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

Advertisements

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

Eastertide

Christ yesterday and today

the Beginning and the End
the Alpha
and the Omega.
All time belongs to him
and all the ages.
To him be glory and power
through every age and for ever. Amen.

By his holy
and glorious wounds,
may Christ the Lord

guard us
and protect us. Amen.

May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds.

***

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,
let the triumph of salvation sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!
Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,
ablaze with light from her eternal King,
let all corners of the earth be glad,
knowing an end to gloom and darkness.
Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,
arrayed with the lightning of his glory,
let this holy building shake with joy,
filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.
Therefore, dearest friends, standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,
invoke with me, I ask you,
the mercy of God almighty,
that he, who has been pleased to number me,
though unworthy, among the Levites,
may pour into me his light unshadowed,
that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises.

***

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

This is the night of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.

The sanctifying power of this night dispels wickedness,
washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty. 

DSCF7645

(exerpts from the English translation of the Easter Vigil Mass in St Peter’s basilica, 4th April 2015.)

He is Risen, Alleluia Alleluia! Happy Easter all!

Musings on Unrequited Love

(Note: A few weeks ago I gave a talk, and this blog post is essentially my transcript for that talk. I just edited a few bits to put it more in blog-form.)

So, the topic I’m talking about today is unrequited love. By that, I mean love that is not returned in kind: the situation when you love someone and they don’t feel the same way about you. It’s most commonly seen as a romantic situation, what with the trope of love-triangles and all, but it also happens in the context of friendships and other relationships; sometimes in terms of wanting to begin a relationship with someone and them not being as keen, and sometimes in terms of feelings changing over a period of time.

poor Charlie Brown
poor Charlie Brown

This may seem a bit of a random or oddly specific topic, but the reason I chose it is that the vast majority of us experience unrequited love in one form or another at some point in our lives, but for some reason it’s not something that gets spoken about very much. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, really; when you’re experiencing unrequited love it’s generally a blend of several strong and awful feelings: rejection, inadequacy, bitterness, helplessness, and just plain sadness over the whole thing. And because it’s such a sensitive issue you could really do with someone giving you some advice or wisdom about the situation, but again because it’s such a sensitive issue, people aren’t all that keen on talking about it. Continue reading

Tuesday, 16th December – A good excuse?

So, I didn’t blog on Sunday or yesterday, and I can’t even plead busy-ness as an excuse. Well, that is not strictly true, I have been busy, but I have also managed to write blog posts on days that I have been just as, if not more, busy than this Sunday and Monday. I suppose end-of-term tiredness has caught up with me. There were moments in the past couple of days when I could have organised my thoughts and written something, but it was easier to sit down and zone out. Last night I fell asleep whilst praying – I woke up at six o’clock in the morning and was very confused to find the light still on. Oops.

So yes, tiredness is my excuse for breaking my blogging resolution, but I am back and intend to make myself recompense for the absent days. (I DO need to write about the Third Sunday of Advent, I love Gaudete Sunday!) But what it made me think of are the excuses I use for putting things off.

Sometimes excuses are legitimate and allowances have to be made. But as someone who is generally healthy and happy, I have a sneaking suspicion that I use the excuses ‘busy’ and ‘tired’ too much. Even when I am busy and tired, a little more organisation and earlier bedtimes could tweak the situation to be far more manageable (she says, typing at gone midnight…).

My real point is that nomatter how busy we get, we always make time for the things that are most important to us – and, conversely, we are all very good at being unavailable when obligations that we’re not too keen on come up.

Advent is a good time to assess our priorities and do some clear and decisive ordering. How much time am I spending watching videos online vs reading those books I’ve been meaning to? How much time do I spend trawling through Facebook vs actually skyping or writing to or visiting my friends when I can? And, of course, how much time do I spend thinking about my own wants and concerns and opinions vs dedicating time to God in prayer?

And by dedicating I mean dedicating; purposefully setting time aside in each day to spend in conversation with Him, and more importantly, listening for Him. This is so important and so valuable, and yet I struggle with it. I pray every day, as I go from task to task generally, trying to gage what God would have me do in each situation, asking for His help, giving thanks, etc., etc. I do believe this is important, making every part of your life a dialogue with God, if you will. But there is a difference between talking to Him as you go about your daily business, and making a conscious decision to pause your daily business and spend time with Him.

It helps me to think of it in terms of human relationships. My close family members and best friends would be happy to help me out if I needed assistance, and we could spend time completing a task together quite merrily. But I wouldn’t only to spend time with me when I have work that I need their help with. It is a given that we plan times together which are solely for enjoying each other’s’ company. If we do this for our friends and family, how much more should we do it with God!

I think about it, too, in terms of spiritual nourishment. A quotation about prayer that I’m rather fond of is the following, from C. S. Lewis:

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.

Prayer isn’t merely a helpful option, it is a universal need. The above quotation perceives and expresses that need wonderfully; the need that is with all of us, whether or not we can see it or feel it ourselves. And we should take that need seriously into consideration when working out how to make prayer a priority in our daily lives.

If a friend said to you, ‘Oh, I haven’t eaten in a week, I’ve been so busy,’ you wouldn’t say ‘Oh, well you’ve had a lot going on at work, that’s totally understandable.’ You would be concerned. You would probably sit them down, give them food, and make them eat there and then, all the while telling them about how they need to be looking after themselves and offering assistance and advice on how to improve the situation.

I’m not saying that if someone tells us that they haven’t prayed in a while we should frogmarch them to the nearest church and sit with them until they’ve prayed an entire rosary with you. (This may not be particularly helpful in some cases… in others, though…) But we should take this seriously. Human beings are both body and soul, and we need to look after both. Don’t let hectic activity – or ‘hectivity’, as I now like to call it – in life cause you to starve your soul and weaken your relationship with God. Take this time of year as an opportunity to turn to Him anew, and ask Him to show you how to spend more time with Him.

Saturday, 13th December

I that I am often and easily preoccupied by the question of whether or not I do enough to show God to others in my life. (Goodness, that was a long-winded sentence.) It’s easy to get caught up in concerns about whether or not I am sharing my faith in my actions and conversations with people; whether or not I reach out to people enough; whether or not I let God work through me as much as He wants me to. There’s a danger in an aim to do God’s will and do good for others becoming a matter of self-absorption.

One way to combat this is to turn matters on their heads. If the thought of how you can let God work in your life to help others has become too you-centric, put it aside for a moment – just to gain some perspective. Instead, spend a moment thinking of the people in your life. Your family and friends; the people who you love and who brighten your every day. Think about how you can see God in them; how their love in your life makes God more tangible to you. Give glory to God for putting these people in your life, and helping you on your way through them!

We are all made in God’s image, and it is easiest to see this in those whom we know and cherish. But it is important to look for God in every person we encounter. To remember that every human being was given freedom of choice and dignity by the Almighty, and that He loves each one of us infinitely. Each one of us.

Reach out to people in Advent; don’t be afraid to share your faith! Invite people to a carol service, to midnight mass. Talk about the real meaning of Christmas. But don’t do it because you feel you ought to; do it because you have seen and felt God at work in your life through other people, and you are thankful for that.

(This post is rather more unfocused and fragmentary than usual; I will aim to return to this subject it at a later date.)