Saturday, 26 December 2009
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Yesterday I had the remarkable experience of climbing the clock tower of British Parliament, affectionately known as Big Ben- all 334 steps to the top. I touched the clock faces on the inside of this world famous monument and then went up to watch Big Ben (actually the name of the bell rather than the tower) strike 12 - midday. It was so much fun and we were the last group to be able to do so in the year 2009. At the very top, where the bell is, you can see out across London itself and watching it from up there I felt a great affection for my city. Watching little read buses, the Thames and the London Eye on this cold Tuesday before Christmas everything seemed so pristine and perfect; so free of imperfection and chaos. There was so much life and hope, an aura of it from the silent height of the tower that has given London its rhythm and time for 150 years. There was a security in standing somewhere that survived four separate bombs during the war and came out chiming.
Monday, 21 December 2009
Sunday, 6 December 2009
The feast of the Immaculate Conception is nearly upon us. One of my favourite feast days of the year (though I say that about an awful lot of feast days). This feast seems perfectly suited to the run up to advent when we come to consider a fusion of divinity and humanity. Okay, and it obviously does link quite nicely to the message of Lourdes (you knew it was coming!). The message of Lourdes was, in a sense, the divine confirmation of a recent doctrine, on the 25th of March 1858 the lady finally revealed her name to St. Bernadette:
It is difficult to comprehend how alien this phrase was to Bernadette - there was no thunderbolt moment for her after speaking with the Lady- where she suddenly realised who she had been talking to. Instead, terrified she would forget the name she repeated it to herself aloud all the way back up the hill into the main town of Lourdes. When she reached the house of Peyramale she simply blurted out 'I am the Immaculate Conception' which understandably caused the priest to stop in his tracks and stare at the little peasant girl in front of him.Peyramale had been requesting the name of the Lady for weeks- now here it was.
Of course Bernadette was ignorant of the fact that this theological expression was assigned to the Blessed Virgin. Four years earlier, in 1854, Pope Pius IX declared this a truth of the Catholic Faith (a dogma). Of course the priest was not - he questioned Bernadette about how she knew this phrase and discovered fairly quickly that she obviously had no idea what it meant and nor did anyone with whom she had come in to close contact. Now the priest was troubled more than ever- he could see Bernadette was sincere and for the first time he was wondering....could it be?
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Jesus invited us to turn to God with insistence and the confidence that we will be heard: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7). The basis for this power of prayer is the goodness of the Father, but also the mediation of Christ himself (cf. 1Jn 2:1) and the working of the Holy Spirit who “intercedes for us” according to the will of God (cf. Rom 8:26-27). For “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26), and at times we are not heard “because we ask wrongly” (cf. Jas 4:2-3).
In support of the prayer which Christ and the Spirit cause to rise in our hearts, Mary intervenes with her maternal intercession. “The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary”. If Jesus, the one Mediator, is the Way of our prayer, then Mary, his purest and most transparent reflection, shows us the Way. “Beginning with Mary's unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the Holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries”. At the wedding of Cana the Gospel clearly shows the power of Mary's intercession as she makes known to Jesus the needs of others: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3).
The Rosary is both meditation and supplication. Insistent prayer to the Mother of God is based on confidence that her maternal intercession can obtain all things from the heart of her Son. She is “all-powerful by grace”, to use the bold expression, which needs to be properly understood, of Blessed Bartolo Longo in his Supplication to Our Lady. This is a conviction which, beginning with the Gospel, has grown ever more firm in the experience of the Christian people. The supreme poet Dante expresses it marvellously in the lines sung by Saint Bernard: “Lady, thou art so great and so powerful, that whoever desires grace yet does not turn to thee, would have his desire fly without wings”. When in the Rosary we plead with Mary, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35), she intercedes for us before the Father who filled her with grace and before the Son born of her womb, praying with us and for us.
Taken from APOSTOLIC LETTER ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF JOHN PAUL II
Pictures taken on my visit to the convent of Nevers 2008
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
A little visit to virtual Lourdes in honour of the Rosary. What better place to celebrate than at the grotto where praying the Rosary was overseen by Our Lady herself? She joined in the Our Father and followed silently as Bernadette prayed the Hail Mary. This was the case from the earliest vision. How many rosaries have been said there since? It must run into trillions! Hooray!
Monday, 26 October 2009
Monday, 19 October 2009
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
The girls said admitting you're not good at something
The boys said not letting on that you are good at something.
Interesting difference in gender perspective. I found it amusing.
I did my best to correct BOTH about the ACTUAL meaning of humility.
I am off to see the relics tonight and I am so looking forward to it - I hope to be able to post on it sometime soon and will remember you all when I get to the casket.
Sunday, 11 October 2009
I am sure that no one here in England can fail to have missed the wonderful shower of hope being poured out upon us by the relics of St. Therese which I look forward to visiting in Westminster this Tuesday. So in preparation for their arrival lots has been going on this weekend. Yesterday at the Cathedral there was a day for Mary which I attended and found filled 1) With people 2) With hope. Who can be downcast when we have a mother who offers such love and leads us to her son and the hope of serving Him with real strength and honesty? Young Catholics here are responding and you can see it in their attendance at events such as these. There was further evidence of the on the afternoon procession.
In the afternoon we went to the 'Rosary Crusade' which has now been running for 25 years and led by the statue of our Lady of Fatima we walked through the streets of central London with the traffic stopped for us while we prayed the Rosary. We were permitted to walk on the roads, because of our large numbers. It was awesome! In the true sense of the word as Catholics of all ages joined together to pray in the heart of our city. We started in Victoria and walked through Chelsea and Knightsbridge to Brompton Oratory praying the Rosary with a special intention for our priests and the affect of St Therese's relics here. These busy consumer areas were brought to total standstill on a Saturday afternoon, just for a few moments by Our Lady and her powerful prayer. It was a great witness and I have to say I had a lot of fun walking down Sloane Street, Kings Road Chelsea and bypassing Harrods with the likes of Prada and Louis Vitton dominating, and watching people's bemused but interested faces. Of course I am under no illusion that many of them probably thought we were nuts but who cares? Our Lady is a powerful advocate and the act itself was just a tool - who knows what a witness like this might do? Only Christ knows. I know being part of it was wonderful and I am so grateful for this privlidge.
So there is hope, our country has many flaws indeed but one side of its desire for total freedom is that we are free to witness to Truth. We didn't try to intrude upon any body in a combative way we simply brought our prayer to the street, and to be totally honest, I found people ultimately respectful of that. Our Church is alive! For all that our media tries to insist it is not, for all our struggles against the terrible, crushing wrongs which our law supports and promotes we are here and we have something that can never be broken: we have FAITH and through faith we have an endless sense of hope and possibility. We cannot deny or put away our struggles but we can say that we will face them in a united way with an unbreakable sense of what Truth is.
For anybody else who is having a tough start to Autumn lets not forget that light in our lives and remember all those who can't quite find that light. My life would be so dark without it.
Dear friends you are always in my prayers.
Monday, 28 September 2009
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Etty had no reason to write this way, most of the people she was writing to had no interest in the Catholic clergy. There is no bias in what she writes yet she is able to convey a beautiful serenity. I think we know it, I think she recognised it as the serenity of grace. Grace in a place where, as you can read in the rest of Etty's letters human suffering is abundant and devastating. Yet together human beings went on , whether Catholic or not just hoping and trying to bear what was happening. She continues that a man tells her:
"he saw some priests walking one behind the other in the dusk between two barracks. They were saying their rosaries as imperturbably as if they had just finished vespers at the monastery"*
I love this idea because it is proof that faith does not die when the sense of humanity in those around you does. People may be persecuting you, may be harming and destroying life all around you but you do not give up. You hold on and Etty asks in her beautiful mystical way :
"And isn't it true one can pray anywhere?"*
This I will try to remember next time I feel that internal call to prayer but tell myself I will pray later when I am less stressed, distracted or busy. Surely these people must be our models for prayer.
Etty died in Auschwitz on November 30th 1943 aged 27. She was proudly Jewish and in the course of the last years of her short life had become a proud lover of God. She took her Talmud and Bible to Auschwitz with her.
*All quotations were taken from Letters from Westerbork, Etty Hillesum, Grafton Books, Uk 1987
Monday, 31 August 2009
A little way from Taize is the village of Cluny where there used to be a gigantic monastery - fatherhouse to 1000 others of the Benedictine order in France. Here are a few shots of what remains - only a few feet shorter than St Peters itself when in its full glory. It was destroyed during the throws of the French revolution. Yet its ethereal beauty has not been wholly lost. You can just sense it is a place of holiness.
2. Pass it on to who you think who is/are deserving.
3. Leave a message to them.
4. Pass as many as you want.
5. Message back or leave a comment to the owner.
Sunday, 30 August 2009
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Friday, 28 August 2009
Without the eyes of the
World to meet him.
You will not look to seek him,
He is just a little way behind.
He is the strength
Touched by gentility of mind.
He is keeper
And the leader,
Who sought Him
The calm on the flight,
The clarity of sight,
When all around
Was panic and slaughter.
Protector in the stillness;
The silhouette in the distant desert
Whose feet met the sand,
In the unfamiliar land,
While the blood
Of innocence was behind.
And so he lead
And we will never know what was
Or what passed between the
Throughout their journey
We can only know the stillness,
The depth of willingness…
Of what it is to love.
We can only touch upon the
Of one who was so
Willing to become the
Who lived the hidden life,
Bathed in the
Greatest gift of light...
Which is given to us all.
Listen for the call…
For in the still,
In the whisper of the dream...
It shall come.
Sleep in the knowledge