Sunday, October 29, 2006


Mother Theresa

Posted on the 1st Day of the 30th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

I had a strange experience today. I took my daughter shopping, at the mall. It's an ordinary Sunday. She wanted to change into something she had just bought, so she went to the rest room to change. I waited outside with the rest of the dad's, husbands, friends, mothers etc. The mall is crowded because it's getting close to the Christmas Season and it is the end of half term, all the kids are back at school tomorrow, there are lots of families, hurridly buying last minute stuff for school, or walking casually along with arms full of early Christmas shopping. There's an endless stream of coming and going, into and out of the restrooms, and also between me and the restrooms, like a river of humanity, milling along, winding its way, some getting snagged by the restrooms and the shops nearby, others carrying on to somewhere out of sight. I kind of watch people without watching them. I am aware of them drifting by but not really taking much notice. Until I realise, with a kind of shock, that, since I've been standing there, I haven't seen a single person who is not beautiful. And, no this is not Hollywood or some such place, far from it. And I am not saying something like: 'everyone is beautiful in their own way' or anything like that. No. Every person who passed me, hundreds, possibly thousands of them, were each and every one of them, beautiful. No exceptions, period. Somehow, God was showing me something, or, in my half drowsy attention, I was seeing without some kind of preconception I must usually apply to people whom I look at. Now this didn't stop as I became aware of it, as these kind of things often do. Your preconcieved notions flooding back, filtering your perception. It carried on, the whole time I stood there waiting as my daughter put on her new clothes, straightened herself in the mirror etc. Every single face, male, female, young old. Beautiful in a very real and immediate way. I realised then that people who appear unattractive to me are those who consciously try to mould themselves in some way, project an image, do something complicated with their appearance or expression, or just look preoccupied with something that is bothering them, implying some underlying conflict with their natural state. I could pick out these people, though there were relatively few of them. But they still looked beautiful. It was as if I could see the beauty, but with the complicated and unnecessary mask on top. The beauty is always there. I understood then that God does not create anything ugly or without beauty. Everything, every single individual person has intrinsic natural beauty given by God, in a very real way. I don't mean this in the sense of a platitude or throw away comment, it was a striking experience. By default you have that real tangible beauty which Gods Grace has granted you. It is only when we get into a situation where we are at odds with ourselves, where we think we can mold ourselves, by our own efforts, into something 'clever' or 'interesting' or 'challenging' which conflicts with the template of our self which God has given us. Where in effect we begin to come into conflict with God's intention or design for us that we put on that ugly and totally unnecessary outward mask.

My daughter emerges from the restroom through the sea of faces, wearing her new skirt. Beauty coming towards me through a sea of beauty, beauty parting for beauty. Heaven on earth here and now on this ordinary Sunday in October.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006


Jesus and Saint Peter

Posted on the 7th Day of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

I worry about my kids. A lot. I worry about work and the future and money. About my parents. A lot of what I do is because I worry. Hopefully those things that I do are positive. So worry can't be such a bad thing. There is a modern obsession with not worrying, like we have an obsession with being 'stress free'. Worry and stress, in proportion, means our conscience is more or less in working order. That we care. We have a job to do here on earth and every little detail of our lives matters. In the end it is for building up God's Kingdom. And that means building up our neighbour and ourself, our families, the domestic church.

But sometimes I think too much. It's triggered by the worry, a habit of thought, looking for solutions, for ways of looking at things that rationalise them, or rationalise or sweeten our responses to them. I am trying to learn though, slowly but surely, that the answers are in some way inside of us already. Christ entered into our nature at the Event of the Crucifixion, he gave us everything we need to live our lives and in a sense, we have to stop trying to grab the reins of our life from Him. He gently, invisibly, silently, guides us on the right path. The path that was made for us and which leads us home. It is not always the easy path. It is the Great Gift that in our hearts has been placed the key to the guidance we need. Prayer and the Eucharist untethers us from our stubborn will, gently handing over the reins to Our Lord and God who is merciful.

We can achieve nothing without this. And with this 'handing over' comes not less responsibility but more. It is still our lot to walk on the path we are guided onto. Our world is a world of signs and meaning unique for each of us. We need to be on the right path to see the signs and meaning intended for us alone.

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The Blessed Virgin Mary

Posted on the 6th Day of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

When my daughters were small, I used to play hide and seek with them. Invariably they would hide somewhere in plain view, as it were. They would try to hide under bed sheets, but with their legs sticking out. Or behind a door, but with a hand holding the door shut. Or simply sit there with hands over their eyes, thinking that because they couldn't see me, then I must not be able to see them. And of course, being the type of dad who didn't want to spoil their fun too quickly, I would pretend not to see them. Would stomp around for a while to build the anticipation and excitement before eventually 'discovering' them in their 'hiding' places. Good fun. For them and me!

I am still very much like my daughters were at that age, but I'm getting better I hope. I think many people are. It is as if, just because we aren't getting hit between the eyes, every minute of every day, by religious experience, then somehow, God isn't watching us. Or we acknowledge that God 'sees all, knows all' but feel that it must be a bit like looking at the world from space. You can 'see all' but can't really make out the details. Or really that there is so much going on in the world that God can't possibly be focussed specifically on us, all of the time. Can He?

Well, the answer to that question is an emphatic 'Yes'. I find a useful way to look at it is like this: God created me, alone, for Himself. It's just that He created everyone else, alone, for Himself also. We have to see that God does not have human limitations. He can and does focus continuous, unbroken, intimate, detailed attention of every one of us, at all times, without cease, as if we were the only one in existence. This fact should inform our behaviour, but often it doesn't.

I heard two things, from unrelated sources, today which emphasize this aspect of our Faith. One was: "God is nearer to you than you are to yourself." The other was that one of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises involved, visualising our Lord as being with you at all times. For example: sitting next to you when you drive to work, walk down the street, talk to your kids etc.

God indeed knows us better and is closer to us than we are to ourselves. This should be a powerful source of humility for us, informing all of our actions and thoughts.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006


The Crucifixion

Posted on the 5th Day of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

When I look at the scale of Christianity and the Catholic Church in the world , in the knowledge that, unlike other faiths which depend on worldly political and military power, and are in fact fronts and legitimisers for that power, a way of organising it for worldly ends, I realise that the only explanation of the success of Christianity that works is, in fact, the supernatural one. Holy Mother Church is Christ's Bride here on earth, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, period. It is as if, on the day of the Crucifixion, a spiritual big bang occurred and humanity, reality in fact, was changed, irreversibly, forever. We put on a new nature. Whatever feelings we may have about our ‘modern’ world, the state of the Church and Catholicism in general, we are still reeling in the tornado effect of that one Event. Christs Sacrifice. The wellspring of grace which was released, like the energy of the big bang, will play out until His Second Coming, and we must choose, freely, to cooperate with that grace, there is no excuse, nothing can stop it. Modernism and secular society, although filling the minds and hearts of man, are dust and ashes that will be forgotten. We each of us have the ultimate free choice, to choose that abundant grace which totally permeates our world, a free gift and gateway to Heaven, or to take the line of least resistance and refuse to raise ourselves above the animal. It is there for the taking, the great defining moment of human history, of the history of the universe, of all reality, ensured that. God came to us, He put on our human joy and misery, and thrust Himself into our hearts by his Sacrifice on Calvary in an act which in some way completes, or brings closer to completion, His original act of Creation.

There is no escape from it, there is no need to reason or argue. Christ through his death and Resurrection entered into the material of mans soul and has changed all of us for all eternity. We are now, by definition, creatures who must cooperate with grace, the Crucifixion defines the world. Everything we are and do is soley in the perspective of its light.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Christ appearing to Saint Anthony Abbot during his Temptation

Posted on the 4th Day of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

Temptation needs only a chink in the armour, as St Paul said. Sin requires only the slightest gap in our defences and in it will rush. It's as if if has no real mass, if a tiny bit of it is in, it's all in. Such is the power of sin that binds us to the world. The other thing about it is that it is chameleon like. Very often, in sin, we are not really aware of the sin itself, or we look at it and it turns into something else, like a chameleon moving over a varying surface, you have to constantly re focus to keep it in sight. Good things can turn into sinful things, or, rather, on the continuum between good and bad, our actions can, very easily, slip into the bad where the original intention was good and noble. Such is the nature of sin and the ruin of souls. Good people who just stop looking, maybe have a proclivity to pride, stop examining their conscience, or look at it, as like so many things in this world, through a glass darkly. Advice here: always return to Our Lord, in prayer, and to sacred Scripture, our Blessed Mother, the Holy Spirit. If in doubt, pray. In fact, always pray. Pray the Rosary daily.

Recently I have read some extremely well presented, very cogently argued, very enlightening and educating material regarding a variety of issues affecting the Catholic Church and Christianity in general. The issues dealt with ranging from pornography and how it can limit individual freedom of action as people become slaves to their passions, which are extremely strong and hard to resist, leaving room for little else. Birth control, contraception, abortion as eugenic practices which are primarily aimed at demographic control and Catholics as the major force acting against this politically driven 'health care' system. Ideas on the implications of the messages of Fatima, and how many anti Christian countries, including Russia, are even today, moving together in coalition with the possibility that they could threaten the freedom of the Christianity and Christians worldwide. The idea that once, not so long ago (1950's), America was on the verge of becoming a Catholic country with a Catholic President and that the demographic changes wrought through the pushing of contraception, have prevented this to some degree. Lots of research, lots of sources quoted, good solidly argued, very enlightening stuff.

But something was wrong. I see this a lot with Catholic writers who seem to be very close to a sensitive issue, maybe even a sensitive truth. They destroy their own credibility. With monotonous regularity. The two writers I am referring to above, had me enthralled, until I turned the page (figuratively speaking) and both of them began to attack organisations and individuals of very high standing within the Catholic community. Organisations and individuals whom I greatly respect and who have given immesurable service to our Faith and asked for nothing in return. Who have gone that extra mile and given, out of love of Our Lord, freely to others, helping them to form their own Faith and conscience as my own was formed. The attacks also were on the most flimsy of pretexts, in such stark contrast to their other works, attacks riddled with pettiness, jealousy, innuendo, half truths.

The net effect of this is to stop you reading. I discard what I have read because I feel offended, let down, I now doubt the credibility and integrity of the material. It is a double attack. Not only do you lose faith in the useful educational material the writer has presented, you also can't help but wonder if there is any substance to the attack on the respected person or organisation they have also targetted, a seed of doubt is sown in the mind. The overall effect is very much to weaken and confuse the readers perception, their confidence in Catholic writers who seek to present some kind of truth to them. My instinct was to dismiss them entirely as cranks. But then I thought, why must we throw away the baby with the bathwater. I feel that perhaps on a supernatural level, people who deal very closely and intensely with the truth, may be systematically tempted. The temptation to pride and into areas which may serve to undermine their main, and highly valid, arguments, is a kind of subtefuge attack on the truth. Like the devil seeks to twist beauty and turn it into pornography, so he seeks also to twist truth, to turn something as beautiful and enlightening as a clear idea, a truth, clearly stated and well argued, and foul it up with something which turns attention more onto the writer as crank, than to the ideas he or she is presenting. This is not to deny the personal responsibility of the writer, but from my point of view I have decided that the best way to approach this issue in the future, is to avoid the knee jerk reaction. Take what helps build up Gods Kingdom on Earth, discard the sniping, petty attacks on fellow Catholics. Love the sinner and the truth he can present, hate the sin. I read something quite recently which I really like, it's the kind of thing I'd like to have pinned up on a poster somewhere, maybe at work, or could quote endlessly to people as a kind of catch phrase: "Better to light a candle than argue about the darkness" or something like that. To me it's up there with "Home Sweet Home".

Beware of the serpents smoke and mirrors, of the confusion he puts in the mind. Pray and return always to Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother, Sacred Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006



Posted on the 3rd Day of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

Some time ago I began experiencing back pain, it's nearly gone now. I am very busy at work and at home, so I went to buy painkillers. In fact, to be honest, I did some research on Google to start with, I was determined to get hold of the strongest painkillers possible available without a prescription. I was determined not to let the back pain take me out of action this time, like it has on a couple of occasions in the past. I got the painkillers and needless to say, the back pain faded to a mild sensation. I got on with my life.

And then the back pain grew less and less intense, but not wanting to leave anything to chance, I took a couple of the painkillers each morning just to make sure I wasn't caught out. And then, somehow, I kind of carried on taking the painkillers, for a few days longer than I should have. There was something else I was trying to avoid along with the back pain, although I was only dimly aware of it. Whenever I didn't take the painkillers, I quickly discovered, I got a headache. I take a tablet, the headache disappears. And then I realise that I really don't need the painkillers anymore, the back pain, though still nagging and threatening a bit, has really gone away. But then I found that I had an upset stomach to go along with the headache, a couple of painkillers and away it goes. Wait a minute! What's happening here? Could I be in some way dependent on the damn things? Does this make me a...dare I say it...a 'drug addict'!!?? Well, I stop taking the tablets once and for all, and yes, there are one or two days of mild irritation, headaches, stomach upset, general discomfort. And then I realise, this is what it feels like to break a dependence, an attatchment. My body is cleansing itself from the offending substance which it had become attatched to in the medication. The sensation of this cleansing, of this breaking with a dependence, is uncomfortable, unpleasant, purgative.

It came to me then that in some way Purgatory is the mechanism by which our dependency is broken. Our dependence on sin, our attatchment to it. There is a real pain and suffering at the heart of the purgative act. It's not that we will have Purgatory somehow 'done to us', it is that, in the same way that my body cleanses and heals itself from an addiction, in effect carrying out its own mini purgatory, our souls undergo their purgative process as attatchments and dependencies are broken on a spiritual level. Sin, in all of its forms and guises, is the addictive substance which enters into the substance of the soul. Purgatory is the opening of the hand to let go, just as I, through a force of will, let go of a need to avoid pain by ceasing to take the medication I had bought, my body does the rest and although the interim is somewhat painful, the end result is necessary, natural and beneficial.

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Monday, October 23, 2006


Soldiers cast lots for Christ's garments.

Posted on the 2nd Day of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

According to Thomas a Kempis, all is vanity. I would agree with him and add that today all is vulgarity also. Thomas a Kempis was speaking of mans' efforts, his pride in his own accomplishments. Being pleased with oneself and ones own efforts. But the effort and the self don't belong to us, we belong to another, our Creator, to our brothers and sisters too. Sometimes God lets you see this vulgarity in all its ugliness. Today I just couldn't seem to get away from it. Wherever I turned, at work, at the shopping mall, on my way home, people cast lots, their backs turned to the Lamb of God, whom they had Crucified, and He suffers over and over as people fight over His garments, the material elements of his Creation. In agony on the Cross he is ignored, as men dash here and there, puffed up in their self importance, intent on dust, ashes, the clothes of the dying and the condemned. At work there is anger and stress, a disagreement over something, over a product so petty and ridiculous that it is beneath our scorn. On the TV, a woman dancing being sprayed with water, smiling crazily as if she is queen of the world, it's meant to be funny, ironic-but-serious. Today it just looks ugly.

Sometimes God removes the scales from our eyes and we see ourselves and the world we have made in the harshest light. At times like this in the past I have prayed for consolation. Lord I don't want to live in a world that looks like this! In his infinite compassion and mercy he gives me back the mist in the eyes, so that I continue to see as if 'through a glass darkly'. Today I realise that we cannot put off seeing the world for what it is, His Creation, beautiful and perfect in itself, spoiled and distorted by man. The human person acting without a conecpt or acknowedgement of God is a truly ugly thing. True vulgaritiy.

I came home feeling tired, unwell, as if I was somehow inhabiting a different life. I realised that it's time to dispense with the dark glass, the comfort zone. That Faith without Works is nothing. That unless I am prepared to follow the example others have set, I am no more than the vulgar self seeker, self obsessed, dead.

For something to do I tidy my daughters bedroom. She has lots of posters and pictures cut out of music magazines. The men are all tattooed, puffed up with themselves, adoring the attention of crowds, photographers, bleary eyed, trying to look menacing or quirky or funny. Trying to stretch themselves and the images they project in such a way as to gain some kind of credibility in their own eyes and the eyes of those who, for whatever reason, they might wish to impress. It is a vulgar and ugly sight and I feel sorry for my daughter and angry with myself that I cannot make her see this emptiness in the way that I see it. That she must come to learn this lesson for herself, have the veil torn and the scales taken from her eyes one day and feel exposed and vulnerable and shocked. Because in the end, sooner or later, Our Lord removes the darkness and exposes us all in the unbearable but inevitable light of the New Day dawning. In and of ourselves this light is unbearable, but only as He dwells in us and we in Him are we given the strength and Grace to inhabit this light as His Children and his chosen people.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006


The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Posted on the 1st Day of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

The Mass I attended today looked nothing like that pictured in the holy card above. In its tattered ordinariness, in the small bare prefabricated church I attend at the end of my street, there was infinitely more beauty and unimaginable grace. In the vernacular new order Mass made by man for man, Christ still enters, charging our sacred space with such immediate power and awesome presence, that the holy card fantasy fails to compare in any way, shape or form. Such is the power of the Holy Mass where the Lord of all Creation becomes present, new or old, modern or traditional, Latin or vernacular, the distinctions are as nothing in the presence of the Holy One.

This was brought home to me today. I am very fond of the Catholic church which I attend in my village. It is a tattered pre fabricated building, constructed I think in the mid 1970's in the grounds of an old peoples home at the end of my street. The Mass is usually fairly well attended, by ordinary people, not the wealthy or the distinguished, many of them are poor. Sometimes the organ works well, other times it makes the weirdest of noises, but our skilled organist toughs it out every Sunday and makes the best job possible. The interior is sparse, but there are some hangings made by school kids and the place is always spotless. The Blessed Virgin always has fresh flowers. To be honest, I love the place though many wouldn't see that much to love in it. It will be a shame if they close it down, which is currently being considered by the Diosesce.

A strange thing happened today. I have never felt offended during Mass before and have always tried to keep an open mind with regard to the Priest's Homily. Putting aside my personal views and acknowledging that whatever a Priest may say during the Homily, he will go on to confect the Blessed Sacrament during the consecration, enabling us all to become joined to Our Lord via the Holy Communion and that our recieving of Our Lord is in itself the real lesson and benefit of attendance at the Holy Mass.

I won't go into details with regard to Father's Homily. All I will say is that I was left with the distinct feeling that maybe he really wanted to be a Methodist Preacher and that he didn't like Catholics very much and tried to make us feel a little guilty that we were, in fact, all Catholic. Crusades and papal states and ecclesiastical landowners were all dragged in and given a bit of a liberal bashing. Even the battleship 'The Immaculate Conception' was mentioned (you learn something new every Homily I guess). It was very quiet after the Homily, icily quiet. Not even the coughing and grunting that usually goes on. Silence. People were sitting a little stiffly, the way you do when you feel you may have just been offended but can't quite work out how or why. I felt that, had I been at that point, wavering in my Faith a little, or uncertain over the history of my Church, the congregation may have lost a member that day. I felt as if our congregation had been weakened a little, rather than strengthened by the Priests Homily and that seemed wrong. The irony was that the Gospel reading today was all about service. But I did not feel that our Church had been served. I began to chew over whether to write a letter of complaint, or send an email to the Parish Office etc. I even began to consider walking out of the Mass at that point and resolved to pray for guidance in the matter. Father started to announce the Bidding Prayer, his voice seemed strange, tight, far away and I'm sure I wasn't imagining this, his voice seemed to be becoming thinner, more inconsequential as if lost in the air and the emptiness of what had been said.

A lady came to the lectern to read the Bidding Prayers and then I had to smile. Whether in conscious response to Father's Homily or by the pure good grace of Our Lord she started, in a very loud and confident voice, in stark contrast to Fathers introductory words, to say the Prayer calling for the obedience of the clergy, asking God to help those Clergy who found servility to Holy Mother Church difficult. And then the Mass was back in full colour. In all its vividness and splendour. The Hail Mary was said, the internal logic and process of the Mass resumed, the rollercoaster ride that cannot be stopped, that washes everything clean in it's path, that levels all other parts of itself so that the congregants come away having been in the Real Presence of the Lord of All, His Precious Body, Blood Soul and Divinity. A Gift so awesome that all falls in its wake. The words of man rendered nothing more than dust and blown away in the wind.

I guess there are occasions where a Priest, for whatever personal reason, may wish to conduct a ceremony which fails to result in the Real Presence of Our Lord. But this ceremony is not a Holy Mass. All thoughts of complaint left me as I recieved communion from the Priest, thankful for this awesome gift which only he could give me at that particular place and that particular time. And God teaches us in situations like this that, despite ourselves and our sometimes less than perfect shepherds, it is He, not the Priest, who initiates and realizes His Own Presence in the Mass. No mere man could call down the God of All Creation, Lord of the Universe and make him Victim in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is all Gods Work, just as we are all His Creation.

In some strange way, the poor Homily and less than servile Priest gave me confidence. Confidence that through all our imperfections, our constant 'getting it wrong' the end result, by the Grace of Our Lord, can still be good, and right and proper if we cooperate with his Grace.

I thanked the Lord for another beautiful Mass and resolved to include Father in my prayers and also to pray that our beaten but wonderful Church stays open.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006


Infanti - Holy Card

Posted on the 7th Day of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

Today I picked up my daughter from town. She had been out with a friend and had a great time. They were really excited when I picked her up, laughing and giggling, being daft as only kids can be. They were both sharing one scarf and my daughter had bought a silly wand thing that made a noise if you pressed a button.

In the car on our way home she is quiet, she's really tired. "It's your birthday next month" I say, by way of conversation. "I don't like the number 13!" she says. "It's only a number" I say, "or do you just not feel like being a teenager." She looks at me. "I don't want to be a teenager" she says.

I was about to tell her how great it is growing up. How great it is to have your own freedom, to be able to make choices for yourself, do your own thing etc etc. But I didn't, because it isn't. My 12 year old daughter understands something fundamental about life that I only glimpse now and again, wrapped up as I am in my adult life. That there is a lot of pain in life, a great deal of suffering that only seems to increase as we get older. I was about to tell her how great it is to become 'your own person' etc. But I didn't. I don't want to lie to her. I don't want her to know about money worries, relationship problems, awareness of evil in the world. In our car on the way home she is still wrapped in that luxuriant blanket of childhood. Protected from a strange and incomprehensible world, full of people fighting and disagreeing over what amounts to dust and ashes. We glide through the early evening, U2 on the CD player and for her, here and now, all is right with the world. She is in the right place and by the Grace of God, in the Holy protectorate of the Family. I remembered my own childhood then, aching days full of freedom. The real true freedom of childhood, before we begin to sin and fall away. The awareness of God that every child has whether they really know it or not. The gift of time and absorption in the present moment. Like most kids I was in a hurry to grow up and start making some real big mistakes (which I am sad to say I did with monotonous regularity). But my daughter is wise, intuitive, revelling in her childhood years. I squeezed her hand and marvelled again at how much I love her.

We pull up to the house. It's warm and as usual full of the smell of overcooked food as my wife cooks and works on her PC which is in the kitchen at the same time. My daughter dives straight for the laptop so she can chat to the friend she has just been out with. My wife walks out of the kitchen with a mushroom burger and sits on the sofa to eat it. I have to go straight out again for some reson, so we say 'hi' then 'bye' and make some good natured small talk. God filled moments.

I get back in the car and drive away and for some reason there are tears streaming down my cheeks.

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Jesus Curses the Fig Tree - Mediaeval

Posted on the 5th Day of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

Jesus cursing the fig tree scares me more than almost any other story in Scripture, Old and New Testament. Commentaries on this event, point to the state of Israel at that time, that it was all show (outward virtue) while bearing no real fruit for humanity. Of course this is part of why Our Lord became incarnate, to bring all nations to himself. However, I think this story has implications for everyone on an individual level also.

The excuse the fig tree had is that it was out of season. It wasn't the right time of year for figs. Our Lord cursed it anyway. As humans with free will, we don't have the same luxury as the fig tree. All seasons are the right season, all times are the right time. It is part of what we are as the Children of God that we transcend time, place, season. When Our Lord comes to us to ask, we must freely give and have something to give. The fruit must be on the branch, ripe and ready to be plucked. Otherwise we are cut down and cast away, cursed.

The difficulty I always have with this in my own life is that I am never sure what fruit the Lord wants me to bear. What does He mean by 'bear fruit'? Have children? Give alms? These things are within my 'comfort zone' and as such are easy for me to do. But what I know and what my conscience nags at me about, is that it isn't enough, by a long way. I make excuses. I work very long hours, my family life is chaotic and demanding, I have a lot of responsibilities and obligations just to keep things ticking over. What I am really saying through all of this though, is that it's not the right season (for me to do the other things I should be doing to help build up the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth). Am I failing to bear fruit? Jesus gave us an example in that he reserved nothing for himself or his family. He gave himself away wholly and absolutley on the Cross in order to save mankind. An act of pure Love and Charity. This is what he expects from us. The kind of fruit we are supposed to bear through our Poverty and Charity. Every act in our lives should have this as its guiding force. It is what we are here for, this building up of the Kingdom of God. In my own life I know I very badly need to venture out from my 'comfort zone', and find real ways in which I can help build up this Kingdom. Otherwise what am I? Just a passenger, a tourist, here to see what life might bring me? This is most decidedly not the purpose of life, just to experience it. We are the Children of God and as such we have the God given duty to strengthen his Kingdom on Earth, to do what our brothers and sisters need when they come to us naked, starving, incarcerated and dying (suffering). In order to do this, by very definition we have to step outside of the 'comfort zone' and in doing this we donate more than the easy tithe, the church collection, the love we have for our children or our neighbour, we donate our very suffering. In order to really help, we must by definition suffer to make that help effective. In doing this we not only give what might be needed, but we also give the example of our own lives for others to follow, therby strengthening the future too.

Like the fig tree suffering will come to us if we fail to bear fruit. But the suffering we experience through the fruits we do bear is that, our fruit is taken away from us and used by the Lord of the Vinyard for His Own Purpose to best build and strengthen his Kingdom here on Earth. We may see the results of those fruits, we may very well not and neither should we expect to, nor become attatched to those outcomes. What is clear is that, in the Vinyard, the dead trees are always and forever, cut down and cast into fire.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006


St Michael, Archangel

Posted on the 5th Day of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Carl Heinrich Bloch - Christ Teaching at the Temple

Posted on the 4th Day of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

Today God taught me something. Every other lunchtime during the week I attend a small chapel in the local shopping mall. I am extremely lucky in that daily Eucharistic Adoration takes place here and I am privilidged that every day, if I choose, I am able to pray the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament. Today I entered the small chapel as usual, there was another 'regular' in there already, one of the official 'Adorers' who maintain the vigil while the exposition takes place.

I began to pray the Rosary as usual, today it was the Glorious Mysteries. It's funny how we seem to have preferences in these things. I have always thought I preferred both the Joyful and the Sorrowful Mysteries, however, today I felt was beginning to appreciate the Glorious Mysteries more than ever before. It was time for God to give me a kick.

A lady entered the chapel, she was a stranger, nervous in this quiet, small, almost intimate setting. She approached me and very politely asked if I knew how how the mechanical candle dispenser worked. Having never used the machine before (I have to admit that the electric candles just somehow seem 'wrong' to me), I said something to the effect that I wasn't sure how it worked and then I turned to the 'regular' sitting behind me, interrupted his prayer and asked if he knew (knowing for sure that he did and that he would help the lady).

Now, the regular 'Adorer' who was on vigil at this particular time has a disability. He prays the Rosary with both feet because, either through accident or birth, he has no arms. Because of this obvious disability he takes a while to get settled and comfortable with a Rosary, or Scriptural and prayer texts that he may happen to be reading. At my request he dropped all this, got up and showed the lady how the candle machine worked, balancing on one leg and using his feet to show her the buttons and the coin slot.

I am my brothers keeper. He comes to me (in the form of my brother or sister) and I must clothe and feed him. I was shocked with what my immediate response had been to a simple request for help of a very straightforward kind. My immediate, unthinking and almost automatic response was to divert that request away from myself. Even when aware that my brother, to whom I diverted my request, was disabled, was also in prayer as I was myself. Something in me wrongly felt that the responsibility was more his than mine. That my new and fine appreciation of the Glorious Mysteries somehow took precedence over an innocent request for simple assistance. God showed me here, very directly, that beautiful and mysterious though the Rosary is, and it is a most beautiful thing, what he really wants from us is that living prayer, the unthinking automatic charitable response to our neighbour, our brother or sister, and ultimatley, through them we are giving that response to Our Lord as Christ is present in our neighbour. Though He came to me in person, I was too intent on a beautiful idea of him to see the real image of Christ who was presented to me in the chapel, needing a gentle and simple helping hand.

Immediatley after I had turned to my fellow congregant to ask for his help I felt guilty and appalled with myself. It was as if God had taken a picture of my real self, given me a kick and shown it to me. A side of myself I don't very often become aware of or acknowledge. A lack of humility, an impatient deflective response to strangers rather than that open, welcoming charity which Our Lord expects from us. All of this in the very presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

I think that the safest way to deal with situations like these from now on is to assume that, if someone asks me for help, then God actually wants me to deal with this request myself, out of Love and Charity, out of poverty of Spirit. He comes to us in the form of our neighbours, in the forms of strangers, it is our duty to welcome all, to be prepared to lay down our lives unthinking rather than be caught off guard in attatchment to our own unimportant needs.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hail Mary

Ave Maria

Posted on the 3rd Day of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

"Whenever I say Hail Mary The court of heaven rejoices and the earth is lost in wonderment. And I despise the world, and my heart is brim-full of the love of God. All my fears wilt and die and my passions are quelled. Devotion grows within me and sorrow for sin awakens. Hope is made strong in my breast and the dew of consolation falls on my soul. More and more. And my spirit rejoices, and sorrow fades away.."
From: "The Secret of the Rosary" by St. Louis De Montfort

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Sunday, October 15, 2006


Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowing Madonna), 1470-1475 - Dieric Bouts

Posted on the 2nd Day of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

My eldest daughter is a smiler. Well both of my daughters are really, but particularly my eldest. I remember when she was little (she's teenage now), she would always smile and laugh, even when getting told off, engaging with others is a happy thing for her, her joy. She gets a hard time at school, she is extremely bright and attractive and popular, other kids get jealous and try to hurt her. Her naivite is wearing off a little but not her beautiful, loveable gullability, she says "I'm a cynic now!" and I reply "Really." Smiling inwardly because she is the least cynical person I know. In the infinite Grace of God I share my life with her without really deserving it, a bright light, loving life, shining on me. I treasure every moment, knowing it won't be forever.

A friend of hers (a boy) had spent the day at our house and as we took him home in the evening she engaged with him in the car, smiling, joyful, making a big effort for a little return, making him feel at ease and included. They said goodnight and then she sat silently in the back as I pulled away. As well as being a Smiler, my daughter is a Talker. A non stop, incessant chatterer. But tonight she was quiet. "He was nasty to me", she said; "I'm sick of people being nasty to me for no reason". I consoled her a little bit but didn't ask too many questions, she gets mad at me if I probe too much, I can sense the very rare occasions she needs to be left to herself.

We slowed down for traffic lights after a few minutes, I turned to look at her, my larger than life daughter was hunched and small in the back seat, her lips pressed tightly together, her eyes not focussed, not aware of me watching her, her face, long and aged with sorrow, a slight frown on her forehead. "You Ok?" I ask. "Mm." she replies good naturedly. She is far away, cradling an emotion she is not sure of as if it was an unfamiliar animal. Not hurt, or anger, or even disappointment. Just sorrow. I turned back to the road and something caught my eye, high up, a light on in an attic room in a house that we were passing, a girl standing there, putting something in a sink, maybe an empty cup. I remembered when I was young, as a student I was shown into an impossibly small attic room I was thinking of renting. I felt that strange emotion back then, possibly for the first time, alone, not knowing where I was going to live, with no conception or even the slightest understanding of the Graces which are freely offered to us all. Just myself and an aching, empty feeling which didn't last too long.

After a while she asked me to switch the radio on, we laughed and joked over something inane and nonsensical, planned to buy a chinese takeaway and watch a film on TV. Moments so on fire and alive with Grace and consolation that I wonder how Our Lord deems that I deserve any of it. And Sunday night slips by us in the ordinary sounds of road noise, radio chatter, darkness outside, familiar streets, the ordinary emptiness of the end of the weekend.

We watch 'Munich' and eat our chinese takeaway. The film is like a badly acted reality show with a sinister undertone. Retribution, revenge, pettiness..My daughter watches men running around, frantic with hatred, killing one another, not really grasping it, not really wanting to. She promptly falls asleep. I switch off 'Munich', crossing Spielberg off my Christmas card list, for letting my Smiler of a daughter down, because she wanted to share something and be challenged as an adult, not just horrified and disgusted.

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Holy Spirit -( Stained Glass)

Posted on the 1st Day of the 28th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - (Year B)

Faith is the mechanism by which we are saved. Because we are creatures, created, we cannot know anything in fullness in this created world. Like the table cannot really know the carpenter. Yet we are impregnated with the Word. Through revelation and Scripture we are given the path to follow. It is the only path, none other is marked out for us. And everywhere we look in Scripture it points to the same place. There is never any contradiction, any confusion, the signposts are there and we have to follow, or be left behind. Faith is what God has given us to bind us to the path. Faith is not equivalent to belief. It is the divine binding to the path of freedom. It is given to us by Scripture and revelation. It is a free gift like God's Grace, and like His Grace it must be freely accepted. In darkness and confusion and with no other light to guide us, Faith will save. In the last moments when all certainty falls away, when our very physical life is taken, it will be absolutely all that remains: "Eloi, Eloi, lamma sabachthani?" In that final moment there is only Faith and it is the very mechanism which saves us, allowing us to make that leap across the void. The Word of God triggers and sustains that faith in us. We are receptacles of the Word. It is as if our physical bodies and minds were designed specifically and primarily to recieve it, all other activities being secondary. Ears which hear, eyes which see, intellect which can comprehend, language to transmit it. It is our function and purpose to recieve and act upon the Word of God. It is the seed in the mind and the invisible saving cloak of the body. The path to freedom.

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The Morning of the Resurrection
Burne-Jones, Sir Edward Coley

Posted on the 7th Day of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - Year B

Christianity is a religion of Freedom. There is no bondage in our Faith. The ultimate freedom is promised, freedom from death. Death is portrayed as the binding of the person through sin. Lazarus was freed by Jesus, signified by the removal of his bindings. Sin is the word for that bondage. Paralysis and death are its fruit, as it binds us to things which cannot nourish us. We become fused to the dead things we place in our hearts until we become more them than ourselves. Christ seeks to free us from that which binds us. He seeks to enter the heart of man so that the whole person is nourished and freed. He even offers himself on the altar to us every day. Death itself is not freedom, rather it is as we are unbound from death and flee in total freedom from it, that there is no turning back. We must flee in our hearts from that which binds us and fails to nourish us. The wellspring of Grace is the source of that ultimate freedom. Jesus Christ Our Lord, its source. It flows eternally and in abundance, freely offered, requiring only acceptance by man, instead of rejection.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006


La Charité
by William Adolph Bouguereau

Posted on the 6th Day of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - Year B

I happened to be watching CSI last night (the Las Vegas variety). The victim was a faked suicide, a young seemingly single parent lying with a fatal bullet wound to the head in front of her infant who was in his cot. The camera pans around the victims living room, there is a Crucifix prominently hanging on the wall by the door. It goes down hill from there.

I have always enjoyed CSI. I find they generally deal with sensitive issues in a clever, intelligent and non sensational, non gratuitous way. Except, it seems, Christianity and pro life issues. I have to say I switched the channel before the episode finished as I felt angry and disappointed at the way the beliefs which I hold, were openly and unapologetically derided. I regret this now, maybe the story redeemed itself by the end, it didn't look like it was going to, but I won't know unless I see a repeat.

The victim at one point was referred to as 'Virgin Mary'. The story portrayed the victim as a virgin who had given birth. A throw away reference was then made to the fact that this was entirely possible, and that intercourse doesn't have to actually take place if foreplay of a certain nature occurs. I won't go into detail. The connection was made there, intentionally. The term 'Virgin Mary' was used and linked to an undermining description of an event which was supposed to refute the idea of the miraculous impregnation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. Everyone smiled wryly and sighed. The wry, knowing smile being used over and over again by Willows (one of the main characters), in her encounters with a pro life activisit who (the story goes on to tell us) used our hapless Christian victim as in incubator for the 'left over' embryos from fertiliasation treatment.

Ok - assault and undermine the pro-life movement who I support. Ok - attack one of the very foundations of my Faith in a casual and wry fashion as if it is your (God) given right. No problem, I'll survive. But link the two together and assault them both? This makes it a clever, insidious and directed attack - a 'clever' attack designed to appeal to 'clever' people. Willows hackles rose so extremely as she interviewed the pro life activist, it was as if the pro life movement, to her character (and the writers of the show) represented a greater evil than the death of the victim she was supposedly investigating.

It's tiring to ask why we allow this. Why we don't respond. Why we allow these attacks on our Faith, from every corner, to continue unabated. We live in an information soaked age - the volume and scale of the information we are bombarded with on a daily basis constitues a shock and awe attack on the human psyche. As always the Church and the true Faith are under attack, as a whole and on an individual level with each of its members equally a battle ground between truth, life and light on the one hand and lies, death and darkness on the other.

Always keep both eyes wide open.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006


The Expulsion from Eden, 17th century
Artist unknown

Posted on the 5th Day of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - Year B

I have often wondered recently why I don't easily find peace of mind. I hear of peace in Christ, but don't, very often, experience this peace myself, except in prayer or during Mass, or when praying the Rosary. It came to me today however, that peace of mind stems from the assurance that we are not offending God. In our words, deeds, actions or thoughts. For various reasons I feel I offend Our Lord in my daily life. For example, when I lose my temper with others (often), when I show impatience (often), when I criticize others (sometimes), when I am obstructive or demanding of respect at work (occasionally), when I drive dangerously, when I indulge a desire or spend money which benefits no one except an impulse, when I get angry with my kids (not too often) or when I let something go with them which I should deal with. All of these things detract from my dignity as a Catholic Christian. They prevent me from realizing the nature we have been handed, as new Creatures, by Our Lord's sacrifice on the Cross. We became a new people, were handed a new and priestly nature and we must live up to it. The impulses which lead to the faults I mentioned above, are symptoms of our attatchment to our basest self. We have to overcome this self to be clothed in the nature God intended for us, and paid for with His Precious Blood. We never have the right to the anger we feel, especially not toward a loved one, the indignity we believe we suffer does not belong to us. Our feelings, desires, emotional disturbances are dust, they mean and are nothing. The restlessness in my soul is because I sometimes avoid the fullness of God's Grace. The palpable living spring which is freely offered, endlessly, and which I only have be open to and predisposed to recieve. But the cares of the world, a tragedy, a poison apple cleverly offered and freely taken, they constrict my openness to His Grace. And I fall away, little by little, without realising, without knowing that I'm not caring. And the world, in its infinite variety and brightness, rushes in to fill the void, and sin compounds tragedy and life becomes death. But through all of this the lifeline of my conscience. Like a compass needle it guides me through the black ocean where the star of God's Grace seems far away and hopelessly out of reach. But before I know it, He has rushed out to meet me half way and help me home again.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Rahab Hides the Spies - Frederick Richard Pickersgill

Posted on the 4th Day of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - Year B

Joshua sent two spies secretly from Shittim with the following order "Go and look over the land well, especially the city of Jericho." The spies went and as soon as they came to Jericho, they went to the house of the prostitute named Rahab. But someone told the king of Jericho: "Some Israelites have entered here tonight to spy on us." So the king of Jericho sent word to Rahab: "Send those men out of your house because they came to spy on the land" But the woman had hidden them, so she said: "It is true; they came to my house but I did not know where they came from. And at nightfall, shortly before the city gates were to be closed, they went out. I do not know where they went, but hurry and you will surely overtake them. The woman had hidden them on the roof of the house, under the stalks of flax which she kept there. The pursuers went to search for them by the road leading to the valley of the Jordan, and as they went out, the city gates were closed.

Then the woman went up to where she had hidden the spies of Joshua, and she said to them: "I know that Yahweh, your God, has given this land to you; we are frightened and the inhabitants of the land tremble before you. We know how Yahweh dried up the waters of the Red Sea to let you cross when you came out of Egypt. We know what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who lived at the other side of the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you destroyed by anathema.
The news has frightened us, and everyone has lost courage because of you, for Yahweh, your God, is a God in heaven above as he is on earth below. Now then, swear to me by Yahweh that just as I have been faithful to you, so shall you be towards my family, and respect the life of my father, mother, brothers and sisters, and all that belong to them."

The men answered: "Provided that you do not reveal our talk, then we will pay back life for life when Yahweh hands over to us this land, and we will deal generously and faithfully with you."

Then she let them down by a rope through the window, since her house was built into the city wall. But she said to them: "Go through the mountains so that you do not meet those who pursue you. Remain in hiding for three days, until they return, and then you may go your way."

They answered: "See how we shall fulfill our oath. When we enter this land, tie this scarlet cord as a sign on the window through which we have escaped. Bring into your house your father, mother, brothers and sisters, and all your relatives. If any of them leaves the house, he shall be the one responsible for his death, and the guilt will not be ours. But if anyone who is with you is killed, then may the punishment for his death come upon us. However, be careful not to reveal our plan. If you do, then we are freed from the oath we have sworn." Rahab said to them: "So be it." And after she had sent them off, she tied a scarlet cord to the window.

The men went into the mountains and hid there for three days, until their pursuers had returned. These men had searched in vain for them everywhere. Then the two spies came down again from the mountains and, crossing the Jordan River, came to Joshua, son of Nun, and gave him an account of their mission and everything that had happened. They said to Joshua: "Yahweh has given all this land into our hands; their inhabitants already tremble before us."

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Incarnation Window - Chartres Cathedral

Posted on the 3rd Day of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - Year B

I heard someone on EWTN tonight say that as Catholics we believe that everything is Incarnational. That everything has come into being as a result of God's will. Is sustained alone and wholly by the will of God, is a Creation and Creature of God. How precious is our Incarnation, that God could choose it to cease at any moment but does not, that the very balance of our life is an act of God's will, a pure act of love sustaining us all in existence from moment to moment, without ceasing, for all eternity. Our Incarnation means we are wholly dependent on that same God for our very lives, each second, every day, whether we are good or bad, believer or non believer. Despite ourselves He keeps us all present in our lives. If God left the universe our lives would end, the reality we are clothed with as the fabric of our beings would simply cease to be. God is Love. In our Incarnation we are each and every one of us sustained in detail as we are. Our God is a personal God who knows each of us wholly. Every hair on our head is known and numbered, every minute facet of our being, every thought, fear, hope, anguish, joy is recognised. We are created, known and loved in every detail and tiny facet of our lives. Sustained and given freedom like the children that we are. Our Lord shared our Incarnation, the infinitley small details of living in the physical world, the never ending stream of activity and complexity, the fire of the world consuming us every moment and like the burning bush we are sustained and never ever left alone.

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Monday, October 09, 2006


Ship of Fools - Bosch

Posted on the 2nd Day of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - Year B

I drive to work every day, and often other drivers get in my way. I feel angry with them and sometimes shout and curse, on my own, in the car. I get impatient. In the tired early morning with two kids on the school run. One a teenager, one soon to be. Two kids who I love more than my life, who I would die for without any hesitation. Who are my life, my all and everything. Yet I am impatient with my daughter when she doesn't smile at me as she gets in the car. I get irritated with her because she was fretting over her fringe not being cut straight yesterday. I let myself be offended by her little temper, over herself, her appearance. My gentle loving daughter, whom I adore, who I know loves me too. We fight a little. But we are quick to make up because we mean so much to each other. My youngest daughter. She is tired and trying to do something with her MySpace page, change the background I think. She tries it again and shows me, it doesn't work and she runs off shouting. I shout after her not to be so silly and impatient. But she is only tired and my raised voice only upsets her more. And I want to help her and fix her page for her. Because I love her more than anything I have ever known or seen or can imagine. But I am still capable of being angry with her. Why is this? How can we be so damaged? When there is a love that is so great it hurts, we are still capable of hurting what we love. It is a sickness. Concupisence. A predisposition to sin. This is why we cannot be left alone, to our own devices, without the rules of our Faith, without the love and guidance of our Father, our Blessed Mother, Our Lord. There is no area of human life which does not fall terribly and tragically into conflict. Forgetting we are Brother and Sister, that we must be Last, laying down our very essence for our comapnions. Without our Faith and because of our fallen nature, we would tear ourselves and each other to pieces, because of the great sickness in our hearts. Our redemption is in our being grafted onto the True Vine, bonded to Him, never allowing anything to seperate us.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006


The Marriage at Cana - c. 1495/1497

Posted on the 1st Day of the 27th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - Year B

Poverty is a maligned and misunterstood word. It's used like the word 'disease' is used, to describe something bad. Yet poverty is addictive. When you finally can get clear of the mist, the fog in the eyes and mind. When you can get clear of wanting and needing, even the essentials, you begin to understand what poverty can mean. When you decide to give everything away, what do you need to keep? When you can make the mental leap without fear. To give everything away, to give yourself away and to keep giving even when there is nothing left, because there is never nothing left. Our Lord refills you, continuously, always and forever, at the wedding feast of your giving. Where you are at once the bride that is given away, the father who loses and the groom who gains. There is always and everywhere, abundance. Even when men try to stifle and destroy it - the giving away of oneself cannot be stopped, the marriage feast of our giving is an eternal celebration, to which all are welcome and must be invited. Know this about yourself, this giving away is something all of us can do, and have to do at the very end. Here is an example: I work in a very secular job. I work with many people I don't quite gel with, people who often may see me as an obstacle - or to put it plainly, people who I find difficult to be around and who, I am guessing, don't like much being around me either. However, what makes this ok sometimes is that I love them. I find them hard and difficult and stress inducing. But in my poverty - the poverty I try to realize, very imperfectly in myself, I love them. I would die for them. All of them.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Friday Mass

Allelulia by Thomas Cooper Gotch

Posted on the 7th Day of the 26th Week of Ordinary Time - 2006 AD - Year B

The setting is a County Durham Roman Catholic church in the UK, built circa 1975. It's a squarish building that looks more like a temporary storage facility. It has an impossibly long ramp up to the main door to the church, this is so that a multi purpose public area could be housed underneath. I think on Fridays it's used as the local Catholic youth club.

There are a few cars parked on the rough tarmac parking area, which is larger than the church itself. I entered the church through the 'youth club' area beneath, taking the stairs up to the main area. I hold the door for an elderly couple who seem suprised I've just appeared behind them. The man says to his wife, "Don't get excited now", I smile at them and try to look courteous and non threatening (not easy in my case). The stairs have a stairlift and I can hear a faint discussion suggestive of the fact that it's non functional.

I walk down the central isle and gesticulate, kneeling breifly before taking a position on an entirely empty pew on the right hand side of the altar, two thirds of the way back. This always seems to be my habitual spot, whenever there's a free choice. There are about three or four people already kneeling or seated, it's about 7 or 8 minutes before the Holy Mass is due to begin.

A strange thing happens then. I sense and can see out of the corner of my eye, a small group, maybe three or four people clogged up in the central isle. A woman is talking fairly loudly. At first I think she is saying 'It's good', possibly as part of a conversation, the rest of which is too quiet to hear. Like conversations you can half overhear when one of the parties is hard of hearing, you hear their loud answers to quieter questions. Then I realise the woman is thinking out loud, not talking as part of a conversation, what she is saying is: 'It's God' and then, 'It's God here' in a matter of fact voice. As she says this I can hear loud shaking or rustling coming to a crescendo. I think it's the plastic bag she is carrying but I can't be sure as I don't turn round to look, the shaking sound gets more violent and louder as if she can't contain something, 'It's God..' matter of fact. People stand concerned for a moment, I think to keep an eye on her and make sure she is ok, then they drift off to the pews. She walks past me normally, an old lady, unconcerned, round shouldered, wearing a heavy coat, carrying a plastic bag, seemingly alone. What is God teaching us through her?

The Priest enters. I notice 2 crucifix shadows on the cieling above the altar but can't work out how they're being cast. Not one but 3 Priests enter. We say 'Good Evening Father' he introduces his colleagues and explains why they're there, I forget now. A nervous lady reads from the book of Jobe and the words just clear away the fog and nonsense in me. Like Jobe, I wasn't there either, when the foundations of the world were laid, like Jobe, I know nothing, understand nothing, am a creature and creation and miracle of God, made from nothing and returning to nothing, and the small group I am sharing this with, the elderly, the sick, the ordinary, the poor the beautiful, we struggle to make sense, to love and understand, to be worthy of ourselves and to our Lord and our brothers and sisters, to be the Children of God that we are. Servants of the Sick and Poor, who are our most high masters.

And there's the noise, the coughing and grunting, creaking and too loud traffic sounds, and kids shouting harshly outside, and the wind tearing around outside like it does in October. There's responses shouted, grunted, whispered, oddly intoned, in broken and nervous and resplendent voices. But then the great hush and the Great Secret that every Catholic comes to Mass for. When the host is consecrated and God Himself enters the church, the silence when everything in the world stops because Our Lord and Creator of the Universe, sick with His love for us, consumed and burning in His desire to be one with us, accepts our humble beaten gifts, our sad and sorrowful offerings, and in His love and sorrow He possesses the Host, becomes the Victim in the eternal sacrifice and offers himself to us in an act of infinite abandon, a giving away that cannot be stopped and cannot cease, in Love, Humility and Sorrow as the river of tears that we are accepts this free and ultimate Gift which transcends all and everything. And the church is no longer the church but the seat of Heaven, the House of the Lord God Almighty, where he dwells among us. The Lady with the plastic bag, no longer an elderly, infirm dependent, but a temple of our Creator, Lord of the Universe, infinite in her dignity as she recieves the Host, begins shaking a little and is helped toward the precious Blood by a companion. Into her God is recieved and dwells, his real Flesh and Blood, His whole Self, Body, Blood Soul and Divinity.

Like Jobe, I know nothing, understand nothing, was not there when foundations were laid. Just wonder and gratitude and awe on this good Friday in October.

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