Speak Lord: through suffering, speak of your love.

St Francis and Christ, Petit Palais, AvignonThe first reading at Mass yesterday, the 29th Sunday of the Year,  was taken from the prophet Isaiah. It is a part of one of the ‘servant songs’ of Isaiah, widely read as prophetic anticipations of the sufferings of Christ, particularly in his Passion.

In yestday’s blog there was a caution regarding any reading of the first line as a literal ‘explanation’ as to why Jesus was crucified. After all, it was not God but men who tortured and killed Jesus.

For today, though, let us pause and reflect on Jesus’ willingness to suffer for us: pause, reflect, wonder and give thanks.

The Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering.

If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life and through him what the Lord wishes will be done.

His soul’s anguish over, he shall see the light and be content.

By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,

taking their faults on himself.
Isaiah 53:10-11

Jesus is of course not the only person who accepts, even chooses, suffering if it is the price demanded by faithful love. Many, many do this every day. Most commonly it is parents for their children.

In this case it it is not simply one of us who suffers for another of us. It is one who suffers for all (or for ‘the many’ as the semitic idiom puts it, retained in the current English translation of the Eucharistic Prayer). And it is not merely one of us who suffers, but that one is also God with us. God who so loves the world that he comes in the Person of the Son to suffer with us and for us to save us from the suffering of sin.

God suffers for us to save us from the suffering of sin and death, to free us by love for love.

Pope Francis has written of the joy of the Gospel. Our meditation on the suffering of Jesus should surely move us to joy, praise, and thanksgiving.

  • What else gives you joy?
  • Why?
  • What opportunities are there to share with others that joy, and the life it engenders?

Painting of St Francis adoring the Crucified Christ. Petit Palais, Avignon. Photograph (c) 2014, Allen Morris.


Taste and See: And love…

Hidden Church, AmsterdamThe Preface for Trinity Sunday’s Mass was proper to the feast

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.
For with your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit
you are one God, one Lord:
not in the unity of a single person,
but in a Trinity of one substance.
For what you have revealed to us of your glory
we believe equally of your Son
and of the Holy Spirit,
so that, in the confessing of the true and eternal Godhead,
you might be adored in what is proper to each Person,
their unity in substance,
and their equality in majesty.
For this is praised by Angels and Archangels,
Cherubim, too, and Seraphim,
who never cease to cry out each day,
as with one voice they acclaim:

Holy, Holy, Holy…

The text reminds us that for all the virtue and value of tussling with the doctrine of the Trinity, and there is much of both, the most natural response is that of adoration – of love that begets love. Loved by God, and transformed by his love for us, we can love him in return and also show love for those around us. Love begets love.

Often our prayer can be busy and preoccupied with needs and wants. Quiet prayer of adoration can help us get things in proportion, the more complete turn to God for God’s sake, can even help us better distinguish our wants from our needs.

Images of the Trinity in the ‘Hidden Church’, Amsterdam. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: the wonder of the Spirit

Assisi spirit

The Sequence for Pentecost, not always used in situ in the Masses of Pentecost, is  a beautiful hymn – a prayer of intercession, a prayer of adoration.

As the Church in these days after Pentecost moves from Easter to Ordinary time (though with two exceptional Sunday Feasts looming) the sequence might be revisited as source of encouragement and orientation for our (always challenging!) futures!

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,
From the clear celestial height
Thy pure beaming radiance give.

Come, thou Father of the poor,
Come with treasures which endure
Come, thou light of all that live!

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow

Thou in toil art comfort sweet
Pleasant coolness in the heat
Solace in the midst of woe.

Light immortal, light divine,
Visit thou these hearts of thine,
And our inmost being fill:

If thou take thy grace away,
Nothing pure in man will stay
All his good is turned to ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew
On our dryness pour thy dew
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will
Melt the frozen, warm the chill
Guide the steps that go astray.

Thou, on us who evermore
Thee confess and thee adore,
With thy sevenfold gifts descend:

Give us comfort when we die
Give us life with thee on high
Give us joys that never end.

Photograph of fresco of the Holy Spirit, Assisi. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.