of him who blessed and conferred it, were engraved on the pedestal.

The pope blesses the golden rose with this prayer:

O God! by Whose word and power all things have been created, by Whose will all things are directed, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty, Who art the joy and gladness of all the faithful, that Thou wouldst deign in Thy fatherly love to bless and sanctify this rose, most delightful in odour and appearance, which we this day carry in sign of spiritual joy, in order that the people consecrated by Thee and delivered from the yoke of Babylonian slavery through the favour of Thine only-begotten Son, Who is the glory and exultation of the people of Israel and of that Jerusalem which is our Heavenly mother, may with sincere hearts show forth their joy. Wherefore, O Lord, on this day, when the Church exults in Thy name and manifests her joy by this sign, confer upon us through her true and perfect joy and accepting her devotion of today; do Thou remit sin, strengthen faith, increase piety, protect her in Thy mercy, drive away all things adverse to her and make her ways safe and prosperous, so that Thy Church, as the fruit of good works, may unite in giving forth the perfume of the ointment of that flower sprung from the root of Jesse and which is the mystical flower of the field and lily of the valleys, and remain happy without end in eternal glory together with all the saints.

Here are some photographs of golden roses down through the ages.

Golden rose Biblioteca apostolica 676x1024 Sunday of the Rose

Golden Rose from the Vatican Library.

51169556 Sunday of the Rose

Golden Rose presented by Pope John Paul II to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

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A Reasonable, Holy, and Living Sacrifice unto Thee

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, in his second Lenten sermon of the year, addressed Pope Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia yesterday.

"The offering of the priest and of the whole Church, without that of Jesus, would neither be holy nor acceptable to God, because we are only sinful creatures," he said, "but Jesus' offering, without that of his body which is the Church, would also be incomplete and insufficient: not, be it understood, to procure salvation, but because we receive it and appropriate it. It is in this sense that the Church can say with St. Paul: 'in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.'"

– snip –

"Let us imagine," he said, "that in a family there is one child, the first born, most devoted to the father. He wishes to give him a present for his birthday. However, before presenting it to him he asks all his brothers and sisters secretly to add their signature on the gift. It then arrives in the hands of the father as the indistinct homage of all his children and as a sign of the esteem and love of them all but, in reality, only one has paid its price.

"And now the application. Jesus admires and loves the heavenly Father. He wishes to give him every day, until the end of the world, the most precious gift he can think of, that of his life itself. In the Mass he invites all his 'brothers,' who we are, to add their signature on the gift, so that it reaches God the Father as the indistinct gift of all his children. [...] But, in reality, we know that only one has paid the price of such a gift. And what a price!"

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That Alms Might Extinguish the Flame of Our Sins

Holy Church has traditionally kept a threefold discipline for the Lenten season.  The first two disciplines — prayer and fasting — are doubtless familiar to most of us, but we mustn't forget about the third.  Lent is a time for almsgiving — the granting, in charity, of material favors to those in need.  This material service rendered to the poor is done for Christ's sake and is an obligation of the Christian Faith.  The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) puts it this way:

The obligation of almsgiving is complementary to the right of property "which is not only lawful, but absolutely necessary" (Encycl., Rerum Novarum, tr. Baltimore, 1891, 14). Ownership admitted, rich and poor must be found in society. Property enables its possessors to meet their needs. Though labour enables the poor to win their daily bread, accidents, illness, old age, labour difficulties, plagues, war, etc. frequently interrupt their labours and impoverish them. The responsibility of succouring, those thus rendered needy belongs to those who have plenty (St. Thomas, Summa Theol., II-II, Q. xxxii, art. 5, ad 2am), For "it is one thing to have a right to possess money, and another to have a right to use money as one pleases." How must one's possessions be used? The Church replies: Man should not consider his external possessions as his own but as common to all, so as to share them without difficulty when others are in need. Whence the Apostle says: Command the rich of this world to give with ease. This is a duty not of justice (except in extreme cases), but of Christian charity — a duty not enforced by human law. But the laws and judgments of men must yield to the laws and judgments of Christ the true God, who in many ways urges on His followers the practice of almsgiving (Encyclical, Rerum Novarum, 14, 15; cf. De Lugo, De Jure et Justitiâ, Disp. xvi, sect. 154).

The following is Ælfric of Eynsham's Homily for the First Sunday in Lent in which the abbot preaches the obligation of all to give of their substance to those in need.

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Men most beloved, it is known to you all that this yearly course just now brings us the pure time of the Lenten Fast, during which we should confess our heedlessness and transgressions to our ghostly confessor, and wash ourselves from sins with fasting, and watchings, and prayers, and alms-deeds, that we may boldly, with ghostly joy, honour the Easter celebration of Christ's ascension, and with faith partake of the holy housel, for the forgiveness of our sins, and protection against devilish temptations.

Manifestly this fortyfold fast was established in the Old Testament, when the leader Moses fasted forty days and forty nights together, in order that he might receive God's law. Again afterwards the great prophet Elijah accomplished, through God's might, a fast as long as the other, and he was afterwards borne bodily in a heavenly car to the life above, and will come again, he and Enoch, against Antichrist, that they may confute the devil's leasing with God's truth. In the New Testament also the Lord, through his divine might, fasted forty days and nights, without all earthly food. Thus was our lenten fast established, but we cannot, by reason of our weakness, accomplish such a fast. Now it is allowed us, by the authority of teachers, daily at this lenten tide to nourish our bodies with abstemiousness, and soberness, and chastity. Foolishly he fasts the lenten fast, who at this pure time defiles himself with libidinousness. Unlawful it is for a. christian man to indulge in fleshly lusts at the time when he shall forgo flesh meats. Verily it is at all times befitting Christian men to perform good works and alms-deeds, and yet most of all at this general fast. He who on other days may be remiss in goodness, should at least on these days be active in good practices. To him who previously had gladly adorned himself with good works, it is fitting that he on these days more earnestly with ardent love show his goodness. No fast will be acceptable to God, unless a man abstain from sins. Be mindful of the two sentences which the Lord spake in his gospel: he said, "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Give, and to you shall be given." These two kinds of alms are to be practised by us with great diligence : that with inward heart we forgive other men, if in aught they have offended us, to the end that God may grant us forgiveness of our sins. And let us bestow some advantage of our goods on the poor and needy, for the honour of Almighty God, who has lent them to us, that he may give us more in the future.

Mercy is the medicine of sins; it redeems from eternal death, and allows us not to come to perdition. Mercy alone will be our guardian at the great doom, if in the present life we show it to other men. But to those shall be doom without mercy, who now without mercy judge others. From righteous gains one should distribute alms, as it is written, "Honour thy Lord with thy possessions, and of thy first fruits give unto the poor." The alms that are given from rapine are as acceptable to God as if any one, having killed another man's child, should bring to the father its head as a gift. God commanded alms to be given, and he forbade fraud and rapine. The unrighteous robs others and rejoices: then, if the needy ask alms of him, he is offended, and turns his face away, and forgets the saying of the prophet, who said, "He who turns his face from the crying poor, shall afterwards himself cry unto God, and his voice shall not be heard. Incline thine ear to the prayer of the needy, that God may afterwards hear thy voice. Deal from that which God hath given thee, and thy goods shall be multiplied. If thou neglectest to deal alms, God will take from thee thy goods, and thou shalt afterwards remain poor."

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Legend of the Grand Inquisitor

torquemada 220x300 Legend of the Grand InquisitorI have always been profoundly marked by this story, which is truly characteristic of Russian thought. It may be construed as a Russian Orthodox criticism of the Roman Catholic Church. We should read a much broader meaning into this text, because a form of evil, present in us all, can creep into every caricature of Christianity. It is the Third Temptation of which we read this morning at Mass. It is the temptation to assume that Christ did not do His work properly, and can be corrected by committing evil. Thus in the real gritty spirit of Lent, I hit hard at the shadows within each one of us.

At our level, not that of the evil inquisitor like Topcliffe or Torquemada with power to torture and kill, but at our level to commit sins of the spirit, we find people who try to pry into the souls of others. In particular, they cast doubts upon the sincerity of those Anglicans interested in the Ordinariate scheme. Those people, like ourselves, should be more concerned with their (and our) own spiritual condition.

The Grand Inquisitor is someone who succumbs to this temptation, objecting to others having the presumption to think for themselves or obeying their own consciences.

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Legend of the Grand Inquisitor

taken from Fydor Dostoïevski (1821-1881), The Karamazov Brothers, 1879

Do you know, Alyosha — don't laugh I made a poem about a year ago. If you can waste another ten minutes on me, I'll tell it to you."

"You wrote a poem?"

"Oh, no, I didn't write it," laughed Ivan, and I've never written two lines of poetry in my life. But I made up this poem in prose and I remembered it. I was carried away when I made it up. You will be my first reader — that is listener. Why should an author forego even one listener?" smiled Ivan. "Shall I tell it to you?"

"I am all attention." said Alyosha.

"My poem is called The Grand Inquisitor; it's a ridiculous thing, but I want to tell it to you.

Chapter 5

The Grand Inquisitor "EVEN this must have a preface — that is, a literary preface," laughed Ivan, "and I am a poor hand at making one. You see, my action takes place in the sixteenth century, and at that time, as you probably learnt at school, it was customary in poetry to bring down heavenly powers on earth. Not to speak of Dante, in France, clerks, as well as the monks in the monasteries, used to give regular performances in which the Madonna, the saints, the angels, Christ, and God Himself were brought on the stage. In those days it was done in all simplicity. In Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris an edifying and gratuitous spectacle was provided for the people in the Hotel de Ville of Paris in the reign of Louis XI in honour of the birth of the dauphin. It was called Le bon jugement de la tres sainte et gracieuse Vierge Marie, and she appears herself on the stage and pronounces her bon jugement. Similar plays, chiefly from the Old Testament, were occasionally performed in Moscow too, up to the times of Peter the Great. But besides plays there were all sorts of legends and ballads scattered about the world, in which the saints and angels and all the powers of Heaven took part when required. In our monasteries the monks busied themselves in translating, copying, and even composing such poems — and even under the Tatars. There is, for instance, one such poem (of course, from the Greek), The Wanderings of Our Lady through Hell, with descriptions as bold as Dante's. Our Lady visits hell, and the Archangel Michael leads her through the torments. She sees the sinners and their punishment. There she sees among others one noteworthy set of sinners in a burning lake; some of them sink to the bottom of the lake so that they can't swim out, and 'these God forgets' — an expression of extraordinary depth and force. And so Our Lady, shocked and weeping, falls before the throne of God and begs for mercy for all in hell — for all she has seen there, indiscriminately. Her conversation with God is immensely interesting. She beseeches Him, she will not desist, and when God points to the hands and feet of her Son, nailed to the Cross, and asks, 'How can I forgive His tormentors?' she bids all the saints, all the martyrs, all the angels and archangels to fall down with her and pray for mercy on all without distinction. It ends by her winning from God a respite of suffering every year from Good Friday till Trinity Day, and the sinners at once raise a cry of thankfulness from hell, chanting, 'Thou art just, O Lord, in this judgment.' Well, my poem would have been of that kind if it had appeared at that time. He comes on the scene in my poem, but He says nothing, only appears and passes on. Fifteen centuries have passed since He promised to come in His glory, fifteen centuries since His prophet wrote, 'Behold, I come quickly'; 'Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, neither the Son, but the Father,' as He Himself predicted on earth. But humanity awaits him with the same faith and with the same love. Oh, with greater faith, for it is fifteen centuries since man has ceased to see signs from heaven.

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Newman's Meditations on the Stations of the Cross

Meditations on the Stations of the Cross

Begin with an Act of Contrition

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.  Amen.

The First Station
Jesus Is Condemned to Death

station 1 Newmans Meditations on the Stations of the CrossV. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

LEAVING the House of Caiphas, and dragged before Pilate and Herod, mocked, beaten, and spit upon, His back torn with scourges, His head crowned with thorns, Jesus, who on the last day will judge the world, is Himself condemned by unjust judges to a death of ignominy and torture.

Jesus is condemned to death. His death-warrant is signed, and who signed it but I, when I committed my first mortal sins? My first mortal sins, when I fell away from the state of grace into which Thou didst place me by baptism; these it was that were Thy death-warrant, O Lord. The Innocent suffered for the guilty. Those sins of mine were the voices which cried out, "Let Him be crucified." That willingness and delight of heart with which I committed them was the consent which Pilate gave to this clamorous multitude. And the hardness of heart which followed upon them, my disgust, my despair, my proud impatience, my obstinate resolve to sin on, the love of sin which took possession of me—what were these contrary and impetuous feelings but the blows and the blasphemies with which the fierce soldiers and the populace received Thee, thus carrying out the sentence which Pilate had pronounced?

Pater, Ave, &c.
V. Miserere nostri, Domine.
R. Miserere nostri.
Fidelium animæ, &c.

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Soloviev on the Three Temptations

temptations 300x285 Soloviev on the Three TemptationsI offer you this meditation for next Sunday’s Gospel from Vladimir Soliviev, God, Man and the Church, Cambridge 1937, pp. 123-127. Indeed, we clergy have to be constantly on our guard, particularly in regard to the temptation of power and controlling other people.

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(…) Christ as God freely renounces his glory and by so doing acquires as man the ability to become a sharer in that glory.

But before he can do this the Saviour's human nature and will must encounter the temptation of evil. There is a twofold consciousness in the theandric personality, of his divine essence and of his restricted natural existence. And since he really experiences the limitations of the last, the God-man can undergo temptation from an external source, the temptation to use his divine power as means to attain ends transcending these limitations.

For a being who lives under material conditions there is in the first place a temptation to make material well-being an end and object and to use his divine power as a means to attain it. “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread”. Here the divine substance— “If thou be the Son of God” — and its manifestation — “command” — are to be the means to satisfy a bodily requirement. In reply to this temptation Christ declares that the divine voice is not at the beck and call of material existence but is itself the source of man's true life: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”. In rejecting this physical temptation the Son of Man receives dominion over all flesh.

The Man-God is then tempted to use his divine power in the interest of his human personality, to sin against reason, to fall into presumption. “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down. For it is written: He shall give his angels charge concerning thee; and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone”. To do this (“Cast thyself down”) would be a defiance of God by absolutely self-confident man, a temptation of God by man. Christ answers, “It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God”[1]. In repudiating this sin of the understanding the Son of Man receives dominion over all understanding.

The third and last temptation is the strongest. Bondage to the flesh and spiritual presumption have been thrust aside ; the human will has reached a high degree of moral development and knows itself to be above all other earthly creatures ; and man can aspire, in the name of this moral worth, to dominate the world and lead it to perfection. But the world lies in evil and does not readily submit itself to moral superiority, so it must be forced and the divine power must be used to subdue it. But thus to use unjust violence to attain good ends is to avow that good is powerless by itself, that evil is the stronger, and to worship that principle of evil which reigns in the world. “The Devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, and saith unto him, ‘All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me’”. Here is a clear statement of the crucial question for mankind: In whom do you believe? And whom will you serve? —the divine power that you cannot see, or the evil power that you can see all around you? The human will of Christ would have none of this temptation to seek power for itself, even though apparently justified; it repudiated the world's evil and freely submitted to good : “Then saith Jesus unto him, ‘Get thee hence, Satan, for it is written: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve’”. So did the Son of Man vanquish the sin of the spirit, and he received supreme dominion over all the spiritual kingdom; he had refused to use earthly weapons and to seek earthly domination and in that moment the powers of Heaven were at his command: “and behold! Angels came and ministered unto him”.

By dismissing the temptations that would commit his human will to self-affirmation our Lord shows the harmony of that will in him with the divine will which divinizes his manhood through the incarnation of his Godhead. But Christ's victory does not stop there. He is a whole man and so he has besides the purely human element (rational will), a natural material element: he is not only made man, he is also made flesh, “sárx egéneto”. And the spiritual triumph over temptation has to find its completion in the overcoming of suffering and death by the sensitive principle, the flesh; that is why it is said in the Gospel, after the account of the temptation in the wilderness, that the Devil departed from Christ for a season. After the principle of evil had been excluded from the innermost part of our Lord's human being it nevertheless still had power at the outer, over his physical nature, which could be made free only by a similar process of self-abnegation; the physical nature also was freely subdued to the Godhead by Christ's human will and, in spite of its weakness (“Let this cup pass from me …”), fulfilled the divine will even to the end in bodily torment and death.

The normal order of the three elements in man [divine, material and human uniting the first two] violated in the first Adam is thus restored in the second. The human element by voluntarily putting itself in submissive relationship to the divine element as the plenitude of its own good becomes again the mediating and unifying principle between God and the natural element; this last, cleansed by the death of the Cross, loses its material particularity and impenetrability and becomes the direct expression and instrument of the Spirit, the true spiritual body of the risen Man-God. In his life, his death and his resurrection Jesus Christ shows that God, incarnate in him, is above law and reason, that he can do far more than immobilize evil by his strength or unmask it by his light; he is the Spirit of life and of love, and he redeems and saves that nature which has fallen into rack and ruin, transforming its falsities into truth, its wickedness into goodness—and in this act of triumphant love God finds his own glory. “And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth”.


[1] These words are sometimes understood as if Christ had said, “Do not tempt me, for I am your Lord, God”. This explanation is wrong, for Christ was tempted as man, not as God. His second reply, like his first, is a direct answer to the Tempter's suggestion, which is that Jesus should tempt God by a rash action; Christ quotes the Scriptures as forbidding such a deed.

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Prayer for the Unity of the Church in Lent

Fr. Neil Wall, Convenor and Parish Priest of the first Continuing Anglican parish in Victoria, Australia (Melbourne, 1987), and member of the Community of the Transfiguration, an outreach to distressed and isolated Anglican Catholics, has written to suggest that members of the Traditional Anglican Communion, other Anglo-Catholics, and indeed all Christians pray the following prayer (especially the final part) during Lent, beseeching God for the successful implementation of the personal ordinariates and the continued fruitfulness of the ongoing dialogue between the Holy See and the Orthodox Churches.

For the past eight years — every Thursday — the Community of the Transfiguration has offered this prayer for the unity of the Church.  During the TAC College of Bishops meeting in Portsmouth, England (which resulted in the solemn submission of the bishops of the TAC to the Roman Pontiff, the acceptance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the Communion's doctrinal standard, and the formal request to the Holy See for admission to full communion with the Catholic Church), the Community of the Transfiguration offered it as part of a novena.

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Prayer for the Unity of the Church

Thou alone, O Lord, art worthy to receive glory, dominion, and power, and to thee alone we offer our prayers of thanksgiving and petition.

For thy Holy Catholic Church and the presence of thy Holy Spirit to guide Her into all truth,

We praise, bless, and thank thee.

For the Patriarchs and Prophets, for Blessed Mary, thy Apostles, Saints, and Martyrs, for holy men and women who have witnessed to thy love and truth through the ages,

We praise, bless, and thank thee.

For those who are working and praying for a return of all Anglicans to Apostolic Faith, Tradition, and Order,

We praise, bless, and thank thee.

For self-proclaimed prophets who, in their arrogance and self-conceit, have rejected thy revealed truth and created such deplorable divisions among us,

Father, forgive them and guide them back to thy truth.

For false shepherds who, rejecting their ordination vows, destroy their flocks by creating confusion, errors, and schisms,

Father, forgive them and guide them back to thy truth.

For those in the Church who have betrayed thee by the mental, physical, or sexual abuse of those in their care,

Father, forgive them and guide them back to thy truth.

We pray for all whose faith has suffered and who feel bitter, isolated, betrayed, confused, or angry;

Father, bless, comfort, and strengthen them.

We pray for all faithful clergy, religious, and laity who suffer ridicule, slander, or persecution as they teach and defend the Faith delivered once and for all time.  We pray especially for the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch, the bishops of the Orthodox and Eastern Churches, the Anglican Continuum, the Primate and bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, Forward in Faith, the Polish National Catholic and Nordic Catholic Churches;

Father, bless, comfort, and strengthen them.

Eternal and Unchanging Lord, thou hast taught us through thy Son that a house divided amongst itself must fall.  Keep us, we pray, in the household of Apostolic Faith and free us from the sins, errors, and divisions of this age.  Let us never do anything to widen those divisions, and give us grace to work and pray in love for the peace and unity of thy Church, so that there may be One Church, with One Faith, under One Shepherd, even Jesus Christ Our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.  Amen.

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Carnival

carnival1 CarnivalSome of you might be participating in a carnival somewhere near where you live, that last fling of merriment before getting serious for Lent. The Carnival is an old tradition in many countries, particularly flamboyant in Brazil, much of the rest of South America and Mexico. Here in Europe, strong Carnival traditions are found in Germany, Belgium the north of France and, not least, Venice. There are traces of the carnival traditions in England, and it is often celebrated with great pomp in Orthodox countries.

The word carnival is most likely to be derived from the Latin carne vale, meaning “goodbye to meat”. The old fasting and abstinence discipline required perpetual abstinence during Lent and fasting (one full meal and two collations each day) on all days except Sundays. Most carnivals are celebrated during the Septuagesima and Sexagesima weeks and the few days before Ash Wednesday, especially on Shrove (Pancake) Tuesday.

In England, we speak of Shrovetide. The word comes from shrive, the old English word for going to confession and receiving Absolution. We still use short shrift in modern usage, meaning brief and unsympathetic treatment, deriving from the very brief period allowed to a condemned prisoner to make his confession before being carted away to the gallows. The idea of eating pancakes is to use up all the last of the animal fat, which was also forbidden under the strict abstinence laws.

In the United States, Mardi Gras is celebrated, coming from the Cajun traditions of Louisiana, Mississippi and the old French colonies. Mardi Gras is simply French for “Fat Tuesday”, the same day as Shrove Tuesday in England.

There is also something to say on the Roman Forty Hours Devotion, also called Quarant' Ore in Italian. This involves perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for the adoration of the faithful. There are processions in some churches with the singing of the Litany of the Saints. The full forty hours are rarely observed, even before Vatican II. It often takes the form of a period of adoration lasting from one to two hours, followed by Benediction. This devotion may hardly seem to be in the spirit of the fervent reading of Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, but some Anglican parishes practice it all the same! I certainly recommend it.

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