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Fourth Sunday in Lent - 2014

The Fourth Sunday in Lent.
Psalm 46
Deus noster refugium
GOD is our hope and strength : a very present help in trouble.
2. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved : and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea;
3. Though the waters thereof rage and swell : and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the same.
4. The rivers of the flood thereof shall make glad the city of God : the holy place of the tabernacle of the most Highest.
5. God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed : God shall help her, and that right early.
6. The heathen make much ado, and the kingdoms are moved : but God hath shewed his voice, and the earth shall melt away.
7. The Lord of hosts is with us : the God of Jacob is our refuge.
8. O come hither, and behold the works of the Lord : what destruction he hath brought upon the earth.
9. He maketh wars to cease in all the world : he breaketh the bow, and knappeth the spear in sunder, and burneth the chariots in the fire.
10. Be still then, and know that I am God : I will be exalted among the heathen, and I will be exalted in the earth.
11. The Lord of hosts is with us : the God of Jacob is our refuge.

The Collect.
GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

{The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.}

Old Testament Reading: Ezekiel 39.21-29
Psalter: Psalm 142, 143 | 119.105-144
Epistle Reading: Galatians 4.21-31
Gospel Reading: St. John 6.1-14

Toon: “The Collect begins by recognizing that before God's court we all stand condemned as those who both break his commandments and fail to obey them; thus in our consciences we know that we deserve his punishment ( as the Covenant of the Law clearly states). But it does not stop there. It prays that by the comfort of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be relieved or refreshed (here we hear the invitation - "Come unto me all that travail...").

This is a perfect Collect for mid-Lent if we have been taking Lent seriously and are much aware of our sins though self-examination and penitence.

The modern transformation of this day in Great Britain into the celebration of human motherhood, as Mother's Day [or Mothers' Day], has occurred in the Church because Lent is not being taken seriously!
When Lent is taken seriously then this Sunday is a day when the Church encamps in a green pasture to be relieved, refreshed and fed by the Lord Jesus Christ so that we may serve his Father not only in the rest of Lent, on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, but also in Easter power and grace unto our life's end.
Below is a 17th century description of a Lent taken seriously.

"To Keep A True Lent" by Robert Herrick (1647)
Is this a fast, to keep The larder lean, And clean, From fat of veals and sheep?
Is it to quit the dish Of flesh, yet still To fill The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour, Or ragged to go, Or show A downcast look, and sour?
No; 'tis a fast to dole Thy sheaf of wheat And meat Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife, From old debate, And hate; To circumcise thy life;
To show a heart grief-rent; To starve thy sin, Not bin, And that's to keep thy Lent” (


Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - 25 March

Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – 25 March
Psalm 131
Domine, non est
LORD, I am not high-minded : I have no proud looks.
2. I do not exercise myself in great matters : which are too high for me.
3. But I refrain my soul, and keep it low, like as a child that is weaned from his mother : yea, my soul is even as a weaned child.
4. O Israel, trust in the Lord : from this time forth for evermore.

The Collect
We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 7.10-15
Psalter: Psalm 8, 113 | 111, 138
Epistle Reading: [Hebrews 2.5-18]
Gospel Reading: St. Luke 1.26-38

Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr.: “The liturgical observance of the Feast of the Annunciation cannot be traced earlier than the seventh century, though as early as the third century March 25th had been determined as the date of the Annunciation by Christian Chronographers. ( . . . ) Cranmer took this Collect from the post-communion Collect of the Latin Mass for this day, which passed from the Gregorian Sacramentary into the Sarum Missal. It is admirably chosen because it links the theme of the Christmas cycle feasts, to whiuch the Annunciation belongs, to the themes of Passiontide and Easter, the seasons when Annunciation so commonly occurs” (“The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary,” 235-6).


Third Sunday in Lent - 2014

The Third Sunday in Lent.
Psalm 43
Judica me, Deus
GIVE sentence with me, O God, and defend my cause against the ungodly people : O deliver me from the deceitful and wicked man.
2. For thou art the God of my strength, why hast thou put me from thee : and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresseth me?
3. O send out thy light and thy truth, that they may lead me : and bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy dwelling.
4. And that I may go unto the altar of God, even unto the God of my joy and gladness : and upon the harp I will give thanks unto thee, O God, my God.
5. Why art thou so heavy, O my soul : and why art thou so disquieted within me?
6. O put thy trust in God : for I will yet give him thanks, which is the help of my countenance, and my God.

The Collect.
WE beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

{The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.}

Old Testament Reading: Deuteronomy 6
Psalter: Psalm 56, 58 | 119.73-104
Epistle Reading: Ephesians 5.1-14
Gospel Reading: St. Luke 11.14-28

Toon: “The verb, "to beseech", is more appropriate than the verb, "to ask", when addressing Almighty God, our Creator and Judge, because it presents us as his loyal subjects and servants. After all he is the King of all kings and Head of all presidents and we speak in this prayer of "thy Majesty".

Before praying this prayer we need to be spiritually prepared to address God. We call ourselves "thy humble servants" and humility is not a normal characteristic of our souls. It comes after due self-examination and penitence before God. Further "hearty desires" (praying with earnestness, fervour and sincerity) only arise when we are bowed before God in the right spirit.

The petition is for the omnipotent Lord God to defend us against all our enemies. While this always has reference to some human enemies, it also covers the spiritual enemies (Satan and his assistants - Ephesians 6:12) who seek to damage our covenantal relation of grace with God the Father through Jesus Christ. "The right hand of thy Majesty" echoes various petitions in the Psalter (see Psalm 138:7 & 74:10-11); but, it also refers to the One who is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is One with the Father; and it is, of course, in the Name of this same Jesus that we pray, for he is our Mediator before God the Father Almighty.

Let us in Lent celebrate the power of God to bring us into his kingdom of grace and save us from our enemies. "Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power; thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemyƖThou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them" (Exodus 15:6,12). As this Collect is fulfilled in us we shall walk in love (Ephesians 5: 1-14) and we shall be preserved from Satan and Beelzebul (Luke 11:14-28)” (


Second Sunday in Lent - 2014

The Second Sunday in Lent.
Psalm 130
De profundis
OUT of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord : Lord, hear my voice.
2. O let thine ears consider well : the voice of my complaint.
3. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss : O Lord, who may abide it?
4. For there is mercy with thee : therefore shalt thou be feared.
5. I look for the Lord; my soul doth wait for him : in his word is my trust.
6. My soul fleeth unto the Lord : before the morning watch, I say, before the morning watch.
7. O Israel, trust in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy : and with him is plenteous redemption.
8. And he shall redeem Israel : from all his sins.

The Collect.
ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

{The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.}

Old Testament Reading: 1 Kings 8.37-43
Psalter: Psalm 6, 38 | 119.33-72
Epistle Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4.1-8
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 15.21-28

Toon: “If there is one time in the Church Year when we ought to feel the need to exercise faith and to pray fervently in faith -- as the Gospel illustrates - it is Lent. If there is one period of the Church Year when we should hear clearly the word of the Epistle - God's will is your sanctification - it is also Lent.

The usual tendency in our prayers is to ask God to help us, to aid us, to assist us and to strengthen us. All well and good, but sometimes hidden in such verbal requests is the general idea that we can do so much for ourselves and we only need God to come along and give us the extra push, to top up our strength. But in this prayer we begin by recognizing as we meditate before almighty God our Father, who is the Omnipotent One, that in fact we need more than a push and a topping up: we need his help, power, grace and strength completely and wholly. For we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves in the real battles of life against adversaries much stronger than we are.

Therefore, from the position of total dependency upon God's gracious power we ask the Father in the name of his well beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that in body and soul we may be daily preserved and protected from all forms of evil and sin. We cannot predict as each day begins what bad things can and will happen to our body, from accident, disease, carelessness, or the evil will of others. Further, and significantly, we cannot predict what can and will happen to our soul - our mind, emotions and will - as it is open to testing and temptation. Evil thoughts, desires and imaginations can be generated within our souls by all kinds of stimuli, by the world and the devil.

This prayer of wholehearted submission to the Almighty Father is entirely suitable for LENT as we engage in self-examination, fast inwardly and outwardly in union with our blessed Lord (who himself fasted forty days and forty nights) and look forward to the Victory of Christ at Easter over the world, the flesh and the devil in which, by union with him, we share. In fact, like the Canaanite woman in the Gospel we need to be so intent of being united to Jesus that he can say to us what he said to her: "O woman, great is thy faith!"” (

From the Eastern Orthodox tradition a prayer for the Lenten season:

“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me
the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of
chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see
my own transgressions,
and not to judge my brother,
for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen”


Ember Days (Lent) - 2014

The Collect.

O ALMIGHTY God, who hast committed to the hands of men the ministry of reconciliation; We humbly beseech thee, by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, to put it into the hearts of many to offer themselves for this ministry; that thereby mankind may be drawn to thy blessed kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


The First Sunday in Lent - 2014

The First Sunday in Lent.

Psalm 32
eati, quorum
BLESSED is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven : and whose sin is covered.
2. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth no sin : and in whose spirit there is no guile.
3. For while I held my tongue : my bones consumed away through my daily complaining.
4. For thy hand is heavy upon me day and night : and my moisture is like the drought in summer.
5. I will acknowledge my sin unto thee : and mine unrighteousness have I not hid.
6. I said, I will confess my sins unto the Lord : and so thou forgavest the wickedness of my sin.
7. For this shall every one that is godly make his prayer unto thee, in a time when thou mayest be found : but in the great water-floods they shall not come nigh him.
8. Thou art a place to hide me in, thou shalt preserve me from trouble : thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.
9. I will inform thee, and teach thee in the way wherein thou shalt go : and I will guide thee with mine eyes.
10. Be ye not like to horse and mule, which have no understanding : whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle. lest they fall upon thee.
11. Great plagues remain for the ungodly : but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord, mercy embraceth him on every side.
12. Be glad, O ye righteous, and rejoice in the Lord : and be joyful, all ye that are true of heart.

The Collect.
O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

{The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.}

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 58.1-14
Psalter: Psalm 51, 54 | 119.1-32
Epistle Reading: 2 Corinthians 6.1-10
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 4.1-11

Toon: “This is one of three Collects in the BCP of 1662 addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ instead of to his Father. The others are for Advent III and St. Stephen's Day. The reason why this Collect is addressed to Jesus is because of the desire at the beginning of Lent to identify with him in his forty days & nights fast and by the Father's grace to reap the spiritual benefits of union with him.

It was composed for the first Book of the Common Prayer of 1549 and replaced one, addressed to the Father, that had been used in the medieval Church. This Latin prayer in the judgment of Archbishop Cranmer put too much emphasis upon the value before God as a good work of fasting. As translated it is: "O God, who purifiest thy Church by the yearly observance of the Lenten fast: Grant unto thy household, that it may follow out in good works those holy inspirations which it endeavours to obtain from thee by abstinence. Through Jesus Christ our Lord."

So the new prayer does not lessen the obligation to fasting but identifies fasting with the Lord Jesus (the Gospel for the Day describes his fasting) who as the New Man, the Second Adam, fasted in body by abstinence from food and drink, and in soul, by his bearing our sins. In our Lord there was no sin and since fasting is the expression of penitence, humiliation and mourning, his fasting was not for himself. He fasted for us both in his identification with man as a sinner before God, his Father, and also as providing an example of godliness to man.

Perhaps the petition in this Collect is inspired by Romans 8:13. "If ye live after the flesh [as your natural bodily desires and affections propose] ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit (by his presence, power and guidance) do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." By the discipline of fasting in Lent, which is offered in love to the Lord Jesus as a service unto him, we place ourselves in the position where the Holy Spirit is able to help us mortify, or put to death, the worldly, fleshly desires of our human nature and body, and in their place follow the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost, thereby enabling us to obey Christ's teaching. In all this Christ is our Strength and our Example.

The Collect ends with an ascription of praise and glory to the Holy Trinity for the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Incarnate Son, is the Second Person thereof.

On this Sunday and during the week the Church continues to pray the Collect for Ash Wednesday” (


The First Day of Lent - 2014

The First day of Lent,
Commonly called Ash-Wednesday.
Psalm 6
Domine, ne in furore
O LORD, rebuke me not in thine indignation : neither chasten me in thy displeasure.
2. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak : O Lord, heal me, for my bones are vexed.
3. My soul also is sore troubled : but, Lord, how long wilt thou punish me?
4. Turn thee, O Lord, and deliver my soul : O save me for thy mercy’s sake.
5. For in death no man remembereth thee : and who will give thee thanks in the pit?
6. I am weary of my groaning; every night wash I my bed : and water my couch with my tears.
7. My beauty is gone for very trouble : and worn away because of all mine enemies.
8. Away from me, all ye that work vanity : for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.
9. The Lord hath heard my petition : the Lord will receive my prayer.
10. All mine enemies shall be confounded, and sore vexed : they shall be turned back, and put to shame suddenly.
The Collect.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
{This Collect is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.}

Old Testament Reading: Joel 2.12-17
Psalter: Psalm 51
Gospel Reading: St. Matthew 6.16-21

Toon: “Since we pray this Collect morning and evening for over 40 days - for we use it on the Sundays of Lent, as well as the 40 days of Lent - we really need to be clear as to its meaning.

To get to this meaning, I think that we should be clear that for the reformed Catholic mindset of the English Reformation, fasting/abstinence was seen as having two aspects, the outward and the inward. Even as the two Gospel Sacraments are outward and visible signs of an inward and invisible grace, so fasting (though not a sacrament) has both the outward and the inward dimensions.

The Collect takes for granted that the devout people of God are actually fasting during the 40 days (by fasting is meant either reducing significantly their intake of food or else not eating from dawn to dusk, or from dawn to after evening prayer). This fact is not immediately obvious to the person who merely has The Book of Common Prayer (1662) before him, but in the context of the sixteenth century it was generally known and acknowledged that good Christian people fast in Lent. Today, without the context of a Christian country providing us with the information, we rely upon the parish priest to instruct us in this duty of uniting with our Lord in his 40 day fast.

Therefore, what we have in the Collect is a petition to God the Father to assist us in performing the good work of fasting and specifically of engaging in the inward fast, without which the outward fast cannot be a good work in God's sight.

The Collect begins with remembrance of particular aspects of the nature and character of God the Father ---"who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent." Thus as we open in prayer we celebrate the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as our Creator and the God of mercy and forgiveness.

Then we come to the petition based upon what we know of the nature and character of God: "Create and make in us new and contrite hearts that we worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ..."

The inward aspect of fasting is the mortification of sin - through careful and devout self-examination and humble confession - and on this basis the creation or making of a new heart (that is a cleansed and renewed heart wherein are godly principles).

Now while the outward aspect of fasting can be done in our own strength and will power (and can therefore lead to weight loss, better cholesterol readings, lower blood pressure and so on) the inward aspect, though intimately related to our desiring, is dependent upon the activity of the Holy Ghost in our souls to energize and to make worthy before God our mortification and vivification.

The Christian soul desires above all else "perfect remission and forgiveness" of his sins and to gain this from the God of all mercy through Christ the Lord he must worthily offer to God a humble penitent and obedient heart; and he only can do so when he is being led by the Holy Ghost.

So in order to engage in inward fasting the saying of this Collect -- or a prayer like it - is absolutely necessary for the people of God to offer to the LORD.

"Worthily" is a word that "Protestants" tend to avoid, but here it emphasizes that our self-examination, our sense of guilt for sins, our sorrow for sins, our penitence for sins and our looking unto the Lord for relief must be in the name and for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ to be counted worthy before his Father. Thus our dependence on the presence and grace of the Holy Ghost to bring that worthiness into our offering of this good work of fasting to the Lord our God.

Let us pray it in sincerity and with understanding and as part of a practical commitment to the keeping of Lent as a duty unto the Lord” (

Here is the Litany.  
And here is the Penitential Office.