It is the Holy Week. Let us think of the tragedy of the Cross, which is the triumph of God. The altar and ornaments of religion are once more veiled in purple. The shadow of man’s dullness and sin hides the glory of God.
In what does the tragedy of God’s passion consist?
Of this, that God loves his world, and the world will not accept that love. He is in the world, and the world know him not. He comes to his own, who receive him not. You and I know, a little, what it means to offer our love, selflessly, and to find that those we love do not heed-are too occupied with lesser things to care. That which is true of our imperfect loving, and rejection, is infinitely true of God’s perfect loving, and our rejection of him.
The world seems cold to men today, harsh, cruel, devoid of inner peace. We are fretful, afraid, more than a little mad. Life means nothing unless behind all, and beneath us, is One who loves. He does care, and we avoid him. The punishment is ours, and the heartbreak his.
— Bernard Iddings Bell, The Holy Week
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O LORD, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
— Collect for the First Sunday in Lent, Book of Common Prayer
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that we, who now with prayer and fasting do put upon us the armour of our Christian warfare, being defended by the power of abstinence, may fight manfully against all spiritual wickedness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
We have been to Bethlehem, we have heard the angel-song, the message glorious; we have hastened with the shepherds to the manger-throne, we have seen the Virgin Mother, the new-born Child, and we have worshipped Him as He lay upon that Mother’s breast. With these things so lately come to us we have no fear in the coming months. He will go with us in joy or sorrow, in trial or victory. The prayers of the Blessed Mother, and of the Blessed Angels, will be offered on our behalf. We face the future with gladness and strength because we have knelt with the holy ones at Bethlehem.
—S.C. Hughson, O.H.C., The Infant King
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy servant Nicholas: Grant to us, thy humble servants, the same faith and power of love; that, as we rejoice in his triumph, we may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
ALMIGHTY God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1892: O MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, infidels, and heretics; and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
1928: O MERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.