Speak Lord: gives us fresh heart

DSC03545 Madeleine Beziers 2015.jpg

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness.
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

A pure heart create for me, O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Give me again the joy of your help;
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways
and sinners may return to you.

A pure heart create for me, O God.

Responsorial Psalm for the 5th Sunday in Lent
Psalm 50(51):3-4,12-15

Our longed for newness always comes as gift. Often we need to work, and work hard, to receive the gift, but always that newness, that freedom, that life  comes as gift from God.

And the gift moves us from a preoccupation with self, which constrains us, to a new place where there is freedom for ourselves and love for others.

A pure heart create for me, O God… and help me to be ready to receive it….

Tabernacle Door. Church of the Madeleine, Beziers. (c) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: Love, only love

Sacred Heart, Colombiers II.jpg

We have a wisdom to offer those who have reached maturity: not a philosophy of our age, it is true, still less of the masters of our age, which are coming to their end. The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began.

It is a wisdom that none of the masters of this age have ever known, or they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory; we teach what scripture calls: the things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.

These are the very things that God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depths of everything, even the depths of God.

1 Corinthians 2:6-10

The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 6th Sunday  in Ordinary Time, is packed with pungent Pauline ironies.

Who are those who have reached maturity? Surely not those who think they have reached it. How might we define maturity? In terms of  intellectual rigour? Well again and again, we see the ‘wise’ stumble because of their emotional immaturity. In terms of accumulated years? Well, just look at the incapacties aged brings! In terms of financial, life-style, security? Just a blip in the stock market or a change in government policy and we find ourselves exposed and on the rocks. All can seem acheived, mature, well,… until it isn’t!

And what is wisdom? The teachings of books; the cany of argument and rhetoric? Our acheivement, what we struggle to with great effort? No it is what God has thought, what God has intended before we ever began.

Paul speaks of maturity gifted by our receiveing and being sustained by what is at the heart of everything. And that, simply, is the love that is God and that is ours when we stop struggling and allow ourselves to be drawn into the current of that love that tears down and builds, that cherishes and trains, that allows us to lose ourselves and find ourselves, brought to wholeness in him.

  • What false wisdom do you hold onto?
  • What new security does the Gospel call you to?

Stained glass. Colombiers, Beziers, France. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Open ears, open heart?

sacred-heart-ecclestone-square

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come, ring out our joy to the Lord;
hail the rock who saves us.
Let us come before him, giving thanks,
with songs let us hail the Lord.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Come in; let us bow and bend low;
let us kneel before the God who made us:
for he is our God and we
the people who belong to his pasture,
the flock that is led by his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

O that today you would listen to his voice!
‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as on that day at Massah in the desert
when your fathers put me to the test;
when they tried me, though they saw my work.’

O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts.’

Psalm 94:1-2,6-9

The psalm calls us to listen, not to defend ourselves fearful of what we might hear. The psalmist indeed longs for us to listen, and to hear.

And he knows that if we hear we will be led to rejoice, for our God, above all, is love for us, and faithful. But rejoicing is not the end.

If we hear, we are brought not only to rejoicing – because of the good gifted to us – but to reverence and awe.

If we truly hear we know we are drawn to profound relationship with God, remarkable as it is when we think about it, we are invited to person to person communion with God – not just the with the good that God does, but with the supreme good God is…

We are not always up for that!

Famously Annie Dillard wrote:

On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.

Annie Dillard: Teaching a rock to speak

  • Where are you in that relationship?
  • What hardens your heart?
  • What opens it to love? What opens it to God?
  • How do you live openness?
  • How do you live hardness of heart?

Sacred Heart, CBCEW Offices, Eccleston Square. (c) 2006, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Hearing with the heart

heart-sign

The first of the alternative verses provided for the Gospel Acclamation at Mass yesterday, the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, is simple, but reminds of a most important truth.

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

cf.Ac16:14

Normally we think of ourselves as listening with our ears.  And, of course, they have a part to play in our hearing the word of God.

But in hearing the word of God we need not only ears and mind, but especially a heart. God speaks heart to heart, speaks much less of facts and the like, much more about affective,  relational, truths, about the love of God, and the invitation always open to us of entering into deeper communion with him.

  • What helps your heart to open?
  • What tends to make it close?

Street signs and graffiti: Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris