Speak Lord: Promise us communion with you for ever

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God spoke to Noah and his sons, ‘See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; also with every living creature to be found with you, birds, cattle and every wild beast with you: everything that came out of the ark, everything that lives on the earth. I establish my Covenant with you: no thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters of the flood. There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.’

God said, ‘Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh.’

First reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8-15

In Lent we can struggle, even with God’s grace, struggle, to live faithfully and well.

If/when we stumble and fall it is a great reassurance to remember the mercy of the Lord, that he does not renege on his covenant with us, but rather constantly offers the opportunity for us to own our sorrow, repent and find reassurance in his compassion and mercy.

ConfessionOften people have not received good catechesis and formation with regard to the Sacrament of Confession. A new book in the YOUCAT series, (fruit of World Youth Days and related initiatives) has just been published which many may find helpful. Titled Confession, it is available in the UK from the Catholic Truth ServiceAmazon, good bookshops and, ahem, the best parishes.

Confession is written for teenagers , but it is difficult to think who would not find it helpful.

Floor tile. Gloucester Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

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Speak Lord: Lead us forward…

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Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Responsorial Psalm for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

Our journey through Lent has begun.

Will it lead us to Easter? To a deeper participation in Christ in his service of others? Or will it just have been a ‘thing’?

Without the help of God, it will surely not be capable of leading us to the Kingdom, to Christ, and so we sing our prayer asking for help…

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. Southwark Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: even to the deaf and the dead

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Christ himself, innocent though he was, had died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison. Now it was long ago, when Noah was still building that ark which saved only a small group of eight people ‘by water’, and when God was still waiting patiently, that these spirits refused to believe.

That water is a type of the baptism which saves you now, and which is not the washing off of physical dirt but a pledge made to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has entered heaven and is at God’s right hand, now that he has made the angels and Dominations and Powers his subjects.

Second reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
1 Peter 3:18-22

How blessed are we.

The Lord who lives and suffered for us, uses even his death as an opportunity to serve, graciously extending the offer of salvation to those who have died.

St Peter speaks of baptism not of having saved us, but of baptism still saving us, still  working to deepen our communion with God.

Jesus descended to the dead. Church of the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg, Russia. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Who suffered to love us into life

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The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Gospel for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Mark 1:12-15

St Mark tells us much less than do Ss Matthew and Luke about the wilderness/temptations experience of Jesus.

However, for all of his reticence about the detail, St Mark makes it clear that the experience was harrowing. 40 days in the wilderness is no easy matter to grapple with – and then there was Satan, and the wild beasts to contend with. Jesus must have thanked God for the angels who looked after him.

Having overcome temptation and fears Jesus sets to his work and what a positive and hopeful message he sets before the people of Galilee – and us!

‘The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Stained glass, Eglise Saint-Germain-L’Auxerrois, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Grace needed, grace offered

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O God, who teach us that you abide
in hearts that are just and true,
grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace
as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Collect for the Sunday of the 6th week in Ordinary Time 

The Collect of Sunday of this week serves well as a focus for the meaning and work of the season of Lent which begins today, Ash Wednesday.

We look for purification and freedom, and we look for a new closeness with God, abiding in him and he abiding in us.

Slave by Michelangelo. Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Making the effort

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Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.

Second reading for Sunday of the 6th week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

Our every action is laden with the implications and consequences of the choices we made in taking it.

Often we will not even be conscious of these. But Paul invites us to try to make sure that the implication of our every action is that we love and honour God and every intended consequence is about love of neighbour.

Today is the last day before the season of Lent begins – a season given us to help us recover the fullness of our Christian identity by attending to our behaviour.

St Paul, pray for us.

Sign for Christian Coffee Shop, Antalya, Turkey. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Hope and joy

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You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess
my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Responsorial Psalm for Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Psalm 31:1-2,5,11

Punishment can last long after repentance, after forgiveness even.

And in that shadowed time, joy at being loved, joy at being offered forgiveness and reconciliation can be the predominant emotion, even as suffering continues.

We live, so we say in the Salve Regina, in a vale of tears, but hope is ours here, because of the mercy and love of God.

  • Who forgives you?
  • Who might you forgive?

Bloomsbury, London.  (c) 2014, Allen Morris