Good enoughÂ - You need not think it an ideal form of government, but if you look at it and conclude it is better than democracy and nearly anything else tried from time to time so far, why not advocate…
“Do-Overs,” “Fresh starts,” and “new years resolutions” are popular ideas in the USA. Who doesn’t want a fresh start or a chance to hit the re-set button? I know I do and in many ways, the church calendar does that for me. Especially Lent. Lent is a season of fasting and repentance that starts with the Ash Wednesday invocation of ashes and the accompanying statement “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.” We are dust and we need God; real bad. The 40 day journey allows us to take a step back from the trajectory of our life and asses where we need to adjust and how we can once again journey with Christ to the Cross, through the tomb and rise again on that glorious Easter morn with Him and His church. In short, Lent (and every church season) allows us to hit the re-set button of our lives.
I especially need that in my life this year; I need to repent and place my entire focus on Christ. This became very evident to me last week when I was struggling through a personal situation and I read the Book of Common Prayer collect for the week:
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The calling of God is to live in such a way that the only thing we fear is losing Christ and I was afraid of several things far removed from that. Time for a re-set: “remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.”
Two ways that I engage the season of Lent are 1) fasting and 2) creative expression. I limit what my body, soul, and spirit ingest for 40 days and I take the that time to pray or serve those in need as well as making space to visually create what God is teaching me about myself and my relation to Him. What both those practices do is SLOW ME DOWN. Only when we slow down can we hear the still small voice of God whispering that we are His Beloved and in us He is well pleased. Hearing that voice will take us to the cross, but the cross always leads to resurrection! Don’t let Lent pass you by. Hit the re-set button and come to a greater realization “that you are dust, and to dust you shall return; repent and believe the Gospel.”
In the comment section, talk about how you are engaging Lent 2014.
So far, the earliest known prayer to the Virgin Mary is known as “Beneath thy compassion” (Greek: Ὑπὸ τὴν σὴν εὐσπλαγχνίαν). The earliest text of this hymn was found in a Christmas liturgy of the third century. It is written in Greek and dates to approximately 250 A.D.
In 1917, the John Rylands Library in Manchester acquired a large panel of Egyptian papyrus including the 18 cm by 9.4 cm fragment shown at left, containing the text of this prayer in Greek.
C.H. Roberts published this document in 1938. His colleague E. Lobel, with whom he collaborated in editing the Oxyrhynchus papyri, basing his arguments on paleographic analysis, argued that the text could not possibly be older than the third century, and most probably was written between 250 and 300. This hymn thus precedes the “Hail Mary“ in Christian prayer by several centuries.
On the papyrus: .ΠΟ ΕΥCΠΑ ΚΑΤΑΦΕ ΘΕΟΤΟΚΕΤ ΙΚΕCΙΑCΜΗΠΑ ΕΙΔΗCΕΜΠΕΡΙCTAC AΛΛΕΚΚΙΝΔΥΝΟΥ …ΡΥCΑΙΗΜΑC MONH …HEΥΛΟΓ
In English: Beneath your compassion we take refuge, Theotokos! Our prayers, do not despise in necessities, but from danger deliver us, only pure, only blessed one.
Interestingly, the hymn calls Mary Theotokos (“she who gave birth to God”) two centuries before the Nestorian heresy arose. By the fourth century, the term was already popular in the area of Alexandria (St. Alexander of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, St. Serapion of Thmuis, Didymus the Blind), and also in Arabia (Titus of Bostra), in Palestine (Eusebius of Caesarea, St. Cyril of Jerusalem), Cappadocia (St. Basil of Caesarea, Gregory Nazianzen, Severian of Gabala.)
The term Theotokos may be encountered during the previous century as well in the work of the Alexandrian school. According to the testimony of the ecclesiastical historian Socrates (Hist. Eccl. VII, 32 – PG 67, 812 B), Origen used it in his commentary on the Epistle to the Romans. This commentary is unfortunately now lost, but Origen’s disciple, Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria, also used the term Theotokos around the year 250 in an extant epistle to Paul of Samosata. It is interesting to note that the term did not remain a mere theological concept, but was actively and popularly used in public services of prayer.
Of course this hymn is familiar to Orthodox Christians, who still sing it at the end of nearly every Vespers (evening prayer) service during the fasting season of Lent. It is also found prominently in the liturgies of the Oriental churches and in Roman Catholic worship.
Let me tell you about one of my favorite rooms on earth: the Abbey Gallery at the Boston Public Library, which is named for the murals of the life of Galahad by Edwin Austin Abbey, installed in 1895. To start, the room looks like this:
It’s kept empty so it can be used for functions (according to google images, there have been a number of weddings there!). Let’s look at the paintings!
1. The Vision
The child Galahad, the descendant, by his mother, of Joseph of Arimathea, is visited, among the nuns who bring him up, by a dove bearing a golden censer and an angel carrying the Grail, the presence of which operates as sustenance to the infant. From the hands of the holy women the predestined boy passes into those of the subtle Gurnemanz, who instructs him in the knowledge of the things of the world, and in the duties and functions of the ideal knight. But before leaving the nuns he has performed his nightly vigil has watched alone, till dawn, in the church.
2. The Oath of Knighthood
This ordeal of the vigil terminates in his departure. Clothed in red, he is girt for going forth, while the nuns bring to him Sir Lancelot, who fastens on one of his spurs, and Sir Bors, who attaches the other.