The industry-standard e-book edition of the English eMissal now includes all the music for Holy Week and the Easter Triduum, as well as the Ordinary of the Mass (including the fifty main Prefaces) and some of the music for the seasons of the year (Ash Wednesday – Pentecost). The ePub version of the Missal is in full colour and is optimised for viewing on 7″ – 10″ devices. An updated edition suitable for the Kindle will follow after Easter.
Although ICEL has not approved any eMissal version for use in liturgy, one of the requirements that they asked for before considering approval was that the e-book version should include the Musical notation, so this new version is a step towards complying with that request. Sometimes I have separated the musical sections from the text-only sections (such as the Communion Rite) while in other places I have placed the music directly after the text – similar to the printed Missal.The file is available for download now at: http://www.rmh.id.au/
The readings in the liturgy today provides a contrast between two figures – the great and mighty King Ahaz, and the young maiden Jew Mary. When the Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, appears before the king, and directs him to ask for a sign, he is given permission to dream big. “Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.” So he is given permission to ask for anything; the boundaries that he is set could not – in the Jewish understanding of cosmology – be any bigger. In response, the foolish and rather pathetic Ahaz is only able to respond with false piety – “no, I will not put the Lord to the test.” It is hardly a test when you have specifically been given permission by the Lord to ask for something!
Taking a friend out for a driving lesson a few weeks ago brought to mind my own experience of learning to drive a car. Growing up on a farm, our first driving experience was with tractors and motorbikes and eventually cars as we made our way around the paddocks. But once I actually received my Learner Plates and attempted to drive out on the roads of Bega, I soon discovered that roads and paddocks are different. All was going along okay, until another car approached in the opposite direction and I freaked out, pulling off the side of the road to allow them to pass. (more…)
A Jew would recognise our first reading today as the very last passage in the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh. English bibles have tended to reorganise the order of the books in the Old Testament, so that we no longer follow the three-part division of the Tanakh into Torah (the Law), Nevi’im (the Prophets) and Ketuvim (the Writings), and now conclude the Old Testament with Malachi in the minor prophets. Likewise, we are probably not all that familiar with the two books of Chronicles, since our reading today is the only one during the three-year cycle of readings, and include only eight verses from the 1764 verses of the two books.
It was St Jerome in his Latin Vulgate translation of the scriptures who provided the title of the books, when he called it the ‘Chronicle of the whole of sacred history’ whereas in the Hebrew Bible it was called the ‘events of the days’ or the ‘annals of the years’ and in the Greek Bible (Septuagint) it was called ‘the things omitted’. Chapter 36 of 2 Chronicles begins with the reigns of the final four kings of Judah – Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah – who did what was evil in the sight of the Lord God. The infidelity extended to the priests and the people, even though because of the compassion that he felt for the people, the Lord sent them prophets. (more…)
To soften the hard edge of these sacred commandments that are presented in Exodus 20, the Rabbis’ would often tell a joke – such as ‘when Moses came down the mountain, he began by telling the people: well, there is good news and bad news; the good news is that I managed to talk the Lord down from 20 commandments to ten; the bad news is that adultery is still on the list.’ Or, when Moses had a headache, what did he do? He took two tablets. Or, when the Lord asked Moses if he wanted a tablet of the law, Moses asked him how much they were. When the Lord replied that they were free, Moses said, ‘okay, I’ll take two.’
All jokes aside – and especially those jokes aside – what we encounter in this text, which simply presents God speaking ‘these words’ – it is not until Exodus 34 that the title of the Decalogue, literally, the ten words is given – is a sacred covenant that is deeply founded in grace and freedom. Scholars tell us that the covenant is an example of a Suzerain treaty, and it is God who first identifies the parties: ‘I am the LORD your God’ and we are ‘you’ who he brought out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Our first reading from Genesis 22 contains what is often regarded as one of the finest examples of a short story in all or Western literature. In 19 short verses, the reader is taken on a terrible and shocking journey along with Abraham and Isaac – your only son, the son that you love – for three days until they reach the mountain of Moriah (which 2 Chronicles tells us would become the temple mount in Jerusalem). Although the reader knows that this is a test for Abraham, he is not in on that little secret; so we can only wonder how he endured these three days while he would have been beside himself in grief as he walked along with Isaac, prepared camps, ate meals together and shared stories around a camp-fire – and yet pretended that nothing was amiss in this horrible pilgrimage. (more…)