Taste and See: At one in Christ and by the Spirit

DSC03380.jpg

Grant, we pray, O Lord,
that, as promised by your Son,
the Holy Spirit may reveal to us more abundantly
the hidden mystery of this sacrifice
and graciously lead us into all truth.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer over the Offerings

The above prayer was used at Mass on Sunday, the feast of Pentecost. It reminds that one of the principal works of the Holy Spirit is the Eucharist.

The Spirit is invoked in the Eucharistic Prayer both that the bread and wine may become truly Christ offering himself to the Father and to us; and that we might truly be one in Jesus Christ, one Body, one spirit with him.

  • How has participation in the Eucharist changed you?

The Eucharist. St Mary Majors, Rome. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: New Life

IMG_6622 Abu Gosh.jpg

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’
Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’

They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

Luke 24: 13-35

The Gospel at Mass yesterday, the third Sunday in Ordinary time, reminds of the dynamic and life-giving nature of faith.

Faith drained from them, the couple walk to Emmaus, heart-broken. But faith-restored, they hurry back, bursting with the good news that has enlivened them and that they long to share.

Active faith makes a huge difference. It gives life to those who receive it, and makes them long to share it for the good of others.

As with faith, so too with Eucharist which sustains faith and renews it. We are fed so we may be food for others. In this self-giving in love for others we are not diminished: on the contrary we flourish. But, in Christ, we who are few can nourish thousands. If we will as he will…

The words of a song by Bernadette Farrell put it beautifully. Check out the music too… Lovely…

Bread for the world:
a world of hunger.
Wine for all peoples:
people who thirst.
May we who eat
be bread for others.
May we who drink
pour out our love.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you are the bread of life,
broken to reach
and heal the wounds
of human pain.
Where we divide your people,
you are waiting there
on bended knee
to wash our feet with endless care.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you are the wine of peace,
poured into hearts once broken
and where dryness sleeps.
Where we are tired and weary,
you are waiting there
to be the way which beckons us
beyond despair.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you call us to your feast,
at which the rich and pow’rful
have become the least.
Where we survive on others
in our human greed,
you walk among us
begging for your ev’ry need.

(c) Bernadette Farrell, 1990

Tabernacle. Abu Ghosh ( a traditional site identified as the biblical Emmaus), Israel. (c) 2012, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Nourishment

London-Calix-Logo2.jpg

Nourished by these redeeming gifts,
we pray, O Lord,
that through this help to eternal salvation
true faith may ever increase.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion, 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

The prayer above, prayed at Mass on Sunday, served to remind us of the expectation that we draw strength from our Sunday Eucharist for faithful living during the days, months and years that follow.

We all from time to time have experiences of Mass which seem not to engage, not to encourage. Indeed they may even seem to sap us of energy or the will to live!

Yet even in those less than positive reactions we receive something which may prompt us  – because of the ‘bad’ experience –  to return to the Lord in prayer, or take up – even more deliberately, carefully and appreciatively – our own Christian ministry and witness.

The Mass is gift from God – as indeed are in some sense, all aspects of our lives. Always, everywhere, they give us something to take back to God in prayer, for our good and the building up of the Kingdom.

  • What gifts – welcome or unwelcome – did you receive from Mass on Sunday?
  • How have you lived from them, brought them to prayer in the time since?

Graphic prepared for Calix Society London. (c) 2008, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Come, Holy Spirit…

002-tabernacle-annunciation

May the Holy Spirit, O Lord,
sanctify these gifts laid upon your altar,
just as he filled with his power the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Through Christ our Lord.

Prayer over the Offerings. 4th Sunday of Advent

The above prayer asks for an extraordinary thing. It asks for a work of the Spirit, equivalent to that of the incarnation of Jesus in the womb of the Virgin, Mary.

The extraordinary thing that is Jesus taking flesh and Jesus giving of his very self in form of bread and wine should indeed startle us. Neither makes ‘sense’ in worldly terms, or can be accounted for in terms of science. Yet both find their ‘sense’ in love, in God’s love for his people. Jesus comes as Saviour through Mary and in food and drink and he comes to those hungry for God’s love.

Tabernacle and Icon of the Annunciation. Catholic Church, Osterley. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Living Communion

Bread of Life

The Prayer after Communion for Mass on the 19th Sunday of the Year very simply teases out a very important principle of the sacramental life.

May the communion in your Sacrament
that we have consumed, save us, O Lord,
and confirm us in the light of your truth.
Through Christ our Lord.

The Latin tag ex opere operato describes one aspect of sacraments: that which is necessary for their being ‘real’. Ex opere operato or ‘from the work worked’ focuses on the authentic performance of the sacrament, especially by its minister: that he (and usually  it is he) has done that which Christ intended and has gift to the Church. For example that baptism has been performed using water and ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Sprit; or that Mass has been celebrated by an ordained minister with the right intention, and using bread and wine. This is important, for without this minimal things, the Sacrament simply has not been realised, achieved, and celebrated. The Sacrament is not there so however prayerfully we have celebrated it, ‘it’ is not what Christ offered as sure and effective sign and means to his real presence.

However, even when the Sacrament is validly celbrated, and Christ is truly present, his being there is not enough. It is necessary, if it is to be salvific for us, that we ‘encounter him, relate to him person to person, communicate with him. The sacrament invites us to real participation in it, and actual communion with Christ – to pray it, open to receiving the grace it embodies and extends to us. So that, in very truth, we are opened to being ‘saved’ by the grace if offers. The Latin tag for this participation is ex opere operantis – from the work of the working one. That one is first and foremost Christ for our participation in the Liturgy is a participation in Christ, but that one is also the Church and her each individual member.

In the prayer of Sunday, we pray that the purpose of the Sacrament may be fulfilled not only in our eating and drinking of the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation (and the feast of Scripture!), but in the living of the Communion which those gifts symbolise and seek to effect in us.

  • How does Eucharist draw you in to Communion?
  • With whom does Eucharist draw you into Communion?
  • How do you play your part in cooperating with the work of the Church and of Christ?

Sarcophagus. British Museum. (c) 2007, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Becoming the Bread we eat.

Tabernacle, Osterley

The Prayer after Communion at Mass on Sunday, the 13th of Ordinary time, provides the ever-timely reminder of a principal reason for the Mass.

The Mass is gifted to us not only that, through our participation  in Christ’s Sacrificial self-offering, bread and wine will be changed into his Body and Blood. It is also gifted to us that through our participation we, who are his Body, might also be changed, so as to be more like him, more fruitful in him.

May this divine sacrifice we have offered and received
fill us with life, O Lord, we pray,
so that, bound to you in lasting charity,
we may bear fruit that lasts for ever.
Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

In the image above Mary receives the Body of Christ by her yes to what God invites her to. We can say our yes to God in a myriad ways, and maybe we do. But we especially say our ‘Yes when we say our Amen as we receive the Bread of life and the Chalice of Salvation.

But the Lord nourishes us so we might live our ‘Yes’ in the daily business of life, in our work, in our care of neighbour, in our fulfilling the potential of our selves.

  • How do you live your ‘Yes’?

Icon of Annunciation and Tabernacle. St Vincent de Paul, Osterley. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: Move us on…

Tabernacle St Paeter and Paul, Cracow

The second reading on Sunday, the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time continues our reading of the letter of St Paul to the Galatians.

When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. My brothers, you were called, as you know, to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence.

Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: Love your neighbour as yourself. If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community.

Let me put it like this: if you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions. If you are led by the Spirit, no law can touch you.

Galatians 5:1,13-18

St Paul calls on us to look beyond ourselves and our needs, beyond ‘fighting our corner’but working for the common good.

In the past weeks and month, in the context of the EU referendum, there has been much setting up of ‘opposition’ to those of different opinion. But now the vote has been taken. The decision has been made, and it seems it is to leave.

As we await the final results the challenge for us all is how do we – all together – accept and implement the expressed will of the community (at least of those parts of the community permitted to vote!).

Almost half of those who did vote do not agree with the decision, but somewhat more than half have won the vote. Now, together, we need (learn again) to work for the common good. Some will see it (at least for a while) as trying to make the best of a bad job, but it is now for the best that, together, we must work, together.

To make bread grains of wheat have to be crushed and ground to form flour. To make wine, grapes are pressed and the juice collected. And then dough has to be made from the flour, and baked to form the one bread for Mass. And the grape juice fermented so that it might becomes the wine, the  drink for the one Chalice. In making bread, in making wine what is broken has – through our industry – become something new and whole.

This fruit of our industry is then taken and transformed by Christ into himself – offered as Sacrifice to God, and Sacrifice for us – and then shared with us as food and drink for the next stage of our journey that leads through this world and to eternal life.

  • What helps you to seek common-ground with others?
  • What frustrates any such attempt to seek common-ground?
  • To what and how does the Spirit guide you?

Tabernacle from Church of Ss Peter and Paul, Cracow. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Communion – lives connected


The Second reading at Mass yesterday, Corpus Christi, describes – and itself contributes to communion.

Paul has received and shares; Jesus has received and shares – an action of his own which embraces God and us. And now? Have we learnt the dance? Can we continue what has been thus begun?

This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

In the Eucharist life leads to death which leads to life and eternal glory – not as inevitable cycle, but as expression of the truth that God is love, and the intent of Creation that we and all should live that communion of love. Now. Always. Everywhere.

  • How are you drawn into the communion of love present in Eucharist?
  • What is eucharistic in your life today? What of Sunday expresses itself in your Monday?

Screen depicting the Last Supper – behind which can be seen a relic of the table of the Last Super. St John Lateran. Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: that we may be one


The Second reading at Mass this Sunday, Corpus Christi, is our oldest written account of the Eucharist. It comes from a letter of St Paul dated to the mid 50s, maybe twenty years before the Gospel of Mark, which offers a fuller account of the Passion of Jesus and the Last Supper.

This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.’ In the same way he took the cup after supper, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me.’ Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The chain of witnesses, the unbroken chain that have treasured and passed on this sacramental action is our heritage and yet it is barely conceivable. There have been so many in so many places and circumstances. Yet it is important we try.

Gregory Dix famously did:

Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacle of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for the famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetich because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren woman; for Captain so-and-so wounded and prisoner of war; while the lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonisation of S. Joan of Arc—one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancta Dei—the holy common people of God.

The Shape of the Liturgy.

The Eucharist, this gift of the Lord, is re-presented to God, and us, when we faithfully obey the command of Lord. Our obedience and his faithfulness combining with such power and to such effect.

Eucharist is never just me or you and Jesus. It is always, gloriously and abundantly, us; always Church, the Body of Christ in all times and places, that we be one in him.

Tabernacle in church of Nowa Huta, Cracow, Poland. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.

Taste and see: eat and drink the Lord and live…

Deer and Living Waters

The Prayer after Communion at Mass yesterday, the 6th Sunday of Easter, quietly reminded of a key purpose and end of the Mass, that we might live in Christ, by Christ, indeed as Christ.

Almighty ever-living God,
who restore us to eternal life in the Resurrection of Christ,
increase in us, we pray, the fruits of this paschal Sacrament
and pour into our hearts the strength of this saving food.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The life of the Lord is shared with us in form of Bread and Wine, but it needs to take root in us, flourish in us, if it is to sustain us and, through us be available for others too.

Mosaic from Crypt Chapel, St Cecilia, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris