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Archive for March, 2018


atonement2

On the day of atonement the high priest of Israel received two young goats, and having slain one of them in the outer count, passed with its blood and with incense into the Holy of Holies, there to sprinkle the blood upon the mercy-seat. Having done this, he returned, and laying his hands upon the other goat confessed over it, “the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins;” and this goat was then sent away into the wilderness “to bear their sins into a land not inhabited.”

The first goat was a type of the Lord Jesus, offering Himself in death for our sins. The other was a figure of Him as the Lamb of God bearing and taking away the sins of the world; while as the high priest passed into the Holy of Holies there to sprinkle the blood before the mercy-seat. So we are taught He has passed with His own Blood into Heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us.

For in the Epistle for this week, we are taught that He is the High Priest of good things to come, whom the high priests of Israel in all their ministrations typified and prefigured.

While the high priest was thus ministering within the Holy of Holies, the people were mourning and praying without, and in like manner the acceptance of all our prayers and thanksgivings depends on the intercession of the eternal High Priest appearing for us in the presence of God in Heaven.

As He intercedes for me, so should I learn from His example to intercede in His name for others also. If previously I have not remembered this, let me learn in this Passion Week. In this week when the Church turns our thoughts towards Him, that I, too, am called as a member of His Body, the Church, to have a little share with Him in His work of intercession.

In church we can scarcely help recognizing this, because many of the prayers which are offered there are of this intercessory character; but I ought to make my private prayers to some extent intercessory also.

Prayer

O Lord Jesu Christ, grant me grace that in union with Thee I may in this also follow Thine example. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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leper

In the Epistle for this week, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ is contrasted with the sacrifices of the law of Moses. These, we are told, had an outward efficacy, sanctifying to the purifying of the flesh. The leper, for example, was cleansed from the ceremonial uncleanness which clung to him while he remained a leper, so that when the sacrificial blood had been sprinkled by the priest seven times upon him, and he had washed his clothes and fulfilled other obligations of the like kind, he was free to return again to his home, and to go up again to the courts of the house of the Lord.

The unhappy leper, as a type of the sinner, was treated as the impenitent sinner must be treated. He was bidden to depart from God’s presence, and from all communion with God’s people. The blood which restored him was typical also of the atoning and cleansing Blood of Christ.

But the leprosy was not in itself a moral but a physical disease, which resided in his flesh. The blood which restored him, therefore, sanctified only to the purifying of the flesh. On the other hand, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was the sacrifice of an obedient will, and for this and other reasons His Blood has a spiritual power, and purges the conscience of him who believes in Him from dead works.

But what are dead works? They are the works which issue in death, that is, they are sins, and from these the Blood of Christ cleanses the conscience of those who come to Him by faith and prayer. We may well ask, “Is it so with me?”

Of the great multitude whom St. John saw in the courts of Heaven it is said that they washed their robes, and (also) made them white in the Blood of the Lamb. They made their robes white, allowing no little spots of pride, or selfishness, or impurity, or ill-temper, or untruthfulness, to retain upon them and mar their beautiful whiteness. Such must be our aim also through prayer and perseverance “to wear the white flower of a blameless life.”

Prayer

O Holy Spirit of God, teach me, and lead me in the path of holiness, I beseech Thee. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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lamb

Again in the holy Gospel for this week, the Lord Jesus solemnly challenges His foes to find in Hun any fault if they could: “Which of you convinceth Me of sin.” To this challenge there was no reply, and never at any time did His bitterest enemies lay any moral fault to His charge. The most they could do was to attempt to fasten upon Him an accusation of a political nature, and to accuse Him of sedition. But this was obviously so untrue that Pilate refused to entertain it. “I find,” he said, “no fault in Him; no, nor yet Herod.” His only fault, even in the eyes of His accusers, was that He had claimed to be the Son of God and the Messiah of Israel.

It was necessary that the sacrifice for sin should be God, for if He were not God His sacrifice of Himself would not be a sacrifice of sufficient value to atone for the sins of all men. It was necessary that the sacrifice for sin should be man, for God cannot suffer and die. As it was man who had sinned, it was just that man should make atonement for sin.

It was necessary also that the man who would make this atonement should be a sinless man, for otherwise ho would have been among those who needed that that atonement should be made. Moreover, if the Lord Jesus had been guilty of sin, this would have contradicted the truth of His Godhead. So, we see, therefore, that it was necessary that He should be unstained by sin. “The wages of sin is death,” and if He had deserved to die for His own sin His death could not have been an atonement for the sins of oven one other man.

It may be thought that if He was thus sinless His temptation was unreal. On the contrary, this made His temptations so much the more painful to Him. The purer in heart any man may be, the more painful will temptation he to him. To the perfectly holy soul of the Lord Jesus all temptations to sin were more horrible and painful than they are to our sin-stained souls.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to be holy because Thou art the most Holy, and to follow Thee day by day. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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Church

In the holy Gospel for this week, the truth that our Lord and Saviour is God is plainly set forth. “Before Abraham was, I am.” There is with Him neither past nor future. The words “I am” express the truth of His eternal being.

Yet He laid aside His Divine glory, which He had with the Father before the world was, and humbled Himself to be made man, that He might be truly and perfectly both God and Man. As man He chose the last and the lowest place. His mother was a maiden of somewhat lowly station. He was born in the stable of an inn. He grew up as a carpenter at Nazareth. He had not anywhere to lay His head, and was among His disciples as he that serveth.

His will was not only to be tempted in all points like as we are, but also to know the fellowship of our infirmities, that He might feel the sorrows of all, and so be able to sympathize with all. His desire was to be poor that He might know by experience something of the grinding hardness of poverty. He was to labor with hard toil that, though sinless Himself, He might taste and bear the curse of sin which was partly expressed in the words, “In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread.”

He was young as many regular men, active, vigorous, and of high spirit, like myself. But He was without sin, “a Son that never did amiss,” brave and patient, but at the same time kind and gentle towards all, loving above all things the courts of His Father’s house.

Temptation assailed Him, but He conquered it. Sometimes it came from the great tempter himself, sometimes from the mistaken kindness of some dear friend, and sometimes from the cruel taunts of bitter foes. In spite of all, though He was sometimes weighed down and depressed by it all, He kept the straight path of obedience to the will of God. At last, when He had perfected His obedience in life He offered Himself in death a sacrifice for our sins.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, teach me truly to believe in Thee, that I may the better know Thy love, and so may the more heartily love and follow Thee all the days of my life. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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confession-drawing-01
On Passion Sunday the sense of mourning is intensified by the veiling of all crucifixes, devotional statues, and pictures–the Church is hiding her glory as she mourns the price of our salvation. The Stations of the Cross, however, remain uncovered; and well so, for throughout Lent, but more so as the Passion is approached, they are one of the chief forms of devotion both for corporate and for individual acts of worship.

During Passiontide, in Masses of the Season, the Glory be is not heard. The Preface of Lent is replaced by that of the Holy Cross which reminds us that the tree of Calvary repaired the damage caused by the tree of Eden: “Who by the tree of the Cross didst give salvation unto mankind; that whence death arose, thence life might rise again: and that he [i.e. the devil] who by a tree overcame, might also by a tree be overcome.”

The words of the daily Masses reflect the approach of the Passion, the Gospel on Saturday in Passion Week ending with the significant words “These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.” It is he who will regulate the pace of the drama. Tomorrow, but not before, he will go up to Jerusalem; on Friday, but not before, he will ascend the Cross.

Prayer

We beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.-Collect for Passion Sunday, 1928 Book of Common Prayer

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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armor

The means of grace of which I have been thinking during the last few days have been granted me because, as a soldier, I need them. How would St. Paul arm me for the fight?

First, he girds me with the truth, and as the girdle enabled the ancient soldier to be free and unimpeded in fighting; so, much depends also on the completeness of my belief in the truth of God, and on my being quite truthful.

Then, as it was of the first importance that the breastplate also should be sound, because it covered the part of the body upon which the most dangerous wounds might be inflicted. So I must arm myself with the righteousness of my Lord, and strive to be so obedient, that Satan may find no opening by means of which he may wound my soul. If the Christian soldier is at peace with God, himself, and his fellows, he will, like a well-shod soldier, be the better fitted and equipped for his warfare.

“Above all taking the shield of faith,” for faith in God, in the love and power of Jesus Christ our Lord, in the grace of the Holy Ghost in things unseen, and in the ultimate triumph of right and truth. It lifts him who feels it above the world, and enables him to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

Where there is faith there will also be hope. The hope of salvation in Christ is such a defence to the Christian as his helmet was to the soldier.

The only weapon is the Word of God, the sword which the Captain of our Salvation wielded so mightily in the wilderness. With it He repelled all Satan’s temptations with utterances from the Word of God. “Praying always,” adds St. Paul; not only night and morning, but everywhere. Such a soldier I am called to be.

Now “the royal banners forward go,” for the King is going forth to His last great conflict, which shall issue in the victory of the Resurrection, and in the triumph of the Ascension.

Prayer

O Lord Jesu Christ, draw me near unto Thee in the hours of Thy Passion, that I may learn of Thee how to attain to the victory. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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scott

It is vain for me to pray unless I am striving to do God’s will. If I am to do His will I must read His Word. It must be a lantern unto my feet and a light unto my paths. I need not read much at a time; but I should at least read a little regularly. Neither will it be much advantage if I read my Bible as a task, or merely as a duty, and do not try to see the meaning of what I read, and remember it, and think about it. Neither, of course, will it be any advantage, but the contrary, if I do not obey that which I learn from it. If I wish thus to read it I must pray for light and guidance. I must seek teaching and help from others, and be very unwilling to lean to my own understanding.

When we have learned the basics of the Christian Faith, that is, when we have learned to believe that in the one Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and when we have learned to believe in the Incarnation of the Son of God, that He is now both God and Man, and in His Cross and Passion, His Resurrection and Ascension, and in the coming of the Holy Ghost, we shall do well to read and ponder the teaching of our Lord and His apostles. We do this with the practical purpose of learning what we must do if we would not forfeit our part in this great salvation, but make our calling and election sure. (I Peter i.10)

It is a great privilege to have the opportunity of being taught in church, to know the Creeds, and to have a Bible which we may read at home. And the more familiar we are with the Holy Scriptures, the better we shall be able to follow, and to understand, the teaching we receive in church. If the lantern of God’s Word is to guide us we must walk in the light of it; if it is to be a light which shall keep us from stumbling, we must let the light shine upon our daily path.

Prayer

O God, who hast given us Thy Word to show us the way that we should walk in grant me grace, I beseech Thee, always to rule myself after Thy Word, that I may walk always in the path of obedience to Thy will, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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ChaliceSince the fall of man it has been impossible to enter into communion with God except on the basis of sacrifice. A sacrifice was not necessarily offered every time prayer was made. However, prayer and thanksgiving were offered in connection with the typical sacrifices of the patriarchs and of the law of Moses; as they are now offered in connection with the true sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom alone we can come unto the Father. Almost every prayer, therefore, concludes with the words “through Jesus Christ our Lord,” since we and our prayers can only be accepted in Him.

In the celebration of the Holy Communion. “He instituted, and in His holy Gospel commanded us to continue, a perpetual memory of His precious death,” whereby He offered Himself a sacrifice for our sins, “until His coming again.” “Do this,” He said, “in remembrance of Me.” Again, “Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

Thus He made the celebration of this great sacrament to be the memorial of His sacrifice of Himself once offered, that His Church on earth might, in union with Him, plead that sacrifice, even as Ho pleads it on our behalf before the Throne in Heaven. Hence the Collect, which is used at the celebration of the Holy Communion, is used in the Morning and Evening Prayer day by day, to link and unite all our prayers and thanksgivings to that Celebration.

Therefore, it is rightly called the Holy Communion, for in it we have communion with God; with the Father, who giveth us the true Bread from Heaven; and with the Son, whose Body and Blood are given to us to be our spiritual food and sustenance. In this way, we may dwell in Him and He in us and with the Holy Ghost, who is the Spirit that quickens us. Here we join with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven worshipping and adoring God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, whose peace and blessing. are bestowed upon us.

Prayer

O God, I beseech Thee to bless me, and to feed me with the Bread of Life, even the precious Body and Blood of Him through whom alone we have access to Thee, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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Catholic ChurchIs public worship dreary obligation or joyful obedience?

The obligation to worship God arises naturally from the relation in which we stand to Him. We have been created, redeemed, and regenerated by God, and therefore we naturally owe Him worship as well as obedience.

We are also members of Christ, and therefore children of God and also, inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. This relation in which we stand to God is a gift from God alone, and all these hopes are built on God. It is both natural and reasonable that we should offer unto God the homage of our grateful hearts.

When we are gathered together in His House of prayer for this purpose, He is present to receive this worship, and to grant His blessing. He was thus present in the tabernacle and in the temple of Israel.

In the bright, radiant glory which rested on the mercy-seat, between the cherubim, in the Holy of Holies, was the presence of God. None of the Israelites had seen it, except only the high priest, and he only on one day in each year; but they believed that it was there. They were glad, therefore, to go up to the house of the Lord.

In like manner the same Presence, though also invisible, has been promised to us, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” So that every church, whether it be mean and poor, or beautiful and stately in outward appearance, is to the earnest Christian “the House of God and the gate of Heaven.”

The value of public worship to us arises chiefly from this fact. But it is often forgotten, for if it were believed and remembered many would necessarily behave with more awe and reverence in church than they do. As they worship God the holy angels veil their faces.

But how is it with me? Am I glad to go up to the house of the Lord? When there, am I attentive and reverent because I believe that I am in God’s presence?

Prayer

O God, who art present everywhere, help me, I beseech Thee, by Thy Holy Spirit to worship Thee in spirit and in truth, and to draw near unto Thee at all times with reverence and godly fear, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From Lent for Busy People © 2017 Fr. Charles H. Nalls

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gregory

Today is the feast day of St. Gregory the Great of Rome.  Of his remarkable life, work, and witness, I will leave it to the reader to peruse the internet for factual or fictitious accounts.  Today, I will celebrate the saint by simply repeating an homily to which all clergy ought to pay serious and considered attention.  I have added any emphases that may show.

SERMON: ST. GREGORY THE GREAT ON THE PASTORAL OFFICE
Addressed to Bishops and Clergy assembled in Council at the Lateran Basilica, circa 591

Dearly beloved brethren, from none, in my opinion, does God receive such prejudice as from priests, when they who are set up for the reformation of others set an example of wickedness, and when we ourselves, who should correct the faults of others, are guilty of sin. And what is still worse, oftentimes priests, who ought to give what is their own in alms, take what belongs to others. Often times they deride such as live in humility and continence. Consider, then, what is the fate of the flock when the pastors become wolves.

For there are men who undertake the care of souls, and yet they are not afraid to lay snares for the flock of the Lord, which needs to be protected against them. We seek not the good of souls, we are intent on our own interests ; we covet earthly things, we strive to obtain the praise of men. And since our rank above others gives us greater liberty to act as we please, we make the ministry of blessing a means to further our ambition.

We abandon the interests of God, and give ourselves up to worldly business ; we occupy a position which is holy, and we entangle ourselves in the affairs of the world. Truly the words of Scripture are fulfilled in us, “There shall be like people, like priest” (Hosea 4:9). For the priest does not differ from the people when he does not surpass the people by the merits of his life.

Let us then make our own the lamentation of Jeremias; let us consider our state and say: “How is the gold become dim, the finest colour changed; the stones of the sanctuary are scattered in the top of every street?” (Lamentations 4:1). The gold is become dim, because the life of priests which formerly shone with the splendour of virtue has now become vile through the baseness of their actions. The finest colour is changed because the habit of sanctity, through the abject occupations of the world, is degraded and despised. The stones of the sanctuary were carefully guarded, and were worn by the High Priest only when he went into the Holy of Holies to appear before God in secret. We, dearly beloved brethren, are the stones of the sanctuary, and we should always remain in God’s sanctuary, and not be seen abroad, that is occupied with what does not concern our vocation. But the stones of the sanctuary are scattered at the top of every street, when those, who by their action and their prayer should ever abide within, live abroad by their vicious conduct.

For behold, at the present time there is hardly any kind of secular business in which priests do not take a part. Hence, as in spite of the sanctity of their state they are engaged in exterior things, it comes to pass that the stones of the sanctuary are scattered.
And as in Greek, the word, street, lateia, is derived from breadth; the stones of the sanctuary are in the streets when religious persons walk in the broad paths of the world. And they are scattered not merely in the streets, but at the top of the streets, because through covetousness they do the works of the world, and yet by their religious profession they seek to occupy the place of honour. They are scattered at the top of the streets, because while their occupations degrade them, they desire to be honoured for the sanctity of their profession.

You yourselves are witnesses of the wars which afflict the world, and the scourges by which the people perish every day. To what is this to be ascribed but to our sins? Lo! cities are devastated, fortresses are overthrown, churches and monasteries are destroyed, the fields are laid desolate. And we who ought to lead the people to life are the cause of their destruction. For through our fault many of the people have perished, because through our negligence we did not instruct them unto life.

What appellation should we give to the souls of men but the food of God, for they were created to be incorporated in His body? that is, to increase the Church which is eternal. Now we ought to be the seasoning of that food. For as I have already said, when He sent His preachers, He said to them, “You are the salt of the earth.” If, then, the people are God’s food, priests should be its seasoning. But as we have abandoned prayer and sacred learning, the salt has lost its savour, and cannot season God’s food, and therefore God does not partake of it; because, as we have lost our savour, it is not seasoned.

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