Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sacramentary of Sarapion - Texts of Healing

Our text under consideration begins with prayers for the people. The prayers for the people address several categories of concern. The first intercession is on behalf of those who have already come to and profess the faith, asking God for further resolve in and integrity of faith. This prayer requests God bring to fruition the vision of the elders of the Church in the Apocalypse of John, “Let them be numbered with the heavenly ones, let them be counted among the angels, and let them become fully elect and holy.” (note: the possible allusion to John’s Apocalypse will be treated below.) The second intercession prays for those who have, I would argue, converted to the faith but have not yet lived the major duration of their lives as part of the Church. The intention of the third intercession is more difficult to determine. “This people,” may refer to the local ecclesial community, the Church universal, or the ethnic group the congregation.
The prayers for the people continue with intercessions for governing authorities and intentions possibly more concerned with the daily lives of the congregants, “We pray, God of mercies, for those who are free and for slaves, for men and women; for the old men and children, for the poor and the rich.” Explicit intercessions for travelers, the imprisoned, and the poor follow. The prayers ask for God’s intervention in their lives in the forms of protection as well as physical and economic liberation respectively. Finally, the intercessions in this section conclude with an intercession for the sick, asking for God to grant physical health three times, the third supplication including mention of both body and soul. The prayers conclude with a Trinitarian formula, invoking the Father as the Savior, benefactor, Lord and King of all and offering the prayer through the only-begotten Jesus Christ with power and glory in the Holy Spirit.
            The prayers for the people are followed by the Laying on of Hands of the Laity. God is asked to bestow the blessing, the blessing of heaven, and the blessings of the prophets and apostles. The prayer continues by requesting bodies of self-control and purity and souls learned in knowledge and mysteries. An abbreviated form of the conclusion of the prayers for the people follows.
            A longer prayer for the sick follows the laying on of hands of the laity. The prayer for the sick invokes God as the overseer, Lord, modeler of body and maker of soul, constructor of humanity, governor, guide, and Savior. The prayer asks God to rebuke the sickness and raise-up the sick, language that evokes the narratives of Jesus' ministry among the possessed and the dead in the New Testament. A laying on of hands follows, requesting God intervene in the life of the sick and deem them worthy of health.

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