The Place of Silence

silence

The Liturgy Committee of the Department for Christian Life and Worship has produced a document The Place of Silence  which explores how silence is an integral part of any liturgical action. It looks, in particular, at the celebration of Mass and how silence is expected in different ways.

It is likely to be especially helpful to those with responsibility with preparing the Liturgy for celebration, and for those who work with readers and other ministers of the word.

The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is faith.
The fruit of faith is love.
The fruit of love is service.
The fruit of service is peace.

St Teresa of Calcutta

 

Taste and See: A new dawn

sunrise

You know ‘the time’ has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon – let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light. Let us live decently as people do in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 13:11-14

The second reading of Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent, reminds that as we approach the darkest days of the year the Church looks backwards for her inspiration in moving forwards. The dawn is a potent symbol for the season of Advent, a time of waiting for darkness to be dispelled, for the sun to rise and shadows to disappear.

  • What is the darkness, what are the shadows in your life that you wish to bring to light of the one whose birth we prepare to celebrate?
  • What gives you confidence in his love and readiness to come to your aid?
  • Remember and give thanks

Sunrise, Lindisfarne. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: War over? Warring over?

end-to-warThe vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In the days to come
the mountain of the Temple of the Lord
shall tower above the mountains
and be lifted higher than the hills.
All the nations will stream to it,
peoples without number will come to it; and they will say:

‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Temple of the God of Jacob
that he may teach us his ways
so that we may walk in his paths;
since the Law will go out from Zion,
and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.’

He will wield authority over the nations
and adjudicate between many peoples;
these will hammer their swords into ploughshares,
their spears into sickles.
Nation will not lift sword against nation,
there will be no more training for war.

O House of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Isaiah 2:1-5

The prophesy of Isiaiah invites us to a new way of being, united, with common purpose and leaving behind the passions and fears that lead to war, and that lead to what is – from the Kingdom’s perspective – the obscenity of training for war.

The steps to war and the attitudes that lead to the possibility of war-making start small in the decisions and actions of our daily lives. There builds up a swamp of resentment and anger, frustration and prejudice, ignorance and greed; and from that emerges the beasts of aggression and unreason.

  • How today might you do a little housekeeping on your inner sturm und drang? Making the most of your positive desires for the Kingdom to disarm your more negative feelings
  • Celebrate Advent by opening a door that leads to peace.

Sculpture. Park Arts Muzeon, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Judgement and Redemption

judgement-day-birminghamThe season of Advent began yesterday with the first Sunday of Advent.

The Preface used at Mass yesterday and which will be used for all Masses until 16th December that have no proper Preface.

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

For he assumed at his first coming
the lowliness of human flesh,
and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago,
and opened for us the way to eternal salvation,
that, when he comes again in glory and majesty
and all is at last made manifest,
we who watch for that day
may inherit the great promise
in which now we dare to hope.

And so, with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominions,
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim:

Holy, holy holy…

The season of Advent is about us answering afresh the call of the Lord to journey with him,turning from that which is unworthy, to that which is loving and good and will lead us to the Kingdom.

From what do you wish to turn?

To what do you wish to turn?

Judgement. St Philips Cathedral, Birmingham. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Help us listen…

isaiah-gloucester

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In the days to come
the mountain of the Temple of the Lord
shall tower above the mountains
and be lifted higher than the hills.
All the nations will stream to it,
peoples without number will come to it; and they will say:

‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Temple of the God of Jacob
that he may teach us his ways
so that we may walk in his paths;
since the Law will go out from Zion,
and the oracle of the Lord from Jerusalem.’

He will wield authority over the nations
and adjudicate between many peoples;
these will hammer their swords into ploughshares,
their spears into sickles.
Nation will not lift sword against nation,
there will be no more training for war.

O House of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Isaiah 2:1-5

This extract from the Book of Isaiah is the first reading at Mass today, the First Sunday of Advent, the first day of the Church’s new year.

It is a reading of hope, but appears in our Lectionary somewhat ripped from its context – the denunciation of Israel for its unfaithfulness. That unfaithfulness, and her unwillingness to acknowledge and repent of it, will lead her into exile and desolation.

But the hope established  in God’s election of Israel is not dashed and abandoned. We may be unfaithful but God is always faithful. God’s extraordinary faithfulness and passion to heal and save his people is demonstrated in the first coming of Jesus and will be demonstrated again at his second coming.

Again and again the Lord offers us opportunities to respond in faith and grow in faith – but…

As we hear again the excitement of Isaiah at what is made possible by God the invitation is there for us to seek to rise to the opportunity and challenge.

Isaiah. Gloucester Cathedral. (C) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Our home

western-wall-2

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

I rejoiced when I heard them say:
‘Let us go to God’s house.’
And now our feet are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

It is there that the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord.
For Israel’s law it is,
there to praise the Lord’s name.
There were set the thrones of judgement
of the house of David.

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

For the peace of Jerusalem pray:
‘Peace be to your homes!
May peace reign in your walls,
in your palaces, peace!’

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

For love of my brethren and friends
I say: ‘Peace upon you!’
For love of the house of the Lord
I will ask for your good.

I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’

Psalm 121:1-2,4-5,6-9

The responsorial psalm of the last Sunday of the year, Christ the King,  is repeated this Sunday, the first Sunday of Advent.

It is a psalm that comes to us from the ancient rites at the Temple of Jerusalem, perhaps dating back as far as King David or Solomon.

Christians do not place the same value on churches as Jews did on the Temple. In the light of the Incarnation we know we are close to God anywhere and everywhere. But we are invited to newly and consciously to approach him. The Lord does not invite us to be well-behaved neighbours, keeping a certain distance, but to make our homes with him as he does with us.

  • What might you do to help make yourself more at home with God?

The Western Wall of the Temple Mount. Jerusalem. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: A new start

alpha-and-omegaYou know ‘the time’ has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted. The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon – let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light. Let us live decently as people do in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy. Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 13:11-14

Sunday is the first Sunday, indeed the first day, of the Church’s New Year.

The first Sunday of Advent, this first day, is a time for us to take stock with regard to how we have been living and how we seek to live, by grace.

The mind of the Church turns to the last days, even as in her heart she prepares for the celebration of the Incarnation , of the first days of God in Christ with his people.

Thoughts of judgement may disturb and unsettle us, but the memories of love help keep our fears in check and help us to make the most of them as encouragement to conversion and renewal. The Lord came and comes to help us to wholeness and holiness. At the beginning of the New Year we give fresh thanks for that.

Christ: Alpha and Omega. St Leonard’s Bridgnorth, Shropshire. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: invite us forward…

dsc09896-noah

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away. It will be like this when the Son of Man comes. Then of two men in the fields one is taken, one left; of two women at the millstone grinding, one is taken, one left.

‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.’

Matthew 24:37-44

Sunday is the first Sunday, indeed the first day, of the Church’s New Year.

And Advent begins. A new season to restore us to hope, to encourage us to deeper faithfulness, more authentic witness.

  • Where are you called to grow and open yourself to newness?

Noah. Tewkesbury Abbey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: With Christ, a new beginning

dsc06965-christ-blessing

We give thanks to the Father who has made it possible for you to join the saints and with them to inherit the light.
Because that is what he has done: he has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of the Son that he loves, and in him, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins.

He is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers –
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.

As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.

Colossians 1:12-20

Sunday was the feast of Christ the King. It was the last day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. It was also the beginning of the last week of the Church’s year.

A last day that was  a day of new beginnings. Pope Francis has urged the Church now to be still more confident in her proclamation of mercy, day by day, and in her extending the mercy of God, from which we have already benefited, to others who may not, or dare to know, know the good news.

The reading above helps us to that confidence and to a ministry of mercy. It helps us see our lives in the broader context of God’s work of Creation and Redemption.

Our own of work of witness may require a certain courage on our part, but we are not alone in our attempting of it. God is with us, and before us preparing the way, and following after us – and not only if things go wrong.

We are a team, together. Or as Colossians puts it, in good Pauline fashion: we are of one body with Christ as our head. And all will be well.

  • Give thanks

Stained Glass. Lichfield Cathedral (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The Kingdom

mystery-of-the-light-kingdomIt is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.

For you anointed your Only Begotten Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, with the oil of gladness
as eternal Priest and King of all creation,
so that, by offering himself on the altar of the Cross
as a spotless sacrifice to bring us peace,
he might accomplish the mysteries of  human redemption
and, making all created things subject to his rule,
he might present to the immensity of your majesty
an eternal and universal kingdom,
a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.

And so, with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominions,
and with all the hosts and Powers of heaven,
we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts . . .

Sunday was the feast of Christ the King, and the beginning of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. It was also the beginning of the last week of the Church’s year.

The Preface of the Day, above, is a song of thanksgiving to the Father for Jesus and the Kingdom

Jesus’ ministry began with a proclamation of the nearness of the Kingdom of God and at the Year’s end, and the Year of Mercy we recall the nature of that kingdom. It is so different to at least some current tendencies with regard to the kingdoms of this world.

And yet, as Jesus said, this kingdom,

a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.

is close at hand, and we have but to want it and keep trying to live it, and then – by God’s grace – we are there, blessed citizens of his kingdom.

  • What kingdom value seems most under threat?
  • How might you support and witness to its worth?

Jesus preaches the kingdom. Medjugorje. (c) 2015, Allen Morris