Tag Archives: Eucharist

6 January, Epiphany: Recognising God’s presence.

The Cross as shining star; do we recognise Jesus in our suffering? Saint Edmundsbury Cathedral.

Here is an extract from an Epiphany sermon by Rev Bruce Bryant-Scott. He makes no direct mention of the Wise Men here, but they travelled West to Jerusalem and on to Bethlehem because they recognised the new-born King of the Jews. May we, too, recognise him at work in our hearts.

Epiphany means showing forth… Think of the unveiling of a plaque or a statue – that is an apocalypse, a revelation. Blessing is like that. We bless food, houses, people, and sneezes, but we also bless God – the psalmist sings, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless God’s holy name”. So blessing is not about adding something to a situation. It is about recognising God’s action in a situation.

The Eucharist, this great Thanksgiving in which we take bread and wine and bless it, is an epiphany and a revelation of God working here among us. It is not magic, it is not hocus pocus, but recognising the spiritual reality of God’s presence. When I bless a marriage, I am not adding something to the relationship, but simply recognising on behalf of the church that God is acting in the couple.

There is this thing called prevenient grace, a major point in both ancient Catholic theology and the more recent Methodism of John and Charles Wesley. It is the belief that God is acting in us and for us before we are aware of it. Prevenient or preceding grace prepares in our hearts a place for God – it’s what makes that God shaped hole in our souls that only God can fill, that desire that only the divine can satisfy.

My hope and my prayer is that we become aware of how the God in Christ is working in us by the Holy Spirit, that we do not pack it all away now that Christmas is over, but see it. May we join with the psalmist and say,

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name for ever;
may his glory fill the whole earth.

Amen and Amen.

Bruce Bryant-Scott is an Anglican priest working on the Island of Crete. His blog is theislandparson.com and this post comes from there.

Here is the inscription on the High Altar Cross of St Edmundsbury Cathedral; not the one shown here:

”And life is eternal and love is immortal and death is only the horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”

The High Altar Cross is both beautiful and poignant. It was given by the parents of Pauline Greene who died in 1921 aged 3 years old. We can offer to God our deepest pain and loss. The cross of Jesus shows how God transforms suffering into new life.

http://www.stedscathedral.org.

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5 January: You will not be alone when you arrive

Here are two paragraphs from Bishop Nicholas Hudson’s homily at a Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The full text can be found at Independent Catholic News.

‘Now, as he prepares to come before the Lord, I trust he will have been encouraged and strengthened by his own conviction, some years ago, when speaking in 1978 to priests who were celebrating their Golden Jubilee of Ordination. Because he sought to reassure them: “When, some day,” he told them, “you knock at the door of heaven, you need not be afraid.” For, “as pastors you will have accompanied (diverse) people… in their hours of joy and their hours of grief and suffering. You (will) have helped people to live and to die. So you have many friends (both) on this side of the threshold and beyond it. (And so) you will not be alone when you arrive.”‘1

‘I trust he also derived consolation from his own contemplation of St John Henry Newman’s Dream of Gerontius to which he made enthusiastic reference at the climax of his Beatification homily. It is deeply moving to think Pope Benedict now knows what it is like to realise that it is indeed really happening for him what Cardinal Newman imagines in his Dream of Gerontius will be for each of us – at the moment of death to be borne upwards by your guardian angel, to see God and, in instant, to know your sin and the need to atone for it; and so be borne away to purgatory, there to prepare your soul until your angel comes to take you back again – with the promise, the sweet promise, that meanwhile Masses on earth and prayers in heaven will help you – as we pray this Mass, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, will indeed help and console and encourage this our dear departed brother Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI this night.’

1 Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict XVI, Teaching and Learning the Love of God, San Francisco 2017, 348-9

Let us add our prayers to all Pope Benedict’s friends on this side of the threshold as well as beyond; may he rest in peace and rise in glory.

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22 December, Advent Light XXII: A Great Story.

Jesus told stories. His disciples kept some of them alive, as we do to this day. They also told stories about him and his travels through Palestine, but, as John’s Gospel tells us (21.25) there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. Stories – or ‘Salvation’s Story’ – are the basis of Christian belief, not the writings of scholars. St Paul refers back to the message he had received even as he tries to put the meaning of it into words that satisfy the mind as well as the heart.

A 20th Century writer of theology and of stories puts it like this:

Story – or at least a great Story of the mythical type – gives us an experience of something not as an abstraction but as a concrete reality. We don’t ‘understand the meaning’ when we read a myth, we actually encounter the thing itself. Once we try to grasp it with the discursive reason, it fails.

CS Lewis, in Humphrey Carpenter, The Inklings,  George Allen & Unwin, London, 1978, p143.

Or we could turn to a poet, one who dithered, kneeling at the threshold of belief in his ‘Christmas’, but stressing the tangible, not just tissued fripperies, but the Baby in an ox’s stall, and God alive in Bread and Wine. A concrete reality.

And is it true? And is it true,
    This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
    A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true? For if it is,
    No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
    The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
    No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
    Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

John Betjeman, Christmas.

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15 October: How to be Happy

L’Arche Kent.

Our old friend Ignatius has started blogging again. Welcome back, Ignatius! He’s writing about happiness, a subject he has touched on before, as he did after World Youth Day six years ago. Then he was writing in the moment, joy oozing out of him; this time he’s more reflective.

HOW TO BE HAPPY – SOME TIPS

  1. Live well. It sounds obvious right? But it’s worth saying as a starting point, that happiness will follow from living well.
  2. Live consciously. This ties into my first point, because you need to figure out what it means in practice to live well, and because you need to become conscious of where you aren’t living well so that you can correct it. Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. Don’t live on autopilot.
  3. Move forwards. That is, make your life better each day. Put in work each day to grow, to learn, to deepen your relationships, to help a friend, to make your life a little easier, whatever. Just keep moving forwards making things better. These things add up, and they have meaning.
  4. Face your problems. This goes back to point 2 and 3. Identify your problems and their roots as much as you can, and find ways to proactively address them bit by bit. Don’t ignore a problem or put off facing it, because it won’t go away.
  5. Love yourself. Self love provides a certain unity to your own soul, which is the basis for all love and friendship with others, according to St Thomas Aquinas.
  6. Trust entirely in Providence. Everything that happens is part of God’s will, and is therefore good. We ought to accept all things, good and bad, that come to us as being directly from God’s hand and give Him thanks for all of it. Especially for suffering, because it means God is bringing us some great blessing that will more than make up for the suffering.
  7. Life is a gift: be grateful and enjoy it. The worst ingratitude is to receive a gift and not enjoy it. Gratitude is arguably the centre of our faith. The word “Eucharist” means thanksgiving, and it’s our great sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, offering up all of our lives and the whole cosmos in union with Jesus, in joyful thanksgiving.

I replied to Ignatius as follows: The older I get the more I see your last tip as the first and foremost. We Christians can take the first step in evangelising other people if we encourage them find one thing each day to be grateful for. Grateful to whom? The Father, the Cosmos, Life? As you say, Gratitude is arguably the centre of our faith.

My night prayer with children or grandchildren always includes examining the day for good things and thanking the Giver of all for them. So should my own night prayer.

As Ignatius replied: the last tip sort of contains all the others.

Meanwhile, what makes you happy, and what prevents you from feeling happy?


God Bless, Will and Ignatius.

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4 September, Relics XXXIII: Precious Gifts.

It’s good to hear from Fr Valentine Erhanon in his new parish in Streatham Hill, South London. These three stories speak of relics: books given in memory of a late friend; sacred vessels that unite Streatham Hill today with the dioceses that used Wonersh over more than a century and in the future; and the saint of Lourdes whose bones will soon be visiting Britain on pilgrimage, a saint who did not have to travel to encounter grace through the Mother of God, though millions now make their way to the spot where their meetings took place. This post comes from Fr Valentine’s parish newsletter.

Gifts – Books from Oxfordshire:
I would like to thank Rita Davies from Oxfordshire, a good friend, and now a friend of the parish, that has donated 12 boxes of books of theology, instruction, practice, Catholic biography and missals plus devotional leaflets and prayer cards, all of which will be a good foundation for our Parish library. We receive these books in honour of her beloved husband: Twiston. May he continue to rest in Peace, and rise in Glory. Amen.


Gifts – Chalice and Ciborium from Saint John’s Seminary Wonersh:
I would like to thank Canon Luke Smith for offering us the gift of a Chalice and Ciborium from my Alma Mater, Saints John’s Seminary Wonersh. You may know that Saint John’s Seminary closed last year, after 130 years of forming men for the priesthood; and the items of the seminary are finding a good home around the world. I signified interest that our parish would like to have a thing or two and we were gifted these most sacred items of historical value. It is an honour and treasure to have a part of the seminary in our parish.

Whenever we say Mass with them, we will remember to pray for vocations to the priesthood.


St Bernadette Relic Tour

In September and October this year, the relics of St Bernadette will journey on pilgrimage to England, Scotland, and Wales for the very first time. This very special once in a lifetime event will provide an opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to experience the special gifts and charisms of Lourdes, in a church or cathedral near them. For your information, the relics are due to visit St George’s Cathedral from the morning of Wednesday 19 October until the morning of Friday 21 October 2022; they will also visit Aylesford from Monday 24 October until Friday 28 October 2022. Please consult the website of each venue for further details.

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19 August, Pilgrimages: Saint Olav, holy King of Norway

Saint Olav

As I said a few days ago, I though we could use some of our holiday time to go on virtual pilgrimage, and thanks to Sheila Billingsley who alerted us to this Norwegian saint, we can start with Olav, the Holy King of Norway who died in 1030, in a world very different to our own.

I was especially glad of her recommendation as I was unwell and needed to find an on-line Mass to attend. She pointed me to a Roman Catholic High Mass for the Feast of Saint Olav, presided by Bishop Erik Varden of Trondheim in the Lutheran Cathedral in that city – the church where Dr Varden was ordained Bishop.

Bishop Varden makes Olav sound like a real human being:

Sigrid Undset wrote of St Olav, patron saint of our diocese and country: ‘Saint Olav was the seed our Lord chose to sow in Norway’s earth because it was well suited to the weather here and to the quality of the soil.’ What makes his story so compelling is the fact that we can follow, step by step, the work of grace in his life. Olav was not a ready-made saint; he began adult life as a viking mercenary. Though through his encounter with Christ in the Church, through decisive sojourns in Rouen and Kyiv, then his final, dramatic return to Norway, where he died a martyr, supernatural light gradually took hold of him and suffused him, radiant in his body even after death. 

Should you wish to follow our celebrations, you can find access here. A good account of St Olav’s life is available here.

Do read the life of Saint Olav at the link above and dip into the celebrations on youtube. The homily is on the website in English and German.

As I followed the Mass, I was impressed to see the Church Universal alive in two ways in Trondheim: the warm friendship between the two churches, Lutheran and Catholic, and the very international community which is the Catholic church in Trondheim.

Saint Olav was killed in battle with King Canute of England and Denmark in 1030 and soon counted as a martyr. He is patron saint of Norway, though he had been rejected by the leading warriors who had accepted Canute’s bribes. No doubt some of this money had come from the Danegeld, paid to the Danes to stop them from looting through England.

Tomorrow we visit an earlier English king, whose cult Canute promoted in Suffolk: King Edmund the Martyr.

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August Pilgrimages I: Lourdes on-line.

Later this month we will be reflecting on pilgrimage. After all, the most humdrum holiday can bring us a Holy Day: something seen, something heard; a smell or a taste, the feel of sand between the toes – remember that you are dust – breathed-on dust, animated dust, but dust: enjoy the feeling!

Now I must apologise for the rest of this message being in French but it is an invitation to join the French National pilgrimage to Lourdes on-line – it is happening in person at the shrine as well, and it will be possible to follow the services and events at times to suit you.

Vivons ensemble le pèlerinage à Lourdes 2022
 
 Pèlerinage à Lourdes du 12 au 16 août 2022 

Du 12 au 16 août, Prions en Église et le Pèlerinage National vous proposent de découvrir Lourdes en numérique avec le site Internet Prions en Église et l’appli Prions en Église sur votre téléphone.
Sur le site de Prions en Église, inscrivez-vous au e-pèlerinage 2022 pour recevoir chaque matin par mail, des propositions vidéos, des podcasts, des textes pour découvrir à votre rythme l’histoire des apparitions, visiter le sanctuaire, suivre des conférences et entendre des témoignages. 

 JE M’INSCRIS AU E-PÈLERINAGE 

l’appli Prions en Église dès le 8 août, en tant que pèlerin dans la cité mariale, vivez votre pèlerinage plus intensément : un parcours de 14 podcasts vous est proposé pour découvrir Lourdes et prier au sanctuaire : le rocher, la lumière, la source, le chemin de croix, l’histoire des apparitions… déambulez dans la ville et le sanctuaire muni de votre smartphone pour vivre une balade spirituelle exceptionnelle.Ce parcours est disponible en téléchargeant l’appli 

JE TÉLÉCHARGE L’APPLI 

Et aussi, sur le site et dans l’appli, vous pouvez déposer vos intentions de prière que nous porterons pour vous à la grotte le 14 août à 18 heures. Ce temps de prière commune pourra être suivi en live sur notre page Facebook ainsi que la lectio divina animée par l’équipe de Prions en Église chaque jour à 14 heures, les 12,13 et 14 août
Le 15 août, si vous êtes à Lourdes, vous disposerez sur l’appli Prions en Église, du déroulé de la messe de l’Assomption, célébrée à 10 heures avec le Pèlerinage National. Inscrivez-vous gratuitement et invitez ceux que vous aimez, 
pour qu’avec Marie, nous devenions témoins de l’espérance. 
 
 
À très bientôt,  Karem Bustica,
rédactrice en chef,Prions en Église et Prions en Église junior
 

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3 July: Leaf from leaf.

All Saints, Godshill, Isle of Wight.

This Lily Crucifix is striking. The figure of Christ is bleeding yet not broken; indeed he looks vigorous. The cross, too, is not dead wood but a lily of the field, full of sap and flowering. It’s not a canna – the one we usually call an Easter Lily – but an Easter Lily for all that. Christ, the wounded Christ, is risen! Immediately below the lily cross the church has placed the tabernacle or aumbry, housing the wafer that Christians recognise as the body of Christ.

Scattered across the wall are five-petalled pink flowers, surely wild roses like the one below. Or are they stars, their numbers counted by Him alone? Earth’s astronomers keep on counting more and more of them as their instruments look ever further, but they seem to have given up on names, instead allotting numbers to the innumerable golden grains they perceive and whose vastness they measure from light years away. They know they will never reach the end of the numbers but they trust that their work is valuable. It is valuable, for it is awe inspiring.

Here is Christina Rossetti, saying all this and more, with greater eloquence than your correspondent!

Leaf from leaf Christ knows; Himself the Lily and the Rose

Leaf from leaf Christ knows;
Himself the Lily and the Rose:

Sheep from sheep Christ tells;
Himself the Shepherd, no one else:

Star and star He names,
Himself outblazing all their flames:

Dove by dove, He calls
To set each on the golden walls:

Drop by drop, He counts
The flood of ocean as it mounts:

Grain by grain, His hand
Numbers the innumerable sand.

Lord, I lift to Thee
In peace what is and what shall be:

Lord, in peace I trust
To Thee all spirits and all dust.

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23 June: Feast of John the Baptist: called to be Faithful witnesses.

walking together

This post is from Vincent Cardinal Nichols’ Chrism Mass homily, 13.4.22.

Faithful witnesses. Through our baptism, we are set apart to be the sign and agent of God’s love and compassion. Every word and deed we make is to breathe the saving truth that God is with us, that our Blessed Lord accompanies us at every turn. Can we not offer this accompaniment to each other? Can we not lay aside the instinct to criticise, belittle, isolate, judge and condemn those we meet, those who are different, those we do not like? Perhaps this aggressive confrontation is the air we breathe, but our witness is to something different: to the gracious acceptance given us by God, an acceptance that we, in our turn, are called to offer to all. As we venerate the Cross on [Good] Friday, we are promising to be like him, without judgement, without condemnation, whispering only ‘Father forgive’. This is the key quality of the Church called for by the voice of our Synodal pathway. As our baptismal calling, let us put it into practice.

Jesus, the faithful witness, teaches us that in him our very humanity is being lifted up to God. In him we are made partakers of that divine life, through his Body and Blood, given on the Cross and raised in glory by the Holy Spirit. It is the great privilege of ordained priesthood to make this, the very heart of salvation, freshly presented in every age and in every place.

My brother priests, we are anointed, ordained, to take the very stuff of life and reveal it to be the gift of heaven, the means of our salvation. The bread which we accept from the people is the daily toil which is the lot of us all. The wine we receive from them is the participation, of every person, in the suffering of this world. Our words of consecration witness to the truth that God takes the toil and pain of this world and transforms it into the saving mystery it truly is. ‘Take and eat this bread’; ‘take and drink this chalice’ refer first to the daily reality of living, suffering and dying from which no one is excused. This reality, already suffused with the Holy Spirit, is now, through that same Spirit, revealed to be the substance of our salvation, for it is all taken up by Christ in his one redeeming sacrifice. In him, the texture of and content of our day, of every day, is transformed. In him, we see that the reality that awaits us each morning, and the reality within us, is the ‘first matter’ of the sacrifice we celebrate and the sacrament we bring.

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9 June: A newish feast.

Rood, Our Lady and English Martyrs, Cambridge.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest

Pope Benedict XVI set this Feast on the Thursday after Pentecost ten years ago. It has only just crossed my radar, and I wondered whether this was a feast for clericalism, that non-synodal view of the Church that Pope Francis wants to leave behind. My suspicions were not placated when I saw the reading in the Divine Office was from Pope Pius XII, but I read on, and was reminded that he had made important changes to the celebration of the Eucharist, such as allowing people – including priests – to take a drink of water without breaking their fast. For anyone travelling a distance, or whose circumstances meant they attended a late Mass, he made it more possible to participate and receive Communion.

This extract from Mediator Dei insists that every Christian is called to be  a priest ‘as far as is humanly possible’; today we might remember that we are each anointed at Baptism to serve as priestprophet, and king. But Pope Pius was exploring these ideas before Vatican II. The language is perhaps unfamiliar, but the message is clear enough.


Christ is a Priest indeed; however, he is a Priest not for himself but for us, since, in the name of
the whole human race, he brings our prayers and religious dispositions to the eternal Father; he
is also a victim, but a victim for us, since he substitutes himself for sinners.
Now the exhortation of the Apostle, ‘Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,’
demands that all Christians should possess, as far as is humanly possible, the same dispositions
as those which the divine Redeemer had when he offered himself in sacrifice: that is to say, they
should with a humble attitude of mind, offer adoration, honour, praise and thanksgiving to the
supreme majesty of God.
Moreover, it demands that they must assume in some way the condition of a victim, that they
deny themselves as the Gospel commands, that freely and of their own accord they do penance
and that each detests and makes satisfaction for his sins.
It demands, in a word, that we must all undergo with Christ a mystical death on the Cross so
that we can apply to ourselves the words of St. Paul, ‘I have been crucified with Christ’ (Galatians
2:19).

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