Tag Archives: love

28 January, Little Flowers CV: St Francis appears to Brother John of Alvernia.

 

Brother John was close to Francis in life. Perhaps this story should not greatly astonish us.

Saint Francis appeared on another occasion, on Mount Alvernia, to Brother John of Alvernia, a man of great sanctity, whilst he was in prayer, and spoke with him for a long time. And at last as he was about to depart, he said to him : ” Ask of me what thou wilt.” 

And Brother John said : ” Father, I pray thee that thou wouldst tell me what I have desired to know for a long time, where thou wert and what thou wert doing when the seraph appeared to thee.’ 

Then St Francis answered : ” I was praying in that place where stands the chapel of Count Simon of Battifolle, and asked two graces of my Lord Jesus Christ; the first was that He would grant me in this life to feel in my soul and in my body, so far as possible, all the pains that He Himself felt during the time of His bitter Passion. The second grace which I asked of Him was like unto the first, that I might feel in my heart the excessive love which induced Him to suffer such a Passion for us sinners. And then God put it into my heart that He would give me to feel both the one and the other in so far as it was possible for a mere creature ; which thing indeed was fulfilled in me by the impression of the stigmas.” 

Brother John asked him again if the secret words which the seraph had spoken to him were such as had been related by the holy brother aforesaid, who affirmed that he had so heard them from St Francis in the presence of eight brothers. And St Francis replied that this was the truth as the brother had said. 

Then Brother John, taking courage through this general condescension to his requests, said : ” O father, I beseech thee let me see and kiss thy most holy and glorious stigmas, not that I doubt of aught, but solely for my consolation and because I have always so greatly desired this favour.” And St Francis with good will showed them and presented them to him, so that he both clearly saw and touched, and also kissed them. And finally Brother John asked : ” Father, what consolation didst thou not feel in thy soul when thou didst see Christ the blessed coming to thee to give thee the marks of His most sacred Passion ? Would to God that I might feel a little of the sweetness thereof! ” And St Francis answered: “Seest thou these nails ? ” Brother John said : ” Yes, father.” 

Touch once again,” said St Francis, ” this nail in my hand.” Then Brother John with great reverence and fear touched the nail, and as soon as he had touched it there came forth so great a fragrance like to a cloud of incense, that, entering by his nostrils, it filled his soul and his body with such sweetness that immediately he was ravished in ecstasy and became insensible; and thus he remained rapt in God from the hour of terce, when this took place, until vespers. 

And Brother John never spoke of this vision and familiar conversation with St Francis except to his confessor until, being near to death, he revealed it to several of the brothers. 

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24 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, VII.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 7 Agency

Matthew 5:1–8 
Job 5:1-16

Commentary

Matthew’s account of the Beatitudes begins with Jesus seeing the crowds. In that crowd he must have seen those who were peacemakers, the poor in spirit, the pure in heart, men and women who mourned, and those who hungered for justice. In the Beatitudes Jesus not only names people’s struggles, he names what they will be: the children of God and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Howard Thurman, African American theologian and spiritual advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., believed, “the religion that Jesus lived produced the kind of life for Him that identifies with the downtrodden, outcast, broken, and disinherited of the world.” Yet, Thurman also believed that, “It cannot be denied that too often the weight of the Christian movement has been on the side of the strong and the powerful and against the weak and oppressed – this, despite the gospel.”

If we listen hard enough, we will hear a diversity of voices crying out under the weight of oppression. Action is needed today to bring love, hope, justice and liberation for us and others in the future. Oppression of any kind demands that each of us chooses to engage in order to eradicate the injustice(s) that break our hearts open.

In prayer we align our hearts with the heart of God, to love what God loves and to love as God loves. Prayer with integrity therefore aligns and unites us – beyond our divisions – to love what, whom and how God loves, and to express this love in our actions.

Let us all work together with God in our hope and commitment to shut injustice’s mouth and eradicate oppression in all areas of our society.

Reflection

I see you there,
You – blessed ones,
You – poor in spirit,
You – mourners, meek ones and merciful ones.
I hear your stomachs rumble with hunger. 
Is righteousness enough to satisfy your thirst,
like rain upon the earth?
You have had your fill of the schemes of crafty ones,
been force fed so-called wisdom by the wily.
With pure and undivided hearts
you train your eyes upon God’s cause – 
to lift high the perceived lowly,
to bring to safety any who are in danger of being trampled by pride-filled footsteps of trespassers,
or stabbed by weaponised words hell-bent on cutting down and dehumanising.
Shut the mouth of injustice, God,
tear down the strongholds of the power-hungry
and give us the desire and the strength
to rebuild a realm
where all who are wounded are brought comfort,
where the inheritance is shared by all,
where swords and shields are beaten
into tools for sowing peace and reconciliation,
where healing abounds
and mouths open to sing stories of shared blessing and hope.

Prayer

God of justice,
Empower us to be agents of your grace and mercy.
Bless us with the courage to relinquish our power.
Bless us with the humility to stand with the oppressed.
Bless us with the integrity to love our neighbours 
as we ourselves would seek to be loved.

Questions

Can you think of a time when you felt powerless? How would you have liked others to respond?

Think about the ways you might have influence in your local community? How might you use that influence to help those who feel powerless?

Around the world whole communities find themselves powerless as a result of corruption and exploitation. How might the choices we make in our daily lives impact these situations?

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23 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, VI.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Day 6 Walking humbly in the way

Micah 6:6-8
Philippians 2:5-11

Commentary

Scripture reminds us that we cannot separate our love for God from our love for others. We love God when we feed the hungry, give the thirsty something to drink, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit the prisoner. When we care for and serve “one of the least of these,” we are caring for and serving Christ himself.

But we are called to go beyond giving or serving from a position of power, where we maintain our status above the person to whom we are ministering. How are we to emulate Jesus who, though he was Lord of all, became truly the servant of all? What is power, and how are we to use it and to share it in the work of God?

God calls us to honour the sacredness and dignity of each member of God’s family. Caring for, serving and loving others reveals not who they are, but who we are. As Christians, we must be unified in our responsibility to love and care for others, as we are cared for and loved by God. In so doing, we live out our shared faith through our actions in service to the world and we find our true calling as servants of the Servant King.

Reflection

Yours are the power and the glory. 
Yet we see your greatest greatness when you stoop to serve. 
Creator, give us the power to be powerless 
and bestow on us the dignity
of the servant rich in love.

Prayer

Lord of the power and the glory, 
you became for us the servant of all. 
Show us the power and the glory of servanthood
and enable us to minister to your world
according to its needs and our abilities.

Questions

Where in your personal life could you bring blessing by yielding power?

How could the churches in your community share power to become more effective in service?

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18 January: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023

Photo: Mazur/cbcew.org.uk

As we join with other Christians around the world for the Week of Prayer we pray that our hearts will be open to see and hear the many ways in which racism continues to destroy lives, and to discern the steps we can take as individuals and communities to heal the hurts and build a better future for everyone.

Made in the image of God

Genesis 1:26-28

Revelation 7:9-12

Commentary

In the first book of the Bible, we are told that we are made in the image of God, not just individually but corporately. All of humanity, people of all ethnicities, cultures, languages and religions, together represent the image of the Creator. This means that to deny that image in any one race, indeed in any one person, is to reject God’s presence in the whole of humanity.

As society becomes more indifferent to the needs of others, we, as the children of God, must learn to take up the cause of our oppressed brothers and sisters by speaking truth to power and if necessary, plead their case so that they may live in peace with justice. In doing this we will always do the right thing, will always be recognising God’s image in all of us.

Our commitment to eradicate and to be healed of the sin of racism requires us to be prepared and willing to be in relationship with our Christian sisters and brothers. That will be a sign of unity for the whole world.

Reflection

We give them names: 
refugees, asylum seekers, 
migrants, 
economic migrants, 
some more welcome than others. 
But you know their human names because they are your kin, 
stamped with your image, 
divinely human.

Prayer

You made us, God, in your own image, 
and then became one of us, 
proud of those you have made.
Make us proud of being part of that worldwide family, 
and eager to discover and celebrate your image 
in every person, every culture, every nation 
that we are privileged to encounter.

Questions

How does your church welcome those new to your community?

How can we see the image of God in people we find difficult to love?

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January 1: Old and New Year II

Greyfriars’ chapel, Canterbury.

Watch with me Jesus, in my loneliness:
Though others say me nay, yet say Thou yes;
Though others pass me by, stop Thou to bless.
Yea, Thou dost stop with me this vigil night;
To-night of pain, to-morrow of delight:
I, Love, am Thine; Thou, Lord my God, art mine.

Christina Rossetti.

Who watches whom this vigil night?

It used to be possible to visit Greyfriars’ chapel without paying an entrance fee for the gardens around it, but most hours in the daytime Saint Thomas’, Saint Dunstan’s and the Cathedral are open for prayer. We locals have free entry to the Cathedral with a resident’s pass. The Lord needs no such thing! He is there with his crook and his staff, with these he gives us comfort.

The New Year of 1999 to 2000 was well celebrated at Saint Thomas’, candles, prayers and hymns, then food and drink in the new century, but how many could not get to such events and so felt lonely? How many felt lonely and so did not dare to join fellow parishioners? How many people feel cold-shouldered and hesitate to join a group of nodding acquaintances talking together? What can we do about it this year? Let us stop what we are doing sometimes and bless our nodding acquaintances of neighbours by inviting them into our group?

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30 December: Blake’s Cradle song

A Cradle Song

Sweet dreams, form a shade
   O'er my lovely infant's head!
   Sweet dreams of pleasant streams
   By happy, silent, moony beams!
 
Sweet Sleep, with soft down
   Weave thy brows an infant crown
   Sweet Sleep, angel mild,
   Hover o'er my happy child!
 
Sweet smiles, in the night
   Hover over my delight!
   Sweet smiles, mother's smile,
   All the livelong night beguile.

 Sweet moans, dovelike sighs,
   Chase not slumber from thine eyes!
   Sweet moan, sweeter smile,
   All the dovelike moans beguile.

 Sleep, sleep, happy child!
   All creation slept and smiled.
   Sleep, sleep, happy sleep,
   While o'er thee doth mother weep.
 
Sweet babe, in thy face
   Holy image I can trace;
   Sweet babe, once like thee
   Thy Maker lay, and wept for me:
 
Wept for me, for thee, for all,
   When He was an infant small.
   Thou His image ever see,
   Heavenly face that smiles on thee!
 
Smiles on thee, on me, on all,
   Who became an infant small;
   Infant smiles are his own smiles;
   Heaven and earth to peace beguiles.

From "Songs of Innocence"

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29 December: Small acts of kindness by Father Peter.

Chicken by Abel, 7.

Father Peter shared this story in Missio magazine, Autumn 2022.

I was driving slowly in the countryside on one of Kenya’s dusty, gravelly roads.

Just ahead of me I saw a young girl walking by the side of the road carrying a chicken. As I drove past, the chicken jumped out of her hands and flew into the side of my car and was killed.


I stopped the car, got out, and apologised to the girl – although it was not my fault. The poor girl was distraught, looking down at her dead chicken lying on the road which would now not lay any eggs for the family.

Seeing her distress, I gave her 10 shillings. Her eyes lit up and a smile crossed her face. With that money she could go back to the market and buy not just one but two egg-laying chickens! Not only that, but she could also take the dead chicken home and she and her family could have a tasty meal.
Best of all – she would not face the wrath of her parents!

To live a Christ-like life, one does not need to perform heroic acts of self–sacrifice! Small everyday acts of kindness, compassion and caring can turn sadness into joy and make us channels of God’s love.

FATHER PETER
You can write to Fr Peter at:
41 Victoria Road, Formby,
Liverpool L37 1LW

Mission Today Autumn 2022 published bu Missio -England and Wales
Build a vibrant Catholic Church for the future


FATHER PETER
You can write to Fr Peter at:
41 Victoria Road, Formby,
Liverpool L37 1LW

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27 December: Saint John the Apostle

Undiluted Christmas cheer does not last long for Christians, at least we are soon shaken out of our liturgical high spirits. Yesterday we had the feast of the first Christian Deacon Stephen; today the long-suffering, beloved disciple John, imprisoned on the Island of Patmos, ‘for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ (Revelation 1:9)

Let’s hear from Eddie Gilmore of the London Irish chaplaincy talking about supporting the families of prisoners today. Here is one paragraph, you’ll find the full blog post here. Thank you, Eddie.

I’m always incredibly touched to meet people who have a loved one in prison. We often say that the family members also serve a kind of sentence, and there are all kinds of difficult feelings that they live with like shame and guilt. This was acknowledged by our excellent morning speaker, Mary from Accord, the marriage care organisation. She spoke of the importance of self-care, looking after oneself, and we all need to be reminded of that sometimes. I could have listened to Mary all day. There was then time to chat with those on our table about any issues. I was sitting next to a lovely woman from Co. Clare whose son is in prison in Devon. “He did something stupid,” she explained. I reassured her that each and every one of us in the room had done something stupid in our life but by the grace of God we hadn’t ended up in prison because of it. She went on to say that he had been lucky to get enrolled in a workshop each day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that repairs old bikes for sale on eBay, and for which he earns £12 a week. He is indeed one of the lucky ones, since many prisons in England and Wales are still enforcing ‘bang up’ of up to 23 ½ hours per day, partly due to a chronic shortage of prison officers. This young man is lucky as well in that his mother, in spite of the distance and the expense, will be making regular visits to him. It is this maintenance of family contact that has been shown to be the single most significant factor in eventual successful rehabilitation.

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21 December, Advent Light XXI: The Dayspring

After Father Tom yesterday, here is another Franciscan, Father Andrew this time, reflecting on the O Antiphon for today: O Oriens, O rising dawn, or as the English hymn has it, O come thou dayspring!

The Dayspring

The dawn drives off the dark, and day doth come
Queening away the fearsomeness of night;
But all the world is blessed Mary’s home,
Nor any hour can lack for her its night
While He, our hearts’ one Home, curled cosily,
Can even straw and stall and stable raise
To throne and palace by His royalty;
For perfect Love hath come Who casts out fear –
Now doth the Dayspring from on high appear.

Father Andrew

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

And let us sing, Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel has come to thee, O Israel! Let us be joyful this Christmas; He can raise our homes to palaces with his Kingly presence.

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15 December, Advent Light XV: Lovelight.

Another of the Anglican Franciscan Father Andrew’s Advent and Christmas poems. Some of those we are sharing this Advent were composed for parish mystery plays, so are simple in language and construction. This one is more reflective. Love came for you and me.

Lovelight

Once down some steep old Syrian stair,
A dim, sweet vision in the night,
Stepped Mary with her Blossom fair,
While God’s soft stars gave candle-light.

And oh, how steep life’s stairs might be,
And oh, how dark may be the night;
Yet since Love came for you and me
Even thorns have blossomed wondrously,
And through all dark with certainty
Love leads to Light.

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