Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Beatitudes

Father confessor gave me as penance the reading the Beatitudes, reflecting upon them.  To this end, and that my reflection may bear fruit, I post here the Beatitudes as sung in the Russian Divine Liturgy, opening with the cry of the Good Thief: Lord, remember Thou me, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom.  O thief Dismas, who stole Paradise! teach us to seek the one thing necessary.

Grant us, Lord, deep recognition of our spiritual poverty and utter dependence upon Thee; teach us to cast our cares upon Thee, O Lord, knowing Thee as the God of all comfort; change us from sinful pride to the meekness of Moses, yea, such meekness even of Thy Christ; turn us from gluttony to desire for the food that endureth unto everlasting life, lest we be such as have their stomach for their idol, whose end is destruction, but may rather say with Thy Son, My food is to do the will of My Father; break our hard hearts and give us hearts of flesh, wherewith we may be merciful, lest being mercifiless, biting and hating each other, we live and die in endless hell; grant us purity of heart, lest with the multitude, ensnared by temptations, we rush down to destruction; make us be peacemakers not breakers, sinful warmongers, destroyers of peace, likewise bound for hades; grant us to rejoice when we suffer for doing right, bearing our Cross right joyfully, and alway to give thanks unto Thee for all things, for Thou dost dispose all things unto our eternal wellbeing, sending Thy Holy Spirit to grace us and change us that we may be worthy of salvation, O God All-Merciful and Eternal, through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.

(The English supplied with the above chant strangely inverts the order of the second and third Beatitude, I don't know why.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bishops Bark at Last!

St John Fisher complained that his brother bishops seemed asleep when they ought have spoken out against Henry VIII; they were indeed as dumb dogs that barked not.  Hooray, then, for (nearly all) the Bishops of New South Wales, who have bravely and most counter-culturally spoken out against the anti-Christian, intolerant social engineering agenda of the Greens, warning all believers against voting for such persons at the impending State Election.  Excellent, Your Eminence and My Lords!  God grant all men of good will listen and heed, not least the flocks of Catholics, many of whom are as those referred to in Scripture as perishing through lack of knowledge.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Margaret McManus, R.I.P.

Of your charity, pray for the repose of the soul of Margaret McManus, who was found dead at her home in Melbourne yester-day, though she may have died earlier.  Margaret, a sometime workmate and a friend of mine from my days living in Melbourne, had suffered ill-health on and off over the last decade, but her death, so unexpected, has been a great shock to all who knew her.

Please pray also for her elderly parents, who face the tragedy of the death of their daughter.  She was only forty-four.

Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend thy servant Margaret, our dear sister, as into the hands of a faithful Creator and most merciful Savior, beseeching thee that she may be precious in thy sight. Wash her, we pray thee, in the blood of that immaculate Lamb that was slain to take away the sins of the world; that, whatsoever defilements she may have contracted in the midst of this earthly life being purged and done away, she may be presented pure and without spot before thee; through the merits of Jesus Christ thine only Son our Lord. Amen
O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, we beseech thee, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of life; and let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; that, when we shall have served thee in our generation, we may be gathered unto our fathers, having the testimony of a good conscience; in the communion of the Catholic Church; in the confidence of a certain faith; in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope; in favor with thee our God; and in perfect charity with the world. All which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

The Book of Divine Worship, The Burial of the Dead: Rite One (Additional Prayers)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Prayers for a Time of Earthquakes and Violent Floods

Frustrated by a lack of decent modern prayers for such times of catastrophe as are now afflicting the world, I turned to older sources; and soon enough located James Merrick's Prayers for a Time of Earthquakes and Violent Floods, which was issued in 1756, just after the Great Lisbon Earthquake that devastated the Portuguese capital, slew tens to hundreds of thousands, and shook all Europe, on All Saints' Day 1755.  The term "Floods" in Merrick's pamphlet's title refers to what we now call tsunami, a word imparting such a sense of terror, signifying the vomiting forth of the sea upon the land to the destruction of every thing thereon.

Of your charity, pray in behalf of the people of Japan, whether those multitudes drowned and gone before God's Judgement, or their surviving kinsmen perhaps bereft of all possessions; pray that the threatened nuclear disaster be averted.

Herewith, as downloaded and proof-read, Merrick's Prayers:

For a Time of
Violent FLOODS:
Suited to the various Occasions and Circumstances of Persons who are apprehensive of such Calamities, or have already felt the Effects of them.
Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.
Sold by John Rivington, in St. Paul's Church-yard. 1756.
[Price 1 d. or 7 s. a Hundred. ]

HE present Situation of the Author (who has lain under a long and painful Illness, which makes a very little Application to Writing and Reading oppressive to him)[1] may plead in some Measure for any Defects to be observed in the following Collection of Devotions. Had he not found this little Attempt too much for him, he might perhaps have made some Addition to it. As it now stands, he has been encouraged to hope, that the Publication of it may be of some Use.



HE Use of Prayer and Repentance, at a Time when we are threatened with Earthquakes, Inundations, or other like Events, may be considered under three Views; as intended either to secure to us a happy Condition in another Life, in case we perish by them, or to keep the Events themselves from happening, or lastly to bespeak God's Care and Providence for our personal Safety when they do happen. I shall offer some Reflections relating to each of these Points.
When the Calamities of the Time are regarded as the Fruit of our Sins, and Tokens of God's Anger, the Importance and Necessity of forsaking our Sins, and of recommending ourselves to the Favour of God by a strict Observance of his Laws, are clear and obvious to every Understanding. But if such Changes in the natural World were not the Signs of divine Wrath, nor the Destruction of some Persons and Preservation of others the immediate Appointment of Providence, though there would then indeed be no Hope of averting the temporal Calamities which threaten us, either by Prayer or any other religious Performances, yet in this Case likewise, the Necessity and Advantage of addressing ourselves to God in Prayer, and applying ourselves to the Duties of Religion with all possible Diligence, must appear to every thinking Man in the strongest Light. For whether we consider the astonishing Events, which have lately alarmed the World[2], as the Effects of Sin or not, sure we are that we have sinned, and we know likewise, that if we die in our Sins, we must suffer the Vengeance of God in another World, however we may escape it in this. When therefore we hear Accounts of Earthquakes, which have swept away great Multitudes of Men with a swift and sudden Destruction; when we are told that they have extended to vastly distant Parts of the World; that Nations near us have felt the Effects of them to a most dreadful Degree, and that our own Island has already in some Measure been affected by them, it deeply concerns us to make the best Preparation we can for a Trial, of which we have so much Reason to be apprehensive ; and which, if it should befal us, may plunge us into Eternity in a Moment. It will be our Wisdom and our Happiness to be frequent and earnest in our Prayers to almighty God, to examine our past Lives and the present State of our Souls, to shew the Sincerity of our Repentance by a thorough Amendment of Life, and to keep ourselves ready for that awful Account, to which we know not how soon we may be called. This will be a certain Method of securing ourselves from the worst Effects of any such calamitous Event, though it should come upon us: But Revelation has encouraged us to hope, that by a timely Application to the Duties of Religion, we may save ourselves even from the temporal Suffering with which we are threatened.
We have the clearest Evidence from Scripture, that almighty God, when he made the World, and appointed the Course of Nature, did not preclude himself from working such Changes in them as might at any Time answer the Designs of his Justice, or his Mercy, in regard to Mankind. We are there told, that he has actually wrought such Changes in them for the Punishment of wicked Men; and that not only in his Dealings with the Jews, his peculiar People, but with others also. The Account given us of Noah's Flood is alone a full Confirmation of the Point, as it shews that the Effects of his Vengeance have extended to all the Nations under Heaven. On the other Hand, the Instance of God's Mercy to the Inhabitants of Nineveh may well give us Hope of averting his temporal Judgements, if we follow the Example of their Humiliation and Repentance: For who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce Anger, that we perish not*?
But beside the Hope which the Scriptures afford us of preventing a national Calamity by a general Repentance and Reformation, they farther encourage the penitent Sinner to trust in the divine Goodness for his own personal Safety (if God sees that his Continuance in Life will be an Advantage to him) though the Judgements threatened should fall upon the Community to which he belongs. Without enlarging upon the Subject, I shall propose one Text from the New Testament, which may direct our Judgement in this Particular: Are not two Sparrows sold for a Farthing? (says our blessed Saviour) and one of them shall not fall on the Ground without your Father. But the very Hairs of your Head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore ye are of more Value than many Sparrows, Matth. Ch.x. Ver. 29, 30, 31. Let any Person consider what is here said of the Attention shewn by almighty God to every thing that may endanger the Life of a simple Bird, and of the superior Importance of Man, and judge whether a Calamity which destroys the Life of Thousands of Men, and puts an End to their State of Probation, can be effected merely by Chance, or a blind Concurrence of natural Causes. If not, we have the strongest Reason to cast ourselves on the Providence of God, and to use our utmost Endeavours to procure ourselves a Share in his Favour and Protection, who can govern and direct the alarming Changes which have begun to appear in the material World, in all their Circumstances, and in all their Consequences; can either Stop their Progress, or remove us out of the Reach of their Violence when they happen; and who will most certainly (if we do our Duty) either save us from Death, or make it a Step to our everlasting Happiness.


A Prayer to be used by a private Person or by a Family.

 Almighty God, Maker and Governor of Heaven and Earth, have Mercy on the whole Race of Mankind; and grant that the Ruin which thou hast brought upon the World by Earthquakes and Floods may awaken us all to a Sense of our Danger, and make us deeply and earnestly repent of those Sins which have most justly provoked thy Wrath and Indignation against us. Glory be to thee for thy Goodness to those of this Nation and Place, in allowing us Time for Repentance; O let us not increase our Guilt by neglecting to use it, but work in us all such a Regard to thy Laws, as may prevent the Continuance of thy Judgements, and save us from that sudden Destruction with which we are threatened: But if thou see it needful to inflict it upon us, O let it not find us unprepared, but grant that we may depart out of this World in thy Faith and Fear, with a perfect Resignation to thy Will, a full Trust in thy Mercy and Goodness, and a stedfast Hope of eternal Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


A Prayer to be used by a private Person, either before or after an Earthquake or violent Flood.

N. B. The two following Prayers, being of different Lengths, may be used at different Times, according to a Person’s Opportunity.

Lmighty God, who seest me placed in the midst of many and great Dangers, watch over me I beseech thee, both now and for evermore. Unto thee I commit my Soul and Body, as unto a faithful and wise Creator. Take me not hence, O Lord, in thine Anger, by an Earthquake or Flood, or any other sudden Calamity, but mercifully appoint me such a Time and Manner of Departure, as thou knowest to be best for me. Forgive the Sins of my past Life, grant me Support and Comfort in all Trials and Afflictions, and keep me always prepared for the Hour of Death and the Day of Judgement. Let not the Sense of thy Terrors overwhelm me with Fear and Astonishment, or destroy my Hope in thy Mercy, nor the Knowledge of thy Mercy encourage me to Presumption and groundless Confidence: Grant that I may judge of myself as thou judgest of me, and be always careful to have a Conscience void of Offence towards thee, and towards all Men. Create in me a strong and lively Faith in thee, and in thy Son Jesus Christ. Subdue in me all sinful Thoughts and Desires; wean me from the Vanities of the World; fill me with devout and heavenly Affections; confirm, increase, and perfect in me every good Disposition and Temper; and grant that my whole Life and Conversation may be so ordered and governed by the Grace of thy Holy Spirit, that no Temptation may turn me aside from thee, or deprive me of thy Love and Favour: But whether I live, let me live unto thee, or whether I die, let me die unto thee, through Jesus Christ, my blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.


Lmighty God, who hast visited the World with Earthquakes, Floods, and other Tokens of thy Vengeance, continue thy Mercy to me, and to all others whose Lives thou hast hitherto spared and preserved. Make us so truly repent of our Sins, that thine Anger may be turned away from us; comfort and support us in this Time of Danger and Distress; Fit and prepare us for every Trial which thy Providence shall bring upon us; and grant that we may live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present World; that when thou shalt call us to Death and Judgment, we may be found acceptable in thy Sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Three Prayers to be used either by a private Person, or by a Family, in any Place where an Earthquake has a little before been felt, or after such Appearances in the Sky, or other Signs, as seem to threaten them with immediate Danger.

OST gracious God, who hast now warned us to apprehend the near Approach of sudden and violent Death, look down with thy tenderest Compassion upon us thy sinful Creatures; and let thy merciful Kindness speedily help and deliver us, for the Sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


 Most holy Lord God, who sparest when we deserve Punishment, and in thy Wrath thinkest upon Mercy, assist and relieve all Orders and Degrees of Men among us, in this Time of Danger and Distress, according to their several Necessities. Turn the Hearts of the hardened and obstinate Sinners; pardon and restore all who truly repent of their Sins; comfort the fearful and weak-hearted, and vouchsafe to us all that Measure of thy Grace, which may deliver us from the Corruptions of our frail and sinful Nature, and enable us to triumph over Death and the Grave, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


 Almighty God, save and defend us, if it be thy blessed Will, from the Danger which threatens us. But if the Hour of our Departure be at Hand, let thy Holy Spirit strengthen, assist, and support us under this our last and greatest Trial. Pardon all the Sins which we have committed against thee by Thought, Word, and Deed; Extinguish in us all Remains of sinful Desire and Affection; Receive us to thy Mercy, and grant that in the last Day we may be presented faultless before thee with exceeding great Joy, through the Merits and Mediation of Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.

A Prayer of Preparation for Death, to be used by a private Person.

 Almighty God, Maker and Judge of all Men, have Mercy upon me, thy weak and sinful Creature; and if by thy most wise and righteous Appointment the Hour of Death be approaching towards me, enable me to meet it with a Mind fully prepared for it, and to pass through this great and awful Trial in the Manner most profitable for me. O let me not leave any thing undone which may help to make my Departure safe and happy, or to qualify me for the highest Degree of thy Favour that I am capable of obtaining. Pardon the Sins which I have committed against thee by Thought, Word, and Deed, and all my Neglects of Duty. Pardon the Sins which I have committed against my Neighbour; and if others have wronged or offended me, incline my Heart freely and fully to forgive them, and do thou forgive them also. Cleanse my Soul from all its Corruptions, and transform it into the Likeness of thy Son Jesus Christ; that being clothed with his Righteousness, and accepted through the Merits of his Death, I may behold thy Face in Glory, and be made Partaker of thy heavenly Kingdom. And, O merciful Father, give me that Supply of spiritual Comfort, which thou seest needful for me in my present Condition: And grant that, when my Change comes, I may die with a quiet Conscience, with a well-grounded Assurance of thy Favour, and a joyful Hope of a blessed Resurrection, through my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Prayer to be used on Occasion of Damage done by a Flood.

 Lord God, who seest the Loss and Damage which the Overflowing of Waters has brought on this and other Places, have Pity on all who are in danger of suffering by this Calamity. Prevent, if it be thy blessed Will, the farther Increase and Continuance of it, and keep it from being hurtful to our Dwellings, our Lands, and other Possessions. Give thy Grace to all who have suffered or shall suffer Loss, that they may bear their Lot with Patience and Contentment, improve their worldly Afflictions to their spiritual Advantage, and stir up the Minds of others to relieve their Necessities. Suffer not any of us to waste that portion of Wealth which thou preservest to us, in Luxury, Intemperance, or Profuseness; but make us to delight in good Works, and chearfully to contribute to the Support of those who are in Want and Distress; that when thou shalt call us to give an Account of the Talents which thou hast given us, we may be accepted by thee as good and faithful Servants, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


A Thanksgiving for a Person escaped from great Danger of Death.

 My most merciful God and Saviour, I bless thee, I praise thee, I give Thanks unto thee, for the great Deliverance which thou hast vouchsafed me. What Return can I make for thy Goodness towards me, but the Services of that Life which thou hast thus graciously preserved? Services, which were due to thee by numberless Obligations before this new Instance of thy Mercy was shown to me. O grant that I may express my Thankfulness to thee by a chearful and constant Obedience to all thy Laws and Commands, and so employ the Time which thou allowest for my Continuance in this World, as shall be most for thy Glory and the Salvation of my own Soul, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


A Prayer for a Person who has lost Friends or Possessions by the Effects of an Earthquake or Flood.

 Most gracious Lord God, who makest all things work together for Good to those who love and obey thee, give thy Grace, I beseech thee, to me and to all others whom thou hast afflicted by the Loss of Friends, the Loss of Possessions, or of any other worldly Comfort. Thou hast given, and thou hast taken away; blessed be thy holy Name. Glory be to thee for our Deliverance from Death, and for that Measure of the Necessaries and Conveniences of Life which we still enjoy. Make us truly thankful for these thy Mercies; make us patient and contented under all thy Dealings towards us; sanctify our temporal Losses to the Good of our Souls; give us that Portion of outward Blessings which thou knowest to be best for us; and grant, that beholding the Vanity and Uncertainty of all earthly Satisfactions, we may there fix our Hearts where true Joys are to be found, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


For a Person who has led a wicked Life, and desires to reform.

 Most gracious Lord God, have Mercy upon me thy sinful Creature, and forgive the many and great Offences which I have committed against thy divine Majesty. I thank thee, O Lord, that thou hast not cut me off in the midst of my Sins, but hast afforded me Time to reflect on my past Life, and to intreat thy Grace and Mercy. O continue this thy Goodness towards me, allowing me yet farther Space for a full and effectual Repentance and an intire Amendment of Life. Strengthen my faint Resolutions and Purposes, assist my weak Endeavours, and subdue my unruly Will and Affections by the Power of thy Holy Spirit. Make me careful to avoid every thing displeasing to thee, and keep me particularly from those Sins to which I am most inclined and accustomed: And grant, that being cleansed, renewed, and perfected by thy Grace, I may yield a ready Obedience to all thy Commandments, through Jesus Christ, my blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.


[1] James Merrick (1720–1769) was an English poet and scholar; M.A. Trinity College, Oxford, 1742: fellow, 1745: ordained, but lived in college. It is said that "[h]e entered into holy orders, but never could engage in parochial duty, from being subject to excessive pains in his head". (Thomas Campbell, Specimens of the British Poets: With Biographical and Critical Notices (1855), p. 523.) He published poems, including The Chameleon; translated from the Greek and advocated the compilation and amalgamation of indexes to the principal Greek authors; versified the Psalms, several editions of which were set to music. His work was featured in Oxford religious poetry anthologies.]
[2] The Great Lisbon Earthquake, 1st November 1755.]
* Jonah, Ch. iii. V. 9.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Made my confession... attended our first session of choir for the year, with the usual Compline and Benediction; plus a supper afterwards, with nibbles, wine, even pancakes.  Now cometh Lent.  "May this Lenten discipline, which we undertake with love, turn our minds to things above."

Hobart Latin Mass for Quinquagesima

It being the first Sunday of the month, I drove down to Hobart for the 11.30 am Missa cantata, at which I assist as M.C. (though I'd rather be in the choir, as previously).  It does seem to help Father, but it nearly was the death of me: standing on the altar step at the Epistle side, pointing out the Postcommunion, I almost fell backwards... which at least gave some entertainment to alert members of the congregation.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Quinquagesima: The Parting of Friends

Not a few ministers of the Church of England will to-day officiate for the last time at an Anglican Eucharist, ere they keep a Lenten fast before entering full communion with the Church Catholic at Easter, and are then ordained Catholic priests at Pentecost, to live in and serve the nascent Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

This is a time for them to farewell friends: sadly, not all will follow nor understand their decision.  Back in Newman's day, the outraged Establishment greeted such news with talk of "Another Perversion!" (since in their eyes the less pejorative term "conversion" was insufficiently odious, as only a warped person would be entrapped by sinister Papists); to-day, talk of "disaffected... defectors" appears in the mass media.  Against prejudice, misunderstanding and the loss of friendship, they can only interpose Christian charity, loving and praying even for them that despitefully use them.

Most appropriately, then, we may turn to the what the Pope has dared to name the Anglican Patrimony worthy of being brought into the Church, and look to one of the Collects already used in Catholic liturgy for some decades by the American forerunners of the present Ordinariates; in the Book of Common Prayer, it is the Collect for Quinquagesima, "the Next Sunday before Lent" (strangely, in the Book of Divine Worship, it is moved to the 7th Sunday after Epiphany, but at least supplied with a longer doxology as below in square brackets), based upon the Epistle for that day, being St Paul's hymn to charity (I Corinthians xiii):

O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without charity are nothing worth: Send thy Holy Ghost and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee.  Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ's sake[, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever].  Amen.

Domine, qui nos docuisti, quod omnia opera nostra sine charitate nihil sunt: Mitte Spiritum Sanctum tuum, et infunde in corda nostra charitatem illam, eximium tuum donum, veram vinculum pacis et omnium virtutum, sine qua omnis vivens coram te est mortuus: Hoc largire propter unicum Filium tuum Jesum Christum.

The Latin is from Bright and Medd's standard translation of the B.C.P. (1865 edition).

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Elizabethan Prayers I and II

From the time of Elizabeth I comes "The Order Of Prayer upon Wednesdays and Fridays, to avert and turn God's wrath from us threatened by the late terrible earthquake, to be used in all Parish Churches" (Liturgical Services of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, 562-566) – a service appointed in consequence of the great earthquake that shook England and sundry lands around on the 6th of April 1580.  

I spare readers the immensely lengthy and rather over-enthusiastic prayer, but I do like the choice for the First Lesson of either Joel i or ii (or Isaias lviii), and in particular find the choice of proper psalms very apt: Psalms 30 (Vulg. 29), 46 (45), and 91 (90), which I append in the Prayerbook version (which is approved for Catholic use):

Psalm 30. Exaltabo te, Domine
I WILL magnify thee, O Lord, for thou hast set me up : and not made my foes to triumph over me.
2. O Lord my God, I cried unto thee : and thou hast healed me.
3. Thou, Lord, hast brought my soul out of hell : thou hast kept my life from them that go down to the pit.
4. Sing praises unto the Lord, O ye saints of his : and give thanks unto him for a remembrance of his holiness.
5. For his wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye, and in his pleasure is life : heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
6. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be removed : thou, Lord, of thy goodness hast made my hill so strong.
7. Thou didst turn thy face from me : and I was troubled.
8. Then cried I unto thee, O Lord : and gat me to my Lord right humbly.
9. What profit is there in my blood : when I go down to the pit?
10. Shall the dust give thanks unto thee : or shall it declare thy truth?
11. Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me : Lord, be thou my helper.
12. Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy : thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.
13. Therefore shall every good man sing of thy praise without ceasing : O my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Psalm 46. Deus noster refugium
GOD is our hope and strength : a very present help in trouble.
2. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved : and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea;
3. Though the waters thereof rage and swell : and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the same.
4. The rivers of the flood thereof shall make glad the city of God : the holy place of the tabernacle of the most Highest.
5. God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed : God shall help her, and that right early.
6. The heathen make much ado, and the kingdoms are moved : but God hath shewed his voice, and the earth shall melt away.
7. The Lord of hosts is with us : the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8. O come hither, and behold the works of the Lord : what destruction he hath brought upon the earth.
9. He maketh wars to cease in all the world : he breaketh the bow, and knappeth the spear in sunder, and burneth the chariots in the fire.
10. Be still then, and know that I am God : I will be exalted among the heathen, and I will be exalted in the earth.
11. The Lord of hosts is with us : the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 91. Qui habitat
WHOSO dwelleth under the defence of the most High : shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2. I will say unto the Lord, Thou art my hope, and my strong hold : my God, in him will I trust.
3. For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the hunter : and from the noisome pestilence.
4. He shall defend thee under his wings, and thou shalt be safe under his feathers : his faithfulness and truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5. Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night : nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6. For the pestilence that walketh in darkness : nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noon-day.
7. A thousand shall fall beside thee, and ten thousand at thy right hand : but it shall not come nigh thee.
8. Yea, with thine eyes shalt thou behold : and see the reward of the ungodly.
9. For thou, Lord, art my hope : thou hast set thine house of defence very high.
10. There shall no evil happen unto thee : neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee : to keep thee in all thy ways.
12. They shall bear thee in their hands : that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone.
13. Thou shalt go upon the lion and adder : the young lion and the dragon shalt thou tread under thy feet.
14. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him : I will set him up, because he hath known my Name.
15. He shall call upon me, and I will hear him : yea, I am with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and bring him to honour.
16. With long life will I satisfy him : and shew him my salvation.

From the reign of Elizabeth II, albeit from Italian sources, comes the following Collect in the modern Roman Missal, evidently a conflation of the old Collect and Secret for use in time of earthquake, with some additions made that supply the last two phrases:

Deus, qui fundásti terram super stabilitátem suam, parce metuéntibus, propitiáre supplícibus, ut, treméntis terrae perículis pénitus amótis, cleméntiam tuam iúgiter sentiámus, et, tua protectióne secúri, tibi serviámus gratánter. Per...

My unofficial translation:

O God, “Who didst establish the earth on firm foundations” (Ps 103:5a), spare those who are afraid, show Thy mercy to those who implore Thee, that, by wholly removing the perils of earthquake, we may evermore enjoy Thy mercy, and, kept safe by Thy protection, may we serve Thee with joy.  Through...

Unfortunately any mention of God's wrath was judged unacceptable to "modern man" (whoever he is) by the relevant cœtus, so they snipped and pasted the bits they liked to compile this pastiche prayer. At least it is vastly shorter than the Elizabethan prayer alluded to above.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Byzantine Liturgy and the Earthquake

On the 26th of October, the Holy Eastern Church keeps the memory of the Great Earthquake, which struck Constantinople in 740.  It must have been a terrible tremblor, as the Synaxarion of that day relates:

In the twenty fourth year of the reign of Leo the Isaurian, in the ninth Indiction, on the 26th of October, there was a great and terrible earthquake in Constantinople, so that the upper stories [of the palace?] and the more splendid of the other buildings collapsed and many people were buried under the ruins. And so on the day of the Great martyr Demetrius we commemorate that terrible threat of the earthquake, going in procession to the church in Blachernae of our all-pure, holy and glorious Lady, Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, where we celebrate the divine Liturgy. At her prayers may we be delivered from every threat and attain eternal good things, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and might to the ages of ages. Amen.

From the liturgy of the day come the following poetic texts (unfortunately my usually very reliable source does not give the Canon of the Earthquake):

When the earth was troubled in fear of your rage, hills and mountains were shaken, Lord; but having looked upon us with an eye of compassion, in your anger do not be enraged at us; but with compassion for the creation of your hands free us from the dread threat of earthquake, as you are good and love mankind.
Fearful are you, Lord, and who can stand against your just rage? Or who can entreat you, or who can supplicate you, good Lord, on behalf of a people that has sinned and is in despair? The heavenly armies, Angels, Principalities and Powers, Thrones, Dominions, the Cherubim and the Seraphim cry out to you on our behalf: Holy, Holy, Holy are you, O Lord; do not despise the works of your hands; through your compassionate mercy save a city endangered!
The Ninevites by their transgressions heard they would be submerged through the threat of earthquake; but by the mediating sign of the whale, repentance summoned resurrection through Jonas; but as you took pity and accepted them, at the cry of your people with the children and beasts, through your Resurrection on the third day spare us too who are being punished, and have mercy.
Because from your unendurable wrath that threatened us you have delivered us and had mercy on us, showing us, O Christ, an ocean of love for mankind, we now give you thanks, having been chastised so as to turn from our wicked deeds that slay us. But look upon us, have compassion on us, O Saviour, at the entreaties of the one who gave you birth.
Immaculate Virgin-Mother, do not cease to implore the Lord who was incarnate from your pure blood on behalf of us who are your servants, that we, the race of mortals, may find grace and prompt help in time of need, rescuing us from the threat of fearsome earthquake and from dangers by your mother’s prayers.

For the Divine Liturgy itself, the appointed readings seem to be:

The Epistle (Hebrews xii, 6-13 & 25-27)
For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth; and he scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  Persevere under discipline. God dealeth with you as with his sons; for what son is there, whom the father doth not correct?  But if you be without chastisement, whereof all are made partakers, then are you bastards, and not sons.  Moreover we have had fathers of our flesh, for instructors, and we reverenced them: shall we not much more obey the Father of spirits, and live?  And they indeed for a few days, according to their own pleasure, instructed us: but he, for our profit, that we might receive his sanctification.  Now all chastisement for the present indeed seemeth not to bring with it joy, but sorrow: but afterwards it will yield, to them that are exercised by it, the most peaceable fruit of justice.  Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight steps with your feet: that no one, halting, may go out of the way; but rather be healed.  See that you refuse him not that speaketh.  For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke upon the earth, much more shall not we, that turn away from him that speaketh to us from heaven.  Whose voice then moved the earth; but now he promiseth, saying: Yet once more, and I will move not only the earth, but heaven also.  And in that he saith, Yet once more, he signifieth the translation of the moveable things as made, that those things may remain which are immoveable.
The Gospel (St Matthew viii, 23-27)
And they came to him, and awaked him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish.  And Jesus saith to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith?  Then rising up he commanded the winds, and the sea, and there came a great calm.  But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?

These lessons, together with the doctrinally-rich texts from Vespers and Matins, supply much food for contemplation.