Friday, 28 December 2012

New Year - New Beginning

St Francis used to tell his friars, ‘Let us begin again for up to now we have done little or nothing.’

He had the capacity to leave the past to God’s compassion and to look forward with hope, trusting in grace from the Lord.

Stepping out again in confidence, being willing to begin again, setting goals for the path ahead – this is what renews our energy and gives zest to life!

‘Make New Year's goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you're interested in fully living life in the year to come.
Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life direction.

What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?

What would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life?

What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen in your career?

Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down - as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go. 

The New Year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.’

Friday, 21 December 2012

Christmas: 'And is it true?'

Writing of London in the days before Christmas, John Betjeman's poem Christmas captures the rush and fuss that precedes the celebration. 
But then he asks the core question: Is it true? 
Is it true?
In this Year of Faith that question goes to the heart of our believing.
Is it true that God has come so close to us? Is it true that he now shares our humanity so we can share his divinity? Is it true that foolish love has led God to such astonishing means to reach us?
Is it true?
Wishing you light and joy unbounded as you ponder that question during these days of grace!
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green...
And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.
And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
John Betjeman (1906-84)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Advent - Mary's Full Yes

The beautiful lines below by Denise Levertov go to the heart of the mystery we celebrate in this season. 

Love - both divine and human - interact, open to one another.

Love - free, full and fruitful!

May Mary lead us so our consent, our yes, comes from an ever-deeper level. 

Then the 'enfleshing' of the Lord can continue even in our humanity.

This was the minute no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.
A breath unbreathed,

She did not cry, "I cannot, I am not worthy,"
nor, "I have not the strength."
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
raging, coerced.
Bravest of all humans,
consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
and the iridescent wings.
courage unparalleled,
opened her utterly.

                                Denise Levertov

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Advent - Focus on the Essential

Elizabeth cried out: "Why should I be honour with a visit from the mother of my Lord?"

The Advent-Christmas season focuses us on what is at the heart of our faith. 

Jesus is Emmanuel - God with us, God for us.

The community of the Lord's disciples has as its primary role to witness to this God of love who has come in search of us.

So often the Church is seen only in the light of its problems - even by believers. Yes, there are issues and problems galore but all should be viewed in the light of the astonishing goodness that has been made known to us.

If we lose sight of Christ and who he is - what point is there in belonging to the faith community?  

Pope Benedict recalls how, "When I used go to Germany in the 1980s and '90s, I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems. 

If we let ourselves be drawn constantly into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears.

I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith. God is Love - to the point that he completely humbled himself, assuming a human body and finally, giving himself into our hands as bread. We know that God is not a philosophical hypothesis, he is not something that perhaps exists, but we know him and he knows us.” 

The Pope points out: "Many seek meditation elsewhere because they think that they will not be able to find a spiritual dimension in Christianity. We must show them once again not only that this spiritual dimension exists but that it is the source of all things.”

Christ, Son of God and Mary's child, is our message. 

The Gospel of grace not moralism is our gift to the world.