20 February 2023

Praying in Ordinary Time
with USPG: 20 February 2023

‘Love is the motive of all things that move’ (Christina Rossetti) … graffiti or street art in a laneway off Radcliffe Street in Wolverton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Patrick Comerford

Lent is only two days away, beginning on Ash Wednesday. This time between the end of Epiphany and Ash Wednesday, is known as Ordinary Time, a time of preparation for Lent, which in turn is a time of preparation for Holy Week and Easter.

I am back in Stony Stratford this morning, after yesterday’s lunch in Tamworth celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Tamworth and District Civic Society. But, before this becomes a busy day, I am taking some time this morning for prayer and reflection.

In these days of Ordinary Time before Ash Wednesday, I am reflecting in these ways each morning:

1, reflecting on a saint or interesting person in the life of the Church;

2, one of the lectionary readings of the day;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

Yesterday was the Sunday Before Lent, also known to many as Transfiguration Sunday and traditionally known as Quinquagesima. Yesterday, I reflected on John Keble’s poem ‘Quinquagesima Sunday.’ This morning, I am reading Christina Rossetti’s poem ‘Quinquagesima.’

Less than a week after Saint Valentine’s Day, this poem is a reminder that love is at the heart of Christian belief, and at the heart of the message of Lent and Easter.

Quinquagesima, by Christina Georgina Rossetti:

Love is alone the worthy law of love:
All other laws have presupposed a taint:
Love is the law from kindled saint to saint,
From lamb to lamb, from dove to answering dove.
Love is the motive of all things that move
Harmonious by free will without constraint:
Love learns and teaches: love shall man acquaint
With all he lacks, which all his lack is love.
Because Love is the fountain, I discern
The stream as love: for what but love should flow
From fountain Love? not bitter from the sweet!
I ignorant, have I laid claim to know?
Oh, teach me, Love, such knowledge as is meet
For one to know who is fain to love and learn.

‘God is Love, God is Light, God is With Us’ … thoughts in Southwark Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Mark 9: 14-29 (NRSVA):

14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. 16 He asked them, ‘What are you arguing about with them?’ 17 Someone from the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; 18 and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they could not do so.’ 19 He answered them, ‘You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him to me.’ 20 And they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, immediately it threw the boy into convulsions, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 Jesus asked the father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’ And he said, ‘From childhood. 22 It has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us.’ 23 Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’ 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You spirit that keep this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!’ 26 After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand. 28 When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ 29 He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’

‘God is Love’ … Saint Bartholomew’s Church in Farewell, Lichfield (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

USPG Prayer Diary:

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Social Justice in Sierra Leone,’ which was introduced yesterday.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (World Day of Social Justice), invites us to pray in these words:

Let us pray for the people of Sierra Leone. May they move towards a just and fair society where all can benefit from the country’s rich resources.

Yesterday’s Reflection

Continued Tomorrow

‘Love is alone the worthy law of love’ (Christina Rossetti) … the Menedékház refugee centre in Budapest (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2023)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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