19 February 2007

A Eucharistic Prayer

I've composed a few Eucharistic Prayers here and there. This one really unique in that sense that it combines New Testament Apocryphal texts (Acts of John 109 and Acts of Thomas 49-50) and Biblical imagery (St. James 1.17). This Eucharistic Prayer generally follows the Eastern Orthodox Anaphoras, such as the Liturgy of St. Basil and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, but the epiclesis invokes both Word and Spirit like classical Anglican liturgies from the Episcopal Churches in the United States and Scotland, and the proposed Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. I have also included material from Eucharistic Prayers A and C, from the current Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church, to conform it to Episcopal Eucharistic Prayers.

Words in brackets are optional.

Later, I will post up more of my Eucharistic Prayers. Hope you enjoy.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to offer thanks and praise.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing,
always and everywhere to give thanks to you,
Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Here a proper preface is said or sung.

Therefore we praise you,
joining our voices with Angels and Archangels
and with all the company of heaven,
who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

The Celebrant continues

Everlasting God, from whom all things take their origin, we now glorify the mighty Name of your beloved Son, in whom you were well pleased. In the beginning, he was the Word through whom you spoke the Creation into existence. After we had lost the intimacy of paradise, the prophets prepared the way for him; and, when the time had ripened, you sent him to be born of a Virgin, to proclaim the Good News of your kingdom. Walking among us, he raised the dead, healed the sick, and loosened the bonds; he gave hope to the poor, freedom to the captive, and refuge to the oppressed. In fulfilment of your purpose, he freely offered himself to endure a painful death on a tree, but the powers of hell and the grave could not overcome him, and by his resurrection he opened for us the gate of eternal life.

Indeed you alone, O God of all mercies, are the root of immortality, the fount of holiness, and the seat of the ages: By these names we call upon you and acknowledge your greatness and love which was unseen to us, but is now made visible to your holy people in the humanity of your divine Son; he now opens for us the scriptures, [shares his blessing,] breaks this bread, and fills this cup with wine.

At the following words concerning the bread, the Celebrant is to hold it; and at the words concerning the cup, to hold it and lay a hand on any other vessel of wine to be consecrated.

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me."

[My Lord and my God. Amen.]

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, "Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me."

[My Lord and my God. Amen.]

Faithful to his command, O Sovereign God throughout the ages, and commemorating his work of redemption,

We celebrate his death and resurrection,
as we await the day of his coming,
when we shall be made like him.

The Celebrant continues

At your call, O Father of Lights, we, your children, in whom you delight, give you thanks and offer you these gifts through the Name of your Son. By this bread and cup, we remember his death and proclaim his resurrection until he comes again in glory and might.

Be present now, O Lord, in this mystery of our faith, and speak your Name over these gifts. Sanctify them by your Word and Holy Spirit to be the Body and Blood of your dear Son, the Bread of Eternity and the Cup of Blessing. Unite us to your Son in our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and grant that all who receive these Holy Mysteries may rest in you, be preserved in your truth, open the door to your fullness, and be saved for the everlasting life; where with Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, and all your saints, we may enter into our eternal home; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. AMEN.

Joshua Ligan 2006.
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1 February 2007

“Beautiful is such a certainty, but uncertainty is more beautiful”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe." Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." (St. John 20.24-29 RSV)

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God.
Sometimes we fail to see the beauty behind our doubts and uncertainties. We can’t see how God is in our circumstances; what lesson is he trying to teach us? Why is everything falling part around me? Why, why, why? I suppose that’s a question I am asking Almighty God, right now, at this very moment.

Now, don’t be mistaken: I am not, I repeat, I am not a depressed, forlorn character. For clarification, I suppose you could call me crushed and shattered, a character perhaps, but certainly not a maniac in need of psychological help or happy-happy-joy-joy pills. These past few weeks, I have not only been burdened with my own concerns and worries, but also that of my family. It’s heartbreaking to know that until recently, you were once firmly established on all your hopes and dreams, and now, you are desperately holding on to a ledge whilst gravity tries to drag you down.

So where are you, God?

I’ve probably exhausted the Blessed Virgin and all the saints above, who stand before the throne of Christ, pleading he would answer my prayers so that I could shut up. I have prayed my rosary, lighted candles, kissed a relic, reminded God of his promises written in scripture, and what have you. Call it assurance, but I have done my best to secure an answer, or even a miracle.

The title of this entry is a line from the poem Love at First Sight, by the Nobel Prize winning Polish poet, Wislawa Szymborska, who is one of my favourite poets.
“Beautiful is such a certainty,
but uncertainty is more beautiful.”
But how, tell me how, can uncertainty be beautiful? St. Thomas, in the gospel citation, says, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe”. Forgive me, Lord, but I can’t see you in this storm.

You would probably give me two answers:
-that it’s okay to doubt, and that God will soon reveal himself to me in my circumstances, and I shall exclaim “My Lord and my God!” as St. Thomas did; or

-that I should “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”. (Proverbs 3.5-6)
The first answer is appealing to my circumstances. The second answer is for me, an extraordinary feat.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11.1 NKJV) Faith indeed, is what I struggle with, but I know it is the fuel God uses for hope. It is difficult to have faith and place your trust in a God who cannot be readily seen through physical eyes.

However, I do know I can see him. He is there present though his Word, and in the Creation; and through the Blessed Sacrament, he assures us of our blessed hope. Yet I sometimes refuse to acknowledge, that somehow in the cosmic backstage, the set for the next scene is trying to get on stage, but I won’t let this happen because I AM still on the stage, and won’t GET OFF the stage unless the next scene features me, and only me. I could be a bit of a diva, won’t you say?

Miracles do not happen on our terms, but God’s terms. You have to open your eyes and see his word at hand. I can understand why uncertainty is beautiful; it’s because God will manifest his glory and power by making it beautiful, according to his own plan. “He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man's mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3.11 RSV)

Believe me, I am trying to have faith, I am trying to the utmost of my power to trust. Faith indeed is a gift, but my faith, since I was confirmed by a bishop, has begun to wither. Wow, whatever happened to the wellsprings of faith I once had, even as a child? I’m truly scared, and I hope you won’t judge me, especially if you are a seasoned Christian (as I pridefully thought I was), who ‘walks by faith and not by sight’. (2 Corinthians 5.7) I just need your prayers during this time, or as St. John of the Cross called it, the ‘dark night of the soul’.

Indeed, it is a dark night. Right now is my Holy Saturday, when I feel like Jesus is in the tomb. It must have been heavy to roll that stone away, just as it is to cast off this feeling of heaviness and weariness. Yet, dear God, when, O when will my Easter come?

A word of thanks: I would like to thank the Rev'd Fr. Robert Laws for being a shoulder to cry on, Roxanne for baking me cookies, and Shazia for coming to see me. Thank you for your support.

Before I go, an apology. Please forgive me, if I’ve ignored your phone calls, your e-mails, or if I have blocked you on messenger. It wasn’t my intent to give you the cold shoulder. I needed my space, and if you were in the same position, I’m sure you would have wanted to be alone too. I apologise, and I hope to have your prayers.

I’d like to end with the last line from Love at First Sight:
Every beginning
is but a continuation,
and the book of events
is never more than half open.
If you could indulge me, please pray with me.
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment,
and light rises up in darkness for the godly:
Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties,
the grace to ask what you would have us do,
that the Spirit of wisdom
may save us from all false choices,
and that in your light we may see light,
and in your straight path may not stumble;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
cf BCP page 832, "For Guidance"