Formed by Friendship

My friend in faith and spiritual sister is not well.

She first told us last Good Friday that the cancer had returned. We journeyed Passiontide in all it’s fullness last year. The Triduum was suddenly horribly real.

This week she called again.

She was worse.

For the past year we had refused to believe that she was not going to get better. We had besieged heaven with our prayers, our novenas, our Masses.

She Was Going To Be Well. It was going to be ok.

And we waited. We waited for the news that the chemo had worked.

While we waited we grabbed greedily at any opportunity to meet. We had afternoon tea in town, we went to the theatre, we had dinner, we phoned weekly. Then the news came, the chemo had worked, she was not out of the woods but things were on the up.

Over Christmas and in to the New year, things tailed off slightly and so did my conscious prayer for her because I began to forget. And I was justified in forgetting because when we spent time together, even last Saturday: She. Was. Well.

Really Well.

Three days later her reality shook me out of my comfort zone. I have to face up to the fact that my lovely, wonderful, talented, beautiful, faith-filled sister will not be alive for as long as I would like her to be. For as long as she would like to be.

And so this week I have been reflecting on the difference she has made to my life, the richness she has brought to it. 

There is no doubt she, through our friendship has formed me. I am not the person I was when we first met, all those years ago on holiday (www.catholicpeoplesweeks.org.uk).

Through our friendship she has constantly affirmed me,
as a mother,
as a friend,
as a liturgist
and as one who is beloved of God.
She loves me, in spite of my shortcomings.
She both prays with me and encourages me to spend time alone with God.
She enables me to see where to find God alive and at work in my life.
She laughs with me, oh how we laugh!
And this week, not for the first time, she cried with me.

Yes, she is still alive but I want to tell her how much she means to me before it is too late.

I want her to know how very blessed I am because of our friendship.
I want her to know that I love her, and that I will miss her.
I want her to know that if we never make another memory it doesn’t matter.
I can never forget her – I carry her with me in all that I am today.

May I ask for you to pray for her and her family…and those who also love her.

Fish messages for Jane

Perhaps this post should have been called the inadequacy of words, or maybe that’s for some other time.

Gearing up for Epiphany

Epiphany is my favourite of the Christmas Feasts. So much so that the kids and I all have a set of Kings and camel to move around the room throughout the 12 days arriving on the 6th of January.

Or at least that was the theory. You know how these things go… the idea of making memories, each child choosing their set of Kings to accompany the ones that come with the Crib, re-enacting their journey in Matthew’s Gospel, moving the Shepherds and sheep on to a nearby shelf to make room in the inn (not in Matthew’s Gospel), culminating in the grand arrival to us all singing ‘We Threes Kings’ and opening a final present after dinner.

It worked well for a few years.  Now it is left to me to move all 15 Kings, 3 camels 1 servant and the gold pot of myrrh and frankincense to each  allotted place until they arrive in  the Crib.

For the past 5 or 6 years our parish has taken on the tradition of house blessing. This tradition, practiced most often in Eastern European countries, takes place on the Feast of Epiphany. Blessed chalk is distributed after every Mass with a sheet which as well as explaining the tradition also has the prayer for blessing the house . When the house has been blessed the following would be chalked upon the lintel (or somewhere near by)

                                20+ C+M+B+14

 The initials of the 3 Kings surrounded by the year of the blessing, signals sanctuary to all those who flee persecution. . C M B also stands for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” meaning “May Christ bless this house.”

But what I really love about this Feast is the beauty and symbolism of the story. It is a story of wonder, yearning and trust. It is a story of pilgrimage, inclusivity, awareness and insight. It tells of Mystery, transformation and action. A group of people outside the Jewish community, convinced that what they sought, yearned for, would be found when the stars aligned, watched and waited. When the Star showed itself, without hesitation they packed up, left their land and followed. They trusted their beliefs, their knowledge, their experience and opened themselves up to possibility and adventure. They bring gifts which announce to the world who this Christ child is: gold for Jesus who is King; frankincense (used in worship): for Jesus who is God; and myrrh (used in anointing at burial) for Jesus who is man.

Led by a star to the Christ Child, the Light of the World. Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) echoes this in its very first sentence ‘

Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature,(1) to bring the light of Christ to all’

And so the Light of the World is revealed to each one of us. Never again will we walk in darkness, we may not comprehend the Light but it will never leave us, God-with-us, now and always. And it is up to us to witness to Him, to mirror His Light in our lives.

I’ll leave you to ponder how while I get to the shops before they close. They might not be bothered to move their Kings but  they still like their presents!

Christmas 2010 (12)

Happy Feast.

 If you want a copy of the sheet just ask, meanwhile here is the house blessing…

A Blessing for the Home.

Oh God,

You revealed your Son to all people

by the shinning light of a star.

We pray that you bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence.

May your love be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light,

and your truth our benediction:

Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.