Taste and see: Praise the Lord

Project_Lourdes20041208_0016a

On Corpus Christi a Sequence is set to be sung as part of the Liturgy of the Word. A setting of the Latin text can be heard here.

Sing forth, O Zion, sweetly sing
The praises of thy Shepherd-King,
In hymns and canticles divine;
Dare all thou canst, thou hast no song
Worthy his praises to prolong,
So far surpassing powers like thine.

Today no theme of common praise
Forms the sweet burden of thy lays –
The living, life-dispensing food –
That food which at the sacred board
Unto the brethren twelve our Lord
His parting legacy bestowed.

Then be the anthem clear and strong,
Thy fullest note, thy sweetest song,
The very music of the breast:
For now shines forth the day sublime
That brings remembrance of the time
When Jesus first his table blessed.

Within our new King’s banquet-hall
They meet to keep the festival
That closed the ancient paschal rite:
The old is by the new replaced;
The substance hath the shadow chased;
And rising day dispels the night.

Christ willed what he himself had done
Should be renewed while time should run,
In memory of his parting hour:
Thus, tutored in his school divine,
We consecrate the bread and wine;
And lo – a Host of saving power.

This faith to Christian men is given –
Bread is made flesh by words from heaven:
Into his blood the wine is turned:
What though it baffles nature’s powers
Of sense and sight? This faith of ours
Proves more than nature e’er discerned.

Concealed beneath the two-fold sign,
Meet symbols of the gifts divine,
There lie the mysteries adored:
The living body is our food;
Our drink the ever-precious blood;
In each, one undivided Lord.

Not he that eateth it divides
The sacred food, which whole abides
Unbroken still, nor knows decay;
Be one, or be a thousand fed,
They eat alike that living bread
Which, still received, ne’er wastes away.

The good, the guilty share therein,
With sure increase of grace or sin,
The ghostly life, or ghostly death:
Death to the guilty; to the good
Immortal life. See how one food
Man’s joy or woe accomplisheth.

We break the Sacrament, but bold
And firm thy faith shall keep its hold,
Deem not the whole doth more enfold
Than in the fractured part resides
Deem not that Christ doth broken lie,
’Tis but the sign that meets the eye,
The hidden deep reality
In all its fullness still abides.

– – – – – –

*Behold the bread of angels, sent
For pilgrims in their banishment,
The bread for God’s true children meant,
That may not unto dogs be given:
Oft in the olden types foreshowed;
In Isaac on the altar bowed,
And in the ancient paschal food,
And in the manna sent from heaven.

*Come then, good shepherd, bread divine,
Still show to us thy mercy sign;
Oh, feed us still, still keep us thine;
So may we see thy glories shine
In fields of immortality;

*O thou, the wisest, mightiest, best,
Our present food, our future rest,
Come, make us each thy chosen guest,
Co-heirs of thine, and comrades blest
With saints whose dwelling is with thee.
Amen. Alleluia.

The generous length of the song means that there is an alternative briefer form. However regularly the song seems to be omitted completely. This is perhaps understandable, but also a matter of regret.

Often there is a desire to make the Liturgy, and God, fit our needs rather than put ourselves out to rise to the challenges set before us…

Enjoy the song and give thanks to God, and if you did omit the song yesterday wonder why….

Tabernacle. Rosary Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Bread of Life

DSC07667manna Lourdes 2016.jpg

Moses said to the people: ‘Remember how the Lord your God led you for forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, to test you and know your inmost heart – whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

‘Do not become proud of heart. Do not forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: who guided you through this vast and dreadful wilderness, a land of fiery serpents, scorpions, thirst; who in this waterless place brought you water from the hardest rock; who in this wilderness fed you with manna that your fathers had not known.’

Deuteronomy 8:2-3,14-16

The First reading at Mass today, the feast of Corpus Christi, refers us to God’s feeding of Israel with manna, during their long journey from enslavement to the Promised Land. The food and the journey are viewed by Christians as types for, anticipations that will be fulfilled by,  the Eucharist and our salvation in Christ.

The gift we receive is greater than that offered to Israel. And yet the fruitfulness of our reception of it lies equally in doubt.

The feast of Corpus Christi provides us with further reason to pause and take stock on how carefully we receive the gifts of God and how we try to live them for our good and the good of all.

Detail from altar and sanctuary in chapel of St Bernadette, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

 

 

 

Speak Lord: Loving food

IMG_9139a
The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. The fact that there is only one loaf means that, though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17

The second reading  at Mass on Sunday, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, speaks to some of the core truths about the Eucharist. It reminds us that the Eucharist is about communion with Christ and communion with each other, through Christ.

Controversy about the Eucharist and subsequent development of doctrine has led the Western Church, at least, to a certain preoccupation with the ‘what’ of the Eucharist and a neglect of the ‘why’.

The Eucharist surely is, as Christ said, his Body and his Blood. It is he himself, present for us as food and drink. But there lies the clue to the why of the Eucharist: this is Christ present as food and drink for us, to nourish us for life.

That life is found in communion with him and fulfilled when we live our life lovingly and for the lives of others. It is a life nourished by the gift of the life of God in flesh, of the divine Son begotten before the ages, and united with our humanity in Jesus of Nazareth. It is a life we begin to live now and that finds its completion in eternal life.

  • How do you live from the holy food that Christ is?

Grave marker of a priest in the graveyard of St Giles, Cheadle. (c) 2009, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Bread of Life

eglise saint laurent.jpg
Jesus said to the Jews:

‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever;
and the bread that I shall give is my flesh,
for the life of the world.’

Then the Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied:

‘I tell you most solemnly,
if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you will not have life in you.
Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood
has eternal life,
and I shall raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food
and my blood is real drink.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
lives in me
and I live in him.
As I, who am sent by the living Father,
myself draw life from the Father,
so whoever eats me will draw life from me.
This is the bread come down from heaven;
not like the bread our ancestors ate:
they are dead,
but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.’

John 6:51-58

Sunday is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi). The Gospel we hear is drawn from the Bread of Life discourse in the Gospel of John.

We hear the words of Jesus, familiar with the Sacrament of the Eucharist. So we are not likely to mistake Jesus words for an advocacy of cannibalism. But pity those who first heard them – how else could they have understood them?

But, perhaps those who knew him best would be able to understand the metaphor Jesus applies to himself – that he is the living bread. Perhaps they could know from their experience of his love and care for them and others, his self-sacrifice for their sake; his radical obedience to the will of the Father that he has been and is bread for their eating; wisdom for their guidance, the living word of God for their salvation.

Jesus is this for them and us, but not in words only, not in inspiration only, but in the very fact and physicality of his humanity, in its particularity and in its service of his Father and his neighbour.

The Last Supper. Eglise St Lauren, Paris. (c) 2017, Allen Morris

Taste and see: taste and be

St Julianna

The Collect for Mass on Sunday, Corpus Christi, gently reminded of the final end of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The change in bread and wine – that it become Jesus present for us, and a means to our present participation in his once-and-for-all sacrifice at Calvary – is gifted to us that we too may change.

Christ gives himself that we may receive in him the gift of ourselves. Of him we receive the ability to become the people God made us to be, but which alone we cannot achieve.

Collect

O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament
have left us a memorial of your Passion,
grant us, we pray,
so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood
that we may always experience in ourselves
the fruits of your redemption.
Who live and reign with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

In Christ we too can become fully human, even as, of his graciousness, we partake of, and share in, the fullness of his divinity.

  • How, in Christ, might you give of yourself today? For the upbuilding of the Church? And the healing of the world?

St Juliana – whose visions assisted in the establishing of the feast of Corpus Christi. Barber Institute. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: All for me?

Tabernacle, Leeds The second reading at Mass on Sunday, the feast of Corpus Christi, came from the Letter to the Hebrews. In that letter the salvation won by Christ is related, compared and contrasted, to the rites of the Temple cult of Judaism.

Now Christ has come, as the high priest of all the blessings which were to come. He has passed through the greater, the more perfect tent, which is better than the one made by men’s hands because it is not of this created order; and he has entered the sanctuary once and for all, taking with him not the blood of goats and bull calves, but his own blood, having won an eternal redemption for us. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer are sprinkled on those who have incurred defilement and they restore the holiness of their outward lives; how much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God. He brings a new covenant, as the mediator, only so that the people who were called to an eternal inheritance may actually receive what was promised: his death took place to cancel the sins that infringed the earlier covenant. Hebrews 9:11-15

Sometimes consideration of great themes of Christain faith – such as salvation – can be very abstract and theoretical. Yet, consider, Christ shed his blood for you. True, he shed it for countless others too but also for you and me, personally. Jesus who lived and served so lovingly as we read in the scriptures. He served so faithfully, so perfectly, and this for me and you personally.

  • How – in the particular, unique circumstances of our lives might we live more humanly, more lovingly, more like Jesus today.

Tabernacle, Chapel of Reservation, Hinsley Hall, Leeds. (c) 2003, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Proclaiming our eucharistic faith

Manna, Chapel screen Leeds

The Preface for Corpus Christi reminds of the beauty and power of the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the salvation of which it is foretaste.

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,
through Christ our Lord.

For at the Last Supper with his Apostles,
establishing for the ages to come the saving memorial of the Cross,
he offered himself to you as the unblemished Lamb,
the acceptable gift of perfect praise.
Nourishing your faithful by this sacred mystery,
you make them holy, so that the human race,
bounded by one world,
may be enlightened by one faith
and united by one bond of charity.
And so, we approach the table of this wondrous Sacrament,
so that, bathed in the sweetness of your grace,
we may pass over to the heavenly realities here foreshadowed.

Therefore, all creatures of heaven and earth
sing a new song in adoration,
and we, with all the host of Angels,
cry out, and without end we acclaim:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts . . .

Taste and see? In what do you especially discern the sweetness of the Lord?

Detail of screen to place of eucharistic reservation, Hinsley Hall, Leeds. (c) 2003, Allen Morris.