Thursday, 26 April 2012

Hanging in there with the Church

As the weaknesses and sins of Church members are daily brought to light, as the tensions between different groups within the Church increase, as the hostility from without intensifies - I find myself  returning again and again to the basics:  The Church is my God-given home, my spiritual family, a source of endless good in my life.

I am hanging in there within the community of faith; I am going nowhere. 

In all that is happening, my firm belief is that God is bringing light from darkness!

I find the wise, humble words of Italian mystic, Carlo Carretto, a support:

“How baffling you are, oh Church, 
    and yet how I love you! 
How you have made me suffer, 
    and yet how much I owe you! 
I would like to see you destroyed, 
    and yet I need your presence. 
You have given me so much scandal 
    and yet you have made me understand what sanctity is. 
I have seen nothing in the world more devoted to obscurity, more compromised, 
    and yet I have touched nothing more pure, more generous, more beautiful. 
How often I have wanted to shut the doors of my soul in your face, 
    and how often I have prayed to die in the safety of your arms."

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Canticle for Earth Day

St Francis never heard of Earth Day, celebrated on 22 April this year. However he would have loved the idea of a time to refocus on the gift of creation, a time to recommit to reverence and care for "our sister, Mother Earth".
His Canticle celebrates the beauty and goodness of God revealed in all that surrounds us.  Praying the Canticle should open our eyes afresh to joy.
Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
all praise is yours, all glory, all honour,
       and all blessing.
To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

All praise be yours, my Lord,
through all you have made,
and first my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day;
and through whom you give us light.
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendour;
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

All Praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon
and the stars; in the heavens you have made them,
bright, and precious, and fair.
All praise be yours, my Lord,
through Brothers wind and air, and fair and stormy,
all the weather's moods,
by which you cherish all that you have made.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
so useful, humble, precious and pure.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten up the night.
How beautiful is he, how cheerful!
Full of power and strength. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through our Sister
Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us,
and produces various fruits with coloured flowers
and herbs.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks
And serve him with great humility.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

At-one Me With Your Love

When the hope that comes from our Easter faith is authentic it has to influence how we see our lives, including, indeed especially, our struggles and perplexities.

God is at work in us and in our world. The Resurrection of Christ is the absolute confirmation that what the goodness and grace of God has begun will be brought to completion. And what God seeks is nothing less than the transformation of creation.

But it will all be according to God's timing and wisdom - not mine!

My task is to so yield myself to the action of the Spirit of the Lord that I remain one with God's love and purposes.

I don't need to know how God is going to make it all come out all right in the end. It is God, not us creatures, who will see to the coming of the Kingdom. 

This prayer breathes that Christian confidence.

  God be in my thoughts, and in my heart. 
  In my left hand and in my right hand. 
  Atone me. 
  At-one me with you and your love. 
  Help me to pray for those I fear as well as those I love,
  knowing that you can take my most ungracious prayers 
  and give them grace.
                                                   Madeleine L'Engle

Saturday, 14 April 2012

It is all about YOU!

American friar, Richard Rohr, captures the wonder of these Easter days in this beautiful prayer:

Loving God, we love how You love us.
We love how You free us.
We love what You have given and created to surround us.

Help us to recognise, and to rejoice in, what has been given,
even in the midst of what is not given.
Help us not to doubt all that You have given us,
even when we feel our very real shortcomings.

We thank You for the promise and sign of Your love
in the Eternally Risen Christ
who pervades all things in the universe
unbound by any of our categories of logic or theology.

We offer You our lives back in return.
We offer You our bodies, our little lives,
 our racing minds and restless hearts
into this one wondrous circle of Love that is You.

My life is no longer just about me, but it is all about YOU.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Lighting our Souls from His Flame

First of all, lets get one thing straight. At Easter we are not simply celebrating a happy ending to the story of Jesus. If the resurrection was just that we would have little to celebrate. But the wonderful truth is that Jesus who won the victory shares His victory with us as free gift.

At the beginning of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night, the Easter Candle, a symbol of the Risen Lord, was carried into the darkened chapel. But we did not merely look passively at that single flame.

No, we lit our candles from the one candle, the light was shared and spread out until the church was bathed in light.

So it is by participation we share in the life of the Risen Jesus.

When in Baptism, we, as it were, lit the flame of our souls from His one splendid flame, it was the whole flame we received. In our oneness with the Lord we are gifted with His fullness. Through faith and baptism we enter into this new reality.

As we continue to celebrate throughout Eastertide may the Life flowing from the radiant Lord touch our weakness, pierce our darkness and revive our deadness.

May it sweep away the unbelief that doubts the One who has conquered death is more than equal to every situation in our lives and in the Church,

And may that Life so permeate our souls that we delight in Christ as the sure hope our world and the true joy of our hearts.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Christ's Cross - Splitting the Atom

Good Friday - a day good beyond all telling because of the goodness of Christ revealed on the Cross.

But how can one man's death 2000 years ago be an act that saves us today? I have found very helpful the way that C.H. Dodd reflects on Christ’s death.

The creative, loving purpose of God is everlastingly at work in his world. It meets continual resistance from hardened human hearts and wills. But if at any point human history should become entirely non-resistant to God, perfectly transparent to his loving design - then from that point God’s creative purpose would work with unprecedented power.

That is just what the perfect obedience of Jesus affected. Within human nature and human history Jesus established a point of complete non-resistance to the Father's will, a 'moment' of total transparency to his saving purpose. The love and obedience of Christ expressed to the utmost on the Cross is a point of entry that releases God’s creative power for the perfecting of human life, indeed for the transformation of creation.

As we believers connect in faith and trust with the 'Christ event' - existing eternally in God - it becomes contemporary and we are laid open to the creative energy and love perpetually working to recreate us.

All our moral choices have an impact. Christ’s ultimate moral act is the equivalent to splitting the atom.

Jesus' death split the moral atom, and its effect lasts forever. The power, grace, light, life and divine energy released by that action of absolute love and self-giving pour out unceasingly.

This is what we celebrate in Holy Week, what we encounter in the Eucharist, and what we live from each day of our Christian discipleship.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Broken Jar - Broken Body

We are saved by the death of Jesus! This is a central tenet within the Christian faith. Jesus' death on a cross changed history forever.  In the coming days of Holy Week we will journey in faith with Christ to the Cross and through it to his resurrection.

But how does this work? How can one man's death 2000 years ago be an act that saves us today?

There was more here than can be accounted for upon the historical or human level. God was in it. We must use mystical, poetic language to try to express the inexpressible – we speak of the sacrifice of the spotless lamb, we are washed clean in the blood of Christ, by his wounds we are healed. We have to use images - because the reality is too wonderful to grasp fully.

Some Fathers of the Church look at the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany – a Gospel we hear on each Monday of Holy Week. By breaking the alabaster jar of very expensive perfume over the whole body of Jesus and filling the house with that gorgeous scent, Mary’s lavish gesture symbolised the deepest meaning of Jesus' passion and death. The body of Christ is the jar containing the most precious perfume of all time, namely, the Holy Spirit. It was about to be broken open so that the Holy Spirit could be poured out over the whole of humanity - past, present, and to come - with boundless generosity.

Until that body had been broken on the cross, the full extent of the gift of God in Christ and its transforming possibilities for the human race could not be known or remotely foreseen.

This mystery of God's love revealed on the Cross is something we can understand more in the gut than in the head. We can know and experience its truth, even when we can’t fully understand or explain it.

A blessed Holy Week.