Wednesday
May092012

A Perfect Collect?

Some have called the Collect for the 4th Sunday after Easter "a nearly perfect example of a Collect."

Click here to read a few thoughts about this Collect's history and meaning.

O Almighty God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men: Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday
May082012

What is Rogation Sunday?

 

What does "Rogation" mean?  "Rogation" means "asking," which is a theme particularly prominent in the Gospel text for this Sunday (St. John 16:23-33).
We call this Sunday "Rogation Sunday" because the days which follow it are ancient Rogation Days, these being the 3 days leading up to the great Feast of the Ascension of our Lord (a much neglected holy day!).

 

An Historical Note.  Rogations Days have been a part of the Christian year from early days.  There used to be both a Major Rogation (April 25) and 3 Minor Rogation Days (the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday proceeding Ascension Day).  Thus originally, this Sunday was not a Rogation Day – the change being made in 1662, after the Major Rogation had dropped away.

How should we observe these days?  Rogation days are days of prayerful supplication before God.  In the agrarian culture of yesterday, it was common for the church to gather on the Rogation Days to ask God to bless the crops being sown.  We would have asked Him to send rain and to bless us with a good harvest later in the year.  Often the prayers would have been said (or sung) as the church processed around the boundary lines of the parish (see picture).

It is from the rogation day prayers (as found in the Sarum Sacramentary) that Archbishop Cranmer formulated the Litany (1545), which was his first work of liturgical reform.

 

Saturday
May052012

Youth Conference-May 12

 

 

Dear Friends,

I am convinced that the first step for us, as we seek to build up our ministry to children and young adults (which is a priority for us at St. Marks) - is that we must first be clear about what we believe "Children's and Youth Ministry" is.  

  • What is the point? 
  • What are we hoping to accomplish? 
  • What is the role of the family and of the church?  
Why do such a high percentage of young adults who grow up in Christian homes and are involved in their local church, leave the church when they graduate high school, not returning until their mid to late 30's (if at all)?

On May 12th, we will welcome 2 speakers/teachers to help us begin to think through these questions and more (The Reverend Brian Foos, Headmaster of St. Andrew's Academy, Lake Almanor, Ca) and The Reverend John Boonzaaijer (Rector of the Chapel of the Cross, Dallas, and Headmaster of The St. Timothy School).

 

Please join us for this important seminar.  

 

You need not have children at home to attend - the body of Christ is an inter-generational family and all of you are invited to play a role in the instruction, care and formation of the children and young adults of our parish. If you are interested in "the next generation" of Christian disciples - please consider joining us.

 

Our day will begin at 9 am with Holy Communion and end at 3 pm with Evening Prayer.

 

Lunch will be provided and onsite childcare is available - if you let us know ahead of time.

 

RSVP by May 5th to Fr. Patterson (jsspatterson@gmail.com or 215-884-7660).

Friday
Apr202012

Easter 1 - The Collect

Click here to read this as a pdf.

A Historical and Devotional Commentary on the Collect for: The First Sunday after Easter

Almighty Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification: Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Epistle: 1 John 5:4-12                 
The Gospel: St. John 20:19-23

An Historical Note.

Cranmer composed this Collect for Edward’s first prayerbook (1549) in which it was appointed as the Collect for (potentially) three days: the second Holy Communion of Easter Day, Easter Tuesday and the First Sunday after Easter.  In the revision of 1552, the second set of propers for Easter Day was completely omitted, and this particular Collect completely dropped out of the prayerbook (the Collect for Easter Day was also used for the First Sunday after Easter).  In 1662 Bishop Wren was responsible for returning (partly) to Cranmer’s original intent and today’s Collect was again appointed for use on the First Sunday after Easter (in the 1662 Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday use the Easter Day Collect).[1]  

Commentary on the Collect.

This one sentence Prayer is another excellent example of how to express reverence, doctrine and petition in a concise way.

Almighty Father.  This is the only Collect in The Book of Common Prayer in which the phrase “Almighty Father” is used to begin a prayer.  This particular invocation is very appropriate for Eastertide, for at least two reasons: (1) it is by the almighty power of God the Father that Jesus was raised from the dead and (2) it is by his resurrection that the disciples are given the privilege of calling God "Father," as they are adopted as his children, to be the brethren of Jesus Christ, the true Son.

who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification.  The Collect’s recital of what the Son of God has done for us is based upon St. Paul’s teaching: "Jesus was delivered for our offences and raised for our justification" (Romans 4:24-25).  Jesus did not have any offenses of his own, and thus had no need to seek justification.  It was for sinners that Jesus died – he gave himself over to the Cross as our Substitute.  In keeping with the grace and the will of God, the sins that Jesus bore in his own body on the Tree (1 Peter 2:24) were our sins.  Likewise, he was raised for our acquittal and justification.  The glorious act of God the Father in raising Jesus from the dead proclaims his acceptance of Christ's Atonement for the sins of the world.  This is the basis by which God receives repentant, believing sinners as his adopted children – heirs of his promises. Thus in the Gospel for this day (John 20:19-23) the Resurrected Jesus comes on the day of his Resurrection to his disciples in the upper room with the word of peace, grace and forgiveness.

The petition Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness is based upon what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7, 13: "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore, let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness."  This is a firm prayer that we shall put away all forms of spiritual and moral evil and serve God both in moral and doctrinal soundness.  To embrace either of these forms of evil (whether immorality or heresy) can cause great harm to souls, individually and corporately.  (The reference to leaven makes sense when we remember that for seven days after the Feast of the Passover the Jews sought to keep themselves clear from every kind of leaven.)

through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  The Collect ends by recalling that our salvation is not earned by us nor deserved by us nor won by us; but, it is given to us by the grace and mercy of God the Father through the merits of Jesus Christ, who died as our Substitute and Representative and rose again for us to bring us acquittal before God the Judge and salvation from sin into the family and kingdom of God the Father almighty.

Copyright, The Prayer Book Society (J. S. Patterson & Peter Toon)

 


[1] The 1662 BCP did not, however, appoint a second set of propers for Easter Day.  Provision for a second service (following Cranmer’s original pattern) was provided in the American BCP of 1892, but because Cranmer’s choice for the second Collect (as found in the 1549 BCP) had by this time been established as the Collect for Easter I, the American BCP’s Collect for Easter I was taken from the Gregorian Sacramentary (from those Collects appointed for the Wednesday of Holy Week and which was also said in the solemn procession sung on Easter Day, according to the Sarum Rite). The Canadian 1962 also has provision for a second service of Holy Communion on Easter Day, though the Collect there appointed is different from both the English and American.  See Shepherd, 165.

Friday
Apr202012

Easter Day: The Collect

To read this as a pdf, click here.

Easter Day

Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: We humbly beseech thee, that as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle: Colossians 3:1-4
The Gospel: St. John 20:1-10

An Historical Note

This is an expansion of a Collect from the Gelasian Sacramentary.  It originally read: “Grant, we beseech thee, that we who celebrate the solemnities of the Lord’s resurrection, may through the renewal of thy Spirit arise from the death of the soul.”  The main part of the revision (to the form in which we now have it) was introduced in the Gregorian Sacramentary, to counter Pelagianism.  The Pelagian heresy taught that man is not fallen but only weak, and thus has sufficient power in himself to turn to God and do works of righteousness in his own strength (that is, without the help of God’s grace).  Thus the first part is Gelasian and the second Gregorian in origin.

Commentary on the Collect

Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ . . . On this highest of Days – called by the Fathers of the Church the queen of feasts – it is very fitting that we begin our prayer with a reference to Jesus as the only-begotten Son.  For, as St. Paul writes Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).  In other words, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the ultimate apologetic in defense of his sonship. But in addition to this, as Goulburn writes: “His resurrection was itself a generation, even as His birth had been, - an engendering Him anew from the dark womb of the grave into the light and life of God’s countenance.  Thenceforth He is, as He is styled both by St. Paul and St. John, ‘the first-born, or first-begotten, from the dead.’  The term ‘first-born’ points, it is true, to the fact that His people will be made partakers of resurrection with Him, - will be drawn after Him in the train of His triumph, and set open the gate of everlasting life, to give them access.”[1] 

hast overcome death.  In rising from the dead, Jesus has done something that only he could accomplish, he has completely defeated – overcome – death.  As the Puritan preacher John Owen famously described it, we see “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.”  Much more poetic (but no less poignant) is the Proper Preface for Easter Day in which the Celebrant proclaims that we “are bound to praise thee, for the glorious resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord . . . who by his death hath destroyed death.”  And as we read in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans: “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him” (6:9). 

and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life.  In this phrase, we begin to transition from the Collect’s Doctrine to its Petition.  Because Christ has been raised, we too have the hope of overcoming death.  As St. Paul wrote: “(You have been) buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).  As we proclaim each time we say (or sing) the Te Deum during Morning Prayer: “When thou (O Christ) hast overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of Heaven to all believers.”  Goulburn helpfully comments: “the Son of God, having, in the nature which belongs to all of us in common, endured and exhausted the penalty thereof, not only broke an entrance for Himself into the heavenly Paradise, but, after doing this, turned and set the door of it wide open for His people to follow, bringing life and immortality to light.”[2]

We humbly beseech thee, that as by thy special grace preventing us.  The grace for which we ask is described in two ways, it is special grace and it is preventing grace.  Both terms need definition.  Theologians distinguish between “common” and “special” grace, the former being the undeserved blessings which God extends to all mankind (alluded to in such passages as: “he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” Matthew 5:45).  Here we are praying for God’s special grace – asking that his particular favor be given to a specific end.

To speak of preventing grace is to speak of God’s grace going before us.  Jesus has gone before us, opening the way of grace and life.  When combined with the clause to follow - thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect – it is evident that this Collect attributes all human righteousness to the (special and preventing and continually present) grace of God.  (Continual is an insertion of the English Reformers and underlines the fact that we need God’s grace all the time and at every stage of our lives.  In this life, we will never so mature as to be no longer in need of God’s grace.) 

God’s grace both precedes right action (by putting right thoughts and desires into our hearts) and also enables the will to accomplish these desires.  For this reason, none may boast of his good works, for though we must both will them and do them – they are evidences not our good hearts and strong wills but of the working of the grace of God within us (which we embrace). 

By victoriously rising from the dead, Christ accomplished our salvation.  He hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life.  And so now we pray for “prevenient and co-operating grace, so that we may be enabled to enter that gate.”[3]

J. S. Patterson


[1] Goulburn, 193.

[2] Goulburn, 195.

[3] Daniel, 274.