Saturday, 24 September 2011

With a Shepherd's Heart

I love that scene in the Gospels when the crowds follow Jesus and his disciples who had tried to go away for a quiet time. We are told that when Jesus saw the people he felt deep compassion for them for "they were harassed and dejected like sheep without a shepherd."

This beautiful passage gives us a glimpse into the very soul of Jesus.

The Lord looks at our broken world and his heart is deeply moved.

There is no bitterness at our messy and confused lives. 

Instead we find compassion for those who struggle with suffering, loss and pain; patient goodness for those who are searching for love and meaning in all the wrong places; kindness for those living in silent despair, a despair often cloaked by the rush and glitter of today’s life.

Christ’s love does not necessarily mean approval for everything in our lives.  But the experience of his goodness and acceptance gives us the courage and grace to make the journey back. 

He is not waiting till we have got our act together before he love us.

Would that all who struggle and fail and fall might find within the Christian community the lived reality of the Lord's constant compassion!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Spacious Sanctuary

Killiney Beach looking towards Dalkey Island

Our Summer is over. During July and August I was able, most early mornings, to sit and pray on Killiney Beach. As Autumn begins, and the days shorten and cool I know the memory of  praying, surrounded by sea and sky, will stay with me .

These few lines attempt to capture the gift of those Summer mornings.

My spacious sanctuary
Stretches north to
Dalkey Island, south to
Bray Head,
Sand for floor
Cloud and blue dome.

Looking east the soft sounds of sea
Accompany my psalms.
Murmuring waves bless the Lord,
Weaving gulls and preening
Cormorants sing His praise,
Morning light give Him glory.

When November days
Creep in
Dank and dark
I will recall my dawn-facing
Space, sacred and wide, and be
Wrapped again in Summer.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Pause as Autumn Begins

The schools have reopened, full work schedules have begun, and the leaves are displaying their glory before sinking to earth.

St Francis constantly said: "Let us begin again!"

The beginning of Autumn can be a moment to pause, review our lives with a gentle gaze and recognise what choices, what possibilities lie before us. 

Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance:

 "It seems to me that January resolutions are about will; September resolutions are about authentic wants.... The beauty of autumnal resolutions is that no one else knows we're making them. Autumnal resolutions don't require singing, confetti and champagne. September resolutions ask only that we open to positive change."

As the year moves on, the days slip by, what positive change can I make?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Remembering September 11th - Francis shows us the Way

Friar Mychal Judge, Fire Department Chaplain, dies at the Twin Towers
As the world marks the tenth anniversary of September 11th, I share with you a reflection from American friar, Frank Jasper.

9/11/2001: Twenty friars gathered around Friar Gene Mayer’s six-inch television at Cenacle Retreat House in Chicago. We were trying to comprehend the tragedy that was playing out before our eyes. We were shocked and stunned, as was everyone in our country. That night Chicago was eerily quiet as I viewed the skyscrapers that I was so familiar with from my time there. I prayed for the victims, tried to imagine the extent of the devastation and wondered what would happen next.

St. Francis calls us to be peacemakers. But how can we take that stance in the face of such hatred, death and destruction? How can we hate the senseless tragedy without letting our reactions spill over to all Muslims? Francis showed us the way by crossing the enemy lines and meeting face-to-face with Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil. He forged a respectful relationship to avoid the violence of the Fifth Crusade. They parted with reverence for each other.

We are called to cross what some consider “enemy lines” to forge relationships with our brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith who acknowledge Abraham and Jesus as great prophets and Mary as a very special woman. We can avoid the stereotyping of Muslims as terrorists when we see they have the same dreams and desires as we have. We avoid violence by focusing on relationships, understanding and diplomacy.

As we observe the 10th anniversary of the tragedies of 9/11 in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, we pray along with St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Right Questions are Keys

Asking the right questions is a basic element of the spiritual journey. Questions can be keys that open doors to our deepest truths and desires.

Though-provoking questions help me look honestly at the unknown and unresolved dimensions of my life now.

Jesus asked questions: What are you looking for?  Who do you say I am? Will you also go away?

In different ways St Francis constantly encouraged his followers to ask themselves what fills, guides, and governs my heart now?

Here are some of the questions that have helped me live life at a deeper level:

Given that spiritual growth is intentional, requiring energy and choice - am I will to pay the price for this growth?

What do I need to surrender in trust to God at this time?

What is keeping me from falling in love with my life now?

At this stage in my life what is it too late for, too soon for, just the right time for?

The right questions are keys that allow the secret doors to swing open leading to a deeper self-knowlege, to clearer insight into what n0w is hindering or helping me on the path of discipleship.