Virgin of the Sign  

Posted by Joe Rawls

An icon I like very much is that of the Virgin of the Sign, which I display during Advent. Known in Greek as the Panagia, it depicts Mary with a superimposed circular image of the child Jesus. This is meant to depict Mary as pregnant with the Incarnate God.

The French Orthodox writer Olivier Clement in his book The Living God has some things to say about Mary and the Incarnation worth hearing during this season:

At once both God and man: this is the whole meaning of the Incarnation. The Virgin has become united to God by becoming His mother. In the image of Mary we accept and receive God, for God also becomes incarnate in us through the Holy Spirit. The aim of the Christian, of his struggle against sin to obtain God's pardon, is to allow the incarnation of the Word in his life--even in his body--to become apparent....

Christ, the living God, seeks us out to lead us back to His Father and to reconcile us with Him. It is He who will give back to us the lost image. He makes Himself resemble us so that we may rediscover our resemblance to God. He comes and looks for us like the lost coin, like the lost sheep. Let us agree to become once again children of light so that we may become like Him: "God became man so that man may become God." But, one might exclaim, how can we be so presumptuous as to believe that? Let us turn once again to Mary, the Mother of God, for she has fully accomplished this union with God and she is our guide along this pathway.

Mt Calvary Destroyed  

Posted by Joe Rawls

I ask your prayers for the monks of Mt Calvary monastery in Santa Barbara. Their building was destroyed last night by a very bad brush fire currently raging in the Montecito-Santa Barbara area. The monks are safe and some items, including rare books, were salvaged but the structure seems to be a total loss. The site will give you an idea of what was lost.

Communion Prayers  

Posted by Joe Rawls in

For time time now I've felt the need to make a more conscious preparation for receiving the consecrated bread and wine during the eucharist. One way of doing this is the silent recitation of traditional communion prayers, which exist in both Western and Eastern Christianity. These prayers can be said either during the service or just before leaving for church. A good selection from the Western tradition can be found in Saint Augustine's Prayer Book, published by the Anglican monastic Order of the Holy Cross. I've taken the liberty of modernizing the language.

A hat-tip to BillyD for mentioning the book on his site, reminding me that I owned a long-neglected copy.

Prayer to All the Angels and Saints

Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Powers and Virtues of the heavens, Cherubim and Seraphim and all you saints of God, especially my Patrons, vouchsafe to intercede for me , that I may be enabled worthily to receive this Sacrament to the praise and glory of God's holy name, for my benefit, and that of all God's holy church. Amen.

Prayer of St Bonaventure

Grant that my soul may hunger after you, the Bread of Angels, the Refreshment of holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial Bread, who has all sweetness, and every pleasurable delight. You, whom the Angels desire to look into, may my heart ever hunger after and feed upon; and may my soul be filled with your sweetness. May I ever thirst for you, the Fountain of life, the Fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the Fountain of eternal light, the Torrent of pleasure, the Richness of the House of God. Let me ever compass you, seek you, stretch towards you, arrive at you, meditate upon you, speak of you, and do all things to the praise and glory of your holy Name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with readiness and affection, with perseverence even unto the end. And always be my hope and my whole confidence; my riches, my delight, my pleasure, and my joy; my rest and tranquility; my peace; my sweetness; my food and refreshment; my refuge and my help; my wisdom, my portion, my possession, and my treasure; in whom my mind and heart may firmly and unchangeably be fixed and rooted, henceforth and forevermore. Amen.

Prayer to St Joseph

O Blessed Joseph, unto whose faithful guardianship was committed Christ Jesus, whom I have now received in this mighty Sacrament: pray for me that I may guard, cherish, and love him who now abides in all intimacy in my heart. Amen.

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me;
O good Jesu, hear me;
Within your wounds hide me;
Suffer me not to be separated from you;
From the malicious enemy defend me;
In the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come to you.
That with your saints I may praise you
For ever and ever, Amen.