29 June 2007

Regaining the magic

One of my fondest memories from childhood was my mother's fig jam. We had two fig trees in the backyard, and because of the surplus the trees yielded, we either ended up giving a large share of the produce to neighbours and friends, or made fig jam. Although figs did not grow in my parents’ homeland, the Philippines, we used a Filipino derived recipe: rose water, honey, palm sugar, a little orange rind, and a just a hint of spice. It was a laborious process that required not only my mother and lola*, but the whole family as well. Yet in the end it was worth it: We had fig jam to last us a whole year, Christmas presents to give to distant relatives in North America and Asia, and an excuse to feign illness just to stay home and eat.

Memories like these make me smile, but they also make me feel sad about how much I lost along the path to adulthood. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a lot about life and garnered experience, yet you begin to miss the time when everything was so simple. Not simple in the means of having no bills or pay, responsibilities to mind, or a boyfriend to calm down when something is amiss; but simple in the fact that you could cherish every moment and bask in the purity and holy simplicity of which was yours.

For a moment, I’d like to pause. Have I failed to notice what I noticed so many years before? The crickets and grasshoppers in the yard, the wind blowing in my hair, or even the stars illuminating the night? I hesitate to use the word ‘magical’, yet to me as a child, they were just that. Simple things like the experience of feeling the grass between my toes, the scent of my newly-scrubbed cocker spaniel, hearing lola hum her old provincial tunes, or running my fingers along the grooves of my father’s wooden desk. Even the most awful things became fond memories: If either I or my other siblings hurt ourselves, mum was always there to soothe us.

When did we ever lose that sense of magic?

I’d like to reclaim that magic - that sense of wonder – of seeing and soaking in your surroundings; to see that everything, even something so small, like a little flower so unnoticed it gets stepped on, has a beauty so elusive yet so profound when we examine closely.

This week has been a terrible week, one of which I’d like to forget. Sitting in the corner chewing on your fingers (it used to be my hair when it was longer) isn’t a great way to start off the week. But perhaps I forgot to see the beautiful things this week that I should be grateful for: Things that I underappreciated and ignored. I mean, even in the hardest of times, God blesses you at every moment, every second, every minute.

No matter what happens, God will always take care of you. It may not go or happen the way you planned out, but nevertheless, the One holding you in the palm of his hand as you traverse through this earthly plane is God himself. He was there at the beginning of your beginning, and he will be there at the very end. Why would he abandon you as your journey on the world he created just for you? He will ever leave you or forsake you. (Hebrews 13.5)

So it is. Know that every moment is magical, because God is with you along the way. If we could only see with faith, our eyes will be opened to see the wonders and marvels, even through the most difficult times, that God has at hand. We sensed a magical presence when we were young; let us so return to our childlike faith.

You see, God was present when my mother made her famed fig jam, and he was present when mum gently soothed us when we fell. If only we notice God's presence in the midst of a mess, perhaps one day we'll have an opportunity to look back and remember it as a time when God picked us up and gently soothed us. That makes every moment, whether good or bad, magical.

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29.11 RSV)

*Lola (loh-lah) is Tagalog for 'grandmother'.

26 June 2007

A Selection of Personal Collects 1

These are some of my personal exercises in liturgy. If you didn’t notice already, I like to frequently practise to better and refine my craft. These are raw and unedited, and come from recent experiences.

When in despair

O God our refuge, who reveals himself in our uncertainties: give us grace to faithfully recognize your mercy when pressed, to see your care when bewildered, and to feel your love when broken; that acknowledging your goodness, we may testify to our everlasting hope; through Jesus Christ our Saviour; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

For a deceased loved one (especially suitable at a Eucharist)

Risen Saviour, who calls us by name into your presence: we earnestly pray you to heal the wounds of sin that N. accrued in her mortal life, and bind her soul to yourself; that rising with you in glory, she may worthily partake of your wedding banquet, and may enjoy your everlasting peace; wherein you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

For someone about to die

Sweet Jesus, the shelter of souls and shepherd of lambs: surround the soul of N. with your love and grace, and protect her as she crosses the bridge to you; that entering the gates of praise into your courts, she may join the company of the saints; graciously hear our prayer for your love’s sake. Amen.

For faith

Gracious God, who gives life and salvation: increase our faith and confirm us in your love; that placing our trust in your mercy, we may live and dwell in hope; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.

Joshua Ligan 2007.
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On becoming a priest

For several years now, I've shared with many Episcopalians in the common life and mission outlined in the Baptismal Covenant. For some of us, this common life and mission leads to ordained ministy; for some of us, we minister as lay persons, heeding God's call in baptism and being commissioned by the bishop to do so in Confirmation. As for me, I must admit, I'm often unsure, hesistant and confused about what do to next, or even what God is calling me to do.

It's tiring when you are constantly asked, "Do you want to be a priest?" or told, "Josh, I really think you should be a priest". The fact is, yes, I have considered the priesthood. However, the gosh-darn honest truth is that I'm truly frightened of being a priest.

Seeing the troubles, but also the rewards of being a priest, I realized that not only does it take a good, gentle soul to be a priest, but guts, courage, and solemn determination. I have seen many people whom I've loved fall flat on their faces. To be a priest is not just reaching out to the lost, the weak, and the needy with compassion, but it also means taking up armour and valiantly battling for their cause. For those who cannot do that, you will either end up having your bum burned on the altar or even worse, placed in the stocks by the vestry.

My simple, earnest request is this: Let me wait. I have too much respect for the office and work of a priest to rush in. If I am to become one, I want to approach the dignity of this office not only with skill, but maturity and soberness, with dedication and resolve. Give me time: I want to hear God's call truly and distinctly. Allow me time pray and study about this even before I approach the discernment process or even truly consider it. If I should go in with without considering the cost- the cross you must bear - I may end up harming myself spiritually, and put others' souls at risk. To have the cure of souls to a special responsibility that God lays on your shoulders; indeed, it is a sacred trust.

Even if I were to be ordained or remain a layperson, my heart, mission, and resolve will always be one: to seek and serve Christ in all persons, "whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whatever they bring". To God and to them, I pledge my life and liberty.

20 June 2007

Updated: A Responsive Prayer for the Baptismal Candidates and over the Water of Baptism (Final form)

Thanks for your suggestions everyone!

The good Rev. Fr. Matthew Cadwell, who will be leaving Trinity Church, Aurora soon for Christ Church, Deer Park and who will be joining the faculty of Trinity College in the University of Toronto this autumn, gave me a challenging assignment the other day to sharpen my liturgical skills. The project was to create a single prayer that effectively served as both the Prayers for the Baptismal Candidates and the Thanksgiving over the Water. At first, I thought it would be easy, until he laid down the requirements.

Fr. Cadwell's requirements were these:

-The prayer must be responsive on part of the congregation;
-The responses must be simple, succint, consistent, and easy to remember; and
-The prayer must be inclusive.

I have to admit that I don't use much inclusive language in the liturgy, but I enjoyed the challenge, which helped me to get the brain rocking.

My first task prior to drafting the text was to consult the catechism on the Episcopal Church's doctrine concerning Holy Baptism, as well as any papers regarding the common consensus on Holy Baptism in the Anglican Communion. After poring over that, I sought to find the scriptural references that backed up the Church's position. My next task was to read the actual texts as used in the Book of Common Prayer 1979, and fill the gaps by reading similar texts in other Christian bodies. Lastly, I sought any other interpretations by Christian writers, and the precursors to Holy Baptism, most notably the Jewish Mikvah.

When I intially drafted the text, I split the current Thanksgiving over the Water (page 306) into sections that corresponded with the appropriate petition in the current Prayers for the Candidates (page 305). With a lot of heavy editing, massive expansion, literary licence, and imagination, I have created a prayer that barely resembles the original prayers. I hope you enjoy my effort. Do leave me a comment.


May God be with you.
And also with you.

People of God, bless your God!
God’s mercy endures for ever!

Blessed are you, O God who births the Creation.
At the dawn of all wonder,
your primal Spirit breathed over the waters,
and through the flood of Noah you made the world new.
Cleanse these children (persons) of the power of evil and death.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Compassionate are you, O God who hears our cries.
When Pharaoh enslaved your people Israel,
you parted the roaring sea to clear the path to freedom,
and from the rock burst forth sweet water to quench their thirst.
Uphold these children (persons) with your grace.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Generous are you, O God who shares the blessing.
From the waters of the Jordan,
you anointed and revealed your Christ,
and from the pierced side of the Crucified One,
flowed water and salvation.
Stir up these children (persons)
with your holy and renewing Spirit.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Loving are you, O God who calls us to the waters of Baptism.
In it the Old Adam is buried with Christ’s death,
by it Eve’s children share in Christ’s resurrection,
and through it we are born again in your all-embracing Spirit.
Bring these children (persons) to everlasting life.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Faithful are you, O God whom we exalt!
By the crashing waves, Miriam’s timbrel led the dance,
so now, in joyful obedience to Christ’s command,
we baptize into your Name those who come to you in faith!
Preserve these children (persons) in your truth.
Grant this, O gracious God.

At the following words, the Celebrant touches the water

Sanctify this water, we humbly pray,
and empower it with your life-giving Spirit,
that those whose sins are washed away
in these waters of rebirth,
may partake in the divine life of our Risen Saviour.
Inspired and filled with the Spirit of holiness,
make them effective witnesses to your love and justice,
seeking and serving Christ in every person
to the glory of your Name.
Grant this, O gracious God.

Praising you through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit,
we offer you these prayers, asking you to-
Grant this, O gracious God.

Joshua Ligan 2007.
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16 June 2007

Blessings over Rice and Green Tea

If The Book of Occasional Services 2003, authorised by General Convention, has blessings over crops and certain foods that are traditional to Europeans and Middle Easterners (pages 95-98) such as bread, wine, lamb, and eggs; why can’t Asians have blessings over rice and green tea, foods with are sacred to our various cultures?

A Blessing over Rice (brown rice is yummy)

Blessed are you, O Lord our God. Sovereign of the Universe;
who labours with your people as they plant the rice fields:
By your grace, travail with all who work,
that by harvesting the fruits of honest labour
and giving thanks for your benefits,
they may testify to your providence;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Blessing over Green Tea (preferably over ceremonial matcha)

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe;
who tends the green sprout to burst into a tea bush:
Nurture the seed you have planted in the hearts of your people,
that by growing in faith
and steeping in your presence,
their lives may be a fragrant offering to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Joshua Ligan 2007.
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15 June 2007

A Rite of Healing after Someone Has Ended a Relationship

This is a rite I created for someone who has been left brokenhearted after ending a relationship, based on rites from The Book of Common Prayer, 1979. If you have any suggestions for this rite, or if you actually used it, please leave a comment or e-mail me at chutneyoverrice@gmail.com.


This anthem is said by the person alone.

In the midst of life, we are ever in transition:
All things flee as if a passing shadow,
and cannot endure forever.

God, you know the sorrows of our hearts:
Shut not your ears to our prayers,
but hear us, O Lord.

I have grown weary with my crying;
now God alone my soul in silence waits;
from him comes my salvation.

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One,
have mercy upon us.

The priest lightly touches the person’s cheek and says

Peace, be still before the Lord.

A period of silence is kept.

The priest then says

O God of grace and salvation,
look with pity upon the sorrows of your servant N.
Remember her, O Lord, in mercy,
nourish her soul with patience,
comfort her with a sense of your goodness,
lift up your face upon her, and give her peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Readings and psalms, such as that which may be found in the rites for Ministration for the Sick, or other readings, may be employed at the priest’s discretion. The priest may comment on the readings briefly.

If the person so desires, they may now open their grief in prayer or words.

The priest may offer comfort and counsel, and pray with the person.

The following anthem is said

O Blessed Redeemer,
who by your stripes and wounds have healed us,
be present and help us, we humbly pray, O Lord.

The priest then lays hands upon the person, and anoints the person’s forehead with holy oil, saying

N., I lay my hands upon you and anoint you with oil
in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
beseeching our Lord Jesus Christ
to cast out all despair, to lift up your burdens,
to wipe away every tear,
and to fill you with that everlasting love and peace
which only he can give.

The priest may add

And as you are outwardly soothed with this holy oil,
so may our heavenly Father grant you
the inward balm of the Holy Spirit.
Of his great compassion,
may he heal your wounds,
renew in you his Spirit,
and grant you the courage to stand
in the day of trouble.
May he sweep away all darkness,
uphold you with his grace,
and gather you to his embrace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lord’s Prayer may be said.

The person may pray one of the following prayers at the priest’s discretion

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment,
and light rises up in darkness for the godly:
Grant me, in all my doubts and uncertainties,
the grace to ask what you would have me to do,
that the Spirit of wisdom may save me from all false choices,
and that in your light I may see light,
and in your straight path may not stumble;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


O God of peace, who taught me
that in returning and rest I shall be saved,
in quietness and in confidence shall be my strength:
By the might of your Spirit lift me, I pray,
to your presence, where I may be still
and know that you are God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Go before me, O Lord, in all my doings
with your most gracious favour,
and further me with your continual help;
that in all my works begun, continued, and ended in you,
I may glorify your holy Name,
and finally, by your mercy,
obtain everlasting life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The priest gives the blessing
May God the Father bless you,
God the Son heal you, God
the Holy Spirit give you strength.
May God the holy and undivided Trinity
guard your body, save your soul,
and bring you safely to his heavenly country;
where he lives and reigns for ever and ever.
The priest says

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God. [Alleluia, alleluia.]

Joshua Ligan 2007.
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14 June 2007

Eucharistic Prayer D, Joshified!

Okay, so here's the deal- I have met waaaay too many Episcopal priests who praise Eucharistic Prayer D (page 373) in the American Book of Common Prayer 1979 for its imagery, yet complain about how it's too long so that half of the congregation is asleep by the end of the Doxology and Great Amen. So they either have to settle for Eucharistic Prayers A or B (pages 361 and 367 respectively), or that sci-fi trekkie Prayer of Consecration, Eucharistic Prayer C. (page 369).


Honestly, it saddens me to see Eucharistic Prayer D so ignored. It's my favourite, and it excites me so much that I always request it at masses for my birthday, or for commemorations in the life of my family.

But I'm sure that's just me. Or am I alone in lavishly adoring this beautiful, stirring prayer?

So this is my solution: Turn Eucharistic Prayer D, which is essentially based on the Roman Catholic adaptation (Eucharistic Prayer IV) of the Anaphora of St. Basil, into an Eastern Orthodox style litany (well, it's almost like a litany). That way, with active participation in the celebration on the part of the people, you catch the people's attention, and both the celebrant and people are happy. With the responses, I have added very minor edits for clarification or slight expansion. Also, I have used the greeting given in Form 2 (page 404) for the preface dialogue so that way it is more faithful to the dialogue between people and celebrant in the original Anaphora.

If you have any suggestions, hearts or farts, please, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment, or just e-mail me at chutneyoverrice@gmail.com. I want to get more feedback. If you test drive this in your parish, do tell me.

Also, should you celebrate this, I suggest using the Trisagion (prayer book form on page 356 or the Christocentric Coptic version, see below) in lieu of the Kyrie (page 256), Forms I and V (pages 383 and 389 respectively) at the Prayers of the Faithful with ending collect 5 (page 395) or the Prayer of St. John Chrysostom (page 102), I Chronicles 29.11 (page 377) as the offertory sentence, and the post-commuion thanksgiving on page 399. If you must use the Kyrie, then use the Greek form, making sure that 'Lord, have mercy' is rendered in the Greek all throughout the mass. After the Agnus Dei, you and the congregation can recite Prayer 66 (page 834) together as a sort of 'Prayer of Humble Access', despite it coming from the Mozarabic Rite. All this makes a more 'Eastern Orthodox-looking' rite, although not exactly Eastern Orthodox.


The people remain standing. The Celebrant, whether bishop or priest, faces them and sings or says

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 give him thanks and praise.

Then, facing the Holy Altar, the Celebrant proceeds

It is truly right to glorify you, Father, and to give you thanks;
for you alone are God, living and true, dwelling in light
inaccessible from before time and for ever.

Fountain of life and source of all goodness,
you made all things and fill them with your blessing;
you created them to rejoice in the splendour of your radiance.

Countless throngs of angels
stand before you to serve you night and day;
and, beholding the glory of your presence,
they offer you unceasing praise.

Joining with them,
and giving voice to every creature under heaven,
we acclaim you, and glorify your Name, as we sing (say),

Celebrant and People

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 people stand or kneel.

Then the Celebrant continues

We acclaim you, holy Lord, glorious in power.
Your mighty works reveal your wisdom and love.
You formed us in your own image,
giving the whole world into our care,
so that, in obedience to you, our Creator,
we might rule and serve all your creatures.

To you be glory and praise for ever.

When our disobedience took us far from you,
you did not abandon us to the power of death.
In your mercy you came to our help,
so that in seeking you we might find you.
Again and again you called us into covenant with you,
and through the prophets you taught us to hope for salvation.

To you be glory and praise for ever.

Father, you loved the world so much
that in the fullness of time
you sent your only Son to be our Saviour.
Incarnate by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
he lived as one of us, yet without sin.

To you be glory and praise for ever.

To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation;
to prisoners, freedom; to the sorrowful, joy.
To fulfil your purpose he gave himself up to death;
and, rising from the grave, destroyed death,
and made the whole creation new.

To you be glory and praise for ever.

And, that we might live no longer for ourselves,
but for him who died and rose for us, he sent the Holy Spirit,
his own first gift for those who believe,
to complete his work in the world,
and to bring to fulfilment the sanctification of all.

To you be glory and praise for ever.

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

When the hour had come for him
to be glorified by you, his heavenly Father,
having loved his own who were in the world,
he loved them to the end;
at supper with them he 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.”

Amen. Lord, we believe.

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, the mystery of faith,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Amen. Lord, we believe.

Father, we now celebrate this memorial of our redemption.
Recalling Christ's death and his descent among the dead,
proclaiming his resurrection and ascension to your right hand,
awaiting his coming in glory; and offering to you,
from the gifts you have given us, this bread and this cup,
we praise you and we bless you.

Celebrant and People

We praise you, we bless you,
we give thanks to you,
and we pray to you, Lord our God.

The Celebrant continues

Lord, we pray that in your goodness and mercy
your Holy Spirit may descend upon us, and upon these gifts,
sanctifying them and showing them
to be holy gifts for your holy people,
the bread of life and the cup of salvation,
the Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ,
given for the salvation of the world.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Grant that all who share his Body and Blood
may become one body by the Holy Spirit,
a living sacrifice in Christ, to the praise of your Name.

Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.

Remember, Lord, your one holy catholic and apostolic Church,
redeemed by the blood of your Christ.
Reveal its unity, guard its faith, and preserve it in peace.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Remember N. the Archbishop of Canterbury,
N. our Presiding Bishop, N. our Bishop,
and all who minister in your Church.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Remember all your people and those who seek your truth.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Remember _____________,
and all for whom we offer this sacrifice.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Remember all who have died in the peace of Christ,
and those whose faith is known to you alone;
bring them into the place of eternal joy and light.

Amen. Lord, have mercy.

And grant that we may find our inheritance
with Mary, the Virgin Bearer of God;
with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs;
with N. and all the saints
who have found favour with you in ages past.
Aided by their prayers,
may we praise you in union with them
and give you glory through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Blessed be your Name, Christ our God.

Through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ,
all honour and glory are yours, Almighty God and Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever.


As promised, here's the Coptic form of the Trisagion:

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
who has born of the Virgin,
have mercy on us.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
who was crucified for us,
have mercy on us.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
who rose from the dead
and ascended into the heavens,
have mercy on us.

Joshua Ligan 2007.
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