Friday, 24 February 2012

And now it's Lent

Well, we have forgotten so far to undertake our annual tradition of putting an excerpt from our daily Lenten reading, so I suppose there is no reason to start now!

Every year, Father Spiritual Director selects a classic Christian spiritual work for us all to read during Lent, with a small reading planned for every day. We started with The Introduction to the Devout Life, by St Francis de Sales, then we had Revelations of Divine Love, by Julian of Norwich, and last year, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis.

This year, we are reading the Cloud of Unknowing, by Unknown. It is a spiritual letter written at the end of the thirteenth century from (probably) a hermit priest in the Cistercian, probably in the East Midlands, to a young man. It's been on my bookshelf to read for ages, so I'm glad I'm finally doing it.

The book, of course, starts with a very well-known prayer, used in the Sarum liturgy before the protestant reformation in England, and, thankfully, was kept alive by the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, heavily amended over the centuries, a prayer known as the Collect for Purity.

In the Catholic context (many nations before the reformation used their own versions, or uses, of the Roman Rite, and some dioceses even had their own rite altogether. In southern England, the Use of Sarum - or Salisbury - was the common manner of celebrating the Roman Rite until 1549), it was recited in the vestry before the Mass. The priest would enter the sacristy, and put on the sacred vestments. Then he would recite the Veni Creator Spiritus, and then recite the Collect:

O God,unto whom all hearts be opened,all desires known,and from whom no secrets are hid,cleanse the thoughts of our hearts,by the impouring of thy Holy Ghost,that we may perfectly love thee,and faithfully serve thee.Through Christ our Lord.Amen.

In Latin of course!

Maybe we could say this prayer every morning this Lent.


John the organist said...

It is prayed in the sacristy before Mass with us servers present at Westminster Cathedral. Of course it's also used before their morning Eucharist at the Anglican church where we sometimes sing at Evensong.

EA Seminarians said...

I'm happy to say that it's also recited before Mass in St John's Cathedral in Norwich. I've always been interested in the wide variety of translations and versions of the collect. This version is a translation from a Sarum primer; I'm not sure when the last line was amended to read 'and magnify your holy name.'