Taste and See: Rejoice!

Sainte Chapelle

Telling lies in church, at Mass, is not a good thing to do.

I found that I had to think hard at Mass yesterday before I could find how these words , the prayer of the Church given for yesterday, were true for me/us gathered in prayer:

Prayer over the Offerings

Receive, O Lord, we pray,
these offerings of your exultant Church,
and, as you have given her cause for such great gladness,
grant also that the gifts we bring
may bear fruit in perpetual happiness.
Through Christ our Lord.

We just didn’t seem that exultant! And I think the Lord would have noticed.

It was helpful to remember that we were gathered with the Church universal and across and beyond all times, with saints and angels. Then the words can be true…

  • Where do you and yours connect with exultation and happiness?
  • How would people know, from the worship of you and yours?

Sainte Chapelle, Paris. (c) 2011, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Loving Lord

Way of the Cross. Lincoln

Sunday is Palm Sunday or, as termed in the Missal, Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord.

The day marks the Resurrection – as does every Sunday – and this Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, most particularly Jesus’ joyful entry into Jerusalem which began that fateful and saving week in which our salvation was won.

In addition to the opening Gospel which reminds of the entry into Jerusalem, teh hear a longer extract from Luke’s Gospel which treats of the Passion.

There are two versions authorised for use, the shorter, which is given here, and the longer which seems to be the most commonly used.

The elders of the people and the chief priests and scribes rose, and they brought Jesus before Pilate.

They began their accusation by saying, ‘We found this man inciting our people to revolt, opposing payment of the tribute to Caesar, and claiming to be Christ, a king.’ Pilate put to him this question, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ ‘It is you who say it’ he replied. Pilate then said to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no case against this man.’ But they persisted, ‘He is inflaming the people with his teaching all over Judaea; it has come all the way from Galilee, where he started, down to here.’ When Pilate heard this, he asked if the man were a Galilean; and finding that he came under Herod’s jurisdiction he passed him over to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was delighted to see Jesus; he had heard about him and had been wanting for a long time to set eyes on him; moreover, he was hoping to see some miracle worked by him. So he questioned him at some length; but without getting any reply. Meanwhile the chief priests and the scribes were there, violently pressing their accusations. Then Herod, together with his guards, treated him with contempt and made fun of him; he put a rich cloak on him and sent him back to Pilate. And though Herod and Pilate had been enemies before, they were reconciled that same day.

Pilate then summoned the chief priests and the leading men and the people. ‘You brought this man before me’ he said ‘as a political agitator. Now I have gone into the matter myself in your presence and found no case against the man in respect of all the charges you bring against him. Nor has Herod either, since is he has sent him back to us. As you can see, the man has done nothing that deserves death, So I shall have him flogged and then let him go.’ But as one man they howled, ‘Away with him! Give us Barabbas!’ (This man had been thrown into prison for causing a riot in the city and for murder.)

Pilate was anxious to set Jesus free and addressed them again, but they shouted back, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ And for the third time he spoke to them, ‘Why? What harm has this man done? I have found no case against him that deserves death, so I shall have him punished and then let him go’ But they kept on shouting at the top of their voices, demanding that he should be crucified. And their shouts were growing louder.

Pilate then gave his verdict: their demand was to be granted. He released the man they asked for, who had been imprisoned for rioting and murder, and handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they pleased.

As they were leading him away they seized on a man, Simon from Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and made him shoulder the cross and carry it behind Jesus. Large numbers of people followed him, and of women too, who mourned and lamented for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep rather for yourselves and for your children. For the days will surely come when people will say, “Happy are those who are barren, the wombs that have never borne, the breasts that have never suckled!” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”; to the hills, “Cover us.” For if men use the green wood like this, what will happen when it is dry?’ Now with him they were also leading out two other criminals to be executed.
When they reached the place called The Skull, they crucified him there and the two criminals also, one on the right, the other on the left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing.’ Then they cast lots to share out his clothing.
The people stayed there watching him. As for the leaders, they jeered at him. ‘He saved others,’ they said ‘let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers mocked him too, and when they approached to offer vinegar they said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ Above him there was an inscription: ‘This is the King of the Jews.’

One of the criminals hanging there abused him. ‘Are you not the Christ?’ he said. ‘Save yourself and us as well.’ But the other spoke up and rebuked him. ‘Have you no fear of God at all?’ he said. ‘You got the same sentence as he did, but in our case we deserved it: we are paying for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong. Jesus,’ he said ‘remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ ‘Indeed, I promise you,’ he replied ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’

It was now about the sixth hour and, with the sun eclipsed, a darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. The veil of the Temple was torn right down the middle; and when Jesus had cried out in a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’ With these words he breathed his last.

When the centurion saw what had taken place, he gave praise to God and said, ‘This was a great and good man.’ And when all the people who had gathered for the spectacle saw what had happened, they went home beating their breasts.

All his friends stood at a distance; so also did the women who had accompanied him from Galilee, and they saw all this happen.

Luke 23:1-49

In the Passion Narrative there are many moments that can detain us in meditation, reflection and prayer.

The devotional tradition of the Stations of the Cross lead us in both meditation and a journey ourselves. Our sometimes shuffled, sometimes stately, procession stands in stark contrast to the experience of Jesus. Even when the Stations are expanded into a Passion Play what we do fall far, far short of the reality and its horror. Yet these echoes of what was done and which Jesus endured help us to know afresh the active love of God for us, and the pains to which he goes to win us.

  • What space will we make to keep Holy Week holy?
  • What will help us to attend the liturgies? What might keep us from them?
  • Who else might we encourage to come to the liturgies? Why?
  • What sorrows, what joys will we ourselves bring to the celebrations of suffering and mercy?

Marquetry showing Jesus carrying of the Cross from Lincoln Cathedral. (c) 2011, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: All is (for)given

Crucifix, Saint Gervais ParisThe 2nd reading on Sunday, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, spoke of the entirely exceptional ministry of Jesus. He alone, a non-priest according to the Jewish law, was able to achieve everything that the priests of Judaism hoped and prayed for, but could not deliver:

All the priests stand at their duties every day, offering over and over again the same sacrifices which are quite incapable of taking sins away. He, on the other hand, has offered one single sacrifice for sins, and then taken his place forever, at the right hand of God, where he is now waiting until his enemies are made into a footstool for him. By virtue of that one single offering, he has achieved the eternal perfection of all whom he is sanctifying. When all sins have been forgiven, there can be no more sin offerings.

Hebrews 10:11-14,18

The Christian liturgy is about the offering of sacrifice. But it is about the re-presenting of that once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In our Mass and in all the Sacraments, and in our daily prayer, we present ourselves and our needs along with the remembrance of him.

That remembrance is something deep, alive, active, real, for it is Christ himself alive, active, real – in and for the Church and for the world.

We have nothing else to offer apart from him, for apart from him, even the best we have to offer is puny and passing. But offered in and with him how even our meagre achievements are rendered pleasing to God.

Christ alone is what God offers us.

St John of the Cross put it well, and provocatively:

In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word – and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 65.

The Father gave us his Word, and that Word spoke love, mercy, forgiveness. The Word offers to restore us to the fullness of life.

What an offer to take to our life today.

  • Where do you need healing?
  • Or hope?
  • Or help?

Crucifix, St Gervais, Paris. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

The Word that is life

San Clemente

The 2015 Society of Saint Gregory Summer School is marking the 50th anniversary of Dei Verbum, Vatican II’s document on Scripture and Divine Revelation

The Summer school is being held from Monday, 27 to Friday, 31 July 2015  at High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.

The keynote Speaker is Fr Thomas Whelan is Dean of the faculty of Theology and Spirituality at Milltown Institute in Dublin and member of the Irish Council for Liturgy.

The Summer School provides a helpful opportunity to deepen the formation of parish ministers of the Liturgy.

There will be a range of workshops to choose from led by: Stephen Dean, Caroline Dollard, Martin Foster, Kevin McGinnell, Allen Morris, Chris Olding, Cherry-Willow Pauls and Tom Whelan Plus… Keynote Talks, ‘Big Sings’, Bookshop, Bar and traditional social events.

For full details and booking form please click here – including day rates if you want to attend less than the whole conference


Speak Lord: In your people and for your people.

Font Hildesheim Cathedral, Hildesheim, Germany
There are a range of alternative readings proposed for Sunday’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

The first alternative for the song in response to the first reading is a canticle from Isaiah: the rejoicing of a redeemed people


With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Truly, God is my salvation,
I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!
Declare the greatness of his name.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Sing a psalm to the Lord
for he has done glorious deeds;
make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Isaiah 12

The canticle unites personal declaration of love for the Lord, and gratitude to him (cf verse 1), with exhortation to the community to give prayer to him, in a single song by which, together, the community does just that. The canticle is a rhetorical wonder!

Yet, some who sing it on Sunday will fear, will feel they do not trust, and they may not have joy in their song. Yet their singing too will be an act of faith. The Liturgy rehearses us in the emotions and attitudes which may not yet be ‘mine’ but which are still ‘ours’.

It is the font from which we draw the Christian spirit.

  • If, this day, you are strong in faith, pray for those who are struggling.
  • If struggling, know that this day the Church prays for you.

The baptism of Christ from the font of Hildesheim Cathedral, Germany. Photograph of cast in the Cast Courts, Victoria and Albert Museum. (C) 2015, Allen Morris

Taste and See: How are you loving?

Arles 2014

The Prayer after Communion at yesterday’s Mass reminds of an important point about Christian worship and Christian life, and the connection between the two.

Renewed by this bread from the heavenly table,
we beseech you, Lord,
that, being the food of charity,
it may confirm our hearts
and stir us to serve you in our neighbour.
Through Christ our Lord.

The real test of the authenticity of our worship is whether we are changed by it.

This rather puts the pressure on those who prepare the Liturgy for our participation, and who minster as priests and readers and musicians and all. But above all it places a certain responsibility on us all – to participate in the first place, but then to allow that participation to make a difference.

We are asked, invited, to take responsibility for how the life of Christ given us in word and communion and assembly and ministry, bears fruit in our lives in love. In love of neighbour and love of God. But if we want to see how we love God, we look to how we love our neighbour.

Love of neighbour may well include having some fun with iced water and donating to a charity, but look here for some words of context.

  • How are you living love of neighbour today?
  • And of God?

The image is of an advertising icon for the great photography exhibition held each year in Arles. I don’t think I understood the connection this year between image and exhibition this year. But nice icon!

Photograph (c) Allen Morris, 2014