Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Commendatory Prayer

The 1662 B.C.P. contains this very apt prayer for the dead – or so I read this "commendatory Prayer for a sick person at the point of departure", from the Order for the Visitation of the Sick.  Really, it teaches the doctrine of purgatory admirably: "that whatsoever defilements... being purged and done away", the soul of the departing person "may be presented pure and without spot before" God, Whom we supplicate to "Wash it... in the blood of that immaculate Lamb, that was slain to take away the sins of the world".  (Its last sentence is also a sober instruction for mourners.)  From this prayer I love to quote the words about "this miserable and naughty world": here "naughty" has its original, fuller, stronger sense of "bad and evil".
O ALMIGHTY God, with whom do live the spirits of just men made perfect, after they are delivered from their earthly prisons: We humbly commend the soul of this thy servant, our dear brother, into thy hands, as into the hands of a faithful Creator, and most merciful Saviour; most humbly beseeching thee, that it may be precious in thy sight. Wash it, we pray thee, in the blood of that immaculate Lamb, that was slain to take away the sins of the world; that whatsoever defilements it may have contracted in the midst of this miserable and naughty world, through the lusts of the flesh, or the wiles of Satan, being purged and done away, it may be presented pure and without spot before thee. And teach us who survive, in this and other like daily spectacles of mortality, to see how frail and uncertain our own condition is; and so to number our days, that we may seriously apply our hearts to that holy and heavenly wisdom, whilst we live here, which may in the end bring us to life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ thine only Son our Lord. Amen.
For Dad, his withered body had become indeed an unhappy tumbledown prison; may his soul find mercy, that – laved in Christ's precious Blood, cleansed of all spots incurred through human frailty – he may rest in peace.

(The photograph is the last one I have of him, from his 84th birthday just a week or so ago.)

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