Responsorial Psalm for Mass of Sunday next

In his commentary on The Psalms, Robert Alter comments ofthis particular psalm:

This psalm is highly formulaic from beginning to end. A reader who has been going through the Book of Psalms in sequence by this point will have encountered almost every line of this poem, with minor variations, elsewhere.

However this is not to suggest that is a psalm to skip! Originality of thought or feeling is not necessarily what we value about the psalms. Rather they provide us with familiar words, familiar sentiments that we can make our own, or notice where they do not fit us (for good or ill) provoking us to bring to our prayer, our dialogue with God, what is most particular to our own lives, our own circumstances.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85(86):5-6,9-10,15-16

The psalm set to be sung at Mass this coming Sunday is made up of a number of verses from the psalm that follow. The verses used are displayed in bold.

Psalm 86 (85)
1           A Prayer of David.
            Turn your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
            for I am poor and needy.
2           Preserve my soul, for I am faithful;
            save the servant who trusts in you, my God.
3           Have mercy on me, O Lord,
            for I cry to you all the day long.
4           Gladden the soul of your servant,
            for I lift up my soul to you, O Lord.

5           O Lord, you are good and forgiving,
            full of mercy to all who call to you.
6           Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer,
            and attend to my voice in supplication.

7           In the day of distress, I will call to you,
            and surely you will answer me.
8           Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord,
            nor works to compare with yours.

 9           All the nations you have made shall come;
            they will bow down before you, O Lord,
            and glorify your name,
10          for you are great and do marvelous deeds,
            you who alone are God.

 11          Teach me, O Lord, your way,
            so that I may walk in your truth,
            single-hearted to fear your name.
12          I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart,
            and glorify your name forever.
13          Your mercy to me has been great;
            you have saved me from the depths of the grave.
14          The proud have risen against me, O God;
            a band of the ruthless seeks my life.
            To you they pay no heed.

 15          But you, O God, are compassionate and gracious,
            slow to anger, O Lord,
            abundant in mercy and fidelity;
16          turn and take pity on me.

             O give your strength to your servant,
            and save the son of your handmaid.
17          Show me the sign of your favor,
            that my foes may see to their shame
            that you, O Lord, give me comfort and help.

~ Translation of Psalm: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Stained Glass, St Mary Abbit, Kensington, London. (c) 2019, Allen Morris.


First Reading for Mass of Sunday next

How partial we tend to be. We have our likes and our dislikes.

How different is God: God who cares for everything (says the writer of the Book of Wisdom.).

  • What lessons have your learnt from God?
  • What lessons are you still trying to learn; what teaching are you still trying to impress on the way you live?

First reading for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 12:13,16-19

There is no god, other than you, who cares for every thing,
to whom you might have to prove that you never judged unjustly;
Your justice has its source in strength,
your sovereignty over all makes you lenient to all.
You show your strength when your sovereign power is questioned
and you expose the insolence of those who know it;
but, disposing of such strength, you are mild in judgement,
you govern us with great lenience,
for you have only to will, and your power is there.
By acting thus you have taught a lesson to your people
how the virtuous man must be kindly to his fellow men,
and you have given your sons the good hope
that after sin you will grant repentance.

~ Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Faiths Exhibition. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

The Collect for Sunday next…

Collect for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Show favour, O Lord, to your servants
and mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,
they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.

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.

It is easy to forget how utterly, radically, dependent on God we are. Sometimes God can seem to us like the icing on a cake, but without God simply we would not be; no us, no icing and no cake.

Show favour, O Lord, to your servants…

‘Can you do us a favour?’ we might ask of others: asking for a little boon, a little help with this or that to our advantage. When we ask God for favour, do we ask for a little boon, or are we aware of profound need for that which will move us from our fractured and flawed lives towards that good life that comes from hope, faith and charity and moves us to hope, faith and charity.

mercifully increase the gifts of your grace,
that, made fervent in hope, faith and charity,

The gifts of God are expressions of his mercy, freeing and liberating. The Collect has us ask that they will help us to something new – and make us fervent in the qualities of grace.

We are not asking to be restored to the same-old but to be helped on to the wonder and awesome quality of life that is God’s.

…they may be ever watchful in keeping your commands.

Everything is down to God, but we should try to live at the same time as though everything is down to us. It begins with God, but we have a role to play in trying to bring his gifts to their natural, and supernatural, end.

~ Translation of the Collect: English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved..
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph: Birmingham Museum. (c) 2018, Allen Morris

This Sunday’s Gospel

The very idea of God speaking to Creation is mind-boggling.

How can God speak? What can the word mean in the case of God?

And how can humankind receive God’s self-communication? And understand? Can we understand it? How can we reassure ourselves that we are not deluded ourselves: renaming our thoughts, God’s thoughts?

The mind boggles, but we also have this sense that the horizon of our understanding is again and again expanded: that we are there is again and again offered to us that which does not seem to come from us, that leads us to a deeper appreciation of what is good, what is true, what is loving and what is godly.

People have their different accounts of how this might be. The ‘God explanation’ is only one of them. And the Judaeo-Christian tradition – the belief in the reality of Israel’s covenant, and the renewal and extension of that in Christ, God made flesh – is only one of those. But it makes its truth claims that bear the test of time. And especially when we remember that Jesus calls us not to be theologians and philosophers only, but especially to be people strong in love.

  • What helps us to receive the Lord’s life and love and flourish by it?
  • What frustrates his attempts to draw us to life?

Matthew 13:1-23

The Parable of the Sower
13 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

The Purpose of the Parables
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15  For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The Parable of the Sower Explained
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Recovered stones – storage area. Tintern Abbey

The Second reading for this Sunday’s Mass…

How do we see the world?

Commonly people are held to fall into one of two categories: those who see a glass half-empty or a glass half-full. It is a start for considering how we might typically see the world, but both these are rather static world-views.

St Paul’s world-view is very different. He sees a world that is troubled, indeed one that is suffering – but a world that is in process of being set free.

Paul views all through an optic of hope – hope which has God as its ground.

  • From what do you presently suffer?
  • What gives you hope?
  • What sustains that hope?

Romans 8:18-23

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 2


~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Lourdes.

The Psalm for Sunday coming…

The Responsorial Psalm on Sunday responds to the assurance of the fruitfulness of God’s word, spoken for our good, and – here especially – a word spoken for the good of Creation as a whole.

It is understood in the Scriptures that God’s word is never just ‘words’, but is an action. In his speaking God does not speak only but God acts.

We are familiar, perhaps having reflected on our own personal practice, with words that are empty of intent, words spoken to create a good impression but not to make any other difference.

  • What word would you like to speak and make effective?
  • What empty word have you spoke recently, and why?

The text for the Responsorial Psalm on Sunday is taken from Psalm 64(65).

The full text of the Psalm is given below with the verses for Sunday presented in Bold (vv10-14).

Psalm 65 (64)

1For the Choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song.

2           Praise is due to you
            in Sion, O God.
            To you we pay our vows in Jerusalem,
3           you who hear our prayer.

            To you all flesh will come.
4           Our evil deeds are too heavy for us,
            but our transgressions you wipe away.

5           Blessed is he whom you choose and call
            to dwell in your courts.
            We are filled with the good things of your house,
            of your holy temple.

6           With wondrous deliverance you answer us,
            O God our savior.
            You are the hope of all the earth,
            and of far distant isles.

7           You establish the mountains with your strength;
            you are girded with power.
8           You still the roaring of the seas,
            the roaring of their waves,
            and the tumult of the peoples.

9           Distant peoples stand in awe
            at your wondrous deeds.
            The lands of sunrise and sunset
            you fill with your joy.

10 You visit the earth, give it water;
            you fill it with riches.
            God’s ever-flowing river brims over
            to prepare the grain.
            And thus you provide for the earth:
11          you drench its furrows;
            you level it, soften it with showers;
            you bless its growth.
12          You crown the year with your bounty.
            Abundance flows in your pathways;
13          in pastures of the desert it flows.
            The hills are girded with joy,
14          the meadows clothed with flocks.
            The valleys are decked with wheat.
            They shout for joy; yes, they sing!

~ Translation of Psalm: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: (c) 2014, Allen Morris. Espace van Gogh, Arles, France.

The first reading for Sunday coming

Like rain and snow, the word of God is sometimes welcome, and sometimes now.

But the word of God is always the words of a lover to his beloved. It may sometimes challenge and upset but never does it seek to diminish the beloved. A;ways it is a word that is there to build us up, to heal us, to strengthen us, to help us onwards.

Following the passage of Scripture that is our first reading on Sunday is a ‘parable’ by Kierkegaard that I have long found helpful. Perhaps it will be helpful to you also.

Isaiah 55:10-11
10  “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11  so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Soren Kierkegaard on GOD’S WORD, THE LOVE LETTER

Now think of God’s Word. When you read it in a scholarly way, with a dictionary or a commentary, then you are not reading God’s Word. Remember what the lover said, “This is not reading the letter from the beloved.” If you happen to be a scholar, then please see to it that even with all your learned reading you do not forget to read God’s Word. If you are not a scholar, rejoice! Be glad that you can listen to God’s address right away! And if in the listening you hear a wish, a command, an order, then – remember the lover! – off with you at once to do what it asks.

“But,” you say, “there are so many obscure passages in the Bible, whole books that are practically riddles. Won’t the scholar help me?” To that I would answer (before I have anything to do with this objection): “Any objection must be made by someone whose life manifests that he has scrupulously complied with those passages that are already easy to understand. Is this the case with you?” Yet this is exactly how the lover would respond to the letter. If there are obscure passages but also clearly expressed wishes, he would say, “I must immediately comply with the wish – then I will see about the obscure parts. How can I ever sit down and ponder the obscure passages and not comply with the wish, the wish that I clearly understand?” In other words, it is not the obscure passages in Scripture that bind you but the ones you understand. With these you are to comply at once. If you understood only one passage in all of Scripture, well, then you must do that first of all. It will be this passage God asks you about. Do not first sit down and ponder the obscure passages. God’s Word is given in order that you shall act according to it, not that you gain expertise in interpreting it.

~Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: (c) 2017, Allen Morris
~Text from Kierkegaard: Provocations. Reprinted from (c) 2002, The Bruderhof Foundation

Getting Match-fit: Day 15

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Catechesis on
the Mass XV

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning!

You see that today there are flowers: the flowers express joy, cheerfulness. In certain places Easter is also called “Easter in bloom”, because the Risen Christ flourishes: he is the burgeoning flower; our justification flourishes; the holiness of the Church flourishes. Therefore, many flowers: it is our joy. All week long we celebrate Easter, all week long. And thus let us say to one another, once again, all of us, the wish of “Happy Easter”. Let us say it together: “Happy Easter!” [They respond: “Happy Easter!”]. I would also like us to say Happy Easter — because he was the Bishop of Rome — to beloved Pope Benedict, who is following us on television. Let us all say “Happy Easter” to Pope Benedict: [They say “Happy Easter!”]. And a nice round of applause.

With this catechesis we conclude the cycle dedicated to the Mass, which is precisely the memorial, but not only as a remembrance, one relives the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. Last time, we came to Communion and the Prayer after Communion; after this oration, Mass concludes with the blessing imparted by the priest and the dismissal of the people (cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 90). As it began with the sign of the Cross, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, it is again in the name of the Trinity that the Mass, that is the liturgical action, is sealed.

However, we are well aware that although the Mass comes to an end, the task of Christian witness begins. Christians do not go to Mass to fulfil a weekly duty and then it is forgotten, no. Christians go to Mass in order to participate in the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection and then to live more as Christians: the task of Christian witness begins. We leave the Church by “going in peace” to carry God’s blessing in our daily activities, in our homes, in our workplaces, among the occupations of the earthly city, “glorifying the Lord with our life”. But if we exit the Church gossiping and saying “look at this one, look at that one…”, with ‘tongues wagging’, the Mass has not entered my heart. Why? Because I am not capable of living the Christian witness. Every time I leave Mass, I must exit better than how I entered, with more life, with more strength, with more willingness to bear Christian witness. Through the Eucharist the Lord Jesus enters us, into our heart and our flesh, so that we may “hold fast in our lives to the Sacrament we have received in faith” (cf. Roman Missal, Collect for Monday in the Octave of Easter”).

Therefore, from the celebration of life, aware that the Mass is fulfilled in the concrete choices of those who personally engage in the mysteries of Christ. We must not forget that we celebrate the Eucharist in order to become Eucharistic men and women. What does this mean? It means allowing Christ to act within our deeds: that his thoughts may be our thoughts, his feelings our own, his choices our choices too. And this is holiness: doing as Christ did is Christian holiness. Saint Paul expresses it clearly, in speaking of his own assimilation to Jesus, and he says this: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). This is Christian witness. May Paul’s experience illuminate us too: to the measure in which we quash our selfishness — that is, kill that which is opposed to the Gospel and to Jesus’ love — a greater space is created within us for the power of his Spirit. Christians are men and women who, after receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, allow their soul to expand with the power of the Holy Spirit. Allow your souls to expand! Not these souls so narrow and closed, small, selfish, no! Expansive souls, broad souls, with vast horizons…. after receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, allow your souls to expand with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Since the real presence of Christ in the consecrated Bread does not end with the Mass (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374), the Eucharist is safeguarded in the tabernacle for Communion to the sick and for silent adoration of the Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament; Eucharistic worship outside of Mass, be it in private or community form, indeed helps us to remain in Christ (cf. ibid., 1378-1380). Therefore, the fruits of the Mass are intended to mature in everyday life. Thus, we can say, stretching the image somewhat: the Mass is like the grain, the grain of wheat which then grows in ordinary life; it grows and matures in good deeds, in the attitudes that assimilate us to Jesus. The fruits of the Mass, therefore, are intended to mature in everyday life. In truth, augmenting our union with Christ, the Eucharist renews the grace that the Spirit gave us in Baptism and in Confirmation, so that our Christian witness may be credible (cf. ibid., 1391-1392).

Yet, by igniting divine charity in our hearts, what does the Eucharist do? It separates us from sin: “the more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin” (ibid., 1395). Regularly approaching the Eucharistic Banquet renews, strengthens, and deepens the bond with the Christian community to which we belong, according to the principle that the Eucharist makes the Church (cf. ibid., 1396); it unites us all.

Lastly, partaking in the Eucharist commits us to others, especially the poor, teaching us to pass from the flesh of Christ to the flesh of our brothers and sisters, in whom he waits to be recognized, served, honoured and loved by us (cf. ibid., 1397).

Carrying in earthen vessels the treasure of the union with Christ (cf. 2 Cor 4:7), we constantly need to return to the holy altar, until in heaven, we will fully taste the beatitude of the marriage supper of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:9).

Let us thank the Lord for the journey of rediscovery of the Holy Mass which he has given to us to carry out together, and let us allow ourselves to be drawn with renewed faith to this real encounter with Jesus, our contemporary, dead and Risen for us. And may our life always be thus “in bloom”, as Easter, with the flowers of hope, faith and good works. May we always find the strength for this in the Eucharist, in union with Jesus. Happy Easter to all!

Pope Francis ended his series of catechetical addresses in Eastertide, the annual celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus.

The Mass in its way draws us into contemplation of all the Mysteries of Jesus life – Passion and Resurrection, certainly, but also the events of the public ministry and hidden life of Jesus, and the Annunciation and Incarnation.

It recapitulates all that and draws us afresh into engagement with Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. Our encounter is the starting point for the next moments of our lives, which are rarely the same, one day after another. Our encounter is the opportunity for us to hear and respond again to the Universal call to holiness, and to make our own that ecclesial mission to share the Good News with the whole world.

  • What – over these days of reflection – has struck you as being best about your local community’s celebration of Mass?
  • And what seem to be areas that would merit some fresh attention? How might you (and others?) set about looking at those things?

If you would like to contribute to a discussion on the above – and especially what it might have to say to your local situation – it is suggested that Facebook is the most accessible platform for many people, so unless you have a strong aversion to FB, please post your reflections to the appropriate post at ‘Living Eucharist‘ –

Why this post? A reminder is available here.

The full sequence of catecheses is posted here.

A direct link to the writings and other teachings of Pope Francis is available here.

Photograph: Emmaüs: Chemin de Coix de la Prairie, Lourdes. (c) 2008, Allen Morris

The Collect for this coming Sunday

Collect for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

O God, who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,
so that they may return to the right path,
give all who for the faith they profess
are accounted Christians
the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ
and to strive after all that does it honour.

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.

One of the things those who belong to any particular religion, including Christianity, need to be ever-mindful of, is that God is more than the God of their religion. God-who-is, is God of all that is – and is known as God by many others not of our religious communion.

The Collect gestures towards this truth.

O God, who show the light of your truth
to those who go astray,

Unfortunately for the world, it is not only Christians who go astray.

Fortunately for the world it is not left only to Christians to help people return to the right path! The world is loved by God, and God is on all our side. God’s truth serves us all, and God calls all those who know and love him to help their brothers and sisters to assist others to know and live by that truth

It is not only Christians go astray, but for sure we Christians do go astray, and often. And so we especially need what others need, so that we may be closer to Christ in truth and not associated with him by our name only.

The Collect does not spell out what it is that is

contrary to the name of Christ

Nor does it name

all that does it honour.

So we will need to do a little work to identify those things for ourselves. Especially if we are not wanting to offer pat and familiar answers.

Mindful that our minds and hearts may be somewhat shadowed even when we seek truth, let us pray for the Lord’s light to help us know our failings and temptations more truly, and respond still more generously to the opportunities to return to the right path, and closer to the Lord himself.

  • Where are shadows most prevalent in your life and living?
  • What attracts you to the Lord’s light and truth?

~ Translation of the Collect: English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved..
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photograph: Lampstand, Courtauld Gallery, London. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Getting Match-fit: Day 14

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Catechesis on
the Mass XIV

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning!

And today is the first day of Spring: Happy Spring! But what happens in Spring? Plants blossom, trees flower. I will ask you some questions. Can a sick tree or plant fully blossom if it is sick? No! Can a tree, a plant which is not watered by rain or artificially, blossom nicely? No. And can a tree and a plant whose roots have been removed or which have no roots flower? No. Without roots, can they flower? No! And this is a message: Christian life has to be a life that must blossom in works of charity, in doing what is good. But if you have no roots, you cannot blossom, and who is the root? Jesus! If you are not with Jesus, there in the roots, you will not blossom. If you do not water your life with prayer and the sacraments, will you bear Christian flowers? No! Because prayer and the sacraments water the roots and our life blossoms. I hope that your Spring may be bloom beautifully, as blooming as Easter will be; blossoming with good works, virtue and doing good to others. Remember this, this is a very beautiful verse from my country: “What blossoms a tree bears come from what lies underneath it”. Never cut off Jesus’ roots.

And let us now continue with the catechesis on the Holy Mass. The celebration of Mass which we have been reviewing in stages is organized around Communion, that is, in being united to Jesus; the Sacramental Communion: not spiritual communion which you can have in your own home by saying: “Jesus I would like to receive you spiritually”. Not, Sacramental Communion, with the Body and the Blood of Christ. We celebrate the Eucharist to nourish ourselves of Christ who gives himself both in Word and in the Sacrament of the Altar, in order to conform us to him. The Lord himself says this: “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him”. (Jn 6:56). In fact, Jesus’ gesture of giving his Body and Blood to his disciples at the Last Supper, still continues today through the ministry of the priests and deacons; ordinary ministers of the distribution of the Bread of life and the Cup of salvation, to the brothers and sisters.

During Mass, after breaking the consecrated Bread, that is the Body of Christ, the priest shows it to the faithful, inviting them to participate in the Eucharistic banquet. We know the words that ring out from the sacred altar: “Happy are those who are called to his Supper. This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”. Inspired by a passage in the Book of Revelation — “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9): it says “marriage” because Jesus is the Spouse of the Church — this invitation calls us to experience intimate union with Christ, the source of joy and holiness. It is an invitation which brings happiness and at the same time spurs us to an examination of conscience enlightened by faith. If in fact, on the one hand we can see the distance which separates us from the sanctity of Christ, on the other, we believe that his Blood is “shed for the forgiveness of sins”. We were all forgiven at Baptism and we are all forgiven or will be forgiven when we approach the sacrament of Reconciliation. And do not forget: Jesus always forgives. Jesus never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness. In fact it is in considering the salvific value of this Blood that Saint Ambrose exclaimed: “If I sin continually, I must always have a remedy” (De Sacramentis, iv, 6, 28: pl 16, 446a). In this faith, we too turn our gaze to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and we invoke him: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”. We say this at every Mass.

Although we are the ones who stand in procession to receive Communion; we approach the altar in a procession to receive communion, in reality it is Christ who comes towards us to assimilate us in him. There is an encounter with Jesus! To nourish oneself of the Eucharist means to allow oneself to be changed by what we receive. Saint Augustine helps us understand this when he talks about the light he received when he heard Christ say to him: “I am the food of strong men; grow, and you shall feed upon me; nor shall you convert me, like the food of your flesh, into you, but you shall be converted into me” (Confessions VII, 10, 16: pl 32, 742). Each time we receive Communion, we resemble Jesus more; we transform ourselves more fully into Jesus. As the Bread and the Wine are converted into the Body and Blood of the Lord, so too those who receive it with faith are transformed into a living Eucharist. You reply “Amen” to the priest who distributes the Eucharist saying “the Body of Christ”; that is, you recognize the grace and the commitment involved in becoming the Body of Christ. Because when you receive the Eucharist, you become the Body of Christ. This is beautiful; it is very beautiful. As it unites us to Christ, tearing us away from our selfishness, Communion opens us and unites us to all those who are a single thing in him. This is the wonder of Communion: we become what we receive!

The Church strongly desires that the faithful also receive the Lord’s Body with Hosts consecrated at the same Mass; and the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more fully expressed when Holy Communion is received under the two Species, even though we know that Catholic doctrine teaches us that Christ, whole and entire, is received even under only one Species, (cf. GIRM, 85:281-282). According to ecclesiastical norms, the faithful normally approach the Eucharist in a processional manner, as we have said, and receive Communion standing with devotion, or on their knees as established by the Episcopal Conference, receiving the Sacrament either on the tongue or in the hand, if allowed, as preferred (cf. GIRM 160-161). After Communion, silence, silent prayer helps us treasure in our hearts the gift which we have received. To slightly extend that moment of silence, speaking to Jesus in our hearts, helps us a great deal, as does singing a psalm or a hymn of praise (cf. GIRM 88) that can help us be with the Lord.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist ends with the prayer after Communion. On behalf of everyone, with that prayer the priest turns to God to thank him for having shared the banquet and to ask that what was received may transform our lives. The Eucharist makes us strong in order to produce fruit in good works to live as Christians. Today’s prayer is significant: we ask the Lord that “the participation in his Sacrament may be for us a heavenly medicine, heal us from sin and reaffirm us in his friendship” (cf. Roman Missal, Wednesday, Fifth week of Lent). Let us approach the Eucharist: receiving Jesus who transforms us into him makes us stronger. The Lord is so good and so great!

In more ordinary times there is a possibility that we can take the Eucharist for granted.

Probably not in these days when most of the Church has experienced an extended Eucharistic fast, and only now is able to return to more regular celebration and participation.

We know that Christ is for us, we know he is remedy for our sickness and sin. Let us know and give voice to our thankfulness for the gift, find fresh place in our living to treasure the gift.

If you would like to contribute to a discussion on the above – and especially what it might have to say to your local situation – it is suggested that Facebook is the most accessible platform for many people, so unless you have a strong aversion to FB, please post your reflections to the appropriate post at ‘Living Eucharist‘ –

Why this post? A reminder is available here.

The full sequence of catecheses is posted here.

A direct link to the writings and other teachings of Pope Francis is available here.

Photograph: Emmaüs: Chemin de Coix de la Prairie, Lourdes. (c) 2008, Allen Morris