Tag Archives: happiness
JESUS TAKES UP HIS CROSS
Luke tells us the young man was one of the aristocracy. He would have been well known to Herod and the High Priestly Families, and able to gain entry anywhere in Jerusalem, including the Roman fort. Luke tells the story in Chapter 18, 18-23
I know this man; He is a good man, a good man.
He seemed to have something, to know something, something I could never quite get hold of. Something I could not understand.
I kept the law as well as anyone — God knows I tried to live by the rules. I should have been happy, knowing I was doing what God wanted but happiness was always just out of reach.
The Kingdom of God, Jesus said, is among you; it is close at hand, it belongs to the children. If you want to get there welcome the Kingdom like a child. Sell everything, give the money to the poor and follow me.
Follow him? Now?
Let us pray :
Lord, show us what we need to throw away to be able to take up our cross and follow you — now. Show us that you are at hand when life is difficult. Lord in your mercy.
Brocagh School, Glenfarne, Leitrim, c1969.
It was snowing and Tommy was really happy. This was the real Christmas scene. It was soft fluffy snow which made really good snowballs. Moreover, it was holidays so perhaps he would be able to go tobogganing with his brothers and sister. Perhaps even Mum and Dad would come too. That would be great. He loved it when they did things together as a family. It filled him with a warm glow. He heard his father singing in the bathroom whilst he stropped his razor.
Then he went down to breakfast and was glad to see it was porridge with honey. His Mum came in and kissed him. She looked very fit and he knew she did exercises every day and went to the pool twice every week so hopefully she would feel OK about tobogganing. ‘I must check my sledge, Mum.’
‘Yes, you should because last year we didn’t have any snow to speak of and you didn’t use it, but it looks fine for tobogganing today. I wish I could come but I have to go Christmas shopping with your Aunt Clara in Canterbury.’
‘You might not be able to get to Canterbury’, said Tommy hopefully.
‘Yes the busses are running. However, your Dad’s not going to work today and he really likes tobogganing. He can use the old tin tray. It’s under the draining board’.
Tommy went to get ready and join his brothers and sister. Dad came down full of merriment and eager to get going. Soon they were all kitted out in their warmest clothes with scarves, winter boots and gloves.
Outside it was pretty cold but they did not have far to go to the snow covered slopes of the hill behind their house. They met lots of people they knew and when they arrived at the slopes it was packed so they decided to go for a walk first.
They went for a long walk and came back home hungry and cold. Tommy’s sister and brothers prepared some lunch whilst Dad lit the log fire in the lounge. Then feeling a bit drowsy, they all dozed off until Mum returned.
They had tea together and were revived. As they became more animated Tommy’s brother Ralph went outside and said it had stopped snowing and was a beautiful moonlit night. So they all decided to go tobogganing and Tommy was very excited about the prospect of hurtling down the run in the moonlight with all his family all around.
There were still quite a few people about but nothing like as many as in the morning. The run was still smooth and hard because it was beginning to freeze. Tommy watched as his brothers and sister started their runs. He heard his father, who was an engineer say to him: ‘Son, remember it’s all about using your body weight effectively,’ but he knew instinctively what to do and enjoyed his first run down and joked with his brothers and sister at the bottom of the run.
Some people had brought flasks of hot chocolate and buns which were very welcome. Then the younger folk started to organise races in which Tommy did very well. However, his Mum seemed rather anxious and asked Tommy if he had seen his Dad recently. Tommy remembered his Dad’s last remark to him before he set off on his first run. He had not seen him since so he started to ask around but none of his family or friends had seen him for at least half an hour. So they started a serious search at the bottom of the run and in the bushes on the side thinking he might have veered off course.
But there was no sign of Dad and Tommy was very worried. He kept calling, ‘Dad! Dad!’, but there was no response. Suddenly the front door of a house to the side of the run was opened and there was Tommy’s Dad, all merry and bright. Dad described what had happened, somewhat contritely for despite what he told Tommy about weight distribution, his own weight was too much on one side; consequently he slid off course and into the house at the side of the track.
The crowd which had gathered were highly amused by Dad’s account of what had transpired and thought that perhaps they should have a ‘whip round’ to buy him a proper sledge rather than allow him to go sliding on a tin tray virtually into people’s living rooms, with the obvious intention of getting a Christmas drink.
Dad took all the ribaldry in good part and to show his sportsmanship decided to go for one final slide on his tin tray.
Tommy was very proud of his Dad, though the phrase about weight distribution would always be remembered as a reminder of the old adage, ‘practise what you preach’.
I just learnt that Constantina, our artist and ikon writer, got married this morning! Congratulations and every blessing on the happy couple!
Will, Maurice and the team!
Saint Francis is known for his Christmas Crib, among many other things. All sorts of additions have been made to the Nativity scene since then, often reflecting the way of life around where a crib is set.
Our family crib too has extras for our delight. The West Highland Terrier is a rescue dog; he has attached himself to the Magi on the way to the stable of Bethlehem in our living room, where he was found wedged under the skirting when the floor was sanded and polished.
As for the little black cat who has taken up residence in the stable already, making friends with the gentle cow: she is another foundling. When our daughters were little I would bring home these tiny toy animals, each in its own tiny bag from a tiny shop in Broadstairs; unwrapping them on Friday evening started the weekend. There was delight when this one was unearthed in the garden; she was gone but not forgotten. In gratitude for those happy days, she will sit in the stable for years to come.
We are on the way to meet the Lord, but we may be surprised to see who is ready to greet us when we get there!
This battered Madonna and the star come from the cemetery chapel of the former French Jesuit School in Canterbury, whose pupils helped Saint Thomas’s through some lean years in early days.
When I was writing the history of Saint Thomas’s Catholic Primary School in Canterbury I found in 1970s parish magazines these prayers written by children:
Dear Jesus, please help me to go to Mass at Christmas. Give my family a happy day without any fighting or fussing. – EMc
Dear Lord, please make my Christmas joyful and happy. I will try not to be greedy, but I hope I get enough. – JG.
O Lord, thank you for a happy year. I ask for 100 good new ones. – LE.
Surely LE’s childhood was happy: to ask for a hundred good new years implies that the nine or ten she had lived so far were good. Deo Gratias indeed!
JG’s prayer suggests that he knew his attitude could contribute to a joyful and happy Christmas. Perhaps greed had blighted Christmas or other times past?
Greed will never admit to having enough. Let’s pray for an attitude of gratitude! Christmas gifts should be tokens of love, not awards for being good.
I hope EMcC knew only the sibling squabbling and bossiness that drives parents mad but is not deep-dyed animosity.
He clearly valued being at Christmas Mass. When I was little, Midnight Mass was long anticipated. An army of altar servers somehow managed not to trip up each other or the priest, deacon and subdeacon. The MC had to be creative in allocating duties, so that everyone had something to do: all those torchbearers? Well, we had a place to kneel, out of the way, our hands out of mischief; perhaps those flames added a little to the solemnity?
(When Friends of FISC visited the cemetery chapel this summer, we lit candles as we prayed; they certainly added to the solemnity.)
Let’s pray, finally, for something deeper than solemnity: for awe. Awe at the bundle of cells that has become baby Jesus; awe at who Jesus is, and that his coming tells us how ridiculously the Father has loved us.
(Sculptures in Assisi, near Domus Pacis)
‘…when you have a party, invite the poor…’
I work as a volunteer in a community centre that provides food for homeless people. Working in the Centre has exposed me to meeting different people with different needs. Some just need someone to notice they exist, some just want to be left alone, while others would like to chat. One particular client created a deep impression on me. He was man of middle age. Looking at his face and disposition, I wondered what made him always happy and smiling. It was obvious he could not boast even of basic necessities of life – food, clothing and shelter. One day, I summoned courage to ask him why he was on the streets. This was his response: “you know sister, as an ex-convict it is difficult to find a job” but he told me he was determined to stay ‘clean’. His response made me admire his courage and wish I could do more to help him. There is this tendency of mine to write myself and others off because of one mistake or other, but everyone given the chance is capable of changing from bad to good decisions. I thank that man and others at the centre for helping me “learn to love without condition. Talk without bad intention, and most of all care for people without any expectation” (The Essence of Life).