Beth is in Year 9 at my school, and her mum is a colleague. Beth has advanced cancer.
Each week at mass I am lighting a candle for Beth and her family.
Sometimes the words of prayers ring hollow to me: then the mere act of lighting a candle can itself embody the prayer I struggle to speak. At other times, words sanctified by long use can have a grace and beauty that go beyond their mere content. This prayer for a sick child from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer of 1662 seems to me to have those qualities, so I offer them here for Beth:
ALMIGHTY God, and merciful Father, to whom alone belong the issues of life and death: Look down from heaven, we humbly beseech thee, with the eyes of mercy upon this child now lying upon the bed of sickness: Visit her, 0 Lord, with thy salvation; deliver her in thy good appointed time from her bodily pain, and save her soul for thy mercies’ sake: That, if it shall be thy pleasure to prolong her days here on earth, she may live to thee, and be an instrument of thy glory, by serving thee faithfully, and doing good in her generation; or else receive her into those heavenly habitations, where the souls of them that sleep in the Lord Jesus enjoy perpetual rest and felicity. Grant this, 0 Lord, for thy mercies’ sake, in the same thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen