The Daily Offices

The Daily Offices from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, (Canada 1962), including daily Bible readings and occasional sermons from the Cathedral of the Annunication of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ottawa

Monday, July 25, 2005


17th July 2005, Cathedral of the Annunciation of the BVM, Ottawa.

1. When the Son of God took (at His conception)
a complete human nature in the womb of Blessed
Mary, what we call "the Incarnation" began. "The
Word became flesh and dwelt among us". At the
Ascension He took His dead and risen human body
to Heaven, but His Incarnation has never ended.
Yes, His glorified Body is in Heaven enthroned at
the Father's right hand, but He is also present
in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood -
the inward part of It being "The Body and Blood
of Christ" as the Catechism teaches. The New
Testament further tells us that the Church is His
Body, that Christians have the mind of Christ,
and that they are one spirit with Him - closer
than the union of husband and wife! The
Incarnation continues.

2. Now there is a wonderful saying of Pope St Leo
the Great to the effect that what was visible in
the life of our Lord has passed over into the
sacraments. So the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is
our participation in the events of Jesus' Good
Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Day. The
Catechism defines the inward and spiritual grace
of Baptism as "a death unto sin and a new birth
unto righteousnessS by which we are made the
children of grace by the power of the Holy
Spirit." The purpose of our being "the children
of grace" is the reproduction of Jesus in our
souls, and the purpose of each individual
Christian life is to reproduce, within the limits
and under the particular circumstances of each of
us, Jesus' holy life. Our holiness is the
holiness of Jesus, and our life is an imitation
of His because we have been made one with Him in
Baptism. The Incarnation continues.

Did you know that at Baptism that we are given
the supernatural virtues of Faith, Hope and
Charity? It says so in the first prayer of the
Baptismal Service: it prays that the candidates
may be "steadfast in Faith, joyful through Hope,
and rooted in Charity [BCP, p. 533]. These are
virtues that you have to practise and cultivate
because they are present in the soul in an
undeveloped and unrealized condition. In other
words you have to learn them as you would learn
to play the violin or how to control a soccer
ball. How do you do that? -- by daily prayer,
such as:

O my God, I believe in Thee, and all that Thy
Church doth teach, for Thou hast said it, and Thy
word is true;

O my God, I hope in Thee for grace and for glory
because of Thy mercy, Thy promises and Thy power;

O my God, I love with my whole heart and for Thy
sake I love my neighbour as myself: kindle in me
the fire of Thy love;

and by practicing these Virtues as we go about our daily life.

[Note. The difference between ordinary human
faith, hope, and love and the supernatural
virtues of faith, hope, and charity is that the
former rest on people and things, while the
latter rest on God and are directed to Him as the
Creator and Perfector of our nature. They have to
do with our end (God) and the means by which He
is attained. Thus they are concerned both with
the present and the future - the future, being
the vision of God in Heaven, and that perfection
of our being which is the consequence of that
vision; and the present, being all the means and
helps, especially of divine grace, by the use of
which we come to God and become like Him. See
also Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, Book 3,
chapters 9-12]

3. The Sacrament of Confirmation, which follows
Holy Baptism, is our personal Day of Pentecost.
Sanctity/Holiness is the effect of the grace of
Baptism, but the development of this sanctity is
the work of the indwelling Spirit, the Fountain
of grace, the Giver of Gifts, Himself the Gift of
God Most High. The Sacrament of Confirmation
bestows what we call the Gifts of the Spirit. You
know what they are:

The gift of knowing the truth; knowing the
Father, and Jesus the Saviour whom He sent among
us, and the Holy Spirit, the Love of the Father
and the Son.

The gift that gives us the power to see all things as God sees them.

The gift of comprehending God's revelation more fully.

The gift that helps us to see just what we should do in a given situation.

The gift that gives us the power joyfully to do what we know to be right.

The gift that enables us to give to God the love
that a child would give to a loving Father.

The gift that enables us to be willing to respond
to the impulses of the Holy Spirit, and gives us
a fear of being separated by sin from our
awe-some God.

The place of the Sevenfold Gift of the Holy
Spirit in our spiritual life is a bit different
from that of the Virtues. I mentioned playing the
violin a moment ago. The purpose of practicing an
instrument is to gain control not over the
instrument, but over oneself -- eye, ear, hand,
one's whole body being in perfect control and
harmony under the mind - this is like the life of
the Virtues. But, during the period of practice
there gradually develops that indefinable
something, which no amount of practice can give,
that instinctive command over the instrument and
understanding of the music, which makes the
musician. That is like the Sevenfold Gift of the
Spirit - it enables the soul to operate by
intuition and obedience to the Spirit to produce
an inspired performance, which is what the Saints
are! By the Gift of the Spirit, God Himself takes
control, asking of the soul that it allow Him to
guide it, be docile to His leading, and supple in
His hands. Practice is still necessary of course;
it always will be in this life until we see God
face to face. They are like sails that catch the
wind of the Spirit!

So we can say that Confirmation is the strong but
gentle unfolding of what our Baptism means.
Regular, at least weekly, reception of Holy
Communion will continually bring Christ into your
heart, and the Holy Spirit will engrave Christ's
living image ever more deeply into your soul
making Him present within you in your own time
and place and way, thus bringing forth in you
those same Gifts of the Holy Spirit which Jesus
brought forth in His human soul. That is how we
become Saints, or, as our Lord says, "perfect as
your heavenly Father is perfect." The Incarnation

4. A Sobering Note.

With regard to yourselves, Confirmation will give
you the grace to live a life of personal holiness
in an unholy world, especially the gift of
Fortitude -- to sacrifice and to suffer for
Christ. You are called to be "counter cultural",
and your guide is not to be the ways of the
society in which you live and the media which
transmits them, but of your Lord, whom this world
either ignores or hates. And if it hates Him, it
will hate you, as He said.

For others, you receive the grace to spread and
defend the Faith by word and example as true
witnesses of Christ. The word witness is the same
word as martyr. I need hardly remind you that a
few years ago we said good-bye to the 20th
century, the bloodiest in human history -- 120
million people killed (at a conservative
estimate) and that is not counting members of the
armed forces who died in battle! The primary
target of the 20th century's regimes of terror
was the Church or some other faith group.
Two-thirds of all Christian martyrs died in the
last century. Organized irreligion is the
greatest killer the world has ever known. The
Church has once again become the Church of the
martyrs, of witnesses even to death for the Faith
of Christ; witnesses that political power is not
all there is; witnesses that human beings are not
what the totalitarian project claims they are
--machines to be manipulated, and that scientific
materialism a liberation.

5. So how do you react you someone attacks you or
the Christian Faith? The classic answers are St

With regard to an attack on yourself for being a
Christian the great Apostle writes, "If you are
insulted for the name of Christ, you are
blessedS[and] let him not be ashamed, but let him
glorify God in that name [I St Peter 4:14, 16]"
St Peter learned that from our Lord, who, in the
Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, said,
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for
righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of
God" and " Blessed are you when others revile you
and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil
against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be
glad, for great is your reward in heavenS. [St
Matthew 5:10, 11].

So your persecutors are actually doing you a
favour! A charitable reaction on your part --
such as a silent prayer for them after the manner
of our Lord, "Father, forgive them for they know
not what they do" -- may well have converting
force for the persecutor or any on-lookers. And,
says St Peter, "do it with gentleness and
respectSso that, when you are slandered those who
revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put
to shame [I St Peter 3:16]."

When it is a question of an attack on the Faith,
again it is the Leader of the Apostolic Band who
tells us what to do: "Always," St Peter says, "be
prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you
for a reason for the hope that is in you [1 St
Peter 3:14]" So you have to know how to defend
your Faith, and be able to give an explanation to
genuine inquirers, or know where to find the
answer. But even our Lord said, "Do not to give
dogs what is holy, and do not cast your pearls
before swine [Matt 7:6]" Be discriminating in the
proper sense of that word, for as C.S. Lewis, one
of the greatest defenders and explainers of the
Faith in the 20th century once wrote, "It is said
that people have rejected the Christian Faith,
but how can they reject what they don't know, and
when the have never been taught it?" Most people
do not have a clue about the Faith, so most often
it is sheer ignorance speaking.


6. So Elizabeth Lynn, Shannon Elizabeth, Robyn
Heather, and Jasmine Amber -- may the new life of
Christ's Spirit now imparted to you inspire your
heart, inflame your love, and give you the grace
of perseverance in living your new life of
communion with the Holy Trinity in Christ's Holy
Catholic Church. Worship regularly at the
Eucharistic Sacrifice; offer your lives back to
Him; daily live in intimate union with Him; and
show Him forth to others, at whatever cost, to
the very end of your days.

And then may you reign with Him in glory with all His Saints forever. Amen.