with J. R. R. Tolkein
A SHORT OFFICE
V/. O God, make speed to save us.
R/. O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.
Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament… There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death. By the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste – or foretaste – of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.
The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.
Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children – from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn – open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand – after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.
J R R Tolkien (1892 – 1973) letter to his sons
English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor
PSALM 41 (40)
Blessed is he that considereth the poor and needy; * the Lord shall deliver him in the time of trouble.
The Lord preserve him, and keep him alive, that he may be blessed upon earth; * and deliver not thou him into the will of his enemies.
The Lord comfort him when he lieth sick upon his bed; * make thou all his bed in his sickness.
I said, Lord, be merciful unto me; * heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.
Mine enemies speak evil of me, * When shall he die, and his name perish?
And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity, * and his heart conceiveth falsehood within himself; and when he cometh forth, he telleth it.
All mine enemies whisper together against me; * even against me do they imagine this evil.
An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him; * and now that he lieth, he shall rise up no more.
Yea, even mine own familiar friend whom I trusted, * who did also eat of my bread, hath laid great wait for me.
But be thou merciful unto me, O Lord; * raise thou me up again, and I shall reward them.
By this I know thou favourest me, * that mine enemy doth not triumph against me.
And in my innocency thou upholdest me, * and shalt set me before thy face for ever.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, * world without end. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:* and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:* world without end. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
make the door of this church wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship,
and a heavenly Father’s care;
and narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and hate.
Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block to children,
nor to straying feet,
but rugged enough to turn back the tempter’s power:
make it a gateway to thine eternal kingdom. Amen.
Thomas Ken (1637–1711)
English cleric who was considered the most eminent of the English non-juring bishops, and one of the fathers of modern English hymnology
May the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen
May the Lord bless us, may he keep us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
Image: Christ the Door of Heaven, framed miniature from the Abingdon Apocalypse, England, 3rd quarter of the 13th century.
Christ before an open door gives a scroll to kings and bishops (behind) and
poor men and labourers (in front).