Taste and See: Pro nobis

Crucifixion LiverpoolThe Prayer over the Offerings prayed at Mass on Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of the Year, is bold in its assertion of the meaningfulness of what we do at Liturgy:

Prayer over the Offerings

Grant us, O Lord, we pray,
that we may participate worthily in these mysteries,
for whenever the memorial of this sacrifice is celebrated
the work of our redemption is accomplished.
Through Christ our Lord.

The Prayer reappears in the Liturgy of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday. It also has the honour of being the first text quoted in Vatican II’s Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, (SC2).

It comes to us from the Verona ‘sacramentary’, a 6th Century collection of liturgical texts, and our oldest collection of Western liturgical prayers.

It is a firm statement of Catholic belief of the salvific force of the Mass, by the force of the Mass as sacrifice. The Mass is the Sacrament of the Sacrifice, the memorial of the Sacrifice, but in the Sacrament, in the memorial, we are present to the Sacrifice of CHrist, and his Sacrifice is presently effective for us. It is the one Sacrifice, not repeated, not duplicated, but re-presented – actualised, made ‘sensible’ for us – in the sacramental action. In the Mass we are at Calvary and Christ is our reconciliation, the Mercy of God made manifest.

And this is for us.

And we benefit from it when we participate worthily.

  • What helps you to join yourself more fully with the Liturgy?
  • What hinders?
  • How would you understand ‘worthily’ here?
  • What one thing might help you share more deeply in the Mass and its benefits?

Wall hanging. Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

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Taste and See: drink deeply, drink well

 

Saving draught, Marseilles

On Sunday, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, we heard the account of the first of the series of Signs which are given such prominence in John’s Gospel.

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’

They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said; ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.

John 2:1-11

At the invitation to Communion we are invited that we are invited to the supper, the wedding banquet, of the Lamb. In response we acknowledge our unworthiness, lack of preparedness et al (like those responsible for the provisioning of Cana’s wedding!).

Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof…

We are also sustained by what is revealed of God in the whole of salvation history and profess our faith in God’s love for us:

…only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.

The Lord has uncorked the bottle and there is no sign that he wants to put it back in again. The celebrations of mercy, his making all things new, continue…

Photograph of sarcophagus in the Abbey of St Victor, Marseilles. The upper tier is comprised of images with a Eucharistic/festive/salvific  theme – the deer that drink from running streams; and the other side of the Chi-Rho symbol, the wedding feast of Cana; and Israel’s trophy of giant grapes discovered in the Promised Land. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

Taste and See: the newness of the song

Gaving Turk apple core

Yesterday, the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we sang a psalm.

The psalm, the word of the Lord we sang, exhorted us to sing a new song…

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Proclaim his help day by day,
tell among the nations his glory
and his wonders among all the peoples.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Worship the Lord in his temple.
O earth, tremble before him.
Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’
He will judge the peoples in fairness.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Psalm 95:1-3,7-10

What does that ‘sing a new song’ mean?

It is, at least on the face of it, a somewhat odd sentiment for us to vocalise and not least in the words of a song some 3000 years old! Of course Davidic copyright is long expired, but so is the author so there is no benefit to him in promoting a fresh repertoire.

Perhaps what is meant is that we the singers need to imbue the old song with new meaning. That we need to sing not merely mindful of what has been, but especially are to sing of the current wonders of the Lord.

Our song needs to be informed, even validated, by the personal encounter with the living Lord, an encounter that is the touchstone of the authentic Christian and Jewish life.

It is much easier for our religious life to be demonstrated by a relationship to a religious institution: Temple, synagogue, Church or church, Order or congregation, state of life, prayer group or whatever. These things can help, but heaven help us when they become a replacement for that lived relationship with God.

  •  How do you best sustain your relationship with God?
  • What challenges it?
  • Where does it support you?
  • Where does it challenge you?
  • What is the new song you sing?

Ergo sum (2008). Gavin Turk. Bronze cast painted in oil paint. Collection of Manchester Art Gallery. Photograph (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Of your love for us

Beloved

The first reading at Mass today establishes the scene for our more fruitful hearing of today’s Gospel reading, the account of the wedding at Cana:

About Zion I will not be silent,
about Jerusalem I will not grow weary,
until her integrity shines out like the dawn
and her salvation flames like a torch.

The nations then will see your integrity,
all the kings your glory,
and you will be called by a new name,
one which the mouth of the Lord will confer.
You are to be a crown of splendour in the hand of the Lord,
a princely diadem in the hand of your God;

no longer are you to be named ‘Forsaken’,
nor your land ‘Abandoned’,
but you shall be called ‘My Delight’
and your land ‘The Wedded’;
for the Lord takes delight in you
and your land will have its wedding.

Like a young man marrying a virgin,
so will the one who built you wed you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices in his bride,
so will your God rejoice in you.

Isaiah 62:1-5

The story of Cana is not just about a wedding reception rescued from untimely sobriety! It is a story of the superabundance of God’s love.

God’s love seeks to win us, raise us up, share with us his glory and power, his joy and his life. In this is our every hope, our every blessing.

If God cannot be silent about us, how can we be silent about him? So, let us sing a new song…

  • For what do you give thanks today?
  • And for what do you grieve?

Missa Bella, Martial Raysse. In collection of MAMAC, Nice. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

 

 

Speak Lord: Help us sing a new song

Music angels

Tomorrow, the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, we sing a song repeating the ancient encouragement to God’s gathered people to know the wonders of the Lord and to proclaim them to those who without our witness of  (might) lack eyes to see and ears to hear

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

O sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
O sing to the Lord, bless his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Proclaim his help day by day,
tell among the nations his glory
and his wonders among all the peoples.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Give the Lord, you families of peoples,
give the Lord glory and power;
give the Lord the glory of his name.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Worship the Lord in his temple.
O earth, tremble before him.
Proclaim to the nations: ‘God is king.’
He will judge the peoples in fairness.

Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.

Psalm 95:1-3,7-10

Our faith, our insight into the workings of God is (at least in part, and arguably in largest measure) given us not for our own benefit but for the benefit of all. A silent Israel, a silent Church, is barely tolerable: we have a work to do.

  • What are the wonders of the Lord?
  • Where is his help evident to you?
  • To whom did you last share the good news?
  • To whom will you next share the good news?

Music making Angels. Church of the Holy Name, Manchester. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Make us one…

Pilgrim WayThe second reading at Mass on Sunday, the Second Sunday of Ordinsry Time, begins a reading of the 1st Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians which will continue on Sundays until we begin Lent.

The sequence  calls us to faithfulness, in our living communion together in the Church, and as individual disciples.

There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose. One may have the gift of preaching with wisdom given him by the Spirit; another may have the gift of preaching instruction given him by the same Spirit; and another the gift of faith given by the same Spirit; another again the gift of healing, through this one Spirit; one, the power of miracles; another, prophecy; another the gift of recognising spirits; another the gift of tongues and another the ability to interpret them. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, who distributes different gifts to different people just as he chooses.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11

More than most, Paul is familiar with the trials and challenges and joys and privilege of being a disciple.

To be a disciple is the greatest privilege, the way to the fulfilment of God’s gift of life and his calling of us to union with Him. It also draws us into conflict, burdens, struggles, even as we seek to serve, cooperate, enjoy the godly life.

Paul who knew the difficulties, and in many ways embodies them for us, calls us to unity.

  • How/where are you called to serve?
  • With whom?
  • How does their service help you serve?
  • How might yours better help them?

Worn Pilgrimage Way marker, Lourdes. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Make us new

Cana Lourdes

Next Sunday is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, – the first Sunday having being supplanted by the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

All that is ordinary about the Sunday is that it is a Sunday of ordinal – counted – time.

And the Gospel of the Day reminds of how, in the Lord, how readily the ordinary, the expected is reversed, renewed, completed.

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited. When they ran out of wine, since the wine provided for the wedding was all finished, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ Jesus said ‘Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

There were six stone water jars standing there, meant for the ablutions that are customary among the Jews: each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’, and they filled them to the brim. ‘Draw some out now’ he told them ‘and take it to the steward.’

They did this; the steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine. Having no idea where it came from – only the servants who had drawn the water knew – the steward called the bridegroom and said; ‘People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now.’

This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee. He let his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.

John 2:1-11

What is lacking from your life?

Is it something that would bring joy, wholeness?

Ask the Lord for his help…

Wedding feast at Cana. Lourdes. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Taste and see: at the family table.

Baptism JordanSunday was the last of the now usual three Sundays of Christmas that the Church celebrates in England and Wales: Holy Family, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord. The sequence of feasts provides a fine opportunity for exploring the meaning of Christ’s incarnation and our incorporation into Christ through faith and baptism, faith’s first Sacrament.

The first of the two alternative Collects for Sunday’s feast highlighted our new relationship with God through Christ.

Almighty ever-living God,
who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan
and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him,
solemnly declared him your beloved Son,
grant that your children by adoption,
reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,
may always be well 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.

They say you cannot choose your blood family – but we are all members of our water family, the family formed through Baptism, by God’s choice: we are adopted by him, lovingly welcomed into his family.

The season of Christmas is a season when we are ‘confronted’ by our own families – by the joys and challenges we find there. We tell stories and watch fairy stories – Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White – which tell of (other?) dysfunctional families!

And we do this safe in the re-telling of the Christmas story – the bigger, truer, endlessly resilient story of God’s family, a story told to heal and hold us together.

There is work still to be done on our families and the human family, but God helps with a new start to the work. It has firm foundations….

Photograph is of the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus on the river Jordan. It is now an international border, separating Jordan and Israel. Crossing from one side to the other is prohibited. Pilgrims approach either from Jordan or from Israel. What might be a sign of unity is another sign of division. (c) 2013, Allen Morris. 

 

Taste and See: Freedom and Joy

Clifton font

The first reading at Mass on Sunday, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord comes from the evocative, metaphoric, prophesies of Isaiah.

‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’

A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’
Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11

 

Our baptism joins us with the work of Isaiah, which finds its fulfilment and achieve in Jesus. Through our receiving and sharing of the works of mercy and reconciliation we enable others to walk the way of freedom and joy.

  • Pray for your readiness to play your full part.
  • Pray for the success of the Year of Mercy.

Baptistery in Clifton Cathedral. (c) 2005, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Christ in us

Baptism Liverpool

The Gospel yesterday, the last Sunday of Christmas and the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, set before us John’s call to recognise the more of the Lord’s Baptism: the more that Jesus experiences at his own baptism and the more we receive when baptised by the Lord.

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’

Luke 3:15-16,21-22

John’s Baptism was a Baptism of Repentance. The Lord baptises, as he does when any priest or other minister baptises, with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Lord’s is a baptism that draws us into a new life, a new creation.

In the sacramental baptism we become a member of Jesus Christ, indeed other Christ’s. We become this, and we are still becoming this. – or at least that is the hope.

In Christ we are in a particular God God’s beloved children, and his favour rests on us.

But where do we conform to Christ? And where do we fall short?

  • What healing and help have we already received and benefited from and for which we can give thanks?
  • And what more healing and help do we know we need? What more might others say too?

Christ baptised. Detail of reredos of Lady Chapel in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.