Speak Lord: Our strength, our help…

Living Eucharist

O praise the Lord, all you nations,
acclaim him all you peoples!

Strong is his love for us;
he is faithful for ever.

Responsorial Psalm for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Psalm 116(117)

The psalm is brief indeed – but, in a way, what more needs to be said.

  • For what might you give praise?
  • For what might you encourage others to give praise?

Photograph (c) 2003. Allen Morris. Monastery of Monserrat, Catalonia, Spain.

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Speak Lord: Be with us

Living Eucharist

Have you forgotten that encouraging text in which you are addressed as sons? My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons.

Suffering is part of your training; God is treating you as his sons. Has there ever been any son whose father did not train him? Of course, any punishment is most painful at the time, and far from pleasant; but later, in those on whom it has been used, it bears fruit in peace and goodness.

So hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees and smooth out the path you tread; then the injured limb will not be wrenched, it will grow strong again.

2nd Reading for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Speak Lord: Help us in …

Living Eucharist

Through towns and villages Jesus went teaching, making his way to Jerusalem. Someone said to him, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ He said to them, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed.

‘Once the master of the house has got up and locked the door, you may find yourself knocking on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us” but he will answer, “I do not know where you come from.” Then you will find yourself saying, “We once ate and drank in your company; you taught in our streets” but he will reply, “I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!”

‘Then there will be weeping and grinding of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom…

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Taste and See: Communion

Living Eucharist

O God, who have prepared for those who love you
good things which no eye can see,
fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love,
so that, loving you in all things and above all things,
we may attain your promises,
which surpass every human desire.
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.

Collect for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Lord invites us to deepest communion with him, in this life and the next.

He calls us to himself and sends us out to be other-Christs to our neighbours, our brothers and sisters, so that all may be one in him.

To fulfil our mission we need to live in community with him. In our wholeness or in our brokenness he calls us to communion with him…

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Speak Lord: Help us choose you.

Living Eucharist

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!

‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

Gospel for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 12:49-53

For many of us, Baptism was something others chose for us. ‘Being Christian’ is part of the culture that we have been born into and raised to.

Baptism from the Church’s side and from Christ’s is a gift given to us, life…

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Speak Lord: win us for good

Living Eucharist

The king’s leading men spoke to the king. ‘Let Jeremiah be put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this. The fellow does not have the welfare of this people at heart so much as its ruin.’ ‘He is in your hands as you know,’ King Zedekiah answered ‘for the king is powerless against you.’ So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the well of Prince Malchiah in the Court of the Guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the well, only mud, and into the mud Jeremiah sank.

Ebed-melech came out from the palace and spoke to the king. ‘My lord king,’ he said ‘these men have done a wicked thing by treating the prophet Jeremiah like this: they have thrown him into the well, where he will die.’

At this…

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Speak Lord: You have rescued me

Living Eucharist

I waited, I waited for the Lord
and he stooped down to me;
he heard my cry.

He drew me from the deadly pit,
from the miry clay.
He set my feet upon a rock
and made my footsteps firm.

He put a new song into my mouth,
praise of our God.
Many shall see and fear
and shall trust in the Lord.

As for me, wretched and poor,
the Lord thinks of me.
You are my rescuer, my help,
O God, do not delay.

Responsorial Psalm for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm 39(40):2-4,18

The Psalm’s function in the Liturgy of the Word this Sunday makes most sense when it is heard after the first reading – a reading which tells of Jeremiah’s unjust imprisonment and of his liberation.

The psalm puts the thanksgiving of the prophet on our lips too…

Photograph (c) 2007, Allen Morris. Detail of…

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A helpful exploration of Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist?

There have been headlines recently about what Catholics do or don’t believe about Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist.

It is Catholic teaching that in the celebration of Mass the bread and wine presented by the Church at the altar becomes truly Christ present, a Sacrifice re-presented to the Father, and shared with the Church in Holy Communion.

The truth of this teaching is one deeply loved by Catholics, but it is a hard one for us to explain. Controversy in the early Middle Ages led to some important definitions of doctrine, but the implications of the technical terms of that age, and the subsequent exploration of them by such as St Thomas Aquinas, are themselves challenging to understand and explain. This is no surprise. How could we think that such a Mystery, such a miraculous gift, can be easily explained and demonstrated?

Of course the basic facts of faith are clear. Jesus said ‘Take eat, this is my Body; and take drink, this is my Blood. Do this in memory of me.’

This we have learnt and we believe that this is so, even now, when the Church at Mass does this in memory of him.

Yet when we think of it, our belief is be challenged by what we see, touch and taste. It looks like nothing changes: we start with bread and wine, do we not end with bread and wine also?

As Thomas Aquinas put it in the Tantum Ergo:

Præstet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

What our senses fail to register, faith supplies.

And we struggle to put into words what our faith supplies.

The presence of Jesus is real, true but it is a sacramental presence. It is real presence, but not physical presence. It is spiritual presence – substantial and real presence of the real Jesus, fully human, fully divine – given us as food and drink to help us live out our communion with him.

The recent headlines publicise a response to a survey where 69% of US Catholics in the United States say that they consider it to be more true to say that the Eucharistic food and drink are symbols of the body and blood of Christ, rather than that they actually become the body and blood of Christ, or that they are not sure what the truth is…

The United States journal, National Catholic Register, has published a helpful commentary on the survey and our Eucharistic faith. It suggests that the questions are not helpfully phrased, and so miss something of the nuance with which Catholic Theology speaks of the Eucharistic Mystery.

Have a read, and see what you make of it…