2015. június 4., csütörtök

Praying with the Book of Common Prayer (Note 2 on the 'Catholica')')


We can make an important observation about individual joy in the Old Testament. Whenever there is genuine joy over God's gifts, the individual celebration always points beyond itself. Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), who compiled the lectionary of the BCP, with a masterly skill of composition, set in parallel these 'individual celebrations'.  The contexts vary, but the song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2,1-8), Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1,46-56), and the song of Zacharias (Luke 1,68-79) are praises to God for he answered their prayers for a son. It is worth observing that the moments of (almost uncontrollable) personal joy also draw the image of a renewed community.

These parallel images (individual joy; renewed community) are Biblical expressions of the 'Catholica'. The image of God, which Hannah (the mother of Samuel), Zaccharias and Elisabeth (parents of John the Baptist), and Mary see through their intense joy − is also a striking full vision of the 'Kingdom of God'. This joy articulates the vision of the 'Catholic fullness' of God's Rule. A living icon is drawn: how the community should live. The lost balances get right. Justice starts to prevail, 'He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap.' (1 Samuel,8) Solidarity and righteousness emerge, 'He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things.' (Luke 1,52-53) Liberation from harmful powers takes place, 'we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear... The tender mercy of our God...will break upon us, to guide our feet into the way of peace'. (Luke 1,73.78). What we see is that the collective history of Israel surfaces in individual joy.

The same 'joy' awaits us. Our call today is to experience the same vision of the 'Catholica'. Through our individual thanksgivings, in depth of our heart, the fullness of the Kingdom will be witnessed to. It will be an exciting experience to stand between two worlds and be partakers of both. When personal joy and community's joy when the order of love and justice is restored fuse into each other.





2015. június 3., szerda

Praying with the Book of Common Prayer (Note 1)

'Thou shalt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is the fullness of joy: and at thy right hand there is pleasure for evermore.' (Psalm 16,12) The joy of the 'Catholica' is expressed here. It seems that one of the most timing agendas for our divided churches is the recovery of the 'Catholic nature' of the churches. If we live in a post-Christendom, that is when Churches are no longer the main cultural players in organising people's lives, this agenda should be natural. The 'Catholica' was a pre-Christendom paradigm, and with the loss of the Constantinian 'supports', Christians should return to this principle.
Recovering the sense of the Catholic unity and diversity of the churches will also become the orienting centre for the different spiritualities. I read Psalm 17 ('Exaudi Domine') as the expression of that cultivating this sense of Catholicism requires a tremendous effort. The images of fight against threatening human powers ('the wicked') teach us how difficult and continuous task it is. For it compels us to revise all the layers of Christian cultural memory. Almost the whole of the cultural canon (Tradition) was affected by the splits within the body of Western and Eastern Christianity.
Our use of Jewish Psalms in prayer is also an important reminder that the 'Catholica' must contain the recovery of the Jewish heritage. That is the 'fist love' of the Jewish people for the God of the Covenant is a powerful resource. A 'Catholic embrace' must contain the desire to be enhanced by this 'first love- and Passion-story' of Jewish generations.
There is no other way of spiritual recovery but the return to the 'Catholic', that is, all embracing nature of God's love. 'But as for me, I will behold thy presence in righteousness: and when I awake up after thy likeness, I shall be satisfied with it.' (Psalm 117,16)