Oh for the days….

… when you could rely on England getting knocked out in the early rounds!

But because of the happy progress of England in the Euros 2021, (and in hope of a good result on Saturday) …

  1. The meeting for parents of children who will begin the preparation for First Holy Communion and for Confirmation in September, which was scheduled for Tuesday 6th July at 7.30pm, is now scheduled for Monday 12th July at 7.30pm

2. The open parish meeting scheduled for Wednesday 7th July is now scheduled for Mon 5th July at 7.30pm

Both meetings will last for an hour or less, and both meetings are on Zoom.

The Zoom link for each meeting will be posted on the homepage of the parish
website from the morning of the meeting.

Gospel Reading for Wednesday 30th June

Matthew 8:28-34

When Jesus reached the country of the Gadarenes on the other side of the lake, two demoniacs came towards him out of the tombs – creatures so fierce that no one could pass that way. They stood there shouting, ‘What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the time?’ Now some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding, and the devils pleaded with Jesus, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’ And he said to them, ‘Go then’, and they came out and made for the pigs; and at that the whole herd charged down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off and made for the town, where they told the whole story, including what had happened to the demoniacs. At this the whole town set out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him they implored him to leave the neighbourhood.

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2017, Allen Morris. Ivory carving. Louvre, Paris.

Gospel Reading for Tuesday 29th June

Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul

Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Stained glass, St Mungo’s Cathedral, Glasgow.

Gospel Reading for Monday 28th June

Matthew 8:18-22

When Jesus saw the great crowds all about him he gave orders to leave for the other side. One of the scribes then came up and said to him, ‘Master, I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

Another man, one of his disciples, said to him, ‘Sir, let me go and bury my father first.’ But Jesus replied, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2020, Allen Morris. Stained glass, Ely Cathedral.

Gospel Reading for Sunday 27th June

Mark 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.’ Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.

Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. ‘If I can touch even his clothes,’ she had told herself ‘I shall be well again.’ And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly, and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ His disciples said to him, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, “Who touched me?”’ But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. ‘My daughter,’ he said ‘your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.’

While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, ‘Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?’ But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he said to the official, ‘Do not be afraid; only have faith.’ And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official’s house and Jesus noticed all the commotion, with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.’ But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him the child’s father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph(c) 2016, Allen Morris. Episodes of Luke VIII (Mark 5.21-43). Stained glass, St Nicholas chapel, Kings Lynn.

The Art of Celebration XII: Ministering the First Reading

The last two posts – on the structure of the Liturgy of the Word and how and why its readings are as they are – have been rather technical. Over the coming weeks some brief and practical suggestions on how we might help the various elements of the Liturgy of the Word be more intelligible and fruitful for us and for others. The focus will be on the Sunday Liturgy of the Word but many of the same principles can be applied to regular weekday Mass and to more occasional celebrations also.

We start with the First Reading.

Usually this will come from the Old Testament, but in the Easter season it is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. The readings from the Old Testament are chosen to harmonise with the Gospel or the season and are not otherwise in any sequence. The readings from the Acts of the Apostles are pretty much in semi-continuous sequence but with different starting points for each year of the 3 year cycle.

The challenge of listening to the reading read

Almost always the reading will make sense as a stand-alone reading when we read it on the page, though even then some will be much more obscure than others. But to hear the reading read to us without some sense of context can make it very much more difficult to comprehend.

The congregation ‘follows’ using printed texts

For this reason many people – native English-speakers or not – complement their listening to the reader by following the reading on the page.

There are lots of reasons why this is not a good practice.

  • Sometimes people will simply not really listen to the reading – and the good reader will bring much to the ‘performance’ of the text which allows it to live and assists its intelligibility.
  • To read to oneself means that to some degree and for a time one has effectively absented oneself from the common action of the whole assembly and engaged in some privatised action.
  • If many people are doing this the reader will lose something of their reason for reading, and their service of the word may well suffer.

And there are some reasons that people claim it as a good practice

  • They can’t understand or hear the reader. (The better solution though will be to help the reader read better or improve the sound system in the church, or the hearing aids congregants may need to use)
  • It helps them to focus on the reading and think about it.
  • They are helping their children to follow the readings.
  • They are not native English speakers.

Those last three should give us reason to pause, and they seem to me the most reasonable justifications, however much the need for the practice might otherwise be regretted. Even so there may be some value in encouraging people to listen to the reading and then to have recourse to the printed text in the time for meditation which will (should!) follow.

A brief spoken introduction can help greatly

The Lectionary provides one such – for example A reading from the prophet Ezekiel or a reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

For those with significant biblical literacy this helps, perhaps by a surprising degree. It points to the genre, and the circumstances of the writing and/or editing of the work, sometimes even to the general themes of a work. Again, for example, Ezekiel writing in the context of Israel’s exile in Babylon, Acts dealing with the formation and mission of the early Church.

However for those who lack this something more is needed and can be helpful. The Introduction to the Lectionary permits the use of additional brief introdcutions.

There may be concise introductions before the readings, especially the first. The style proper to such comments must be respected, that is, they must be simple, faithful to the text, brief, well prepared, and properly varied to suit the text they introduce.

Lectionary, General Introduction 15

Most every word in that paragraph is worthy of comment!

The introduction is to serve as introduction to the reading, not to replace it, nor to be a mini-homily offering commentary or explanation. And it is to be brief and accessible – especially to those who are in greatest need of it.

Take next week’s first reading:

The spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me. He said, ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’

Ezekiel 2:2-5

The reading is relatively straight forward but some additional introduction can help people  hear and find nourishment there. For example say “Ezekiel writes of Israel in exile and offers hope and challenge to his people.”

Learning to write these introductions – and they ought to be written in advance and not extemporised – takes time. Thought needs giving also to who should write them, and who should read them. Perhaps the readers group might write them – it would be a great way of developing their understanding of the readings and of the ministry; and if there is no commentator for the Mass, then the options are probably the reader reads the home-grown introduction before pausing for a moment and then beginning again, ‘A reading from…’ or the home-grown introduction is read by the deacon, priest or cantor or a. n. other, according to local circumstances, and then the reader begins with the Lectionary’s reading.

A word of warning.

There is a brief summary text given in the Lectionary after the Introduction and before the reading. In the case of the above reading it is ‘These rebels shall know that there is a prophet among them.’

This summary text is given for the benefit and aid of readers, as the briefest of summaries of what it is they are reading. It is offered as a sort of aide-memoire, , but it is not an introduction intended for the congregation. Why? Because it’s brevity and focus will tend to close down the range of meanings of meanings in the readings: the congregation is likely pretty much to listen  so they basically hear just what has been summarised. The word of God speaks even in ways that compilers of Lectionaries have not imagined and we ought not to be silencing the word of God!


A log with links to previous postings in this series is kept here.

Acknowledgements

~ 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) 2021, Allen Morris
Photograph: (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Stiffkey Parish Church, East Anglia.

Gospel Reading for Saturday 26th June

Genesis 18:1-15

The Lord appeared to Abraham at the Oak of Mamre while he was sitting by the entrance of the tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up, and there he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them, and bowed to the ground. ‘My lord,’ he said ‘I beg you, if I find favour with you, kindly do not pass your servant by. A little water shall be brought; you shall wash your feet and lie down under the tree. Let me fetch a little bread and you shall refresh yourselves before going further. That is why you have come in your servant’s direction.’ They replied, ‘Do as you say.’

Abraham hastened to the tent to find Sarah.’ ‘Hurry,’ he said ‘knead three bushels of flour and make loaves.’ Then running to the cattle Abraham took a fine and tender calf and gave it to the servant, who hurried to prepare it. Then taking cream, milk and the calf he had prepared, he laid all before them, and they ate while he remained standing near them under the tree.

‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ they asked him. ‘She is in the tent’ he replied. Then his guest said, ‘I shall visit you again next year without fail, and your wife will then have a son.’ Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well on in years, and Sarah had ceased to have her monthly periods. So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, ‘Now that I am past the age of child-bearing, and my husband is an old man, is pleasure to come my way again!’ But the Lord asked Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, “Am I really going to have a child now that I am old?” Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the same time next year I shall visit you again and Sarah will have a son.’ ‘I did not laugh’ Sarah said, lying because she was afraid. But he replied, ‘Oh yes, you did laugh.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2017, Allen Morris. Abraham, Sarah and the three visitors. Chester Cathedral.

Gospel Reading for Friday 25th June

Matthew 8:1-4

After Jesus had come down from the mountain large crowds followed him. A leper now came up and bowed low in front of him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And his leprosy was cured at once. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Mind you do not tell anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering prescribed by Moses, as evidence for them.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2006, Allen Morris. Jesus and a leper. Cloister of Cathedral, Aix en Provence, France.

Gospel Reading for Thursday 24th June

Birthday of St John the Baptist

Luke 1:57-66,80

The time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy.

Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. ‘No,’ she said ‘he is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘But no one in your family has that name’, and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, ‘His name is John.’ And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heard of it treasured it in their hearts. ‘What will this child turn out to be?’ they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him.

Meanwhile the child grew up and his spirit matured. And he lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared openly to Israel.

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2013, Allen Morris. Marker of place of birth of St John the Baptist, Ein Kerem. Israel.

Gospel Reading for Wednesday 23rd June

Matthew 7:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their fruits. Can people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit. Any tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown on the fire. I repeat, you will be able to tell them by their fruits.’

Acknowledgements

Translation of Scriptures: The Jerusalem Bible © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman  &  Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of  Random House, Inc.

Photograph: (c) 2015, Allen Morris. Cut trees, Sutton Coldfield.