Wednesday, 29 January 2014

God of Surprises

 This picture appeared in several papers yesterday. I love it! It came as a gift for me - I'm doing some work at the moment on different ways of praying. This is something I'm passionate about - people (including myself!) exploring different ways of spending time with God. (And Jean Vanier suggested there are at least a thousand and one such ways!)

But there's a difference between prayer practices and prayer itself. The former we can learn about, and plan for, and do. The latter will - thank God! - creep up behind us and surprise us. 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

So quick to judge...

I went to Mass in a very large, famous and busy urban place of worship. As people knelt after Communion I became aware of a stream of conversation nearby. Who could be so irreverent and insensitive? And I realised I could only hear one voice - was he on his mobile phone? Worse and worse... Eventually, irritated and distracted, I glanced round. An African man was on his knees, hands raised, an expression of sheer joy on his face, pouring out his prayer to God.

Kyrie eleison.  ‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.' (Luke 18:14)

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Just after the Full Moon

Today's picture from NASA APOD
I'm back... A belated Happy New Year, everyone. (What do you mean, you didn't miss me?) To ease me back after my blogging sluggishness (and to make sure this gets posted before this Wolf Moon wanes too far) I'm  pinching gratefully borrowing from others...

I always enjoy the Poetry Chaikhana blog, and especially so yesterday's poem by Izumi Shikibu:

Watching the Moon 
at midnight,
solitary, mid-sky,
I knew myself completely, no part left out.

Do read it there, and Ivan Granger's commentary. He says that, like the Moon, our individual consciousness only gives light if it reflects... And here I would say: if it reflects the Light of God, the 'love that moves the Sun and the other stars.'  'Look to him and be radiant', says the Psalmist in what has long been a 'touchstone' verse for me.  I give thanks for the ways in which that reflected light shines on me through colleagues, students, fellow-pilgrims, pastors, preachers, dear 'soul friends' and (God forgive me!) the most unexpected of people. And all the graces I pray for can be summed up as the grace to grow to fullness, like the Moon, so that I can reflect more.

A while ago, A Minor Friar (apologies, I've kept the quote but not the link to the exact post) wrote about watching the early morning light reflected in the sacred vessels on the altar and said 'take a moment just to appreciate the light; its dignity as the first of us creatures, the first of us to receive the original gaze of divine blessing, it was good.' 

 And this morning this little prayer came my way, and I'll try to make it my own as an invocation to start each day:

Sol iustítiæ, tibi dies noster consecrétur,
—qui in baptísmate nos illustrásti.

Sun of Justice, you filled us with light at our baptism,
– we dedicate this day to you.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

By the way...

... Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed a new page listed at the top of this blog, entitled 'Listen With Your Eyes'. It's about a course I'm creating and will be leading in London this summer: an experience of Visio Divina, or praying with art and the imagination. One of my passions!

Click and have a look; tell your friends - and please, if you're not too far away, consider coming along!

Thanks, and once again a very happy New Year to you!

New Year

 Last year I offered the Suscipe prayer as my post for New Year's Day, and I can do no better this time. The best prayer, to my mind, for a new day or the end of the day, the end and beginning of the year, before the Christmas crib - or indeed the Cross on Good Friday when it comes...

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty: my memory, my understanding and my entire will. All that I have and call my own. You have given it all to me; to you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours, do with it according to your will. Give me only the love of you, and your grace: that is enough for me.

And this year there's  a beautiful suggestion for a ritual to go with the Suscipe to begin and end the day, at  God in All Things - have a look...

And as a New Year's gift I share with you something my spiritual director gave me: a prayer based on Ephesians 3:14-21. I think it goes well with the Suscipe - a glimpse of what 'your love and your grace' might really be like.

I pray you, according to the riches of your glory, grant that I may be strengthened in my inner being with power through your Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith, as I am being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that I may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that I may be filled with all the fullness of God.