What are you being invited to speak in the light and proclaim from the housetops?
How will you acknowledge Christ to those you encounter?
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,
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
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.
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.
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)
- 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?
- 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?
- 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)
Our Father, Who art in heaven…
This week the Church offers us an invitation to love. We are invited to enter into the love of the Trinity ever more deeply, and to experience the love God has for us.
Lent is not about punishment, the Lord knows life is hard enough! Lent is a space in the year for us to focus consciously on our relationship with the One who calls us beloved. Lent is a place where we can go to look at our lives in the light of this abundant, unconditional Love. For some of us, or perhaps most of us, to accept that invitation will not be without some pain. To reflect on any relationship and discover that it is lacking is painful.
Lent is a time of transformation. When we see where things could be better; in us, in the way we love, in the way we live, another invitation is given. We are invited to reconfigure our lives, to repent, to turn back to the Living Lord who waits for us like the Father in the story of the Prodigal son. Every moment, God watches and waits for us, waits for us to realise that things are not right, to want to return. When we do He rushes to meet us and enfolds us in a welcome embrace. We only have to make the first step, He does the rest.
Lent is about forgiveness. It strengthens the transformation. that begins when we want to repent.
If Lent is the invitation, then it is to Easter that we are invited and there are three ways to prepare for the Feast: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.
These pillars of Lent are also not about punishment but are aides that enable us to see where changes need to made to our lives. I have lost count of the many times I mean to send a donation various charities and never seem to get around to it. Lent affords me the opportunity to focus on the why of that inability and to put a practice in place that might change it. Some research has shown that for a new habit to become embedded takes 6 weeks.
Spending time in prayer, possibly discovering a new way to pray, a new way to listen and talk with the Lord is an exciting prospect. As Keirkergaard says, we pray not to change God but to change ourselves. And ultimately that is what Lent does, it changes us.
Fasting is more that just going without, it can be a way of seeking solidarity, even for a short while, with our sisters and brothers for whom fasting is a way of life not a choice. It can be a way of refocusing on what is more important – our family, our faith, our community. It is also a way of exercising self control. Self control, rather than being something that binds us, can be a way of cutting the ties to the things that enslave us and living in freedom when its motivation is love.
Lent invites us to spend time renewing and deepening our relationship with the Triune God. Say YES to the invitation, spend time in prayer, fast and give to those in need so that we can participate in the life of Christ, transforming us so that we may ‘turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”.
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)
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!
If you want a copy of the sheet just ask, meanwhile here is the house blessing…
A Blessing for the Home.
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.
This is my first blog post and I have been putting it off since before Christmas. During that time I have questioned whether I even want to be here, who will read it, what is the point and all those other questions you, the blogging community, have undoubtedly asked before you wrote your first blog.
This morning I was determined to start, so I sorted my home page, chose the picture, the colour, the headers and the design. When all was ready I made some bread, cleaned the cooker and washed up.
So much for starting after morning prayer! Now here I am, no more prevaricating or procrastinating.
What better day to begin a blog on Faith, Family & Feminism when the Gospel tells us the story of Anna, one of the women to be named and lauded by Luke. An elderly prophetess, who fasted and prayed and served God in the Temple.
Praying the Gospel this morning I was struck with her perseverance. She obviously had no family to look after her, hence her time in the Temple, no grandchildren to mind, to sing or tell stories to. In many ways, from the outside an unfulfilled life. A widow woman left to wither away in the Temple. Yet she knew there was more, she believed that there was a reason to go about her daily routine, praying and fasting.
How different Anna and I are! The story doesn’t tell us whether Anna despairs, or wants to give up. Yet if I were Anna I am sure that despair would have overwhelmed me. Even in the writing of this blog, I wanted to give up before I had even begun. But I keep hearing the word perseverance when I think of Anna, and I know that she too would have had her off days, but she didn’t give up, and Oh! what reward was hers – to be in the right place at the right time, to reveal Christ to those around her.
One reason I have started to blog is that people (ok, my friends) have asked me to. They tell me that I have good things to say, they enjoy my reflections (and ramblings), that they wait for me to post things on Facebook as a way of keeping up to date with what is going on. When I looked back over the type of articles I post I realised that they fell into 3 main areas; faith, family and feminism. Now if you have come here bypassing the ‘About’ page you might find it useful to pop in there to read what I understand by faith, family & feminism before defining them for me.
And Talitha Kum, that’s the Living Lord calling me to ‘Stand up’ for what I believe.
I don’t know how often I’ll blog but hopefully once a week and I would love it if you would pour yourself a cuppa, pull up a chair and journey with me and perhaps even leave a comment or two.