Ex Cathedra

Ex Cathedra is a leading UK choir and Early Music ensemble with a repertoire that reaches from the 12th to the 21st centuries. 

Founded in 1969 by Jeffrey Skidmore,the group has grown into a unique musical resource, comprising specialist chamber choir, vocal Consort, period-instrument orchestra and a thriving education programme, aiming to explore, research and commission the finest choral music and to set the highest standards for excellence in performance and training.

Much of their repertoire is church music, and many of their concerts take place in churches and cathedrals.

For current details of their 2021-22 programme, click here and here

Gospel Reading for Saturday 31st July

Matthew 14:1-12

Herod the tetrarch heard about the reputation of Jesus, and said to his court, ‘This is John the Baptist himself; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’

Now it was Herod who had arrested John, chained him up and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. For John had told him, ‘It is against the Law for you to have her.’ He had wanted to kill him but was afraid of the people, who regarded John as a prophet. Then, during the celebrations for Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and so delighted Herod that he promised on oath to give her anything she asked.

Prompted by her mother she said, ‘Give me John the Baptist’s head, here, on a dish.’

The king was distressed but, thinking of the oaths he had sworn and of his guests, he ordered it to be given her, and sent and had John beheaded in the prison.

The head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl, who took it to her mother.

John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went off to tell Jesus.

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) 2005, Allen Morris. Head of John the Baptist. Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin.

Gospel Reading for Friday 30th July

Matthew 13:54-58

Coming to his home town, Jesus taught the people in their synagogue in such a way that they were astonished and said, ‘Where did the man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? This is the carpenter’s son, surely? Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? His sisters, too, are they not all here with us? So where did the man get it all?’ And they would not accept him. But Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country and in his own house’, and he did not work many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

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) 2018 Allen Morris. ‘Jesus teaching in the synagogue.’ Banner. Orthodox Church of the Holy Prince Lazar, Bourneville, Birmingham.

Gospel Reading for Thursday 29th July

Memorial of St Martha

John 11:19-27

Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to sympathise with them over their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus had come she went to meet him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.’ ‘Your brother’ said Jesus to her ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said:

‘I am the resurrection and the life.
If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live,
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?’

‘Yes, Lord,’ she said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’

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. ‘Martha’ Stained Glass, Museum of Religion, Glasgow.

Gospel Reading for Wednesday 28th July

Matthew 13:44-46

Jesus said to the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it.’

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. Reliquary for piece of the True Cross. Collection of Victoria and Albert Museum. London.

Gospel Reading for Tuesday 27th July

Matthew 13:36-43

Leaving the crowds, Jesus went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.’ He said in reply, ‘The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

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. Wall painting, The Commandery, Worcester.

Gospel Reading for Monday 26th July

Matthew 13:31-35

Jesus put a parable before the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.’

He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’

In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:
I will speak to you in parables
and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.

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. Bread oven. Anne Hathaway’s cottage, Stratford Upon Avon.

Gospel Reading for Sunday 25th July

John 6:1-15

Jesus went off to the other side of the Sea of Galilee – or of Tiberias – and a large crowd followed him, impressed by the signs he gave by curing the sick. Jesus climbed the hillside, and sat down there with his disciples. It was shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover.


Looking up, Jesus saw the crowds approaching and said to Philip, ‘Where can we buy some bread for these people to eat?’ He only said this to test Philip; he himself knew exactly what he was going to do. Philip answered, ‘Two hundred denarii would only buy enough to give them a small piece each.’ One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, ‘There is a small boy here with five barley loaves and two fish; but what is that between so many?’

Jesus said to them, ‘Make the people sit down.’

There was plenty of grass there, and as many as five thousand men sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and gave them out to all who were sitting ready; he then did the same with the fish, giving out as much as was wanted.

When they had eaten enough he said to the disciples, ‘Pick up the pieces left over, so that nothing gets wasted.’ So they picked them up, and filled twelve hampers with scraps left over from the meal of five barley loaves.

The people, seeing this sign that he had given, said, ‘This really is the prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, who could see they were about to come and take him by force and make him king, escaped back to the hills by himself.

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. Antique carving, Vatican Museum, Rome.

A sabbatical

Since January there have been weekly posts in a series looking in some detail at aspects of the Eucharist – its history, its form, and its celebration.

The series will resume, probably in October. But for now there will be a pause and a rest.

Readers will perhaps be familiar with the letters from Pope Francis regarding the celebration of the Eucharist in the Roman Rite and the changes he has introduced regarding the celebration of Mass in its form prior to the reform of 1970, the so-called Tridentine form.

The Motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, and Pope Francis’ accompanying letter repay careful reading – not only for what they say about any continued use of that earlier form, but also what they say about the Liturgy more generally.

Pope Francis reminds that

“liturgical celebrations are not private actions, but celebrations of the Church, which is the sacrament of unity”, 

 Constitution on the sacred liturgy “ Sacrosanctum Concilium”, 26:

Consequently they must be carried out in communion with the Church.

Vatican Council II, while it reaffirmed the external bonds of incorporation in the Church — the profession of faith, the sacraments, of communion — affirmed with St. Augustine that to remain in the Church not only “with the body” but also “with the heart” is a condition for salvation. 

Pope Francis declares that the liturgical books promulgated by Saints Paul VI and John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, constitute the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite. 

The phrase lex orandi may not be familiar to many. It is part of a Latin tag, Lex orandi, lex credendi (“the law of prayer prayed [is] the law of belief), in other words what and how we pray establishes what the Church believes. Belief is learnt from the Church, especially through participation in the liturgy.

The Church’s faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles – whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi (or: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, according to Prosper of Aquitaine [5th cent.]). The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1124

The form of the Liturgy is not unchanging. Rather it needs to change and to adapt so as to speak true in varied circumstances and conditions.

Pope Francis reminds that Vatican Council II required that

“the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet present-day circumstances and needs”. 

Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy “ Sacrosanctum Concilium”,4:

And that on the basis of these principles a reform of the liturgy was undertaken, with its highest expression in the Roman Missal, published in editio typica by St. Paul VI and revised by St. John Paul II. 

He continues:

It must therefore be maintained that the Roman Rite, adapted many times over the course of the centuries according to the needs of the day, not only be preserved but renewed “in faithful observance of the Tradition”. 

All this reaffirms the importance of faithful celebration of the Liturgy of the Church, engaging with the fullness of the rite, sharing in its action – the action of the Lord who gathers us to himself and invites us into the fulness of communion with him: through our dialogue in response to his word , and through the sharing of life achieved through the celebration of the sacrament of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ and our joining ourselves with his mission.

The Liturgy of the Church faithfully rehearses us in the Church’s belief that we might live faithfully.

For this reason some prefer an amended version of the Latin tag Lex orandi, lex credendi : Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi  – the law of prayer is the law of faith – the Church believes as she prays – and all this establishes the law for life – for how we are to live faithfully.

Faithful celebration helps us to fruitful living….

May our continued study and reflection also help us to both…

Text: Allen Morris: (c) 2021
Graphic: Jonathan Stewart (c) 2007.

Gospel Reading for Saturday 24th July

Matthew 13:24-30

Jesus put another parable before the crowds: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. When the new wheat sprouted and ripened, the darnel appeared as well. The owner’s servants went to him and said, “Sir, was it not good seed that you sowed in your field? If so, where does the darnel come from?” “Some enemy has done this” he answered.

And the servants said, “Do you want us to go and weed it out?” But he said, “No, because when you weed out the darnel you might pull up the wheat with it. Let them both grow till the harvest; and at harvest time I shall say to the reapers: First collect the darnel and tie it in bundles to be burnt, then gather the wheat into my barn.”’

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) 2018, Allen Morris. View of Garden. Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford upon Avon )