Friday, 4 December 2020

Praying in Advent with
Lichfield Cathedral:
6, Friday 4 December 2020

‘Ask for the gift of faith …’ a mediaeval fresco of the Holy Trinity in the south choir aisle in Lichfield Cathedral was severely damaged by 17th century Puritans (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

Advent is the Church’s mindful antidote to some of the diversion and consumerism of a modern Christmas. It prepares us to encounter Christ again in his joy and humility.

In ‘The Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar 2020,’ the Dean and community at Lichfield Cathedral are inviting us to light our Advent candle each day as we read the Bible and join in prayer.

This calendar is for everyone who uses the Cathedral website, for all the Cathedral community, and for people you want to send it to and invite to share in the daily devotional exercise.

This is a simple prayer and bible-reading exercise to help us to mark the Advent Season as a time of preparation for the coming of Christ.

It is designed to take us on a journey, looking back to John the Baptist and Mary the Mother of Jesus; looking out into the world today, into our own hearts and experience; outwards again to Jesus Christ as he encounters us in life today and in his promise to be with us always.

You can download the calendar HERE.

The community at Lichfield Cathedral offers a number of suggestions on how to use this calendar:

● Set aside 5-15 minutes every day.

● Buy or use a special candle to light each day as you read and pray through the suggestions on the calendar.

● Try to ‘eat simply’ – one day each week try going without so many calories or too much rich food, just have enough.

● Try to donate to a charity working with the homeless or the people of Bethlehem.

● Try to pray through what you see and notice going on around you in people, the media and nature.

Friday 4 December 2020:

Read Saint Matthew 9: 27-31:.

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you.’ 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, ‘See that no one knows of this.’ 31 But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.

Reflection:

Ask for the gift of faith, especially at this time of confusion and sadness. Reach out to someone today.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s evening reflection

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

‘Magnified and sanctified
may His great name be’

Praying Kaddish in Etz Hayyim synagogue in Chania (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

For my Friday evening prayers and reflections, I regularly use the Authorised Prayer Book, translated and with commentaries by the former Chief Rabbi, Lord (Jonathan) Sacks, and Service of the Heart, compiled by Rabbi John Rayner and Rabbi Chaim Stern.

All Jewish services and all Jewish prayer books include the Kaddish, and it is a prayer known to every Jew. George Robinson, the author of Essential Judaism, says ‘Kaddish is a prayer that should be familiar to even non-observant Jews. Because it is the prayer for mourners in one of its several forms that almost everyone has heard at some point in their lives. More than that, it occurs several times in some version during the course of most worship services.’

The Kaddish has been said for nearly 2,000 years to honour and commemorate parents and loved ones who have died. Kaddish must be said in a minyan or quorum of ten adult Jews, and before saying Kaddish, a portion of the Torah must be read.

Reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish is one of Judaism’s greatest mitzvot, a true act of kindness. This is a beautiful prayer that reflects on life, tradition and family.

Traditionally, Kaddish is said daily for 11 months after the death of a parent, and again on the Yahrzeit or anniversary of the death of a family member. If necessary, a Jew may say Kaddish for another individual in these instances.

The nucleus of the prayer is the phrase:

‘Magnified and sanctified be His great name be, in the world He created by His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and in your days.’

The congregation responds: ‘May His great name be blessed for ever and all time.’

The earliest version of Kaddish, known as Half Kaddish, dates back to the time of the Second Temple.

Kaddish was not originally said not by mourners but by the rabbis after they their sermons on Sabbath afternoons and later, when they finished studying. This practice developed in Babylonia, where most people understood only Aramaic, and this explains why Kaddish is in Aramaic, not Hebrew. In time, it became a regular part of the synagogue service.

As well as praising God, this prayer expresses the plea for the speedy realisation of the messianic age. Because the resurrection of the dead is associated with the coming of the Messiah, Kaddish eventually became the prayer of mourners.

The Kaddish praises God and expresses a yearning for the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. The emotional reactions inspired by the Kaddish come from the circumstances in which it is said: it is recited at funerals and by mourners, and sons are required to say Kaddish for 11 months after the death of a parent.

The word Kaddish means sanctification, and the prayer is a sanctification of God’s name. Kaddish is only said with a minyan or prayer quorum of ten adult Jews, following a psalm or prayer that has been said in the presence of a minyan, since the essence of the Kaddish is public sanctification.

The person who says Kaddish always stands. It is a custom for all the mourners in the congregation to recite Kaddish in unison.

A child under the age of 13 may say the Mourner’s Kaddish if one of his parents has died. A person may say Kaddish not only for parents, but also for a child, brother, or in-law. An adopted son should say it for adoptive parents who raised him. The Rabbinical Kaddish, Half Kaddish, and Whole Kaddish may be said by a chazzan or cantor who is not a mourner and whose parents are still living.

Although Kaddish makes no specific reference to death, it has become the prayer of mourners. One explanation says it expresses acceptance of Divine judgment and righteousness at a time when a person may easily become bitter and reject God. Another says that by sanctifying God’s name in public, mourners increase the merit of the dead person.

The opening words, yitgadal v’yitkadash, are inspired by Ezekiel 38: 23, when the prophet sees a time when God will become great in the eyes of all nations.

The version of the Mourner’s Kaddish by Lord (Jonathan) Sacks is:

Mourner: Magnified and sanctified may His great name be, in the world He created by His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and in your days, and in the lifetime of all the House of Israel, swiftly and soon – and say: Amen.

All: May His great name be blessed for ever and all time.

Mourner: Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, raised and honoured, uplifted and exalted, raised and honoured, uplifted and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond any blessing, song, praise and consolation uttered in the world – and say: Amen.

May there be great peace from heaven, and life for us and all Israel – and say: Amen.

Bow, take three steps back, then bow, first left, then right, then centre, while saying:

May He who makes peace in His high places, make peace for us and all Israel – and say: Amen.

The translation of Kaddish in Service of the Heart is:

Extolled and hallowed be God’s great name in the world he has created according to his will. May he establish his kingdom, in our lifetime, and let us say: Amen.

Let his great name be praised to eternity.

Lauded and praised, glorified, exalted and adored, honoured, extolled and acclaimed be the name of the Holy One, though he is above all the praises, hymns and adorations which men can utter, and let us say: Amen.

May God grant abundant peace and life to us and to the whole house of Israel, and let us say: Amen.

May the Most High, source of perfect peace, grant peace to us, to all Israel, and to all mankind, and let us say: Amen.

Kaddish, a piece for violin and piano by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), based on the Jewish prayer

 

יִתְגַדַל וְיִתְקַדַשׁ שְמֵהּ רַבָא
בְעָלְמָא דִי בְרָא כִרְעוּתֵהּ
וְיַמְלִיךְ מַלְכוּתֵהּ
וְיַצְמַח פֻרְקָנֵהּ וִיקָרֵב מְשִיחֵהּ
בְחַיֵיכוֹן וּבְיוֹמֵיכוֹן
וּבְחַיֵי דְכָל בֵית יִשְרָאֵל.
בַעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב. וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן
יְהֵא שְמֵהּ רַבָא מְבָרַךְ
לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָא
יִתְבָרַךְ וְיִשְתַבַח וְיִתְפָאַר וְיִתְרוֹמַם
וְיִתְנַשֵא וְיִתְהַדָר וְיִתְעַלֶה וְיִתְהַלָל
שְמֵהּ דְקֻדְשָא בְרִיךְ הוּא.
לְעֵלָא (וּלְעֵלָא מִכָל) מִן כָל בִרְכָתָא
וְשִירָתָא תֻשבְחָתָא וְנֶחֱמָתָא
דַאֲמִירָן בְעָלְמָא. וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן
תִתְקַבֵל צְלוֹתְהוֹן וּבָעוּתְהוֹן
דְכָל בֵית יִשְרָאֵל



Shabbat Shalom.

Praying in Advent with USPG:
6, Friday 4 December 2020

Jesus heals two blind men (Matthew 9: 27-31) … a modern icon

Patrick Comerford

Throughout Advent and Christmas this year, I am using the Prayer Diary of the Anglican Mission Agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) for my morning reflections each day, and the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced at Lichfield Cathedral for my prayers and reflections each evening.

I am one of the contributors to the current USPG Diary, Pray with the World Church, introducing the theme of peace and trust after Christmas.

The theme of the USPG Prayer Diary this week (29 November 2020 to 5 December 2020) is ‘There is the Lamb of God.’ This week’s theme was introduced by the Most Revd Mark Strange, Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Before the day begins, I am pausing for a moment as I pray and reflect using the USPG Prayer Diary, the Collect of the Day, and this morning’s Gospel reading in the Lectionary of the Church of Ireland.

Friday 4 December 2020:

Let us continue to pray that the simple message that ‘black lives matter’ is fully understood by all.

The Advent Collect:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Matthew 9: 27-31 (NRSVA):.

27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David!’ 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ 29 Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith let it be done to you.’ 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, ‘See that no one knows of this.’ 31 But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.

Continued tomorrow

Yesterday’s morning reflection

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