17 February 2009

On Preparation for Receiving the Holy Eucharist

The other Wednesday I had opportunity before the spoken Divine Service to spend some extended time in prayer before the liturgy commenced. I did something I'd not done before. I turned in my LSB to the Communion Hymns and simply began praying them, one after the other. What a wonderful preparation for the Sacrament! LSB contains no less than 26 hymns (617-643) that provide a richly rounded preparation for receiving the Holy Gifts.

Word made flesh, the bread He taketh
By His word His flesh to be;
Wine His sacred blood He maketh
Though the senses fail to see;
Faith alone the true heart waketh
To behold the mystery.
LSB 630:4


Atychi said...

Is there really no service for the preparation of Holy Communion in the LSB? No evening service/prayers? No morning service/prayers? Not even for LCMS?

Pastor Weedon, you're very fond of quoting Fathers of the Church. Why would LSB not compile the prayers of these Fathers (Chrysostom, Basil, Ephrem, Simeon, Damascus, et al.; Symeon the New Theolgian's prayers are something else!!!)? Are they there in some older service books? Are these prayers something with which you provide your congregation? These are probably the most important writings produced by these Fathers. In many ways, one can't truly understand (at least not with the nous--the heart) anything that these holy men do or write if we don't have these prayers as a foundation. Because their holy lives found life itself in abiding in Christ and having Him abide in them (no greater gift can one imagine), everything really does revolve around these prayers as they witness their own preparation for this Mystery. You cite the Fathers' exegesis often, but their communion prayers are simply the beginning, the foundation, for their exegesis--preparation and participation in the Eucharist is the stuff of which exegesis is made.

William Weedon said...


I agree that these are some absolutely wonderful prayers. I am familiar with them and have used them. In fact, one beautiful prayer by St. John Chrysostom IS supplied in our Treasury of Daily Prayer:

Know, O Lord, my God, I am unworthy that You should enter beneath the roof of the temple of my soul, because it is all empty and dead, and there is in me no place where You may lay Your head. But since from Your loftiness You humbled Yourself for our sake, please humble Yourself now toward my humility. And as it seemed good to You to lie in the cavern and in the manger of dumb beasts, so also now graciously lie in the manger of my dumb soul, and enter into my defiled body. Just as You did not refuse to enter into the house of Simon the Leper, and there to sit at meal with sinners, so also graciously inter into the house of my humble soul, which is leprous and sinful. Just as You did not feel loathing for the polluted lips of a sinful woman who kissed Your feet, so also do not loathe my even more defiled and polluted lips and unclean tongue. Amen. (Treasury of Daily Prayer, p. 1441)

But we also have some gems of our own that the Lord has given us through the years in these wonderful hymns. We also have some prayers that we have come to treasure too. Blessed David Hollaz, the great theologian, taught us to pray:

Almighty Lord JEsus Christ, source of life and immortality, I pray and implore You as devoutly as I can to enlighten my mind, full of native shadows as it is, with Your most Holy Spirit.... As often as I shall come to Your holy table to refresh my spirit, I pray You to me, unworthy as I am, worthy through Your grace; impure as I am to make me clean; naked as I am to clothe me, so that Your body, so full of divine power, and Your most precious blood, may not become for me, Your servant, the occasion for judgment or punishment, but a memorial of the death You underwent for me, a strengthening of my faith, a proof of the taking away of my sins, a bond of closer union with You, an increase of holiness, the basis of a glad resurrection, and a pledge of everlasting life. Amen.

The Church's rich treasure house of prayer did not cease with the Fathers, but grows still also among us.


William Weedon said...

...I pray You to MAKE me, unworthy as I am...

Sorry about that.