Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Holy, Holy, Holy,...what?

I followed the recent changes to the Roman Missal with some interest.  This was in part because I read that one blogger said the new missal wording brought the Roman Catholic English translation more in line with the English wording in the Book of Common Prayer:  “And with your spirit,” and “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts.”  I think that the Roman Catholics can be excused for messing up after the fervor of excitement resulting from Vatican Two.  But I am not sure as much grace should be accorded to the avant garde liturgists of Anglican stripe who somehow deemed the Roman mistranslations (Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might) needed to be incorporated into the Anglican liturgies under the premise of ecumenism.  And that is the only reason I can seem to find for the corruption of the Sanctus.  An excellent article on the mistranslation of the Sanctus in the Roman Missal after Vatican Two, and the importance of correcting it, from a Roman Catholic priest can be found here: 

Now don’t get me wrong here.  I cannot read Latin, Greek, or Hebrew, but I can read the Scriptures.  And in those Scriptures, if the translators of the KJV, ASB, RSV, etc  are correct, then the scriptural source for opening of the Sanctus, Isaiah 6.3 is “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts.  This is a far cry from the rather inaccurate translation of “God of power and might.”  

Two things stand out for me. 

One is the thought that for the sake ecumenical uniformity we are willing to almost unthinkingly depart from our own rich heritage, a heritage well rooted in the ancient Church.  Secondly, we are willing to disengage the Scriptural witness from our liturgy, which seems to be a most un-Anglican thing to do.  I can cite other examples of this disengagement of the use in Scripture for our worship such as one bishop here in Canada who has authorized a ‘special rite’ wherein the proclamation of the Word actually allows for the opting of an appropriate secular reading to be used instead of an appropriate Scripture reading.   Imagine having a part of the service called “the proclamation of the Word,” and not having any Scripture read.  But I digress. 

The point I want to make here is that we have clearly made a mistake in allowing Ecumenical fervor to sway us in embracing erroneous wordings in our divine Eucharistic liturgy.  Comments on the adoption of the Ecumenical Lectionary (The Revised Common Lectionary) might also fall into this category.  Let’s be honest here, if we were truly interested in embracing ecumenical relations with the Romans and the Greeks then there are many innovations we simply should not have embraced so quickly.  By all appearances we have wanted to eat our cake and have it too, and we know that that does not work.  Instead, I feel that we have lost much of our Anglican Identity, which is directly tied to our liturgy.

I am left with the following question: Within the Anglican milieu, how does one ‘back up’ once a mistake is realized?  The Romans, with their hierarchy of authority were able to very easily redact their liturgy.  We Anglicans appear to entirely lack any mechanism for this.  I fear it is up to our ‘chief liturgical officers,’ and again I fear few really don’t seem to care.

To this sad reflection I invite my readers to have a look at the idea being brought to the forefront recently for the need of a “New Oxford Movement, “ by a priest in Ireland blogging under the heading Catholicity and Covenant.  The post is called, “a Retrieval of Riches – the potential of a New Oxford Movement.”  

I like to call it, “the de-newal of Anglican Liturgy.”  Done right, such a de-newal, such a new Oxford movement, might just bring us back to the most holy God, in truly holy worship where we joyfully declare with the angels and archangels, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of your glory!!

Lord have Mercy,  Brian

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Missing in Action - The Prayer of Humble Access

W E do not presume to come to this thy Table,
O merciful Lord, Trusting in our own
righteousness, But in thy manifold and great
mercies. We are not worthy So much as to gather
up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the
same Lord, Whose property is always to have
mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, So to
eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, And to
drink his Blood, That our sinful bodies may be
made clean by his Body, And our souls washed
through his most precious Blood, And that we
may evermore dwell in him, And he in us. Amen.

The Prayer of Humble Access in the Book of Common Prayer

I have been reading the book, "Grand Entrance," by Edith Humphrey, who reminds us that all worship, but especially the worship of the community in the Eucharist, is a grand entrance into the Heaven/Earth presence of God the Almighty: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Such an entrance calls for humility and preparation by the entire community.  Reflecting upon the Tridentine liturgy (pre-Vatican 2) she says,

“The action of entering by the way of the Lord is complimented by the idea of God’s entrance into the human realm, a dynamic we have seen everywhere in both Western and Eastern liturgies.  Especially prominent in this regard is the prayer of humble welcome, said by both the priest and the faithful prior to the reception of communion.  “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof:  But only say the word and my soul will be healed.”  This prayer, based on the humility of the gentile centurion, may be considered as a Western cousin to the Eastern prayer of reception, which looks to the  faith of the thief upon the cross: “Like the thief I will confess you, Remember me, O Lord.”  It is also paralleled, in both reverence and its intent, by the Anglican “prayer of humble access,” framed by Cranmer on the basis of several of the preparatory Sarum prayers: “We do not presume to come to this thy table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own goodness, but in thy manifold and great mercies.”  The people identify themselves, in these three related prayers, with examples of the faithful from history who have come from marginal backgrounds but who have been received by the deep love of Christ.”

From “Grand Entrance; Worship on Earth as in Heaven,” by Edith Humphrey (p. 120)

We are missing this reminder of Godly approach to the mysteries of the Sacrament in our Book of Alternative Services.  At least I miss it!  I wonder who thought we didn't need this humble reminder? 

Lord have mercy,  Brian+

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Whose Service is Perfect Freedom

The other day I say an impressive sight:  a man walking with his dog, but no leash was evident.  It was impressive because there were plenty of distractions, both people and cars.  Yet here was this rather remarkable dog walking along stride for stride with his owner.  They came to the busy corner (and yes there is a busy street corner in Gander – it was there while waiting for the left turn arrow that I observed the man with his dog) and the dog looked up at the man to see what he was going to do, noticed he was going to take the turn, and without missing a beat turned and continued on.  Remarkable.  

I felt that the dog was devoted to (‘loved’) his owner and was intent on staying with him, while the owner must have felt pride and joy in the trustworthy companion.  They were free with each other, enjoying each other.  The sight immediately reminded me of a phrase in the second collect of Morning Prayer, “…whose service is perfect freedom.”   

A few years ago I was attending a provincial synod where a professor from our theological college was appointed to lead the morning Bible Study.  She asked the group of bishops, clergy, and laity, “Why do we serve God?”  My first and enduring reaction was, “How could an Anglican not know the answer to that question?”  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t explore why serving God IS perfect freedom, or how not serving God enslaves us, but the professor continued with some rambling prose that in my opinion missed the mark, speaking about the trendy social justice themes of current Anglican bent.  The answer, the truth of the Scriptures has been presented to us for generations in the great contemplative rhythm of Anglican worship, “Whose service is perfect freedom.”    I wish that I had seen that beautiful mutt walking WITH its master prior to the meeting.  It would have been an excellent analogy.  As I recall, Jesus did not call his disciples friends until they had exemplified significant devotion and obedience.

O GOD, who art the author of peace and lover of concord,
in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life,
whose service is perfect freedom:
Defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies;
that we, surely trusting in thy defence,
may not fear the power of any adversaries;
through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

LORD have Mercy,  Brian+

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Faith - Growing up

A Prayer for Children
Now I lay me down to sleep;
I pray the LORD my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake;
I pray the LORD my soul to take.  

A Prayer for Adults
O LORD Jesus Christ, Son of the living God,
who at this evening hour didst rest in the sepulchre,
and didst thereby sanctify the grave to be a bed of hope to thy people:
Make us so to abound in sorrow for our sins,
which were the cause of thy passion,
that when our bodies lie in the dust,
our souls may live with thee;
who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost,
one God, world without end. Amen.  
                   From the Compline service BCP