Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Volume 1 Number 1’ Category

The links to all the articles are located under this cover picture

Our Lenten Issue

Edited by the Rev. Dr. S. Randall Toms
And published by St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Baton Rouge, LA

Table of Contents

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

A Guide for Self Examination

by the Rev. Dr. S. Randall Toms at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Baton Rouge, LA – As Published in our Journal “The Anglican Tradition”, 2006

One of the duties of the Lenten season is self-examination.  This discipline requires that we examine ourselves by the light of God’s word.  When we examine ourselves by Holy Scripture, we are sometimes convicted of those sins that we had not realized we were committing.  At times, we come face to face with those sins that we do not want to confess or forsake.  Self-examination also reveals those sins that we have kept hidden, not only from others, but from ourselves.

The purpose of this self-examination is not that we might merely feel guilty about our sins.  Rather, the purpose of this self-examination is to break our hearts and humble us so that we might seek forgiveness from our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Also, this self-examination will help to convince us of our need for the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us wrestle, fight, overcome, and forsake these sins. After examining yourself, do not allow the knowledge of your sinfulness to cause you to despair. Rather, use this knowledge to drive you to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  After you have thoroughly examined yourself, ask God to work in your heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit, a true sorrow and hatred for all your sins so that you might forsake them and strive against them all your life.  Realize that if you truly repent and turn to Christ, he will forgive you all your trespasses.  After examining yourself, it would be a good idea to pray the General Confession:

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

One of the best ways to examine ourselves is by the light of that summary of God’s moral law contained in the Ten Commandments.  The following is a guide to help you examine yourself by these Ten Words.  After each commandment I have listed others examples of questions to ask yourself to determine if you have been living in disobedience to these holy commandments.  These questions are not comprehensive or exhaustive, but they may give you some idea as to the kinds of questions you may ask yourself. Depending on your circumstances and duties, spend as much time as you feel necessary to examine yourself.  Some may want to spend an hour, while some may want to spend a much longer time in this discipline; but try to set some time apart that you can be alone with God and ask for His mercy to reveal to you those ways that you are sinning against Him.     As always, before you begin self-examination, pray with the Psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

1.  Thou Shalt Have None Other Gods But Me

Do I love and serve the one, true, and living God as he is revealed in Holy Scripture?  Have I rejected all other gods, all other religions, and accepted the fact that the only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ?  Do I seek to obey him in all things, rather than following the dictates of my own imagination or the standards of the world?  Do I meditate upon  him frequently so that I love, adore, reverence, and rejoice in him above all things in this world?  Is it my greatest desire to please him, or do I often disobey him because I want the love and approval of others more than I want the praise of God?

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image

Do I worship God only in those ways that are not prohibited by Holy Scripture.  Do I love the worship of God?  Do I desire to worship him in spirit and in truth?  Do I do all that I can to promote and support the true worship of God.  Have I made an idol in my heart by worshipping a god with whom I can be pleased, rather than the God who is revealed in holy Scripture? Do I accept only those attributes of God that please me, rather than the full revelation of all the attributes of God that we find in the Bible?   Are my ideas and opinions of God based on the views of the modern, surrounding culture, or on Scripture?

3.  Thou Shalt Not Take The Name Of The Lord In Vain

Do I use the name of God in an irreverent or superstitious manner? Do I live in such a manner than the name of God is blasphemed or held in contempt because of my actions?  Do I fail to perform the promises and vows I have made in the name of God?   Since I bear the name of Christ, do I profane his name by hypocritical actions?  Do I speak with contempt for God by murmuring and complaining about the wise, providential ordering of my life?  Have I failed to glorify his name by not worshiping him and loving him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?

4. Remember That Thou Keep Holy The Sabbath Day

Do I worship God in his Church every Sunday unless providentially hindered?  Do I prepare my heart all during the week for the wonderful celebration of the Lord’s Day?  Do I make it a point to work diligently to have all my worldly affairs completed in the other six days in the week so that I might observe the Lord’s Day without distractions?  Do I prepare my heart and mind for the worship of God, by special prayers on Saturday evening and Sunday morning?   Do I make it a point to enter the house of God with the proper reverence?   Do I make sure that my family is prepared for the worship of God on the Lord’s Day?  When in the house of God, do I sing, pray, and listen to the word of God with all my heart and soul?  Am I frequently careless and thoughtless during the time of worship?  Do I consider the worship of God to be dull and boring?   Do I resent and complain about  having to attend the worship of Almighty God?  Do I prepare myself and my family for Holy Communion by a remembrance of all the benefits we receive by a worthy reception of it?

5. Honour Thy Father And Thy Mother

Do I show respect and reverence toward my parents in thought, word, and behavior?  Do I give sincere, cheerful obedience to the lawful commands of my parents?  Do I submit to the discipline of my parents without spite or resentment?   Do I listen with respect to the advice and counsel of my parents?  Do I ever reveal a spirit of disrespect toward my parents?  Do I believe the Christian faith as it has been taught to me by my parents?  Do I pray for my parents?  Do I do what I can to provide for the needs of my parents when they are in physical, emotional, or spiritual distress?

6. Thou Shalt Do No Murder

Do I show the proper respect for the lives of others, realizing that they are created in the image of God?   Am I guilty of hatred toward others?    Am I guilty of sins, such as envy, a desire for revenge, unkind thoughts and words toward others, that might lead to the harming of another person?  Have I caused others to have hateful or malicious thoughts toward their acquaintances?  Do I take care of my own body as the temple of the Holy Spirit so that it might be a fit vessel for the Lord’s use?  Do I do what is within my power to preserve the lives of others?

7. Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

Do I strive for sexual purity in thought, speech, and behavior?  Do I follow the Scriptural teaching that the only godly expression of sexuality is that between a married man and woman?  Have I been faithful to my spouse in thought and behavior?

8. Thou shalt not steal

Do I take things that are not lawfully mine?  Do I honor my vows and contracts?  Am I honest in my business dealings with others?  Do I withhold from my neighbor that which is rightfully his?  Do I do all that is in my power to preserve and enhance the possessions of others?  Do I rob God by not giving as I am able to the Church for the spreading of His kingdom?  Do I give my employer my diligent service so that I am worthy of the wages paid?  In my dealings with others, have I been guilty of fraud, falsehood, injustice, extortion, or bribery?

9. Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness

Have I slandered the good name of my neighbor?  Have I told lies or given false evidence?   Have I concealed the truth when I should have spoken?  Have I been guilty of malicious gossip that may have harmed my neighbor?  Have I failed to correct others when they have told untruths about my neighbor?

10.  Thou Shalt Not Covet

Have I been guilty of discontent when I look at the prosperity of others?  Can I rejoice at the prosperity of others without being guilty of discontent and envy?  You may wish to conclude this time of examination with the following prayer by John Bradford: “Set my heart in the case of religion to acknowledge thee one God, to worship none other God, to reverence thy name, and to keep thy Sabbaths.  Set my heart right in matters of human conversation, to honor my parents, to obey rulers, and reverence the ministry of the gospel; to have hands clean from blood, true from theft, a body free from adultery, and a tongue void of all offence.  But purge the heart first, O Lord, and then the hand, the eye, the tongue, the foot, and all the whole body will be the cleaner. Write all these thy laws in my heart, O Lord, and in the hearts of all the faithful people; that we may believe them and keep them all the days of our lives, to thy glory and praise, through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

Amen.

Read Full Post »

Thoughts on Lent for Busy People

As Published in our Journal “The Anglican Tradition”, 2006

By E.F. Pemberton

The word Lent means “Spring;” we use it now when we speak of the spring fast–the forty days before Easter Day–I mean forty days not including Sundays, for Sundays are never fast days. Does the word “fast” frighten you? Does it mean something hard, something very distasteful, or perhaps something that does not concern you at all? If so, it is because you have not yet learnt for yourself (as I hope you will this Lent) its true meaning and happiness.This is the invitation which our LORD sends to each one of us this Lent–listen to His Voice, and then read the following hymn. Jesus speaks, “Come ye yourselves (mention your own name) apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.” Read this hymn.

With tender look, and voice of thrilling grace,
The SAVIOUR once to His disciples said,
“Come ye apart into a desert place.
And rest awhile the aching heart and head.”
He says so still to all who are His own,
To all aweary with the world’s sad strife,
“Come, spend with me a little while alone,
Leave the hot fever and the fret of life.
“Come from the world’s hard struggle and its din,
Discords that pain the ear and never cease,
Wild stormy passions, tumults of man’s sin,
Which put to shame the angel’s song of peace.
“Come, when perplexed by doubt or anxious fear,
And I will make dark things all clear and plain,
Will shed the light of hope on dull despair,
And give true peace where now is only pain.”

C. D. Bell.

Yes; JESUS is calling you and me into a “desert place”–“desert” because for a time, at least, we shall give up some earthly joys; but what wonderful joy instead–if we go into this desert place, we shall find JESUS there! It is to rest awhile with Hint that He calls us. Let us now divide our thoughts under three headings, viz.: 1) Why we should fast or practise self-denial; 2) About some of the ways in which Satan will try to hinder our fasting; 3) Of some ways in which even the busiest of us can fast or deny ourselves.

  • Why Fast – The greatest reason of all is, because Jesus fasted. And all that JESUS did, we, His followers, must try to imitate. There is a poem by George Herbert which says: “’Who goes the way that CHRIST hath gone, Is much more like to meet with Him,Than one, who journeys by byways.” JESUS fasted for forty days. Shall we refuse to imitate Him? No; let us each one resolve “to go the way that CHRIST hath gone,” that is the only right way for us. The Church, too, bids us fast. If you look in your Prayer Book you will find that, among other fast days, the forty days of Lent are set apart to be observed by every member of the Church. If we do not fast we are not trying to imitate Jesus; we are disobeying the Church.
  • Hindrances to FastingThe devil does not like us to fast. Why? Because he knows too well that if we fast we are stronger in grace, we are more able to resist his temptations. The devil is sure to come to you if you fast. He came, you know, to our LORD, when He fasted, to tempt Him, and he still comes to us, His followers. He tempts us in different ways; some he tempts to irritability of temper, making them perform their acts of self-denial grudgingly, making them cross and gloomy became of their self-denial, thus making the self-denial lose its whole value, for what we decide to give up, we must give up cheerfully, as a loving offering to GOD in sorrow for our sins.Some he tempts in an opposite way, he makes the fasting seem very easy and delightful, so those persons are tempted to think, “How good I must be to give up all so easily;” thus, as in the first case, spoiling the whole value of those acts of self-denial, for any pride is as a scorching sun which takes all freshness from our acts and makes them utterly unworthy to be offered to GOD. If we are tempted in this way, let us increase our self-denial, and dedicate each act to GOD, saying, “LORD, help me to do this to show my love to Thee, help me through this to be stronger in my fight against sin, and especially the deadly sin of spiritual pride.”
  • Some Rules of Fasting or Self-denialI want you either to make some rules for yourself, or to choose two or three from the following list. (Of course those who work hard, or are delicate, must not deny themselves in the quantity of food they take, for that would unfit them for the work which is their duty, or would increase their delicacy.) Get a notebook and write down at the beginning the rules you intend to keep, numbered i, 2, 3, etc., and then make a little table like this at the beginning of each week, and then at the end of each day read your resolutions, and ask yourself after each one if you have kept it. If you can answer “Yes,” put a mark like this (i) in the space you have made for your first resolution mark; if “No,” put a mark like this (o) instead. You will find this little plan a great help to you for making you careful in keeping resolutions. You can choose, if you like, one or more rules from each of the following sets. It is right for our Lent resolutions to include Fasting, Almsgiving, and Prayer.
  • Fasting or Self-denial – Not to eat sweet things; not to eat salt, pepper, or mustard; Not to take sugar in tea, etc; to eat no meat on one or two days in the week; not to read amusing papers or books.
  • AlmsgivingTo give to GOD what you would have spent in sweet things, sugar, etc; to make up your mind to do some little thing, strictly to please another, every day.
  • PrayerTo get up five minutes, or more, earlier, and to give that five minutes to special prayer or religious reading; to practise (if it is not already your custom) short prayer at midday; to use the collect for Ash Wednesday every day; to read a short Lent reading every day.In making these resolutions, do not let us forget the real object of our fast. We deny ourselves to subdue our bodies, so that our spiritual life may increase. We fast that we may be stronger to fight against our besetting sin, our bad habits, and faults. If you do not know, find out at once what is your besetting sin, i.e., the sin you most frequently commit; fight hard against it, and pray for the opposite virtue every day. For instance– Is it Pride? Pray for Humility. Is it Anger? Pray for Gentleness. Is it Sloth? Pray for Diligence. Is it over-anxiety? Pray for trust in GOD. Is it impurity in thought, word, or deed? Pray for purity, and resolve at once to give up all bad companions, books, or conversation–anything which you know encourages this sin.

Spring time is such a helpful time, everything reminds us of growth: the trees budding, the flowers coming into bloom, the birds building their nests, all nature becoming more and more beautiful. O may GOD find that same growth of beauty in our souls by Eastertide! One word more. Do not get discouraged if you feel it is a “desert place.” It is hard to give up even very small earthly pleasures. If you fail, do not give up in despair, try again. JESUS will be there to help you.

“Well I know thy trouble, O my servant true; Thou art very weary, I was weary too; But that toil shall make thee Some day all Mine own. And the end of sorrow Shall be near My Throne.”

Amen

Read Full Post »

As Published in our Journal “The Anglican Tradition”, 2006

It is, indeed, a day for kneeling, as never at another time, at the foot of the cross, and confessing and bewailing our sinfulness and our sins. It is a day for endeavoring to realize, as on no other day, that He who hangs upon that cross is the one and only atonement for that sinfulness and those sins; that in Him there is pardon and salvation for us and for all men.

It is a day for renouncing one by one the sins of our lives past, our pride, our coldness and hardness of heart, our rash and idle words, our filial impiety, our anger and malice, our impurity, our dishonesty, our untruthfulness, our covetousness and for praying that in our poor measure we may be enabled ever hereafter to walk in the blessed steps of the most holy life of Him who was truth, and patience, and tenderness, and spotless purity, who was silent before His accusers, who did humble Himself even to the death upon the cross, and even when dying could be mindful of the needs of his mother.

It is also indeed a day when, if we have eyes that can weep, hearts that can feel, bosoms that can swell with pity and compassion for the woes and sufferings of a fellow-man, ours should be the bitterness and fullness of grief and the tenderness of sympathy for Him who, as on this day by His bitter passion and death upon the cross, redeemed us from the everlasting bitterness of eternal death. It is a day when we should heed the call which we are so soon to hear made to us, as it were, by the Mother of our Lord:

“O come and mourn with me awhile;
O come ye to the Saviour’s side;
O come, together let us mourn;
Jesus, our Lord, is crucified.”

It is, too, Indeed a Day We Should…

…pour forth the fullness of or love and gratitude, as never on another day, to Him who lived us and gave Himself for us. But it is a day for something more than penitence, and pity, and love. It is a day for the lowliest adoration, for the highest worship. If it be, indeed, God that hangs upon the cross, God that is dying for us, what utmost homage is there that is meet enough for us to offer to him? Surely it is the day when as never on another the words should go up from our lips and from our hearts: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto the Lamb forever and ever.” Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ. Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father. “Crucified! we Thee adore!”

“To Christ, who won for sinners grace,
By bitter grief and anguish sore,
Be praise from all the ransomed race,
Forever and for evermore.”

Let us fail not then, that in our private hallowing and observance of this day, there be indeed paid unto Christ our God such homage, such adoration, such worship, as on scarcely another. Throughout all the year, brethren, there are no such hours, hours so memorable, so solemn, so sacred, so awful–hours in which every heart should be so full of love and sorrow and sympathy and devoutest thankfulness–in which sin should seem so utterly horrible and detestable, and the divine compassion and mercy so infinite and wonderful–hours which we should so desire entirely to give up and to consecrate to our only Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ–as the three ensuing hours, the hours from twelve until three of this day. For, consider, they are the hours in which the work of our redemption, and the redemption of all mankind, by that only Lord and Saviour,

Jesus Christ, was accomplished. They are the hours in which the otherwise irremediable ruin wrought by the sin of our first parents for themselves and for all our race, was by the Second Adam, our only Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, forever retrieved–and the way opened for us and for all our race by Him into a Paradise, which, if gained, as it might be, should never be forfeited, and in which the joys ten thousand fold of that first Eden should be forever found; but the hours in which that ruin was retrieved and that way was opened, as only they could be, by such awful and unmitigated torments of the body and soul of that, only Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, as in all the universe and throughout all eternity, was never hitherto known and experienced, nor ever shall be here after.

They are the hours in which, after that night of agony and betrayal and desertion, and that morning of scoffing and spitting and scourging and smiting with the reed and crowning with the thorns, and dragging, as if He had been the very felon of the earth, from the one end of Jerusalem to the other, and of false accusal and unjust condemnation, and bearing of the cross up the steep of Calvary until he fell beneath its weight, that He hung upon it, between Heaven and Earth, supported by the nails driven through His hands and His feet, with the thorns lacerating His head at every uneasy turning for a moment’s relief–a spectacle to men and to angels. And they are the hours, when, with the scorching rays of the midday sun of that burning Eastern sky beating down upon his bare, bleeding, broken, crucified body–dying amid the sneers and deridings of the hostile multitude, and with a thief on either side, there was laid upon Him the intolerable burden of the iniquity of us all, the weight of every sin that had been committed or that should be committed by any one of our race–when He experienced in His own person on the tree the concentration of the punishment forever due to the sins of the whole world, and made an all sufficient and everlasting atonement for them–when the face of the Father was hidden from Him, and all the fiendish malevolence of all the powers of darkness, without let or hindrance, exercised itself upon Him.

We Have Come Together…

…to employ [these hours] as best we can–to try to devote them, to give them entirely up, to the crucified–in them to offer unto Him our adoring love and gratitude: as we kneel at the foot of His cross to consecrate ourselves, body, soul, and spirit, all that we have and all that we are, anew unto Him and unto His service–to ask Him to take us, and to make us and to keep us, poor, wretched, utterly unworthy as we are, His wholly and forever, and to help us each day of our life hereafter to do something that shall testify to the sincerity of the love that we bear to Him, and to the sense that we have of our infinite and everlasting indebtedness to Him.

Blessed Jesus, as we behold Thee being nailed to the cross, and listen to Thy words, we pray Thee that we may evermore be unselfish, mindful of others in all our trials and afflictions, be they never so severe; ever ready to forgive and to seek forgiveness; and ever guided and governed by the Holy Spirit in striving to speak and to do only that which is right, and the influence of which may be for the good of others.

Merciful and adorable Jesus, Thou who when dying didst promise Paradise to the dying, penitent thief, kneeling at the foot of Thy cross this day, we ask Thee to look upon us just as we are; there is no sin that we would keep back from Thee, for we desire that all may this day be forgiven, and we desire that we may be willing here after to suffer and to have our faith tried even as Thou wilt; if so be we may at the last be with Thee in Paradise, it matters not through what we pass in going thither.

There is probably no such intolerable craving as that of thirst. It is related that Alexander the Great, once making a long journey with his army through the deserts, after long drought and thirst, came to a certain river; and the soldiers began to drink the water with such eagerness that many choked themselves and died on the spot–the number that so perished being far greater than was lost in any war. The burning thirst was so intolerable that the soldiers could not restrain themselves, that they might breathe a little between drinking (Bellarmine). There is nothing that so aggravates thirst, intolerable as it might be from a mere protracted want of water, as loss of blood, and exhaustion from fatigue. It is told of one of the martyrs that, when bound to the stake and receiving many wounds, he complained only of thirst; and of another person, stricken by many wounds from which the blood flowed profusely, that he longed for nothing but drink, as if he suffered no harm but the most burning thirst.

In the agony of the preceding night our Lord’s blood had been forced from His veins, and had fallen in great drops to the ground. In that pitiless scourging and crowning with thorns in this early morning, how must He again have been bathed in His gore. From those more and more distending wounds in His hands, and from the hole which the cruel nail had torn through His feet, for three weary hours the blood had been welling. And then let us think how utterly worn and weary the dear Lord of us all must have been when He came to the cross. He had tasted neither food nor drink since the supper of the night before, nor had He slept since we know not when. He had been rudely dragged and hustled along, jeered and mocked by the way, from the garden to the house of Annas, from the house of Annas to that of Caiaphas, from the house of Caiaphas to the Judgment Hall of Pilate, from the Judgment Hall to the Palace of Herod, from the Palace back again to Pilate–and then scourged and crowned with thorns, and tottering under the weight of the heavy cross, He had been urged to go faster and faster up the steep of Calvary until He stumbled and fell. Surely, surely, when He said “I thirst,” there must have been a significance in the words, which they scarcely ever had when spoken by another; and throat, and tongue, and mouth, and lips must have been parched as those of scarcely ever another.

Shall We Not Learn a Lesson?

And, dear brethren, shall we not learn a lesson in Christian fortitude as we think of this, and as we hear these words from the cross to-day? Some thing at least to shame us out of our constant complaining and impatience? Does a single day of our life go and the things the most trivial, a want ungratified at the moment of its arising, a temporary discomfort, a pain not worthy a thought, even the vicissitudes of sky and temperature, not provoke our impatience and complaining? And yet it is in the daily routine of trivial matters that we are to show our likeness unto Christ. Our payer book tells us that there should be no greater comfort to Christian persons than to be made like unto Christ, by suffering patiently adversities, troubles, and sicknesses. If then our lives be too much lives of complaining and querulousness–making much of little–from this day forth let them be so no more. Let us be brave, enduring, reticent, in some poor measure like to our Master.

Amen

Read Full Post »

Some Hints for Lent

A Pamphlet by the Rt. Rev. A.C.A. Hall, Bishop of Vermont, 1891

As Published in our Journal “The Anglican Tradition”, 2006

What mean ye by this service?” the Jewish child was to ask his parents in the yearly celebration of the Passover. Many who endeavor to “Keep Lent” lose much of the profit they should derive from its observance, because they have not clearly before them the object and purpose of the season.

The recurrence of Lent is a call to renewed spiritual effort. This is the great object of the Lenten Season, that we may ”grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (2 S. Peter iii. 18). To this end all its exercises are to be directed. The chief duties of Lent, to be undertaken with this Purpose constantly in mind, are Retirement, Prayer, Fasting, Repentance, and Almsgiving.

We Are Bidden at this Season…

…to follow our Lord, in some measure, into the wilderness, and give a few weeks to a closer inquiry into the state of our souls, and a nearer approach to God. We cannot, nor ought we to, withdraw from the duties of our state of life, whether in the family or in business. The retirement to which we are called is from the unrestrained social intercourse and from the amusements which at other times may be perfectly innocent, and even beneficial, but which we now put aside for a time, in order to give ourselves the better to higher and more important interests. It would be well to make a rule not to go during Lent to any place of public amusement, and, as far as possible, to keep from social entertainments. Try to be sometimes alone. “Commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still:” this is one great rule for Lent. Secure time, and freedom of mind, for prayer, for the study of God’s Word, for self-examination, and the works of repentance, and for gaining instruction in religious matters.

Many persons remain in ignorance of much that they ought to know concerning Christian faith and practice, because they do not take pains to gain instruction. Persons often in these days are bewildered by some infidel objection or argument which is brought before them, and which, even if they cannot directly answer, they should, by their assurance of the positive truth of their religion, be able to withstand. For our own sake, for the sake of others whom we may help, and for the honor of our Lord, we ought to be ready with meekness and reverence, as St. Peter bids us, to give to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us (i S. Peter ii. 15). While carefully avoiding a controversial spirit it would be well in Lent to take in hand some instructive religious reading (e. g. of Church History), as well as that which is more distinctly devotional. Some time might be saved from newspapers and other light reading for this purpose.

Lent is a time for frequent Prayer…

…for both public and private.

A. Public Prayer.–Make a conscientious use of the opportunities provided for you in your own Parish. Very likely you cannot attend all the services. It may not be desirable that you should do so. Services of different characters and at different times are intended to meet the needs of various classes of persons. You will probably find it best to choose some one or more courses of services (as the daily prayers, or weekly service and instruction), and make a rule of regular attendance at these. If you are in a large city, where there are several churches, be on your guard against the danger of religious dissipation, going about with itching ears to hear different preachers, or to take part in different services, moved rather by curiosity than by devotion or a desire for edification. If a Communicant, you may well desire to receive the Sacrament more frequently during this season. Abstaining from earthly food, and from social pleasures, you may approach more often the Holy Table to feed upon the Bread of Life, and hold communion with your Lord. No general rule can of course be given about the frequency of Communion. Each person must decide the question (with the help of such advice as he can get), according to his own needs and opportunities.

If not yet admitted to Holy Communion, or if you should have ceased to be a Communicant, remember that one special purpose of your Lent should be by a true repentance (concerning which some hints will be given presently) to be prepared worthily to receive the Holy Sacrament at Easter. If we are rightly to commemorate our Lord’s Passion, the atoning death of the spotless Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world, we must “shew forth His Death” according to His commandment, pleading in His own appointed way His Sacrifice as the ground of our hopes, and seeking to have its merits applied individually to ourselves. In the typical Sacrifice of the Passover, the lamb was not only to be slain, but for any to share in the benefits of the sacrifice the blood of the victim must be sprinkled upon their house, and they must feed upon its flesh (Ex. .ii.). “Christ our Paschal Lamb is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the feast” (i Cor. v. 7, 8). If you have not been confirmed, you should in Lent set yourself distinctly to prepare, both intellectually and morally, for that holy rite, that by the Seven-fold Gift of the Holy Spirit you may be strengthened for your Christian life, and be ready to receive the spiritual food of the Body and Blood of Christ.

B. Private Prayer,–Do not let anything hinder from (nothing can take the place of) private personal communion with God. It would be very helpful to make a rule to pray over, for a few minutes, quietly in your room, and on your knees, each sermon and instruction that you hear. How many good impressions fade away and are lost for want of subsequent and prayerful recollection, by which they should have developed into deliberate resolves, and so have been found fruitful in our lives The fowls of the air are too often allowed to snatch away (even at the Church porch) the good seed which has been sown.

Be careful to say your regular prayers with earnestness and devotion, adding, perhaps, morning or night, one or other of the Seven Penitential Psalms (vi, xxxii. xxxviii, li, cii. cxxx, cxliii), and one or more of the Ash-Wednesday collects from the Prayer Book. In the use of such prayers you will unite your private devotions with the penitential prayers and exercises of the Holy Church throughout the world at this common fast of Christendom. Lent is a good time to begin or take up a fresh practice of meditation or the devotional use of Holy Scripture, reading and praying over a few verses, as one miracle or parable of our Lord, or one mystery in His Passion, and begging God to apply its lessons to yourself.

Most persons could give a few minutes each day during Lent to this practice, and by its means would certainly be enabled to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In making any rule for this practice, it is better to devote a certain time (say five, ten, or thirty minutes, as you may be able), rather than to resolve to read a certain quantity.

All the Forty Days of Lent…

…the Prayer Book tells us, are to be observed with “such a measure of abstinence as is more especially suited to extraordinary acts and exercises of devotion.” Fasting is intended

1)       To subdue the flesh to the spirit;

2)       To express sorrow and humiliation, acknowledging ourselves undeserving freely to partake of God’s good gifts, and avenging past wrongful indulgence;

3)       To quicken the soul for prayer.

For all these purposes God’s servants under both the Old and the New Dispensation have practiced bodily mortification; nor can we without grievous fault and loss disregard a practice enjoined by our Lord’s own example and constant teaching. All should form some rule for bodily discipline. Such a rule must vary with different persons, occupations, temperament and strength. It must not interfere with health, but should be such as to be really felt. All but very few could resolve to eat more sparingly and of a plainer diet, and to abstain during Lent from luxuries. Many perhaps by making a rule to rise somewhat earlier than usual would at once combat sloth and gain undisturbed time for devotion.

Amidst the enervating luxuries of our modern civilization it is especially incumbent on Christian people to learn to endure hardness.

“What a shame,” exclaimed a holy man of old, “to be the soft and luxurious member of a Head that was crowned with thorns!”

In Lent especially, when we commemorate first the Fast and then the Passion of our Lord, the Church, His mystical Body would have her members in sympathy with the suffering experiences of His natural Body, now much of the excess, intemperance and sensuality that among all classes bring disgrace on a so-called Christian land may be traced to the softness and absence of discipline of which perhaps we have boasted as the sign of Christian liberty, though in direct violation of the example and precept of Christ!

If the Word of God, the example of our Lord, the practice of His Church, the experience of His saints, and our own so far as we have followed in their steps, are to be of any weight, we must, if we would grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of God, set ourselves to mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts. It is by the practice of self-denial with regard to things that may be innocent that we gain the power of self-control, and are enabled at once to say No when tempted to some unlawful action.

It is not of course the body only that needs control, though that in the disordered condition of our fallen nature is the cause of many sins. There must be a universal self-denial, including the discipline of our words, our tempers, our thoughts, our will. We must seek by degrees to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Repentance is the Great Work of Lent

“Turn ye even to Me,” saith the Lord, “with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel ii. 12).

“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him: and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isa. liv. 6, 7).

The work of Repentance in its several parts of self-examination, sorrow for sin, confession of sin, amendment and satisfaction, cannot be better summed up than in the weighty words of the exhortation in preparation for Holy Communion in the Prayer-Book. Those who would find acceptance with God are therein bidden:–“First, to examine your lives and conversations by the rule of God’s commandments: and whereinsoever ye shall perceive yourselves to have offended either by will, word, or deed, there to bewail your own sinfulness, and to confess yourselves to Almighty God with full purpose of amendment of life. And if ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God, but also against your neighbors; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them, being ready to make restitution and satisfaction, according to the uttermost of your powers, for all injuries and wrongs done by you to any other; and being likewise ready to forgive others who have offended you, as ye would have forgiveness of your offences at God’s hand.”

With regard to Self-Examination, consider not only your past life, hut also your present state before God, the real condition of your soul in His sight: consider the graces and virtues that should adorn it, as well as the vices that actually disfigure it. Be definite in your examination and in all your repentance.

“I so run, not as uncertainly: so fight I, not as one that beateth the air,” said the Apostle, (i Cor. ix. 26). Many of those who are really trying to serve God would have to say of themselves if they truly described their manner of struggle, “I run indeed but very uncertainly”–not keeping in view the goal to be reached, and stretching continually toward it, with no particular virtue that I am striving for, no definite standard before me; ” so fight I just like one that beateth the air,” spending my strength in vain because I do not clearly see the enemy with whom I have to contend, and against whom I ought to direct my blows. Find out your besetting sin or sins, the faults into which you most commonly fall, that are at the root of most evil in your life, the habits that more particularly hinder and mar your Christian life. Set yourself during Lent in good earnest to combat these. Concentrate the force of your prayers, your self-denials, your sacraments upon these strongholds of the enemy within you.

What evil habit, ask yourself, am I specially to grapple with this Lent? What virtue in particular am I to cultivate?

The Seven Capital Sins (so called because under one or other of these heads of evil all possible sins whether of thought, word, or deed, can be classified) are sometimes more helpful than the Ten Commandments as an outline for self-examination, because we are thus enabled to trace the symptoms of evil (condemned by God’s commands) to the roots of evil horn which they spring. Pride, Envy, Anger are more especially the works of the devil; Covetousness, the worldly sin; and Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, the sins of the flesh. The capital sins are the development of the three-fold root of evil, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, which draw away from the love of God (i St. John ii. 16).

The knowledge of our sins must be followed by a humble Confession of them before Almighty God, with a true sorrow for the offence we have thereby committed against Him, and a sincere purpose of amendment. There can hardly be a better form of confession, if one be needed, than the General Confession in the Service for Holy Communion, if we say it in the singular number, slowly, and pausing at the end of each clause, to recall our own special transgressions, and to let the words we repeat find a real echo in our hearts. Concerning the special further confession of our sins to God in the presence of His Priest, the exhortation which has been already quoted thus concludes; “Because it is requisite that no man should come to the Holy Communion, but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience, therefore, if there be any of you, who by this means [of private personal repentance] cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me [the Parish Priest], or to some other minister of God’s Word, and open his grief; that he may receive such godly counsel and advice as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removing of all scruple and doubtfulness.”

Let none whose consciences are troubled, either with the burden of past sin or with evil habits from which they find themselves unable to break free, shrink from seeking the help and assistance of those whom (as Richard Hooker puts it) “our Lord Jesus Christ hath left in His Church to be spiritual and ghostly physicians, the guides and pastors of redeemed souls, whose office doth not only consist in general persuasions unto amendment of life, but also in the private, particular cure of diseased minds.” The bringing home to the individual soul of God’s pardoning word may be of unspeakable comfort to the penitent, while the personal guidance of one accustomed to deal with spiritual things may be of great value to a soul in struggling against temptations. Among “works of repentance” by no means forget the necessity of reparation for wrong done and of the forgiveness of injuries suffered, if we are to be ourselves at peace with God. Take care that you incur not the rebuke of the prophet, “Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness” (Isa. lviii. 4). Put away in Lent the leaven of malice and wickedness that you may celebrate the Paschal feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (i Cor. v. 8).

Almsgiving  is Another Special Duty…

…of Lent. Some of the money which is saved from luxuries, from amusements, and from dress, should be devoted to pious and charitable purposes. Some of the time which is rescued from society may be well employed in works of mercy and kindly offices to those in spiritual and temporal need. “Break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor” (Dan. v. 27).

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen, saith the Lord, to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?” (Isa. lviii. 6, 7). We may think of Lent as being spent under the teaching of St. John the Baptist. First he preaches Repentance, drawing the people after him into the wilderness, bringing home the conviction of sin, leading to confession, and enjoining works meet for repentance. Then to those thus prepared the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world (St. Matt, iii., St. Luke iii., St. John i. 29).

Having in the earlier weeks of Lent endeavored to deepen our repentance we too in Passion-tide are pointed to the Saviour and His Cross, that we may behold at once sin’s work and its remedy. It is at the foot of the Cross that the great lessons of the Christian life are to be learned. Remember that the Son of God was given to be both a sacrifice for sin and also an ensample of godly life. Seek more truly to die with Him to sin that with and in Him you may rise to newness of life.

Amen.

Read Full Post »

Lenten Prayers

These prayers are from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer unless otherwise noted.

As Published in our Journal “The Anglican Tradition”, 2006

Prayers of repentance should be a major part of the observance of the season of Lent.  Here are a few prayers that encourage self-examination, implore God’s forgiveness, and seek assurance of His mercy and grace through Jesus Christ.

O LORD, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

O

LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.           Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.         Amen.

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

O LORD, we beseech thee, mercifully hear our prayers, and spare all those who confess their sins unto thee; that they, whose consciences by sin are accused, by thy merciful pardon may be absolved; through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

O MOST mighty God, and merciful Father, who hast compassion upon all men, and who wouldest not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his sin, and be saved; Mercifully forgive us our trespasses; receive and comfort us, who are grieved and wearied with the burden of our sins. Thy property is always to have mercy; to thee only it appertaineth to forgive sins. Spare us therefore, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed; enter not into judgment with thy servants; but so turn thine anger from us, who meekly acknowledge our transgressions, and truly repent us of our faults, and so make haste to help us in this world, that we may ever live with thee in the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord.           Amen.

TURN thou us, O good Lord, and so shall we be turned. Be favourable, O Lord, Be favourable to thy people, Who turn to thee in weeping, fasting, and praying. For thou art a merciful God, Full of compassion, Long-suffering, and of great pity. Thou sparest when we deserve punishment, And in thy wrath thinkest upon mercy. Spare thy people, good Lord, spare them, And let not thine heritage be brought to confusion. Hear us, O Lord, for thy mercy is great, And after the multitude of thy mercies look upon us; Through the merits and mediation of thy blessed Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.              Amen.

O GOD, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive; Receive our humble petitions; and though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sins, yet let the pitifulness of thy great mercy loose us; for the honour of Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate.              Amen.

A Prayer for Lent

By Bishop Jeremy Taylor

Have mercy upon me, O God, after thy great goodness; according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offences: for I will confess my wickedness, and be sorry for my sin. O my dearest Lord, I am not worthy to be accounted amongst the meanest of thy servants, not worthy to be sustained by the least fragments of thy mercy, but to be shut out of thy presence for ever with dogs and unbelievers. But for thy name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful unto my sin, for it is great. I am the vilest of sinners, and the worst of men; proud, and vain-glorious, impatient of scorn or of just reproof; not enduring to be slighted, and yet extremely deserving it; I have pretended humility, and when I have truly called myself vicious I could not endure any man else should say so or think so. I have been disobedient, unchristian, and unmanly. But for thy name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful unto my sin, for it is great.

O just and dear God, how can I expect pity or pardon, who am so angry and peevish, with and without cause, envious at good, rejoicing in the evil of my neighbours, negligent of my charge, idle and useless, timorous and base, jealous and impudent, ambitious and hard-hearted, soft, unmortified, and effeminate in my life, undevout in my prayers, without affection, without attendance to them or perseverance in them; but passionate and curious in pleasing my appetite of meat, and drink, and pleasures, making matter both for sin and sickness; and I have reaped the cursed fruits of such improvidence, entertaining indecent and impure thoughts, and I have brought them forth in indecent and impure actions, and the spirit of uncleanness hath entered in and unhallowed the temple which thou didst consecrate for the habitation of thy Spirit of love and holiness. But for thy name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful unto my sin, for it is great.

Thou hast given me a whole life to serve thee in, and to advance my hopes of heaven; and this precious time I have thrown away upon my sins and vanities, being improvident of my time and of my talent, and of thy grace and my own advantages, resisting thy Spirit and quenching him. I have been a great lover of myself, and yet used many ways to destroy myself. I have pursued my temporal ends with greediness and indirect means. I am revengeful and unthankful, forgetting benefits, but not so soon forgetting injuries, curious and murmuring, a great breaker of promises. I have not loved my neighbour’s good, nor advanced it in all things, where I could. I have been unlike thee in all things. I am unmerciful and unjust: a sottish admirer of things below, and careless of heaven and the ways that lead thither.

But for thy name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful unto my sin, for it is great. All my senses have been windows to let sin in, and death by sin. Mine eyes have been adulterous and covetous; mine ears open to slander and detraction; my tongue and palate loose and wanton, intemperate, and of foul language, talkative and lying, rash and malicious, false and flattering, irreligious and irreverent, detracting and censorious; my hands have been injurious and unclean, my passions violent and rebellious, my desires impatient and unreasonable; all my members and all my facilities have been servants of sin; and my very best actions have more matter of pity than of confidence, being imperfect in my best, and intolerable in most.-But for thy name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful unto my sin, for it is great.

Unto this and a far bigger heap of sin I have added also the faults of others to my own score, by neglecting to hinder them to sin in all that I could and ought; but I also have encouraged them in sin, have taken off their fears, and hardened their conscience, and tempted them directly, and prevailed in it to my own ruin and theirs, unless thy glorious and unspeakable mercy hath prevented so intolerable a calamity. Lord, I have abused thy mercy, despised thy judgments, turned thy grace into wantonness. I have been unthankful for thy infinite loving-kindness. I have sinned and repented, and then sinned again and resolved against it, and presently broke it; and then I tied myself up with vows, and then was tempted, and then I yielded by little and little, till I was willingly lost again, and my vows fell off like cords of vanity. Miserable man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of sin?

And yet, O Lord, I have another heap of sins to be unloaded. My secret sins, O Lord, are innumerable; sins I noted not; sins that I willingly neglected; sins that I acted upon wilful ignorance and voluntary mispersuasion; sins that I have forgot; and sins which a diligent and a watchful spirit might have prevented, but I would not. Lord, I am confounded with the multitude of them, and the horror of their remembrance though I consider them nakedly in their direct appearance, without the deformity of their unhandsome and aggravating circumstances; but, so dressed, they are a sight too ugly, an instance of amazement, infinite in degrees, and insufferable in their load. And yet thou hast spared me all this while, and hast not thrown me into hell, where I have deserved to have been long since, and even now to have been shut up to an eternity of torments, with insupportable amazement, fearing the revelation of thy day. Miserable man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of sin? Thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God. Thou that prayest for me shalt be my judge.

Thou hast prepared for me a more healthful sorrow; O deny not thy servant when he begs sorrow of thee. Give me a deep contrition for my sins, a hearty detestation and loathing of them, hating them worse than death with torments. Give me grace entirely, presently, and for ever, to forsake them; to walk with care and prudence with fear and watchfulness, all my days; to do all my duty with diligence and charity, with zeal and a never fainting spirit; to redeem the time, to trust upon thy mercies, to make use of all the instruments of grace, to work out my salvation with fear and trembling; that thou mayest have the glory of pardoning all my sins, and I may reap the fruit of all thy mercies and all thy graces, of thy patience and long-suffering, even to live a holy life here, and to reign with thee for ever, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

A Prayer for Graces

A Prayer that God Would Grant Us the Graces and

Virtues of the Christian Life, by Richard Hele (Hele’s Select Offices of Private Devotion, 1856)

Most blessed God, the Fountain of all goodness, who didst create man at first in Thine own image, and when that was defaced by sin, wast graciously pleased to create us again in Christ Jesus after Thine own likeness, in righteousness and true holiness; I humbly beseech Thee of Thine infinite goodness and mercy to endue me, Thy most unworthy creature, with that God-like temper of mind and those heavenly virtues, which constitute the new creature; and which may dispose me for the attainment of that glorious end, for which I was created, redeemed, and regenerated.

Send down, O Heavenly Father, the graces of the Holy Spirit upon Thy servant to sanctify my nature; to renew me in the spirit of my mind; and to enable me so diligently to tread in the blessed steps of my Divine Master and Saviour, that the life of Jesus may be seen in all my actions, and His image be formed in my soul; and that, devoting myself wholly to Thy holy will and pleasure, I may constantly strive to employ every faculty of my soul, and every member of my body, and every day of my life, in Thy service, and to Thy glory.

Possess my soul, I beseech Thee, with such strong and lively apprehensions of the adorable perfections of Thy Majesty, and of the absolute necessity of my being in some measure a partaker of the Divine nature here, in order to qualify me for the fruition of Thy glorious Godhead hereafter, as may effectually engage me to be holy, as Thou art holy; pure, as Thou art pure; and conformable to Thee in all Thine imitable excellencies.

Give me grace O Lord, to love Thee with all my heart, and to serve Thee with all my strength; and to make Thee, the Omnipresent and Omnipotent God, my only fear and hope, my trust and confidence, my joy and desire. Dispose me to hear, and read, and meditate on Thy word with attention and delight; to pray without ceasing; to give thanks to Thee in everything; to be constant and conscientious in the performance of all religious duties; and to perform them always with such reverence and devotion, as may be acceptable in Thy sight, through the mediation of Jesus Christ my Saviour.

O Holy Father, enable me, I beseech Thee, to cleanse my heart from all evil imaginations; to subdue every inordinate desire; and to fix my mind upon those transcendent and durable pleasures which are at Thy right hand. Grant, O Lord, that I may make it my principal concern and endeavor to please Thee, by being pure and chaste in all my thoughts; sober, contented, and thankful in all my enjoyments, humble in my opinion of myself, charitable in all my sentiments and speeches of others; meek and patient under provocations and injuries, sincere and faithful in all my professions, just and upright in all my dealings, diligent and cheerful in all my employments, discreet, inoffensive, and blameless in my conversation, and useful in every relation and capacity of life.

And I beseech Thee, O Lord, to pour into my heart such a measure of that most excellent gift of charity, as may dispose me, for Thy sake, to love all men as I love myself; to forgive and pray for my enemies, persecutors, and slanderers; and to be ready to do all the good offices in my power to any of my fellow-creatures.

Finally, O Lord, I most humbly beg that whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, I may think on these things; and that they may abound in me every day more and more: that I may be always growing wiser and better; always studying to do more and more good; always laboring to be stronger in the faith, richer in good works, more frequent in my devotions, more fervent in Thy service, more zealous for Thy glory, more eminent in meekness and humility, in patience, charity, and everything that is good and acceptable to Thee; that so I may shine as a light in the world, and excite others by my example to glorify Thee our Heavenly Father; and when Jesus Christ the Chief Shepherd shall appear, I may receive of him a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Amen.

– end –

Read Full Post »

Three Dangers to Guard Against in Lent

As Published in our Journal “The Anglican Tradition”, 2006

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »