Taste and See: founded on Christ

Wall web.jpg

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Let the sons of Israel say:
‘His love has no end.’
Let the sons of Aaron say:
‘His love has no end.’
Let those who fear the Lord say:
‘His love has no end.’

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

The Lord’s right hand has triumphed;
his right hand raised me up.
I shall not die, I shall live
and recount his deeds.
I was punished, I was punished by the Lord,
but not doomed to die.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the corner stone.
This is the work of the Lord,
a marvel in our eyes.
This day was made by the Lord;
we rejoice and are glad.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love has no end.

Responsorial Psalm for the 2nd Sunday of Easter
Psalm 117(118):2-4,15-18,22-24

Pope Francis in Gaudete et Exsultate, a Letter to the Church published on Monday of this week, reminds of the universal call to holiness.

To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain.

Gaudete et Exsultate 14

It does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. It does require being like Christ, being founded n Christ as cornerstone, and “living our lives with love and bearing witness in everything we do”.

Consecration stone. St Nicholas, Boldmere. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.



Taste and See: Live Love

Holy Family Poussin Moscow.jpg

The Lord honours the father in his children,
and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.
Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins,
he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.
Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own,
he shall be heard on the day when he prays.
Long life comes to him who honours his father,
he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.
My son, support your father in his old age,
do not grieve him during his life.
Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy,
do not despise him in your health and strength;
for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten
but will serve as reparation for your sins.

Alternative first reading for the feast of the Holy Family
Ecclesiasticus 3:3-7,14-17

In other words, what comes around goes around… but while you can learn what it is to be human, truly human, fully human.

For a guide to love in marriage, and love in family more broadly – and the life of love lived more broadly still – Chapter Four of Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia is hard to beat!

Holy Family, Nicolas Poussin, Pushkin Museum, Moscow. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.


A living liturgy for a living Church

150923180629-04-pope-mass-0923-super-169a.jpgReaders of this Blog – established to assist our deeper engagement with Scripture especially at the Liturgy of the Word at Sunday Mass – may be interested to read a recent Address given by Pope Francis on participation in the Liturgy more generally.

As yet, the English translation of the Address is not available on the regular Vatican website, but this is the translation coming from the Holy See’s Press Office.

There is much to give careful consideration too, but particularly important is the fresh emphasis on the reality of Christ’s living presence, and the opportunity for our encounter with him and enrichment by him; the call to unity in Christ; and the opportunity to live in Christ, a bearer of his life and love for others.

  • What encouragement does the Holy Father offer to you to deepen your participation in the Liturgy; and what challenge to how it is celebrated in your parish?

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.

I welcome you all and I thank the president, His Excellency Msgr. Claudio Maniago, for his words of introduction to this National Liturgical Week, seventy years on from the birth of the Centre for Liturgical Action.

This is a period of time in which, in the history of the Church and in particular in the history of liturgy, events have occurred which are substantial and not superficial. Just as we cannot forget Vatican Council II, so we shall remember the liturgical reform that flowed from it.

They are two directly linked events, the Council and the reform, which bloomed not unexpected but after long preparation. This is shown by what was called the liturgical movement, and the responses given by the Supreme Pontiffs to perceived shortcomings in ecclesial prayer; when a need is perceived, even if the solution is not immediate, it is necessary to take action.

I think of St. Pius X who presided over the reorganization of religious music [1] and the restoration of the Sunday celebration [2], and who instituted a commission for the general reform of the liturgy, aware that this would have implied “a task both great and protracted”, and so, as he himself acknowledged, “it is necessary for many years to pass before this, so to speak, liturgical edifice … reappear again resplendent in its dignity and harmony, once cleansed of the squalor of aging” [3].

The reforming project was resumed by Pius XII with the encyclical Mediator Dei [4], and the institution of a study commission [5]; he too made concrete decisions regarding the version of the Psalter [6], the attenuation of Eucharistic fasting, the use of living language in the Rite, and the important reform of the Easter Vigil and of Holy Week [7]. From this impulse, following the example of other nations, the Centre for Liturgical Action emerged in Italy, guided by bishops attentive to the people entrusted to them and inspired by scholars who loved the Church as well as liturgical pastoral ministry.

Vatican Council II then allowed to ripen, as a good fruit of the tree of the Church, the Constitution on sacred liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), whose lines of general reform responded to real needs and to the concrete hope of a renewal; a living liturgy was desired for a Church entirely enlivened by the mysteries celebrated. It was hoped to express in a renewed way the perennial vitality of the Church in prayer, taking care “that Christ’s faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration” (SC, 48). Blessed Paul VI recalled this in explaining the first steps of the announced reforms: “It is good to be aware that it is proper to the authority of the Church to wish for, promote and ignite this new form of prayer, thus augmenting her spiritual mission … and we must not hesitate to be first disciples and then supporters of the school of prayer, that is about to commence” [8].

The direction traced by the Council took shape, following the principle of respect for the sound tradition and legitimate progress (cf. SC, 23) [9] of the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Paul VI, well received by the same bishops who were present at the Council, and by now universally used in the Roman rite for almost fifty years. The practical application, guided by the Episcopal Conferences for the respective countries, is still in progress, as it is not sufficient to reform liturgical books to renew the mentality. The books reformed in conformity with the decrees of Vatican II gave rise to a process that requires time, faithful reception, practical obedience, and wise implementation in celebration first by ordained ministers, but also by other ministers, cantors and all those who participate in the liturgy. In truth, we know, the liturgical education of Pastors and faithful is a challenge that must always be faced anew. The same Paul VI, a year before his death, said to the Cardinals gathered in the Consistory: “The moment has come, now, to set aside definitively the disruptive ferments, equally harmful in one sense or another, and to fully apply according to their just inspiring criteria, the reform we approved in the application of the votes of the Council”. [10]

There is still work to be done today in this direction, in particular in rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made regarding liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial acceptance and practices that distort it. It is not a question of rethinking the reform by reviewing decisions, but rather of knowing better the underlying reasons, also through historical documentation, and of internalizing the inspiring principles and observing the discipline that regulates it. After this teaching, after this long path we can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.

The task of promoting and safeguarding the liturgy is entrusted by right to the Apostolic See and to the diocesan bishops, on whose responsibility and authority I count at the present moment; national and diocesan liturgical pastoral bodies, institutes of formation and seminaries are also involved. In this formative field in Italy the Centre for Liturgical Action is distinguished for its initiatives, including the National Liturgical Week.

After remembering this path, I would now like to touch on various aspects in the light of the theme on which you have reflected in these days, namely: “A living liturgy for a living Church”.

The liturgy is “living” on account of the living presence of He “Who by dying has destroyed our death, and by rising, restored our life”. Without the real presence of the mystery of Christ, there is no liturgical vitality. Just as without a heartbeat there is no human life, without the beating heart of Christ no liturgical action exists. What defines the liturgy is, indeed, the implementation in many signs of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, or rather the offer of His life to the point of opening His arms on the cross, a priesthood made present in a constant way through rites and prayers, most fully in His Body and Blood, but also in the person of the priest, in the proclamation of the Word of God, and in the assembly gathered in prayer in His name (cf. SC, 7). Among the visible signs of the invisible Mystery there is the altar, sign of Christ as a living stone, discarded by men but Who became the cornerstone of the spiritual edifice in which worship in spirit and truth is offered to the living God (cf. 1 Pt 2: 4; Eph. 2: 20). This is why the altar, the centre towards which in attention converges in our churches, [11] is dedicated, anointed with chrism, incensed, kissed, venerated; the gaze of those in prayer, priest and faithful, convened in holy assembly around the altar, is directed towards it; [12] on the altar there is placed the offering of the Church that the Spirit consecrates as the sacrament of Christ’s sacrifice; the bread of life and the chalice of salvation are bestowed from the altar, that we may become one body and one spirit in Christ (cf. Eucharistic Prayer III).

The liturgy is life for the entire people of the Church.[13] By its nature the liturgy is indeed “popular” and not clerical, being . as the etymology teaches us – an action for the people, but also of the people. As many liturgical prayers remind us, it is the action that God Himself performs in favour of His people, but also the action of the people who listen to God Who speaks and who react by praising Him and invoking Him, welcoming the inexorable source of life and mercy that flows from the holy signs. The Church in prayer brings together all those whose heart listens to the Gospel, without discarding anyone: small and large, rich and poor, young and elderly, healthy and sick, righteous and sinners. To the image of the “immense multitude” that celebrates the liturgy in the shrine of heaven (cf. Ap. 7: 9), the liturgical assembly overcomes, in Christ, every boundary of age, race, language and nation. The popular reach of the liturgy reminds us that it is inclusive and not exclusive, an advocate of communion with all but without homologating, as it calls to each one, with his or her vocation and originality, to contribute in edifying the body of Christ. The Eucharist is not a sacrament “for me”, it is the sacrament of many who form a single body, the holy faithful people of God.[14] We must not forget, then, that it is first and foremost the liturgy that expresses the pietas of all the people of God, prolonged by the pious exercises and devotions that we know by the name of popular piety, to be valued and encouraged in harmony with the liturgy.[15]

Liturgy is life and not an idea to be understood. Indeed, it leads us to live an experience of initiation, or rather transformative in terms of how we think and behave, and not to enrich our own baggage of ideas about God. Liturgical worship “is not primarily a doctrine to be understood, or a rite to be performed; naturally it is also this, but in another way, it is essentially different: it is a font of life and of light for our pilgrimage of faith”. [16] Spiritual reflections are different from liturgy, in which “it is proper to enter into the mystery of God; to let oneself be led to the mystery and to be in the mystery”. [17] There is a big difference between saying that God exists and feeling that God loves us, as we are, here and now. In liturgical prayer we experience communion signified not as an abstract thought but as an action that has as its agents God and us, Christ and the Church. [18] Rites and prayers (cf. SC, 48), for what they are and not for the explanations we give for them, therefore become as school of Christian life, open to those who have ears, eyes and heart open to learning the vocation and mission of Jesus’ disciples. This is in line with the mystagogic catechesis practised by the Fathers, resumed also by the Catechism of the Catholic Church which treats the liturgy, the Eucharist and the other Sacraments in the light of the texts and rites of today’s liturgical books.

The Church is truly living if, forming a single living being with Christ, she is the bearer of life, she is maternal, she is missionary, she goes towards her neighbour, seeking to serve without following worldly powers that render her barren. Therefore, celebrating the holy mysteries she remembers Mary, the Virgin of the Magnificat, contemplating “as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be” (SC, 103).

Finally, we cannot forget hat the wealth of the Church in prayer, inasmuch as she is “catholic”, goes beyond the Roman Rite which, although the most extensive, is not the only one. The harmony of traditional rituals, of East and West, by the breath of the same Spirit gives a voice to the single prayerful Church, for Christ, with Christ and in Christ, to the glory of the Father and for the salvation of the world.

Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for your visit, and I encourage the heads of the Centre for Liturgical Action to continue, remaining faithful to the original inspiration, that of serving the prayer of the holy people of God. Indeed, the Centre for Liturgical Action has always been distinguished by its attention towards liturgical pastoral, faithful to the instructions of the Apostolic See and those of the bishops, and enjoying their support. The long experience of the Liturgical Weeks, held in many dioceses in Italy, along with the magazine “Liturgia”, has helped to bring liturgical renewal into the life of parishes, seminaries and religious communities. Hardship has not been lacking, but neither has joy! It is again this commitment that I ask of you today: to help ordained ministers, as well as other ministers, cantors, artists and musicians, to cooperate so that the liturgy may be the font and pinnacle of the vitality of the Church (cf. SC, 10). I ask you, please, to pray for me and I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.


[1] Cf. Motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini, 22 November 1903: ASS 36 (1904), 329-339.

[2] Cf. Apostolic Constitution Divino afflatu, 1 November 1911: AAS 3 (1911), l33-638.

[3] Motu proprio Abhinc duos annos, 23 October 1913: AAS 5 (1913) 449-450.

[4] 20 November 1947: AAS 39 (1947) 521-600.

[5] Cf. Sacrae Congr. Rituum, Sectio historica, 71, “Memoria sulla riforma liturgica” (1946).

[6] Cf. Pius XII, Motu proprio In cotidianis precibus, 24 March 1945: AAS 37 (1945) 65-67.

[7] Cf. Sacrae Congr. Rituum Decretum Dominicae Resurrectionis, 16 November 1955: AAS 47 (1955) 838-841.

[8] General audience of 13 January 1965.

[9] “The reform of the rites and the liturgical books was undertaken immediately after the promulgation of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium and was brought to an effective conclusion in a few years thanks to the considerable and selfless work of a large number of experts and bishops from all parts of the world (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 25). This work was undertaken in accordance with the conciliar principles of fidelity to tradition and openness to legitimate development (cf. ibid., 23); and so it is possible to say that the reform of the Liturgy is strictly traditional and in accordance with “the ancient usage of the holy Fathers” (cf. ibid., 50; Institutio generalis Missalis Romani, Prooemium, 6)” (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Vicesimus quintus annus, 4).

[10] “A particular point of the life of the Church draws the attention of the Pope again today: the undoubtedly beneficial fruits of liturgical reform. From the promulgation of the Conciliar Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium a great process was undertaken, which responds to the premises proposed by the liturgical movement from the last moments of the nineteenth century, and has fulfilled its deep aspirations, for which many men of the Church and scholars have worked and prayed. The new Rite of Mass, promulgated after a long and responsible preparation by the competent organs, and in which there have been introduced alongside the Roman Canon, which remained substantially unchanged, other Eucharistic eulogies, has borne blessed fruits: greater participation in liturgical action; a more lively awareness of sacred action; deeper and wider knowledge of the inexhaustible treasures of the Sacred Scripture; and an increase in the community sense of the Church. The course of these years demonstrates that we are on the right path. But there have been, unfortunately – despite the great majority of healthy and good forces among the clergy and the faithful – abuses and liberties in application. The moment has come, now, to set aside definitively the disruptive ferments, equally harmful in one sense or another, and to fully apply according to their just inspiring criteria, the reform we approved in the application of the votes of the Council” (Allocution Gratias ex animo, 27 June 1977: Teachings of Paul VI, XV [1977] 655-656.

[11] Cf. General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 299; Rite of the dedication of an altar, Introduction, Nos. 155, 159.

[12] “Around this altar we feed on the Body and Blood of your Son to form your one and holy Church” (Rite of dedication of an altar, no. 213, Preface).

[13] “Liturgical services are not private functions, but are celebrations of the Church, which is the “sacrament of unity,” namely, the holy people united and ordered under their bishops. Therefore liturgical services pertain to the whole body of the Church; they manifest it and have effects upon it “(SC, 26)

[14] Homily on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, 18 June 2017, L’Osservatore Romano, 189-20 June 2017, p.8.

[15] Cf. SC, 13; Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 24 November 2013, 122-126; AAS 105 (2013), 1071-1073.

[16] Homily in the Holy Mass of the III Sunday of Lent, Roman parish of Ognissanti, 7 March 2015.

[17] Homily in the Mass at Santa Marta, 10 February 2014.

[18] “This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love. … The Eucharist is flavoured with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of his Passion, the fragrance of his Spirit. When we receive it, our hearts are overcome with the certainty of Jesus’ love”. (Homily of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, 18 June 2017 L’Osservatore Romano, 19-20 June 2017, p.8).

Speak Lord: of decency and care


The first reading at Mass today, the 25th in Ordinary Time, comes from the prophet Amos.

He pulls no punches.

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy
and try to suppress the poor people of the country,
you who say, ‘When will New Moon be over
so that we can sell our corn,
and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?
Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel,
by swindling and tampering with the scales,
we can buy up the poor for money,
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’
The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob,
‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done.’

Amos 8:4-7

The passage can be shrugged off – perhaps a well deserved critique of people back then, but what is it too us, really?

Pope Francis regularly makes similar points:

Time, my brothers and sisters, seems to be running out; we are not yet tearing one another apart, but we are tearing apart our common home. Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem. The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea – one of the first theologians of the Church – called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. This is the “dung of the devil”. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home, sister and mother earth…

…The economy should not be a mechanism for accumulating goods, but rather the proper administration of our common home. This entails a commitment to care for that home and to the fitting distribution of its goods among all. It is not only about ensuring a supply of food or “decent sustenance”. Nor, although this is already a great step forward, is it to guarantee the three “L’s” of land, lodging and labor for which you are working. A truly communitarian economy, one might say an economy of Christian inspiration, must ensure peoples’ dignity and their “general, temporal welfare and prosperity”. (Pope John XXIII spoke this last phrase fifty years ago, and Jesus says in the Gospel that whoever freely offers a glass of water to one who is thirsty will be remembered in the Kingdom of Heaven.) All of this includes the three “L’s”, but also access to education, health care, new technologies, artistic and cultural manifestations, communications, sports and recreation. A just economy must create the conditions for everyone to be able to enjoy a childhood without want, to develop their talents when young, to work with full rights during their active years and to enjoy a dignified retirement as they grow older. It is an economy where human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life. You, and other peoples as well, sum up this desire in a simple and beautiful expression: “to live well”, which is not the same as “to have a good time”.

Pope Francis, 9th July 2015.

  • What is your response to Amos’ words, to Pope Francis?
  • How might you live differently in consequence?

Ivory Lyre. Greek National Museum, Athens. (c) 2006, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: as you call us to prayer

prayer-nantes-cathedralThe second reading on Sunday, the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, comes from St Paul’s first letter to Timothy.

Paul establishes that the Church is to pray. It is God’s will that all be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. And the Church is called to be servant for this work, not least by her prayer, and by her own peacefulness and care, love, for all people.

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and – I am telling the truth and no lie – a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.

In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.

1 Timothy 2:1-8

Pope Francis calls the Church to this prayer also. On Tuesday there is a gathering in Assisi of leaders of all world faiths to witness together of the rightness of such prayer. Each in their tradtion praying for peace for the world.

For some background to the Day of Prayer and the work for peace click here.

  • For who will you pray?
  • With whom will you pray?

For some helpful reflections on prayer and a pattern of prayer to sustain Christian life and mission click here.

At prayer. Nantes Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Speak Lord: save us

Plaster sheep, near Konya, TurkeyThe Responsorial Psalm, tomorrow, the 4th Sunday of Easter, picks up the theme of God’s careful, shepherding care of his people.

We are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing for joy.

Know that he, the Lord, is God.
He made us, we belong to him,
we are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Indeed, how good is the Lord,
eternal his merciful love.
He is faithful from age to age.

Psalm 99:1-3,5

And today Pope Francis in his visit to the migrants/refugees at Lesbos models allows the Lord’s care to echo in his being and in his actions. And reminds of the responsibility we each of us share for that same commitment to the human family, God’s family, our family.

  • To whom do you reach out?
  • Why?
  • To whom do you not?
  • Why?

Plaster sheep at a caravanserai, nr Konya, Turkey. (c) 2014 Allen Morris

Taste and See: the family of God

Moore, Family

There was an unexpected poignancy to the Collect this Sunday, the 3rd Sunday of Easter: hearing it, saying it, praying it, in the wake of the news about the conception of Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

May your people exult for ever, O God,
in renewed youthfulness of spirit,
so that, rejoicing now in the restored glory of our adoption,
we may look forward in confident hope
to the rejoicing of the day of resurrection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Speaking a few days earlier Archbishop Welby had said: ‘We need to be a church where I am who I am because I am in Jesus Christ.’ Those words were especially important for him given the particular circumstances in which he spoke, but are of importance for us too. All the baptised are adopted in Christ, thus children of God in a particular way, not only in our creation, but in our participation, through baptism, in the life of the eighth day, the new creation. We are to be who we are in Jesus Christ.

We can hear lying behind the words of Archbishop Welby the words of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo to those receiving Eucharist for the first time: receive what you are, become what you receive. You are the Body of Christ, receive the Body of Christ.

They are heard in the wake also of  Amoris LaetitiaPope Francis’s recent letter,on the family and its importance for healthy human and spiritual development. In that letter the Pope frankly acknowledges the sometime mess and chaos of human relationship, and how we are called, all of us, in Christ and by Christ, to respond in love. He quotes from 1 Corinthians 13, the famous ‘hymn to love’, and comments on the call there to patience in love:

Being patient does not mean letting ourselves be constantly mistreated, tolerating physical aggression or allowing other people to use us. We encounter problems whenever we think that relationships or people ought to be perfect, or when we put ourselves at the centre and expect things to turn out our way. Then everything makes us impatient, everything makes us react aggressively. Unless we cultivate patience, we will always find excuses for responding angrily. We will end up incapable of living together, antisocial, unable to control our impulses, and our families will become battlegrounds. That is why the word of God tells us: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph 4:31). Patience takes root when I recognize that other people also have a right to live in this world, just as they are. It does not matter if they hold me back, if they unsettle my plans, or annoy me by the way they act or think, or if they are not everything I want them to be. Love always has an aspect of deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world, even when he or she acts differently than I would like.

Amoris Laetitia, 92 (emphasis added)

  • What – most – makes me who I am?
  • What is my calling?

Sculpture by Henry Moore, Tate Britain. (c) 2014, Allen Morris


Praying the Year of Mercy

Jubilee Year of Mercy- Final CoverA number of resources have been prepared for the Year of Mercy.

I’m sort of pleased to say that one of them remains somewhat distinctive.

It offers an oversight of the principal features of the year as can be seen from the contents page below. It will therefore serve as a useful companion to the Year, reminding of its key elements.


Most importantly though, the book especially focuses on the opportunity the Year offers for leading people into prayerful reflection on the Lord’s active and merciful presence in Scripture and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The Year of Mercy  is an invitation for the Church and the world to know afresh the mercy of God. Prayer – especially in response to the word of God, and in the celebration of the Sacraments – leads us into a deeper knowledge of the God of Mercy and Truth. They also help us to a more faithful and fruitful living, strong in love for God, strong in love for neighbour.

‘A Prayer Book’ seeks to sustain and encourage that process of renewal.

The book comes with a Foreword from Archbishop Bernard Longley, the Archbishop of Birmingham

The Jubilee Year of Mercy is rich with promise for the Church and for the world.

Pope Francis has reminded the Church that ‘We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it.’

This mercy, made known in Jesus Christ, is the source of our Christian identity. It is also the gift we are asked to share with the whole world. Pope Francis urges us to this also, to be effective signs of the Father’s action in our lives, living witnesses to others of the love God has for everyone.

This booklet helps us make the most of the Jubilee Year. It provides food for our private prayer, and support for times when we come together to pray with others. Used well, it will deepen our experience of God’s mercy, so that the Lord can make us more fit for mission, and strengthen our desire to share the good news of the mercy of God with our families and our neighbours.

+ Bernard Longley
Archbishop of Birmingham

Hopefully the book will be available from all good Catholic bookshops. Big discounts, however, are available if you go direct to the publisher…



Taste and See: encouragement to strive for the best

Workers inspired, Dresden

The English text of the Collect for Sunday, the 28th of the Year was unusually curt. (Not a regular feature of the recent English re-translation of the Missal!). It reminded that Christians have work to do, a work of justice and love, a work that does not always come easy to us.


May your grace, O Lord, we pray,
at all times go before us and follow after
and make us always determined
to carry out good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

In Birmingham Archdiocese Sunday’s Mass included a Pastoral Letter from the Archbishop reminding of Pope Francis’ call for Catholics to respond generously to the needs of refugees, reminding of the Lord’s call to the rich young man, and considering how these invitations might be most faithfully and fruitfully responded to in our lives.

  • What do I have that I consider mine only?
  • What do I consider that others have a right to a share in?
  • What do I have that I choose to share with others?
  • How do I distinguish these things and why?
  • Bring your reflections to God in prayer.

Mural from State Building, Dresden. (c) 2005, Allen Morris. There were many evident deficiencies in Communism as theorised and lived out in Eastern Europe and Russia in the 20th Century. But there was also – often – a passion for justice for all. Where is that passion in us and our State? How do we foster it and respond to its demands? 

Taste and See: Mercy

do906-misericordiae-vultus_370_296_150420021217The Collect for Sunday’s Mass highlights the power of God, a power made known in mercy and pardon.


O God, who manifest your almighty power
above all by pardoning and showing mercy,
bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us
and make those hastening to attain your promises
heirs to the treasures of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Some months ago now, in the wake of Pope Francis’ inviting the Church to keep the next year as a Jubilee Year of Mercy, Cardinal Vincent Nichols made mention of just how very often the language of mercy features in our Eucharistic Liturgy.

I’m not sure he was surprised at this, but he thought it worth noting.

For me it did come something as a surprise to realise just how very often God’s mercy is mentioned in the prayers of the Mass. And, lex orandi lex credendi (the pattern of prayer establishes the pattern of faith), the Liturgy has since then been teaching not to take that mercy so much for granted, and to be ready therefore more personally and authentically to thank God for that mercy, not only for the patience and encouragement of God with regard to the little things that mar and challenge every day, but for the deeper and more profound gifts of salvation offered to me and us and all, always.

  • What blessings can you give thanks to God for today?
  • When and how did you last show mercy to others, And extend a pardon?
  • How will you and your community keep the Jubilee Year?