Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Giving Thanks and "Giving Up Our Selves to Thy Service"

I'm feeling ecumenical today. One, you may have heard Tony Palmer, a friend of Pope Francis and a member of House of Bishops for the Communion of Evangelical and Episcopal Churches, was killed in an accident earlier this week. We ought to pray for the repose of his soul.

Assumption Evensong 2013 - Warwick Street 3Two, during the Church Music Assocation of America's Sacred Music Colloquium, I had the chance to finally attend Anglican Choral Evensong, which is the sung evening service of the Office as modified by Thomas Cranmer for the church in England after Parliament voted to sever its ties to the Roman Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him. It reduces the Psalmody (and as with the lectionary, the distribution of the Psalter follows the civil calendar...) from the medieval Office, and it combines the Gospel canticles of Vespers and Compline, the Magnificat  of Our Lady and the Nunc dimittis of Saint Simeon.

I was particularly struck by the General Thanksgiving, which is a beautiful and moving prayer indeed. Perhaps this could be added to one's day, such as before Compline or before going to bed. I have doubly emphasized my favorite part of the prayer:
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, 
we thine unworthy servants 
do give thee most humble and hearty thanks 
for all thy goodness and loving-kindness 
to us and to all men. 
We bless thee for our creation, preservation, 
and all the blessings of this life; 
but above all for thine inestimable love 
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; 
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, 
give us that due sense of all thy mercies, 
that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful; 
and that we show forth thy praise, 
not only with our lips, but in our lives, 
by giving up our selves to thy service, 
and by walking before thee 
in holiness and righteousness all our days; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, 
be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.
Even if unintentionally, it's rather Roman. Te igitur clementissime Pater begins the Canon. To you, therefore, most merciful Father (or as the Ordinariate gets to pray-in a better form-THEREFORE, most merciful Father, we humbly pray thee, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord...). The modern prayer of absolution continues this theme...God the Father of mercies...

One excellent place to give thanks is before and after meals. We ought to use the traditional prayers "Bless us, O Lord..."  and "We give thee thanks, almighty God. The day needs to be filled with prayer, especially short prayers like these that come at the same place in one's day as well as the Divine Office as much as one can manage it. One should give it a go in Latin. Also, who rendered tibi as simply "thee"? I would have it as "We give thanks unto Thee, almighty God..." And if you are feeling really bold, sing it to ferial tone B (from the Liber Usualis) and when praying after the meal ( whether recited or sung) drop the tone for the prayer Fidelium animae. That's the way it is always done liturgically. Fr. Pasley suggested this for the men who head the table during his session at the Colloquium, so I did it at dinner that evening! (If you have dinner with me, once everyone gets their food-unless a nice person says to do it earlier-I insist on praying together so we don't forget!). Here are the Latin prayers for mealtime.

The Baptist church next to Guardian Angels and the Little Caesars where I work asks on its sign board, "Have you given thanks to Jesus today?" or something to that effect. Of course, I only wish I could give thanks in the most perfect way, that is to say by assisting at Holy Mass every day........St. Peter Julian Eymard said, "Know, O Christian, that the Mass is the holiest act of religion. You cannot do anything more to glorify God more, nor profit your soul more, than by devoutly assisting at it, and assisting as often as possible."

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI is the Pope of Christian Unity, and the Ordinariates he established use for their Office the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham which is approved for liturgical prayer, meaning that we can pray it as a liturgical act with the whole of the Body of Christ as opposed to being a paraliturgical, pious devotion. Beautiful. And let us pray for the conversion of all to the Church which is unam, sanctam, apostolicam et catholicam. I do not believe that corporate reunion can come in anything further. But certainly the bridge across the Tiber was built so graciously by the previous pontiff.

The picture is from Choral Evensong and Solemn Benediction at Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory, Warwick Street with Mgr. Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham under the Patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman. 

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