The season of Advent coincides with the winter solstice. Christians in times long past understood the changing of the seasons as part of the liturgical calendar. The winter solstice is the darkest time of year, a time when we eagerly await the return of the sun. Advent is also a season of darkness. It is a time of waiting and longing. We wait in eager expectation for the coming of the Son of God into the world and into our hearts.
The solstices and the liturgical calendar follow the same pattern precisely because the cosmos (of which we are a part) is created in and through the Eternal Logos which became flesh for our sake. The deification of our souls also follows this same pattern. The deification of the mind and the deification of all creation both reflect the nature of Christ, who is eternally incarnating and eternally resurrecting. The following liturgy expresses this connection between the changing seasons and the light which shines in the darkness.
You are welcome and invited to join us for this online communion service on Dec 18, 2022 at 2pm est. You will need to bring your own wine/juice and bread. We will ask for a few volunteers to do some reading at the beginning of the service, but no one will be expected to speak if they don’t volunteer. There will be an optional time for fellowship and chatting afterwards. You can click HERE to get into the zoom room and to learn about the different aspects of our community.
The sources which each of the texts is taken from is noted in brackets. All of the readings used here can be found in my upcoming book Psalter of the Birds. The winter solstice and the tradition of Yule are topics which Tony, one of the members of our community, has written about. You can find that article by clicking HERE.
Leader (1 John 3:2 & 2 Corinthians 13:14)
Beloveds, in this moment we are God’s children; what we will become has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when Christ is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. Let the mass begin in the name of the Holy Trinity: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen
Reader 1 (Dionysius’ Celestial Hierarchy)
The sacred theologians describe the divinity The transcendent and shapeless Being By the imagery of fire and flame An image based on the observation of nature Fire reflects the characteristics of the Deity For visible fire is in everything It passes undiluted through everything And yet is always beyond all things It lights up everything in the world And yet remains hidden from our eyes It cannot be perceived in its own nature We only see it when it interacts with matter It is completely unstoppable And it can never be seen Yet it is the master of everything It brings things into its own purpose It gives itself to those who draw near it It renews and kindles with warmth It gives illumination with unveiled enlightenment Yet is never diluted or loses its purity Fire makes distinctions between things And yet it is always unchanging It rises up and penetrates deeply It is exalted and never brought low It is always on the move Moving itself and others It extends in all directions at once It has no boundaries of any kind It has no need of anyone It grows in the hidden places, unseen It manifests its greatness when it is received It is dynamic, powerful, and invisibly present in everything When it is ignored it seems to disappear But when there is friction it will seek something out It appears suddenly and naturally of itself It communes joyfully with everything
Leader (Medieval Irish Prayer for Tears)
Lights the candle and says the following prayer while 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
Reader 2 (Eriugena’s Periphyseon)
The observation of nature teaches us That all things must return to their source Human nature must also return to its own source Which is the Word in whom we live Human nature was created in God’s image and likeness God the common first principle of all things We will return to where we have come from Because we never fully abandon God Through sin our nature has become tarnished It no longer bears the likeness of God Likeness brings us nearer to God Unlikeness removes us to a distance However, it is not by paces of the foot That we move towards or away from God Rather we move closer or further By the affections of our minds The light of the sun is not lost because of distance We lose its light when we close our eyes It is not space which separates us from health We are separated from health by our pain It happens in exactly the same way When we leave behind the virtues Of life, blessedness, and wisdom Sin is the emptiness where they once were In the same way that skin is infected with leprosy So human nature is infected with sin In this illness the soul ceases to resemble The likeness of Jesus Christ its maker When the soul is cured of that leprosy By the medicine of the Divine Grace It will be restored to its former beauty And I will tell you one thing more The nature which is created in the image of God Never truly lost the blossom of its beauty Nor did it lose the integrity of its essence Nor could such a thing ever happen
Leader (The Stowe Missal)
O God, encircle and protect us with the prayers of your holy ones, of the blessed spirits of the angels, archangels, principalities, powers, dominations, virtues, thrones, cherubim, and seraphim. Protect us also with the prayers of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, holy women, anchorites, monks, and holy celestial fellow-citizens. Grant, we pray, that we may advance by imitating them, and that you will defend us from all dangers through the prayers of the angels and saints. Amen
Reader Three (Medieval Irish Prayer to Mary)
Gentle Mary, noble maiden, give us help You are the shrine of our Lord's body You are the jewel box of mysteries Queen of queens, pure holy maiden Pray for us that our many transgressions May be forgiven for your sake O merciful one, O forgiving one With the grace of the Holy Spirit Pray with us to our king the fair judge King of the good and fragrant clan The fair branch of Jesse's tree In the beautiful hazel wood Pray for us until we obtain Forgiveness of our many sins Mary, splendid royal crown The one who saved our race You are a glorious noble torch You are the orchard of Kings The brilliant one, the resplendent one Who lived in pure chastity O fair golden illumined ark O holy daughter from Heaven O mother of righteousness You surpass everyone else Pray with us to your firstborn To save us on the day of doom O noble rare star, O blossoming tree O powerful and precious lamp O sun that warms everyone O ladder of the great path By which every saint ascends May you be our safeguard Towards the glorious Kingdom The noble guest was in your womb For three times three months Fair fragrant seat chosen by the King Glorious royal porch through which he was incarnated The splendid and chosen sun Jesus, Son of the living God For the sake of the fair babe That was conceived in your womb For the sake of the holy child That is High King in every place For the sake of his cross That is higher than any cross For the sake of his burial When he was buried in a stone tomb For the sake of his resurrection When he arose before everyone For the sake of the holy household From every place until doom O Mother Mary be our safeguard In the Kingdom of the Good Lord That we may meet with dear Jesus That is our prayer Hail Mary full of grace
Everyone (Ephesians 3:17)
We say the prayer three times using our inner voice, breathing in the first line and out the second.
May Christ dwell in my heart through faith As I am being rooted and grounded in love
Leader (Inspired by Eriugena’s Homily The Voice of the Eagle)
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. The human race is in darkness, as if it has its head in a bag. Not darkness of the outer eyes, but darkness of the inner eyes – not in the darkness of gloomy skies but in the darkness which is the ignorance of truth. Human nature cannot shine on its own. It does not itself possess the nature of light but only participates in the light. Although it is capable of wisdom, it is not itself wisdom. Just as the earth is in darkness until it receives the light of the sun, so too our human nature is in darkness until it receives the light of wisdom.
Let the darkness of this day remind you of the darkness of your nature. This darkness is not sinful but only hidden in shadow. It is not evil but rather a blessed potential waiting to be awakened. With each passing day the light grows more and more and the gifts of the sun become manifest in the earth. So too, as day by day the light of Christ increases within us, we become manifestations of Christ. The light of Christ fills us and transforms us. When the light of the sun fills the air the air itself becomes light giving birth to the new day. The darkness of our nature is also filled with light at the coming of the Son and our clay gives birth to the fullness of God’s image and likeness.
Bright shining Sun, who transforms the darkness, fill our hearts with your wisdom that we may gather warmth for the coming spring. In this season of night, let us rest in peace as you work within us, rejuvenating the clay of our bodies even as you prepare us to receive the coming light which you promised from before time began. Amen
Get your bread and wine/juice ready and share 5 min of silence
Leader (Luke 22:17-19)
When his time was coming near, Jesus took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves, for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he 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.”
Reader 4 (Written by Justin)
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
Takes communion with 5 more min of silence
Reader 5 (Inspired by Eriugena’s Homily The Voice of the Eagle)
John the Baptist, the man sent from God, the Elijah who was to come, prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight paths for him. Let every valley be lifted up and every mountain made low. The voice of one crying out in the wilderness proclaimed the coming of the Light of the world. John was himself a light in the world, but he was not the source of all light. John was the voice which passes away and Jesus is the Word which is eternal and unchanging. John was the morning star, which appears at the dawning of God’s Kingdom. Jesus is the sun of righteousness which replaces the morning star by its brightness. John was the morning star but his light was not his own. Rather, it was the grace of the one whom he had prepared the way for which was burning within him. He himself was not the Light but he participated in the Light.
John the Forerunner, who lived in the wild places, pray with us to the Light which you proclaimed. Help us to open up pathways in the wilderness of our souls. Let all of our valleys be lifted up and all of our mountains be made low so that we, becoming meek, may inherit a share of the Kingdom of God. May we, like the morning star, shine in the darkness, waiting in confident anticipation of the coming sun. May our hearts be filled with the Light of Christ and may Christ become manifest through us into the world.
All this we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the long expected messiah, the anointed one who will save the world. The one to whom our hearts lie open and from whom our hearts have life. O Gracious God, creator of heaven and earth, come and be with us. Be among your creatures and fill us with your Light. Amen
Leader (Ephesians 3:16-19)
Dearly beloveds, I pray that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through the Holy Spirit and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to understand, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth and also to know the love of Christ that surpasses all understanding, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. The mass is completed, go in peace.
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