Speak Lord: Promise us communion with you for ever

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God spoke to Noah and his sons, ‘See, I establish my Covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; also with every living creature to be found with you, birds, cattle and every wild beast with you: everything that came out of the ark, everything that lives on the earth. I establish my Covenant with you: no thing of flesh shall be swept away again by the waters of the flood. There shall be no flood to destroy the earth again.’

God said, ‘Here is the sign of the Covenant I make between myself and you and every living creature with you for all generations: I set my bow in the clouds and it shall be a sign of the Covenant between me and the earth. When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the Covenant between myself and you and every living creature of every kind. And so the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all things of flesh.’

First reading for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Genesis 9:8-15

In Lent we can struggle, even with God’s grace, struggle, to live faithfully and well.

If/when we stumble and fall it is a great reassurance to remember the mercy of the Lord, that he does not renege on his covenant with us, but rather constantly offers the opportunity for us to own our sorrow, repent and find reassurance in his compassion and mercy.

ConfessionOften people have not received good catechesis and formation with regard to the Sacrament of Confession. A new book in the YOUCAT series, (fruit of World Youth Days and related initiatives) has just been published which many may find helpful. Titled Confession, it is available in the UK from the Catholic Truth ServiceAmazon, good bookshops and, ahem, the best parishes.

Confession is written for teenagers , but it is difficult to think who would not find it helpful.

Floor tile. Gloucester Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

 

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Speak Lord: Lead us forward…

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Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Responsorial Psalm for the 1st Sunday of Lent
Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

Our journey through Lent has begun.

Will it lead us to Easter? To a deeper participation in Christ in his service of others? Or will it just have been a ‘thing’?

Without the help of God, it will surely not be capable of leading us to the Kingdom, to Christ, and so we sing our prayer asking for help…

John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. Southwark Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Grace needed, grace offered

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O God, who teach us that you abide
in hearts that are just and true,
grant that we may be so fashioned by your grace
as to become a dwelling pleasing to you.
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.

Collect for the Sunday of the 6th week in Ordinary Time 

The Collect of Sunday of this week serves well as a focus for the meaning and work of the season of Lent which begins today, Ash Wednesday.

We look for purification and freedom, and we look for a new closeness with God, abiding in him and he abiding in us.

Slave by Michelangelo. Louvre, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: Hope and joy

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You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Happy the man whose offence is forgiven,
whose sin is remitted.
O happy the man to whom the Lord
imputes no guilt,
in whose spirit is no guile.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

But now I have acknowledged my sins;
my guilt I did not hide.
I said: ‘I will confess
my offence to the Lord.’
And you, Lord, have forgiven
the guilt of my sin.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Rejoice, rejoice in the Lord,
exult, you just!
O come, ring out your joy,
all you upright of heart.

You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Responsorial Psalm for Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Psalm 31:1-2,5,11

Punishment can last long after repentance, after forgiveness even.

And in that shadowed time, joy at being loved, joy at being offered forgiveness and reconciliation can be the predominant emotion, even as suffering continues.

We live, so we say in the Salve Regina, in a vale of tears, but hope is ours here, because of the mercy and love of God.

  • Who forgives you?
  • Who might you forgive?

Bloomsbury, London.  (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Free us, guide us

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Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ.

Second reading for Sunday of the 6th Week of Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1

St Augustine taught:

Once and for all, I give you this one short command: love, and do what you will. If you hold your peace, hold your peace out of love. If you cry out, cry out in love. If you correct someone, correct them out of love. If you spare them, spare them out of love. Let the root of love be in you: nothing can spring from it but good.

Part of his point is that with the best will in the world, and having taken every effort to inform our conscience, we will sometimes do right and sometimes do wrong. It’s not that we intend to do wrong if we intend to do right, and vice versa. But sometimes it ends up that way. So, at least, we should always seek that whatever we do we do for love.

And for us who believe in Jesus, we will also do for him. When we make poor judgement or mistakes, at least that intention will remain in our favour as we strive to live love.

2-4 C tombstone, Cumbria, England. Collection of British Museum. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

 

Speak Lord: Help us answer your call

DSC00865.jpgA leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: ‘If you want to’ he said ‘you can cure me.’ Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. ‘Of course I want to!’ he said. ‘Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, ‘Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.’ The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

Gospel for the Sunday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 1:40-45

Of course Jesus wants us to be cured, healed, free to live to the fullness of life.

But do we want to? Sometimes, at moments of crisis, we do? And we make the firmest of resolutions to embrace the gifts that come our way by the grace of God. And then?

Sometimes we forget. Sometimes other weaknesses prevail. Too often we find ourselves back where we were, and it can seem unchanged by God’s grace or by our own resolution.

But those experiences of failing can play their part in our being recovered by God. Can make us realise that the change that is needed is not cosmetic, not just something of the surface and of our public lives. The change is needed deeper down inside, of us ourselves. And God longs for us to seek that…

  • How are you beginning to prepare for Lent?
  • What acts of fasting, prayer and charity are you planning to help you, and to help God to help you,  live more faithfully?

‘Come to me’. Street Art, Cracow, Poland. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

 

 

Taste and See: Love at all costs

DSC03882.jpgPraise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted. or Alleluia!

Praise the Lord for he is good;
sing to our God for he is loving:
to him our praise is due.

Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted. or Alleluia!

The Lord builds up Jerusalem
and brings back Israel’s exiles,
he heals the broken-hearted,
he binds up all their wounds.
He fixes the number of the stars;
he calls each one by its name.

Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted. or Alleluia!

Our Lord is great and almighty;
his wisdom can never be measured.
The Lord raises the lowly;
he humbles the wicked to the dust.

Praise the Lord who heals the broken-hearted. or Alleluia!

Responsorial Psalm for the Sunday of the 5th Week of Ordinary Time
Psalm 146:1-6

The Lord who would save us from sorrow and sin does it by entering into our sorrow and sin and gathering it to himself. And then redeeming it, freeing us from all that would hurt and diminish us.

From what do you still need him to free you?

Deposition from the Cross and Harrowing of Hell. Pietro Lorenzetti. Assisi. (c) 2014, Allen Morris