The Rector writes ‘4th and last Sunday of Advent already! I have listed again the Services for the coming week for you. Please do book in for the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day services by texting or emailing me. Thank you.’
24th December Christmas Eve:
4pm Carols around the Crib Live-Streamed / Zoom only.
11:30pm St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline
25th December Christmas Day:
9am St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline
10am St John’s Church, Monkstown
11am St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline
12noon St John’s Church, Monkstown
1pm St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline
26th December St Stephen’s Day:
10am St John’s Church, Monkstown
11am St Mary’s Church, Carrigaline (also live-streamed)
Music Notes 19-12-2021
Hymns at St Mary’s
695 God of mercy
636 May the mind of Christ
139 The angel Gabriel came
175 Of the Father’s heart begotten
Canon Elaine mentioned the phrase ‘You brood of vipers!’ in the gospel of St Luke last Sunday and wondered whether it had appeared in a hymn at any time. Neither Roger nor I had come across it and the question piqued my interest.
I consulted the wonderful online resource hymnary.org and found the phrase had been used in a hymn by Isaac Watts (1674-1748).
Isaac Watts was a nonconformist minister who was very concerned with improving congregational singing. In his time the only form of singing practiced in church was metrical psalm singing, often practiced in a dull and unmusical fashion.
Watts set about writing hymns which paraphrased the message of scripture in a poetic and memorable way. He has been described as ‘the most important single influence in giving the church an effective congregational song’.
No less than sixteen hymns by Watts appear in our Church Hymnal including ‘Jesus shall reign’ and ‘Joy to the world’.
The vipers are mentioned in a hymn called ‘Hence from my soul my sins depart’ – not one of his finest. Here is the opening:
1 Hence from my soul, my sins, depart,
Your fatal friendship now I see;
Long have you dwelt too near my heart:
Hence, to eternal distance flee.
2 Ye gave my dying Lord His wound,
Yet I caressed your viperous brood…….
Bébhinn 087 228 5965
Random Notes CDVII
St Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582) was a nun whose life spanned the early Reformation of Martin Luther. From a relatively privileged background, she entered the Carmelites and introduced significant reforms to the order. This included the establishment of over 30 convents and friaries. A mystic, her journey to full communion with God was nevertheless a slow and painstaking process. By her own admission she initially found prayer difficult. Her insights led her to write The Interior Castle, a practical guide to achieving a state of grace with God.
The Interior Castle is visualised as a crystal globe, in the shape of a castle and comprising seven mansions. God resides in the innermost and seventh mansion, illuminating the other mansions and the rest of the globe. Beyond the boundaries of the castle is a darkness infested with hostile creatures, but the light goes stronger as one approaches the seventh mansion at the centre. St Teresa intended that the mansions be visited in a specific order, that order representing a progression from a lower to a higher state of grace. This rather dramatic imagery serves to illustrate a very practical spiritual guide that St Teresa intended to be open to everybody.
The Interior Castle’s Seven Groups of Mansions
The souls in the first Mansions, or the Mansions of Humility, while in a state of grace, are still in love with the dark creatures outside the castle. A lengthy process of learning humility is required and the light from the centre, while present, is dim.
In time those souls will wish to progress to the Second Mansions, or the Mansions of the Practice of Prayer. Again, hard work is required but those souls begin to build resistance to the creatures outside and the light is growing brighter.
The souls in the Third Mansions are virtuous and lead an Exemplary Life. They are charitable and are controlled by discipline and penance. They are prudent and their lives are well
organised, there is still a risk of slipping backwards towards the outside of the Castle. Those souls in the third Mansions are governed by reason and have only a dim view of the Mansions beyond.
The Fourth Mansions introduce an external mystical element, in that God’s part in their advancement and development becomes increasingly greater. They can no longer rely on their own efforts. However, those souls no longer attach any great importance to worldly things. Relapses are still possible.
The Prayer of Union or Spiritual Betrothal is introduced in the Fifth Mansions, and it is here that souls achieve a higher level of infused contemplation. Here souls prepare to receive a gift from God, a process during which those souls are briefly asleep.
The Sixth Mansions are a direct progression form the Fifth Mansions. In the sixth Mansions, the betrothed (the soul and God) grow in intimacy together and the souls are blessed with favours. However, those souls are also afflicted with illness, depression, persecution amongst other misfortunes. These afflictions can be Hellish; nevertheless, those souls only seek to escape such torment by entering the next Mansions.
In the Seventh Mansions the souls reach spiritual marriage with God and are bathed in the brightest light. Their transformation is complete; they are effectively one with the King.
This is the highest state achievable.