Morning Prayer: July 15th

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Psalm: 31
Old Testament: 1 Sam 21
New Testament: Acts 13:13-25

So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the Lord to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away. (1 Sam 21:6)

Ever notice how the Old Testament is filled with people doing things that they aren’t supposed to do? Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden Tree…Cain kills his brother out of jealousy…Abraham deceives Pharaoh which leads to disease and famine for the king’s household….Jacob steals the birthright of his twin…and now we have a priest giving the Bread of the Presence to someone outside the Levitical family.

And yet….what do we find as God’s response to these events. God allows Adam to live, Cain is protected, Abraham is given a son, and Jacob becomes the namesake and patriarch of a nation.

God takes the things that we might perceive as unholy and transforms them into something…..not only good…..but great. πŸ™‚ Definitely gives us food for thought when we get stuck in liturgical ruts….or feel that certain individuals should be restricted from the Lord’s Table because of their “bad” behaviour, non? +

Reflections on a Eucharist in the Old Latin Rite

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So I didn’t get a chance to post anything for Morning Prayer today….but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t praying….in fact, I was doing a lot of it….for two and a half hours πŸ™‚

Today, I got the chance to attend the consecration service for two bishop-elects in the Old Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church.

Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church (where I will soon be working part-time) opens up its liturgical space to a small group of priests and laity dedicated to celebrating the Mass using a slightly modified Tridentine form.

It was nothing short of amazing!!! My inner liturgical geek was going crazy πŸ™‚

First off……I gained an immense respect for the Mass in Latin. It is a beautiful language and has a very poetic quality to it. I can certainly see why some people would have been greatly distressed when Vatican II mandated that the liturgy be switched wholesale into English.

As a former RC, it allowed me to feel more connected to my roots. To experience the Holy Eucharist in a similar manner to the way in which my ancestors would have. A chance which I am eternally grateful for πŸ™‚

Now for the stuff that surprised me:

a) 85% of the liturgy was sung ….even the readings from Scripture. It is something that I know happenes….and continues most prominently in the Eastern Orthodox Church. But until you hear it for yourself, you don’t realize that it adds a whole new dimension to the liturgy. It feels quite literally like you are joining your voices with the Angels. Massive kudos to the choir under the musical direction of Andrew Keegan Mackriell πŸ™‚

b) Coherency-Even though I don’t speak Latin or understand all of the words, I could follow the service. It really goes to show how manual acts (such as genuflecting, bowing, making the sign of the cross etc.) can convey meaning in and of themselves. The Holy Eucharist is truly a divine drama….played out for the faithful to see, hear, touch and taste.

c) Dedication-even though there was only a small number present….you could tell that there was a deep sense of devotion amongst those in the church. There was even a lady who wore a head covering for the service, as an act of obedience. I thought with all of the advances in women’s lib. and liturgical development, such practices were gone.

d) Incense and Intinction-Both practices have been widely abandoned in the ACC for health reasons…..but it sure was nice to see our prayers rising like smoke to God. Prior to today’s service I had also thought that the Blood of Christ was denied to the laity….not so if Intinction was indeed the practice in pre-Vatican liturgy. :). One thing that I absolutely hate in the modern RC rite is that the laity are not given access to the Blood of our Lord….except on the Feast of Corpus Christi.

e) Open Communion-I went into this morning thinking that I would not be able to receive the Host, and was delighted to find that I could indeed share in the Mass with my Catholic brothers and sisters. I’m not sure if this is the normal practice, or whether it was done out of sheer hospitality…..but it was a pleasant surprise πŸ™‚

All in all it was a fantastic experience πŸ™‚ and one that taught me a lot about my own heritage and the ways in which liturgy can speak to us even when we don’t understand all of the words being spoken. +

P.S. A combo post for Morning and Evening Prayer will be posted around 8:30pm EST

Morning Prayer: March 24th

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Psalm: 71
Old Testament: Jeremiah 4:9-10, 19-28
New Testament: Romans 2:12-24

In the introduction to his book, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics Stephen Westerholm has a hilarious episode of Martin Luther wandering into a book store and being astounded by what he finds. In a fictional dialogue with the author, the great Reformer from Eisleben is confused to find out that modern literature on Paul depict him as a devout Jew who never completely let go of his attachment to the Mosiac Law.

You see, in Luther’s commentary on Romans, there is a fundamental conviction that Paul turned his back on Judaism and embraced the new religion of Christ. Trading in a religion dedicated to following law and sin for the new faith that emphasized total depravity and the saving message of Grace.

In reality, the “Lutheran Paul” created a false dichotomy. In Luther’s defence, there are lots of conflicting messages abut the efficacy of the law in the letter to the Romans….but let’s concentrate on the idea that surfaces today:

For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles, who do not possess the law, do instinctively what the law requires, these, though not having the law, are a law to themselves. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness; and their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all….

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God….You that boast in the law, do you dishonour God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, β€˜The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’ (Romans 2:13-16;17;23-24)

As you can see from these texts, the law is important for Paul. It is a constant in the universe. A moral compass that directs both Jew and Gentile. For the Gentile, they know of the Law despite their ignorance because they strive to do the right thing. For Jews, the Law is important because they have both the moral compass of their heart, and the written specifics about how to go about living.

As a devout Jew now committed to preaching to Gentiles, Paul readily admits that there are Jews who fall short of the Law, and highlights the essential goodness of Gentiles. Yet again, we see role-reversal. The chosen people of God are depicted as apathetic to their call to holiness, while the outsider is seen as the one who is living up to the command to walk humbly with God. This irony is a constant theme in Biblical literature.

We will get some other conceptions of sin as we move through the letter to the Romans……but one of the questions to reflect on today in light of the Church might be: What do those outside our congregation’s walls, and absent from the pews have to teach us about how we are living our lives…..are we the ones who need to be put on the right path??? +

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