Tribute for a Fallen Friend

It seems that this time of year, far from being the joyful time of Christmas coming into the anticipation of a New Year, has become (for me at least) one of tragedy.  That’s spilled over into this blog, from reflections of my mother’s own Christmastime death (Delayed for My Appointment) to the tragic suicide of a fellow church member (The Funeral Message I Did Not Deliver).  Now tragedy has struck again with the death of one of my old Catholic Charismatic prayer group’s leader in a house fire.

When I came back to Chattanooga, TN in 1978 to my family business, I came armed with the Charismatic prayer group list put out in South Bend.  They listed the “Cornerstone Prayer Group” at the Roueché home.  For the next five years (with one break) I was a part of that group.  The Rouechés–Joe, his wife JoAnn and his eight children–became like a second family to me.

Obituaries these days tend to get a little out of hand, but his is spot on:

He was a faithful husband, a devoted father and grandfather, and a true friend to many. He was a loving, unpretentious man, totally content with the gifts God gave him…Joe was a happy and joyful man. He was known to many as “the hugger.” He was full of life and love and these gifts he shared with everyone he met. Though we are grieving for ourselves, we rejoice in knowing that he is gloriously united with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as well as the family and friends that preceded him.

It’s hard to think about a more consistently and unconditionally loving human being than Joe Roueché.  And that wasn’t always easy in the years I was active in the prayer group.  The Cornerstone Prayer Group was an ecumenical, Charismatic prayer group with a Catholic base, complete with a membership that ranged from a Lookout Mountain attorney to sisters from Memorial Hospital.  In a community that tended to be class conscious and conventional, that wasn’t an easy road.  The accession of Pope John Paul II, with his less open view of ecumenical efforts in general and Charismatic ones in particular, complicated things.

And then we had our local problems.  First an errant Pentecostal proclaimed the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Holy Spirit (like the Muslims think we do) and insisted on Marian devotions.  Leaving these out was an unwritten rule in an ecumenical group and the result was predictably divisive.  So the group split, giving the Rouechés (and the rest of us) heartburn.

After these things the prayer group started a youth group.  I made three trips to Steubenville to the Youth Conference (and one to the Prayer Group Leaders’ Conference).  But, with our aforementioned problems, and doubtless conscious of its community image, the Church locally vacillated from unenthusiastic to hostile.  Much of that unfavourable message came through the local Catholic high school.

Alas, the Rouechés themselves were able to avoid that, as I noted last year:

Back in the early 1980’s, I was involved in a Catholic Charismatic prayer group.  We were under a great deal of pressure, some of which was of our own making and some of which came from a Church which didn’t really care much for what we were doing.  It was also the days of “if you want peace, work for justice,” the nuclear freeze, and other left-wing emphases which tended to deflect hierarchy and faithful alike from their relationship with God.

A major turning point for me took place on day when, while discussing things with one of our prayer group leaders, she mentioned that, because of the high tuition, she could not afford to send her eight children to Catholic school.  So they went to public school.

That revelation was the beginning of the end of me as a Roman Catholic.  I concluded that any church that was too bourgeois and self-satisfied not to subsidise its own needful children to attend the schools it wanted them to attend was too bourgeois to be an advocate for social justice.  So I took my leave on a course that’s best encapsulated in The Preferential Option of the Poor.

But the prayer group suffered again.  It was crunch time.  I left.  Joe and JoAnn stayed.

Through all of this Joe never lost his joy, never stopped hugging and loving people as he always had, and never lost his smile.  That joy went right up to the end and into eternity.  It’s an example for all of us–even when “I don’t know if my church loves me any more or not.” Joe knew that God’s love never fails, and our mustn’t either.

So today and always may the peace of love of God–both of which Joe exemplified–be with the Roueché family and friends, as they continue to celebrate a life lived to the fullest in Jesus Christ.

Note: after publishing this piece, this tribute appeared in the Chattanoogan.

Some Ray H. Hughes Sermons

I recently received an incoming link from a South African (I think) site called Katoikei’s Jukebox to my page on Tom Autry.

Much to my surprise, I found four Ray H. Hughes Sr. sermons posted on this site as well.  My Church of God readers know Dr. Hughes, former General Overseer, former president of Lee University and widely regarded as the “Prince of Pentecostal Preachers,” well; I worked with Ray Jr. at Church of God Laity Ministries.

Update (February 2015): the links to the sermons originally here have been broken.  But now, there’s a YouTube Channel featuring Dr. Hughes’ material, along with some material from Ray Jr. Click here to view the material available.

Blast from the Past: Hanukkah: Opening Shot in the Culture Wars

This piece originally dates from 2005.

Christmas is over. The cat (and probably the children too) has found that the boxes and the wrapping paper are more fun than the presents were. Now we turn to the celebration of Hanukkah, late this year but better late than never.

Hanukkah is not the greatest Jewish feast—that honour is left for Passover and Yom Kippur—but has become magnified in importance because it falls so close to Christmas. But in its own way Hanukkah is painfully relevant for us today in a way that few understand. As with many things, we need to understand a little history.

The holiday celebrates the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. (B.C.E., for our Jewish and Jehovah’s Witness friends.) Part of this was the lighting of the seven-branched candle stand, the menorah. In setting things up again, the priests found enough oil for one day of burning, but by miracle the lamp burned for eight days until they could obtain more oil. So now we light a candle each day of the feast, in like manner to an Advent wreath.

But the need for the cleansing of the Temple begs the question: how did it get dirty, or more accurately defiled, in the first place? The best source for this is the First Book of the Maccabees, canonical to neither Jew nor Protestant but an important document in the understanding of the crucial point in Jewish—and Middle Eastern—history.

In the year 334 B.C. Alexander the Great, having subdued the Greek states, began his conquest of the Persian Empire. In less than eleven years he succeeded in doing just that; he would have gone further into India if his weary army had allowed him to do so. By his conquest the Greeks not only subdued a vast collection of territory and people, but also brought their culture and way of life.

After Alexander’s death, his vast empire broke up; after an extended period of warfare, three ruling families basically divided the empire. The Antigonids took Macedonia and Greece, the Ptolemies (the last of whom was Cleopatra) took Egypt, and the Seleucids took what was Babylonia and parts of Asia Minor.

At the time of Alexander’s conquest, the Jews were scattered throughout his empire,but the core of them were back in the land God had promised them and had a temple in Jerusalem. For many years the Ptolemies ruled the land of Israel from Egypt; subsequently it fell into the hands of the Seleucids. One of these, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, decided that the time had come to “integrate” the Jews into the Greek way of life, with the help of some willing locals:

quote:


In those days there went out of Israel wicked men, and they persuaded many, saying: Let us go and make a covenant with the heathens that are round about us: for since we departed from them, many evils have befallen us. And the word seemed good in their eyes. And some of the people determined to do this, and went to the king: and he gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathens. And they built a place of exercise in Jerusalem, according to the laws of the nations: And they made themselves prepuces, and departed from the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathens, and were sold to do evil. (1 Ma 1:12-16)


The “place of exercise” was of course the gymnasium. So what’s the big deal about building a gym in Jerusalem? The meaning of “gymnasium” is the place where people are nude, which is the way the Greeks exercised and competed in the various athletic competitions, including the Olympics. Public nudity had been forbidden in Judaism since Adam and Eve, but for the Greeks the lack of clothes had one additional “bonus:” it gave a chance for the men to check out the boys, because pederasty was a favourite vice amongst these people. In Plato’s Symposium (literally the “drinking together”,) Pausanias has a long speech that could pass today for NAMBLA’s prime position paper.

Paedophilia wasn’t just a pastime either, as Plutarch illustrated in his Parallel Lives of the Greeks and Romans:

quote:


During the year that he (Agesilaus) spent in one of the companies of boys who were brought up together under the Spartan system, he had as his lover Lysander, who was especially struck by his natural modesty and discretion. (Agesilaus, 2)


This of course facilitated Agesilaus’ advancement in the Spartan system. Such a system redefines what we think of when we consider the term “mentoring.” One is reminded of Alan Bloom’s tart comment on Pausanias’ speech in his own Love and Friendship: “To put it shamelessly…the boy is a prostitute.”

Lest we think that the Greeks restricted homosexual activity to men and boys, we need to examine Plutarch’s account of the Sacred Band, Thebes’ crack military unit:

quote:


The Sacred Band, we are told, was originally founded by Gorgidas. It consisted of three hundred picked men, who were given their training and lodging by the city and were quartered on the Cadmeia…But according to some accounts, this force was composed of lovers and beloved…Tribesmen or clansmen do not feel any great concern for their kinsfolk in time of danger, but a band which is united by the ties of love is truly indissoluble and unbreakable, since both lovers and beloved are ashamed to be disgraced in the presence of each other, and each stands his ground at a moment of danger to protect the other…The legend has it too that Iolaus, who was beloved by Hercules, accompanied him during his labours and shared them with him, and Aristotle says that even down to his own times the tomb of Iolaus was a place where lovers exchanged their vows. (Pelopidas, 18 )


Here we see a prototype of both gays in the military and gay marriage at the same time!

Once this toehold was established, Antiochus Epiphanes proceeded to go for the jugular:

quote:


And after Antiochus had ravaged Egypt, in the hundred and forty-third year, he returned and went up against Israel. And he went up to Jerusalem, with a great multitude. And he proudly entered into the sanctuary, and took away the golden altar, and the candlestick of light, and all the vessels thereof, and the table of proposition, and the pouring vessels, and the vials, and the little mortars of gold, and the veil, and the crowns, and the golden ornament that was before the temple: and he broke them all in pieces. And he took the silver and gold, and the precious vessels: and he took the hidden treasures, which he found: and when he had taken all away, he departed into his own country. And he made a great slaughter of men, and spoke very proudly. (1 Ma 1:21-25)


This was followed by persecution:

quote:


And the king sent letters by the hands of messengers to Jerusalem, and to all the cities of Judah; that they should follow the law of the nations of the earth. And should forbid holocausts and sacrifices, and atonements to be made in the temple of God. And should prohibit the Sabbath, and the festival days to be celebrated. And he commanded the holy places to be profaned, and the holy people of Israel. And he commanded altars to be built, and temples, and idols, and swine’s flesh to be immolated, and unclean beasts, And that they should leave their children uncircumcised, and let their souls be defiled with all uncleannesses, and abominations, to the end that they should forget the law, and should change all the justifications of God. And that whosoever would not do according to the word of king Antiochus, should be put to death. (1 Ma 1:46-52)


Finally came the ultimate insult to God and Judaism:

quote:


On the fifteenth day of the month, Casleu, in the hundred and forty-fifth year (8 December 167 B.C.), king Antiochus set up the abominable idol of desolation upon the altar of God, and they built altars throughout all the cities of Judah round about: And they burnt incense, and sacrificed at the doors of the houses and in the streets. And they cut in pieces, and burnt with fire the books of the law of God: And every one with whom the books of the testament of the Lord were found, and whosoever observed the law of the Lord, they put to death, according to the edict of the king. Thus by their power did they deal with the people of Israel, that were found in the cities month after month. And on the five and twentieth day of the month they sacrificed upon the altar of the idol that was over against the altar of God. (1 Ma 1:57-62)


The “abominable idol” was one of the Greek god Zeus, more generally referred to as the “abomination of desolation.”

The Jews had had enough. Under the leadership of the brothers from Modin, the “Hasmoneans” or “Maccabees,” the Jews showed the Greeks the hard way that “clansmen” were perfectly capable of matching the armies of the Greeks, especially when the God of Israel was at their back. They won the Jews’ independence, effected the cleansing of the Temple celebrated at Hanukkah, and established the last independent Jewish state until the modern State of Israel.

Hellenisation—the propagation of Greek culture and institutions outside of Greece proper—came as a general shock to most of the Middle East, just as the diffusion of “Western” values and culture has done today. As was the case before, there has been a stiff reaction, although today it more frequently comes from the children of Ishmael rather than those of Isaac.

The successors of those who won the first time aren’t what they used to be. Today we have open gay pride marches in places such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The British occupy Basra while back home their celebrities unite in homosexual civil partnership; such things are excellent recruiting tools for Sunni and Shi’ite extremists alike. The Americans up the river can plead that their own gay unions are for the most part forced on them by unelected judges, but such subtleties are lost on those who oppose them. Meanwhile, closer to the original events, Hamas promises a “gay-free Gaza” if they are victorious, which makes one wonder why the left continues to be enamoured by the cause of Palestinian statehood.

When one visits areas with large homosexual populations, one sees the rainbow flag unfurled and flying. Such a flag suggests comprehensive unity, but the reality is that, as is the case too often, the cry of freedom for some is the forerunner of repression for others, just as the gymnasium was the prelude to the abomination of desolation in the days of Antiochus Epiphanes. Followers of Allah have taken to war; followers of Jesus have not, and that difference is more significant than their opponents understand. But everyone understands that the stakes are high.

So as we celebrate—or at least commemorate—Hanukkah, we understand that the struggle between the Seleucids and the Hasmoneans is not just a historical artefact, but a present reality with different players. As Christians, may God grant us the strength both to persevere in the face of ultimate coercion while at the same time to act in accordance with the commands of the “author and finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2)

Notes:

  • Some parts adapted from Born to be Alive.
  • Quotations from Plutarch taken from Plutarch: The Age of Alexander, translated by Ian Scott-Kilvert. London: Penguin Books, 1973.
  • Quotations from 1 Maccabbees taken from the Douay-Rheims version of the Bible.
  • Quotation from Allan Bloom, Love and Friendship. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

The Kairosingers: Some Background From One of the Performers

One of the really nice albums I’ve posted is The Kairosingers’ Of One Accord.  I recently received an interesting response from Charlie Balsam (now Director of the Jason’s Deli Leadership Institute):

I am from Houston, but went to Lamar University, where I got involved with campus ministry. That is where the group met each other….the core quintet: me, Debbie, Nancy, Russ and Peggy were originals: Pam came soon after; Debbie & Nancy were sisters, and later their other sister Lisa joined us for a while, as did a second flutist when Pam moved on. Russ (on the right side of the cover) died in 1993. Usually a sextet, sometimes seven voices…

WE only printed @ 1000 of the albums, sold all of them. I am not sure where the original master tapes are, but I and others have transferred the vinyl to CD I am sure.

The Kairosinger “sound” was partly shaped by the Kea sisters, who had sung from childhood, and whose dad was a solid Baptist. So that may be where a protestant flavor seeped in. But the group was 100% Catholic. However, the overarching sound was shaped by my fascination with the 60s rock/vocal group The Association. So the vocals always had a layered quality about them. You should have heard us do the Wedding Song. There are places on the album where you can “hear” James Taylor guitar-style influence (In the Spirit) and the Byrds/Dan Fogelberg (Living Water).

Another reason the album may have seemed protestant is that most of the songs are personal rather than congregational or liturgical; two exceptions – Praise & Thanks to Yahweh (a responsorial psalm) and His Love Endures Forever, with a strong refrain. Our concerts, similar again to the Association, were often an eclectic, versatile selection of songs, depending on the venue. One of our last concerts included a Peter Paul and Mary song (The Unicorn Song), the late John Stewart (Some Kind of Love), John Michael Talbot’s Holy Is His Name and Behold Now the Kingdom, and two Doc Watson arrangements: Summertime (from Porgy & Bess) and Any Old Time (Jimmy Rodgers ragtime tune). Both were enhanced by Debbie’s clarinet and Lisa’s sax. We also had a nice, a capella arrangement of How Great Thou Art. There are several other original pieces we performed as well…

Our sound was also shaped by Houston’s Keyhole singers (early 1970s), and a Christian folk music coffeehouse affiliated with the evangelical but still Anglican (at the time) Church of the Redeemer, off Telephone Rd in central east Houston. I believe Betty and Graham Pulkingham were involved at the time.

Catholic guitar-based praise/worship and liturgical music matured over the next 20 years with John M Talbot, the St. Louis Jesuits, and United Church of Christ musician Marty Haugen from Minnesota, and various other artists.

St. Augustine: When Government and Brigands are Hard to Tell Apart

In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organised brigandage?  For, what are bands of brigands but petty kingdoms?   They also are groups of men, under the rule of a leader, bound together by a common agreement, dividing their booty according to settled principle.  If this band of criminals, by recruiting more criminals, acquires enough power to occupy regions, to capture cities, and to subdue whole populations, then it can with fuller right assume the title of kingdom, which in the public estimation is conferred upon it, not by the remuneration of greed, but by the increase in impunity.

The answer which a captured pirate gave to the celebrated Alexander the Great was perfectly accurate and correct.  When that kind asked the man what me meant by infesting the sea, he boldly replied: ‘What you mean by warring on the whole world, I do my fighting on a tiny ship, and they call me a pirate; you do yours with a large fleet, and they call you Commander.’ (The City of God, IV, 4)

With failed states abroad and bailouts and Ponzi schemes at home, Augustine’s words ring as true as ever.

The Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

From the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:

O LORD, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

Cessationism, A Protestant Idea

An interesting thought, from Sherry Weddell at the Catherine of Siena Institute:

In 1970, only 16% of non Catholic, non-Orthodox Christians qualified as renewalists. By 2000, 60% of Reformation heritage Christians in the world were renewalists. And a significant percentage of the remaining 40%, who would not formally qualify as renewalists, have nonetheless absorbed some of their ideas and practices. The part of the world where Christianity is most obviously faltering, such as Europe, has the fewest number of renewalists while Latin America and Asia have the most. The United States is the western country with the largest number (31%). (A detailed look at the global growth of the renewal is available in the World Christian Encyclopedia, pages 19-21).

This is especially significant because cessationism – the theological conviction that the miracles of the apostolic age ceased when the full canon of Scripture become available as a source of revelation and guidance – is a Protestant idea. Cessationism never made much sense to Catholic or Orthodox Christians who continued to expect the saints to work miracles, but it was the norm among non-Pentecostal Protestants only a generation ago. As a baby Baptist in southern Mississippi, I was taught that things like speaking in tongues and miraculous healings were demonic manifestations. In the 80’s, many evangelical mission agencies still would not accept charismatic candidates.

Today, it is a rare American or Latin or Asian or African Protestant indeed who holds to strict cessationism. They aren’t necessarily going to be speaking in tongues anytime soon, but even the most cautious are usually open to the possibility of divine healing. This can’t help but strongly affect our ecumenical dialogue with our Reformed heritage brothers and sisters.

One of the things that facilitated my transition into the Church of God a quarter century ago was the fact that I came from Roman Catholicism (and originally from the Episcopal Church) rather than a Reformed church.  Although its attitude towards the charismatic gifts (to say nothing of speaking in tongues) is complicated, the RCC has never abandoned the reality of the miraculous, even while at the same time upholding Christianity’s premier intellectual tradition.

Bernie Madoff: A Disaster of Biblical Proportions–and Meaning

I’ve been doing a little “Rocky Mountain High” in Colorado the last few days so I’ve not been blogging much, but during that time the whole Ponzi scheme of Bernard Madoff has broken.  For most investors, smarting from the already gargantuan losses in the stock market, it doesn’t have much impact (yet, at least.)  But for me, coming from Palm Beach, it’s both riveting and instructive.

A little explanation at the start is helpful.  Students of the New Testament are very familiar with the division of humanity into Jew and Gentile: “And in his human nature put an end to the cause of enmity between them–the Law with its injunctions and ordinances–in order to create, through union with himself, from Jew and Gentile, one New Man and thus make peace.” (Ephesians 2:15)  Unfortunately that division is still very much alive in Palm Beach, as I discussed in my 2005 piece Join the Club (Maybe Not!) Madoff socialised (and recruited) many of his clients at the Palm Beach Country Club, which we used to refer to as the “Jewish Country Club;” in fact, the Club itself is one of his victims.  That leads me to point out something else important: most of his clients/victims are Jewish, although the impact of his collapse is now reverberating throughout many financial institutions around the world.

I’ve seen some comments which would lead one to believe that situations like Madoff’s are largely Jewish in nature, but this is not the case.  I’ve seen this kind of thing at work in the Evangelical world.  Someone comes along in church circles, claiming special financial genius and high rates of return coupled with being a great Christian.  He or she (usually male) signs up some prominent people in the church and/or Christian circles, which puts pressure on the rest of us to get in on the action.  Put another way, it’s very hard to make a putt when your golf buddies are over there crowing about how well their investments are doing with __________, and I guess there were many putts missed at the Palm Beach Country Club on account of Madoff’s clients doing this.  Once they’ve gotten everyone (including you) on board, they tank, leaving everyone broke.

There are two important differences between such Evangelical scam artists and Madoff.

The first is that many Evangelicals of this kind claim that God tells them what to invest in.  My guess is that Madoff never made this claim for himself.

The second is the sheer enormity of the losses.  No Evangelical could ever corral enough people and money to do this.  It is a disaster of Biblical proportions, and it’s no accident that such a gargantuan loss took place amongst God’s chosen people.  The same people whose ancestors witnessed the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea and the collapse of the walls of Jericho are watching their investments do the same thing.

Anti-Semites who gripe about how Jewish people control such a disproportionate portion of the world’s wealth never stop and think about why this is so.  The blessings that God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants have never stopped, and that includes special intelligence and industry.  Out of that comes the ability to assemble and manage vast wealth.

But blessings that come can be lost.  In addition to taking advantage of the “herd instinct” of his own people, Madoff managed to circumvent the weak oversight that our government exerted over his operation.  That has led some to cry for more oversight.  Some of this is justified, but it leads us into the next trap: attempting to use oversight as a substitute for people of integrity.  Oversight’s limits are severe in an environment where people act without conscience.

It’s not an understatement that the whole Evangelical view of how a righteous society should operate is based on the Tanakh, the Old Testament.  A large part of that is that people should first act with integrity and transparency, accountable to God himself:

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6-8)

Coupled with that is a respect for what people have, especially people that don’t have much.  Although many of Madoff’s clients were wealthy (note the past tense,) others weren’t.  The Old Testament shows God’s displeasure at those with little having that taken away, and that includes the sovereign, be it David with Bathsheba or Ahab with Naboth’s vinyard.  It’s also not an accident that, at the end, protection of what one has is a part of God’s earthly paradise:

But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.  (Micah 4:4)

Madoff has made them afraid by betraying their trust.

In the end justice needs to be done here.  In our court system, it will take a long time.  But we who claim to reject “replacement theology” and also claim to know the Scriptures must see that the disaster of Madoff’s making must be a lesson to us.  There is no substitute for upright living and transparent dealing–not the Law, not the sacrificial system, not even whatever special spiritual gift that God has given us.  That kind living is what God expects of us, as he expected it (and still does) of his special chosen people, the Jews.

“You Samaritans do not know what you worship; we know what we worship, for Salvation comes from the Jews.” (John 4:22)  Jesus Christ himself noted this to the Samaritan woman.  Salvation indeed comes from the Jews.  That process is described here. But the Old Testament speaks of the Jews’ mistakes too.  It’s easy to concentrate on them, but ultimately were it not for the mistakes the salvation wouldn’t be as significant: “And for this, I tell you, her sins, many as they are, have been pardoned, because she has loved greatly; but one who has little pardoned him, loves but little.” (Luke 7:47)

Bernard Madoff has given us an expensive lesson.  Like those in the Scriptures, it’s our duty to learn from it.

Postscript: after I wrote this, Joyce Reingold posted a link to this, an article in the New York Social Diary about “Jewish Society in Old Palm Beach.” For those of us from Palm Beach or aficionados of the subject, both photos and reading are fascinating.

The Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent

From the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:

O LORD Jesu Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.