More from the Letters of Fr Andrew SDC, pioneer Anglican Franciscan, 1869-1946.
As you know, the word ‘sacrifice’ … just means the thing that is made holy.
It could not be God’s will to desire a thing because it was painful; no pain, no sorrow, no evil can be His ultimate desire. The pain of sacrifice is for a while: the holiness is for all time.
But for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear … our life here is not only baptised but signed with the Cross. There never was yet an unscarred saint.
Much of the world celebrates Corpus Christi today. Here is another reflection from the early Anglican Franciscan, Fr Andrew SDC.
I have often thought of the bread we use in Holy Communion. First of all it is a blade growing in the field, and then part of a golden cornfield over which winged birds fly and amongst which the poppies and the wild flowers grow. Then it is plucked and subjected to the action of fire and water and kneaded into bread, and then it is laid upon God’s Table, waiting for the Holy Spirit to become his means of grace.
it seems such a parable of our life. We are not really put to the highest use until we have been plucked out of the world, ground and kneaded and given to God to do just what he likes with us, even as He gave Himself for us.
This evening we have the Eucharist; the Maundy or Mandatum, the servant-king washing the disciples’ feet; and we have Christ going out to the garden and his death. This is a Feast that should remind us of the Church’s mission, to love.
I like this reflection, written in wartime by Father Andrew SDC, which reminds us of this truth about the Church which so often is obscured.
The Church is not an organisation managed by men but an organism indwelt by God, and for that reason you should go to Holy Communion on Sundays and great Festivals if you can. Père Huvelin, Baron von Hügel’s confessor, told him to say a decade of the Rosary every day to keep him in the company of ordinary, simple people in the Church. I am sure it is your duty to go as regularly as you can to Holy Communion to keep yourself in the Body of Christ.
Bad as the world is, ‘God so loved it that he gave’ his blessed Son for it.
Bad as the Church is, ‘Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it.’
Bad as I am, ‘He loved me and gave himself for me.’
Those are the three loves of God: the world, the Church, the individual.
God bless and keep you in His tender love.
The Rood at Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge shows Christ the Vine – an image he used on this night (John 15:1-8), bearing fruit, giving us the Eucharist, and reigning now he is lifted up. The Mass is a special celebration in Zambia.
We are told (Luke 1.29) that, at the Annunciation, Mary ‘was troubled at his (the angel’s) saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.’ The troubles did not end there, as Simeon foretold: (Luke 2:35) ‘And thy own soul a sword shall pierce.’
I would like to take a sideways look at this story with a passage from Father Andrew SDC, writing to a woman recently bereaved in World War II.
‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,’ (1 Corinthians 15:19) because, indeed, as S. Paul knew so well from his own experiences, our Christian hope brings us all sorts of pains which we only have because of it; I mean the pain that comes from the failure to live up to it, and the pain of sacrifices made because of it, and also as it deepens and enriches our relationships and makes our friendships much more deep and sacred, so our partings are made more poignant as each beloved one is taken from us. But it is not in this life only that we have hope in Christ, and so we can smile through our tears and be sure that our dear ones are with Christ, and nearer to him are not farther from us.
Life and Letters of Fr Andrew, p 162.
How much pain Mary took on trust when she agreed to the angel’s request!
Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa with symbols of the gifts their congregation shared with the people of Zambia, where their Mission has been passed on to others.
Photo: Missionaries of Africa
Another word from Fr Andrew SDC:
My point about the widow’s mite was just that it is true of all things. God does not ask you to have much but to give what you have to give, if it is only two mites of money, or time, or character, or intellect, or anything else.
God bless and keep you.
Sometimes it does feel as though I need to dig deep to find anything to share with people, let alone with God, so today I’m grateful to receive Fr Andrew’s words, and glad to share them with you. And to relate his wisdom to the giving of the sisters symbolised in the picture above. My symbol today might be a hand scratching my head: I’m grateful to receive Fr Andrew’s words!
Life and Letters of Father Andrew p98.
Yesterday’s reflection seemed incomplete after I’d set it down, though I could not put my finger on why until I found this passage from the pioneering Anglican Franciscan, Father Andrew:
Try to keep a brave will. Minds may wander and hearts feel cold, but if the will is trudging on, however heavily, love is loyal.
The most costly service is really the truest service. it is all part of that spiritual mortification which is part of the inevitable process of the soul’s education.
Mortification is not a word that springs to my mind all that often – this is the first time I’ve tagged it on this blog in 18 months. Maybe I’m just such a big softie that I was rewarded with the snowdrop for the mini-motrification of trudging on with my litter picking. Well, I was glad to see the snowdrop. Laudato Si!
Continuing with Father Andrew SDC.
It is to me a comfort to think that the most natural thing in the whole world is also the most supernatural, and that is love.
The Life and Letters of Father Andrew, p159.
And turning now to the Welsh poet, W.H. Davies, to amplify that thought.
Love is a staff, and Love’s a rod,
A wise man and a fool;
I thought that I was wise, until
Love sent me back to school.
The Song of Love IV, 1926.
Let’s pray for the humility to go back to school and learn from those we meet. God loves us, ‘supernaturally’ as we used to say, through their natural love for us, whether as spouse, parent, child, friend, or the one who smiles at us in the ticket office.
More from Father Andrew, SDC; written in war time.
If we just live in this world we do have tribulation, but if we live in the Sacred Heart we are able to be of good cheer though we are in the midst of that which is cheerless, for He Who told us to be of good cheer is Himself in the midst of us.
I shall indeed keep you in my heart and my prayer, my dear Child.
God Bless and keep you.
The Life and Letters of Father Andrew, p 120. Edited Kathleen E Burne, Mowbrays, 1948.
And God bless and keep you all, all our readers. Thank you for being with us.
One cold January day I was informed that my student ‘was in a bad place’ and had gone to see a counsellor. Father Andrew’s words here would not resonate for them just now but this can be a difficult time of year for many people. As we come to Candlemas when Simeon met Mary and Joseph at the Temple, only to recognise Jesus as the Saviour, let us take to heart his words, accepting his own coming death in peace, while warning Mary of great hurt to come.
The Queen of Saints said, ‘Be it unto me according to Thy word,’ and old Simeon said, ‘Lord, now lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word.’ The unfolding of what God’s word was to be for her meant, as Simeon told her, that a sword should pierce her own soul. It may be that you and I have to know the unfolding of God’s word in a soul-piercing. It does not cloud our joy really that it may be so, nor does it trespass upon our peace.
The Life and Letters of Fr Andrew p120.
Let us pray for all who feel broken hearted, desperate and desolate that they may find true peace even in great adversity.
Here am I dying in the dark, and I came to bring light to the World. I am dying at the hands of hate, and I came to bring love to the world. Death is closing in on me, and I came to bring life to the world. But I remain true to my Faith; dying in the dark I believe in the Light; killed by hate I trust Love; with death closing in on me I believe in Life; on the third day I shall rise again.
In any darkness still trust the Light, in any hatred still trust love, and be sure that, though all consciousness be slipping from you and you yourself seem to be slipping into a void, eternal Life is yours.
These words of Fr Andrew SDC complement yesterday’s reflection by Tennyson. ‘Still trust the Light!’
Life and Letters of Father Andrew, p118.