The Empire builders drew a straight line in the sand dividing Syria and Iraq, and all those similarly ruled boundaries in Canada and Australia. Was anyone asked would they rather be in Manitoba or Saskatchewan? Thank God those boundaries cause little friction.
The Welsh border with England has very few straight bits, and the area around Oswestry is a case in point. On the map England seems to have taken a huge bite out of Wales, and place names in English and Welsh turn up on either side of the border. Maesbury is a mishmash of the two, and Welsh Frankton is definitely in England.
The New Saints Football Club play in the Welsh Premier League but have their ground in Oswestry, England, and so it goes on.
The Old Saint of Oswestry was King Oswald of Northumbria who died at Oswald’s Tree – or Oswestry – in the 7th Century, battling against the pagan Mercians and their Welsh allies – who of course were more than capable of going to war against Mercia when the fit was on them. Or of marrying across the border as seems to have happened more than once in my own family.
Let us be grateful for peaceful co-existence along the Marches of England and Wales and pray for peace along the many borders that divide rather than unite people in our world today.
Oswald from a Ms in New York Public Library:
File:Stoswaldaskingnyplspencer1f89r.jpg From Wikipedia
Whatever happens in Syria, the L’Arche Community is still living its vocation. Here is a letter (in English) reviewing the last year at Christmastime.
We have celebrated Christmas in joy, as faced with our daily situation, celebrations are a call to us not to be drawn into deadly sorrow. Celebration is the best remedy against the absurd and despair.
Please pray for all Christians and Muslims living the call not to be drawn into deadly sorrow.
Was it their overcoats or their hearts burning within them (Luke 24:34) that kept these pilgrims warm in Krakow?
Here is a thought to dwell on, when I get ready to go out on these cold winter’s days, up here in the Northern hemisphere. But it applies even in the warm, sunny South, and actualy comes from Friar Francesco Patten OFM, the Custos, or guardian, of the shrines in the Holy Land.
Franciscanism entered into me partly because I have the name [Francesco] and partly because my family taught me that the faith is not an overcoat but the core, sustaining life.
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The Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land come from many nations. They support the local Church in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as welcoming pilgrims. They rely on our support.
Pray for Peace on Jerusalem and on all the lands of the Bible.
On the evening of this day in 1170, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury was hacked to death in his Cathedral. In March 1980, Oscar, Archbishop of San Salvador was gunned down while celebrating the Eucharist.
Two big names from the recent and distant past, both remembered as saints: but what of the thousands suffering persecution and death for their faith today? Not just ‘professional Christians’ like the two archbishops but men, women and children, starved, beaten, exiled, murdered.
Let us pray for those suffering persecution and those trying to help them, including the Franciscans of the Holy Land in Syria. Let us pray, too, for a change of heart among those who are persecuting their brothers and sisters, choosing hatred and fear over love as their way of life. And let us pray that our own hearts be changed, our eyes opened to see what our part might be in this mess: cheap bananas, means low wages, means workers repressed; or cheap petrol,leading to invasion of Iraq, leading to persecution of allegedly ‘West-sympathising’ Christians.
And we can ask for the support of the martyrs as we pray:
- Holy and blissful martyr, Thomas of Canterbury: pray for us
- Blessed Oscar Romero: pray for us
- All holy martyrs: pray for us.
- Mary mother of the Church: pray for us.
I suggested yesterday that there is something ridiculous – humanly speaking – about the whole Christmas story. But we love stories! Books, TV, films, The Archers on the radio, all have their followers – and their detractors. We learn who we are through stories.
When training as a teacher I reviewed a children’s picture book about the Rhine, a few words and some rather good photographs, including the Lorelei Rock. After the story of the sirens luring boats to destruction was told the young reader was asked, Do you think this story is true?
Abel is now eighteen months, a little young to listen to stories, but not too young to tell himself some. Among his words are digger, car, and brrrrm. Enough to start conversations in what some people call the real world, as he points to his Dad’s or his grandmother’s car. Enough to recognise a toy digger as a digger, and push it along, brrrrm. Enough to recognise a cartoon of a car on a tiny sticker given to me by one of his Auntie’s pupils. Is it a true car?
The idea of a car does not depend on size for Abel. Yes, some will dismiss the toy and sticker as unreal. But as Fr Kurzynski suggested yesterday, we are in danger of just not getting it. Small and big may well look different from a divine point of view. Or even from a deeply human one – see our post “A World of my own?” last May 14.
In this life, Jesus started off very small … Be grateful for small mercies.
And let’s pray today for mercy on innocent children suffering in war zones in Congo, Syria and elsewhere.
Franciscans in war-torn Syria
Allow me to share this story published by Independent Catholic News, which tells a little of what Franciscans and others are doing in Aleppo despite the fighting.