Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Visitation of the Sick - Rector's Rambling for August 25, 2013

Continuing forward in the Pastoral Offices of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, having looked at Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony, and the Churching of Women, we now look at the Visitation of the Sick (p. 308–20).
The Order for the Visitation of the Sick is a set form of antiphons, psalms, and prayers for the health and healing of the sick, and repentance of sins.  Also included at the end of this office is a subset of prayers, beginning with a Litany for the Dying, with prayers for a holy death.
There are three things I find of particular interest in this office.  The first is at the end, where the minister finds the rubric (instruction) that The Minister is ordered, from time to time, to advise the People, whilst they are in health, to make Wills arranging for the disposal of their temporal goods, and, when of ability, to leave Bequests for religious and charitable uses.
The second of interest is that although all American Books of Common Prayer contained instruction for the sick person to examine their conscience of sin and to make amends where able, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer introduced this rubric (p. 313): Then shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any matter; after which confession, on evidence of his repentance, the Minister shall assure him of God’s mercy and forgiveness.  This is the first instance of instruction for auricular (in the ear), or private confession, in an Anglican prayer book.  The 1979 Prayer Book is the first to contain a form for such a confession.
Finally, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is the first American Prayer Book to contain a form for Unction of the Sick, better known as anointing with Holy Oil.  Considered a “minor” sacrament, and a great aid in the spiritual life, it is surprising that it is not contained in previous prayer books.  When administered at the time of death, it is known as Extreme Unction, or Last Rites.