Jean Vanier recently spoke by video link to young people gather in London for a ‘Flame’ conference. This link leads to the text of his speech at ICN.
I found my first edition of The Ballad of St. Barbara by G.K. Chesterton the other day. A treasure that cost 50p in a charity shop. I’ve chosen a couple of poems to lead us into Lent, both looking at conscience. Before we read The Sword of Surprise we should remind ourselves of the verse that it meditates upon, Hebrews 4:12.
For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
As we have said before, an examination of conscience should encompass more than our ‘daily falls’. If we count our blessings we can put our sins into perspective, so let us pray for the grace to see also the daily wonders, and to feel life’s brave beat.
Sunder me from my bones, O sword of God,
Till they stand stark and strange as do the trees;
That I whose heart goes up with the soaring woods
May marvel as much at these.
Sunder me from my blood that in the dark
I hear that red ancestral river run,
Like branching buried floods that find the sea
But never see the sun.
Give me miraculous eyes to see my eyes,
Those rolling mirrors made alive in me,
Terrible crystals more incredible
Than all the things they see.
Sunder me from my soul, that I may see
The sins like streaming wounds, the life’s brave beat;
Till I shall save myself, as I would save
A stranger in the street.
second celebration piece for Saint David finds us still in the American West with Brother David, but this is up-to-date reporting by him, though the pictures are from before. Please follow the link to his story near the end of this posting, even if you are a couch potato. And let us be ready for our own desert experience this Lent. (But first, tomorrow’s story is from Wales itself.)
In November last year, a small press magazine got word of my Cuyamaca 100k story and asked to do a short article on me.
I was interviewed for an hour, the writer paused and said, “you need to write a book”, and that was the end of the interview!
I am extremely humbled by the words of the author and that anyone would take interest in the tales of a back-of-the-pack runner like me.
It is an odd experience for me, as it reads like “this story is based on true events”. It is definitely my story, but someone else told it. So, a few details aren’t as I would personally have depicted them. But, I believe the spirit of the story remains true. The main thing I wish were different is to acknowledge everyone involved, but the article is short and not all of (your and their) names or roles made it to print.
And for that reason,
I’ve decided as part of my New Year Resolution to tell the story of how I got here and the people and events that altered my life. It may take me awhile to write, but I’m committing to beginning “today”.
I feel like everyone out there on the trails is more worthy than I am So, this isn’t about “me”, but I feel obligated to convey to others just how the ordinary people we meet in our lives are all part of an extra-ordinary plan.
Here’s the link: I would be flattered if you take the time to read it and let me or the publisher know what you think. Wishing you peace and all good things in the new year, and thank you sincerely for being a part of my journey to come.
bro. dave, osf
Let’s revisit Thomas Traherne, always a challenging read. He accepts the New Testament and revels in its ideas and truths. He interprets the doctrine of the Body of Christ in this passage. ‘Our Saviour’s cross … taketh up his thoughts, and exerciseth all the powers of his soul.’ As it did with the artist of Strasbourg Cathedral, above.
You are His, and you are all; or in all, and with all.
He that is in all, and with all, can never be desolate.
All the joys and all the treasures, all the counsels, and all the perfections; all the angels, and all the saints of God are with him. All the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them are continually in his eye. The patriarchs, prophets, and Apostles are always before Him. The councils and the fathers, the bishops and the doctors minister unto him.
All temples are open before him, the melody of all quires reviveth him, the learning of all universities doth employ him, the riches of all palaces delight him, the joys of Eden ravish him, the revelations of St. John transport him, the creation and the day of Judgment please him, the Hosannas of the church militant and the Hallelujahs, of the Saints Triumphant fill him, the splendour of all coronations entertain him, the joys of Heaven surround him, and our Saviour’s cross, like the Centre of Eternity, is in him; it taketh up his thoughts, and exerciseth all the powers of his soul, with wonder, admiration, joy and thanksgiving.
The Omnipotence of God is his House, and Eternity his habitation.
This celebration of water, slightly abridged, is by Sister Theodora Mercy Kaviza OFS. It is far too easy, for those of us with clean, safe, running water to take it for granted. Sister Theodora Mercy reminds us that it is both gift and necessity. The second half follows tomorrow.
In our bodies, from the rebuilding of our muscles to blood circulation to boosting digestion, one main component is needed, and this is water. We use water to bathe, and for cleansing and purification, because it keeps sickness and bad moods at bay, and rejuvenates the body.
However when we look around and see how we have abused the water sources of the world it is easy to realize that we have totally forgotten how important water is to our very existence. From prehistoric times humans thought that the benefits of water were divine gifts or even that the water itself was a divinity: lakes, rivers, springs and glaciers became places of veneration.
Birds, reptiles and amphibians are born from eggs which are mainly full of water. Mammals too, before they are born, swim in their mother’s womb in a liquid composed principally of water. In the Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis of Assisi praises God for water: “Praised be Thou, O Lord, for sister water, who is very useful, humble, precious, and chaste”.
In Africa, a hot and mainly arid continent, the great rivers Nile, Congo, Niger, Zambezi and the Lakes Chad, Victoria and Rudolf, have always been life-giving. The ancient Egyptians believed their country was “a gift of the Nile” and they venerated the river as a deity.
In the creation story of the Jewish Torah and Christian Bible, God’s spirit first moved “over the face of the waters” and God said “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures” (Genesis 1:2, 20). In Islam, water is the origin of all life on Earth and the Qur’an says water is the substance from which God created the human being (25:54).
The Indians take the Ganges River to be both a symbol of life and a place where one can wash away spiritual impurities, thereby drawing closer to the sacred source of life. In a similar way, ancient Jewish tradition calls people on special occasions to cleanse their bodies spiritually by immersion in a ‘mikveh’ bath. For Muslims, ablution with water, is an obligatory preparation for daily prayer.
We are, today, facing a serious global ecological crisis and the survival of the planet is threatened. The passage from Mark’s Gospel reminds us that, after his resurrection, Jesus commissioned the disciples to proclaim the good news to the whole creation. No part of creation is outside God’s plan to make all things new. So, Christians are called to promote values which reconcile humankind with all creation. When we join with other people in defence of our common earthly home, we are not just engaging in activism, but we are fulfilling the Lord’s command to proclaim to all creation the good news of God’s healing and restoring love.
Proclaim the good news to all of creation,
not just to my small part.
Oh God, who made the world, both body and gift.
Your creation groans.
What have we done?
Land and sea polluted,
death and destruction,
While we sit in comfort.
Your creation groans.
What have we done?
A damaged world,
a broken system.
Upheld by stupidity, destruction, neglect and greed.
An abuse of God’s gift,
while we disconnect.
Where is God’s voice,
God’s rolling waves of justice?
We too are God’s body,
thinking beyond ourselves,
listening for the still small voice,
swimming against the tide.
Asking what shall I do?
by whose breath all things came to be,
we thank you for the world
which manifests your glory, diversity and beauty.
Grant us the wisdom to walk gently upon the earth
and to share together your good news with all creation. Amen
Where do you see an abuse of human power, leading to destruction or neglect?
Where do you see God’s justice in the created world?
Where can we make a difference?
Wrap up warm, pack a flask and organize a nature walk with the churches in your area. Take it as time to journey together and to reconnect with the natural world of which we are all a part. You could go to a park if you are in the city, or step outdoors if you are in the countryside.
Pray for another way for the world and that we as humanity might work with creation rather than against it. Visit Go and Do to take action in the next stage of the climate justice campaign.
If the word Creationism had not been grabbed by those who hold a literal understanding of Old Testament texts, it would fit a theology that sees us as creatures of God, but also stewards of creation, working to nurture and repair his work. That’s what I would call creationism. Creation in the here and now, not thousands (or even millions) of years ago, is our calling.
Oh well, no point bleating about names! Time for a New Year’s resolution: boringly, it’s back to public health, planting trees, picking litter, making our corner of the world a little grander: and praising the Creator of it all. Laudato si! (And look out for tomorrow’s post.)
The USPG people (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel) are building a theology of creation worldwide. Here is another of their prayers.
Creating God, you have invited us to be co-creators with you and to care for your Creation. We repent of our neglect and ask that you help us to be responsible stewards of Creation and to work together for the preservation of the world.
Amen to that: Laudato Si!
More prayers from USPG at http://www.uspg.org.uk/pray
World Youth Day Pilgrims, Tatra mountains, MMB.
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oilCrushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soilIs bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.And for all this, nature is never spent;There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;And though the last lights off the black West wentOh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —Because the Holy Ghost over the bentWorld broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Oh Wisdom come and lead us.
Here is the link to Sister Johanna’s post about Jesus, God’s Wisdom. Dec 17 – O Sapientia
Professor Kate Bulinski is a paeleontologist at Bellarmine University in America. I wanted to share her guest blog at the Vatican Observatory website, as it challenges us to face up to our responsibilities to observe God’s Creation and our part in it – and to start to restore, renew and revive what we have unwittingly damaged. Here is a short sample from her post. Click on her name above to read it in full. A good Advent read. Let’s pray for the enthusiasm to carry on despite the odds, like these children, digging at Aberdaron beach, despite the rain.
I sometimes ask my students to contemplate what the fossil record of the 21st century would look like. Would we have layers of sediment embedded with plastic debris and electronic waste? … What would future humans (or our evolutionary descendants!) have to say about this era of Earth history? And perhaps more importantly, what would God say about how we responded to the charge to care for creation and how we responded once we realized the mistakes we were making?