Speak Lord: to our hearts

Portrait of Dora Maar by Picasso.

The responsorial psalm for Mass on the 4th Sunday of the year, this year, is Psalm 94. It is also the psalm often used in the Daily Office – the first prayer of the day, suited for every day:  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.’

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

Notice what the psalmist presumes will help us to avoid hardening of our hearts: knowledge of his saving love; humility and an acknowledgement of God’s power and his exercising of that power for us.

It seems safe to presume that being careless of who and how God is, and being deceived as to our own power and capacity to care for ourselves will close our ears and will open our hearts.

Gratitude, thanksgiving inspires the psalmist. May it fashion and shape our present day too.

  • For what might you give thanks today?
  • What might you place in God’s hands, acknowledging it is beyond your power to control.

Photograph of Picasso’s 1937 portrait of Dora Maar. Picasso museum, Paris. Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2015.

Speak Lord: That we may remember

Jesus in the Temple, Apparitions Hill

The psalm at Sunday’s Mass urges us to pay attention to the Lord’s teaching and, once more be helped by him, to understand the meaning of what has gone before us.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

Give heed, my people, to my teaching;
turn your ear to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable
and reveal hidden lessons of the past.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

When he slew them then they would seek him,
return and seek him in earnest.
They would remember that God was their rock,
God the Most High their redeemer.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

But the words they spoke were mere flattery;
they lied to him with their lips.
For their hearts were not truly with him;
they were not faithful to his covenant.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

Yet he who is full of compassion
forgave them their sin and spared them.
So often he held back his anger
when he might have stirred up his rage.

Never forget the deeds of the Lord.

Psalm 77:1-2,34-38

One of the most difficult things for people to deal with seems to be the ravaging effects of Alzheimers on a loved one’s ability to communicate and be communicated with. The loss of memory seems to bring about loss of the person and, in many ways, loss of  our relationship with them.

We are urged to live for today – to live well and lovingly for today. But if, today, we have lost touch with our yesterdays, and the people we have shared them with, there seems a huge amount missing. Our ability to live today well is compromised.

This is not only so for individuals, but for institutions too. In our much more mobile and transient society ‘institutional memory’ is regularly put in jeopardy. When such memory is lost, subsequent change is often made without benefit of wisdom. Then in the changes made we risk losing the institutional ‘form’ and ‘substance’ which bear great symbolic value, and are a repositories of the wisdom of years.

The Tradition is an important dimension of Church life. It is part of what helps us keep faithful, safe (or relatively safe) from the whims of a moment.

The psalmist urges – never forget the deeds of the Lord.

  • Which of his deeds do you most easily remember?
  • What do they teach you about how you are to live and love today?

Photograph of Jesus in the Temple – an interrogation of Tradition! A meditation plaque on the Hill of Apparitions in Medjugorje. (c) Allen Morris, 2014.

Taste and See: Quieten my mind so I may hear

 

Risen Lord, Cookham parish church

The responsorial psalm sung at yesterday’s Mass  asked us to listen to God. And did so with some urgency, and rather with the presumption that yesterday, (and maybe on many yesterdays) we had not been listening! Imagine!!

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

How insistent and how debilitating can be the inner voices we hear. Those conversations we have with ourselves – what we would say, what we should have said…

The psalmist calls us to a certain stillness that we might listen to the Lord. And listening, be ready to speak to him.

A common way of preparing ourselves for a time of prayer – and a fine way of stilling those inner, maddening, conversations with ourselves – is a simple stillness exercise.

Sitting upright, and quietly focussing on our breathing in, our breathing out. Noticing it, feeling it, hearing it, but not deepening it, just letting the rhythm draw us to a quiet place. If other words or thoughts come just breathe them away, or still them by breathing in and out the holy name of Jesus. Quietly, centring yourself, being centred by your breath, drawn into a place from where you can more easily speak with the Lord.

Listen for his voice. Harden not your heart.

Image: Risen Christ – the living Word of God. Cookham parish church.
Photograph, Allen Morris (c) 2004)

Speak Lord: help me hear…

Picasso, reclining nude, Paris 2004

Sunday’s Psalm urges us to attend to the voice of God, speaking to us in our world.

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

So…

  • What do you hear God say today?
  • How will you respond?

Take time to consider, and bring your thoughts (and feelings) to God in prayer…

Image: reclining nude by Picasso (Picasso Museum, Paris. Photograph, Allen Morris (c) 2004)