Taste and See: God with us and for us

Crucifix, Lisieux 2

The second reading on Sunday, the hymn from the Letter to the Philippians reminds us of the holiness of the one we have at the centre of our gaze this week: Jesus, fully human, fully divine.

In his humanity achieving all we have not: in his divinity manifesting to us divine love and our ultimate goal.

His state was divine,
yet Christ Jesus did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave
and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.
But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings
in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus
and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:6-11

We have busy lives and the business will impinge on our keeping of these coming Holy Days unless we are determined to keep it at bay.

What liturgies will you be able to attend in these days? And what time can you keep free and quiet before and after for preparation and reflection.

Good luck! Let’s pray for one another…

Detail of crucifix. Lisieux Cathedral. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

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Speak Lord: Sing happy!

Virgin of the smile. Lisieux.

The second reading on Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Advent, highlights the mood that gives the Sunday its popular name: Gaudete Sunday – the ‘Sunday of Rejoicing’

The title comes from the entrance antiphon, but the mood evoked of the name is reflected in the readings of the day too. It is often also represented in a lightening of the violet of the priest’s vestment – the purple of Advent being replaced by pink.

I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.
There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Of course, the happiness must be genuine. And in the way of things as days wear on, and the weather worsens, we often find things to moan about.

But the characteristic quality of Christian prayer, and so Christian life is thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for; much, therefore, to make us happy.

  • For you? What are you thankful for? For what will you give thanks in the assembly of the Church gathered for Mass on Sunday?

The Virgin who smiled. Lisieux. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

 

Taste and See: Life conquers death

Crucifix, LisieuxThe Gospel provided for the 4th Sunday of Lent, in Year B, came from the Gospel of John.

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

‘The Son of Man must be lifted up
as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost
but may have eternal life.
For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

John 3:14-21

Usually, as above, the text is presented as a long saying by Jesus to Nicodemus.

It can also be read as a short saying by Jesus to Nicodemus, and a long aside from the evangelist to his audience -like that which concludes the Gospel at 20.30-31; and 20:24-25.

The possible editorial comment here?

‘For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved.
No one who believes in him will be condemned;
but whoever refuses to believe is condemned already,
because he has refused to believe in the name of God’s only Son.
On these grounds is sentence pronounced:
that though the light has come into the world
men have shown they prefer darkness to the light
because their deeds were evil.
And indeed, everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it,
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth comes out into the light,
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does is done in God.’

But whether this is an observation about himself from Jesus, or a declaration of faith by the evangelist, what a stirring text it is.

  • How would you express to others the saving love of God for them?
  • Read again the passage from John.
  • See again how generous is the love of Father and Son; how transformational. How cosmic in scale, and how directly personal and intimate in effect.
  • Let the wonder of it touch your heart, and give thanks.

Photograph of crucifix in the Cathedral of St Pierre, Lisieux, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: The mercy of the Lord

 

Confessional, Lisieux

It is to be hoped that on Sunday we were not surprised by the response we sang to the psalm.

On the first Sunday of Lent what can we trust in, if not the faithfulness and love of God for those who keep the covenant?

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my saviour.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
In your love remember me.
because of your goodness, O Lord.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

The Lord is good and upright.
He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
He teaches his way to the poor.

Your ways, Lord, are faithfulness and love for those who keep your covenant.

Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

What is remarkable is that God is faithfulness and love even for those who do not keep his covenant. As St Paul says, we may be unfaithful but God is always faithful.

It is in his great love that he calls us back to life, again and again. And in his great love that he offers us forgiveness and healing.

Photograph of the confessional where Therese of Lisieux celebrated the mercy of God, in the Cathedral of St Pierre, Lisieux. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

For a guide to the celebration of the sacrament of Confession click here.

Speak Lord: Of family life

Holy Family Lisieux

The first psalm suggested for Sunday’s feast of the Holy Family (one for use any year another an alternative for Year B) celebrates the blessings of God for those who seek to live faithfully.

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.
You will be happy and prosper.

Your wife like a fruitful vine
in the heart of your house;
your children like shoots of the olive,
around your table.

Indeed thus shall be blessed
the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion
all the days of your life!

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!

Psalm 127:1-5

Following on from October’s Synod, the Church continues its reflections on family life and how best to support it and to learn from people’s experiences of family life. This weekend there is a pastoral letter on family life in which the Cardinal will invite every one to take their full part in the process of reflection, learning and teaching.

The text of the letter will be posted on this blog come Sunday.

In the meantime pray for families, especially over this Christmas time when many families face great stress!

Photograph of family tomb in cemetery of Lisieux with stained glass window of the Holy Family. (c) 2014, Allen Morris