Speak, Risen Lord…

On the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn, they went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but on entering discovered that the body of the Lord Jesus was not there. As they stood there not knowing what to think, two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side. Terrified, the women lowered their eyes. But the two men said to them, ‘Why look among the dead for someone who is alive? He is not here; he has risen. Remember what he told you when he was still in Galilee: that the Son of Man had to be handed over into the power of sinful men and be crucified, and rise again on the third day?’ And they remembered his words.

When the women returned from the tomb they told all this to the Eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary of Magdala, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James. The other women with them also told the apostles, but this story of theirs seemed pure nonsense, and they did not believe them.

Peter, however, went running to the tomb. He bent down and saw the binding cloths but nothing else; he then went back home, amazed at what had happened.

Gospel for Easter Sunday
Luke 24:1-12

With what care Luke names the women – the first witnesses to the Lord’s rising.

Their witness was dismissed by the many – but (at least according to a verse retained in the Vulgate but absent from many contemporary translations – it stirred Peter to action, and allowed him to be amazed, troubled, wondering…

Later Simon seems to himself have encountered the risen Lord, and added his testimony to that of the women, (and this time persuading the rest of the men!

Admitting, opening oneself to, the experience of unease, amazement, uncertainty, paradoxically will often help us to discover and establish the firmest of foundations for faith.

St Mary Magdalene, St Peter – and all holy women and men – pray for us.

Carving. San Gregorio Magno al Celio. (c) 2005, Allen Morris.

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Awake…

During Holy Week, 
rather than repeat the readings of Palm Sunday 
or anticipate the readings of Easter Sunday, 
Living Eucharist features a reading from the liturgy of that day.

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise.Awake I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.”

“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.”

“I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.”

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

Second Reading for the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday
From an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

The Church professes belief in Hell – a place, a state, of absolute and permanent separation of a person from God

Image: Harrowing of Hell. Medieval English carving in the collection of the British Museum. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Intercessor and Saviour

During Holy Week, 
rather than repeat the readings of Palm Sunday 
or anticipate the readings of Easter Sunday, 
Living Eucharist features a reading from the liturgy of that day.

Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

During his life on earth, he offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation.

Second reading for the Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion, Good Friday
Hebrews 4:14-16,5:7-9

St John tells the story of the Passion and Death and the Resurrection as a story where Jesus is entirely in control. Other people do wicked and cruel things to him, but only because he allows it (just look at the account of the ‘arrest’ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and how, in John’s account, Jesus has no need of a Simon of Cyrene.)

All of the Evangelists tell of the Passion as Saving Mystery, as – principally -what God does in response to the evil of man; but John especially puts the emphasis on the glory of what Jesus achieves, as he fulfils all that the Father would have him do. His hour has come.

Carving. Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Servant to the servants…

The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ.

How can I repay the Lord
for his goodness to me?
The cup of salvation I will raise;
I will call on the Lord’s name.

O precious in the eyes of the Lord
is the death of his faithful.
Your servant, Lord, your servant am I;
you have loosened my bonds.

A thanksgiving sacrifice I make;
I will call on the Lord’s name.
My vows to the Lord I will fulfil
before all his people.


Responsorial Psalm for Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Holy Thursday
Psalm 115(116):12-13,15-18

The Lord makes himself food and drink for us, that we may live in him and he in us.

  • For whom do we give ourselves? And why?
  • What can we learn about the Lord from those experiences in our own lives?

Chalice. Treasury, Notre Dame Cathedral. Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Broken and healing

During Holy Week, 
rather than repeat the readings of Palm Sunday 
or anticipate the readings of Easter Sunday, 
Living Eucharist features a reading from the liturgy of that day.

The Lord has given me
a disciple’s tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.

My vindicator is here at hand.

Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.

The Lord is coming to my help,
who will dare to condemn me?

First reading for the Wednesday of Holy Week
Isaiah 50:4-9

The Lord endured suffering and endured it for our sake.

For our sake he overcame suffering, to free us from our agonies and sins.

Carving. Collection of the Barber Institute, Birmingham. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Generous witness…

During Holy Week, 
rather than repeat the readings of Palm Sunday 
or anticipate the readings of Easter Sunday, 
Living Eucharist features a reading from the liturgy of that day.

My lips will tell of your help.

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, free me:
pay heed to me and save me.

Be a rock where I can take refuge,
a mighty stronghold to save me;
for you are my rock, my stronghold.
Free me from the hand of the wicked.

It is you, O Lord, who are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, since my youth.
On you I have leaned from my birth,
from my mother’s womb you have been my help.

My lips will tell of your justice
and day by day of your help.
O God, you have taught me from my youth
and I proclaim your wonders still.

Responsorial Psalm for the Tuesday of Holy Week
Psalm 70(71):1-6,15,17

The Lord Jesus speaks of the faithfulness of his Father, and of his love and mercy.

He is never silent – but speaks in words and works even yet.

Carving, Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: loving Lord…

During Holy Week, 
rather than repeat the readings of Palm Sunday 
or anticipate the readings of Easter Sunday, 
Living Eucharist features a reading from the liturgy of that day.

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom my soul delights.
I have endowed him with my spirit
that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud,
or make his voice heard in the streets.
He does not break the crushed reed,
nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice;
he will neither waver, nor be crushed
until true justice is established on earth,
for the islands are awaiting his law.

Thus says God, the Lord,
he who created the heavens and spread them out,
who gave shape to the earth and what comes from it,
who gave breath to its people
and life to the creatures that move in it:

‘I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right;
I have taken you by the hand and formed you;
I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to free captives from prison,
and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.’

First reading for the Mass of the Monday of Holy Week
Isaiah 42:1-7

God loves the one who loves us, and serves us.

We do well to seek to love him in return – for that way will we learn love and learn to live by with and from love.

Carving, Musée national du Moyen Âge, Paris. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Saving Lord.

During Holy Week,
rather than repeat the readings of Palm Sunday
or anticipate the readings of Easter Sunday,
Living Eucharist will feature a reading to help with preparation
forparticipation in the celebration of the Liturgy of that day.

Preface for Palm Sunday: The Passion of the Lord

V.   The Lord be with you.
R.    And with your spirit.

V.   Lift up your hearts.
R.   We lift them up to the Lord.

V.   Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R.   It is right and just.

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 though innocent he sufferedwillingly for sinners
and accepted unjust condemnation to save the guilty.

His Death has washed away our sins,
and his Resurrection has purchased our justification.

And so, with all the Angels,
we praise you, as in joyful celebration we, too, acclaim:

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

The Liturgies of Holy Week can seem, more than usual, to be liturgies which are a remembrance of times past. They of course do help us remember the events of the last week of Jesus’ life but they are also much more than this.

They also

  • re-present his saving person and those saving events so that he and they are present to us still – and we to him and them.
  • draw us into the experience of God’s saving love here and now to heal our flawed and fractured lives.
  • anticipate the final victory of God’s love when, please God, we will be entirely united with him and for ever.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!

The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.

His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron.

He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Revelation 19:11-14

Copy of fresco of Christ on a white horse (Cathédrale Saint Etienne, Auxerre) in the collection of Cité de l’Architecture & du Patrimoine, Paris. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Faithful One

The Lord has given me
a disciple’s tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.

First reading for Palm Sunday
Isaiah 50:4-7

The ‘Suffering servant’ of Isaiah prefigures the Christ.

Both are single-minded in their service of the people. Both are of one heart in their obedience to the Lord.

  • What occupies your mind?
  • What directs your heart?

Detail from Sarcophagus Altar, St Trophime, Arles. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Lead us in faith

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
‘He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend.’

Many dogs have surrounded me,
a band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet
I can count every one of my bones.

They divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.
O Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!

I will tell of your name to my brethren
and praise you where they are assembled.
‘You who fear the Lord give him praise;
all sons of Jacob, give him glory.
Revere him, Israel’s sons.


Responsorial Psalm for Palm Sunday
Psalm 21(22):8-9,17-20,23-24

The anguish of the response and our sympathy for the crucified Lord may obscure the movement in the psalm from that anguish through a description of persecution, and to a defiant determined expression of trust in the God of Israel.

We know the horror of this world’s execution of God incarnate, but we also know his faithfulness and this world’s ultimate inability to extinguish his love and life and faith.

Carving. Bethphage, Jerusalem. (c) 2017, Allen Morris