Taste and See: as we sing your praise

 

DSC03923 chester cathedral 2017.jpg

Alleluia, alleluia!
I call you friends, says the Lord,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father. Alleluia!

John 15:15
Gospel Acclamation for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The dignity that God affords to us! Especially when, though he may well have made known to us all he has learnt from the Father, we have yet to understand all that, and to put it into practice.

Hopefully as we sing to give praise to God for his goodness we do – not just sing, but give praise, mindful of what we have to give thanks for…

Angelic minstrels, Chester Cathedral. (c) 2017, Allen Morris.

Taste and See. He is gone, but he is here, still.

Ascension

The Gospel Acclamation is so short, and yet often sums up the ‘meaning’ of a celebraiton in a remarkable way.

Certainly that was the case this last Sunday, Ascension Sunday:

Alleluia, alleluia!
Go, make disciples of all the nations.
I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.
Alleluia!

Mt28:19,20

In part, of course, the feast marks the Lord’s leaving the disciples, but more importantly it is about his abiding present in and through them.

He is with us. Now where will we take him? Where will we let him lead us?

  • How do you make disciples? A pertinent question at any time and especially as we gear up, again, in response to Proclaim ’15

Photograph of The Ascension, part of the Rosary Triptych by Arthur Fleischman. Photograph (c) 2011, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Even today, speak of the glory of the Resurrection.

Harrowing of Hell

It may feel strange to read a blog on this day of all days that is not dwelling on the mystery of Good Friday, and is have us look forward to Easter Sunday already.

Yet, our every day is the day the Lord has made, and a day for us to meet and better know the risen Lord, even the day kept specifically in memory of the Lord’s Passion and Death.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
for his love has no end.
Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.

This day was made by the Lord: we rejoice and are glad.
or Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Psalm 117:1-2,16-17,22-23

Again to Western Christians the appearance of the ‘A’ word at this time of year, and especially on Good Friday might jar. But the Orthodox do not fast from the word or the joy that it evokes (though there is an appropriate sobriety to even Orthodox joy during Lent!)

As we keep Good Friday the Easter psalm takes on a particular poignancy. The Lord will die, in his humanity, but will be raised and live: the testimony of Jesus to the goodness of the Father may seem to pause for until the third day but silently, hidden from us, in Hell, Jesus continues the liberation of humankind that is the Father’s eternal will.

  • From what ‘death’ do you long for the Lord to set you free?

Image of the harrowing of hell from the Kariye Museum (The Chora Church), Istanbul. (c) 2002, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Receive the Word, live the word.

Virgin_salus_populi_romani

There were two alternative Gospel Acclamations offered in the Lectionary for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, this year, Year A.

Alleluia, alleluia!
Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.
Alleluia!
cf.Ac16:14

Alleluia, alleluia!
If anyone loves me he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him.
Alleluia!
Jn14:23

Two acclamations for the price of one in today’s Blog!

Both engage us with the call to love, obedient to the word and will of God. But if  obedience is to be a human act,  fully worthy of our dignity as children of God, made in his image and likeness, our obedience needs to be an obedience of the heart, born of love.

We, who are often slow students, may need to learn obedience in other schools first, but in time we need to learn to take God’s word to heart and then from our heart learn how to live faithful to the word that calls us to love.

The icon is the Virgin salus populi romani held in the Basilica of St Mary Major in Rome. It is an image to which Pope Francis returns to pray at key moments in his pontificate.

 

Taste and See: Alive by God’s word

hagia sophia

Yesterday’s blog concerned the first of the two alternative Gospel Acclamation in the Lectionary for Mass on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The other alternative Acclamation is the subject of today’s blog.

Alleluia, alleluia!
Open our heart, O Lord,
to accept the words of your Son.
Alleluia!
cf.Acts 16:14

The reflection is simply this. How hard is it to have our hearts open and so to hear, and then accept, the words of God’s Son. How hard to hear the words that are already rather familiar?

How many times, for example, had you already heard yesterday’s parable of the kindly landowner? And so did you feel the need to listen carefully, or was there a feeling of ‘I know this one…’ And a drifting off to think of other things? Distractions come so easily.
And even if they don’t, it requires a certain readiness to let the words we hear raise questions about us: to let the reading be about ‘me’ and not just about ‘them’. About me and my relationship with God and neighbour, and not some more or less abstract moral teaching that is proffered for the good of the community, but may well not have anything much to do with me.
The wonder of the scriptures proclaimed is that this is a sacramental encounter offered to us. Jesus really speaks through the form of story and teaching; speaks personally and individually to each one present.
Hearing him, and not just the words, is not easy, and so yesterday we had the opportunity, even as we stood and sang to greet the gospel, to pray for help for openness and attentiveness of heart and mind and person to hear and accept Jesus’ speaking to us collectively, and to each one individually.
What did you hear yesterday?
What are you doing with what you heard, to take it deeper?
And if you did not hear, why might that be? Maybe go back to the gospel today, in a time of personal prayer. Seeking again, to be open to the Lord who welcomes you with love.

Speak Lord: as we sing your praises.

Heavenly host

The Gospel Acclamation we may sing at Mass today, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, reminds what that acclamation is all about.

Alleluia, alleluia!
Blessings on the King who comes,
in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven
and glory in the highest heavens!
Alleluia!

cf.Lk19:38,2:14

The verse explains the meaning of our acclamation of the Gospel.

In this acclamation we greet the Lord who has already spoken to us in a more hidden or obscure way through readings from the inspired writings of the people of Israel and from the earliest Christians, and who now speaks to us more directly in the words of the Gospel. It is the same Lord Jesus, God’s Word, who speaks through readings from the Old and New Testament. But now, in the Gospel reading,  the words are accounts of his teaching, of his life and the impact he has on others. We more easily and, again, directly, recognise his personal presence.

And because of the primacy of the Gospel reading in the Liturgy of the Word, we stand to greet and hear it; we sing words of praise to greet the Gospel; we have a dialogue which again gathers and focuses us so we might hear the words well, and take the Word to heart, and respond in prayer.

In the Catholic tradition we sing Alleluia to greet the Gospel – except during Lent. The Orthodox retain it even in Lent.

Often people have sung it for years and never wondered what the word means. Our English word is a transliteration of the Hebrew הללו יה and simply means ‘Praise God’. The mellifluousness of the word lends itself to enthusiastic singing. That said, the singing of Alleluia can sometimes seem tired and unenthusiastic: going through the motions but seeming not to mean a word of it!

Maybe today at Mass we can recover the deep praise and gratitude evoked by the verse and the ancient Hebrew word. And maybe include a (quieter?) singing of the word in our daily prayer, singing the praise of God to gather ourselves for the time of prayer, or at its conclusion.

Maybe we more often think of angels singing ‘Glory to God’ or ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’. Listen carefully. The stone angels in the picture above are singing ‘Alleluia’, apart, that is, from the ones blowing their trumpets! Photograph shows detail of carving at the West door of St Trophime, Arles. (c) Allen Morris, 2014.