Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Article | November 11, 2023

Congregation Update: What I’m Praying

Blog|The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi

Dear Friends,

As the war between Israel and Gaza rages on, and the flames of hatred flare at home, we might feel at sea, enraged, on edge or confused. Our feelings may nudge us to react or retreat. They might be a clue to God’s call to us. Whether our call is outward toward public action, or inward toward the still small voice, prayer is the most necessary thing. Without it, we risk to become the hate we abhor. With prayer, we can walk the narrow ways of justice and mercy, reconciliation and peace. But what do we pray? One option among many: I’ve composed this Anglican Rosary for Peace, drawn from texts of our tradition. Here is how I’m holding their themes.

Canticle O: A Song of the Heavenly City

This portion of the Revelation of John, published in Enriching our Worship I, speaks to a community in catastrophe, in the midst of persecution and the aftermath of the destruction of the second Jerusalem Temple. Part of what sustains them is the unveiling of the city of peace. It is a place where diverse peoples come to walk, where the rulers of the earth glorify God, and the light of Christ the Lamb illumines the way. It is a place where trees grow to their heights, the water of life flows, and the nations have recourse to healing.

Psalm 122

Found among the psalms of ascents, this is a pilgrimage text. It is to Jerusalem that the tribes go up — they are a people on the move toward God. The diverse tribes are gathered in unity of purpose and voice, to the praise of God. It implores peace: pray for the peace of Jerusalem, peace within your walls and quietness within your towers. But there is also a responsibility for the one who prays: because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

Palm Sunday Antiphon

The antiphon for the weeks, prayed 28 times in one cycle of the rosary, is taken from our Palm Sunday gospels. Jesus, there the acclaimed leader, is not of this world. He enters the city gates on a donkey. He has no military vanguard. In a few short days he will offer his life in perfect solidarity with the will of God and the needs of the world. But first, the triumphant entry, as the crowds shout: “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

While often sung as a hymn of praise (think the Sanctus in the celebration of the Eucharist), the word “hosanna” actually means “please save.” It is a plea for help. The antiphon, including “Blessed is the One…” is also a recognition that no matter the circumstances, God continues to send help, to send earthly representatives that guide us toward heavenly values. Therefore, even our cries for help can be held in tempered joy. God does come salvifically in humble, unexpected circumstances; God never ceases to call us to walk through Good Friday’s valley of the shadow of death toward the promise and disorienting mystery of Easter Sunday.

Nunc Dimittis

The Song of Simeon, taken from the presentation of our Lord in the Jerusalem Temple (Luke 2), is a spontaneous hymn of praise following a life of fervent prayer and searching. Simeon was waiting expectantly for God’s self-disclosure, and his waiting and prayer prepared him to recognize it in the Christ Child. “Lord, you now have set your servant free,” prayed at Compline, Evensong and in funeral processions (themselves Easter celebrations of the Resurrection), it encourages our faithfulness. Even when the earthly outcomes are uncertain, God’s promise is for us, and for all.

Pray constantly. Then pray again. Seek the good of the peoples and the land.

With love,

The Rev. Canon Anna E. Rossi
Canon Precentor
Director of Interfaith Engagement

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