Taste and See: nothing but God

Detail of reredos, St Mary's Twickenham

Sunday is over, but the challenge and the joy of responding to the grace and hopefulness of Sunday remains ours.

The Liturgy, with the Eucharist at its heart, is the source and summit of the Christian life. We have been at the source, now we seek to live that life as we return to our daily tasks, our ‘everyday’ life.

Over these first days of the week which began with Sunday, the Lord’s Day, this blog resources our faithful living by reminding of elements of the Sunday Mass, beginning today with the Gospel.

The title of blog posts here on Living Eucharist is usually ‘Speak Lord…‘; over these next days (and on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of  every week) the title is ‘Taste and See…‘, indicating the opportunity to savour the food and drink gifted us in word and sacrament at yesterday’s Mass. Mystagogy is the technical name for that pondering on what we have received, digesting what we have been given to eat and drink…

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no ha.versack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’

So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

Mark 6:7-13

This weekend Proclaim 15 got a big launch in Birmingham. An initiative for a new evangelisation of England and Wales, to revive the nation (and the principality!) through a fresh sharing of the Gospel.

Cardinal Vincent was one of those speaking. His full speech is well worth reading, but a key part was he asked all to be missionary disciples attentive to the needs of the three Cs.

Our COLLEAGUES who have lost their way
These can be fellow Catholics who are resting: all those who cross the threshold of the church just every now and then. They have heard of Jesus; they have some of the words; they have a familiarity, of sorts, with the Church. Can we lead them, step by step, to know Jesus more clearly?

The CURIOUS
Curiosity, even if tinged with hostility, can be a marvellous opportunity if we are open ourselves and remember that within that curiosity may well lie the prompting of the Holy Spirit. If we forget that, then we are quickly on the defensive and the moment has gone!

The CRY of the human heart
A cry of confusion, pain, hunger, loneliness, need, anger.
Whatever action we take in response to the cry of the world around us must bring together the cry of prayer and the cry of pain. Only then can it be the mission of Jesus.
Our action should be effective. But even more so it should be prayerful, otherwise its effectiveness will not touch the deepest well of pain from which the cry is rising.

Often when reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel the focus is on the 12 and their success.

Give a thought too, to those they with whom they shared the Gospel, and the healing they received and the difference it made.

One of those healed by the 12 at that time may have in days and weeks that followed, shared the faith with someone, who shared the faith with someone else, who shared….. And eventually the someone faith was shared with may have been the person who brought faith to birth in you…

The Church is built on the faith of Peter, and of the 12. But lots of others have vital parts too.

  • How do you see your role in the mission of the Church?
  • What helps you fulfil it?
  • What might help you overcome any challenges?

Photograph of detail of rererdos in college chapel at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. (c) 2007, Allen Morris.

Taste and See. He is gone, but he is here, still.

Ascension

The Gospel Acclamation is so short, and yet often sums up the ‘meaning’ of a celebraiton in a remarkable way.

Certainly that was the case this last Sunday, Ascension Sunday:

Alleluia, alleluia!
Go, make disciples of all the nations.
I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.
Alleluia!

Mt28:19,20

In part, of course, the feast marks the Lord’s leaving the disciples, but more importantly it is about his abiding present in and through them.

He is with us. Now where will we take him? Where will we let him lead us?

  • How do you make disciples? A pertinent question at any time and especially as we gear up, again, in response to Proclaim ’15

Photograph of The Ascension, part of the Rosary Triptych by Arthur Fleischman. Photograph (c) 2011, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: A new heart

Inside outThe psalm for the 5th Sunday of Lent in Year B finds the psalmist, and the faithful whose prayer it now is, asking for mercy, for the gift of renewal and healing and communion with God.

These are gifts that all, surely are now looking for after four weeks of Lenten prayer and penance. And none more than those who are preparing for Easter Baptism. However for them a separate psalm is provided in the sequence of passages from Scripture that is provided for the Year A, mandated for use when the Third Scrutiny is celebrated, but also available for use in any year when it is judged pastorally appropriate. (That psalm is provided at the end of this blog).

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.

Psalm 50:3-4,12-15

The psalmist does not hold back with the self-accusations, nor in the asking for help. There is a simple, powerful desire for the being made new that God alone can achieve.

The passage ends with the psalmist, and the faithful who are praying it, longing to share God’s mercy and healing with others. Here is the engine-room for the New Evangelisation, presently being prompted in England and Wales by Proclaim ’15: deepening in us the knowledge of the active goodness of God, and how it benefits and shapes us, and deepening in us the desire to share that good so others may benefit from it too.

The privilege of sharing the good news and joy of that is something wonderful. It is to share that Good News that the Lord calls anyone and everyone to himself. It is to share that Good News with others that the Lord gifts us with baptism and the vocation it contains. That vocation is, in all sorts of circumstances, helping others to receive and live the Good News of God’s love and care: in our families, workplaces, among our friends, in cabinet rooms and council offices, in the rooms, on the streets, everywhere, always.  No wonder we still pray for help! But, again, what a privilege to be about this work.

  • For what would a pure heart long?
  • For what does my heart long?
  • What soils my heart?
  • What is it that makes me ask for purity?
  • What is it that may make me hold back from asking, receiving or using the gift when it is given?

Photograph of painting on glass by Christophe Rouil, in the church of St Jacques, Liseux, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.

– – –

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

My soul is waiting for the Lord.
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman for daybreak.
(Let the watchman count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.)

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity.

With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Psalm 129:1-8

Taste and See: Good News for sharing

John the Baptist, Ein Kerem

The Gospel for yesterday’s Mass, the Mass of the third Sunday of Advent  set John the Baptist before us – a witness to the Christ.

A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.

This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ ‘Well then,’ they asked ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take bapck an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied:

a voice that cries in the wilderness:
Make a straight way for the Lord.’

Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’ This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.

John 1:6-8,19-28

The work of witness, of calling people to be attentive to Christ, the Light of the World, takes many forms.

A recurring theme of recent years is that the Western World is in need of a new call to such attentiveness. The recent letter of Pope Francis, the Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium), is one example of that concern being expressed. It was a regular theme of Saint John Paul II, and especially in the preparation for and celebration of the Millennium.

It is a matter being taken up afresh in Westminster diocese. Taken up not as a new programme, but as an invitation to explore further the depth of all that is presently done, to become newly attentive to how what we do and how we are relates to the person of Jesus, God with us.

A steering paper has been prepared to assist communities consider the why and wherefore of this invitation and how to respond to it. It will repay reading and praying with.

In the meantime the simple prayer of St Richard of Chichester helps move us in the right direction:

Thanks be to you, O Lord Jesus Christ,
for all the many gifts you have given us;
for all that you endured for love of us.

O most merciful redeemer,
friend and brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
and follow thee more nearly, day by day.
Amen.

Icon of John the Baptist from the church memorialising his birth in Ein Kerem, in the Holy Land.
Photograph (c) 2013, Allen Morris.