OREMUS: 14 December 2006

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Wed Dec 13 21:55:04 GMT 2006

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OREMUS for Thursday, December 14, 2006 
John of the Cross, Mystic, Poet, Teacher of the Faith, 1591

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, God of mercy and might,
with tender comfort and transforming power
you come into our midst.
You remember your ancient promise
and make straight the paths that lead to you
and smooth out the rough ways,
that in our day
we might bring forth your compassion
for all humanity.
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 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills;*
 from where is my help to come?
My help comes from the Lord,*
 the maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved*
 and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.
Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel*
 shall neither slumber nor sleep;
The Lord himself watches over you;*
 the Lord is your shade at your right hand,
So that the sun shall not strike you by day,*
 nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;*
 it is he who shall keep you safe.
The Lord shall watch over your going out
   and your coming in,*
 from this time forth for evermore.

Psalm 124

If the Lord had not been on our side,*
 let Israel now say;
If the Lord had not been on our side,*
 when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us up alive*
 in their fierce anger towards us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us*
 and the torrent gone over us;
Then would the raging waters*
 have gone right over us.
Blessed be the Lord!*
 he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
   from the snare of the fowler;*
 the snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,*
 the maker of heaven and earth.

A Song of Baruch (Baruch 5.5,6c,7-9

Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height:
look to the east and see your children,

Gathered from the west and the east
at the word of the Holy One.

They rejoice that God has remembered them
and has brought them back to you.

For God has ordered that every high mountain
and the everlasting hills be made low,

And the valleys filled up to make level ground
so that they may walk safely in the glory of God.

The woods and every fragrant tree
have shaded them at God's command.

For God will lead his people with joy
in the light of his glory
with the mercy and righteousness that comes from God.

Psalm 148

   Praise the Lord from the heavens;*
 praise him in the heights.
Praise him, all you angels of his;*
 praise him, all his host.
Praise him, sun and moon;*
 praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, heaven of heavens,*
 and you waters above the heavens.
Let them praise the name of the Lord;*
 for he commanded and they were created.
He made them stand fast for ever and ever;*
 he gave them a law which shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth,*
 you sea-monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and fog,*
 tempestuous wind, doing his will;
Mountains and all hills,*
 fruit trees and all cedars;
Wild beasts and all cattle,*
 creeping things and winged birds;
Kings of the earth and all peoples,*
 princes and all rulers of the world;
Young men and maidens,*
 old and young together.
Let them praise the name of the Lord,*
 for his name only is exalted,
   his splendour is over earth and heaven.
He has raised up strength for his people
   and praise for all his loyal servants,*
 the children of Israel, a people who are near him.

FIRST READING [Amos 6:1-8]:

Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
   and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notables of the first of the nations,
   to whom the house of Israel resorts!
Cross over to Calneh, and see;
   from there go to Hamath the great;
   then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
   Or is your territory greater than their territory,
O you that put far away the evil day,
   and bring near a reign of violence?

Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
   and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
   and calves from the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
   and like David improvise on instruments of music;
who drink wine from bowls,
   and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
   but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first to go into
   and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

The Lord God has sworn by himself
(says the Lord, the God of hosts):
I abhor the pride of Jacob
   and hate his strongholds;
   and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it. 

Words: Frans Mikael Franz n, 1812;
trans. Augustus Nelson (1863-1949)
Tune: Bereden v g f"r Herran
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Prepare the way, O Zion!
Ye awful deeps, rise high;
sink low, ye towering mountains,
the Lord is drawing nigh;
the righteous King of glory,
foretold in sacred story.

O blest is he that came
in God the Father's Name.

O Zion, he approacheth,
thy Lord and King for aye!
Strew palms where he advanceth,
spread garments in his way.
God's promise faileth never,
Hosanna sound forever! Refrain

Fling wide thy portals, Zion
and hail thy glorious King;
his tidings of salvation
to every people bring,
who, waiting yet in sadness,
would sing his praise in gladness. Refrain

SECOND READING [2 Corinthians 8:1-15]:

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been
granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their
abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on
their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and
even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this
ministry to the saints  and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first
to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had
already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking
among you. Now as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in
utmost eagerness, and in our love for you so we want you to excel also in this
generous undertaking.
I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against
the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you
might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you
who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something 
now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according
to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what
one has not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be
relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your
present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in
order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,
'The one who had much did not have too much,
   and the one who had little did not have too little.' 

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

As we prepare the way of the Lord,
let us offer prayers to God
who will baptize us with Spirit and fire. 

For the coming of Jesus Christ in power and glory. 
Prepare us, O Lord.

For the coming of Wisdom to teach and guide us.
Prepare us, O Lord. 

For the coming of Emmanuel, the hope of all the peoples. 
Prepare us, O Lord.

For the peace of the world, and for our unity in Christ. 
Prepare us, O Lord.

For all bishops, presbyters, deacons and all who minister in Christ,
and for all the holy people of God. 
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the church throughout the world
and the faithful in every place, especially 
Lord, hear our prayer. 

For the leaders of the nations and all in authority. 
Lord, hear our prayer.

For justice, peace, and freedom among peoples of the earth. 
Lord, hear our prayer.

For travelers, for the sick and the suffering,
for the hungry and the oppressed, and for those in prison. 
Lord, hear our prayer.

For the dying and those who have died. 
Lord, hear our prayer.

For our deliverance from all affliction, strife, and need. 
Lord, hear our prayer.

Joining our voices with the ever-blessed Virgin Mary
and with all the saints and angels of God,
let us offer ourselves and one another
to the living God through Christ.
To you, O Lord, our God. 

O Root of Jesse,
who rises as a signal among all peoples,
in whose presence rulers stand silent
and nations bow in worship,
come and deliver us without delay.
Glory to you for ever. Amen.

Almighty God, 
who taught us by the lips of your Son 
that through the narrow gate 
we shall find entrance to the kingdom: 
Grant that by the example of your servant John of the Cross, 
we may be ready to enter darkness 
before beholding the light of your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Awaiting his coming in glory,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us:

- The Lord's Prayer

Give us grace so to imitate your Son
in the humility and purity of his first coming
that, when he comes again,
we may be ready to greet him
with joyful love and firm faith. Amen.

The psalms 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 uses a sentence from a prayer reprinted
from _Revised Common Lectionary Prayers_, copyright (c)
2002 Consultation on Common Texts; and another sentence from
_Opening Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language_,
Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

The closing prayer is adapted from a prayer from _Common Worship:
Services and Prayers for the Church of England_, material from which is
included in this service is copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

Juan de Ypres y Alvarez was born in 1542. His father died soon after, and Juan
was brought up in an orphanage. (His father was probably Jewish. It is
remarkable how many of the most memorable Spanish Christians have been of
Jewish background.) At seventeen, he enrolled as a student in a Jesuit college,
and at twenty-one, he joined the Carmelite Friars. He was ordained in 1567,
and almost immediately met Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite Nun who was
undertaking to return the Order to its original strict rule, which had been
gradually relaxed to the detriment, as she believed, of the spiritual lives of the
members of the Order. Those who followed the strict rule as promulgated by
Teresa went barefoot or wore sandals instead of shoes, and so became known
as Discalced (unshod) Carmelites, or Carmelites of the Strict Observance. John
undertook to adopt the stricter rule and encourage others to do so.
Not all members of the order welcomed the change. In 1577 a group of Calced
Carmelites, or Carmelites of the Ancient Observance, kidnapped John and
demanded that he renounce the reform. When he refused, he was imprisoned in
complete darkness and solitude in a Calced monastery in Toledo for about nine
months. He then escaped and fled to a Calced monastery. While imprisoned at
Toledo, he had begun to compose some poems, and now he wrote them down,
with commentaries on their spiritual significance.
He was given various positions of leadership among the reformed friars, but
then dissension broke out among the reformers between "moderates" and
"extremists." John supported the moderate party, and when the extremists
gained control, they denounced him as a traitor to the reform. He was sent to a
remote friary, and fell ill, and finally died at Ubeda during the night preceding
14 December 1591.
His poems include:
The Dark Night of The Soul (about the experience of spiritual desolation, of
feeling abandoned and rejected by God, and why this is for some Christians a
means by which God increases our faith in Him; about the Christian walk, the
life of prayer and contemplation, and growing in love and grace)
The Ascent of Mount Carmel (same poem as the preceding, but with a
different commentary attached)
The Spiritual Canticle (about the love between the Christian and Christ as
symbolized by the love between bride and groom; draws heavily upon the
imagery of the Song of Solomon)
The Living Flame of Love (about the soul transformed by grace)
His works have been translated into English by David Lewis (1906), and by E.
Allison Peers (1953). His poems have been translated by Roy Campbell and are
available in Penguin paperback. The following extracts are quoted from the
poetic translation by Peers.

>From The Spiritual Canticle:

   Whither hast vanished
     Beloved, and hast left me full of woe,
   And like the hart hast sped,
      Wounding, ere thou didst go,
      Thy love, who follow'd, crying high and low? ...

   Oh that my griefs would end!
      Come, grant me thy fruition full and free!
   And henceforth do thou send
      No messenger to me,
      For none but thou my comforter can be. ...

   My love is as the hills,
      The lonely valleys clad with forest-trees,
   The rushing, sounding rills,
      Strange isles in distant seas,
      Lover-like whisperings, murmurs of the breeze.

   My love is hush-of-night,
      Is dawn's first breathings in the heav'n above,
   Still music veiled from sight,
      Calm that can echoes move,
      The feast that brings new strength--the feast of love ...

   Rare gifts he scattered
      As through these woods and groves he pass'd apace
   Turning, as on he sped,
      And clothing every place
      With loveliest reflection of his face. ...

   The creatures, all around,
      Speak of thy graces as I pass them by.
   Each deals a deeper wound
      And something in their cry
      Leaves me so raptur'd that I fain would die.

from The Living Flame of Love:

   O Living flame of love
      That, burning, dost assail
         My inmost soul with tenderness untold,
   Since thou dost freely move,
      Deign to consume the veil
         Which sunders this sweet converse that we hold ...

   And O, ye lamps of fire,
      In whose resplendent light
         The deepest caverns where the senses meet,
   Erst steeped in darkness dire,
      Blaze with new glories bright
         And to the loved one give both light and heat!

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