Ash Wednesday

ASh Wed

In keeping with our previous post on the Liturgical Calendar, the Anglo-Catholic Mormon would like to explain the significance of today in the Christian calendar.

Ash Wednesday is a holy day of fasting and repentance in which Christians begin the holy season of Lent. Many Christians will mark Ash Wednesday by attending services, receiving the Sacrament, and being marked with ashes by the priest. The ashes are a customary reminder of fasting and repentance which have been used since biblical times. Lent is a preparatory period leading up to Easter and comprises 40 days, in memory of Christ’s Temptations in the wilderness. The season is marked by increased fasting, prayer, charitable giving, and more conscientious repentance. Like Christ’s period of preparation and temptation in the Judean wilderness, this ought to be, for the individual Christian, a period of renewal in which we re-evaluate our lives so as to better align them with God’s will. For many Christians, Lent involves a Lenten Penance, which should involve making a special focus on a particular area of weakness and consecrating one’s efforts to overcome this weakness to the Lord. Examples of a Lenten Penance could be a fast from worldly distractions, giving up recreational time for increase study of the scriptures, or taking up a community service project. The Lenten Penance should involve conscientious thought and serious reflexion about one’s individual shortcomings and prayerful considerations of how to take steps to let Christ’s Atonement offer healing.

Additionally, Lent usually involves the mortification of the flesh through a special type of fasting on the Fridays which occur during this season. The typical rule is to avoid meat and diminish one’s consumption on Fridays. For many, this looks like eating one large meal (which does not include meat) and replacing the other two meals with smaller snacks.

In addition to physical mortification, most people typically commit to adding spiritual enrichment to their daily regime. This usually involves following a pattern of scripture readings and meditations.

Lent ends on Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter) at midnight. This reinforces the joyousness of Easter and ushers in a season of rejoicing called Eastertide which lasts from Easter until Pentecost.

The Anglo-Catholic Mormon encourages you to begin your preparations for Easter by experimenting with these practices. In accordance with this, the ACM has released a series of Lenten Devotions and will daily update with a selection of scripture and meditation.

Anglo-Catholic Mormon Lenten Lectionary and Devotions 2020

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The concept of specialised scripture reading schedules began with the Jews as a part of the preparation for particular festivals, like Passover. Christians continued this ancient practice and added a special dimension to it—where the Talmudic reading schedules had been selected to point to specific holidays, the Christian calendar continued this practice but also selected readings that would complete each other and demonstrate the fulfilment of prophecy in the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. At the Anglo-Catholic Mormon, we are continuing the practice of a scheduled set of readings which point towards specific feast days and also mirror the Christian emphasis on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A faithful following of the lectionary will ensure that each reader completes most of the Bible and Book of Mormon once per year, with an especial emphasis on the 17 “Gospel Chapters” in 3 Nephi. Additionally, readers will complete the entire book of Psalms once a month.  This will eventually be incorporated into a complete lectionary calendar.

Date Readings Meditation
26 February 2020 Ash Wednesday Morning Readings: Psalms 6, 32, 38, Deut. 7, Luke 9

Evening Readings: Psalms 102, 130, 143, Deut. 8, Eph. 3

Epistle: Joel 2:12

Gospel Reading: Matt. 6:16-end

Book of Mormon Reading: Alma 32

How does Alma 32 help me to understand how the practice of Lent can increase my faith in Christ?
27 February Morning Readings: Psalms 120, 121, 123, 124, & 125, Deut. 9, Luke 10, 2 Nephi 33

Evening Readings: Psalms 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, & 131, Deut. 10, Eph. 4

How can I check myself against self-righteous pride?
28 February, Friday Morning Readings: Psalms 132, 133, 134, & 135, Deut. 11, Luke 11, Jacob 1

Evening Readings: Psalms 136, 137, & 138, Deut. 12, Eph. 5

This is a Friday in Lent and a day of fasting. Most Christians will avoid meat and shrink their food consumption.

 

How can I live a life based on Christ’s love?

29 February Morning Readings: Psalms 139, 140, & 141, Deut. 13, Matt. 7, Jacob 1

Evening Readings: Psalms 142 & 143, Deut. 14, Rom. 12

How can I make of myself a living sacrifice to the benefit of God’s kingdom on earth?
1 March, 1st Sunday of Lent

St David’s Day

Morning Readings: Psalms 1-5, Genesis 19:1-30, Luke 12

Evening Readings: Psalms 6-8, Genesis 22, Eph. 6

Epistle: 2 Cor. 6-1

Gospel Reading for the Week: Matt. 4

Book of Mormon Reading: 3 Nephi 17

How can I better integrate the study and application of the scriptures into my daily life?
2 March Morning Readings: Psalms 9-11, Deut. 17, Luke 13, Jacob 2

Evening Readings: Psalms 12-14, Deut. 18, Phil. 1

What are my fruits?
3 March Morning Readings: Psalms 15-17, Deut. 19, Luke 14, Jacob 3

Evening Readings: Psalm 18, Deut. 20, Phil. 2

What does it mean to be pure in heart?
4 March Morning Readings: Psalms 19-21, Deut. 21, Luke 15, Jacob 4

Evening Readings: Psalms 22-23, Deut. 22, Phil. 3

How can I increase my confidence in the Lord?
5 March Morning Readings: Psalms 24-26, Deut. 24, Luke 16, Jacob 5: 1-31

Evening Readings: Psalms 27-29, Deut. 25, Phil. 4

How can I better manage my resources so that I can help those around me? (Resources are not necessarily monetary)
6 March, Friday Morning Readings: Psalms 30-31, Deut. 26, Luke 17, Jacob 5: 32-77

Evening Readings: Psalms 32-34, Deut. 27, Col. 1

This is a Friday in Lent and a day of fasting. Most Christians will avoid meat and shrink their food consumption.

 

What does it mean to be a messenger of God to those around me?

7 March Morning Readings: Psalms 35-36, Deut. 28, Luke 18, Jacob 6

Evening Readings: Psalm 37, Deut. 29, Col. 2

What does it mean to follow Christ?
8 March, 2nd Sunday of Lent Morning Readings: Psalms 38-40, Genesis 27, Luke 19

Evening Readings: Psalms 41-43, Genesis 34, Col. 3

Epistle: 1 Thess. 4

Gospel Reading for the Week: Matt. 15:21-end

Book of Mormon Reading: 3 Nephi 18

How can I be like the Canaanite woman?
9 March Morning Readings: Psalms 44-46, Deut. 32, Luke 20, Jacob 7

Evening Readings: Psalms 47-49, Deut. 33, Col. 4

How can I live uprightly before God?
10 March Morning Readings: Psalms 50-52, Deut. 34, Luke 21, Enos

Evening Readings: Psalms 53-55, Josh. 1, 1 Thess. 1

From what sins do I long to be unburdened?
11 March Morning Readings: Psalms 56-58, Josh. 2, Luke 22, Jarom

Evening Readings: Psalms 59-61, Josh. 3, 1 Thess. 2

As I prepare for the Eucharist (the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper), how can I better reflect on the way the Lord is present in me through my participation in this sacrament?
12 March Morning Readings: Psalms 62-64, Josh. 4, Luke 23, Omni

Evening Readings: Psalms 65-67, Josh. 5, 1 Thess. 3

How have I rejected the Saviour and how can I open up to Him?
13 March, Friday Morning Readings: Psalm 68, Josh. 6, Luke 24, Words of Mormon

Evening Readings: Psalms 69-70, Josh. 7, 1 Thess. 4

This is a Friday in Lent and a day of fasting. Most Christians will avoid meat and shrink their food consumption.

 

How can I live to please God?

14 March Morning Readings: Psalms 71-72, Josh. 8, John 1, Mosiah 1

Evening Readings: Psalms 73-74, Josh. 9, 1 Thess. 5

How does the scriptural witness of Christ manifest itself in my daily decisions?
15 March, 3rd Sunday of Lent Morning Readings: Psalms 75-77, Genesis 39, John 2, Mosiah 2

Evening Readings: Psalm 78, Genesis 42, 2 Thess. 1

Epistle: Eph. 5

Gospel Reading for the Week: Luke 11:14-end

Book of Mormon Reading for the Week: 3 Nephi 19

How can I allow Jesus to drive the sin from me?
16 March Morning Readings: Psalms 79-81, Josh. 14, John 3, Mosiah 3

Evening Readings: Psalms 82-85, Jud. 1, 2 Thess. 2

What can I do to reflect the glory of God to those around me?
17 March Morning Readings: Psalms 86-88, Jud. 2, John 4, Mosiah 4

Evening Readings: Psalm 89, Jud. 3, 2 Thess. 3

How does the knowledge of Jesus’ Atonement help me?
18 March Morning Readings: Psalms 90-92, Jud. 4, John 5, Mosiah 5

Evening Readings: Psalms 93-94, Jud. 5, 1 Tim 1

How can I sustain and support my local clergy?
19 March Morning Readings: Psalms 95-97, Jud. 6, John 6, Mosiah 6

Evening Readings: Psalms 98-101, Jud. 7, 1 Tim. 3, 4

Why does Jesus teach with miracles?
20 March, Friday Morning Readings: Psalms 102-103, Jud. 8, John 7, Mosiah 7

Evening Readings: Psalm 104, Jud. 9, 1 Tim 4

 

This is a Friday in Lent and a day of fasting. Most Christians will avoid meat and shrink their food consumption.

 

 

21 March Morning Readings: Psalm 105, Jud. 10, John 8, Mosiah 8

Evening Readings: Psalm 106, Jud. 11, 1 Tim 5

 

How can I help those who are losing their faith feel God’s love?
22 March, 4th Sunday of Lent Morning Readings: Psalm 107, Genesis 43, John 9

Evening Readings: Psalm 108-109, Genesis 45, 1 Tim. 6

Epistle: Gal. 4:21-end

Gospel Reading for the Week: John 6

Book of Mormon Reading: 3 Nephi 20

What does it mean to be in the presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus?
23 March Morning Readings: Psalms 110-113, Jud. 14, John 10, Mosiah 9

Evening Readings: Psalms 114-115, Jud. 15, 2 Tim. 1

How can I express my gratitude to the Lord for being my shepherd?
24 March Morning Readings: Psalms 116-118, Jud. 16, John 11, Mosiah 10

Evening Readings: Psalm 119:1-32, Jud. 17, 2 Tim. 2

How can I surrender my problems to Christ?
25 March, Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Morning Readings: Psalm 119:33-72, Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach) 2, John 12

Evening Readings: Psalm 119:73-104, Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach) 3, 2 Tim. 3

Epistle: Isaiah 7: 10-end

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:26-38

Book of Mormon Reading: 1 Nephi 11:15 & 18, Mosiah 3: 8, Alma 7:10

How can I be like the Blessed Virgin?
26 March, First Vision Day Morning Readings: Psalm 119:105-144, Jud. 18, John 13

Evening Readings: Psalm 120-125, Jud. 19, 2 Tim. 4

Epistle: J. S. History 1

Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:19

Book of Mormon Reading: 2 Nephi 3:11-20

How can the First Vision serve as a template for my own conversion?
27 March, Friday Morning Readings: Psalms 120, 121, 123, 124, & 125, Jud. 20, John 14, Mosiah 11

Evening Readings: Psalms 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, & 131, Jud. 21, Titus 1

This is a Friday in Lent and a day of fasting. Most Christians will avoid meat and shrink their food consumption.

 

How can I serve my clergyman?

28 March Morning Readings: Psalms 132, 133, 134, & 135, Ruth 1, John 15, Mosiah 12

Evening Readings: Psalms 136, 137, & 138, Ruth 2, Titus 2, 3

How has my Lenten penance helped me to abide in Christ?
29 March, 5th Sunday of Lent Morning Readings: Psalms 139, 140, & 141, Exodus 3, John 16

Evening Readings: Psalms 142 & 143, Exodus 5, Philemon

Epistle: Heb. 9:11

Gospel Reading for the Week: John 8:46

Book of Mormon Reading: 3 Nephi 21

How can I reconcile with those who have wronged me? With those whom I have wronged?
30 March Morning Readings: Psalms 144, 145, & 146, 1 Sam. 1, John 17, Mosiah 13

Evening Readings: Psalms 147, 148, 149, & 150, 1 Sam. 2, Hebrews 1

For what can I rejoice in God?
31 March Morning Readings: Psalms 144, 145, & 146, 1 Sam. 3, John 18, Mosiah 14

Evening Readings: Psalms 147, 148, 149, & 150, 1 Sam. 4, Hebrews 2

How can I increase my gratitude for my Saviour?
1 April Morning Readings: Psalms 1-5, 1 Sam. 5, John 19, Mosiah 15

Evening Readings: Psalms 6-8, 1 Sam. 6, Hebrews 3

What does the Incarnation mean to me?
2 April Morning Readings: Psalms 9-11, 1 Sam. 7, John 20, Mosiah 16

Evening Readings: Psalms 112-14, 1 Sam. 8, Hebrews 4

How can I better consecrate my Church attendance?
3 April, Friday Morning Readings: Psalms 15-17, 1 Sam. 9, John 21, Mosiah 17

Evening Readings: Psalm 18, 1 Sam. 10, Hebrews 5

This is a Friday in Lent and a day of fasting. Most Christians will avoid meat and shrink their food consumption.

 

What does it mean to have faith in Christ?

4 April Morning Readings: Psalms 19-21, 1 Sam. 11, Acts 1, Mosiah 18

Evening Readings: Psalms 22-23, 1 Sam. 12, Acts 2

What does it mean to listen to the Spirit?
5 April

Palm Sunday

6th Sunday of Lent

Morning Readings: Psalms 24-26, Exodus 9, Matthew 26

Evening Readings: Psalms, 27-29, Exodus 10, Hebrews 5:1-11

Epistle: Phil. 2:5-end

Gospel Reading: Matthew 27

Book of Mormon Reading: Helaman 14

Do I feel remorse for my sins?
6 April, Maundy Monday Morning Readings: Psalms 30-31, 1 Sam. 15, Acts 3

Evening Readings: Psalms 32-34, 1 Sam. 16, Hebrews 8

Epistle: Isaiah 63

Gospel Reading: Mark 14

Book of Mormon Reading: Mosiah 3

How can I stop from betraying Jesus?
7 April, Holy Tuesday Morning Readings: Psalms 35-36, 1 Sam. 17, Acts 4, Mosiah 20

Evening Readings: Psalm 37, 1 Sam. 18, Hebrews 9

Epistle: Isaiah 50: 5-end

Gospel Reading: Mark 15

Book of Mormon Reading: Alma 42

Think on the Via Dolorosa and imagine yourself as various members in the crowd. What would you think as Simon the Cyrenian? As Mary? As Peter? As Pilate?
8 April

Spy Wednesday

Morning Readings: Psalms 38-40, Hosea 13, John 11:1-45

Evening Readings: Psalms 41-43, Hosea 14, Hebrews 10

Epistle: Hebrews 9:16-end

Gospel Reading: Luke 22

Book of Mormon Reading: 1 Nephi 11: 26-34

How can I prepare myself to adore Christ, present in the Eucharist?
9 April

Maundy Thursday

Morning Readings: Psalms 44-46, Daniel 9, John 13

Evening Readings: Psalms 47-49, Jeremiah 31, Hebrews 11

Epistle: 1 Cor. 11-17

Gospel Reading: Luke 23

Book of Mormon Reading: 3 Nephi 20

How have I witnessed for Christ?
10 April

Good Friday

Morning Readings: Psalms 22, 40, & 54, Genesis 22:1-20, John 18

Evening Readings: Psalms 69 & 88, Isaiah 53, 1 Peter 2

Epistle: Hebrews 10

Gospel Reading: John 19

Book of Mormon Reading: 3 Nephi 8

This is a Friday in Lent and a day of fasting. Most Christians will avoid meat and shrink their food consumption.

 

Reflect on the Crucifixion—how can I take up His Cross?

11 April

Holy Saturday

Morning Readings: Psalms 56-58, Zechariah 9, Luke 23: 1-50

Evening Readings: Psalms 59-61, Exodus 13, Hebrews 4

Epistle: 1 Peter 3-17

Gospel Reading: Matt: 27-57

Book of Mormon Reading: 3 Nephi 9

How can I wait for the Lord?
12 April

Easter Sunday

Morning Readings: Psalms 2, 57, & 11, Exodus 12, Romans 6,

Evening Readings: Psalms 113, 114, & 118, Exodus 14, Acts 2:1-22

Epistle: Col. 3

Gospel Reading: John 20

Book of Mormon Reading: 3 Nephi 10

How can I spread the joy of Christ?

 

What does it mean to be human?

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To be human, means being broken. There is a tendency in Mormon theology to see in the Fall of Adam a sort of optimistic and reasoned decision-making process whereby Eve realises that the  Fall is necessary for our eventual progression. This theological position cannot be supported in scripture. This short post will not further examine the myth of the Progressive Fall but will instead look at the ramifications of the Fall.

The Second Article of Faith has been taken by some to be a rejection of the concept of Original, Inherited, or Ancestral Sin; however, a more close reading of the Second Article of Faith reveals that it makes no such assertion. The Second Article reads, ‘We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression’. As can be seen, the Second Article does not deny what has been called by some “Original Sin”, rather it emphasises that at the Final Judgment, men shall not be punished for the Fall because Christ’s Atonement paid the price to redeem us from the effects of the Fall.

The concept of Original Sin is very clearly articulated in Latter-day Saint scriptural canon. The Fall narratives in Genesis and Moses state that as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, the Earth lost its paradisiacal glory, death, pain, and sorrow entered the world, the ground was cursed, and mortal life became a struggle.[1] Not only was the environment altered, man’s very nature was adversely transformed. In Alma 42:10, we read that men became ‘carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature’. Compare the Latter-day Saint scriptural analysis of man’s nature with that found in Thirty-Nine Articles:

Original Sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk); but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated; whereby the lust of the flesh, called in the Greek, Φρονεμα σαρκος, which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire, of the flesh, is not subject to the Law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess, that concupiscence and lust hath of itself the nature of sin.[2]

Original Sin, defined two-fold: 1) a fallen world or environment in which sin, death, pain, and sorrow exist and 2) individually fallen natures in which mankind has a natural tendency towards wickedness, is very much present in Latter-day Saint doctrine.

Why is Original Sin so important? As stated above, man is, by nature, broken. Furthermore, the very environment in which we reside is broken. Our broken environment is an obvious inheritance and a readily available examples would be the generational effects of poverty, genetically inherited diseases, and racism. These are not necessarily caused by any one person, nor are they always within the remit of a person to overcome. Our brokenness causes pain to us individually and also causes pain (purposeful or otherwise) to those around us. The great mercy of God is that, despite our individual inheritances of fallen natures and the woes of mortal life, He will transform them to our benefit and the benefit of those around us and sanctify us from their stains.

We are broken. We suffer from ailments, physical, spiritual, mental, etc. and our lives can seem impossibly hard. Worse still, in our hurt, we sometimes attempt to cut ourselves off from God or others. To this, some have offered the quack medicine of re-writing moral codes to absolve of us our responsibilities or of our temptations; ‘And others will he [the devil] pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yeah, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell’.[3] In the end, our strength cannot be drawn from ourselves—in our brokenness we cannot heal ourselves or hope to individually triumph. Again, the Book of Mormon is clear, ‘But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God’.[4] The only balm, the only soothing relief that can heal our brokenness is the Atonement of Christ. The first step towards recovery, or regeneration, is to recognise our brokenness and look in faith to Christ to heal us.

 

[1] Moses 4:23-25, Pearl of Great Price; Genesis 3:16-19, Bible (KJV)

[2] Article IX, The Thirty Nine Articles

[3] 2 Nephi 28:21, The Book of Mormon

[4] Mosiah 16:5, The Book of Mormon

The Communion of Saints

Saints

The Eastern Orthodox theologian and metropolitan, John Zizioulas, wrote that individual identity of God (and by implication of man) was known through personal relationships and personal love.[1]  In other words, man learns of God, others, and himself through entering relationships. In Latter-day Saint covenant theology, men are adopted into the family of God at baptism, inter communion with Christ through partaking of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and bound to each other in temple sealings.[2] This sense of communion—family—is an important component of LDS identity and an example of this can be seen in the Young Women’s Theme: ‘We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love Him’. The truth in this theme is sublime because it evokes the divine relationship between God the Father and His children as an affirmative and loving relationship at the core of being. Like the Eastern Orthodox, Latter-day Saints commonly refer to the members of Christ’s Church as “saints” and this includes those living in mortality and those who have died in the faith of Christ. Elder Richard G. Scott was particularly explicit about the unity between the members of the Body of Christ on both sides of mortality and that he could feel comforted and strengthened by their prayers.[3] The idea that the living members of the Church should pray for each other is well established in the Church of Jesus Christ and this post will therefore explore the ways in which communion with the Saints who sleep in Christ may be of benefit.

Traditionally, Latter-day Saints have been wary of the concept of the Communion of Saints as understood in Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, or High Protestantism. The general theological consensus on the Communion of Saints is that this consists of all the members of Christ’s Church Militant (those living in Earth), Penitent (those in Purgatory), and Triumphant (those in Heaven) . Latter-day Saints, under the influences of Protestant criticism of Purgatory may balk at the idea of the Church Penitent—until, of course, they realise that Purgatory is merely the Roman Catholic term to describe Spirit Prison.[4] Another, Latter-day Saint objection to the Communion of Saints is the practice of veneration and devotion to the Saints of the Church Triumphant. Yet this practice, when properly understood, is not against the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As previously mentioned, Latter-day Saints are encouraged to pray for each other.[5] Prayer in the Latter-day Saint tradition is understood as communication between God and man. But what is prayer? Surely there are several types of prayer—formalised prayers that occur in sacraments, like baptism, the eucharist, the endowment, etc., prayers of petitioning where the individual asks God for something, and prayers which bring us into a unity of will with God, to name a few. The first sort of prayers, those of priesthood blessing or consecration are a channel by which the Grace of God is communicated to His people. For example, in Baptism, the elder baptises the candidate according to divinely appointed language which, in conjunction with physical elements, literally change the nature of the mundane and render it consecrated. The result is the complete forgiveness of sin and the adoption of the candidate into the Body of Christ. The second sort of prayers, those of petitioning, are prayers by which we beg God to intercede on our behalf. A common example of this sort of prayer in Latter-day Saint talks is a prayer which asks for God’s guidance (perhaps to find missing car keys) or seeks His help in various situations. These prayers invite Providence to act; however, they are offered in the understanding that God’s will be done. The third type of prayer, a prayer which seeks to bring him who offers it into communion with God’s will and are a higher order of prayer than the second type.

When Latter-day Saints ask their friends and family to pray for them, they are asking for prayers of the second type—that the friend importune God to act providentially on their behalf. Essentially, then, they are asking for their friends and family to become intermediaries between them and Christ. This does not imply that the Latter-day Saint believes that such intermediaries are necessary—indeed, Latter-day Saints fully acknowledge that all may pray to the Father, in the name of the Son and need no other intermediary than Him. However, by praying for others and becoming intermediaries for them, we enter into a type of communion with them which strengthens are unity in Christ. If we believe that it is appropriate to pray on behalf of our friends and families, or for them to pray for us, why should we shy from asking those members of the Church who have died to pray for us? This is not pagan idolatry nor is it polytheistic worship and I am not suggesting that we pray to a saint for them to heal us or help us find our keys. What I am suggesting is that just as it is not inappropriate to ask our living saints to pray for us, it is equally appropriate for us to ask the departed saints to pray to God for Him to intervene on our behalf. One famous Christian prayer is the “Hail Mary”, which says, quoting the Bible verbatim, ‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus’ then the prayer departs from direct Biblical and angelic quotation by saying, ‘Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, amen’. This prayer is not to Mary asking her to save us nor does it attribute to her a special merit by which we are saved from our sins, rather, it asks her to pray to Christ, her Son, for us—much as we might ask a friend to pray to Christ for us.

There is another way in which the prayers of the departed saints can be of benefit to us. The Church Triumphant, comprised of the saints who are already in heaven, is already in the presence of God. They are physically and spiritually existing in a state of communion with God, such as that to which we ought to aspire. Would it not be appropriate for us to pray to God, for example, that, like or with Mary we might come to submit ourselves to His will and live with Him in heaven?

Some may question the necessity of praying in this manner—I would be among them as I do not thing it necessary to ask anyone to intercede on my behalf with God, save Christ; however, I frequently ask my friends to pray for me and I daily pray for them because I love them and desire to enter into communion with them and find with them communion in God. Like Elder Scott, I feel comforted by ‘the strength and support’ of the prayers of friends and family and ‘I’m grateful that that same support can come from a beloved companion [or companions in Christ] on the other side of the veil’.[6]

[1] John D. Zizioulas, Being as Communion (London: Darton, Longman, and Todd, 1985), p. 16.

[2] Terryl L. Givens, Feeding the Flock, The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis (Oxford University Press, 2017)

[3] Richard G. Scott, ‘How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for your Personal Life’, Ensign (April 2012)

[4] Purgatory, in Roman Catholic doctrine, is where those who have not fully repented of their sins in mortality go to finish repenting of their sins before the Final Judgment.

[5] Glen L. Rud, ‘Because I Pray for You’, Ensign (April 1988); Henry B. Eyring, ‘That We May Be One’, Ensign (1998).

[6] Richard G. Scott, ‘How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for your Personal Life’, Ensign (April 2012)

The Perfection of Christ

hypostatic-union-1

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Abinadi stood arraigned before King Noah and his priests. Abinadi’s preaching against the wickedness of the king and his court had angered the established authority but the king could not simply kill Abinadi and expect the accusations to fade away—he needed to prove that Abinadi had apostatised and committed heresy. The king’s inquisitors set about questioning the prophet and sought to ‘cross him, that thereby they might have wherewith to accuse him’ and when their initial efforts failed, one of the priests attempted to catch him out with a quotation from Isaiah; suggesting that one could identify true prophets because they preached an inevitable, irresistible, and universal salvation.[1] To this accusation, an indignant Abinadi replied: ‘Are you priests, and pretend to teach this people, and to understand the spirit of prophesying, and yet desire to know of me what these things [salvation] mean? I say unto you, wo be unto you for perverting the ways of the Lord! For if ye understand these things [salvation] ye have not taught them. . . what teach ye this people?’[2] To this, the king’s priests replied, ‘We teach the law of Moses’.[3] On the face of it, this exchange is unremarkable: one fractious priest being disciplined by the hierarchy for unorthodoxy calls into question the orthodoxy of the inquisitors; both appealing to the scriptures for confirmation.

The remarkable part of this exchange occurred when, after explaining the expediency of righteousness, Abinadi appealed to the doctrine of the Incarnation, proclaiming, ‘have they not said that God Himself (sic) should redeem his people? Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began—have the not spoken more or less concerning these things? Have they not said that God Himself (sic) should come down among the children of men, and take upon Him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?’.[4] Now Abinadi did not proclaim the Incarnation in order to excuse sin, indeed, the primary contention between Abinadi and the king’s priests was not about permitting sin, it was about how atonement for sin was to be made. The king’s priest taught the people that they could pay for their sins through observing the law—in other words, that so long as they made the requisite offerings for sin, they would be free from the consequences of their sinful behaviours.[5] The false doctrine of the king’s priests did not require true repentance for salvation—no change of heart was required, no striving against sin—merely payment in exchange for indulgent iniquities. Abinadi did not dispute the expediency of obeying the law but pointed out that the law existed for the sake of pointing towards redemption through the Messiah.[6] Perhaps sensing the king’s priests rebuttal about the ability of a mortal messenger to redeem mankind, Abinadi explained why the Messiah was uniquely able to atone for the sins of all. This article will not seek to articulate further on necessity of Christ’s atonement, instead focussing on who Christ is that He should be able to make atonement.

Christ is God Incarnate

Alma the Elder, who presumably made the record of Abinadi’s courtroom ministry, wanted to make sure that he was not open to misinterpretation and repeatedly stated that Abinadi taught that the Father and the Son are One God. Although Alma wrote in another context and era, his teachings veer towards a heresy which would later be named Modalism—the belief that God the Father and God the Son are indistinct from each other except in the way in which they are presented. This heresy was most popularly presented by the 3rd century priest, Sabellius, who argued that the scriptures clearly teach there is only one God, thus, it is impossible that there be more than one God, therefore, rather than admit three coequal and co-eternal persons within the Godhead, Sabellius articulated a theory that God the Father revealed Himself in different faces through his historical dealings with mankind. Through prophecy, Abinadi ensured that he could not be accused of modalism because he clearly distinguished between the Father and the Son, arguing that the Son took on flesh and subjected Himself to the will of the Father. Furthermore, Abinadi made clear that the Son was begotten of the Father ensuring that later critics could not read him in a way that defended the unity of persons in a modal manner.[7] This does not diminish from Abinadi’s understanding of Christ as fully God the Son, co-eternal and co-equal with the Father. The next issue arises, if Christ is God, what of His humanity? How can Christ be man, if He be fully God?

Christ is man

Alma the Elder’s account of the teachings of Abinadi is incomplete—it was not intended to be an exhaustive account of all of Abinadi’s preachings and is consequently not the Book of Abinadi. Thankfully, some of Abinadi’s teachings were also remembered by King Limhi, who, as the son of King Noah would probably also have been a first-hand witness of the courtroom drama. Limhi, speaking to Ammon remembered that Abinadi had articulated that Christ would take on the image of man, ‘and that it should be the image after which man was created in the beginning; or in other words, he said that man was created after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon Him flesh and blood. . .’.[8] Abinadi’s understanding of the Christ to come is particularly expansive and more should be written about the implications of this statement on the Creation and what it means for man to have been made in the image of God; however, for the sake of this article, it is clear that Abinadi intended for us to understand that Christ would be God incarnate as a pre-lapsarian man—man as he would have been before the Fall corrupted his nature. In short, the passage suggests that Christ’s physical body was not imperfect—because it was already capable of immortality and was free from the stains of Adam’s transgression.

Two Natures:

This presents the problem which the early Christians wrestled with: How can Christ be fully God and fully man? The answer was to be found in the word dyophysitism. Dyophysitim is the concept of there existing simultaneously in the Body of Christ two completely unified and distinct natures; the one being divine and the other being mortal. These two natures exist in a hypostasis—that is, they are two natures which share one essence. In 451 AD, the leaders of the Christian Church met in Chalcedon for an Œcumenical Council—what Latter-day Saints might call a General Conference—and, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, produced this definition:

We all unanimously teach that our Lord Jesus Christ is to us One and the same Son, the Self-same Perfect in Godhead, the Self-same Perfect in Manhood; truly God and truly Man; the Self-same of a rational soul and body; co-essential with the Father according to the Godhead, the Self-same co-essential with us according to the Manhood; like us in all things, sin apart; before the ages begotten of the Father as to the Godhead, but in the last days, the Self-same, for us and for our salvation (born) of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to the Manhood; One and the Same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten; acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the properties of each Nature being preserved, and (both) concurring into One Person and One Hypostasis; not as though He was parted or divided into Two Persons, but One and the Self-same Son and Only-begotten God, Word, Lord, Jesus Christ; even as from the beginning the prophets have taught concerning Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself hath taught us, and as the Symbol of the Fathers hath handed down to us.[9]

 

Abinadi on his own cannot be read conclusively in support of this declaration of dogma; however, if he is read in a way that is consistent with the teachings of modern revelation, then it appears his Christology is consistent with the Chalcedon Definition. Latter-day prophets have taught that Christ was sinless and that, while incarnate, He learned His Divine Mission, ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’.[10] Furthermore, they have talked about Christ being made perfect, or complete, at Resurrection with a glorified body.[11] While this may seem at odds with Abinadi’s statement about a perfect God being made incarnate, it allows for some logical syllogisms that demonstrates the hypostases of dyophysite natures in Christ.

 

I.                 God is perfect.

 

I.                 Man and God’s other pre-glorified creations are imperfect

 

I.                 Jesus is the Son of God.

 

II.               The Son is God incarnate. II.               Imperfect man is glorified (made perfect). II.               The Son of God is perfect.

 

III.              Then God the Son is perfect.

 

III.              Jesus was Glorified and was not a creation.

 

III.              Man is imperfect.
  IV.             Then Jesus was an imperfect man. IV.             Then Jesus must be simultaneously and fully comprised of Two Natures, imperfect Man and perfect God.

 

Thus, it appears, that Abinadi, writing approximately 600 years before the Council of Chalcedon and without the benefit of an ancient Greek philosophic education was aware of the dyophysite nature of Christ, as fully man and fully God. Furthermore, by examining Abinadi’s Christology, Latter-day Saints can be more convinced of the Book of Mormon’s consistency with Biblical teachings as another witness of Christ.

 

References:

[1] Mosiah 12:19, 20-24 (Book of Mormon)

[2] Mosiah 12:25-27 (Book of Mormon)

[3] Mosiah 12:28 (Book of Mormon)

[4] Mosiah 13:34-35 (Book of Mormon)

[5] Mosiah 11-12 (Book of Mormon)

[6] Mosiah 13:33 (Book of Mormon)

[7] Mosiah 15: 1-5 (Book of Mormon

[8] Mosiah 7:27 (Book of Mormon)

[9] ‘Chalcedon Definition’, The Œcumenical Documents of the Faith, T. Herbert Bindley (ed.), (London: Methuen and Co, 1899), p. 225.

[10] Doctrine and Covenants: 98:12; ‘What Mormons Believe about Jesus Christ: Learn more about the Son of God and Creator of the World’, LDS.org.uk (2018)

[11] David A Edwards, ‘The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and Truths about the Body’, Ensign (April 2017)

The Christian Year: Orientating one’s life to Christ

Liturgical time

Life follows certain natural rhythms. In the winter, the days grow colder and shorter; the spring brings blossoms and greenery; the summer, heat and long days; etc. These natural rhythms are accentuated by certain customary behaviours which give the seasons meaning and examples of these include things like spring cleaning and harvest festivals. One such way of ordering time is based upon the principle events of the life of Christ and various other events related to the Gospel. Conventionally, this is called liturgical time or liturgical seasons and many denominations follow the tradition of liturgical seasons to guide their scripture study, behaviour, and focusses throughout the year.

Latter-day Saints are already familiar with some of the most significant events in the liturgical calendar. Christmas and Easter are two of the most important celebrations in the Christian calendar and are marked with events which lead up to them. To most Latter-day Saints, Advent calendars are about chocolates which mark the passage of time up to Christmas. Ironically, this is a commercial assault on Christmas. Traditionally, Advent is a season of fasting and prayer where Christians look forward to the coming of Christ (both at the median of time and the Second Coming). Some of us live in areas where Lent is part of the popular culture—Lent is the season of fasting which leads up to Easter and is focussed on the Life of Christ. It is a time to focus specifically on the changes which the Christian would like to make so that their lives become more holy. This cultural memory survives in the form of New Year’s resolutions.

The traditional calendar begins the Christian Year with the first Sunday of Advent (Four Sundays before Christmas, i.e. 1 December 2019). The season of Advent ends with Christmas Day on the 25th of December which marks the beginning of Christmastide (the Christmas Season or twelve days of Christmas). This is followed by a brief period of Ordinary Time (not a festival or fast period) which lasts until the first Sunday of Lent (Six Sundays before Easter). This year, Ordinary Time goes from 12 January until 26 February (Ash Wednesday).  Lent, a season of fasting in anticipation of Easter lasts until Easter Sunday, 12 April 2020. After Lent, comes Eastertide, which lasts from Easter until Pentecost. Eastertide is a celebratory season. Pentecost, in 2020, is on the 31 May. From Pentecost Sunday until Advent Sunday is Ordinary Time.

What can Latter-day Saints gain from incorporating liturgical time into their lives? Latter-day Saints already fast once a month, we celebrate Christmas and Easter, what do we gain?

First and foremost, liturgical time is about centring oneself on Christ. By beginning the year with Advent, we are reminded that we await the Second Coming of Christ and reaffirm the importance of His First Coming to ourselves. By taking the opportunities to give up certain vices or pleasures and be more mindful of what it means to be a Christian disciple in Advent and Lent, we gain renewed impetus and dedication in our discipleship. We also highlight, through contrast, the significance of Christmastide and Eastertide—seasons of feasting and celebration. Ordinary Time gives Latter-day Saints a reminder of what it means to endure to the end.

A second reason to incorporate liturgical time into our practice is that it comes with a built-in calendar to read through the scriptures. Below, I have attached the traditional Lectionary (calendar of Bible readings). If we follow the readings as shown, we will read the majority of the Bible once a year—and our readings will be tailored to the principle Christian holy days—guiding us up to Christmas and Easter. To this, I hope to eventually add a synchronised Lectionary of the Book of Mormon to match the traditional lectionary. Perhaps, it isn’t too late to begin 2020 with a new resolution to incorporate elements from liturgical time into your own personal religious practice.

 

The Book of Common Prayer Lectionary is linked here. This is the schedule most of the Western Christian Churches have followed since the Bible was written.

https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2017-11/Lectionary.pdf

 

Some other articles on liturgical time within the LDS community and the Mormon Lectionary Project can be found at:

https://bycommonconsent.com/2015/09/22/mormon-lectionary-project-the-book-of-mormon/

By this sign, you shall conquer!

In Hoc Signo Vinces

 

In the fourth century A.D., a young Roman nobleman and claimant to the imperial throne of Rome, was marching with an army when he beheld a vision. He looked up to the sun and suddenly, to his eyes, appeared the Cross of Christ with the inscription, ‘IN˖HOC˖SIGNO˖VINCES’. The Latin signifies, ‘By this sign, you will conquer’. The young man was not yet a Christian, despite his mother’s efforts. He was sympathetic to their plight and sheltered Christians in his household during the persecutions of Diocletian, but he, himself, was unconvinced. This vision, among other miracles, brought Constantine into the Church of Christ and gained for Christianity official recognition as the state religion of the Roman Empire.

Constantine was not the first to see in the sign of the Cross a symbol for Christian discipleship. Christ himself used the symbol of the Cross, urging His disciples to ‘take up their cross daily’ (Matthew, 16:24-26). St Paul used the symbol in his preaching, telling the Galatians to crucify their old man and be converted (Galatians 2:20). The late second-century Christian author, Tertullian spoke of the symbol of the Cross as one that was commonplace in the Church, used in prayer, blessing, and daily life as a physical prayer invoking God’s guidance and watchfulness. St Jerome, a fourth-century Christian scholar and Bible translator, found evidence that the sign of the cross had been in common usage from the time of Ezekiel as a sign of lamentation and penitence. Ancient Israelites were told to mark their foreheads with ash and oil as a visible sign of their repentance and mourning. Indeed, the ancient Hebrew word for “mark” was tav—the same name assigned to a cross-shaped Hebrew letter.

The Church uses outward symbols to convey realities and meanings which are not easily expressed through words. Examples of this occur most frequently in Temple worship but are also present in day-to-day practice and include things like raising the right hand to the square, anointing with oil, and wearing Temple Garments and CTR rings. The Cross is one of the few Christian symbols whose antiquity can be readily traced back to Scripture.

Why then, do many Mormons find the symbol uncomfortable? The conventional answer relies on Mormonism’s (and I’m intentionally differentiating between Mormonism cultural heritage and the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) historical and cultural links to radical Protestantism. Many extremist and radical Protestants in the early-modern period worried that the Cross and Crucifix were idolatrous symbols or painful reminders of the suffering and death of Christ. To radical Protestants, the Crucifix became a symbol of repeated sacrifice (see Catholic Eucharistic theology) and they felt it more appropriate to celebrate the Risen Christ by showing an empty Cross instead of a Crucifix. They argued that the Atonement of Christ was about forgiveness and rebirth, not about death and pain.

In the early nineteenth century, the majority of Mormon converts came from radical Protestant and nonconformist backgrounds (i.e.: they were Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, etc.) and they already had an inherited discomfort for symbols deemed to have a “Roman Catholic” meaning. The conventional Mormon arguments against the use of the Cross as a symbol rely on the inaccuracies of anti-Catholic radical Protestant propaganda. While it is not common practice in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to employ the sign of the Cross or use it as a symbol, there is nothing inherently against it in Latter-day Saint doctrine and the canonical scriptures of the Church support the use of the Cross as a symbol.

The Limits of “Business Sense”

Because the Church lacks intensive formal training for its officers, many within the Church seek to find alternative ways to articulate how a person’s life has prepared them for service. While most Latter-day Saints would eventually argue, ‘He whom God calls, He qualifies’, few would argue that the Spirit of God frequently fills a vacuum—rather, it seems more likely that the Spirit of God moves man through subtle ways to prepare him or her for divine service throughout his or her life. Examples of this fill the scriptures, Samuel, Nephi, Sampson, Alma, the Sons of Mosiah, Paul, Mormon, and Moroni spring to mind as men who were prepared by the Spirit through training and experience for their vocations to divine service. The early days of the Restoration were no different; Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, the Pratt brothers, and others bear testimony to God’s continuing providence and suggest that the miracle by which God qualifies those whom He calls, though on occasion sudden and dramatic, is more often gradual—the result of dedicated study, commitment, and training.

Given the Church’s lack of a formalised and intensive programme of study for the training of bishops, stake presidents, and general authorities, how are these people prepared for their ministries? One has only to give a cursory glance to the biographies and profiles of Church leaders to see the disproportionate influence of commercial training on those men and women who serve in leadership positions. While commercial experience can be very rewarding and inculcate leadership, administrative, management, and organisational skills, the primary purpose of a business is to make money—a goal not shared by the Church of Christ: whose ultimate goal is to be the vehicle by which God brings to pass the eternal life and salvation of mankind. But wait! Surely the skills of a business are transferrable? If souls were equated to monetary gains, then might not a businessman make a good under shepherd and steward in the earthly manifestation of the Kingdom of Heaven?

I suppose it depends upon how successful the businessman was. If he made a profit, if he saved a business from financial ruin, or if he managed an efficient department, then perhaps his business acumen will be a hinderance to him. The Kingdom of Heaven, due to its very mission statement, is unconcerned with efficiency or finance. Christ set the pattern by which a priesthood holder or church leader is to undertake His ministerial mantel; urging them to set aside the ninety-and-nine to seek after the one, to take no thought for tomorrow, or what they should eat, or how they should clothe themselves. His ministerial commission, the commission which every ordained member of the Church of Jesus Christ should be most concerned with, is one of pastoral care. Take for example, the bishop, when he identifies spiritual dangers facing his flock, when he calls flawed individuals to fill callings, when he assigns speakers, or hears confessions, what will serve him more? Training in the hiring and firing of staff? Risk and opportunity analyses? Financial literacy? No! Instead, he must be qualified by a commitment to living a holy life, patterned upon that of the Saviour. He should be a good listener, an ardent defender of Truth and Righteousness, a compassionate healer—to whom sinners can apply for relief—and a scholar of the Scriptures.

There is a place for businessmen and women within the Church; she needs people to manage her assets, organise her charitable programmes, and oversee her auxiliary bodies which provide her resources that she might fulfil her divine charter. Other education and training is needed for her priests. They might have felt more comfortable as business administrators, but now theirs is a higher calling. In the pictures above, they should identify less with the image of spreadsheets and conference tables; instead preferring the calling of a Heavenly inspired shepherd in the image of Christ.

 

 

CHRISTMAS DAY

Christmas Day

And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly
host, praising God. St. Luke ii. 13.

What sudden blaze of song
Spreads o’er th’ expanse of Heaven?
In waves of light it thrills along,
Th’ angelic signal given –
“Glory to God!” from yonder central fire
Flows out the echoing lay beyond the starry choir;

Like circles widening round
Upon a clear blue river,
Orb after orb, the wondrous sound
Is echoed on for ever:
“Glory to God on high, on earth be peace,
And love towards men of love–salvation and release.”

Yet stay, before thou dare
To join that festal throng;
Listen and mark what gentle air
First stirred the tide of song;
‘Tis not, “the Saviour born in David’s home,
To Whom for power and health obedient worlds should come:” –

‘Tis not, “the Christ the Lord:”
With fixed adoring look
The choir of Angels caught the word,
Nor yet their silence broke:
But when they heard the sign where Christ should be,
In sudden light they shone and heavenly harmony.

Wrapped in His swaddling bands,
And in His manger laid,
The Hope and Glory of all lands
Is come to the world’s aid:
No peaceful home upon his cradle smiled,
Guests rudely went and came, where slept the royal Child.

But where Thou dwellest, Lord,
No other thought should be,
Once duly welcomed and adored,
How should I part with Thee?
Bethlehem must lose Thee soon, but Thou wilt grace
The single heart to be Thy sure abiding-place.

Thee, on the bosom laid
Of a pure virgin mind,
In quiet ever, and in shade,
Shepherd and sage may find;
They, who have bowed untaught to Nature’s sway,
And they, who follow Truth along her star-paved way.

The pastoral spirits first
Approach Thee, Babe divine,
For they in lowly thoughts are nursed,
Meet for Thy lowly shrine:
Sooner than they should miss where Thou dost dwell,
Angela from Heaven will stoop to guide them to Thy cell.

Still, as the day comes round
For Thee to be revealed,
By wakeful shepherds Thou art found,
Abiding in the field.
All through the wintry heaven and chill night air,
In music and in light Thou dawnest on their prayer.

O faint not ye for fear –
What though your wandering sheep,
Reckless of what they see and hear,
Lie lost in wilful sleep?
High Heaven in mercy to your sad annoy
Still greets you with glad tidings of immortal joy.

Think on th’ eternal home,
The Saviour left for you;
Think on the Lord most holy, come
To dwell with hearts untrue:
So shall ye tread untired His pastoral ways,
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.

From John Keble’s The Christian Year: Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and Holydays throughout the Year, 1827

 

FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT

LDS-2NDCOMING-5X7

The eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them
that hear shall hearken. Isaiah xxxii. 3

Of the bright things in earth and air
How little can the heart embrace!
Soft shades and gleaming lights are there –
I know it well, but cannot trace.

Mine eye unworthy seems to read
One page of Nature’s beauteous book;
It lies before me, fair outspread –
I only cast a wishful look.

I cannot paint to Memory’s eye
The scene, the glance, I dearest love –
Unchanged themselves, in me they die,
Or faint or false their shadows prove.

In vain, with dull and tuneless ear,
I linger by soft Music’s cell,
And in my heart of hearts would hear
What to her own she deigns to tell.

‘Tis misty all, both sight and sound –
I only know ’tis fair and sweet –
‘Tis wandering on enchanted ground
With dizzy brow and tottering feet.

But patience! there may come a time
When these dull ears shall scan aright
Strains that outring Earth’s drowsy chime,
As Heaven outshines the taper’s light.

These eyes, that dazzled now and weak,
At glancing motes in sunshine wink.
Shall see the Kings full glory break,
Nor from the blissful vision shrink:

In fearless love and hope uncloyed
For ever on that ocean bright
Empowered to gaze; and undestroyed,
Deeper and deeper plunge in light.

Though scarcely now their laggard glance
Reach to an arrow’s flight, that day
They shall behold, and not in trance,
The region “very far away.”

If Memory sometimes at our spell
Refuse to speak, or speak amiss,
We shall not need her where we dwell
Ever in sight of all our bliss.

Meanwhile, if over sea or sky
Some tender lights unnoticed fleet,
Or on loved features dawn and die,
Unread, to us, their lesson sweet;

Yet are there saddening sights around,
Which Heaven, in mercy, spares us too,
And we see far in holy ground,
If duly purged our mental view.

The distant landscape draws not nigh
For all our gazing; but the soul,
That upward looks, may still descry
Nearer, each day, the brightening goal.

And thou, too curious ear, that fain
Wouldst thread the maze of Harmony,
Content thee with one simple strain,
The lowlier, sure, the worthier thee;

Till thou art duly trained, and taught
The concord sweet of Love divine:
Then, with that inward Music fraught,
For ever rise, and sing, and shine.

 

From John Keble’s The Christian Year: Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and Holydays throughout the Year, 1827