OREMUS: 4 May 2005

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue May 3 17:00:00 GMT 2005

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OREMUS for Wednesday, May 4, 2005
Monnica, Mother of Augustine of Hippo, 387

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Blessed are you, strong and faithful God.
All your works, the height and the depth,
echo the silent music of your praise.
In the beginning your Word summoned light,
night withdrew, and creation dawned.
As ages passed unseen,
waters gathered on the face of the earth
and life appeared.
When the times at last had ripened
and the earth grown full in abundance,
you created in your image man and woman,
the stewards of all creation.
You gave us breath and speech,
that all the living
might find a voice to sing your praise,
and to celebrate the creation you call good.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 104:25-35,37
O Lord, how manifold are your works!*
 in wisdom you have made them all;
   the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the great and wide sea
   with its living things too many to number,*
 creatures both small and great.
There move the ships,
   and there is that Leviathan,*
 which you have made for the sport of it.
All of them look to you*
 to give them their food in due season.
You give it to them, they gather it;*
 you open your hand and they are filled with good things.
You hide your face and they are terrified;*
 you take away their breath
   and they die and return to their dust.
You send forth your Spirit and they are created;*
 and so you renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the Lord endure for ever;*
 may the Lord rejoice in all his works.
He looks at the earth and it trembles;*
 he touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;*
 I will praise my God while I have my being.
May these words of mine please him;*
 I will rejoice in the Lord.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.*

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,*
 then were we like those who dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,*
 and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,*
 'The Lord has done great things for them.'
The Lord has done great things for us,*
 and we are glad indeed.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,*
 like the watercourses of the Negev.
Those who sowed with tears*
 will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,*
 will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

A Song of Creation

Bless the Lord all you works of the Lord:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord you heavens:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

O people of God bless the Lord:
bless the Lord you priests of the Lord;

bless the Lord you servants of the Lord:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Bless the Lord all you of upright spirit:
bless the Lord you that are holy and humble in heart;

bless the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

Psalm 147:13-end

Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem;*
 praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;*
 he has blessed your children within you.
He has established peace on your borders;*
 he satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth,*
 and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;*
 he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He scatters his hail like bread crumbs;*
 who can stand against his cold?
He sends forth his word and melts them;*
 he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,*
 his statutes and his judgements to Israel.
He has not done so to any other nation;*
 to them he has not revealed his judgements.

READING [Baruch 3:2-37]:

Hear, O Lord, and have mercy, for we have sinned before
you. For you are enthroned for ever, and we are perishing
for ever. O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, hear now the
prayer of the people of Israel, the children of those who
sinned before you, who did not heed the voice of the Lord
their God, so that calamities have clung to us. Do not
remember the iniquities of our ancestors, but in this
crisis remember your power and your name. For you are the
Lord our God, and it is you, O Lord, whom we will praise.
For you have put the fear of you in our hearts so that we
call upon your name; and we will praise you in our exile,
for we have put away from our hearts all the iniquity of
our ancestors who sinned against you. See, we are today
in our exile where you have scattered us, to be
reproached and cursed and punished for all the iniquities
of our ancestors, who forsook the Lord our God.

Hear the commandments of life, O Israel;
   give ear, and learn wisdom!
Why is it, O Israel, why is it that you are in the land
of your enemies,
   that you are growing old in a foreign country,
that you are defiled with the dead,
    that you are counted among those in Hades?
You have forsaken the fountain of wisdom.
If you had walked in the way of God,
   you would be living in peace for ever.
Learn where there is wisdom,
   where there is strength,
   where there is understanding,
so that you may at the same time discern
   where there is length of days, and life,
   where there is light for the eyes, and peace.

Who has found her place?
   And who has entered her storehouses?
Where are the rulers of the nations,
   and those who lorded it over the animals on earth;
those who made sport of the birds of the air,
   and who hoarded up silver and gold
in which people trust,
   and there is no end to their getting;
those who schemed to get silver, and were anxious,
   but there is no trace of their works?
They have vanished and gone down to Hades,
   and others have arisen in their place.

Later generations have seen the light of day,
   and have lived upon the earth;
but they have not learned the way to knowledge,
   nor understood her paths,
   nor laid hold of her.
Their descendants have strayed far from her way.
She has not been heard of in Canaan,
   or seen in Teman;
the descendants of Hagar, who seek for understanding on
the earth,
   the merchants of Merran and Teman,
   the story-tellers and the seekers for
have not learned the way to wisdom,
   or given thought to her paths.

O Israel, how great is the house of God,
   how vast the territory that he possesses!
It is great and has no bounds;
   it is high and immeasurable.
The giants were born there, who were famous of old,
   great in stature, expert in war.
God did not choose them,
   or give them the way to knowledge;
so they perished because they had no wisdom,
   they perished through their folly.

Who has gone up into heaven, and taken her,
   and brought her down from the clouds?
Who has gone over the sea, and found her,
   and will buy her for pure gold?
No one knows the way to her,
   or is concerned about the path to her.
But the one who knows all things knows her,
   he found her by his understanding.
The one who prepared the earth for all time
   filled it with four-footed creatures;
the one who sends forth the light, and it goes;
   he called it, and it obeyed him, trembling;
the stars shone in their watches, and were glad;
   he called them, and they said, 'Here we are!'
   They shone with gladness for him who made them.
This is our God;
   no other can be compared to him.
He found the whole way to knowledge,
   and gave her to his servant Jacob
   and to Israel, whom he loved.
Afterwards she appeared on earth
   and lived with humankind.

For another Biblical reading,
Ephesians 1:3-10

Words: Cyril A. Alington (c)
Tune: St. Audrey, Grafton, Regent Square, Rhuddlan
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Lord of beauty, thine the splendor
shown in earth and sky and sea,
burning sun and moonlight tender,
hill and river, flower and tree:
lest we fail our praise to render
touch our eyes that they may see.

Lord of wisdom, whom obeying
mighty waters ebb and flow,
while unhasting, undelaying,
planets on their courses go:
in thy laws thyself displaying,
teach our minds thyself to know.

Lord of life, alone sustaining
all below and all above,
Lord of love, by whose ordaining
sun and stars sublimely move:
in our earthly spirits reigning,
lift our hearts that we may love.

Lord of beauty, bid us own thee,
Lord of truth, our footsteps guide,
till as Love our hearts enthrone thee,
and, with vision purified,
Lord of all, when all have known thee,
thou in all art glorified.

The Benedictus (Morning), the 
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

O God our creator, 
whose good earth is entrusted to our care 
and delight and tenderness, we pray:
May those who sow in tears
reap with songs of joy

For all who are in captivity to debt,
whose lives are cramped by fear
>From which there is no turning
except through abundant harvest;
May those who sow in tears
reap with songs of joy

For all who depend on the earth
for their daily food and fuel,
whose forests are destroyed
for the profit of a few.
May those who sow in tears
reap with songs of joy

For all who labour in poverty,
who are oppressed by unjust laws,
who are banned from speaking the truth,
who long for a harvest of justice.
May those who sow in tears
reap with songs of joy

For all who are in captivity
to greed and waste and boredom,
whose harvest joy is choked
with things they do not need.
May those who sow in tears
reap with songs of joy

Turn us again from our captivity 
and restore our vision, 
that our mouth may be filled with laughter 
and our tongue with singing. Amen.

O Holy Spirit and giver of life,
who from the beginning wrought beauty and peace in all creation;
renew the face of the earth
that we may glorify the Author and Maker of all
and rejoice in the promise of redemption
in Christ our Lord. Amen.

O merciful Creator, 
your hand is open wide 
to satisfy the needs of every living creature:  
Make us always thankful for your loving providence; 
and grant that we, remembering the account 
that we must one day give, 
may be faithful stewards of your good gifts; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O God,
who heard the prayers
and gathered up the loving tears of Monnica
for the conversion of her child Augustine,
deepen our devotion, we pray, 
and help us to work in accordance with your will,
that we may bring others, 
even our own kindred, 
to the knowledge and love Jesus Christ; 
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Rejoicing in God's new creation,
let us pray as our Redeemer has taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus, in glory
that at last all peoples will be free,
all divisions healed,
and your whole creation will sing your praise. Amen.

The psalms and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer are from _Celebrating
Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis
1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing sentence are adapted from
a Eucharistic Prayer in _Book of Common Worship_, (c) 1993
Westminster / John Knox Press. 

Hymn (c) 1983 Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188.  All
rights reserved.  Used by permission.
For permission to reproduce this hymn in all territories except the UK, contact: 
Hope Publishing Company, www.hopepublishing.com
 In the UK, contact:  Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd., St. Mary's Works, St.
Mary's Plain, Norwich, Norfolk  NR3 3BH  England

The intercession is adapted from a prayer in _New Patterns for
Worship_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The second collect is from _For All the Saints_, (c) General
Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, 1994.

We know about Monnica almost entirely from the autobiography (the
Confessions) of her son Augustine, a major Christian writer, theologian and
philosopher (see 28 August). Monnica was born in North Africa, near
Carthage, in what is now Tunisia, perhaps around 331, of Christian parents,
and was a Christian throughout her life. Her name has usually been spelled
"Monica," but recently her tomb in Ostia was discovered, and the burial
inscription says "Monnica," a spelling which all AC (Archaeologically Correct)
persons have hastened to adopt. (On the other hand, it may simply be that the
artisan who carved the inscription was a bad speller.) As a girl, she was fond of
wine, but on one occasion was taunted by a slave girl for drunkenness, and
resolved not to drink thereafter. She was married to a pagan husband,
Patricius, a man of hot temper, who was often unfaithful to her, but never
insulted or struck her. It was her happiness to see both him and his mother
ultimately receive the Gospel.
Monnica soon recognized that her son was a man of extraordinary intellectual
gifts, a brilliant thinker and a natural leader of men (as a youngster he was head
of a local gang of juvenile delinquents), and she had strong ambitions and high
hopes for his success in a secular career. Indeed, though we do not know all
the circumstances, most Christians today would say that her efforts to steer
him into a socially advantageous marriage were in every way a disaster.
However, she grew in spiritual maturity through a life of prayer, and her
ambitions for his worldly success were transformed into a desire for his
conversion. He, as a youth, rejected her religion with scorn, and looked to
various pagan philosophies for clues to the meaning of life. He undertook a
career as an orator and teacher of the art of oratory (rhetoric), and moved from
Africa to Rome and thence to Milan, at that time the seat of government in
Italy. His mother followed him there a few years later. In Milan, Augustine met
the bishop Ambrose, from whom he learned that Christianity could be
intellectually respectable, and under whose preaching he was eventually
converted and baptised on Easter Eve in 387, to the great joy of Monnica.
After his baptism, Augustine and a younger brother Navigius and Monnica
planned to return to Africa together, but in Ostia, the port city of Rome,
Monnica fell ill and said, "You will bury your mother here. All I ask of you is
that, wherever you may be, you should remember me at the altar of the Lord.
Do not fret because I am buried far from our home in Africa. Nothing is far
from God, and I have no fear that he will not know where to find me, when he
comes to raise me to life at the end of the world." 

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