Letter for Summer Magazine 2019

Dear Friends

I have sensed strongly that one of the most appreciated aspects of our use of Mission Action Planning in recent years has been the adoption of a MAP Prayer. As we have enacted each cycle of MAP, so we have introduced on each occasion a new prayer. This MAP Prayer has been specifically used as our post-communion prayer at the Mass, as well as being part of our monthly MAP Prayers before the Blessed Sacrament – which we hold on the first Saturday evening of each month.

For MAP4 we have chosen to use the Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester and, as with other MAP Prayers, we have offered it in two different forms: one for use individually; the other for use corporately. One of the most attractive parts of the Prayer is its articulation of the priority of Christian discipleship through a triplet of biddings to “know” Christ “more clearly”, “love” Christ “more deeply” and “follow” Christ “more nearly” day by day. This daily discipleship in following, loving and knowing profoundly encapsulates the uniqueness of the Christian vocation both as individuals and as the Body of Christ. If we can believe, and live out, what we pray then it will be transformative for each of us, God’s Church, and our communities.

The Prayer of St. Richard begins with thanksgiving addressed directly to Christ for our personal blessings and the riches thereby entrusted to His Church. It then acknowledges the cost of those gifts through particular allusion to Christ’s cross and passion. The Prayer, though, has a deeply personal and familial tone in describing Jesus as not only our “redeemer”, but also as our “friend” and “brother”. (This brings to mind for me too John Newton’s beautiful hymn “How sweet the name of Jesus sounds”.) As Jesus taught us to address our Father personally in prayer as “Abba”, so this Prayer mirrors this as we pray to Christ intimately as our brother and friend.

Praying with thanksgiving, acknowledging its cost, yet doing so in a language of love and intimacy, feels especially powerful in the moments immediately following our receiving of Holy Communion. For in these moments we have expressed our “eucharist” or thanksgiving, re-membered Christ’s passion, and have then received Christ personally and intimately in the Blessed Sacrament. All of these are spiritual devotions and gifts which can transform our daily living as disciples of Christ himself.

Over the months and years to come I hope that we may all be inspired by this moving Prayer from a deeply influential saint of our own land.

Your friend and parish priest