BLESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O LORD, we beseech thee, absolve thy people from their offences; that through thy bountiful goodness we may all be delivered from the bands of those sins, which by our frailty we have committed: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour. Amen.
Christianity thus has an intrinsically dogmatic character, which is to say it remains confident in the truths on which it is founded. The Christian way is not based on pious feelings and good intentions. Inspired by the Spirit, faith is the enduring disposition of assent to and reliance upon God’s revealed Word. A Christian assents to truths made evident by God’s self-disclosure in Scripture, truths about God as Trinity, creation, redemption, and the consummation of all things at the end of history. These truths are reliably transmitted by human beings who, inspired by God, have also been shaped and influenced by their historical circumstances. They have been communicated, reformulated, and deepened in ways that invite ongoing discussion and debate about their full meaning and import. (See the ECT statement “Your Word Is Truth.”) This does not undermine the dogmatic character of faith. The Christian way uses reason to understand more fully divinely revealed truths, not in order to decide whether or not to believe them.
Even now, the Christian way bears witness to the fullness of life promised in Christ. Caring for the sick and the poor, friendship for the prisoner and the outcast, comforting the sorrowful and educating those who need instruction: These are works of mercy that embody the love of God in Christ. This active witness is crowned by ongoing prayer for the needs of fellow Christians, as well as for the world. The Christian overleaps the boundaries and limits imposed by a broken world. As Jesus teaches, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45).
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
et erit tamquam lignum transplantatum iuxta rivulos aquarum quod fructum suum dabit in tempore suo et folium eius non defluet et omne quod fecerit prosperabitur
GRANT, we beseech thee, merciful Lord, to thy faithful people pardon and peace; that they may be cleansed from all their sins, and serve thee with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A great many preachers, Protestant as well as Catholic, overlook the distinction between law and Gospel, thinking they can change people’s lives by giving them practical advice—as if telling them how to be inwardly transformed could help them do it. Augustine already knew better. Luther’s addition to Augustine’s insight is merely the glad recognition that there is indeed something preachers can do to help us be transformed: Instead of advice, they can give us Christ.