To be acquainted with celestial things
is not only to know them,
but by frequent meditation to be familiar with them.
The effects of which are admirable.
For by this those things that at first seemed uncertain become evident,
those things which seemed remote become near,
those things which appeared like shady clouds become solid realities:
finally, those things which seemed impertinent to us and of little concernment,
appear to be our own, according to the strictest rules of propriety
and of infinite moment.
I felt like adding, ‘Come Holy Spirit’, to this meditation by Thomas Traherne. He seems to be writing about the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These are given to us at Baptism and Confirmation, and reinforced by frequent meditation – or as we at Agnellus’ Mirror would say, frequent reflection.
‘Impertinent’ here seems not to mean ‘cheeky’ but ‘irrelevant’; ‘little concernment’ is more like ‘nothing to do with me’. But the things and people that seem that way are connected to us; they are our brothers and sisters as Saint Francis would remind us. And of infinite moment – ‘moment’ meaning both ‘momentum’ and ‘importance’.
A different thought for Easter day. What is the meaning of the feast for us, who live in a very different world to the first century Palestine of Jesus and his disciples? What does it mean to be a disciple today. This Scottish Island farmer from early last century has an answer that can encourage us in our faith and our daily Christian life.
Seven times a day, as I work upon this hungry farm,
I say to Thee, 'Lord, why am I here?
What is there here to stir my gifts into life?
What great things can I do for others --
I who am captive to this dreary soil?'
And seven times a day, Thou answerest,
'I cannot do without thee.
Once did My Son live thy life,
and by his faithfulness did show My mind,
and my truth to men.
But now He is come to My Side,
and thou must take His place.'
Original photo of Nablus (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0): Dr. Michael Loadenthal
Day 7 “Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”
Hosea 6:1-6– (v6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice)
Matthew 6:19-21– (v21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also)
The prophet Hosea is known for his cry for justice and love to override religious ritual and regulations. We are called to make a treasure of our expression of love and our work for justice and to let that be the offering that we place before the manger. We know that God does not want our riches or burnt offerings, but rather that God’s power works through our poverty: “I have no silver or gold”. The Lord desires our loving hearts, filled with mercy, truly penitent and desiring change.
Let us then prepare the gift of a heart full of love. Kneeling in worship requires hearts that are contrite for the sin that divides us and obedient to the One we serve. This obedience revives, heals and reconciles everything that is broken or wounded in us, around us, and among us as Christians.
Unity is the gift offered to us by Christ. We grow in communion as we share the graces our different traditions have received, acknowledging that the source of all our gifts is the Lord.
through your prophets you have called us to do justice,
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.
In Christ, you have shown us what that looks like.
Through your Holy Spirit you continually enable us to hear your words,
to follow Christ’s example, and to live as his disciples.
So, as we gather at the manger, heal our wounds,
reconcile our divisions and hold us together in your love.Amen.
Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
vainly with gifts would his favour secure
richer by far is the heart's adoration;
dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.
Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
dawn on our darkness, and lend us your aid;
star of the east, the horizon adorning,
guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
Reginald Heber (1783-1826)
Global: Climate justice is being recognised as an expression of social justice with which churches can act together on a global scale. Why is this the case?
Local: Sometimes we talk of Christian Unity being advanced more easily when local churches work together on a specific project, often one involving an expression of social justice. How have you experienced this in your local area?
Personal: How do you consider the importance of church as a place for offering worship and as a place from which to call for social justice?
Global: Take time today to campaign for global justice. Visit the websites of CTBI agency partners (see https://ctbi.org.uk/membership/) to take part in their current campaign actions for social justice.
Local: Identify projects in your local area that need more support, and work together as churches to assist them.
Personal: Consider an issue of social justice that you’ve not been involved with previously and take time to find out more and take action.
We’ve received another Newsletter from the Bishops’ Synod Office. Here it is. What did I say a few weeks ago about long words and unusual vocabulary? Still, it’s good to see that they want to use the synod to help make us Christians all one.
In a joint letter of 28 October 2021, Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Mario Grech, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, addressed the Bishops responsible for ecumenism in their Episcopal Conferences and Synods of the Oriental Catholic Churches.
The two Cardinals trust that the “ecumenical dimension of the synodal process will promote both synodality and Christian unity so that ‘all may believe’ (John 17,21)”.“Indeed, both synodality and ecumenism are processes of ‘walking together’ ”. In fact, “as ecumenism can be understood as an ‘exchange of gifts’, one of the gifts Catholics can receive from the other Christians is precisely their experience and understanding of synodality”. (From the letter of cardinals Grech and Koch)
The Synod in the world We continue to receive pictures, videos, … from all over the world showing the great creativity of our communities. Be inspired: come and see!
Feel like singing?
Listen to a synod hymn by artist Merlin Dsouza, one of India’s leading music directors, composer and pianist, has a wide range of work in theatre, concerts, films (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham).
Synod and Synodality: Theological Approaches New Course at the Pontifical Gregorian UniversityThe synodal process also challenges theology to deepen what is a “constitutively synodal Church”, in order to integrate visions and skills, experiences and concerns, tradition and readings to the “signs of the times”.
The Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Gregorian University is launching a course on “synod” and “synodality”. In 12 meetings, the professors will address the topic from different angles. The aim is to create a wide space for listening and sharing among the participants, both in the classroom and online, thus implementing the synodal process and developing a truly synodal style in theology.
Programme (ONLY IN ITALIAN)Promoting a time of listening and discernment
We continue our journey to discover the spirituality of the different religious families, associations and ecclesial movements. Today we invite you to discover the Benedictine spirituality.
“The practice of listening “with the ear of the heart” sets in motion a pathway to authentic discernment of the will of God.”
Pray for the Synod In order to support the synodal journey and ask for the Spirit’s assistance, together with the World Network of Prayers of the Pope and UISG, we have set up a website in 5 languages: Church on the Way. Pray for the Synod. From 2 November, you too can send your prayer. See how to do it… Copyright 2021 General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, All rights reserved. You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.
Our mailing address is: General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops Via della Conciliazione, 34 Vatican City 00120 Vatican City State (Holy See)
It is an indelible principle of Eternal truth,
that practice and exercise is the Life of all.
Should God give you worlds, and laws, and treasures,
and worlds upon worlds,
and Himself also in the Divinest manner,
if you will be lazy and not meditate, you lose all.
The soul is made for action,
and cannot rest till it be employed.
Idleness is its rust.
Unless it will up and think and taste and see,
all is in vain.
A pilgrimage is practice and exercise for body and soul. This summer, may I up and think and taste and see – a pilgrim even if only in the familiar streets of my home town. Ponder:
It was only late last night that I saw this from Revd. Jo: some prayers, offered for the day of reflection on the effects of Covid-19, from the Church of England:
Loving God, You hold all our times in your hands, our past, our present, our future. Be close to us now as we remember all the difficulties and disappointments of the past year. Be especially close to all of us who are thinking of someone we loved and knew, but see no longer, whether family, friend, colleague or neighbour. Help us to trust that they are at peace with you, and comfort us with your presence.
Loving God, You place us in families and communities, and we give you thanks for all those around us who serve us and help us in so many ways. Give wisdom to community leaders, to our schools, hospitals, care homes and other agencies who make a difference to our lives. Help each of us to have the courage to reach out with thanks and kindness to those around us and to speak words of faith as we share the good news of your love.
Loving God, As we journey towards Easter, help us to live as people of hope, knowing that beyond the pain of the cross lies the joy of resurrection. Inspire us in our worship, through our churches and in our homes, that we may bring glory to you and joy to others. Be with those who are struggling in mind, body or spirit, and give courage to those who are facing uncertainty and change ahead. Help each of us to keep our eyes fixed on you, that we may reflect your light to all whom we meet.
Dear God, Be with us as we think about all that has changed this year, And help us to trust that you are always with us. Be close to us as we remember those who have died, And help us to trust they are at peace with you. Show us how to reach out to others with kindness and care, So that hope shines out in every heart and home, Amen
God of Love, As we think about all that has changed this year, help us to trust that you are always with us. As we remember those who have died, help us to trust they are at peace with you. As we reach out to others with kindness and care, may hope shine out in every heart and home. Amen
Here is another posting by Eddie Gilmore of London’s Irish Chaplaincy. I’ve just shared a paragraph from the middle, but the whole article, and the links he provides, are worth your perusal. Eddie writes as a musician, so his thoughts on angels and other intelligent beings’ singing are most interesting.
We are told that angels sang at the birth of Christ. Who were those celestial beings that sang at an event that was never going to be on the front page of the Bethlehem Gazette? Whoever they were, I’ll bet they laid down a good tune, with some sublime harmonies and with no one angel hogging the limelight. And what about their unusual audience that starry night? Shepherds, who were outcasts in their community because staying out in the fields at all hours meant that they were unable to observe the normal rituals of the Jewish faith, and who might as well have been a bit tipsy, since they were known to have a little toddy to keep themselves warm. And then those three mysterious characters who had followed a star and who arrived with gifts that the mother of a newly-born wouldn’t exactly find that practical!
I have to say, though, I thought the wise men’s gifts had their uses. Gold would have got the Family to Egypt and bought new tools for Joseph. Frankincense might have sweetened the air of the stable, myrrh helped look after Baby Jesus’ skin, especially in the nappy area. At least, so I used to tell the children!
“This is no time to save, but spend, To give for nothing, not to lend. Let foes make friends: let them forget The mischief-making dead that fret The living with complaint like this— “He wronged us once, hate him and his.” Christmas has come; let every man Eat, drink, be merry all he can. Ale’s my best mark, but if port wine Or whisky’s yours—let it be mine; No matter what lies in the bowls, We’ll make it rich with our own souls. Farewell to study, books and pen, And welcome to all kinds of men.”
From Foliage: Various Poems by W. H. Davies. A man who had known poverty, living on the streets, before he was taken up by other writers.
This follows on from Robert Browning’s courting of Elizabeth Barrett, an invalid likely to produce an invalid child. On the other hand, had there been testing for potential diseases and disabilities, would – should – Robert Louis Stevenson have been allowed to live? Chesterton knew his answer. (RLS was born this day in 1850)
What is the good of telling people that if they marry for love, they may be punished by being the parents of Keats or the parents of Stevenson? Keats died young; but he had more pleasure in a minute than a Eugenist gets in a month. Stevenson had lung-trouble; and it may, for all I know, have been perceptible to the Eugenic eye even a generation before. But who would perform that illegal operation: the stopping of Stevenson?
Intercepting a letter bursting with good news, confiscating a hamper full of presents and prizes, pouring torrents of intoxicating wine into the sea, all this is a faint approximation for the Eugenic inaction of the ancestors of Stevenson. This, however, is not the essential point; with Stevenson it is not merely a case of the pleasure we get, but of the pleasure he got. If he had died without writing a line, he would have had more red-hot joy than is given to most men. Shall I say of him, to whom I owe so much, let the day perish wherein he was born? Shall I pray that the stars of the twilight thereof be dark and it be not numbered among the days of the year, because it shut not up the doors of his mother’s womb? I respectfully decline; like Job, I will put my hand upon my mouth.
from “Eugenics and Other Evils” by Gilbert Keith Chesterton.
GKC took the writers Keats and Stevenson as examples of the unhealthy humans that the Eugenicists of his day would have aborted but it was illegal. As for today … I only have to think of our bridesmaids, now departed, who lived a full life with Down’s syndrome, to know how wrong it would have been to prevent their birth; and also the men who were locked away in ‘subnormality hospitals’, yet came out and contributed greatly to the founding of L’Arche Kent.
Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and much more, after years of illness and travelling to find a cure for his lung condition, died in Samoa aged 44 in 1894, where he was buried with this epitaph:
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
the hunter home from the hill.