Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fr. Shirk's Sermon for the 4th Sunday in Lent and Books!

Fr. Shirk celebrates Mass.
Fr. Michael Shirk of the Independent Catholic Christian Church has posted a wonderful homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent on his blog, which he preached at the ICCC's recent annual gathering in Philadelphia.  Here's a snippet:
And now we aim for a return.  A return to Eden, to the Promised Land, to Hierusalem.  But what is the nature of our return? Is it back to the status quo, back to how things were?  Or is it “back” to how things should be?

And so Paul asks us, do we wish to be children of the Hierusalem “which is above” or of the earthly Hierusalem? What is the difference between them?
I think that the difference is primarily one of disposition.  The verse of the Office was from Psalm 122: “I was glad when they said unto me * We will go into the house of the Lord.”  To “Go into the house of the Lord” has been interpreted by our forebears as meaning to be in that place called in “folk psychology” “right-brained”:  Being in the present, and apprehending intuitively the “deeper” or “bigger” picture.  The child of the Heavenly Hierusalem, we read, is born “after the Spirit:”  just as we discussed last night in regards to chanting the psalms and using the spirit, or breath, to help bring ourselves into the House of the Lord, the better to hear his scriptures.

Fr. Shirk is also the impressario behind the ICCC's growing number of very spiffy liturgical titles at Rene Vilatte Press. These include RVP's new Prymer or book of hours, which may be of particular interest for those looking for a manageable form of daily prayer in traditional language.  Here's a portion of what Derek Olsen had to say in his preface to the Prymer, reprinted at his very excellent blog, Haligweorc:

A piece of Fr. Shirk's art from the RVP Book of Votives.
The great Anglican spiritual writer Martin Thornton once wrote a profoundly true passage about the chief hallmark of Christian catholicity. While we may argue over interpretation of the Scriptures, the sacraments, the creeds, the finer points of apostolic succession and such, the purest and simplest test of a catholic and orthodox faith classically understood is the pattern of its spirituality: “the common Office (opus dei) supporting private prayer (orationes peculiares) both of which are allied to, and consummated by, the Mass” (Thorton, English Spirituality, 76). In the churches that keep this pattern of spirituality, the rites of the Office and Mass are fixed within the authorized books—whether those be missals and breviaries or the Books of Common Prayer of the Anglican traditions. However, all too often clergy and laity alike are left to their own devices when it comes to the practice of private prayer. While the authorized books serve as models and tutors of prayer, while the psalms remain the pedagogues of prayer par excellence, the faithful need resources for guidance, direction, and an informed understanding of how their private, individual prayers join the prayer of the Church Universal.


For generations, these devotions have fed the English spiritual tradition. Thanks to the efforts of Fr. Shirk, they have been given a new life in our time. May they enrich your devotion, bless your practice, and lead you deeper into the mysteries of Christ.