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Posts Tagged ‘Catholic’

O gracious God, we thank you this day for the gift of family and friends, many of whom are now departed. In your mercy O Lord, grant them eternal peace in your kingdom, according to their faith and service to you. While in their mortal bodies, they were flawed, yet loved dearly, and even to this day we remember their spirits. Have mercy O Lord, upon our loved ones who have tasted death, for through your beloved son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, the grave shall not prevail. Therefore, holding steadfast to your eternal covenant, we proclaim our faith in the resurrection of the dead, and life in the world which is to come. Amen.

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For over two thousand years, the universal Church of Jesus Christ has focused itself upon the principal act of Holy Communion. The Eucharist, as it is also known, is the central act of worship for the historic Church. By its very practice, the people of god are edified and made to remember the redeeming passion of our Lord. Without he Eucharist, we deny ourselves the very salvific body and blood of Christ Jesus. Therefore it should be made proper to observe the feast of our Lord on a regular basis, and the Eucharist should always be the foundation of regular Christian worship.

Upon this foundation must be laid the works of the people, to be bricks which are built upon each other to become a habitation place for the Lord our God. A holy temple, built of prayer and worship, that the sacrifices of the saints may be holy and acceptable unto the Lord. The God of our fathers has deemed us worthy to be called his children. Let us therefore offer up to him sacrifices of praise and mercy, that may billow up to the heavens like clouds of incense, aided by the great heavenly host.

In personal practice, and communal, praise and prayer should be offered to God continuously. When there is doubt or uncertainty, feel free to borrow from the rich stores of Christian history, and Scripture. Ancient hymns of praise and despair can be found in the Psalms. Many Christians throughout the ages have relied upon the Psalms when prayer was required, but many Christians have also found it useful to use other prepared prayers as well. It is comforting to be a part of the holy Church, a communion of saints, who have prayed the same prayers in different tongues throughout the ages. An unbroken succession of worship to our Lord and God.

Not to be neglected is a continuous pattern of confession of guilt. As humans we are not perfect, for if we were to be perfect, a need for Christ Jesus would not exist. Therefore we should continuously examine ourselves in our day to day lives and practices, that we may be holy and blameless in the sight of the Lord. However, when there is sin present, it must be acknowledged and confessed before God and man. This is so that the Church may be one in Christ, and that all sins are forgiven before partaking in Holy Communion. For the Scriptures are clear that all must be at peace with each other, and if someone begrudges another yet still partakes of the Holy Supper, they bring damnation upon themselves.

It is proper also, that all members of the body of Christ be baptized for the remission of sins. The water washes away the sins from the body, as repentance washes away the sins from the soul. It is of no coincidence that in the Scriptures those who profess faith in Christ are immediately baptized. For one must be baptized to be born again. It is a sign of the new Covenant of God with his people. To refuse baptism is to refuse the blessings of the people of God. One cannot belong to the Church, if they have not been baptized.

Those who have been baptized into the Church, are also like young children in need of guidance. They are new to the faith, and can be easily misled by false teachers. It is then the duty of the Church to instruct the newly baptized in sound doctrine, that when trials and temptations rear their ugly heads, they may be combated. This more than anything else is pivotal to the continuance of the Church. Without this teaching, the souls of the masses are forfeit. In this way we seek to guard against the attacks of all evil forces, that the truth of Christ might prevail. But this can only occur if we guard up our spiritual children in the whole armor of God, teaching them discernment and truth, and that which has been believed at all times by the Church universal.

There is one other integral part of the Christian life which must be examined: acts of mercy. As we are called “Christians”, it is important that we act in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus. Time and time again, the Gospel of Christ prioritizes the poor, infirm, and oppressed. Therefore it is not only proper, but necessary, that the body of Christ put forth physical action to evidence their faith. Not only should we pray for those who are at a disadvantage, but we should also help them physically when we see the need. By this we may preach Christ not only by our words, but by our actions as well.

It is in my opinion then, that all of these in conjunction with the exposition of the Scriptures on a regular basis should form the regular worship practices of the Church. This is how the Church universal has behaved for the past two millenia, and I see no reason that it should be reformed in this regard or changed. To do so I believe, would be detrimental to the fabric of the Church. In particular, I believe this to be why so many churches in America are failing. They have forsaken many of the essentials of the life of  the Church, which has led to spiritually immature and vulnerable members.

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I have shared more than a few personal stories, and have tried to somehow relate them to a Gospel message that might be encouraging or insightful.  Sometimes I have tried to make them humorous, but others are simply just facts of life where I have failed or struggled with the God to whom all hearts are open. I guess you can consider the stories confessions of sorts.

Who knows? But what I do know is that one of the things that drives all of these stories – is my inaction. Places where I have failed God by my inability to act upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My most painful experiences as a Christian, are those times in which I did not put physical form to the love of Jesus Christ.

Sure, I have faith. Having faith for me is usually the easy part. I have experienced too many supernatural things for me to so easily discount the ability of God to exist. And logically, throughout all of my searching and wandering, I have yet to find a more compelling case than that of Jesus of Nazareth. Not only as evidenced in the Scriptures, but in my own life as well.

The problem with faith however, is that it is useless all alone. It can no more save a man’s soul, than raise the dead. Faith requires a body to enact it. Every time in the New Testament, when Jesus heals someone, he always says that it is their faith that has made them whole. The thing is, he always requires a physical action to prove that faith.

In James, it is written that we must be doers of the word, and not only hearers. Those who only hear the word, are like people who look in a mirror. They look at themselves, and turn away, only to forget what they are like. But those who study the perfect law, the law of Christ, and put it into practice, those people will be blessed. (James 1)

James continues this in chapter two, where he admonishes those who believe that faith alone will save them. For even the demons believe in God. But faith must be accompanied by action. Who are we to disagree? Time and time again, it is proven that a person of true faith will act out on his faith. They will abide by the Lord’s commands: love God, and love thy neighbor.

How can we love our neighbor if we do not show them our love? If I never speak to my neighbor, can I truly be loving him? How will I show my love if I never offer to mow his yard? Or the widow across the street, how will she know my love for her if I never offer to fix her mailbox that has been smashed by renegade kids?

The Scriptures say that they will know we are Christians by our actions. For a healthy tree bears forth good fruit. But inaction is the sign of a tree that is dying from within. It is the fig tree that the Lord curses and which withers away.

According to Ezekiel, the sin of Sodom was that she was full of pride, and had plenty of food. She was prosperous, but did not aid the poor and the needy. Because of this they were haughty, and did horrible deeds. Inaction is just as sinful as physically committing evil deeds.

The Book of Common Prayer portrays this beautifully in the Confession of Sin: “Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone…” it adds, “We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves…” It recognizes that the two go hand in hand.

Faith without works is not only useless, it is dangerous. For it leads to arrogance and pride. Self-righteousness leads to Pharisaism. It wasn’t the faith that the Pharisees had that he opposed – it was the way they approached faith. Their faith did not care for the poor and the oppressed. It had no action behind it.

God does not wish sacrifices of blood and flesh, but sacrifices of justice and mercy. How can we offer those sacrifices if we do not choose to act on our faith? The faith that teaches us to not only love God, but to love our neighbors as ourselves?

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Litany of the Broken

Officiant: Let us approach the throne of God with humility and solemnity, asking Him to grant us our petitions by His grace and love.

O Great God of Heaven, have mercy upon us;
And hear our pleas.

We are but sinners approaching a Holy God;
Have mercy upon us.

Yet here we intercede for the broken among us;
For those who are in distress.

We ask that your Holy Spirit give comfort to those who are grieving;
For blessed are those who mourn.

We pray for those who suffer from loneliness;
For you are with us always.

We pray for those who have been alienated from your Church;
For you would leave the ninety-nine for the one.

We pray for those whose marriages have ended with divorce or annulment;
For your love knows no bounds.

We pray for those who have been victims of abuse and persecution;
For justice flows from your throne like streams of living water.

We pray for those who have been afflicted with illnesses of the body;
For you are the Great Physician.

We pray for those who suffer from addiction;
For you are the God who has delivered us out of Egypt.

We pray for those who suffer from mental diseases;
For you O Lord, are our peace.

We pray for the poor and the oppressed;
For the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

We pray for those who struggle with belief;
For blessed are the poor in spirit.

We pray for ourselves, and all others;
For we have strayed away from You, and the road is dark.

Allow that we may partake in your Divine Nature;
For you have granted us fruit from the Tree of Life.

Grant these petitions O Lord as you see fit, in accordance with your Holy Word. We ask these things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen.

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