Monday, October 15, 2007

Common Cause Partnership: On praying for its maturing in Faith, Hope and Charity

Those who follow the traditional Anglican discipline and who use the Daily Office(s) for worship, praise, thanksgiving, confession, petition, intercession and meditation pray the pray below daily (which I have here rendered into “contemporary English”). In the light of the facts that (a) Common Cause Partnership has an excess of Bishops (that is, in relation to the total number of lay members and the current need in the U.S.A.), and (b) that in the USA, since the secessions from TEC in the 1970s, men in this Office have found it difficult—for a variety of reasons— to work harmoniously together, I suggest that this ancient prayer be offered to the Throne of Grace daily with the specific intention of praying for the maturing in unity and godliness of the varying groups within the CCP. Unless this happens the reasonable prospects of CCP becoming a real Province are nil.

A Prayer for the Clergy and People

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom comes every good and perfect gift; Send down your Holy Spirit and grace on our Bishops, other Clergy, and on the congregations which they serve; and, that they may truly please you, pour upon them the refreshing dew of your blessing. Grant this, we pray, Lord God, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

This Prayer is taken from the ancient Latin Sacramentary of Gelasius (circa 500) and is found in most of not all of the old English Primers from the late medieval and Reformation period. It was placed at the end of the first English Litany (composed by Archbishop Cranmer) in 1544. In BCP 1662 it comes at the end of Morning Prayer, and the American and Canadian edition of BCP follow this arrangement. This rich background gives to the Prayer a real sense of being a true prayer of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and thus using it, with the intention of praying for the CCP, connects the latter with the rich tradition of Ecclesia Anglicana as well.

The initial relative clause, “from whom comes every good and perfect gift,” in the American and Canadian BCP is from James 1:17 and it replaces that clause in the original Latin and rendering of Cranmer, still found in BCP 1662, “who alone workest great marvels,” which recalls Psalm 136:4 (“to him alone who does great wonders”).

What is clear is that without the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, the Episcopate, the Presbyterate, the Diaconate and the Shared Ministry of all the Laity in the whole Church are but religious persons and forces—and religion as such belongs to man in his “natural” state and does not save. They all need, that is the whole Church needs, and cannot do without, the Holy Spirit with his unction, gifts, graces and virtues.

The beautiful comparison of the descending Grace and the natural refreshing dew recalls O.T. usage – see Deuteronomy 33:28, Psalm 133:3 & Hosea 14:5.

To summarize: The churches affiliated to CCP, and at this juncture especially their bishops, need both the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the descending heavenly Dew from the Throne of Grace!

October 15, 2007

The Revd Dr Peter Toon
President of the Prayer Book Society 2007

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