The invitiation

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.

6 OT Trinity Rublev

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”.

Happy Lent!

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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.