Sunday, October 25, 2015

Collect for the twenty-first Sunday after Trinity

Prayer book of 1662
GRANT, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace, that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This collect is used in place of the absolution when a layperson leads the Office and it is clear why this is so. In order to repent of our sins, we must first know that we have sinned and then it must trouble us. We cannot repent of our actions if it does not cause us grief that we did them in the first place. That grief can be perfect in that we grieve for offending God, or it can be imperfect if we fear the consequences of our actions. Nonetheless, if we are not troubled by our sins then we are simply not repenting properly.

We pray this collect for the complete removal of our sin so that our minds can be still again and focus on the task of living a life of service to God's will. The Devil will often trouble us by bringing up past sins, sins that we regret having done, of which we have confessed, and from which we are making amendment of life - that is what it means to repent. This is one of the Devils wicked tricks against the people of God. Yes, repentance is a life-long activity and it is with God's grace that we do repent beyond just an intention. However, God has promised that repenting of our sins and living a new life in Christ Who has opened the gateway from imprisonment to sin will bring us to Eternal life with Him.

Thus, we also pray this prayer when we are troubled by past sins so that remembering them spurs us on towards God and His mercy. The Devil may say that our sin is still with us, yet we know that we are dead to sin in Christ and live to God. That sin is still with us, but only with our corpse, not with our risen selves. We should take courage when the Devil torments us with the past. If we are truly repenting, then it shows that we really do care what God thinks and, further, makes His love for us ever more real.

Power versus Authority: the real battle

Sermon prached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Feast of Christ the King 2015

These notes are a reconstruction and amplification of what I said on Sunday. At the moment, I am having to speak more ex tempore rather than scripting my sermons as I usually do. We'll see how this goes. Please do feel free to comment.

The Bible contains many wondrous creatures both physical and spiritual. Of the spiritual beings both  St Thomas Aquinas and the writer formerly known as Dionysius point to nine orders of angels such as seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, powers, virtues, principalities, archangels, and angels. We're probably most familiar with the angels, archangels and the cherubim and seraphim, but what of the others? What of the powers and dominions?


When we think of powers in a spiritual sense, we often find ourselves thinking of the Powers of Darkness. The Greek and Latin words used here are subtly different in meaning. The Latin word has the sense of force and can imply coercion, the Greek has the sense of authority. Do power and authority mean the same thing?


No. The point is subtle but they are different. Just because someone has the power to do something, does not mean that they have the authority to do it. We have the power to pick up a bag of sweets, or light a match, or to fire a gun. We can do these things - we have the power to do them. However, we do not have the authority to pick up a bag of sweets when it means we're intending to leave without paying. We do not have the authority to light a match when we intend to burn someone's house down. We do not have the authority to fire a gun at someone whom we intend to kill unlawfully.

Notice that it is the lawfulness of an action that gives it authority. Authority possesses power held legally.They have a right in themselves which is the sense of the Greek word. Authority recognises the right of the author over what has been created. Despite the outcry of her readers, J.K. Rowling has every right to kill off Dumbledore without criticism. This is why God has supreme authority as He is the author of all Creation.

. As human beings can and do create our own laws for living, they only have authority if we consent to them. If we do not consent then the rest of society may coerce us through the power of numbers, yet they cannot change the level of our consent.

The Powers of Darkness only have authority over us if we believe that they do and if they do, then they possess laws in themselves. The powers of darkness draw authority from the simple act of being against God and it is while we turn from God that we are indeed subject to darkness as an authority. We pay our dues to darkness for as long as we recognise the false authority which is not God. The Law of Satan is anything that leads to misery, pain and death, all these were paid to him by Our Lord so that we should not be bound any longer to the power of Darkness. Through the death of Christ, the Powers of Darkness have no authority over us. We can be forced to do things by powers stronger than us, but those powers have no claim on anyone who accepts the true authority of Christ.


Christ is King by authority from God in His inheritance as the Son, by human law through His lineage from King David, and by our loyalty to Him through His ransom on the Cross. The task that we face is always looking for what has His authority in our lives and what has not. Through the Divine Will, we have free-will. We can choose freely who is to be king of our lives, but we must accept the consequences of that choice in full. In Christ our King do we find the power to live lives governed by light and not by the powers of darkness. That makes us pretty powerful ourselves!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Holy uncertainty!

There seems to be nothing more despised in modern Western Society as being certain or convicted in your belief. As soon as you say that you believe in God, and then go on to defend that belief, you tend to get labelled as a bigot or fundamentalist. Of course, it's interesting how certain people can be that you actually are a bigot or fundamentalist, but that's not really my concern here.

If I say that I believe that homosexuals cannot receive the sacrament of Holy Matrimony and then support my argument, all well and good. The trouble is that, in so doing, I necessarily show why I believe that the opposite view is false and therefore go against the opinion of many in Society. Andrew Brown of The Guardian says that being a loud orthodox member of the Roman Catholic Church is why many are leaving, and that this orthodoxy is corrosive. He says that no church is immune.
The Church of England has its own version of this argument, which goes back to the unbelieving Bishop of Durham, a figure of legendary horror to evangelicals. This man, identified by historians as the Right Rev David Jenkins, was widely supposed to believe nothing at all of traditional Christianity, despite being the fifth most senior bishop in the hierarchy. He certainly did not believe in the virgin birth, nor in the bodily resurrection. Neither, of course, do most churchgoers. It was an article of faith among conservatives, though, that churchgoers required a bishop who would believe all the things they could not themselves suppose were true, and he was succeeded by a succession of men of unimpeachable orthodoxy. Under their stewardship, church attendance in the diocese declined by 36% in 20 years. Andrew Brown.
The first thing that I would say to this is that the Church of England (as far as I know) still holds the Catholic Creeds. If anyone in the CofE from the Archbishop of Canterbury up to the person in the pew says these creeds and denies the virgin birth or bodily resurrection, then they are either paying lip-service in the liturgy or they are crossing their fingers, or they are on autopilot and not engaging with what they are saying. In each case, there is  a question of the quality of their honesty and sincerity. Now the person in the pew is often regarded (somewhat patronizingly by the clergy) as the least theologically educated. That is not true, and many members of the laity have thought sincerely about their theology. They do have a Christian duty to inform their conscience and to play some part in teaching the Christian Faith to their families, especially when it comes to instructing the ignorant about the Christian Faith. Clergy have a vocation to teach the Christian Faith.

For deacons, the promises run as follows
IT appertaineth to the Office of a Deacon, in the Church where he shall be appointed to serve, to assist the Priest in Divine Service, and specially when he ministereth the holy Communion, and to help him in the distribution thereof; and to read Holy Scriptures and Homilies in the Church; and to instruct the youth in the Catechism; in the absence of the Priest to baptize infants; and to preach, if he be admitted thereto by the Bishop.

WILL you apply all your diligence to frame and fashion your own lives, and the lives of your families, according to the Doctrine of Christ; and to make both yourselves and them, as much as in you lieth, wholesome examples of the flock of Christ. (BCP of 1662)
For priests and priests:
WILL you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God's Word; and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within your Cures, as need shall require, and occasion shall be given? (BCP of 1662)
In Common Worship, we read that for deacons and priests:
Archdeacon: They have duly taken the oath of allegiance to the Sovereign and the oath of canonical obedience to the Bishop. They have affirmed and declared their belief in 'the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness'. (Common Worship)
For bishops, the affirmation in Common Worship reads:
I, AB, do so affirm, and accordingly declare my belief in the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness; and in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use only the forms of service which are authorized or allowed by Canon.
It is clear that Clergy in the Church of England both past and present are expected to say the creeds and believe in what they contain. This includes the virgin birth ("born of the Virgin Mary")  and bodily resurrection ("the Resurrection of the Body"). It's sad to say that if Bishop David Jenkins really meant what he said when he denied these doctrines, then he could only have been a heretic in need of instruction. My point is this: if you say that you believe something, then actually believe it. Don't be dishonest with yourself, or with the community to which you're bound to believe it. Of course, we're all hypocrites and heretics in some way or other, and it takes the grace of God to convince us of that. We just have to allow Him to correct us, accept His correction and work at living our belief in Him more sincerely.

Of course, it isn't your personal belief that puts other people's back up, it's when "you try and force your beliefs on them." What does this mean?

Well, I have just said that, if you claim to be a member of the clergy, then you must believe what the Church says that it teaches. I believe what the Church teaches, therefore I have just made a statement about something I believe that you must also believe. Likewise, I do not believe in the marriage of homosexuals in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony primarily because the Catholic Church teaches that two folk of the same sex cannot enter into a sacramental union. If I say that, and you claim to be a member of the Catholic Church, then again, I am saying that you must believe the same. Is it a true coercion?

Likewise, the Law says that a woman is a man, yet when that "man" falls pregnant (as is his/her right) I cannot take seriously the law's statement. In that sense, the Law has forced the beliefs of the lawmakers on me in that, if I press the case that this man is actually a woman, I can be found liable under the Law. Likewise, if I fail to recognise lawful civil union as being marriage then, as is being shown in the courts, I become a transgressor of the Law.

What Andrew Brown seems to want is for Christians to become much less certain about their beliefs so as to function better in Society. Uncertainty for many these days, builds a little give into the system, a little slack into everyday life whereby one can say one thing, but not really mean it. That way one can say "I am a devout Catholic" and "I believe in Gay Marriage" without too much cognitive dissonance. The trouble is that this undermines the very Truth the the Lord Jesus would have us speak.

We hear Him speak to the Church of Laodicia:
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write ; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest * , I am rich, and increased with goods , and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich ; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed , and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear ; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see . As many as I love , I rebuke and chasten : be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold , I stand at the door, and knock : if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame , and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Apocalypse iii.14-end)
We are not meant to compromise on our beliefs, not one jot. We are to take up our cross and follow Christ by living the faith that He gives us. It is painful and hard, but it is not a faith of "trolls" deliberately provoking folk in order to produce a negative reaction and then cry "Persecution!" This is a faith of confronting injustice and hatred caused by the Devil in our midst. Rather than seeing Man as the Devil, we need eyes to see the Devil walking about seeking whom he might devour. We can only do this when we know what God and Evil truly are. The doctrine of Uncertainty prevents the clarity of sight and thus enables diabolical agents to do diabolical things undisturbed.

Often we look at what politicians do and think them evil or wicked for doing so. The equality of marriage between same-sex couples with that of opposite sex couples is rooted in am idea of justice whereby, in legal terms, one can ensure provision for a life-partner in the event of death, or make end-of-life decisions, et c. There is a nobility there, a care for the fact that there are people out there who have a genuine love for someone of the same sex and have made some form of life-long commitment to that someone. What we cannot do is enter into that relationship and understand it in the same terms as the couple. The only thing that the Church can do is offer up for sanctification that which it knows can be sanctified and pass over that which cannot,.trusting that God will know what is truly sanctifiable.

The Church indeed has a lot of uncertainty built into it, and necessarily so. We can be certain that, following the Catholic Faith, Christ is really present in the Host. We can be certain that the Catholic Creeds present truth and that this truth can neither be infallibly be proved true or false by human means. We can be certain that when we repent of our sins from the heart, we will be forgiven by God. However, the Church cannot see into the human mind and know the state of a person's soul - that can only be revealed by consent in the Sacrament of Confession. The Church cannot know what God knows, but must be faithful to what she has received.

St Paul writes to St Titus in chapters 2 and 3.
In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed , having no evil thing to say of you... 
Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates , to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived , serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared , Not by works of righteousness which we have done , but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This gives the Church the pattern about how to be certain in the Faith she has received, but how to conduct herself in a secular society which may not hold those beliefs. We must remember that we are only as moral as any other human being. We possess a certainty of our Salvation which rests on the conviction that we have in the Faith. We have to acknowledge our uncertainty about things we cannot know, that are not revealed to us by God, and not pretend that we know them. We certainly have to acknowledge uncertainty but if we truly believe, then we have to love what we believe wholeheartedly and accept the limitations it puts on us. Limitation is the essence of Religion and it is a wonderful thing to live within one's limitations if we actually accept them.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Collect for the twentieth Sunday after Trinity

Latin Collect
OMNIPOTENS et misericors Deus, universa nobis adversantia propitiatus exclude, ut mente et corpore pariter expediti, quæ tua sunt, liberis mentibus exsequamur, Per Christum Dominum nostrum . . . Amen.

[My Translation:Almighty and Merciful God, mercifully shut out from us all things that are turned against us, that with mind and body equally prepared, we may perform those things which are Thine with free minds. Through... ]

Prayer book of 1549
ALMIGHTIE and merciful God, of thy bountiful goodnes, kepe us from all thynges that maye hurte us; that we, beyng ready bothe in body and soule, maye with free heartes accomplishe those thynges that thou wouldest have doen; Through Jesus Christ our Lorde.

Prayer book of 1662
O ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, of thy bountiful goodness keep us, we beseech thee, from all things that may hurt us; that we, being ready both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Latin and the collect of 1549 emphasise the freedom of our minds to choose to do the will of God. For us to be able to make that choice we need God to show us that choice, and this means Him cutting through the various sounds, sights and sensations that bombard us every day. The Devil likes to throw all that He can at us so that we might be turned away from God.

Yet the mercy and the grace of God is always within us, we just have to be prepared to see them. This means having faith in God and allowing that faith to grow and prepare our hearts and minds to see whatever is right, noble, true and loving. If our hearts are free to choose God then we find good cheer at our liberation by God and live lives more fully Christ-like.

Look at Luke

Sermon preached at the parish of Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on St Luke’s day 2015

Science and religion are always presented to us as being in a battle to the death. Some would say that, because we’re in a scientific age, there is no place for God – Science explains Him away. It seems that you’re not allowed to believe in God and be a scientist.
Yet that is exactly who St Luke is.


Tradition has it that St Luke is a doctor, a physician charged with healing the sick. His science is not the same as our science. He does not have access to the medical knowledge that we have, yet he still makes people better. “Better” for St Luke might not mean the same as “better” means now, but clearly he does something to alleviate people’s suffering. His methods are clearly not perfect, so you can see how impressed he is when he interviews the witnesses the miracles of Jesus. We don’t know whether St Luke meets Jesus in his lifetime. We do know that St Luke is a disciple of St Paul. Perhaps it is because he hasn’t met Jesus that he decides to write his gospel as the results of his investigation into historical fact. He begins:
“Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed .”
Many historical scholars regard St Luke as a reputable historian of the Greek tradition and this helps us to see Jesus healing the first Christians in clear light. For St Luke, there is no battle between Science and Religion. He uses his scientific training to serve God. His Gospel is the result. That's the beauty of St Luke's gospel, it is clear and it bears record to the many witnesses of Jesus' life with us. Without St Luke, we would not have the poetry of the Magnificat, the Nunc Dimittis or the Benedictus which are all read at Morning and Evening Prayer. He is merely reporting what people said as a good scientist or historian might.

That's where we have to be. We have to follow St Luke's example by telling what Our Lord has said and letting the beauty of God's words speak to others. Our Lord sent St Luke to be a labourer for the harvest and complains that there are too few people to take up this task. The task is simple: we need to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength and our neighbours as ourselves. We do this by listening to God and simply doing what He bids us do, simply speaking what He bids us speak, and simply loving what He bids us love.
How are we to hear God's voice to us? Let's begin by reading St Luke's Gospel!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Collect for the nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

Latin Collect
DIRIGAT corda nostra, quæsumus Domine, tuæ miserationis operatio : quia tibi sine te placere non possumus. Per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum . . . Amen.

[My translation: Direct our hearts, we beseech Thee O Lord, by the operation of thy mercy: for without Thee we are not able to please Thee. Through Jesus Christ]

Prayer book of 1549 O GOD, for asmuche as without thee, we are not able to please thee; Graunte that the workyng of thy mercie maye in all thynges directe and rule our heartes; Through Jesus Christ our Lorde.

Prayer book of 1662
O GOD, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant, that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

It seems to go without saying that, if God did not exist, we certainly could not please Him. However, the word "without" stands diametrically opposed to "within". In order to please God, we must be in with God. This puts a new spin on an old idea. God actually rejoices at our presence and is not pleased when we are away from Him. He does not need our presence, but rejoices in it.

It is our sin that makes us walk without God, and it is by His mercy working in us - operating in us - that we have our route back to Him. We walk through the wounds in Christ. We enter into the hoes in His hands and His side, like St Thomas. In so doing we find ourselves within God, participating in Him being Him. We take our being from God and, if our being stands apart from God, then we become nothing.

The mercy of God does indeed operate through the Holy Ghost as the modification of the 1662 collect does point out. The Holy Trinity are all involved in our existence, in our redemption and in our reunion with God. Their different personalities interact and even dance around us so that we might simply become and remain with God. We need God to show us those dance steps.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Devotion from Benediction: October 2015

There are those who would tell us that the Blessed Sacrament is not to be gazed upon nor carried about. Yet, if Christ is truly present in the Sacrament, how can we not gaze at Him? If we carry Christ about within ourselves after consuming Him, why can we not carry Him when He can be seen? We bear witness to a mystery that some would call foolish and some would call idolatry. Yet we bear witness to what we believe in our hearts, just as we have taken with our lips, a witness that Holy Church has borne from her birth, through today and into Eternity.

We stand here upon the very threshold between the physical world and the world beyond ready to bear Christ out into the world. Like Our Lady, we can bear Christ within us and live to bring His work to birth in us. Like St Francis, we bear the marks of Christ through the suffering we receive at His service. In the Sacrament of the Altar, we gaze upon His glorious scars and prepare to show Him our own that we bear for the sake of Him.

As we look now upon Christ with the eyes of our Faith, let us bring ourselves before Him, broken as we are by our sins and the sins of others and know that what we see Christ's expression of love to be with us always unto the end of the age.

Therefore we before Him bending...

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The mugness of smugness

The world would have ended today according to some Christian believers. So far I'm still here and I'm actually quite pleased about that! I do find that all these prophecies about the end of days are rather silly especially as Our Lord tells us clearly that no-one knows the time when God will put an end to things. Not even Jesus knew in His humanity when the end time would be, even though He knew in His divinity. So I guess I'm feeling rather smug that these people who state categorically when the end of the world will be have come a cropper. Is it right of me to feel smug, ever?

The answer is no, and quite categorically so. The fact that I am smug demonstrates self-righteousness and this is actually a big sin because it allies itself with pride. It is pride which caused Lucifer to fall from Heaven, and it is pride that can cost a man his soul if he refuses to let go of it.

So how does smugness work?

The essential feature of smugness is found when we are shown to be right at another's expense and derive some joy or satisfaction from that expense. There's clearly an attitude of transaction that the investment in showing oneself to be in the right is paid by another's being shown to be wrong. We see that the whole power of being smug is the pleasure of being shown to be right. It is divorced from the actual truth itself.

And this is the problem, particularly for those who are supposed to be bearing witness to the Truth.

I don't think smugness is peculiar to Christians but I do think it is very damaging to our message when we exhibit characteristics of being smug. The point is that we believe fundamentally that Our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life. When we are smug, we are actually doing something very damaging to our faith.

We can debate atheists at the academic level and show them to be wrong about what we believe, but if we treat our debate like some kind of contest, then no wonder that we can be judged as being smug. We can forget a central fact that it really is not we who can convert anyone. It is only God who can turn someone to Him, and even then He has the respect enough to allow that person to choose. All the Christian should do is just bear witness, not rejoice in getting one over on another, not treat evangelism like an intellectual contest. A debate should be an honest inquiry into the truth - a dialogue in which positions can be investigated and scrutinised honestly.

The Church has a duty to combat heresy because heresy does endanger people's souls. There is only one God in three persons and that is difficult to comprehend, but the central truth of our salvation through Our Lord Jesus Christ needs to be told and told well, not for our sake but for the sake of others. This is where smugness really lets us down because smugness is inherently selfish. It comes at the expense of the person to whom we are trying to minister. The moment we forget about them and where they are then we have lost the Truth and its power, but exchanged that great power for our own which is worse than useless.

Often, when someone leaves the Church we find fault with their theology. That theology may indeed be flawed but we often miss the question of what it is about the Church that has caused that person to leave. We forget that someone who leaves the Church is tacitly saying something about the way we haven't been communicating our precious Truth. If someone leaves in heresy, then it is because we have not been thinking of them and where they are, but rather basking in the warm glow of our own smugness. That is an indictment and it is a serious indictment.

What's the answer to smugness? Simple: look at the other person and put yourself where they are.

If some Christians are predicting the end of the world, one has to ask why. The answer is simple. They want the world to end, and it's not hard to see why as we watch much chaos, bloodshed and loveless behaviour spreading around the globe. What they want is not so much the end of the world but the end of mankind's cruelty and the coming of God's Kingdom. Well, I'm on board with that. I don't think it will happen the way they will. I will stand with them and say "Maranatha". Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Collect for the eighteenth Sunday after Trinity

Latin Collect
DA, quæsumus Domine, populo tuo diabolica vitare contagia, et te solum verum Deum pura mente sectari, Per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.
[My translation: Grant, we beseech Thee O Lord, Thy people to avoid the infection of the Devil and to follow Thee the only true God with pure mind. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord ]

Prayer book of 1549
LORDE we beseche thee, graunt thy people grace to avoyde the infeccions of the Devil, and with pure harte and mynde to folowe thee the onelye God; Through Jesus Christ our Lorde.

Prayer book of 1662
LORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We notice that the prayer book of 1549 closely follows the Latin Collect and sees the work of the Devil as an infection that draws mankind from the health that God intended. We are sick and infected with a dangerous separation from God. We wander in the half-light bearing both light and darkness in our very selves, with the Devil seeking to extinguish it with his own brand of light.

This diabolical desire is fleshed out in the collect of 1662 in which the means and sources of infection are revealed, namely through temptation by the world, the flesh and the Devil. The world around us distracts us, the pain of our mortal limitations depresses us, and the final lie that Evil can triumph over Good causes us to fall away into darkness. This is the light that fizzles like some neon sign that crackles before finally going out.

Yet God is righteous, and His righteousness is unmistakable to those who seek Him. No matter how the Devil tries, and his neon light may blind like the sun, his efforts will not penetrate or fool the pure and humble heart seeking earnestly for its creator. We pray this prayer that we may indeed be purified by the burning goodness of God and find our rest in Him away from the infection of the deceit and lies that can kill both body and soul.