Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category


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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Bread and fish

Loaves of bread and two fishes in a basket.

In the Gospel for this week we read of the miracle which our Blessed Lord wrought when He fed the hungry and fainting people who had gathered round Him with the five loaves and two fishes. As is usually the case He made use of the labor and the offerings of one of them, that by means of these He might relieve and bless them all.

In this case it was a lad who was thus highly honored. He had taken the trouble to bring these loaves and fishes with him, but he could hardly have done so merely for his own sake. Indeed, if he had been thinking of himself only he would scarcely have provided so much food.

Might not I, like that lad, spare a little of my pocket money for the relief of the poor, and for the work of the Church both at home and abroad? Isn’t it fair to ask whether there none whom I can teach, or encourage, or comfort? At least, may I not strive, by my influence and example, to help others who are younger than myself?

Perhaps I think cannot do much. The lad who brought the loaves and fishes did not do much, and most likely could not have done much. His loaves and fishes were but few, and the loaves were only barley loaves. But he did what he could; and, if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that any one hath, and not according to that he hath not. We must not, like the servant in our Lord’s parable, to whom only one talent had been committed, suppose that, because our means and opportunity of doing good are small we need not, therefore, attempt to do anything at all.

In our Lord’s own description of the Day of Judgment the only reason alleged why those who are bidden to enter, as the blessed of His Father, into His everlasting kingdom receive that invitation is that they had been kind to their fellows for His sake. The only reason alleged why those on the left hand are bidden to depart into the everlasting fire is that they had done nothing for any except themselves.


O Lord Jesu Christ, help me to be obedient to Thy commandment, that I may be the means of doing good to others in this life, and so may rejoice with them in Thine everlasting glory hereafter. Amen.

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

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The Fourth Sunday is roughly the mid-point of Lent, and the Church has always thought that we might need a bit of cheer just about now. So the austerity of the season and the purple of penance give way, for just this one Sunday, to the “rose” color.

The Fourth Sunday is also Mothering Sunday—English Mothers’ Day—a day of family visits and baking simnel cakes to take to mom, suggested a just a bit by the Epistle lesson about those two Old Testament mothers, Sarah and Hagar, who represent our two mothers, the Jerusalem that is and the heavenly Jerusalem that is to come.

Another name for today is Refreshment Sunday, and the reference is not to the simnel cake, but to the Gospel story of the feeding of the five thousand. C. S. Lewis calls this of the feeding of the five thousand with the bread and the fishes a miracle of the old creation. Jesus used natural objects-bread and fish-to feed a mixed crowd of believers and unbelievers in a supernatural use of the things of the natural world.


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.

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

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Charity is not merely almsgiving, but loving-kindness in general. It brightens the gloom of life, and sweetens its cares. It is a blessing to those who feel and exercise it, and a blessing to those to whom it is shown. It makes those happy who are the objects of it, and thrice happy does it make those who by means of it render others happy. It is the bond of perfectness, according to St. Paul; (Col. iii. 14) and again he speaks of it as greater than hope, greater even than faith. For it makes men like unto God, and so qualifies them for admission to His presence, and for communion with Himself for evermore. As selfishness is the root of all sin, so charity is the crown of all goodness.

We all value most highly that which is more especially characteristic of ourselves. A strong man is apt to set a high value on strength. A clever man is likely to value especially intellectual ability. Those who are wealthy or of high rank think that these are of the greatest consequence. In like manner, charity is especially pleasing unto God, because God is love.

In the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ it was not the more suffering that was pleasing unto God the Father, but the love stronger than agony and death which those sufferings disclose. When He sees the charity which makes us more and more like unto Himself growing within us, then we too are well-pleasing unto Him in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Whence does this gift of charity come? It is the special grace of the Holy Ghost. It is the first-fruit of His work within us. It must be prayed for, and strengthened by exercise. It must also be tempered by discretion, and exercised wisely. The brightness, the comfort, the happiness, which by means of this “kind good humour” each one, even the youngest, may shed around him cannot be estimated. “Little children, love one another.”


O Lord Jean Christ, who halt taught us to love one another, even as we are loved by Thee; grant me, I beseech Thee, this grace of charity, that having lived in love here on earth I may be fitted for Thy kingdom, where love alone endures, there to reign with Thee, world without end. Amen.

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

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O beware my lord of jealousy (Negative image)
Jealousy is cruel as the grave; and envy again is a form of sin which is alike foolish and wrong. Envy is foolish, for the envious cannot be really happy; and wrong, for we ourselves cannot but condemn it as such. Sins such as these have their root and starting-point in pride.

No one will be jealous of another who is more highly praised than himself, or who receives more notice and attention than himself, unless he is proud, and expects everyone to admire and praise him alone. Again, no one will be envious of the greater prosperity or greater success of another, unless he is vain enough to think that no one deserves prosperity or success so much as himself.

Jealousy and envy involve, in fact, a feeling of complaint against Divine Providence. The jealous and the envious alike fly in the face of God, and find fault with His Divine government of the world.

Both these sins are apt to grow and give birth to sins greater, perhaps, than themselves. No true follower of our Lord Jesus Christ can allow either of these sins to have a place within him long. For the principle of our Lord’s life was one which especially contradicted such faults as these. He was meek and lowly in heart, and He took the form of a servant, although He is the Creator and Lord of all.

Happiness depends upon what we are in ourselves rather than upon what we have in our possession, or upon what station in life we occupy. But for the jealous there is little rest; for the envious there is little peace.

Both are of necessity restlessly anxious lest others should take precedence of themselves, either in place or in the estimation of others. He, therefore, who is wise will endeavour by God’s grace to keep himself free from jealousy and envy. The path of obedience to the will of God is always the way of peace and joy.


O Lord Jesu Christ, who didst humble Thyself for our salvation, and that Thou mightest by Thine example lead us in the way of peace; grant me grace that I may follow in Thy footsteps, and be a partaker of Thy joy, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost art blessed and glorified for ever and ever. Amen.

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

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