Saturday, 25 May 2013

A Brother's Embrace!

"How good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Ps 133:1)

The Irish Provincial Minister, Hugh McKenna embraces our new Minister General, American friar, Michael Perry,OFM, after his election in Rome on 22 May.

He succeeds our brother now Archbishop José Rodrígiez Carballo, OFM, who was appointed by Pope Francis to the Vatican position of Secretary of the Congregation of Religious.

Michael, in an interview after his election, rightly said that the friars are united, energised and challenged by the ministry of the new pope, whose name honours our founder, St. Francis.

Pope Francis "has energised us, but he also has challenged us just by who he is. His authenticity challenges us to rediscover our own authenticity. By his example he calls us to simplify our lives and to speak less and demonstrate more who we are."

“It's not a matter of promoting the Franciscan ‘brand,’ but of demonstrating that simplicity of life means greater life for all people, it means greater access to all that people need to have dignity and survive on this small, tiny planet we have. It means respecting creation so that we do not destroy the environment in which we live.”

Michael is honest: “Pope Francis has taken the name of the person we hold as a model, who calls us to live faithfully the Gospel. I think how short we fall sometimes in living the Gospel. This man has lived for a very long time what he is calling all of us to take on."

Monday, 13 May 2013

On the Wind of the Spirit

I live by the sea and I often watch the gulls hover in the wind. They know the art of working with the wind. They let the wind carry them. That is why they are able to remain in the air for so many hours and yet not grow tired.

The gulls teach me how to be carried by the wind of the Spirit, the Breath of God.

It is hard to walk against a strong wind. Yet with what ease we move when the wind is in our favour. So when I am ‘moving in the Spirit’ how much ‘lighter’ does my daily Christian living become. But what heavy work I make of my life when I am out of tune with the movement of grace!

One of the Fathers of the Church put it clearly: ‘The breath of the Spirit blows to fill the sails of our faith and our praise.’

An even earlier source, the second century Odes of Solomon uses another image.

‘As the wind passes through the lyre

And the strings speak,

In the same way through my inward being

Sounds the Spirit of the Lord, and I speak in his love.’

The wonder is that the Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation is available now to me, to you, to breathe fresh life in us and to uphold us with power from on high.

Come Holy Spirit, Come Divine Wind, Come!

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Hungry Soul

Matthew Kelly in the The Rhythm of Life writes, "It would be lovely if our souls growled every time they were hungry the way our stomachs do. But they don't. The voice of the hungry soul is confusion, questions, and a general sense of being overwhelmed."

I know the feeling! These past few weeks have been filled with rushing, taking on too many tasks, and so not giving myself enough time for silence and solitude. And my hungry soul is making me aware of the imbalance.

So this morning in prayer, by God’s patient goodness, I was able to refocus, to centre myself, and to surrender in peace the concerns and tasks that had seemed so important.

And as Pentecost draws nearer the desire grows within me for the grace of Pentecostal refreshment. I realise that this holy desire is itself a touch of grace, a desire that the Lord stirs up so as to fulfil it in me if I am open, available for the fresh gift.

I hope to pray the Sequence for Pentecost Sunday daily during these coming weeks. Many of the ancient, beautiful invocations speak deeply to my present need.

Thou, of all consolers best,
Thou, the soul's delightful guest,
Dost refreshing peace bestow.

Thou in toil art comfort sweet;
Pleasant coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour thy dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray...

Amen, Alleluia!