A LETTER FROM BISHOP JONATHAN

 

Prayer for The Society
during Lent and Passiontide 2017

Dear brothers and sisters, dear priests: this Sunday (Lent 3) we read the Lenten Gospel of Jesus’ famous conversation with the Samaritan woman. Weary himself, nonetheless he sought her out. In that encounter, Christ’s ‘thirst’ stands out. St Augustine says, Christ ‘thirsted for the faith of that woman’ (In Ioh. Ev. 15.11), as he thirsts for the faith of us all. He wants us to encounter him in expectant faith. ‘In his thirst to receive her faith, he awakened in her heart the fire of your love’, says that day’s eucharistic preface. Christ gives us the gift of faith to turn to him in our need for new life.

We need that gift of faith to be renewed in our lives at all times, but especially in present circumstances. Many people in the Church of England have been profoundly unsettled by the painful events surrounding the process of appointing a new Bishop of Sheffield, especially in parishes affiliated to The Society. Trust in ‘the Church of England’s wider commitment to sustaining diversity’ (Declaration 14) needs to be re-established. The commitment to making it possible for ‘those of differing conviction … to flourish’ (14) needs to be restated. Our ability ‘to rejoice in each other’s partnership in the Gospel and cooperate to the maximum possible extent in mission and ministry’ (9) needs to be renewed.

But that is not just an agenda for leadership, but for all of us, if the Church of England is not to be more seriously divided now and in the future. Therefore, I want to ask you to pray together each day with me—at the Angelus—until Easter. If you do not already say the Angelus daily, I ask you to join me in doing so. It is easily prayer to be slipped into any convenient moment of your day, even for those who who work.

Jesus is waiting for us, especially in this Season of Lent, as he waited for the Samaritan woman, to speak to our hearts. May Christ support us as we turn to him.

The Angelus

Let us each find a quiet moment, in our room, in a church or a separate place. Let us listen for Christ’s voice which says, ‘If only you knew the gift that God is offering you …’ (Jn 4.10)

The Angel of the Lord brought tidings to Mary.
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
Be it unto me according to thy word.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

And the Word was made flesh.
And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

POUR FORTH we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace into our hearts: that as we have known the incarnation of your Son, Jesus Christ, by the message of an angel, so by his + cross and passion we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

O GOD, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly union and concord. So that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, we may all by the work of your grace and mercy become one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify you; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

HEAVENLY FATHER, bless the bishops, clergy and people of The Society. Bind us together in love and faith; renew us in service and witness; and, by your Holy Spirit, guide our future and make plain your purposes; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

St Wilfrid and St Hilda, faithful guides of Christ’s people, pray for us.