Preparation for the National Mission of Repentance & Hope – Christmas 1916

During the summer holidays I heard from the Bishop that he would be willing to give one day to the Godolphin School to bring to them himself a message which should make the Mission a reality to us. We looked forward to the day appointed (Friday, October 27th) steadily from the first day of term, and during the fortnight immediately preceding it, we tried to make a special preparation for the Bishop’s visit. Instead of our usual form of Morning Prayers at School we had special prayers and a special hymn, and I said a few words each day on the different clauses of the Veni Creator. I have been asked to write down as nearly as possible what I said.

October 16th.

“Come, Holy Ghost our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire;
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost Thy seven-fold gifts impart.”
Let us this morning think especially of these four lines. First, let us think of the Holy Spirit on the one hand, explained to us under the figures of the very Breath of the Life of God Himself; the Fire, that is a magnificent force burning out of us what is evil, and bringing out the good in us like pure gold, and inflaming us with high desires ; the unstinting Oil of Anointing being ready to be poured down upon us endlessly, in a seven-fold shower. Let us, on the other hand, think of ourselves, with our hearts waiting and open to receive God’s Life, God’s Fire, and God’s Anointing to His Service.

October 17th.

“Thy blessed unction from above
Is comfort, life, and fire of love.”
God’s blessed unction is the anointing spoken of yesterday, the Holy Spirit poured down like the holy oil which dedicated Prophets, Priests and Kings, to the service of God. Let us picture the Captain of our Salvation, the greatest Prophet, Priest and King, being thus dedicated in His Baptism. He was always one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and yet when He was baptised the Holy Spirit, in a special manner, flooded His soul with comfort, life, and fire of love. Comfort means strength. He received strength to conquer temptation, to comfort Him in His extreme loneliness and in His many bitter disappointments, and to uphold Him in His Passion and in the hour of His Death. Life and Love poured into Him as into no other, but through Him they flow endlessly for all those who pray for His Holy Spirit. We need just what He as true Man needed: Strength to stand up for Him in the hour of temptation, Comfort in loneliness and disappointment, the energy of Life, and the Fire of Love.

October 18th.

“Enable with perpetual light
The dullness of our blinded sight.”
We have seen that the Holy Spirit is like Fire, and we have spoken of the tremendous force of fire to burn and to purify, and we have also thought of the heat of fire inflaming our desires for what is good. But fire is also light. The flame of a candle in the largest, darkest room conquers the darkness wherever it is held, and to-day we come to the part of this prayer which says: “Enable with perpetual light the dullness of our blinded sight.” We often speak as if we had other eyes besides those in our heads. The mind has eves, and so we con­stantly and naturally say when we understand a thing which we have not understood before, “Oh, I see it now.” So we have other eyes which make us see what is right and wrong. How often we do wrong thoughtlessly, and afterwards say “I see now that it was wrong.” Now this prayer speaks of blindness of the soul, and prays that it may be removed and we may see clearly. But it is not enough to light a candle in a dark room, we must also bring the object we want to see under the light-the book, the needlework, the letter-and so if we ask the Holy Spirit to be like a candle, we must bring ourselves into the light of it and not flinch from its brightest rays ; and also we must let the light shine directly on the glorious Life of the Master and on the Love of God, that we may behold these for our inspiration, comfort, and strength.

October 19th.

“Anoint and cheer our soiled face
With the abundance of Thy Grace.”
One of the special fruits of the Spirit if Joy. Cheerfulness is often perfectly natural and spontaneous, when we feel well and young and fresh and happy, and have nothing sad or regrettable on our minds; and this is just as it should be. Let us thank God for all thee cheerful high spirits that help to make life happy. But sometimes cheerfulness springs from other causes than mere light-heartedness and health and amusing or enjoyable surroundings. There is a cheerfulness that is born of courage, self-sacrifice, devoted work for others, or a noble pride which has been satisfied by something nobly done by someone we love; and whilst we thank God for all spontaneous joy in our hearts, let us pray for the cheerfulness which comes of the abundance of God’s Grace poured into our hearts.

October 20th and 21st.

“Keep far our foes, give peace at home:
Where Thou art Guide no ill can come.”
First, let us pray this prayer with regard to the war now going on. Let us pray that this dear land of ours, our home, may be preserved from bloodshed. We have been, as a country, most mercifully pre­served, whatever the sacrifices which thousands have been called upon to make. So we pray against literal invasion; but we will not stop there, we want lasting peace for all homes, for all countries. We want­ with all the earnestness that is in us-that the greatness of the present tragedy, with such horrors of war introduced by the enemy that have never been before imagined or connected with honourable warfare, we desire, I say, that this shall mean “never again” in the history of civilization and of Christianity.
Secondly, we may think of these words in connection with the National Mission. The heart of man is his home, and that home has its foes. Honourable peace in the heart of man can only be won through bravest persevering conflict sustained through prayer and the strength of the Holy Spirit. Again, the nation has a, heart, a spirit; and the nation has spiritual foes, or material foes, to true peace at the heart of the nation. The National Mission is intended to stir up a true conflict with these foes, so that through penitence a great hope for a purified country owning its allegiance to God may be born.

October 24th.

“Teach us to know the Father.”
The Prophets of old taught the Israelites to regard God as their Father. “I will be his Father, he shall be My son,” “Doubtless Thou art our Father,” “I am a Father to Israel.” God guiding, protecting, feeding, and caring for His children, Israel, though they were so rebellious. But it was left for Christ to reveal the Love of the Father and the Person of the Father with much greater clearness. When we read St. John xiv., xv., xvi., and xvii., we learn a great deal about the Father. Christ came to express the Father to us. He was “the Word of God.” He said to Philip “Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know Me Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.”
The Fatherhood of God implies the Brotherhood of men. We are all His children, made in His likeness, and with the possibility in us of behaving as His children should behave.

October 25th.

“Teach us to know the Son.”
The Greek language has two words for “knowing,” one word would be used for a superficial knowledge, the other means to know as we know a dear friend. Let us read what Christ’s friends who knew Him thought of Him, St. John and St. Paul, and the others. Let us too think of Him as one it is possible to know in this way. Let us think of Him as our Elder Brother, Friend, Captain, Hero, then let us be enthusiastic about Him and appropriate Him and His Strength.

October 26th

“Thee of both to be but One.”
One way of knowing God’s Holy Spirit would be to understand more of this Prayer to Him that we are studying together, and to pray it each day better.

And then the prayer ends:
“That through the ages all along
This may be our endless song,
Praise to Thy Eternal Merit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

It has been said that the sun is an emblem of the Blessed Trinity. The three-fold gift of the sun, light, life, and heat, all different gifts yet all one, emanating from one source. The wonder of the glorious sun is, indeed, a faint reflection of the mysterious Glory of the Blessed Trinity. The Light of the Holy Spirit, the human and divine Life of the Son, meeting together and sharing in the heat of Love-here is the Divine Trinity which through the ages all along is to be worshipped in an endless life of Service.