Friday, May 28, 2010

Bless to Me O God

Bless to me, O God, 
the moon that is above me, 
bless to me, O God, 
the earth that is beneath me, 
bless to me, O God, 
my wife
and my children
and bless, O God, 
who have care of them.
                                            Bless to me
                                             my wife and my children, 
                                          and bless, O God, 
                                             who have care of them. 
                                             Bless, O God, the thing 
                                             on which my eye doth rest, 
                                             Bless, O God, the thing 
                                             on which my hope doth rest, 
                                             Bless, O God, my reason
                                             my purpose, 
                                             Bless, O bless Thou them, 
                                             God of life; 
                                             Bless, O God, 
                                             my reason and my purpose, 
                                             Bless, O Bless
                                            Thou them, 
                                            Thou, God of Life

reciter: Dugall MacAulay

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Venerable Bede (673-735)

The Death of Bede

Bede's life seems to have been one peaceful round of study and prayer passed in the midst of his own community of monks. How much he was loved by them is tenderly revealed by the touching account of the saint's last sickness and death left us by Saint Cuthbert, his contemporary and student.

On Tuesday 24th May 735 Bede took grievously ill but continued to teach. He cheerfully suggested to his pupils that they learn quickly as he may not be with them long. His students came as usual to read their lessons aloud to him at his bedside, but their reading was constantly interrupted by their tears. The next day Bede taught until nine in the morning, then he turned his attention to the gospel according to John. Forced by his illness to accept the help of a scribe, he was being assisted by a boy named Wilbert. As he felt his death approaching, 

Bede called Wilbert to his side and told him to write with all possible speed. Wilbert did not understand that he was trying to finish the translation that same day, and implored him to take breaks from the work because of his obvious weakness. "There is still a chapter wanting," said the boy as the day wore on; "had you not better rest for a while?" "Be quick with your writing," Bede answered, "for I shall not hold out much longer." The two worked side by side with urgency for the rest of the day. As so often happens, with saints as well as ordinary men and women, Bede managed to hold on to life just long enough to reach a milestone that meant a great deal to him.

As evening fell, Wilbert told his teacher that they were very close to completing the task. "There is still one sentence, dear master, which is not written down." Bede said, "Write it down quickly." After he finished Wilbert then said "There; now it is written down." Bede replied "Good. You have spoken the truth; it is finished. Take my head in thy hands for it much delights me to sit opposite any holy place where I used to pray, that so sitting I may call upon my Father." Then he said "I have a few treasures in my box. Run quickly and fetch the priests of our monastery, and I will share among them such little presents as God has given me." His "box of treasures" contained his only possessions -- some handkerchiefs, a few peppercorns and a small quantity of incense -- and these were shared amongst his brother monks as he had wished. Then Bede began to sing the Gloria in a broken voice, but only got as far as "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost" before he breathed his last and passed to his reward on Ascension Eve.

As illness and weakness came upon Bede at the end of his life, he became preoccupied with completing his translation of the fourth Gospel into English. Despite sleepless nights and days of weariness, he continued his task, making what speed he could, and taking great care in comparing the text and preserving its accuracy. "I don't want my boys," he said, "to read a lie or to work to no purpose after I am gone." His persistence in prayer and scholarship even at the end of his life was a powerful example of devotion to his disciples.

Folio 3v from Codex Beda Petersburgiensis 

graphic: The Death of Bede Detail of window in Whitburn parish church, Tyne and Wear, by Burlison and Grylls

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A W Tozer (April 12 1897-May 12 1963)

The last literary project of Tozer's, completed just before his death and published several months after, was THE CHRISTIAN BOOK OF MYSTICAL VERSE. This was a compilation of a wealth of mystic poetry that had warmed and blessed Tozer's heart throughout the years. In the introduction of that book he defined his meaning of the term mystic. "The word 'mystic' as it occurs in the title of this book refers to that personal spiritual experience common to the saints of Bible times and well known to multitudes of persons in the post?biblical era. I refer to the evangelical mystic who has been brought by the gospel into intimate fellowship with the Godhead. His theology is no less and no more than is taught in the Christian Scriptures. He walks the high road of truth where walked of old prophets and apostles, and where down the centuries walked martyrs, reformers, Puritans, evangelists and missionaries of the cross. He differs from the ordinary orthodox Christian only because he experiences his faith down in the depths of his sentient being while the other does not. He exists in a world of spiritual reality. He is quietly, deeply, and sometimes almost ecstatically aware of the Presence God in his own nature and in the world around him. His religious experience is something elemental, as old as time and the creation. It is immediate acquaintance with God by union with the Eternal Son. It is to know that which passes knowledge." ( THE CHRISTIAN BOOK OF MYSTICAL VERSE, Christian Publications, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania).

I first encountered this book over 30 years ago and it has been a constant bedside companion ever since.

A rich collection of poems and hymns. Among the voices Tozer has chosen to inlist on this mystic journey are Isaac Watts, Frederick William Faber, Christina Rossetti, John and Charles Wesley, Paul Gerhardt, Gerhard Tersteegen,Jeanne Marie Guyon, and Thomas More. You'll find that The poems have been organized into devotional topics based on subject.

                        * Adoration of the Godhead
                              * Devotional Meditations on the Cross of Christ
                              * Penitential Reflections on Our Sins
                              * Rejoicing in Forgiveness and Justification
                              * Yearning for Purity of Heart
                              * Aspirations After God
                              * Delighting in God’s Presence
                              * The Raptures of Divine Love
                              * The Rest of Faith
                              * The Spiritual Warfare
                              * Victory Through Praise
                              * The Prayer of Quiet
                              * The Bliss of Communion
                              * Joyous Anticipation of Christ’s Return
                              * Immortality and the World to Come

St Brendan (484 – 577)

The Prayer of St Brendan

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home?

Shall I turn my back on my native land, and turn my face towards the sea?

Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without fame, without honour?

Shall I throw myself wholly upon You, without sword and shield, without food and drink, without a bed to lie on?

Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under Your yoke?

Shall I pour out my heart to You, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks?

Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land?

Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict?

Shall I take my tiny boat across the wide sparkling ocean? O King of the Glorious Heaven,

Shall I go of my own choice upon the sea?

O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Beltane (3)

Morning Has Broken
Morning has broken
Like the first morning,
Black bird has spoken
Like the first bird.
Praise the singing!
Praise for the morning!
Praise for them springing
Fresh from the Word!

Sweet the rain's new fall
Sunlit from heaven,
Like the first dewfall
On the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness
Of the wet garden,
Sprung in completeness
Where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight!
Mine is the morning.
Born of the one light
Eden saw play!
Praise with elation,
Praise ev'ry morning,
God's recreation
Of the newday!

                 Words: Eleanor Farjeon