A Service for Samhain

Because I had such positive feedback from people about the service I shared with you last Sunday, I thought I would try again. Today is the eve of Samhain, a Celtic festival which celebrates the new year and brings us closer to our ancestors. You can read more about Samhain HERE.

This liturgy is one which I will be leading online and you are welcome to join us. The service will be today at 2 pm eastern time. Please bring your own bread and wine/juice for communion. There will an optional time of fellowship after the service. You can join us by clicking HERE and choosing the option to enter the Chapel at the top which will open Zoom on your device.

All of the prayers, chants, and blessings used in this liturgy can be found in my upcoming book Psalter of the Birds which will be released soon from Anamchara Books. In that book you will find prayers for the Christian liturgical calendar and the modern wheel of the year. There are also prayers and chants which explore mysticism and the traditional threefold path of Christian spirituality.

I have noted where each prayer in the liturgy below comes from in brackets. The historical texts have been updated for more gender inclusive language. You can read more about using female pronouns for God HERE.


Justin (The Stowe missal)

Let us come together in the name of the Holy Trinity. O Lord, May our prayers ascend to your throne of brightness and let our prayers not return to us empty. Amen

Reader 1 (The Antiphony of Bangor. Click HERE for an interpretation)

God of fire who created fire
     God of light who gives us light
God of life who is the author of life
     God of salvation who is our saviour

In case our lamps grow dim this evening
     And lose the joys of this night
Give us your light in our hearts
     Since you do not want us to die

You give two gifts to those of us
     Who are wandering from Egypt 
First you reveal the cloudy veil
     Then the light which shines in the night
	
You use a pillar of cloud in the day
	To give shade to people as they wander
You use a pillar of fire in the evening
	To drive out the darkness with light

You speak to your servant from within the fire
	You do not reject the thornbush
Even though you are a consuming flame
      You do not burn that which you illuminate

The cloudy beeswax, which is their bread
	Must now be consumed, burning away impurity
And the flesh of wax will start to glow
	In the radiance of the Holy Spirit

The divine honey is put away
	In the hidden recesses of the comb
You have cleansed the inner cells of the heart
	Filling them with your sweet word

So that the next generation of the swarm
	Who have been chosen by your Spirit
May leave behind every burden and win heaven
	Now that their wings are free from care

Lighting of the Candle

Justin (Excerpt from Prayer for Tears. Everyone follows along on mute)

God give me tears to erase my sins
     Let them come until I have been purified
Let my heart burn with redemption’s flame
     Give me clear tears for Mary and Ita

Justin (The Stowe Missal)

Eternal God, whose full promises of eternal good things we hope to see manifest in Christ, in whom we know they are hidden, grant the resurrection of your servants for whom we lift up our prayers. Through Christ we offer to you this sacrifice, and pray that you may include them in the number of the blessed, cleansed by the rebirth of baptism. Let us pray, dear brothers and sisters for our loved ones, who have now gone before us in the Lord’s peace, whom their due end and the order of passing over has embraced, that Almighty God, the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, may command their bodies, their souls and their spirits to be received in a place of light, in a place of refreshment, in the bosoms of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and that she should remove from them whatever wrong they have done through ignorance and folly. And may she deign to refresh them with the breath of her mouth. We pray for the souls of our loved ones, both those whose names we recite and those whose names we do not recite, but are recited by you in the book of eternal life. On account of your mercy, bless them, you who reign for ever and ever. Amen.

Everyone

During the period silence you are invited to say prayers for your deceased loved ones in your mind or in the chat. By sharing the names of those who have gone before us we evoke our memories of them. We will hold a space together which allows the world of the living and the world of the dead to commune with one another.

10 min silence

Reader 2: (The Song of Mary, Luke 1:45-46)

My soul magnifies the Lord
     And my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
For he has looked with favour on the lowly state of his servant
     Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed

For the Mighty One has done great things for me
     And holy is his name
Indeed, his mercy is for those who fear him
     From generation to generation

He has shown strength with his arm
     He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
     And lifted up the lowly
He has filled the hungry with good things
     And sent the rich away empty

He has come to the aid of his child Israel
     In remembrance of his mercy
According to the promise he made to our ancestors
     To Abraham and to his descendants forever

Justin lights the thurible

Everyone (Ephesians 3:17)

We say the following prayer three times in the silence f our minds, breathing in with the first line and out with the second:

May Christ dwell in my heart through faith
     As I am being rooted and grounded in love

Reader 3 (The Stowe Missal)

Truly it is right and just
     Fitting and good for our salvation
Always and ever to give you thanks 
     Holy Lord, almighty and eternal God

We pray through Christ our Lord
     You alone are the one and eternal God
With your only begotten Son
     And God the Holy Spirit 

God incorruptible and unchangeable 
     God invisible and faithful
God wonderful and praiseworthy
     God honourable and mighty 

God most high and magnificent
     God living and true
God wise and powerful
     God holy and beautiful

God great and good
     God terrible and peace-giving
God beautiful and righteous
     God pure and gentle

God holy and just
     God loving and holy
We believe you to be not only one person
     But of one trinity of substance 

We bless you, we adore you 
     We praise your name for ever and ever
Through whom is the salvation of the world 
     Through whom is the life of all people

Through whom is the resurrection of the dead
     Through whom the angels praise your majesty
The dominations adore you
     The powers of heaven tremble
The virtues and the blessed seraphim 
     Of the heavens rejoice together

May you ordain that our voices
     Be joined together with theirs
We pray saying in humble confession
     Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty

Justin (Inspired by Catechesis Celtica)

Mother Mary, chief of all the saints, pray with us to your Son. We give thanks for all the saints who have gone before us, those who are known and those who are unknown, those blessed people who grew into the likeness of God. May we follow in their footsteps and grow in holiness day by day, with patience and humility. May we ever be in communion with the saints and those who have gone before us. May the cloud of witnesses be ever with us from the day of our birth until the day of our death. 

Every life which has been created in God, past, present, or future, exists eternally in the timeless realm. In God, all things have neither past nor future but only present existence. Whatever becomes of a creature and wherever it may go, it will certainly not be nothing. The creature always remains in the creator and has been known by her since before time began and after time ended. Before any creature was made, it had life in God and that life cannot be destroyed by death, who is only able to exist within time. Time is a veil which separates us from the past and the future. Our bodies are bound by time, but our spirits, born out of eternity, can see across the veil.

Open your hearts, dear sisters and brothers, and lift them up to the Lord. Give thanks for those who came before you and those who will one day come after you. Say a blessing upon the past and the future, for they exist eternally in the mind of God. Know that they are blessing you, even as you are blessing them. All you saints of God, those who first made the paths that we now walk on, pray with us to the Trinity. We give thanks for the liminal times, for brief glimpses of the timeless realm. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

—-

Please get your bread and wine ready for communion. By means of this ancient ritual we are united together with the whole body of Christ. We are united, ineffably, with all who have gone before us. We receive this sacrament just as Christ instructed us to. In the book of Luke we are told that Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Reader 4 (A modern prayer. Everyone follows along on mute)

Loving Mother God, from whom all things come and to whom all things will return, bless this bread and wine that it may be for us a Celestial Medicine. Open our eyes that we may see these simple elements for what they truly are – the body and blood of Christ. May we rejoice in the gift of our own embodiment through the grace of your embodiment in this simple food and drink. As we take the body of Christ into our own bodies, may the sacred harmony of the angel song fill our hearts and minds and may we be united with your Son, who is beyond all nature and yet is the substance of all nature. Amen

Everyone takes communion

5 min silence

Justin Chants (The Stowe Missal)

They knew the Lord, alleluia
      In the breaking of bread, alleluia
The bread that we break, alleluia
      Is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, alleluia
The cup which we bless, alleluia
     Is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, alleluia

For the forgiveness of our sins, alleluia
     May your mercy be upon us, O Lord, alleluia
For we have hoped in you, alleluia
     They knew the Lord, alleluia

We believe, O Lord
     We believe that in this breaking of the body
And the shedding of blood
     That we are redeemed
And we trust that by receiving 
     This sacrament we will be strengthened 

So that what we hold at present 
     In faith we will come to enjoy
In true heavenly fruitfulness 
     Through Christ our Lord

May our prayer ascend, alleluia
     To your throne of brightness, Lord, alleluia
And let our prayer, alleluia
     Not return to us empty amen

Justin (A modern blessing inspired by Gregory of Nyssa)

Sisters and brothers, lovers of peace and mercy, this is the true perfection of the human being: not to avoid evil because, like slaves, we fear punishment, nor to do good in hope of reward, as if by means of a contract we could purchase the life of virtue. On the contrary, without concern for our own hopes and worries, we consider losing God’s friendship as the only thing we fear and we consider becoming God’s friend the only object of our desire. Therefore, go out into the world with the fire of friendship kindled in your hearts. Let your peace be known to all and give mercy to everyone you encounter. Be humble. Be kind. Be courageous. Be filled with the Holy Spirit and allow the light of heaven to guide you on the path eternal, the journey into God which never ends and is always new. Amen

Reader 5 (Philippians 4:4-7)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your holy desire be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The mass is completed. Go in peace.


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