2019 - Our 90th Anniversary
The Society of Saint Gregory was formed in 1929, undertaking the task of providing formation to promote better understanding of liturgy in the life of the Church and to enhance the role and level of music in the liturgy. Through the years, hundreds of lay people, religious and members of the clergy have enthusiastically taken part in courses and summer schools.
To celebrate the Society’s 90 years of active contribution to the liturgical and musical life of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, an exciting year of formation and celebration has been planned, including a Pilgrimage to Rome in October 2019.
A souvenir book will commemorate the people who were part of the Society’s history and the events which contributed to the liturgical life of the Church in this land. Watch this space for further news!
To mark and celebrate the Society’s 90th Anniversary, a pilgrimage to Rome in October 2019 has been organised, to include; Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, Papal Audience and possible visits to other sites.
As part of our anniversary celebrations The Society of Saint Gregory has prepared a weekly gospel reflection. New reflections will be uploaded each month throughout the year. Please feel free to share these with friends and family.
June weekly reflections
June 2 7th Sunday of Easter
When we hear people saying things like “I can see heaven thrown open”, we tend to dismiss them as being deluded. Stephen certainly paid the price for being a visionary!
People probably had the same sort of reaction when they heard John’s Apocalypse for the first time. The visions described in today’s 2nd reading are not the most extraordinary in that book by a long way, but they would still be considered bizarre in our rationalistic society.
Jesus’s vision is a different kind of extraordinary. Not content with praying to his Father for unity among his followers, he says “May they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me.” Is he deluded as well, asking for the moon? The factions and divisions in the Church today might well make us think so, and make us wonder what on earth we think we have been doing for the past two millennia.
And yet, even though we are faithless, we are told “I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known.” That’s a promise we can cling on to!
June 9 Pentecost Sunday
It’s hard enough to understand another language, harder still to speak it, and as for speaking a translation at the same time as listening to the next chunk to be translated, well, the people who can do that appear almost superhuman!
When we hear today about what may be the first-recorded occurrence of simultaneous translation on a large scale, we can rightly be filled with awe. And yet in this case the translator was not the apostles but the Spirit of God.
Paul echoes this when he tells us that no one can say “Jesus is Lord” unless the Spirit is working through that person. A translator is needed! And as the Sequence reminds us, the Spirit can also translate our feeble efforts to live good lives, turning us into strong people who heal, converting our dry cynicism to refreshing counsel, warming our frozen personalities, guiding our wandering steps, setting our hearts aflame, and bringing us to eternal life.
May the Great Translator, the Lord of Light, transform our lives!
June 16 Trinity Sunday
The image of God tracing a ring on the face of the deep in the book of Proverbs always reminds me of perichoresis, the “circle dance” of the persons of the Trinity.
This has been depicted in many ways, notably in Celtic carving and in the windows of Gothic cathedrals where the triskele is often found. This circle dance is not only about motion but about interdependence and, like the construction of the Gothic window, the interplay of the three elements is a source if immense strength.
The lesson for me is that, although it may be harder in terms of effort, collaboration is always worthwhile because it ultimately brings forth great fruit than simply doing things on one’s own. We, too, can be integrated into God’s act of creation by allowing ourselves to be drawn into a “Trinitarian” way of working.
June 23 Corpus Christi
Today, of all days, we should all be receiving under the form of bread and wine. The solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, is the obvious occasion for reminding us of that great statement in paragraph 281 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), derived from Eucharisticum Mysterium (1967), para 32:
“Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the connection between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father.”
Not only does this mean that Communion received in this way has a greater symbolic power when we do what the Lord asked us to do — take and eat, take and drink — but it also incorporates a complete theology of the New Covenant: the past (the Blood of the Lord in Jesus’s dying on the Cross), the present (the Eucharistic banquet that we are celebrating now) and the future (the heavenly banquet at the eschaton, the last times).
June 30 Ss Peter and Paul
Two very different personalities: some similarities, many differences. One a Baldric-type figure, an impetuous, hot-headed bumbler who yet became an articulate apologist for the Christian faith; the other a more focused, even obsessive person but an analytical theologian who set the infant Church firmly on its path. Both imprisoned at different times, both attacked by those who felt threatened by them. One who took care of his mother, the other who seems to have hated women.
Which one do you identify with more? Peter, whose rock-like faith (“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”) did not stop him being fallible (denying his Master three times, insisting on circumcision for new Christians) ? Or Paul, equally unswervable in his faith and with a brilliant mind, but a little self-righteous with it?
Perhaps, like Martha and Mary, the epitomes of action and contemplation, the truth lies somewhere in between. The Church venerates Peter and Paul together, reminding us that the ideal is a combination of the best aspects of both their personalities.
May weekly reflections
5th May: 3rd Sunday of Easter
After the Passion, the disciples, disheartened, have resumed their daily occupation, and are returning empty-handed from another night’s fishing. In the dawn light, a man on the shore calls out, directing them to cast out their nets once again. Suddenly, everything changes: there is fish in abundance, and it is the Lord who stands there, and breaks bread and shares a meal with them and forgives Peter to send him as the one who will bring a multitude to the shore of the heavenly banquet.
At times, we find it difficult to discern the Lord’s guiding voice amidst our daily occupations. May we attune our ears and our hearts to his call, and to the praise of the multitude at the Lamb’s high feast.
12th May: 4th Sunday of Easter
Last week, we saw how the disciples, responding to the Lord’s call, found bread broken for them, and how Peter experienced Christ’s mercy, calling him to his mission. This week, the theme of the voice returns: the Good Shepherd’s call resonates within us and our response is the faith and trust we place in his promise of eternal life, safe in his care. Then, we too will stand in front of the throne and the Lamb, purified, fed and consoled.
During this season of paschal joy, may we renew our trust in Christ’s promise of our own resurrection, and constantly strive for the same unity with each other and with him that he enjoys with the Father.
19th May: 5th Sunday of Easter
This week, the readings offer visions of a new future and tell us of the necessary passage through death that Jesus must experience to be glorified by the Father. John’s narrative and the apocalyptic vision both point to the same direction: not only are we renewed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, but the world itself is part of God’s plan for making all things new.
Strengthened by the hope of Christ’s return and of our own resurrection, may we embody amongst ourselves the love of Christ for us, sign of his presence in the world.
26th May: 6th Sunday of Easter
As we continue our journey through this joyful paschal season, we hear Jesus preparing his disciples for his return to the Father. Yet, in this absence will come the fullness of his presence with the promise of the Spirit, the Defender and Teacher, who will guide the disciples and the Church as it brings Christ’s word to the whole world.
Bearers of the Word and of Christ’s peace, may we fulfil our baptismal mission. As we continue our journey through this joyful paschal season, we hear Jesus preparing his disciples for his return to the Father. Yet, in this absence will come the fullness of his presence with the promise of the Spirit, the Defender and Teacher, who will guide the disciples and the Church as it brings Christ’s word to the whole world.
Bearers of the Word and of Christ’s peace, may we fulfil our baptismal mission, empowered by the Spirit and renewed by the hope of resurrection.
April weekly reflections
5th Sunday Lent
‘No need to recall the past, no need to think about what was done before. See, I am doing a new deed, even now it comes to light; can you not see it?’ (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Sin can hold us prisoner. Awareness of past wrongdoing can leave us powerless to change, trapped by what we have done and who we have been, rather than open to realising who we truly can be. God invites us to believe we can change. This is the ‘new deed’ that Isaiah speaks of this week: the offer of a new beginning.
When we accept that offer, we are met with love and compassion, just as the prodigal’s father meets his wayward son with the finest robe and the fatted calf. We are not condemned; we are forgiven. Then we are challenged: ‘go away and do not sin any more’. But we are not sent away to earn forgiveness; we are sent away because we are forgiven.
Jesus, at his most human, searches for an understanding of his Father’s will: if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Yet he willingly embraces it: your will be done, not mine. In the darkness, his final words avow trust: into your hands I commit my spirit. And in all this, he does not desert humankind: Father, forgive them; they do not know what they are doing. My friend indeed.
He was not there. Just cloths on the ground and an empty tomb. Later, a companionable stranger on the road, and the risen Lord glimpsed in the breaking of bread.
Christ is risen! The unfathomable wonder of the Paschal Mystery: that because we are baptised, we have risen with him, dead to sin and alive for God. This is what the Lord has done, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
And this is the day.
2nd Divine Mercy
My favourite apostle: poor doubting Thomas, looking rather foolish as Jesus makes him realise he should have believed those he loved. Faith and love are closely bound up. For many, perhaps most of us, we believe because someone we love believed before us, and shared with us not so much the things they believed, as the life they led because of it. The handing on of faith in this way, through loving example, must stretch all the way back to the first witnesses to the empty tomb or the risen Saviour. I wonder who mine began with?
‘Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ The Catechism says this about divine revelation: the Father’s self-communication through his Word in the Holy Spirit remains present and active in the Church. Sometimes, as with Jesus baring his wounds, this can be through the most bold and graphic of signs. At other times we see though a glass, darkly. But Jesus reassures us: like Thomas, we are forgiven if sometimes we doubt.
March weekly reflections
The 8th Sunday of Ordinary time’s gospel is very helpful in preparing us for the season of Lent. Jesus begins with a parable about two blind men, how can one lead the other if they cannot see where they are going? The liturgy we celebrate is like a guiding light leading us to encounter Christ. Our journey of faith is enabling us to follow the master and learn from him. As we prepare to celebrate Lent it is a time of renewal, an opportunity to see ourselves as others do. Let us ask for the grace to see the plank in our own lives in order to deepen our relationship with Christ and bear fruit for his greater glory.
1st Sunday Lent
Lent is a time of renewal, a journey to bring about change. A time of reflection. Jesus shows the way. The Spirit hovered above him at his Baptism and it is the same Holy Spirit which leads Jesus to the wilderness. Time for him to spend in solitude with his Father. A time for him to reflect on what he has been sent to do. That solitude is disrupted by the devil who has come to tempt him away from the task at hand. We can all identify with that as try to enter our own ‘wilderness’ in order to reflect on our own mission. The liturgy we celebrate provides an oasis of prayer and reflection. As we begin our journey of Lent let us be led by the Spirit and not be led away from our task in the world today of bearing witness to Christ.
2nd Sunday lent
I am sure we can all think of moments in our lives when we were left speechless. Those are moments when we reflect on what has happened and tried to make sense of the event. The disciples were no different. Peter, James and John were chosen for the important moments of Jesus’ ministry. The gospel tells us that Jesus took with him those three disciples and went up the mountain to pray. Whenever we read in the scriptures of climbing up a mountain we know that it means an encounter and experience with God. Moses and Elijah appear and Peter speaks without really knowing what he is saying. The disciples are afraid and yet hear those important words: ‘This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.’ The liturgy of the Word and Eucharist are moments of encounter and our task is to lead people to ‘Listen to him.’
3rd Sunday Lent
How often in our lives have people given us a second chance. Mistakes are made in life and yet there are people who love us who are willing to give us another chance. Equally I am sure we can think of the people we have given them a second chance. The God we come to worship is the God of the second chance. He never lets us down. He is willing to trust. Like the fig tree in the 3rd Sunday of Lent we have an opportunity to reflect on where we need pruning and dig around in order to be more fruitful. Let us use this time of renewal to see where we need to change in order to bear fruit for Christ. Like the gifts of bread and wine which are brought to the altar and are transformed to become Christ’s Body and Blood so our lives can be transformed too by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
4th Sunday Lent
The parable of the prodigal son on the 4th Sunday of Lent is well known to us. It is a parable of journeys. The younger son moves away from home in order to search for something he longed for. He soon realised that the searching would lead him to the place he left in the first place. His father never stopped watching for his return and his elder brother journeyed further away from the love of his father and brother. It is a story of discovery. Where am I in that scene? Have I wandered away from the Father’s love? Am I a jealous person? Am I resentful? As we continue to journey through Lent may we discover the love that God the Father has for me and enjoy his presence and bask in his love.
February weekly reflections
3 February — 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year C in Ordinary Time starts with a series of Old Testament ‘highlights’. Last week we had Ezra reading the word to the people, this week we have the calling of Jeremiah, next week the spectacular calling of Isaiah. Apart from allowing us to hear these key passages they are chosen because they reflect the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Luke’s Gospel. In the Gospel we have the aftermath of Jesus reading Isaiah in the synagogue. We see the changeability of the crowd. At the beginning of the passage Jesus has won the approval of all; at the end they want to throw him off a cliff. Jesus, here, is seen as a prophet in the mould of Jeremiah — the teller of uncomfortable truths. In a society which seems increasingly divided and where there is an inability to listen where might we find the voice of the prophet today.
10 February— 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The relationship between Jesus and Simon Peter is interesting. Even at the very beginning there is a to and fro. First of all Jesus just asks Simon to do a him a favour — put out his boat from the shore so that Jesus can speak more easily to the crowd which has gathered. Then Jesus does Simon Peter a favour with the huge net of fish. Simon backs away saying ‘Leave me, Lord, I am a sinful man.’ Jesus both reassures and turns his life around: ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Simon Peter is one of those people who makes big gestures, he is an all-or-nothing type of guy and so his response is to leave everything and follow Jesus. The excitement and the challenge of following Jesus is that by responding to the small things we can begin a journey that might lead us to places beyond our imagination.
17 February — 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time
What does it mean to be a disciple? Today’s Gospel picks up the calling of the apostles from last week and Jesus saying that a ‘prophet is never accepted in his own country’ from the week before. People will hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal for this was how the prophets were treated. But though this might sound a little bit like a sulking and self-pitying teenager, the reason for this suffering is because it is about someone else. It is because the disciple follows the Son of Man and the proper response to all this is to dance for joy! This may sound facile but the first reading (and psalm) have this beautiful image of the disciple who has deep roots which are fed by the flowing stream. The disciple is fed and nurtured by Jesus so that even when we do not perceive his presence (in the year of drought) we have the resources to thrive, face the negative and dance for joy.
24 February — 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Remember the Year of Mercy? Unlike some of these ‘years’ where it seems at the end, we can tick the box and put everything away again the purpose of the Year of Mercy was to encourage the transformation the Church. Or more simply — are we now more merciful as a Church? (And by Church I don’t just mean institution; I mean me and you.)
Today’s Gospel tells us that mercy and compassion are not a soft option. This is, I think, the purpose of the first reading. It is not just that David is merciful to Saul but that the exercise of mercy is complex. At this stage of the story of David and Saul are enemies. David has Saul in his power, but he has both an unfair advantage and he also recognises that Saul is the Lord’s anointed. His action is both merciful and also righteous. The command to be compassionate as your Father is compassionate is a reminder, as the psalm says that it is God who forgives and heals. To do the work of mercy is to cooperate in the works of God.
January weekly reflections
January 1 – A message for the New Year
The New Year of 2019 brings us as a Society into our ninetieth year. We look forward with hope. It is a hope that reflects the words of the gospel for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God: “As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen,” [Luke 2:20]
Our Society has tried to be like both Mary and the shepherds – and still is engaged in both responses to the Christ event. We are people who treasure and ponder the works of the Lord so that we can truly help others to glorify and praise God with us in the liturgy of the Church. In this anniversary year we want to thank God for all who have done the same for us in the past, while committing ourselves to ensure the Society will be equipped to continue that work for future generations.
January 6 – Epiphany
It would be fascinating to imagine how the baby Jesus responded to the gifts the gospel tells that the Wise Men brought. Their mystic meaning was perhaps lost on the infant, but he may have been attracted by their glitter and gold. Their giving just as the carol imagines us giving our heart is what is key to the Christian life. We have been given so much that our response must be gift too. For the Society that means we must value all who share their gifts in the liturgy with us and the whole Church. At the same time we must be glad that we have gifts to share too which help others and ourselves give worthy praise to God.
January 13 Baptism of the Lord
If the feast of the Baptism of Jesus brings Christmas time to a close it also draws us back to the beginning of the Christmas story. After the Baptism the voice from heaven announces that Jesus Is the Father’s Son, the Beloved. God’s favour rests on him. Those words parallel the angel’s greeting to Mary at the Annunciation, for there she is indeed highly favoured, for the Lord is with her. Mary’s response is to see herself as the handmaid of the Lord, who will do God’s will. She indeed listens to the voice of God, and becomes the true disciple. As the Society we must recognise the way God has favoured us with so many gifts, gifts for his service in the liturgy, doing his will.
January 20 2nd Sunday ordinary time
O sing a new song to the Lord, says the psalm. The new song is that the Lord has changed water into wine, the ordinary into what is special. That is our mission as the Society to bring people, who think they are ordinary, to recognise their giftedness in the service of the Church’s liturgy. Their gifts are part of the kaleidoscope of talent that the Spirit distributes to different people just as he chooses. Helping people do this is the gift the Society offers to the Church in her worship today, and has done so for the last ninety years.
January 27 3rd Sunday ordinary time
We belong to the great procession of those who have worshipped God through the ages from Ezra gathering men, women, and children old enough to understand, to the synagogue gathering that heard Jesus, to the community with whom you worship today. Our ninety years, as a Society dedicated to the liturgy, span just part of that amazing history of God’s people at worship. At every
stage people have been conscious of how they are different parts of Christ’s body, as Paul says, each with a different part to play. May our work as the Society continue to develop the harmony for which Christ longs.
Anniversary chalice and paten
To commemorate its 90th anniversary, the Society wishes to acquire a special chalice and paten for use at Society Eucharists. We invite you to make a contribution towards their purchase. You may donate online here, or send a cheque, payable to The Society of Saint Gregory (please write 90th Commemoration Fund on the reverse). Please send to: Membership Secretary, The Society of Saint Gregory, 38, Robert Road, Exhall, Coventry, CV7 9GU.
Find out how the Society began, back in 1929
Why was Saint Gregory adopted as our patron?