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I don’t see the road ahead of me…

Below is Thomas Merton’s infamous prayer . It speaks of surrendering to God, in every way. I am so moved every time I read these words. I am inspired  both by Merton’s honesty and humility (and how much I connect with his words), as well as the graciousness of God that Merton points to. As a worker in God’s vineyard, I think this prayer is good to keep close at hand. This prayer expresses the peace that comes from knowing and trusting in God’s presence in a life with so many unknowns and irresolvable conflicts.

This prayer acknowledges that, despite our human tendency to think we know what life is about and how we can manage it, we really have no clue.

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Prov 16:9)

picture @googleimages

picture @googleimages

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.   

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think that I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

From ‘Through the year with Thomas Merton’.

 

 

Candles at the end of Christmas

“Candlemas Day” by Marianne Stokes (1855–1927) Austrian Painter

“Candlemas Day” by Marianne Stokes (1855–1927) Austrian Painter

A painter born Marianne Preindlsberger at Graz in the Austrian province of Styria.  She settled in England after her marriage to the landscape painter Adrian Scott Stokes (1854–1935) whom she had met in Pont-Aven and was considered one of the leading artists in Victorian England.

I am moved by the serenity of the young woman in the painting and feel a stirring affinity with her as Catholic Christian, as this image reaches out to me from across the centuries. Praying in the stillness of early morning perhaps, by the light of a candle. I too light a candle , read the Bible and say the Rosary at prayer. A Christian doing what Christians have done for 2000 years. 

Candlemas is a Christian festival celebrated on 2 February.  It marks the end of Epiphany, the Purification of the Virgin Mary and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, when Jesus was recognised by Simeon as the one for whom he has been waiting. (Luke 2:25-40)  

The feast celebrates the day on which the infant Jesus was taken by Mary His Mother and St. Joseph to the Temple in Jerusalem where thanks would be offered to God, according to the correct and ancient Jewish custom. When Simeon , ”an upright and devout man”, well advanced in years saw them he knew that this was the Child who was the Messiah for which Israel and the world had been waiting. He took the child in his arms and praised God and  declared that this child would be a light to all the world, a light that would enlighten pagans and give honour to the people of Israel from whom he had sprung.

To commemorate what Simeon said , there are special candle services in church – sometimes with a procession into the church beforehand. These candles are blessed, and we can take them home with us where they can be lit again for a family candlelight supper. 

…after Candlemas the days start getting longer, and we don’t need artificial light in the evenings.Spring is on the way and we should start enjoying it.

Quoted from ‘A book of Feasts and Seasons’, by Joanna Bogle (available at Amazon)

Image@http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/

Image@http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/

Keeping vigil.

vigil, from the Latin vigilia meaning wakefulness (Greek: pannychis,[1] παννυχίς or agrypnia[2] ἀγρυπνία),[3] is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance. ( Wikipedia) 

Keeping vigil has always been a spiritual practice in Catholicism. This is what we are essentially doing by attending any “Vigil” mass, we wait in joyful hope for the coming of the Saviour.

There is also a Biblical reference here that can be included. The Shepherds in Luke’s infancy narratives in his Gospel were keeping watch over their sheep on the nightly vigil. In a sense, we are the same shepherds today and we are entrusted to keep watch over one another. While we wait for God during Advent, it’s also important to note that God also keeps Vigil for us. Many people “come home” at Christmas and find God welcoming them back home once again. We pray that they find our church to be a welcoming place and that we show them the love that God always offers to us. In doing so, we have the opportunity to continually welcome them home each week and pray that they will be part of our community regularly.

Christmas 2013 037

Christmas 2013 038

The Sanctuary is ready and the first of the Holy Masses for Christmas may begin.

Are YOU brave enough?

Image@cathypeasefacebookpage

Image@cathypeasefacebookpage

 

A new pathway to peace.

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For many years have I used the Rosary to meditate on the life of Our Lord, particularly during Lent and during the months of November- The month of the Rosary, and in May – The month of Our Lady.

Until ten days ago I hadn’t experienced the intense consolation one receives from meditating on the different parts of Christ’s life. I’d always listened to those who have only praise for this method of prayer, feeling at a loose end because I didn’t feel the same way. Ten days ago we received a call from South Africa to say that my mother was on her deathbed. I had been praying the Rosary during November, so when I thought immediately of praying the Rosary  I assumed it was just a knee-jerk reaction to pick up the beads again. I could not have been more wrong.

I lit a candle and earnestly prayed the Joyful Mystery: -

1. The Annunciation of the Lord to Mary

2. The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth

3. The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ

4. The Presentation of our Lord

5. Finding Jesus in the Temple at age 12

I prayed the Creed with an intensity I had never known before. I prayed about my Faith. About what I believe from the depths of my being. It took on a new meaning for me. While in prayer I began to feel a deep sense of hope, as I grasped the enormity of what God has done for me, and more importantly, for my mother at this critical juncture of her life on earth. God sent His only Son for our Salvation, in order for us to have Life after death.

And so  each day since then have I prayed the Rosary and received much consolation and reassurance in return. Read here to learn how to pray the Rosary if you haven’t done so before.

Mens-bookmarkT1

Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared– whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima — she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ.

Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ “not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done.”
The great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: “The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love.

A ‘must-have’ read.

I purchased this book last year as a digital copy and then almost immediately purchased a hard copy because is is such a wonderful book to ‘have and to hold close’ (in your hands and in your heart!) This is a book I will be purchasing as gifts  for friends and family.

THE BETTER PART, buy Fr John Bartunek

image@http://live.regnumchristi.org/

image@http://live.regnumchristi.org/

is a’ Christ-centred resource for personal prayer.’ It is changing my relationship with Jesus and is helping me through the most difficult time of my Journey to Christ to date. My prayer life is becoming deeper and more meaningful. I feel prepared and eager for a meeting  with the Lord every day.

It’s the only book that has shared with me a 4 step structure to personal meditation, making my prayer life more intimate and meaningful for me.

Here are some titbits to whet your appetite:

  1. ‘ Jesus has made the appointment to meet  with you in prayer’ –  In other words it’s no accident that I am yearning to be closer to Jesus and that a deeply personal relationship is one that I want so much with Him, because he yearns for the same relationship with me. He is the one calling me to prayer.
  2. ‘ Among the most basic prayer commitments is one that can have more bearing on your life that any other, because is is more personalised: the daily meditation.’ - I do much spiritual reading to find out more about my Faith and my Lord and Saviour, I need to keep a daily meeting with my Lord for the sole purpose of getting to know Him better and to recommit myself to uncovering His will for my life. I realise that there is a difference between spiritual reading and meditation in that even the readings of the day can become spiritual reading, and not so much a meditative reading if I merely read them as part of a routine day in and day out. In order to get to know the Lord more intimately and to unwrap His will for my life, His messages for me alone, I need to excavate what’s in the Gospel with tenacity and purpose. This is done through meditation and prayer over the Gospels.
  3. ‘Prayer is similar to walking. To walk everyone has to follow the same principles of physics- friction, gravity, muscle propulsion, momentum. And yet, even though the principles are the same, everyone’s walk is a little bit different. When babies learn to walk, they start out clumsy and awkward, until they develop the rhythm and style proper to their body type, personality, and environment. Meditation follows a similar pattern: the same principles for all, activated uniquely by each. The Better Part can help you wherever you happen to be on the spectrum.’ 

images

If any one of you have read this amazing book please comment on how you have found it deepening your relationship with Jesus. I intend to post more on this book as I read on.

the Story of Mary and MArtha: Mary is doing 'the better part', listening to the Lord's teaching.

In the Story of Mary and Martha: Mary is doing ‘the better part’, listening to the Lord’s teaching.

A moment that matters.

9780281054626 - Confirmation Prayer Book white

Tonight my beloved and I returned from our monthly  prayer group, blessed in the knowledge that our dear friends hold  us close when they pray. We felt comforted not only by the Word of God but cosseted and enfolded in His love through the reaching out of  this small group of workers in The Vineyard: our wonderful prayer group. This group has opened wide a new door of discovery and understanding for us, about the light of love that Our Lord holds over us.

Mary, Mother of Good Counsel: a feast day today.

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Prayer to Our Lady of Good Counsel

Lord, in this passing world our hearts are fearful
and our judgements uncertain.
Through Mary, the dwelling place of your Wisdom,
guide us in all we do and set our footsteps
on your way of peace.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen

(The history of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Good Counsel is available on several websites.)
The image of Our Lady of Good Counsel has been displayed at a shrine in Genazzano, near Rome, since 1467.  It is reported to have travelled there miraculously from Scutari, Albania.  Pope Leo XIII invoked Mary under this title and during his pontificate included the invocation of Mother of Good Counsel in the Litany of Loreto.   Devotion to Our Lady under this title continues to draw pilgrims to Genazzano seeking Mary’s help in their needs.
In 1467, on the 25 of April, during celebrations for the feast of San Marco in Genazzano, Italy, a cloud was seen covering a 5th century church dedicated to Our Lady. Shortly after the cloud lifted, the townsfolk, summoned by the church bells, discovered a delicate fresco of Our Lady and the Child Jesus, it was painted upon a very thin piece of unsupported plaster, and floated in a small niche of the church. Later it was revealed the image had been transported by angels from Scutari, Albania, because the region was coming under Islamic control.
Today the image still survives, after 500 years, undamaged by earthquakes and war, and it is said a fine thread can be passed on all sides, demonstrating the image remains miraculously suspended.

mbc

Litany of Loreto

Lord, have mercy on us. (Christ have mercy on us.) 
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us. (Christ graciously hear us.) 
God, the Father of heaven, (have mercy on us.)
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, (have mercy on us.)
God the Holy Ghost, (have mercy on us.)
Holy Trinity, one God, (have mercy on us.)
Holy Mary,
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of the Church
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Savior,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renouned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary.
Queen of the family,
Queen of Peace,
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, (spare us, O Lord.)
Lamb of God, who takes  away the sins of the world, (graciously hear us O Lord.)
Lamb of God, who takes  away the sins of the world, (have mercy on us.) Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. (That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.)

Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, unto us Thy servants, that we may rejoice in continual health of mind and body; and, by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin, may be delivered from present sadness, and enter into the joy of Thine eternal gladness. Through Christ our Lord. (Amen.)

Good Shepherd Sunday is traditionally set aside as a day of prayer for vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life.

A really beautiful picture of our Good Shepherd!

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