Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Getting ready for His coming

During Advent we read the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of God's Messiah. We also hear New Testament prophecies of the return of Jesus at the end of these "last days" to wind up human history. In each case, the burden of Scripture is the greatness of Him who is coming, and our need to be properly prepared.

Of course, this is the same Jesus who comes to us in Holy Communion - and St Paul tells us in his first Letter to the Corinthians how important it is that we don't take this particular coming of the Lord for granted. He urges us to "examine" ourselves before turning up to Mass.

There is no more striking a prayer of preparation for Holy Communion than this one by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626):

O Lord, I am not worthy,
I am not fit,
that thou shouldest come under the roof of my soul;
for it is all desolate and ruined;
nor hast thou in me fitting place to lay thy head.

But, as thou didst vouchsafe to lie
in the cavern and manger of brute cattle,
as thou didst not disdain to be entertained
in the house of Simon the leper;
as thou didst not disdain that harlot,
like me, who was a sinner,
coming to thee: and touching thee;
nor the thief upon the cross confessing thee:
So me too the ruined, wretched, and excessive sinner,
deign to receive the touch and partaking
of the immaculate, supernatural,
life giving, and saving mysteries
of thy all-holy Body and thy precious Blood.

Listen, O Lord, our God, from thy holy habitation,
and from the glorious throne of thy kingdom,
and come to sanctify us.
Thou who sittest on high with the Father,
and art present with us here invisibly;
come thou to sanctify the gifts which lie before thee,
and those in whose behalf, and by whom,
and the things for which, they are brought near thee.
And grant to us communion, unto faith, without shame,
love without dissimulation,
fulfilment of thy commandments,
alacrity for every spiritual fruit;
hindrance of all adversity,
healing of soul and body;
t we too, with all saints,
who have been well-pleasing to thee from the beginning,
may become partakers of thy incorrupt and everlasting goods,
which thou hast prepared, O Lord, for them that love thee;
in whom thou art glorified for ever and ever.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world,
take away the sin of me, the utter sinner. Amen.

This picture shows the distribution of Holy Communion in November 2005, just four months after the formation of the Patmos House Community. In those days our Sunday Mass was celebrated in Cheer's Tavern, Spring Hill! (In the background is the Rt Rev'd Maternus Kapinga, Bishop of Ruvuma in the Anglican Province of Tanzania, who ministered to us that weekend.)


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