Thursday 15 February 2024

Memento, homo, quia pulvis es

Chant of the Heart: Miserere Mei (Psalm 50/51)

Influenced by many beliefs

I do not make much advertisement about my beliefs or faith, though, in many of my writings I might allude to how I am persuaded of things, views, doctrines, life, and much else.

My Christian journey is interesting and varied, first seen through the inclinations of my parents, their siblings, and their friends who all attended different denominations from Anglican to which I was both baptised and confirmed, the Christ Apostolic Church that my mother attended before her marriage, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church that my younger aunt attended, the Methodist Church that my elder aunt attended and the Methodists founded my secondary school in February 1946.

Filling in forms the other day, one of the options included Charismatic Christian, which I found interesting as until then, the broadly Christian cachet was used. I embrace the charismatic demonstration of my Christian experience which I encountered 40 years ago in April and even with the many characterisations of belief, unbelief, or disbelief I have been exposed to, the relearning of what the dispensation of grace pertains to remains more pertinent.

Ash Wednesday in practice

I had planned to make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, but I inadvertently had to be in Edinburgh for an engagement and returned quite late on Tuesday, too tired to do anything other than go to bed. I also wanted to return on Tuesday, because I was on the rota stewarding the Ash Wednesday Sung Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes.

The ashes are part of a ritual signifying penitence where typically the palm fronds from the previous Palm Sunday are burnt to have the ash for marking the sign of the cross on the foreheads of adherents kneeling at the altar. At the imposition of the ashes, the priest would say words to the effect in Latin or in the vernacular, “Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.” (“Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.”)

In addition, the priest said, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.” It was a solemn occasion of awareness, mortality, and the eternal purpose to which we are called. The individuality of knowing yourself in the congregation of the many, your own heart seen and known by God is humbling. I may not essentially be fasting for Lent.

Combining my devotional allegiances

In the background, the Choir as we all met in the quire sang Psalm 51 as canticles in Latin. The high church traditions of our Anglican community could be quite fascinating as we the stewards took the offering and ushered the congregants first towards the imposition and then later to the Communion.

These activities would barely, if ever, be seen in a charismatic church gathering, but I find that I enjoy practising my Christian devotion primarily in the Anglican Church, occasionally in a charismatic church, and generally in listening to messages and sermons by evangelical preachers. An amalgam of community and beliefs that suits my expression and understanding with the assurance that I have found love, truth, mercy, grace, and favour.

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