Jesus is the Way

dav
Giovanni Battista Cima Da Conegliano c1510 National Gallery London

 

The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the Lord said to him, ‘Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.’

 Moses said to the Lord, ‘The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, “Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.”’

The Lord replied, ‘Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.’ So Moses went down to the people and told them. Exodus 19: 20 -25

Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorised fire before the Lord, contrary to his command.  So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Moses then said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord spoke of when he said:

‘“Among those who approach me
    I will be proved holy;
in the sight of all the people
    I will be honoured.”’

Aaron remained silent.  Leviticus 10: 1-3

cropped-img_20170421_130809.jpg
The Trinity with Christ Crucified c1410 National Gallery London

Those who say they know God or have God are kidding themselves. God is so holy, so ‘other’ that we could not stand in His presence and survive. Our sin would destroy us. That is why Jesus came – to take our sin on himself so that we can stand in the presence of God and live.  Jesus explains this himself.   ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

When Jesus takes our sin onto himself it is so that we can approach our Holy Father and so that He can commune with us. God loves us but He also feels the burden and responsibility of our estrangement. Pure love in the form of Jesus was his answer – and what an answer!

 

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might:
thy justice, like mountains high soaring above,
thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all, life thou givest, to both great and small;
in all life thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish like leaves on the tree,
then wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.

Thou reignest in glory, thou dwellest in light,
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
all praise we would render; O help us to see
’tis only the splendor of light hideth thee!

Advertisements

Pray against Corruption

Auxerre4
 Auxerre Cathedral, France

In your majesty ride forth victoriously
    in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
    let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.     Psalm 45:4

Prayer against Corruption

Name (person or organisation)

May they be like chaff before the wind,
    with the angel of the Lord driving them away;

may their path be dark and slippery,
    with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.    Psalm 35: 5-6

Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words,
    for I see violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they prowl about on its walls;
    malice and abuse are within it.
Destructive forces are at work in the city;
    threats and lies never leave its streets.          Psalm 55 9-11

DSC_0173
 Norwich Cathedral England

 The Lord is my Banner – Alleluia

 Prayer for those who strive to do right

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all    Psalm 34: 15-19

 

The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
    and their tongues speak what is just.
The law of their God is in their hearts;
    their feet do not slip.       Psalm 37: 30 -31

 The Lord is my Banner – Alleluia

Psalm for Politicians!

DSCN2561
The Friars, Maidstone, Kent, UK

A Psalm of warning for politicians who feel like straying from the straight path!

Psalm 64

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
    from the plots of evildoers.
They sharpen their tongues like swords
    and aim cruel words like deadly arrows.
They shoot from ambush at the innocent;
    they shoot suddenly, without fear.

They encourage each other in evil plans,
    they talk about hiding their snares;
    they say, ‘Who will see it?’
They plot injustice and say,
    ‘We have devised a perfect plan!’
    Surely the human mind and heart are cunning.

But God will shoot them with his arrows;
    they will suddenly be struck down.
He will turn their own tongues against them
    and bring them to ruin;
    all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
All people will fear;
    they will proclaim the works of God
    and ponder what he has done.

10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
    and take refuge in him;
    all the upright in heart will glory in him!

Praise the King of Heaven

Psalm 150 : Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

 

Detail from The Trinity with Christ Crucified c1410 National Gallery London

 

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
    to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
    and honour and glory and praise!’

 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
    be praise and honour and glory and power,
for ever and ever!’ Revelation 5: 11-13

If you are worried about the state of your country, the world or even things that are more personal to you, the solution is to pray and, above all, to praise. Praise lifts the oppression and gives God a window through which to shower His justice and His blessings.

dav
Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven, Fra Angelico, c1423/4 National Gallery London

 

  1. Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
    To His feet thy tribute bring.
    Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
    Evermore His praises sing:
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Praise the everlasting King.
  2. Praise Him for His grace and favor
    To our fathers in distress;
    Praise Him still the same as ever,
    Slow to chide, and swift to bless.
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Glorious in His faithfulness.
  3. Fatherlike He tends and spares us,
    Well our feeble frame He knows;
    In His hands He gently bears us,
    Rescues us from all our foes.
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Widely yet His mercy flows.
  4. Frail as summer’s flow’r we flourish,
    Blows the wind and it is gone;
    But while mortals rise and perish,
    Our God lives unchanging on.
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Praise the high Eternal One!
  5. Angels, help us to adore Him,
    Ye behold Him face to face;
    Sun and moon, bow down before Him;
    Dwellers all in time and space,
    Praise Him, praise Him, alleluia!
    Praise with us the God of grace.

Te Deum

IMG_20170421_131432.jpg
 Detail from Mass of Saint Hubert c1480 National Gallery London

 

Te Deum

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord: we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.

To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.

Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you:
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.

When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin’s womb.

You overcame the sting of death,
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come, and be our judge.

Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

V. Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance.
R. Govern and uphold them now and always.
V. Day by day we bless you.
R. We praise your name for ever.
V. Keep us today, Lord, from all sin.
R. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
V. Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R. for we put our trust in you.
V. In you, Lord, is our hope:
R. and we shall never hope in vain.

Prayer Warriors Needed…

Saint Michael Archangel,
defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell
Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.

dav
Saint Michael c1476 Carlo Crivelli National Gallery London

 

Some years ago I visited a museum that had a room dedicated to pictures of the Holocaust. I entered the room but found the pictures so appalling and aversive that, after one glance, I could look no further. The inhumanity was beyond what my mind could grasp. I have had this experience  many times in recent years due to the internet and particularly social media which bring these images into our homes and lives in a way never before experienced. We may not search for them but they come up in news stories and social media feeds. These stories and images stay with me and are difficult to shake off but I do my utmost to block them and turn my eyes away. I’m sure most of us have had this distressing experience.

I believe the love of God in the person of the Holy Spirit sensitises us to this evil. I find man’s inhumanity to the vulnerable, weak, poor, sick, young and animals too much to bear. Some of the terrible things that we do to animals in the name of sport or commercial gain is beyond belief. However, I am able to turn my eyes away from this. I was blessed enough to be born in a stable country with laws to protect me and a welfare and health system to support me and, although I see pictures in the media that haunt me for a while, I can turn my face away. I block out the horror and revel in my comfortable life.

God doesn’t turn away. He is intimately woven into the fabric of our world and His eyes never turn away. He feels every hurt and pain, every fear and distress. I can’t even begin to imagine what it feels like to experience every horror in the world and to take it all onto His shoulders. Occasionally, in deep prayer, we can get the shadow of an indication when we feel overwhelmed with sadness, start sobbing and have no idea why. We are given the tiniest taste of what it is like to feel each and every evil and to crush them with His love.

I believe our Lord is calling certain of us to this ministry. We are called to share the evils of the world with Him; to face evil and not to turn away; to look at what is happening in the world and to share the responsibility in prayer with our Lord. We are called to share this burden and to actively search for the stories and activities whose evils turn our stomachs but, instead of turning away in disgust, we hold onto them and combat them in prayer.

This is not a ministry for the faint hearted and I’m not sure it is one I could cope with and I do not think any of us should try to cope with this alone. But I would be interested to hear from anyone who is also receiving this call to combat evil in this particular way. Never before, in the history of mankind, has it been easier to find evil from the comfort of our own homes, look it in the face and say – no more. However, don’t enter into this unless you feel a particular calling and have support.

DSC_0073

 

On 10 June, an SS Unit in France sealed off Oradour-sur-Glane and ordered all the inhabitants – and anyone who happened to be in or near the town – to assemble in the village square to have their identity papers examined. The SS also arrested six people who did not live in the village but merely happened to be riding their bicycles through there when the SS unit arrived.

The women and children were locked in the church and the village was looted. The men were led to six barns and sheds, where machine guns were already in place.

According to a survivor’s account, the SS men then began shooting, aiming for their legs. When victims were unable to move, the Nazis covered them with fuel and set the barns on fire. Only six men managed to escape. One of them was later seen walking down a road and was shot dead. In all, 190 Frenchmen died.

The SS men next proceeded to the church and placed an incendiary device beside it. When it was ignited, women and children tried to escape through the doors and windows, only to be met with machine-gun fire. 247 women and 205 children died in the brutal attack. The only survivor was 47-year-old Marguerite Rouffanche. She escaped through a rear sacristy window, followed by a young woman and child. All three were shot, two of them fatally. Rouffanche crawled to some pea bushes and remained hidden overnight until she was found and rescued the next morning. About twenty villagers had fled Oradour-sur-Glane as soon as the SS unit had appeared. That night, the village was partially razed.

This is now a historical event but such massacres have happened on numerous occasions since and are still happening today. Prayer can make a difference.

DSC_0122
The Martyr Village is now a memorial to the evil of that day

 

 

DSC_0112
To the memory of our beloved martyrs
DSC_0085
To the memory of Father Jean-Baptiste Chapelle, killed with his parishioners

 

 

Who is it you are looking for?

 

Reredos1
Detail from 14th century Bishop Despenser’s Reredos, Norwich Cathedral, England

 

 

 

John 20 11 – 18

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”  At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

 

The Despenser Reredos –  found in the beautiful Norwich Cathedral
Located behind the altar in the St Luke’s Chapel is a superb painted altar piece. This was a gift to the cathedral of Bishop Despenser, given in gratitude for the failure of the 1381 Peasant’s Revolt. It is among the finest pieces of late 14th century art in Europe, and depicts in 5 panels scenes from the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.