The Rosary: The Nativity

By way of introduction to the Third Joyous Mystery of the Rosary, please remember the scripture: Jesus was born in to a family that owned its own business. Jesus was born in a manger not because no inn would house a poor pregnant woman, but rather because the inns were full. Church tradition tells us that Joseph was chosen by Mary’s family because he was wealthy enough to care for her. He was much older than she, having at least one fully grown son already. Some traditional images of the holy family show St Joseph with grey hair. Please get all that modern political theory about a poor homeless family out of your Christmas meditations.

The Third Joyous Mystery: The Nativity

Let us contemplate, in the Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, when the time for her delivery was come, brought forth our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, at midnight, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for Him in the inns of Bethlehem.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Christ is born, glorify him! Christ comes from heaven, meet him! Christ is upon earth, rejoice! Sing to the Lord all the earth; and let all raise the hymn with joy, for he has been glorified.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Shepherds abiding in the fields had a vision of light which filled them with fear; for the glory of the Lord shone round them and an Angel crying aloud: Sing praises, for Christ is born.
Hail, Mary &c.

At the word of the Angel the armies of heaven cried out: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.
Hail, Mary &c.

To the Son begotten of the Father without change before the ages, and in these latter times without seed incarnate of a Virgin, to Christ God let us cry out: Holy art thou O Lord!
Hail, Mary &c.

The Magi, called by a star, are the first fruits of the gentiles brought to thee as an infant in a manger; sceptres and thrones did not astonish them, but utter poverty; for what is meaner than a cave, what is more humble than swaddling clothes?
Hail, Mary &c.

Let heaven rejoice and let earth be glad the Lamb of God is born on earth, granting redemption to the world. The Word who is in the bosom of the Father comes forth from the Virgin without seed.
Hail, Mary &c.

Rod of the stem of Jesse’s and it’s blossom forth, O Christ, thou springest from the Virgin, the shadowed covered mountain; thou art incarnate from her who knewest not wedlock, and are yet God not formed of matter!
Hail, Mary &c.

As thou art God of peace and Father of mercies, thou hast sent us thine Angel of great counsel, who granting us peace; so guided by the knowledge of God, watching before dawn we glorify thee, only lover of mankind’.
Hail, Mary &c.

Christ our God, whom the Father begot from the womb before the morning star and who holds the reins of the immaculate Powers, is laid in a manger of dumb beasts; he is swaddled in rags, but looses the tangled cords of our sins.
Hail, Mary &c.

A young child has been born from Adam’s race: a Son given to believers; this is the Father and Ruler of the world to come, the Angel of great counsel; the mighty God who holds by his authority all creation.
Hail, Mary &c.

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.


O pure Mother of God, through thy virginal and most joyful delivery, whereby thou gavest to the world thine only Son, our Saviour, obtain for us, we beseech thee, through thine intercession, the grace to lead such pure and holy lives in this world that we may become worthy to sing, without ceasing, the mercies of thy Son, and His benefits to us given by thee. Amen.

The Rosary: The Visitation

JMJ

The second of the five Joyous Mysteries is known as the Visitation and commemorates the visit of our Blessed Lady to St Elizabeth, the mother of the Forerunner, John Baptist.  The Visitation is a later-comer to the Calendar and devotional life of the Western Church, having been introduced by St Bonaventure in 1263. The Franciscans, in their devotions to the Ever-Virgin, spread the feast throughout the Church. It was extended to the entire Western Church by Pope Urban VI. The feast, with a vigil and an octave, was assigned to 2 July, the day after the octave of St. John, about the time when Mary returned to Nazareth. It did not arrive in the liturgical East until the mid-19th Century, and it is not, even now, widely celebrated. It is reported to have a service approved for use in the Orthodox Church, but no amount of Googling could find the text of the service, just copies of the same report over and over.

As is related in the Gospel text, when Mary said “Shalom!” the infant prophet, still in the womb of his mother, leapt for joy. Hearing of the baby’s action in utero the Blessed Virgin Mary uttered her poem in praise of God, the Magnificat. In the Byzantine rite, this is the Matins Gospel for nearly all the feasts of the Theotokos. The Magnificat is sung as the 9th Ode of the Canon in every Matins service as it also is part of every Vespers in the West. Even though in most Byzantine parochial practice all the other parts of the Canon get skipped for expediency, the 9 Ode is still sung in full.  Since this form is familiar to most users of the Byzantine rite, I will use it for the meditation on this mystery.

When away from a prayerbook and praying this mystery, I use the embolism as below.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, bring joy even within thy womb. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

As before, the introductory comment and the closing prayer comes from The St Ambrose Prayerbook, available from Lancelot Andrewes Press.

The Second Joyous Mystery: The Visitation

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, understanding from the Angel that her cousin St Elizabeth, had conceived, went in haste into the mountains of Judea to visit her, and remained with her three months.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen 

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

For he that is mighty hath magnified me; and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
Hail, Mary, &c.

He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek;.He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel; as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

O thou who from thy virginal loins ineffably lentest a body unto the Luminary that was before the sun, even God, Who hath dawned upon us, and dwelt among us in the body: O blessed and all-pure Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He that made the water to gush from the cloven rock for the disobedient people, to our joy granteth thee to the obedient nations as the fruit of barren loins.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

O abrogation of the harsh ancient sentence, uprighting of our first mother, cause of God’s kinship with our race, and bridge unto the Creator: O Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

Thou art the mystical paradise, O Theotokos; for that thou, being untilled, didst bud forth Christ, by Whom was planted on earth the life-giving tree of the Cross.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

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.

O Holy Virgin, spotless Mother of humility, by that exceeding love which moved thee to visit thy holy cousin St Elizabeth, obtain for us, through thine intercession, that our hearts being visited by thy divine Son, and freed from all sin we may praise and thank Him for ever. Amen.

The Rosary: The Annunciation

JMJ

The first decade of the Holy Rosary is in honor of the Annunciation when the Archangel Gabriel came to Blessed Mary, the Ever-Virgin, and, greeting her, offered her the chance to become the mother of her Creator. Her acceptance of this greeting is the beginning of our salvation. One traditional way of meditation on the mysteries is to add a verse of scripture.  In these posts I will be added a liturgical verse from the Byzantine Rite, to borrow from Ghostbusters, I will be “Crossing the Streams”.

Another way to add to the meditation is to add a short phrase, called an embolism, to indicate the mystery after the words, “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…”  For example, in this mystery, you might say the Hail, Mary like this:

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, announced to thee by the Archangel Gabriel. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

I find this method very useful when I am walking and praying the Rosary, as on my way to work.

The First Joyous Mystery: The Annunciation

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Archangel Gabriel saluted our Blessed Lady with the title, Full of  Grace, and declared unto her the Incarnation of our Lord, God, and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

In the sixth month the archangel was sent to the pure Virgin. And as he opened his mouth and said to her: Rejoice! And he announced to her that from her will come the Redeemer. And having accepted the greeting with faith, she conceived God.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

Having flown down from the vaults of Heaven to Nazareth, Gabriel cried the greeting unto Mary the Virgin: Rejoice, O all-pure Maid; thou shalt bring forth a Son Who existed ere Adam was: He is the Maker of all, and the Ransomer of all them that cry Rejoice to thee.
Hail, Mary, &c.

From Heaven Gabriel brought the good tidings full of joy unto the holy Virgin, crying out Rejoice to her. In thy womb shalt thou both conceive and contain Him Whom all things cannot contain, and shalt be seen as the Mother of Him that shone from the Father ere the morning star.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Theotokos, being the living tabernacle of God, shall never be touched by an unclean hand. But the lips of believers shall sing unto her ceaselessly with the voice of angels, crying joyfully:
Hail, Mary, &c.

How dost thou overflow with milk, O undefiled Virgin? Verily, thou hast appeared as a strange manifestation, unutterable by human tongue, transcending nature and the bounds of the laws of birth.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The God-inspired Scriptures, O Mother of the Highest, have spoken of thee mystically; for Jacob, when he saw the ladder of old, which was a foresign of thee, cried: This is the ascent of God.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The bush and the fire did reveal to God-beholding Moses a wonderful miracle. And seeking the fulfillment thereof with the passing of time, he cried, saying, I shall behold her who is a spotless Maiden, who shall be addressed with rejoicing as the Theotokos.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou hast transcended the bounds of nature, O Maiden, having conceived God in an ineffable manner; for being of a perishable nature, thou was exempted in thy birth-giving from that which pertaineth to mothers. Wherefore, as is meet we say:
Hail, Mary, &c.

Now the beginningless Father’s own co-eternal Word, in His extreme compassion and immeasurable mercy, parting not from things above, cometh below, to take pity on us who fell; and having taken a form that is not His own, He assumeth Adam’s poverty.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Behold, now is our recall made manifest; for God is united with mankind in an ineffable manner. And at the voice of the archangel error hath vanished; for the Virgin hath received joy and earthly things have become heavenly, and the world is free from the ancient curse.
Hail, Mary, &c.

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.

O Holy Mary, Queen of Virgins, through the most high Mystery of the Incarnation of thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein our salvation was begun, obtain for us, through thy most holy intercession, light to understand the greatness of the benefit He hath bestowed upon us, in vouchsafing to become our Brother, and in giving thee, His own beloved Mother, to be our Mother also.  Amen.

The Rosary: Introduction to the Joyful Mysteries


JMJ

The Joyful Mysteries are those events at the beginning of the life of Christ:

  1. The Annunciation of the Archangel to Mary
  2. The Visitation of Our Lady to St Elizabeth
  3. The Nativity of Our Lord
  4. The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple
  5. The Finding of Christ teaching among the Elders in the Temple

Each one of these represents a direct interplay between Our Lady and Our Lord.  These are called Joyful because of the deep joy they signified to Mary, but also to us! The joys of Lady Day in March and Christmas in December, of Circumcision and Candlemas.

The first two can seem as if Christ is very passive – even missing – but it should never be forgotten that Christ is God in the Flesh: he is never passive, no matter how it may seem to us. But he is never over-ruling either. Mary was asked if she would partake of this joy and she consented. Likewise in the Visitation, it was Christ who made the Forerunner leap for joy, but it was at his Mother’s actions and words.

His actions for our salvation have been the divine plan of the ages.  Fr John Behr says that Protestantism can make it sound like God made the world, man messed it up, and Christ’s Life, Death, and Resurrection are a sort of “Plan B”.  But God knew from the beginning, from before the beginning how Man’s freedom would take him away: As the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world so was he incarnate, born, fed on his mother’s milk, bounced on Joseph’s knee, and lost and found in the temple, all from the foundation of the world. The Mysteries of the Incarnation were always there, waiting for Man’s freedom to be ready to participate in the Divine Dance: that’s the Doctrine of Synergy.  We are saved in a dance with God, not by “following your bliss” or by “submission” to a divine override, but by participation.

The Joyous Mysteries are the revelation of the Dance.  All of Creation from “let us make…” to “it is finished” were the opening measures of it. Praying the Rosary will draw you into the same dance by letting you hear the same music.

Rosary with Byzantine Meditations

JMJ

Introduction

When I was exploring Orthodoxy (2000-2001) and after I had converted, there was a massive jettisoning of anything Western. Any of my friends or long-time readers of the several incarnations of this blog can confirm this. Bye bye Mr. Francis; bye bye Mass; bye bye Mass Cards, bye bye Advent and Advent Wreaths; bye bye novenas; bye bye almost all western saints (even pre-schism ones); bye bye only-blessed-but-not-Saint Augustine, etc, etc. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! The Rosary was not, however, only just more jetsam. A member of what was then called “The Convert Mailing List” responding to yet another “Flush-The-West” rant, pointed out that “the Little Psalter of Our Lady” was a favourite of St Seraphim of Sarov. So was planted the seed for this series of posts, even all these years later.

The Rosary has therefore been a part of my Orthodox journey, although I’ve not been very faithful in recitation of it. Let me commend the Rosary to you in this series of posts, as a portal to Paradise and a bit of it here on Earth, and as sure guard against temptation: a handrail, if you will allow the image, strung by Our Lady along the Ladder of Divine Ascent to make the assay easier for those of us who are weakest in our Spiritual Strength.

You will, perhaps, be familiar with this form of the beads used for counting the prayers:

A circle of beads is divided into five sets of ten, with single, larger beads interspersed. From the “bottom” of the Rosary hangs a pendant of a cross, a larger bead, and three smaller ones in a single strand.  Each section of ten beads is called a decade.  The traditional prayer counted on the smaller beads is the Hail Mary, or the Ave from the Latin Ave Maria. The larger beads mark an Our Father. One complete decade, then, is an Our Father and ten Aves. At the end is added a “Glory be to the Father” before continuing on to the next decade. One other prayer is used, the Apostle’s Creed, which is said on the Cross itself. There are some prayers used by tradition at the ending of a recitation: we’ll get to those by the end of this series of posts. In writing about the Rosary we will begin with the Holy Cross and proceed, in a series of posts, through the 15 Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, dedicating one post to each Mystery. There is, in Roman Catholic tradition, one other prayer used, called the Fatima Prayer, because it was given by Mary to the visionaries in Fatima. We will discuss this prayer in a later post, along with the five mysteries added to the Rosary by the Sainted Pope John Paul II.

These posts were originally publised in 2015. Fun to see them 5 years later: I think they’ve aged well.

Text of the Prayers Used in the Rosary

Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, ‘Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen. 

The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)
Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen<

The Angelic Salutation (Hail Mary) 
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Minor Doxology (Glory Be)
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Pendant or Introductory Prayers to the Rosary

There are different ways to begin the Rosary. Since the Rosary was begun by Dominicans (and is still the special devotion of the Order), and this is my blog, it seems good to use the Dominican way of beginning. First the Original form of the Hail Mary is still used, without the second half that was added during the Black Death. Then the double opening to the morning office is used. In fact, the Hail Mary in this form was the Invitatory for the Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary so this three-fold opening underscores the Rosary as the daily office of the Laity.

(In what follows, if the Rosary is said in a group, the italic text is the response.)

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee
Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

O Lord open my lips.
And my mouth shall declare thy praise.

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

(Not in Lent, add: Alleluia)

At this point I find it helpful, by way of reminder to the aged, to announce to myself, which Mysteries I’m about to pray and to recite them as a list.

The Joyous Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary:
The Annunciation
The Visitation
The Nativity
The Presentation of our Lord
The Finding of Our Lord in the Temple 

The Luminous Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary
The Baptism of Jesus
The Wedding at Cana
The Preaching of the Gospel
The Transfiguration
The Institution of the Eucharist

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary:
The Agony in Gethsemane
The Scourging at the Pillar
The Crowning with Thorns
The  Carrying of the Cross
The Death and Burial of Jesus

The Glorious Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary:
The Resurrection of Jesus
The Ascension of Jesus
The Coming of the Holy Ghost
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin.

Love in the Time of Covid-19

JMJ

Dear Fathers in Christ –

Some diocese are canceling public services. Some are not. No matter where you fall on the spectrum between APOCALYPSE and TOO MUCH HYPE there is something you can do to help us all: especially the folks in the places with no Masses.

Put your Mass live on Facebook. Put your Mass live on YouTube. Do the same with your daily offices and any other devotions you offer. You can do this today, now, if you have a Facebook Page for your parish and a laptop with a camera built in. Follow these steps (I’ve marked the suggestions in italics the other steps have to be done.)

  1. Set up for Mass. (If you’re in “isolation mode” you’re probably going to want at least a server/lector with you – even a brother priest. Cantoring optional.)
  2. The Laptop needs to be somewhere the camera can “see” all the action at Mass. To be honest, you don’t need the full shebang for this. Put the laptop on your clean desk, spread a corporal and you’re off. But you can do this at a full altar as long as the camera can see everything. You don’t want to be moving the camera during Mass.
  3. Open the laptop and log in to FB. You’re going to want to have the laptop plugged in because you don’t want it to die during Mass.
  4. Make sure you and the reader (if any) are able to easily get into the line of sight. You’ll be preaching & reading from the same place.
  5. Go to your parish’s page (If you don’t have a page you should really fix that…). I would suggest adding links to the readings of the day and – if you feel like it – to any hymn texts you may want everyone to use. Keep it simple though!
  6. Click on live like in the image at the top of this post. Then you’ll go to a new page.
  7. When FB asks you to approve the use of your camera and audio say yes or there will be all kinds of problems! You’ll see your camera image appear.
  1. Make sure everything looks ok.
  2. Pick where this post will appear: it should be on your Parish’s Facebook page.
  3. Say something – here’s where to put the links for your readings, today’s Mass intentions, etc.
  4. Skip everything in this box unless you know what’s going on. It should be set correctly.
  5. A title: Mass, Vespers, etc.
  6. Click this when you’re ready!

I will help you if you’re having trouble. DM me on FB, or ping me on Twitter. Leave a comment here with a way I can get back to you online first (not via phone call until we’re both on board). With 25 years of customer and tech support, I can walk you through this! I will happily be tech support for getting your Mass online in this simple way. (There are more complex ways to do this, networked cameras, blue tooth mics… I’m not able to help with those: you’ll need someone with other skills.)

YouTube works really well, too, but accounts have to be approved to do livestreaming on YouTube: if you’re not approved this may not be the right time to go through that. If you are already approved then you know all about this. Never the less, I’ll do another post about that option later. Facebook is literally click-and-go for this.

This could work for Mass, the Daily Office, in fact for any possible set of devotions. I would advise having pictures for the Stations or Rosary. Your mileage may vary.

Although this may or may not work well for your parish (you know your people) once it’s on the internet, you’re available to anyone who has access to the internet and Facebook or YouTube. People who are panicking or stressed out because of the world situation can find your Mass and be comforted.

I would love it if there were masses everywhere all day on Facebook, and if the Daily Office were being offered all over the place.

If the Daily Office is a thing: you may want to consider setting up a Zoom account. I’ll do a post about that as well. The advantage of a Zoom (instead of FB or YT) is that your Zoom can be interactive: other folks can pray along and all participants would be able to hear and interact.

Your faithful son in Christ Jesus,

Huw (Stanley Robert), OP

Before Communion

JMJ

Other than the Domine Non Sum Dignus, the Roman Rite (OF/EF) has few pre-communion devotions in the liturgy itself – although the EF also has the Confiteor recited before Communion. If you haven’t any others, the following, taken from Anglican and Eastern Orthodox traditions, are very useful to fill in this gap. There’s usually time to get them done after the invitation and before communion. Your mileage may vary. The first two were used, as well, in the Orthodox Western Rite.

We 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. (From the Book of Common Prayer)

I believe, O Lord, and I confess that Thou art truly the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Who camest into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. I believe also that this is truly Thine own pure Body, and that this is truly Thine own precious Blood. Therefore I pray Thee: have mercy upon me and forgive my transgressions both voluntary and involuntary, of word and of deed, of knowledge and of ignorance. And make me worthy to partake without condemnation of Thy most pure Mysteries, for the remission of my sins, and unto life everlasting. Amen.

Of Thy Mystical Supper, O Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss; but like the thief will I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord in Thy Kingdom.

May the communion of Thy Holy Mysteries be neither to my judgment, nor to my condemnation, O Lord, but to the healing of soul and body. Amen.

A Daily Act of Consecration to the Holy Family

JMJ

Please note: what follows is not an officially approved devotion in any way. If you find it useful, amen. If you feel it needs correction please let me know.

Holy Family of Nazareth, hear the prayers of a prodigal son. I have sinned before heaven and against you. Take me as one of your hired servants.

Chaste Heart of Joseph, I consecrate myself to thee! Like thee may I be chaste and stable. May my work be done with all due speed and diligence; ever be ordered only to the provision, safety, and advance of God’s Kingdom, the Church. Bless my skills and talents that, like thee, I may ever use them to God’s glory and not my own. By thy prayers, may my work be crowned with the virtues of fortitude, prudence, and temperance. Let me be neither greedy nor sloth; let not the noonday demon find me ready to make a mockery of God’s labor or my own. Fix me in chastity in action, word, and thought.

Pray for me, St Joseph, together with thy Most Immaculate Spouse, that I may work out my salvation in fear and trembling; that having thee as my father and Mary as my mother, I may truly have Jesus as my brother and may be a devoted servant of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Immaculate Heart of Mary, I consecrate myself to thee! Like thee may I be open to the will of God, ever trusting him without knowing the cost, and ever certain that what ever he has asked of me he will give me the grace to accomplish. May I never place myself between others and thy divine son save only to say “Do whatever he tells you” and like thee may I ever make intercession before God’s throne especially for those in most need of his mercy. Cause me, by thy prayers, through pious devotion and faithful adherence to the divine precepts, to yield a fruitful harvest of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and all the other virtues.

Pray for me, Holy Mary, Mother of God, together with thy Most Chaste Spouse, that I may be constantly bringing forth the Word of God to the Joy of all the World; that having thee as my mother and Joseph as my father, I may truly have Jesus as my brother and may be a devoted servant of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I consecrate myself to thee! Hear the prayers of thy Most Immaculate Mother and thy Most Chaste Foster Father on my behalf. May the fount of mercy flowing from thy side wash me. Set up thy Cross in my soul. Nail my flesh to the fear of thee. Undo my slavery to my own reasonings. Take away my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh, on fire with love for the world, and wounded with compassion for the weak and lost, especially for those whom daily thou sendest to me.

May I truly have Mary as my Mother and Joseph as my Father, and be thou, Jesus, my Brother, Saviour, and Friend; that in service to the Holy Family of Nazareth, I may live in stability, safety, and peace.

May thy Church be my only home, thy Word my only teacher, thy Cross my only guide, and thy Eucharist my only food. My Jesus, I trust in thee!

Dearest Jesus, after the example of the Chaste Heart of Joseph and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer thee all of my plans, dreams, and intentions, all of my thoughts, words, and deeds, all of my joys and sufferings, my hopes and fears, all of my crosses and crowns of this day and all of my life, all for the intentions of thy Sacred heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for the salvation of souls, the remission of sins, the reparation of blasphemies, the reunion of all Christians, and the intentions of our Holy Father, the Pope.

Amen.

Pray the Day Away

JMJ

The Readings for Wednesday in Easter Week (B2)

Argentum et aurum non est mihi : quod autem habeo, hoc tibi do .
Silver and gold I have none; but what I have, I give thee.

In a funny book from 1987 called Life: A Warning, by Stephanie Brush, a lacklustre sequel to her 1985 comedic tour de force, Men: An Owner’s Manual, the author pointed out that everyone knows airplanes can’t fly. In the back of every winged tube there is a meditation room filled with monks chanting. These invisible do-gooders are the ones who keep the planes in the air.  The pilots are all insane folks on Xanax made to believe they are flying the machines to keep the humble monks out of the spotlight. This is a humorous retelling of the Jewish story that there is a secret Minyan of Righteous Men whose prayers keep the world together.  Prayer, that is, when it is doing what it should be doing. (I’m not sure now: this could have been in the chapter on why not to fly in Life: A Warning or else in the chapter on why not to date a Pilot in Men: An Owner’s Manual. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Finding either book in the 50¢ bin at Goodwill would be a fun find.)

The online world is awash in prayer requests and promises of prayer. I belong to a men’s group online and we fast and pray each Friday for intentions brought up in the group, yet not a day goes by when at least one of my brothers doesn’t have a request: a job hunt, a family crisis, a relative who has fallen asleep in the Lord, or one who is about to. Facebook is like that, as well: friends and friends of friends asking for prayers or forwarding requests for prayer. 

What are we to do? We could live life daily just scrolling through Facebook. I know some folks do that anyway without prayer ever coming up.  Still, taking the requests as well intentioned, what are we to do?

There is one more thing even more common than online requests for prayer: that’s the actual need for prayer. Scroll through Facebook or your local newspaper, a national rag like US Today or just read the streams of news coming off of Google Plus, the New York Times, SF Gate, wherever.  The actual need for intercessory prayer is huge. We are surrounded by a culture devoid of the realization that it needs all of our prayers at every moment.

I’ve seen how many folks will walk up to a priest (or monk) in religious garb and just ask for prayer. The power of the robes it is (because I’m was no more a righteous monk than I am a righteous tech worker). People will stop you in WalMart or at a stop light. People need prayer, but that’s not what I’m talking about. 

Peter and John walk into the Temple. Stop me if you heard this one… and they meet a beggar asking for alms. Instead they pray him to wholeness. Yes, they work a miracle, but that’s the same thing: just a shorter time to resolution. What is it like to pray for the world unasked and unmarked? Again, I’m not talking about being asked to pray: but what did you do when you heard about (pick a shooting crisis) in the news feeds on that day? Did you stop and intercede for the shooter, the victims, the police, the families, and those at home watching terrified? I didn’t. I usually start getting angry at how fast the political commentaries show up – which makes me no different from the political commentators, or the protesters, all with each our own self-righteous anger. 

What did you do when the war broke out in fill in the blank under President fill in the blank? Was your first thought In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth… or was it to take sides for or against the war?

In the story from the Gospel, the walkers to Emmaus, St Luke and his buddy, St Cleopus, meet Jesus and don’t recognize him. They talk to Jesus about all that’s happened recently in Jerusalem. It’s especially funny when the boys are like ‘You have to be the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know these things that have happened recently.” And Jesus is all, Quae? What things? Jesus doesn’t need to hear the news, of course because he is the news. Rather he wants to illustrate the story with his wisdom. He has to open their eyes to the real meanings of everything in the scriptures. 

We need that same gift of wisdom to understand the real meaning of gun violence, sweeping the homeless off our streets, and the Spotify IPO. All of these have meanings and all of these need prayer.

What I have I give thee…

It is the responsibility of the Church to be the Body of Christ in the world, to be the divine master acting. Each of us have a duty, a religious obligation to pray through the world daily. To walk around praying the rosary, to offer a Hail Mary or a Jesus Prayer for everyone that crosses our virtual, real, or newsreel paths, to elevate a meeting at work with a silent Pater Noster or Gloria Patri. The homeless, begging on the street, should be prayed for at all times. But so should the woman fighting with her partner on the Subway, the person driving the broken shopping cart in  front of you at Ingles, Fortino’s, Key Foods, Publix, or King Super. Can you pray your way through the Newspaper, or the next election cycle, not worrying about who’s on whose side, but rather learning that all are God’s people, all need redemption and all need your prayers?

What would it be like to end the day with so many prayers said?

Mortimer and Me.

JMJ

The Readings for Tuesday, 1st Week of Ordinary Time (B2):

Porro Anna loquebatur in corde suo, tantumque labia illius movebantur, et vox penitus non audiebatur.

Now Anna spoke in her heart, and only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard at all.


Today is the first day of “Ordinary Time” since the new liturgical year began on Advent Sunday. In the Liturgy of the Hours we’re already prayed through one entire volume in the year! This year the Epiphany “Ordinary” Season is medium-short: Septuagesima Sunday, the traditional beginning of “PreLent” in the Pre-VII Liturgy is on 28 January, the earliest date being 18 January. Ash Wednesday is 14 February. We do have a little time for some Ordinary Reflections here, but not a lot: Ash Wednesday can fall as late as March 10th. (We’ll have that in 2038, with Easter falling on 25 April!)

So, our Ordinary Time thoughts open with Hannah praying for a child. Her lips are moving, but Eli can’t hear anything so he thinks she’s drunk.

How do you pray? For most of my life – including my “spiritual but not religious” Neopagan Days, and my Protestant journey and also a lot of my Orthodox time – I practiced the things I learned in the Methodist Church of my youth: bowing my head, closing my eyes and, in my brain, saying things to God. Praying out loud seemed unnecessarily pious. Now, the Charismatics prayed out loud! They did so with great alacrity and in many sorts and conditions of tongues. And when I became Episcopalian I learned to read the hours in Church, but, generally, on my own, I stuck to reading them silently.

So I was surprised, when I began to study in the Benedictine Tradition, first as an Oblate, and later as an monastic novice, that we were required to say something when we pray, even if it’s only ultra soft whisper. And our lips should move.

This was explained as to avoid those odd, misty, mental shenanigans that happen when we “close our eyes and bow our heads in prayer.” That’s really something only the greatest, advanced mystics can do. The rest of us are left using our bodies and our souls in concert. We see it in the Russian instructional text, The Way of the Pilgrim as the pilgrim recites his Jesus Prayer over and over, even at dinnertime, his lips keep moving.

This is also the teaching of the Catholic Church! Paragraphs 2701-4 of the Catechism

2701 Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. To his disciples, drawn by their Master’s silent prayer, Jesus teaches a vocal prayer, the Our Father. He not only prayed aloud the liturgical prayers of the synagogue but, as the Gospels show, he raised his voice to express his personal prayer, from exultant blessing of the Father to the agony of Gesthemani.
2702 The need to involve the senses in interior prayer corresponds to a requirement of our human nature. We are body and spirit, and we experience the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication.
2703 This need also corresponds to a divine requirement. God seeks worshippers in Spirit and in Truth, and consequently living prayer that rises from the depths of the soul. He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.
2704 Because it is external and so thoroughly human, vocal prayer is the form of prayer most readily accessible to groups. Even interior prayer, however, cannot neglect vocal prayer. Prayer is internalized to the extent that we become aware of him “to whom we speak;” Thus vocal prayer becomes an initial form of contemplative prayer. 

(Emphasis Added.) 

Our bodies are required participants in our prayer! O, heavens, how liberating this is!

It’s such a blessing to be at the door of the Church when it opens at 6AM. As folks filter in, leading up to Mass at 6:30, there is a quite, pious whisper that builds. All the folks praying their rosaries or other devotions, quietly, but making noise. Their lips moving, their souls and bodies working together to reach out to God. This is the prayer of the Church. And yes, there are times of total silence, of bliss and waiting, but these are opened and closed with the voice. Even the devout practice of sacred reading, of Lectio Divina is properly done out loud and slowly. The various offices in the Liturgy of the Hours can be read silently to oneself in about 5 minutes, I think. But that’s not properly doing them: read in a whisper, they are longer. We are not mute before our God, who wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.

Our bodies are required participants in our prayer! 

Why is this liberating? Because our bodies are God’s gift to us, our station in the great chain of being: the Angels being pure spirits, and the animals being only flesh, we are both spiritual and fleshly. We are a spirit-suffused fleshly hybrid, and in our nature we are wholly God’s creation, a unique essay in what it is to be created by and for love and worship of him. We must not fall prey to the demonic, gnostic myth that our bodies are (mostly) useless tools that can be replaced, destroyed, changed, etc without any harm to our Spirit. We have a body as fully invested in our identity. 

This is me: so long as by “this” I mean both seen and unseen, spiritual and fleshly. This is who I am.

And so when I pray all of this must pray.

It is, of course, possible for a prayer to be all on the lips and no deeper at all. I know how to read out loud, liturgically while making up a shopping list, or listening to conversations around me. I can read psalms perfectly well (from the outside) without ever once noticing the words that are passing from my eyes to my lips. I am a very loquacious ventriloquist. I have no idea how I do it. It’s impossible to listen that way and to respond that way. But I can read out lout that way!

We are required to bring our interior voices to our vocal prayer as well. When we pray our brain should be “saying” the same thing as our lips. We must unify the entire created person in intercession before the throne of Christ. We cannot be reciting the Rosary, the Jesus Psalter, or the Jesus Prayer and, at the same time, be looking around in Church, driving the car, wondering what’s for dinner, or (as I was this AM) designing a new rosary. I’ve also designed bookshelves…

This effort to unite mind and voice (and later heart as well) is the on-going ascesis, podvig, jihad, or struggle of Prayer. Like athletes we are training our bodies not to do whatever they want but to only do what is needed to worship and love God. Every prayer must be part of this struggle. Every action must be part of this prayer. Hannah was quite well advanced. I am not. I can’t pray a rosary while driving (although I can piously listen to one, also a good action). I can’t listen to Mass while making mental notes about liturgical errors – this is a very common problem for me. 

We must come out of the mental fogs, out of the misty onanism of heads bowed and eyes closed, into the glorious light of fully incarnated prayer. We have the need to translate our feelings externally. We must pray with our whole being to give all power possible to our supplication.

When we pray all of this must pray!