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Skete

Chapel at St. Simeon’s Skete

 

As many of you know, I spent just over a week in May on spiritual retreat at St. Simeon’s Skete in Taylorsville, Kentucky. The Skete is home to Grace Church and the Nazareth House Apostolate. With St. Simeon, the God receiver, as patron and with Grace Church, the Skete seeks to practice the ideals found in our Rule, The Thousand Day Nazareth. In simplicity and poverty, the Skete embraces the struggle of the inner life through the practice of the Prayer Rope.

As noted from its website (http://www.nazarethhouseap.org/) , the Skete’s “parent” NHA, began long before the establishment of the Skete and was forged in a worn-torn Sierra Leone. The humanitarian work in that nation became a center of energy, expenditures and focus. The humanitarian aid work that was accomplished was an outpouring of the prayer life and ministry of Grace Church merged with NHA and its supporters. The work of Nazareth House in Sierra Leone and throughout the world is prayer – linking man and God in all situations – be it need, turmoil, healing, grief, joy, glory or thanksgiving. The NHA prayer ministry-praying the Light of the Name into the darkness-has lead to some amazing results and many miracles.

The path has always remained the same. The soul of the apostolate lies less in the belief that they have something to contribute but in the simple willingness to be used by God. Their goal has always been to establish houses of prayer, quiet unassuming homes of prayer, infiltrating the darkness silently and unassumingly whether in a village hut in Africa, an Adobe in the desert, an apartment in Chicago or in the Skete. As these resident forces pray, the outcome of their prayer is shown as Christ grows in their lives-Christ working as the leaven in the dough.

Certainly, that is my own experience over days spent in prayer, fellowship, and pilgrimage along the northern and southern Rosary trails they have established with visits to shrines, rural parish churches, abbeys and arch-abbeys, and an inspiring community-built holy site known as Our Lady of Valley Hill. The pilgrimage, particularly at Valley Hill, was trans-denominational, yet always Catholic and rooted in the ancient traditions of the church. This allowed for a spiritual “refresher”, if you will; and extensive writing and other work long delayed in the daily bustle of parochial ministry.

In addition to taking on retreatants, the regular work of the allied parish Grace Church, publishing, and the other ministries, the Skete sends a daily meditation on the 1928 Lectionary passages, along with the appointed Psalms and readings for the day. Apart from great inspirational readings and photographs, these e-mails enable those of us weary of “prayer book juggling” as we say Morning and Evening Prayer to print out the readings and have them at hand. It is, as they say, better and more convenient than sliced bread, and helps avoid distraction.

You can receive this resource by getting on their e-mail routing. Before doing so, I encourage you to make a contribution great or small to the Skete. The links to do all of this are below.  You will be very glad that you did.

Blessings,

Canon Nalls

The direct PayPal link to benefit the Skete

paypal.me/NazHouseGrace

And here is the email address to join the group daily readings and greetings.
vicki@nazarethhouseap.org

or, for both in one place, go to

http://www.nazarethhouseap.org

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stations-of-the-cross
Jesus was condemned by the Jewish council. He was and given up by Pilate first to be scourged, and then to be crucified. Today He hung upon the cross, His head crowned with thorns, His hands and feet nailed, His failing eyes dimmed with blood, His parching throat raging with thirst.

As yet He has not spoken, except one cry which, with eyes lifted up to heaven, He uttered when, with a harsh shock, the cross had been fixed in its place, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

His Mother and the disciple whom He loved stand below, together with St. Mary Magdalene, but at the word of Jesus that disciple took Mary unto his own home, returning, however, himself to Calvary. The elders around the cross are mocking and taunting Him: not sparing even His dying pains, and the thieves join with them therein. But the prayer and the patience of Jesus have their effect on one of them, and he is enraptured with the promise that that very day he shall be with his Saviour in the rest of Paradise.

Darkness has been gathering around, startling the watchers and the crowd, and now from the midst of that darkness bursts suddenly forth a great and exceeding bitter cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Peace, however, to some degree returns, and He asks for water. Then comes the first cry of victory achieved, “It is finished.” Then comes the exclamation of perfect peace, “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.”

He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.+

A soldier pierced His side, and the fountain was opened for sin and for uncleanness.

Prayer

Wash me, O my Savior, in Thine own blood, and as Thou didst lay down Thy life to redeem me from all iniquity, help me now to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts, that, overcoming by Thy grace all temptations. I may follow Thee in Thy path of obedience; so that my life may be blessed, and my death may be peaceful, and I may hereafter reign with Theo in the glory to which Thou art now restored, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, art blessed and glorified, one God, world without end Amen.

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

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Communion Cup
When the day opened the Lord Jesus was still in retirement, probably at Bethany, with His disciples. but soon St. Peter and St. John were sent to make ready in the borrowed guest-chamber for Him and them against His coming in the evening. This upper room became the holiest place in the holy city.

In the evening He there washed His disciples’ feet, assuring St. Peter that to be washed by Him was necessary for them. Then followed the institution of the Holy Communion, “Take, eat, this is My Body; Drink ye all of this, for this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many of the remission of sins.” To them the promise was fulfilled, “He that eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, dwelleth in Me and I in him.” He spoke to them also words of most affectionate consolation, and gave the promise of the Comforter; and then followed the Hymn, the Intercession, the going forth over the brook Kedron.

Beyond this brook was the Garden of Gethsemane, and toward that place, as often before, He now journeyed. Taking the chosen three, He left them within the Garden, and passed on about a stone’s throw alone. His soul, He had told them, was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; and He begged them to watch with Him.

The prince of this world was coming, and it was the hour of the power of darkness. The struggle with the natural, and therefore innocent, weakness of the flesh, and with Satan, who made use of it to turn Him from His purpose, then began but while He could add to His prayer, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done,” He was unconquered, and was still true to Himself, and obedient to the Father’s purpose and will.

Again and again He returned to His friends to seek sympathy from them, but they were sleeping for sorrow. At length the weary struggle was over, the offering of Himself in will had been made, and He was ready for the cross with all its injustice, cruelty, and shame.

Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, help me like Thyself to choose always the path of duty and of right, however bard it may be, that I may glorify Thy Name. Amen.

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

 

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Tuesday in Holy Week

A leave-taking has generally something of sadness about it; but more so if anyone has from pure love and affectionate interest been striving for the good of others. However, if they have persistently rejected his endeavors and scornfully refused his aid, the sorrow with which he parts from them in their misguided blindness, will be great indeed. Such was the sorrow which the Lord Jesus felt. We hear that “He departed and did hide Himself from them.”

First, however, He spoke to them solemnly and plainly of their hypocrisy, hardness of heart, selfishness, and spiritual pride. He pronounced woe again and again upon the scribes and Pharisees on account of these faults.

His burning words passed at length into tones of the most tender compassion. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He exclaimed, “how often would I have gathered thy children together, and ye would not.” He would have gathered them, and they would not be gathered. Even now He pursues with tender entreaties and solemn warnings: “Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Then, He turned sadly away and departed. He had still much teaching for His disciples, but as regards the people His ministry of teaching was now over. He would have gathered them, but they would not be gathered.

A day will come when, if I have never sought Him, He will thus turn away from me also. I may be as they were, moral, respectable, and outwardly religious. Yet, He turned away from them, and He may turn away from me. He turned away from them because their religion did not consist in the love of God and of man. He turned away because they were incapable of faith and moral earnestness. Finally, He turned away because they had the form of godliness only, and while they cared much for the praise of men they thought little of the glory of God.

Prayer

Draw me, O Lord Jesu Christ, that I may seek Thee with my whole heart, and fill me with truth and love, I beseech Thee. Amen.

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

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MondayThe barren fig-tree on which our Lord passed sentence to-day was typical of the Jewish people, and, besides them, on the many who profess themselves His disciples now. True, the time was not the season of the year in which figs might most naturally be expected to be on a fig-tree. But this being so, why did it have leaves?

The leaves were enough to create an expectation that at least some of the winter figs might be still hanging upon the tree. The tree, however, produced nothing but leaves, plenty of them, but no fruit. No fruit, therefore, was it permitted to yield henceforth and for evermore.

Now, the fig-tree did no harm, but then, again, it did no good. It did not produce any fruit, either hurtful or useful. It was perhaps, to some slight extent, an ornament to the landscape, but it was of no practical use. The hungry looked to it in vain.

How is it with us? We have some means, time, abilities-what fruit are they bearing? Any or none? Are there any who are made happier or better by our respective endeavors? Let each of us think, am I like the barren fig-tree?

Among the parables which our Lord spoke on this day in the temple, the first is of husbandmen to whom had been committed a vineyard, but who used all the fruits of it for themselves. The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel. If that is the case, the individuals of that house were such also, or at least part of the one vineyard.

Again we each face pointed questions. What am I doing with my little part of the vineyard, that is, myself? Am I bringing forth fruit unto God? What is such fruit? The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Are these the fruits of my life? Am I like these husband-men, ready to cast the only Son out of His own vineyard, that is, out of my heart, that I may keep all for myself, my own indulgence and gratification? It is written of those husbandmen, “He will miserably destroy those wicked men,” and the sentence was executed on Israel. Let each of us keep that firmly in mind.

Prayer

O God the Holy Ghost, be Thou my guide and helper, I beseech Thee, that through Thy grace I may bring forth good fruit abundantly, and so glorify Thy Name. Amen.

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

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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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