Weaving the Word – 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time A

Mainly just the ‘Reflection Points’ this week as I’m still pondering why commenting in any way on this passage makes me so uncomfortable when I haven’t killed nor lusted after anyone!
Perhaps it’s because I know it’s a case of there but for the grace of God?

Reflection Points
It might seem that the Commandments are out of touch with our world, a bit old fashioned or unrealistic.
How does this Gospel leave you feeling?
What is the reality of the Commandments in your life?
When does your ‘yes mean yes and your no mean no’?

Children
‘And you have heard it said’ –
What are the things your parents or teachers tell you over and over again?                 
Why do you think that is?
(Clue: it might not be about listening)

Family
Jesus unpacks the Commandments in today’s Gospel. How might this help you keep them?
As a family which one might you chose to work on?

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ,
These Commandments, really?
They seem impossible: never get angry; shield our eyes from each other;  stand by our word, our yes meaning yes and no meaning no!
Help us to move beyond the letter on the law, so that we might see where the breaking of Your Commandments hurt others.
Fill us with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to seek Your loving forgiveness and the strength to keep Your Commandments.
Amen

Weaving the Word – 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Yr A

Hearing the same story from different writers is always illuminating as we can see from this week’s account from John’s Gospel of the baptism of Jesus.

(try as I might I have been unable to source this picture. If you are the artist or know who the artist is please message me and I will reference them.)

Even after reading, praying and rereading this account in preparation for the entry to the parish newsletter, I was still taken aback by the first two words proclaimed by our priest:

‘Seeing Jesus…’ my concentration lost and my mind quickly jumping from thought to thought, I tried to bring myself back to the present and catch up with the words of the Gospel.

‘I did not know Him…’ whoa, what? My mind took off again – but you saw Him, He is your cousin, you leapt in the womb at the Visitation, you know He is greater than you, that He will baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire. You claim you are not worthy to carry His sandals and yet you do not know Him?

Throughout the rest of Mass these two phrases began to merge together in a way that they had not previously, despite all my working with the text during the week.

How often do I see Jesus in my day? He is there of course in every encounter, every person, every tweeter and face book poster. Yet how easy it is to forget, to my shame it is often not His presence that influences the way I respond to others.

It is easier for me to recognise Jesus in the homeless man that sits outside my local supermarket or those I say hello to on my walk to the station. It is easier to see Jesus in the charity appeals for the poor, the refugee, the sick and the prisoner.

But in all honesty, it is more difficult to remember to see Jesus in those who I know and know well and although I have no idea why it might have something to do with familiarity and sameness. Most of us are friends with those who hold similar values and ideas as ourselves. The Jesus I once saw in them has become comfortable and no longer challenges me to go deeper. Might it be that for me familiarity really has bred contempt?

John the Baptist saw Jesus but also declared ‘I do not know Him’. The more I ponder these words, the more I realise the truth of them. I too see Jesus yet do I know him? Of course one can never fully know the second person of the Trinity, the son of God fully human and fully Divine while on earth. But that must not prevent me from getting to know Him and recognise Him as our personal Lord and Saviour. He calls us into relationship, and we all know that no nourishing relationship is static.

The more I believe I know Jesus, the less I realise I know Him, and that, of course, is the reality of Mystery.

I want to rekindle my desire for the Lord, to want to know Him more. And for that I need to sharpen my focus to better see Jesus, to spend time with Scripture to better know Jesus, and pray (as I can not as I can’t) to better deepen my relationship with Jesus.

 Namaste

Reflection Points

Twice we hear John the Baptist say ‘I did not know Him …’
Where are you surprised by what you know and do not know about Jesus?
How does this enable you to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ?
Where are you aware of the presence of the Spirit at work in your life this week?


For Children
What do you know about your friends?
How do you get to know them?
Do you ever think of Jesus as your friend?
How can you get to know Him better this week?


For Families
Today is Peace Sunday. Find out about
Pax Christi and see if there is any way you can become
involved in their work http://paxchristi.org.uk


Pax Christi’s Prayer for Peace Sunday
Loving God of peace,
Strengthen my determination to work
for a world of peace and justice;
My conviction that, whatever our
nationality or race, we are all global
citizens, one in Christ;
My courage to challenge the powerful
with the values of the gospel;
My commitment to find nonviolent
ways of resolving conflict—personal,
local, national and international;
My efforts to forgive injuries and to
love those I find it hard to love.
Amen.

 

 

Living the Word this week: 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sometimes, even with the best will in the world, it can be difficult to recall the Gospel from Sunday.
But if we can’t remember it it can not feed us, and nourishment is exactly what the Good News is to be for us.
Here are some reflective questions to enable you to chew over the message held in the Gospel.
After all we need the Gospel to sustain us daily not just on Sunday, for the Good News and Eucharist are both food for the journey.
Where does your life give praise to the Lord of heaven and earth?
What burdens are you able to surrender to the Lord?
What does it mean for you to accept the Lord’s yoke, even if it is easy and light?
Children
The Gospel tells us that it is to you that the Father reveals things.
What has God shown to you?
What would you ask Jesus to teach you?
Families
What can you learn about the Kingdom from your children?
The holidays are almost here. How can you find time to answer the invitation to Come to the Lord and rest together to refresh your faith?
Prayer
Dear Lord,
no one can carry two yokes.
To take up Your’s we must put our own yoke down:
a yoke that is heavy, burdensome, that restrains us and keeps us slaves.
And that needs us to come to You with a childlike trust.
Then it is possible to put down our burdens, surrender ourselves to You, knowing You only want our best.
Harnessing our will to Yours may we learn from You how to live as You intend.
Amen.
Image result for yoke
Have a sated and blessed week.

Living the Word in the 12th Week of Ordinary Time

Living the Word this week…
In the light of recent events how do you respond to Jesus’ words?

What are you being invited to speak in the light and proclaim from the housetops?

How will you acknowledge Christ to those you encounter?

Children
How does it feel to know that God knows you so well that He knows every hair on your head?
Related image
You are special to God like no one else. How does this help you to love yourself?
How might you talk to your friends about Jesus?
Family
We all have secrets, skeletons in the cupboard, what drives that secrecy?
Can you bring them before the Lord responding to the invitation to ‘Fear no one’?
How might you rejoice in how much you are loved and known by the Lord?
Prayer inspired by Psalm 130 adapted from Christian Aid.

Out of the depths we cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear our voices!
Above the sound of terror and the weeping of those bereaved,
hear our earnest prayers!
We look on in horror at children killed, homes and schools hit,
smoking rubble.

We listen in fear to voices speaking defiance,
vowing revenge, claiming violence as a solution.
We mourn with
all who have lost loved ones,
all who have everything,
all who will lie down in fear this night.

We wait for the Lord, our souls wait,
and only in the Prince of Peace can we hope;
our souls wait for the Lord,
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch in fear for what destruction the morning’s light will show.

May the horrors of these days give fresh determination to the peacemakers.
And may we see conflict here no more. Amen

Image result for grenfell tower

4th week of Easter Living the Word

Thoughts for the week ahead… 

Where do you hear the voice of the Risen Lord speak to you this week?

How does knowing you already have eternal life impact on your behaviour this week?

Where is the Greatness of the Father evident in your life this week?

 

For Children

Take time to listen to Jesus’ voice this week.

Look out for the Greatness of the Father this week.

 

For Families

Jesus says that the sheep hear his voice and they follow Him.

How well do we hear Jesus in our day?

Choose one meal this week where you will talk about how you heard Jesus.

Maybe think about how you listen to one another: could you improve the listening?

Make the Sign of Peace at the end of your meal.

What do you think your family vocation might be?

 

Prayer (from Creighton Online Ministries)

Loving Shepherd, You love me and watch over me always, in my joys and in my pain. Help me not to be deceived by the world around me. Thank you for the great gift of your love and protection and for my faith in you, which shapes my life.

May my heart be open to an awareness of your great love and may we carry that love to those we pass each day who need it the most.   Amen.

Advent: a time of joyful waiting and Holy longing.

A year on, but the truth remains…

Advent: a time of joyful waiting, of Holy longing.

So far, this season of Advent has brought into sharp focus those for whom the waiting is not joyful…

…for those waiting for the bombs to drop

…for those waiting to fly over combat zones

…for those waiting for asylum

…for those waiting for a border to open

…for those waiting for their next fix

…for those waiting for to be evicted

…for those waiting to be made redundant

…for those waiting to die

…for those waiting to hear from an estranged child

…for those waiting for a spouse to come home

…for those waiting, waiting.

Or for the longing that seems far from Holy…

…for those longing for someone to love

…for those longing to be loved

…for those longing for a lover’s touch

…for those longing to be a priority

…for those longing for the grief to pass

…for those longing with such longing.

Advent is full of waiting and longing. And it’s the longing that I find painful, I always find Hope such a cruel virtue.

Whatever we are waiting for (and it doesn’t matter if it is good or bad), hope leaves the door open ajar when sometimes it would be easier if it slammed shut. Never to be opened again.

But hope springs eternal, and particularly in Advent.

For in Advent we await the coming of the only One that can make sense of it all…

…The One who calls us to rest when the waiting wearies us

…The One who invites us to lean on when hope seems impossible

…The One who makes all longing Holy

…The One for whom we all long, all the days of our lives.

…The One who loves us.

But we’re not there yet. And I know there is always hope, it’s just sometimes hard to find it joyful. And as for the longing!

Even when we have seen the light, heard the ancient promise and claimed it as our own.

O God, come to our aid,

O Lord make haste to help us.

Christ the King

Surprisingly I love this Feast! It is surprising because I am a feminist and in no way a Royalist. It also goes against my Irish roots and my liberal tendencies.

But perhaps it is because of the line that ‘My Kingdom is not of this world’ that I can so easily buy into the image.

Christ as King is so counter to the world’s idea of Royalty that the sense of other, the rule breaker, the questioner, inside of me can rejoice.

I also have a deep seated need to belong, to be known, to be loved in my entirety, which it is not something to be shouted from the rooftops in today’s society: a society that prides itself on privacy and independence, and values individuality most highly.  This was brought in to sharp relief this week at work.

Over the last week my work has enabled me to connect with just under 90 families as the Sacramental preparation programmes all begin.

For many of these families an extra ‘activity'(which is often how catechesis is viewed) causes a dilemma: what to give up, how to make room in an already overcrowded schedule. Our families buy into the ‘having it all’ ideology. The parents’ want their children to ‘belong’ to all forms of clubs and groups. They gladly pay into the demands and constraints that this brings in belief that these activities will enable their children to be all they can be. Yet the preparation for the Sacraments of Communion and Confirmation, which lead to full initiation into being part of the family of God, do not hold the same weight in decision making. Many of these parents implicitly question the need for catechesis…why so many sessions? Do we have to go to all of them? How many can we miss? My child can’t do that evening, can you move the sessions?

The understanding that of all the activities we could sign our children up for, nothing is more essential than Catechesis is lost. Catechesis reminds us that it is through Christ that we become the fullness of who we are called to be. That we are nothing if we do not depend on the Lord, on the God who created us. We are to centre our life on Christ our King. And therein lies the rub.

Christ the King Tapestry

Naming Christ as my King means that I willingly everyday offer my life for Him. As His citizen I answer the call to work for His Kingdom: to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned. And when I fail to get it right being able to claim Christ as King means I can bow before the One who loves me. One, who as King does not force my allegiance through fear or coercion, but to whom I can give willingly my respect and reverence simply because of all that He has done for me, as a response to the way that I am loved, because I belong.

Catechesis does not yield worldly benefits which is difficult to justify to busy parents who want the best for their children. The catechist, modelling Jesus can not force attendance. Catechists desire the community to want to come closer to the Lord. But like Jesus, sometimes we have to watch as they walk away, as they are not ready to fully choose Christ, to allow Him to answer the need to belong to Him.

As catechists there is much work to be done because of course Christ is not MY King but the Universal King. We do not worship in isolation. As the Universal King, we are reminded that we are all children of God and there is nothing or no one that does not belong to Him. After the events of last week in Beirut, Kenya, Paris and Syria it is easy to encompass the victims into that idea.

Harder to see that those instigating the attacks are also loved by God, known to Him in their entirety, just as we are.

 

P.S.

I am listening to the radio as I write and the singer sings…

‘And I don’t want the world to see me,

Because I don’t think that they’d understand.

But when everything seems to be broken

I just want you to know wh0 I am’

Add to fade…

(Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls)

Living the Word
  • Where does Christ’s kingship make a difference to you this week?
  • What, for you, is the reason Jesus was handed over to Pilot?
  • Where does your life ‘testify to the truth’ this week?
For Children
  • Jesus says that His Kingdom is not of this world. What do you imagine His Kingdom to be like?
  • How might you show reverence to Christ your King this week?
For Families
  • When we pray the Our Father we pray for Christ’s Kingdom to become a reality on earth. What does that mean to you?
  • If you choose not to bow down before the Lord – what or who has your allegiance?
 

‘It is absolute fidelity to the principle defined in his own preaching that condemns Jesus. There is no other cause for his death than the love of one’s neighbour lived to the very end.’ (Rene Girard, Theologian)

Prayer

Our Father, Who art in heaven…

 

 

Your will…

And again this week the Lord asks us what we would like Him to do for us.

So they called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Bartimaeus

If we are in any doubt that the Lord our God has only our bests interests at heart this should quell them. God does not look down from on high, deciding for us what is best and intervening in our lives. Rather God waits until we come and articulate our needs.

God waits.

God the Awesome, God the Ineffable, God the Immanent, God Who is and was and is to come, God the Uncreated Creator waits for us, waits for our approach, waits for us to realise our dependence. This God we can be sure will listen to us while we pour out our hearts, stand in all vulnerability and call on the Lord to come to our aid. For as we are told in the response to this week’s psalm ‘The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.’

Some friends and I have been praying the Novena to St Jude

Many of us know St Jude as the patron Saint of Hopeless cases.

Yet this novena was called St Jude the Saint who does the impossible and indeed I was invited to pray it for someone whose prayers are for the seemingly impossible. But she is not without hope and neither are our prayers so I rejoiced in this seemingly insignificant change of name.

Today is day 3 (Yes I know today is day 4!) and part of the prayer says

Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is painful and difficult for me.Pray for the impossible if it is God’s will.

Pray that I may have the grace to accept God’s holy will even if it is painful and difficult for me.

I was struck by the connection of God’s will and Jesus asking us for the last 2 weeks what we want from Him. Of course you and I know that we pray for God’s will not ours, but somehow there was a newness to this knowledge when I was at prayer this morning. There was a deeper awareness that the Lord really wants to grant our prayers for us.

Praying for God’s will, not mine, makes the praying easier. I do not need to feel unworthy if my prayer is answered in a way that I do not want (for all prayer is answered) but I can accept that the lord knows best and only works from love.

I do not believe in an interventionist God. I do believe in a God who only wants the very best for us, that we are called to be the best we can be, and that when we pray to align our will with that of the One who loves us our prayers will be answered. This of course requires us to understand, to see, that we need to trust the Lord our God in all things. To have faith that the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves.

Which is perhaps why Jesus answers Bartimaeus’ prayer but not that of James and John!

Living the Word
  • Where will you cry out to the Lord this week?
  • And again Jesus asks ‘What do you want me to do for you?’. How do you answer Him this week?
  • What is the blindness in you that needs the ‘Master’s’ healing touch this week?
Living the Word for Children
  • If Jesus asked you what you would like Him to do for you, what would you say?
  • How will you follow the Lord this week?
Living the Word for Families
  • ‘…your faith has saved you’, how does knowing you are saved change the way you live this week?
Prayer
Master,
Son of David, have pity on us.
Help us to see more clearly and follow you more nearly this week.
Amen

Living the Word
  • Where will you cry out to the Lord this week?
  • And again Jesus asks ‘What do you want me to do for you?’. How do you answer Him this week?
  • What is the blindness in you that needs the ‘Master’s’ healing touch this week?
Living the Word for Children
  • If Jesus asked you what you would like Him to do for you, what would you say?
  • How will you follow the Lord this week?
Living the Word for Families
  • ‘…your faith has saved you’, how does knowing you are saved change the way you live this week?
Prayer
Teacher,
Son of David,
have pity on us.
Help us to see more clearly and follow you more nearly this week.
Amen

Creeping back in…

I want to write in a tiny font as I creep back on to my blog and back into the inboxes of those who have subscribed.

Yes I’ve been away, you may have noticed.

After my last post, life became even more hectic than normal and coupled with what I now recognise as a long bout of depression writing was not uppermost in my mind. Or when it was my shadow soon dispelled any ideas that others may want to read any pearls of wisdom. It even went so far as to suggest that there were no pearls anyway so not to bother.

The bad spirit of course has also been hovering so that whilst I can bring my shadow in to the light, I still am plagued with lethargy and self doubt as far as the blog is concerned.

I do still write though and each week I write something called ‘Living the Word’ for my parish newsletter. It’s for adults, children and families. I also write for my first communion group and their parents too. So rather than berating myself with the stick called ‘must try harder’ and the chain of ‘perfect or not at all’, I have decided to share these weekly reflection questions based on the Sunday Gospel.

Of course I hope to write again in the way that I had been doing but until then, please accept this offering.

28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Living the Word

  • Which of the Commandments challenge you the most this week?
  • Where does the Lord look at you with love this week?
  • Where are you being invited to depend on the ‘possibility of God’ this week?
Living the Word for Children
  • Jesus loves you, how will you show that you love Him this week?
  • Imagine you are the Rich young man, what happens after you leave Jesus?
Living the Word for Families
  • How can we use our possessions for good this week?
  • Spend time choosing something that we no longer need or want and take it to our chosen charity shop this week?
Prayer,
Dear Lord,
Thank you for all that we have.
We ask that you bless us with Wisdom to use everything for your good.
Amen
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If you find them useful then please let me know, and next time I’ll post them earlier in the week.

Only by a thread

A couple of weeks ago I was at Sunday evening Mass and sitting a little behind me was a young mum with her 2 toddler height children. They were, to be fair a little unruly and she did a sterling job of trying to keep them contained. I turned to her at one point and smiled, trying to keep the irritation at bay (it had been a long day); I find it difficult to be irritated when I have looked the other in the eye. A short while later, I was drawn to more noise and noticed others reaction, some of whom shot daggers at her, while one woman sitting next to her, whispered encouragement and tried to distract the younger child. I overheard the mother say ‘I could cry, it’s so hard’.
Here was a woman, a mother clinging on by her fingernails. I was not sitting close enough to offer her and her children the Sign of Peace but after Communion I managed to grasp her hand as a sign of what I hoped was solidarity and compassion. She smiled a heartfelt, weary smile of gratitude.

I can remember taking my four darlings to Sunday Mass with me and some weeks it was all I could do to allow the words to wash over me. I so desperately needed to be comforted by the Word of God, strengthened in communion with my faith community. I needed to receive the Lord in the Eucharist to give me the strength to go on being a mum, let alone a good enough mum, for a while longer. Seeing her on that Sunday evening brought back the memory of when I too barely hung on by my fingernails.
Yet Sunday after Sunday I went because going to Mass was the only thing that made any sense of my life as a single mum of four under 7, my ‘failed’ marriage, my tiredness, my loneliness, my sadness.

I remembered all of this on hearing the stories in the Gospel of Mark. I didn’t just reach out and touch the hem of His garment, nor did I beg to be touched by the fringe of His cloak, I hung on with all my might, sometimes slipping to hold just a thread that I hoped would not unravel before I did.

unraveling

Of course I was not merely hanging on for dear life all the time and it did get better. I became more organised, I used to keep a bag that we only took to Mass packed with pencils and paper, pictures to colour (it was long before any Redemptorist resources!), books to read and the odd toy that did not make a noise, but the greatest and most helpful ‘distraction’ was the love of my faith community for me and my children. The elderly couple who chose to always sit behind us so as to smile lovingly at the ‘baby’ in my arms; the Religious Sister who sat in the same pew helping to ‘hold the line’ and surround all four of them in love; the other parents who would keep an eye on the others when one of mine was potty training; and the many others who made my children (and therefore me) feel genuinely welcome, wanted and loved.

Many years later one is still serving at the Altar, another trains new servers when home from University, and another is a parish music director…taking a little poetic license with the words of a Meatloaf song, ‘three out of four ain’t bad’. I have no doubt that it was because they were held in love and felt at home in our parish that they are still active members of the faith community.

So when we see mothers (or fathers) struggling at Mass, with children who interrupt our time with the Lord at Mass, let us pray for them, thanking God for their courage to come to Mass, for expending possibly their last vestige of strength in living out the Baptismal promises to bring their children up in the faith. Let us offer to help them, to welcome them, to hold them in love.

cranach-children

For if we don’t we run the risk of both denying Christ’s call to ‘let the children come to me’ and not having a Church in the future.