Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

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.


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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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.


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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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.


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.


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?


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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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.

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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When we pray, we speak to God. God has promised to hear when we speak to Him in prayer. This is wonderful and mysterious; but as there can be no fellowship between man and man if there be no communication with each other, so there can be no communion on the part of man with God if he does not pray.

Prayer is faith, and hope, and love, in action. If we believe in God, if we have any hope in His mercy and in His promises, and if we feel any love for God, we shall naturally pray to Him.

But how must I pray?

1. I must endeavour to realize that I am in God’s presence, and that I am speaking to Him.
2. I must pray in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, depending on His merits and intercession.
3. I must pray by the help of the Holy Ghost, who helpeth our infirmities when we pray. We are to pray lifting up our hearts to God, and teaching us what to pray for as we ought. I must pray for help that I may pray aright. I must pray for the Spirit, not only of grace, but of supplication also.
4. I must pray with all reverence and godly fear. “Before thou prayest, prepare thyself.”
5. Thanksgiving must also form a part of my prayer always. This is often all that we can do in return for any blessings that we have received, and it should never be forgotten. When Daniel prayed, he also gave thanks before his God.
6. My prayer must be real; not merely the repetition, perhaps hurriedly, of a form of words, but the expression of what I want. When we say the words our hearts must also go with them. Only, we must remember that we cannot always command our feelings, and that if we do our best that is all God asks. We must never leave off praying because we find it difficult to pray as earnestly as we would.


O Lord God, teach me to pray, I beseech Thee; and grant that Thy Holy Spirit may at all times help mine infirmities, both teaching me how to pray and what to pray for, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

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