A prayer in the time of plague

IT had been the best for us, O most righteous Judge, and our most merciful father, that in our wealth and quietness, and in the midst of thy manifold benefits continually bestowed upon us most unworthy sinners, we had of love hearkened to thy voice, and turned unto thee our most loving and gracious father: For in so doing, we had done the parts of good and obedient loving children, It had also been well, if at thy dreadful threats out of thy holy word continually pronounced unto us by thy servants our preachers, we had of fear, as corrigible servants, turned from our wickedness. But alas we have shewed hitherto our selves towards thee, neither as loving children (O most merciful father) neither as tolerable servants, O Lord most mighty.
Wherefore now we feel thy heavy wrath, O most righteous Judge, justly punishing us with grievous and deadly sickness and plagues; we do now confess and acknowledge, and to our most just punishment do find indeed, that to be most true, which we have so often hard threatened to us out of thy holy scriptures, the word of thy eternal verity: that thou art the same unchangeable God, of the same justice that thou wilt, and of the same power that thou canst punish the like wickedness and obstinacy of us impenitent sinners in these days, as thou hast done in all ages heretofore. But the same thy holy Scriptures, the word of thy truth, do also testify, that thy strength is not shortened but that thou canst: neither thy goodness abated but that thou wilt, help those that in their distress do flee unto thy mercies, and that thou art the same God of all, rich in mercy towards all that call upon thy name, and that thou dost not intend to destroy us utterly, but fatherly to correct us; who hast pity upon us, even when thou dost scourge us, as by thy said holy word thy gracious promises, and the examples of thy saints in thy holy Scriptures expressed for our comfort, thou hast assured us.
Grant us, O most merciful father, that we fall not into the uttermost of all mischiefs, to become worse under thy scourge, but that this thy rod may by thy heavenly grace speedily work in us the fruit and effect of true repentance, unfeigned turning and converting unto thee, and perfect amendment of our whole lives, that, as we through our impenitence do now most worthily feel thy justice punishing us, so by this thy correction we may also feel the sweet comfort of thy mercies, graciously pardoning our sins, and pitifully releasing these grievous punishments and dreadful plagues. This we crave at thy hand, O most merciful father, for thy dear son our Savior Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

I found this in an old issue of Notes and Queries and thought I would pass it along:

There is a curious tradition existing in Mansfield, Woodhouse, Bulwell, and several other villages near Sherwood Forest, as to the origin of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. The inhabitants of any of these villages will inform the questioner that when the Danes got to Linby all the Saxon men of the neighboring villages ran off into the Forest, and the Danes took the Saxon women to keep house for them. This happened just before Lent, and the Saxon women, encouraged by their fugitive lords, resolved to massacre their Danish masters on Ash Wednesday. Every woman who agreed to do this was to bake pancakes for their meal on Shrove Tuesday as a kind of pledge to fulfill her vow. This was done, and that the massacre of the Danes did take place on Ash Wednesday is a well-known historical fact.

Notes and Queries, June 4, 1859

Jeremy Taylor on Shrove Tuesday Repentance

In The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, he writes:

Every true penitential sorrow is rather natural than solemn; that is, it is the product of our internal apprehensions, rather than outward order and command. He that repents only by solemnity, at a certain period, by the expectation of tomorrow’s sun, may indeed act a sorrow, but cannot be sure that he shall then be sorrowful. Other acts of repentance may be done in their proper period, by order and command, upon set days, and indicted solemnities; such as is, fasting and prayer, and alms, and confession, and disciplines, and all the instances of humiliation: but sorrow is not to be reckoned in this account, unless it dwells there before. When there is a natural abiding sorrow for our sins, any public day of humiliation can bring it forth, and put it into activity; but when a sinner is gay and intemperately merry upon Shrove-tuesday, and resolves to mourn upon Ash-wednesday; his sorrow hath in it more of the theatre than the temple, and is not at all to be relied upon by him that resolves to take severe accounts of himself.

Section VI.X.89

Goodbye Baby Blue

Mary Ailes died today. She was one of the pioneers of Anglican blogging who was in the thick of things from Truro in Virginia, in the early days of CANA. To me it feels like yesterday but it is quickly fading into the past. I met her in person once and she was a kind soul. I am thankful for her work in proving that blogs could be a great source of news, something that we have gone backwards on I fear. Her blog is available at:

https://babybluecafe.blogspot.com/

and

https://babyblueonline.org/

In the midst of life we are in death…

C.S. Lewis on Prayer Book Revision

Source: Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

And that brings me back to my starting point. The business of us laymen is simply to endure and make the best of it. Any tendency to a passionate preference for one type of service must be regarded simply as a temptation. Partisan “Churchmanships” are my bête noire. And if we avoid them, may we not possibly perform a very useful function? The shepherds go off, “every one to his own way” and vanish over diverse points of the horizon. If the sheep huddle patiently together and go on bleating, might they finally recall the shepherds? (Haven’t English victories sometimes been won by the rank and file in spite of the generals?)

As to the words of the service—liturgy in the narrower sense—the question is rather different. If you have a vernacular liturgy you must have a changing liturgy; otherwise it will finally be vernacular only in name. The ideal of “timeless English” is sheer nonsense. No living language can be timeless. You might as well ask for a motionless river.

I think it would have been best, if it were possible, that necessary change should have occurred gradually and (to most people) imperceptibly; here a little and there a little; one obsolete word replaced 15 in a century—like the gradual change of spelling in successive editions of Shakespeare. As things are we must reconcile ourselves, if we can also reconcile government, to a new Book.

If we were—I thank my stars I’m not—in a position to give its authors advice, would you have any advice to give them? Mine could hardly go beyond unhelpful cautions: “Take care. It is so easy to break eggs without making omelettes.”

Already our liturgy is one of the very few remaining elements of unity in our hideously divided Church. The good to be done by revision needs to be very great and very certain before we throw that away. Can you imagine any new Book which will not be a source of new schism?

Most of those who press for revision seem to wish that it should serve two purposes: that of modernising the language in the interests of intelligibility, and that of doctrinal improvement. Ought the two operations—each painful and each dangerous—to be carried out at the same time? Will the patient survive?

What are the agreed doctrines which are to be embodied in the new Book and how long will agreement on them continue? I ask with trepidation because I read a man the other day who seemed to wish that everything in the old Book which was inconsistent with orthodox Freudianism should be deleted. 16

For whom are we to cater in revising the language? A country parson I know asked his sexton what he understood by indifferently in the phrase “truly and indifferently administer justice”. The man replied, “It means making no difference between one chap and another.” “And what would it mean if it said impartially?” asked the parson. “Don’t know. Never heard of it,” said the sexton. Here, you see, we have a change intended to make things easier. But it does so neither for the educated, who understand indifferently already, nor for the wholly uneducated, who don’t understand impartially. It helps only some middle area of the congregation which may not even be a majority. Let us hope the revisers will prepare for their work by a prolonged empirical study of popular speech as it actually is, not as we (a priori) assume it to be. How many scholars know (what I discovered by accident) that when uneducated people say impersonal they sometimes mean incorporeal?

What of expressions which are archaic but not unintelligible? (“Be ye lift up”). I find that people re-act to archaism most diversely. It antagonises some: makes what is said unreal. To others, not necessarily more learned, it is highly numinous and a real aid to devotion. We can’t please both.

I know there must be change. But is this the right moment? Two signs of the right moment occur to me. One would be a unity among us which enabled 17 the Church—not some momentarily triumphant party—to speak through the new work with a united voice. The other would be the manifest presence, somewhere in the Church, of the specifically literary talent needed for composing a good prayer. Prose needs to be not only very good but very good in a very special way, if it is to stand up to reiterated reading aloud. Cranmer may have his defects as a theologian; as a stylist, he can play all the moderns, and many of his predecessors, off the field. I don’t see either sign at the moment.

Yet we all want to be tinkering. Even I would gladly see “Let your light so shine before men” removed from the offertory. It sounds, in that context, so like an exhortation to do our alms that they may be seen by men.

Bishop Nathan Gasatura: “Kagame honors the Lord”

On February 23, 2011 Rwandan Anglican Bishop Nathan Gasatura spoke during the chapel message at Wheaton College. During his message, he mentioned that he went to high school with Rwanda’s dictator, Paul Kagame:

I have been in the presence of the Presidents, about four, in our region, and every time I ask the Lord, “Lord give me the strength to just raise your flag, just in a small humble way.” And recently when, you know, we met, the President Kagame with many delegates we talked business and after were done we were to go and in my heart I said, “Oh Lord, I’m failing you help me!” And I put up my hand and asked, I said, “Your excellency, would you allow me to kindly pray in this place?” He said, “Of course Nathan” because we bumped into each other in some high school, so we knew each other a little bit.

And he was right there, it’s a big, big, you know, Presidential hall. And I just felt I need to move and pray with him there, something crazy, some of these things happen. So, I, I said, “if I move the security will think I’m in, you know, I’m up to something.” But I said anyway, “don’t worry” so I walked right across and as I stood behind him, near him, we were almost the same height, so I said, “yeah, I think it’s fitting to put my hand on him.” I prayed, and we all got out so I said, “who knows when I will ever have the opportunity like this?” Praise be to God.

Bishop Gasatura discusses the much-touted reconciliation process in Rwanda between the Hutu and the Tutsi. He goes on to make the astounding claim that “Kagame honors the Lord”:

In Rwanda the story of forgiveness, healing, peacebuilding and reconciliation has been a very painful journey, has been a heartbreaking journey, has been a painful, excruciating journey, has been a very, very, hostile journey, but it has been a worthwhile journey. We thank God for the leadership whom we believe God has used in some way because Kagame honors the Lord. He doesn’t proclaim Christianity openly, many of his ministers, members of Parliament and Senators they honor the Lord. When you come in the Presidential Prayer Breakfast that’s when you see it, it’s, it’s just moving. And we have no doubt that God has used that government to be used as his instrument like he used King Darius. And, Rwanda is changing partly because of the work of the church and government and other forces.

Bishop Gasatura then claims that Kagame was used by God to stop revenge after the genocide of 1994:

When the genocide was beaten and stopped, the very first policy that was put in place was a policy of no revenge, Kagame, somehow was used by God to say, “If we never stop this bloodletting and revenge this vicious cycle will never stop.” So he put in place like a general an order, which had not gone into policy and law, that nobody was allowed whatsoever to shed blood of someone who had killed even 200 of your family members, the government will handle that, nobody (should) take the law in his hands. And today that policy has gone into practice, into law, and a Commission of Unity and Reconciliation has been put in place to re-educate and help the Rwandans unlearn the wrong and poisonous history that they were taught. And if that was not supported by the Church, praying and interceding and teaching, and you know, repenting, it would never go far.

Fact checking the Bishop

Does Kagame honor the Lord?

One of his former cabinet ministers told me, “Like all of us, he grew up Catholic. He has never seriously practiced any faith.Before those he trusts, he ridicules faith in God, and those who believe.”

Furthermore, Kagame is a murderer who crushes all dissent in the open prison that is Rwanda, not quite the qualities of a leader who honors the Lord.

Did Kagame stop the bloodletting?

To the contrary, the entire reign of Kagame is covered in blood. Look at just a couple of the thousands of examples; first, former Kagame bodyguard Aloys Ruyezni wrote:

The Murder of Religious Leaders in Rwanda

The 157th Battalion, led by (then) Col. Fred Ibingira, killed many innocent people in Mutara, Kibungo, Bugesera, Gitarama and elsewhere during the final attack to take control of the country. This includes the bishops who were murdered in Kabgayi. The 157th Battalion’s I.O., Wilson Gumisiriza, organized a section of his staff to kill the bishops. It was led by (then) Sgt. Kwitegetse (alias Burakari), who was briefed on the mission by Gumisiriza. Gen. Kagame gave the final order to kill the bishops to Col. Ibingira. He gave him the order in these words: “Remove those rubbishes,” or “Fagia,” in Swahili.

Ruyenzi again:

Maj. Silas Udahemuka was appointed by President Kagame to supervise the killing of civilians during 1994 and afterwards. He would complete his assigned operation and then report back directly to Gen. Kagame.

The example of Festo Kivengere

Bishop Gasatura rightly praises the example of Ugandan Bishop Festo Kivengere, and says he wants to be like him. However, Kivengere spoke up against his dictator, Idi Amin, and had to flee Uganda because of it. Bishop Festo wrote:

A suffering Church can bless a nation and provide a refuge to which the suffering society may turn for healing, for liberation and hope. This was proved in Uganda as the Church came under more systematic attack, and hundreds of martyrs’ deaths were added to that of the archbishop’s.

Bishop Gasatura is knowingly or unknowingly spreading falsehoods about Rwanda and the nature of Paul Kagame.

http://alivingtext.com/blog/2013/05/06/rwandan-bishop-nathan-gasatura-hosted-awards-event-for-kagame/

Bishop Augustin Ahimana Murekezi Defending Rwanda’s Actions in the DRC

In 2006, Andrew Paquin wrote an article in Christianity Today, part of which said this about Pastor Rick Warren’s connection to Rwanda:

Warren’s relationship with Rwandan President Paul Kagame is also of concern. Kagame was the leader of the rebel Tutsi forces that brought an end to genocide in 1994. Yet as president, he has overseen a military that continues to occupy parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Human-rights observers such as Amnesty International and even the U.S. State Department accuse Kagame of not only stripping Congo of its natural resources, but also of mass rape, burning villages, and murdering civilians. Rwandan leaders reject these claims, yet the human-rights community maintains their accuracy.

Years of African corruption in the wake of colonial puppetry have created rifts of distrust between those who are suffering and those with friends in high places. Although Kagame is an improvement from past leaders, his connection to former regimes and to ongoing human-rights concerns should trouble anyone seeking to work with him.

Coming to the defense of Kagame, current Anglican Bishop Augustin Ahimana Murekezi of the Kivu diocese wrote a response in Christianity Today. He said:

It is also our duty to inform American Christians that there has been a malicious campaign to demonize Rwanda’s leaders, distorting the political situation. This distortion emanates from people often hiding behind so-called humanitarian organizations. Some have a hidden agenda of distracting the international community so that their own role in Rwanda’s tragedy cannot be exposed.

When Rwandan troops decided to pursue the genocidal forces and their sponsors in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1996 and 1998, they did so in the light of day. The peace we enjoy today in our country is mainly a consequence of that action. When our troops pulled out of DRC in 2002, it was under the intense gaze of international observers and media. So accusing Rwandan troops today of continuing “to occupy parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo” is simply mind-boggling.

Bishop Augustin attributed all the multitude of reports pointing out Kagame’s evil actions to “a malicious campaign to demonize Rwanda’s leaders.” Would he say the same of all the former Rwandan leaders who have defected and told the same stories? They are all liars to a man as well? In fact, his attack on Paquin’s accurate article follows a pattern clearly elucidated by Filip Reyntjens in this paper.
As history has shown since 2006, Rwanda has continued to stir up death and mayhem in the DRC, particularly in the Kivus. In fact, as this week’s Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo says:

The advance of M23 towards Goma started in earnest on 15 November with an attack on Kibumba, approximately 20 km north of Goma. After some success in pushing back M23 on the first and second days of the offensive with significant and robust support by MONUSCO, which is estimated to have resulted in high casualties to M23, the Congolese armed forces later succumbed to a larger, well-organized and well-supplied force. Following the setback of its first attack on Kibumba, the subsequent speed, efficiency and success of the renewed M23 offensive were rendered possible by a sudden increase in the group’s combatants, coordinated multi-pronged attacks and attacks with coordination between infantry and fire support, all capacities that are not characteristic of former integrated CNDP elements. Furthermore, MONUSCO observations of the command and control ability of the attacking force, the effective coordination of its fire support, the quality of its equipment and its general fighting ability, particularly during night- time, all suggested the existence of external support, both direct and indirect.

Let’s be clear, “external support” means “the Rwandan Army.”
The wars that Bishop Augustin defended involved horrific atrocities, as outlined in the Mapping Exercise report of the UN. Wikipedia says that the Second Congo War “and its aftermath had killed 5.4 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, making the Second Congo War the deadliest conflict worldwide since World War II.”
In fact, the Mapping Report says that the Armée patriotique rwandaise (APR – the Rwandan Army), went after ethnic Hutu’s regardless of their lack of involvement in the 94 genocide:

Several of the incidents listed appear to confirm that multiple attacks targeted members of the Hutu ethnic group as such, and not only the criminals responsible for the genocide committed in 1994 against the Tutsis in Rwanda and that no effort had been made by the AFDL/APR to distinguish between Hutu members of the ex-FAR/Interahamwe and Hutu civilians, whether or not they were refugees.

30. The intention to destroy a group in part is sufficient to constitute a crime of genocide and the international courts have confirmed that the destruction of a group can be limited to a particular geographical area. It is therefore possible to assert that, even if only a part of the Hutu population in Zaire was targeted and destroyed, it could nonetheless constitute a crime of genocide if this was the intention of the perpetrators. Several incidents listed in this report point to circumstances and facts from which a court could infer the intention to destroy the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC in part, if these were established beyond all reasonable doubt.

The incidents of horror from this war could be enumerated at length, but here is a sample of what the Rwandan Army did:

  • On 21 October 1996, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB attacked Lubarika camp and village, killing an unknown number of Rwandan and Burundian refugees, as well as Zairian civilians who were trying to flee the village after the departure of the FAZ. The soldiers forced local people to bury the bodies in four large mass graves. On the same day, soldiers also burned thirty refugees alive in a house in the village of Kakumbukumbu, five kilometres from Lubarika camp.
  • On 24 November 1996, in the village of Mwaba, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB burned 24 Burundian Hutu refugees from the Biriba camp alive. On their arrival in Mwaba, the soldiers arrested those present in the village. After questioning them, they freed the Zairian civilians and imprisoned the Burundian refugees in a house which they then set on fire.
  • On 22 October 1996, in the Rushima ravine between Bwegera and Luberizi, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB killed a group of nearly 550 Rwandan Hutu refugees who had escaped the Luberizi and Rwenena camps a few days before. Soldiers inter- cepted the victims at the checkpoints set up in the surrounding area. Between 27 October and 1 November 1996, under the pretext of repatriating them to Rwanda, units of the AFDL/APR/FAB led an unknown number of additional refugees into the Rushima ravine and executed them.
  • In January 1997, AFDL/APR units killed at least thirty Rwandan and Burundian refugees, mostly with knives, on the Bukavu to Walungu road, around sixteen kilometres from the city of Bukavu. The victims had been arrested as part of a combing operation. Before killing the victims, the soldiers often tortured and maimed them.
  • Between 15 November and 16 November 1996, AFDL/APR units arrested an un- known number of Rwandan Hutu men from the Lac Vert camp and Mugunga and executed them. Some were bound and then thrown alive into Lac Vert, where they drowned. Others were shot in the head and their bodies dumped in the lake. 

This could go on and on. Suffice it to say that these wars and those who instigate them should not be defended, but decried. Going after the humanitarian organizations instead is astonishing.