Drawing near

I think I’ve written about my favourite Advent hymn on this blog before -‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’. It’s so beautiful in the way it captures the solemnity of waiting in faith and hope for the coming of the Messiah.

O come o come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
Who mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! 
Emmanuel shall come to thee, 
O Israel.

Like Israel of the Old Testament, we are captives and in exile until the coming of Christ into our lives. Only He can set us free and end our mournful loneliness, and make our hearts glad. Yet we are able to rejoice still, for the promise of His coming gives us hope. And so in that hope and faith we call out to Him ‘O come, o come!’, knowing that He will hear us and that when He draws near our desires will be fulfilled.

Continue reading

Musings on Mercy

tumblr_nvv51eOsRd1r5nyjqo1_540

(Photo from here)

So I’ve come back to my erstwhile blog with a few stitchings of thoughts. It’s Advent, and the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and the Jubilee Year of Mercy has begun. I wish I could write something brilliant and relevant about all of the above, but I’m afraid I only have what I only ever have when I come to write; a mess of thoughts and only a handful of adequate ways to express them.

But on mercy. I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s mercy, and how it is so much a part of His love. Mercy is what happens when unconditional love is active and creative, as God’s love is. Humanity screws up, time and time again. Simple, straightforward justice would be content to leave us writhing in the miseries of our own making. God is a just God; He will have justice. But His love is such that He will not simply let things be. And so He reaches through, and creates miracles, wondrous things, to save us when we cannot save ourselves.

Mercy is not earned or deserved, if it was it wouldn’t be mercy. Mercy is a gift freely given.

Continue reading

Tuesday, 9th December – A Wonder-Full Life

Matthew 18: 12-14 – ‘Your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.’

Its-A-Wonderful-Life

This evening I had the very great pleasure of re-watching It’s A Wonderful Life, which happens to be one of my favourite films, even if it does reduce me to tears every time. It’s been voted the best Christmas film of all time, but can be enjoyed in all seasons for the message of hope it brings: that the lives of each of us are wonder-full. Each of our lives is precious, for we are irreplaceable; each of us was made for a purpose that can be fulfilled by no other.

It reminded me of this quotation by Blessed John Henry Newman, who puts it far more eloquently than me:

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.

While I’ve never been in a place of desolation that has led me to think the world would have been better off if I’d never been born, I have certainly had times of doubting that my life has any significance in the grand scheme of things. So often, especially in my teenage years (dark times indeed), I felt that it would make no difference whether I was there or not. There was nothing extraordinary about me, certainly. Any talents I had were easily overshadowed by the accomplishments of others. My friends would always have someone else whose company they preferred to mine. I could more easily describe myself with things I was not than things I was.

And where was God in all of this? Looking back, I am not quite sure. I never really had a crisis of faith, as such, but I am really not quite sure of all that I believed at this point. Didn’t I believe in God’s love for me?

I think the answer is that I did, but I never gave it much thought. It was as though God’s love for me was arbitrary: I believed that God loves everyone, so of course I fitted under the category of ‘everyone’, but I’m not sure I believed fully that He loved me for me.

The truth is, of course, that love can’t be arbitrary. Love is a decision, an act. God willed me into being, and were He to stop thinking about me I would cease to exist. He knew me before I was formed; chose me, designed me for a specific purpose. I am unique. There never has been one of me before, and there never will be again. That is a precious, precious thing. Again, I don’t have the words – have some of Psalm 139:

You created my inmost self,
knit me together in my mother’s womb.
For so many marvels I thank you;
a wonder am I, and all your works are wonders.

You knew me through and through,
my being held no secrets from you…

I think I’ve mentioned before that this time of year is when I tend to make paper snowflakes, which is a craft I thoroughly enjoy. But snowflakes have always fascinated me – I think partly because of Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy-tale The Snow Queen, but also because of the micro-photography that has been taken of individual snowflakes. Each one is not only unique, but incredibly, complexly, beautifully unique. Calling someone a ‘special snowflake’ is often used as a somewhat patronising term, but it is in fact a marvellous comparison when you take into account the intricacy of those tiny ice stars.

And we are more marvellous even than the snowflakes. We were not existed to fall and melt away, but to live and interact with one another; to love each other and to love God as only we can. God calls each of us home to Him; He ‘is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.’ But He does not call us in any indiscriminate, haphazard measure; His call comes to each of us in different ways throughout our different lives, and we answer His call in a voice that is ours, not any other’s. But at the same time, He did not make us isolated beings, required to look after ourselves and fulfil a self-sufficient purpose; His plan for us connects us with all those whose lives our lives touch – both those we see and those we do not. His scope of vision is far greater than ours!

God loves you, and He does not leave unattended those that He loves. You were made for a purpose, that only you can fulfil. Yours is a wonder-full life. Let that show in how you choose to live it.

P. S. This post was heavily inspired by this article, which in turn was inspired by It’s A Wonderful Life. Thank you mother for sending me the link to it! ❤