Intention for Evangelization: – Sacrament Of Reconciliation Let us pray that we may experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation with renewed depth, to taste the infinite mercy of God.
Pope Francis and his advisors could hardly have foreseen the difficulties surrounding the Sacraments this Lent! How can we taste the infinite mercy of God at this time?
Here we see Francis opening a Door of Mercy at the beginning of his Year of Mercy; and quite a dramatic opening it was, too! The two acolytes making sure the doors don’t bang.Maybe we can set ourselves the task of opening our hearts this Lent to let the sunshine of forgiveness in and perhaps we might share a little with one or two confidants to make sure we don’t go overboard and hurt ourselves.
Now another door of mercy from Zakopane in Poland. Open and welcoming, especially decorated for the occasion. Notice the image of the good shepherd or Samaritan figure, seen below in close-up.
This was the logo of the Year of Mercy, but carved in the local style for this community and for all the visitors, like us, who called by to pray. The motto says Merciful like the Father. Quite a challenge! Mercy is not something to treasure like that single talent, but something to be lived by being merciful.
And finally this photo has been cropped to show the words, Porta Misericordiae, Door of Mercy. I can’t find the original which had the backs of people’s heads and shoulders. It’s easy to tidy other people out of sight, when really we are, as this year of covid reminds us, all in this together. So not just, Have mercy on me, a sinner, but also, Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on US. Let us pray for each other, and when we can and however we can, let us offer each other a sign of peace.
The Baptism of our Lord: a cold shock to his system!
Father Tom Herbst describes winter mornings facing the sea at Margate in this previous post from Advent time. I don’t think many baptisms happen there in January, but the sacrament is an assertion of trust in the loving God, either personally or on a child’s behalf. Jesus trusted that this moment was crucial for his growing into the One mature human, Son of God, Son of Man.
Above we see a grey sky in the Polish Tatra mountains, with light breaking through the clouds. Today Sister Hanne-Maria Berentsen OCSO shares a reflection on January grey skies over the fjord near her monastery in Norway. It comes from Northern Light, a book I shall return to.
Pope John Paul II wrote of celebrating the Eucharist ‘on the altar of the world.’ Perhaps we can give some thought to the meaning of Water, in sky, river, lake and sea, and accept a daily ‘baptism in the font of the world’ – we are within the water cycle in this life – rain, river, sea, cloud – but called to put out into deep water, like Peter and the Apostles, trusting in the loving God.
There is much pain needed to make us fully human and Christ-like … if you feel down, you can look up, look out, go out, and receive the vast sky above and around you, finding again your trust in the loving God who created all this. Even on a grey, stormy day, you can find blue spots between the clouds, holes of hope.
from Northern Light by the Cistercian Nuns of Tautra Mariakloster, Collegeville Minnesota, Liturgical Press, p4.
We will review Northern Light after re-reading it, or should I say, reading it properly!More from Cistercians later this week.
A thought from the French singer-songwriter Laurent Voulzy, who put off writing a song to Jesus for 10 years. You can hear him sing it at the link below.
Right now, I am searching, I pray every day, I go into churches and I look at the diversity of faces … and I see wickedness in some of them …
The idea of faith as perseverance, full of humour and beautiful light, is a part of my prayer. It gives me a reason to believe, to feel joy every day, even if our times do not evoke it. My faith consists of questions. God is in all the faces I see, in all the questions that I put to myself. And in my search for answers…
I recently read an article by a researcher at the John Rylands Library, Manchester. Fran Horner tells about her work. Do follow the link, especially if you enjoy being surprised poetically, and to follow up the short extract here.
Ms Horner has this to say about a particular mode of telling the truth:
It has been interesting learning about what categories of information are essential for the catalogue, for example: publisher, year published, volume and editor are all extremely important; whether I liked or disliked the poems… not so important. I have also discovered things about the appropriate type of language and structure I must use within the catalogue: the language must be succinct and consistent to ensure its reliability and usefulness as a finding aid. In the future, researchers may be using my catalogue!
Note the duty not to misinform her readers; readers she will almost surely never meet!
Let us never be slapdash with regard to truth: we may feel we are telling the truth, but are our words -and actions – as Ms Horner says, reliable witnesses in other people’s ears and eyes?
We invite you to walk the Via Crucis – the Way of the Cross – with us during these final days of Lent.
There are one or two differences between these Stations and the traditional order seen in most Catholic Churches. These have been made to bring the Stations closer to the events as told in the Gospels, and to finish the Way of the Cross at its true destination – the new life for which it is a signpost.
Each station is described by someone from the Gospels who would have gone up to Jerusalem for the Passover. Every one of their lives was changed by Jesus; now they are witnesses to his passion and death. Witnesses, not merely observers: as they tell us, each one knows this man Jesus. The meditations refer back to their encounters with Jesus. We see them learning what sort of person he was. Opening the Gospels at these passages in the light of the Passion story, may we open our hearts to let the Spirit work in us. The Scriptural reference is given for each meditation. The question, ‘Why did he have to die?’ is not an easy one to answer. These stations show how the lack of understanding, the falling short of total commitment of so many of his contemporaries — even those close to him — were part of the climate that allowed the crucifixion to happen.
You are invited to pray in solidarity with these bewildered bystanders, who, for all their failings, were good people; each of them loved, or wanted to love Jesus. At the end, none could halt his Way of the Cross. And each of them suffered a personal, private, crucifixion.
We need Jesus’ help to accept our own sufferings as the cross to be taken up daily, to follow him. We know at one level that we must suffer, but perhaps find it a long lesson to deal with it when it comes.
I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe. John 14:29.
Jesus tells us his truth – then it has to become alive in us by working itself out within each of us in our crucifixion and resurrection. Thomas Merton.
(These Stations were presented at Saint Thomas’ Church Canterbury.)
When my ten-year-old godson was baptised, he chose a new name, one that was important to him: his Father’s name.
When my son was baptised he was given names from his grandfathers and godfather. Our daughter’s names, too, were chosen to say something about who they were and where they came from.
We can learn something about a person – and their parents and ancestors – from their surnames.
And so it is when Jesus is baptised; we are told something about him: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
While John was right to say that Jesus did not need his baptism of repentance, by accepting it Jesus witnessed to his relationship with his Father – a relationship John encouraged his penitents to renew at a personal level through a symbolic death and rebirth in the water.
Let’s pray for the grace to be faithful to our baptism by daily witnessing to our relationship with the Father and by daily renewing that relationship in our moments of reflection and repentance.
The Baptism of the Lord, Basilica of the Holy Family, Zakopane, Poland.
Although NAIB has an Anglican door of mercy just outside her front door, I never expected to pass through one myself, but we entered two of them in Poland, the first at the Sanctuary of the Holy Family in Zakopane. A beautifully carved wooden frame had been constructed around the West door of the Church: you’ll have noticed that we have been using their version of the Mercy Icon when our reflections touch on the Year of Mercy. Look carefully and you’ll see it on the left of the frame.
Where should a Door of Mercy lead? This one opened onto a crucifix just inside the door, a manned confessional, then a beautiful interior, with the birds of the air upon the ceiling and scenes from local history in murals above the nave. Here, next to the altar, was the font with John baptising his cousin and Our Lord. Here was the Blessed Sacrament exposed, half a dozen faithful keeping watch.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts. Psalm 84:3
But where should a Door of Mercy lead? It leads us – not just the Old Testament High Priest – into the sanctuary, but also out of it.
We have [hope] as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, and which entereth in even within the veil; where the forerunner Jesus is entered for us, made a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech. (Hebrews 6:19-20).
We have hope and entering a door of mercy is a sign of that hope but as we exit the door we are called to be instruments of mercy, not passive recipients of it. We are called to forgive seventy times seven (some people I know can almost be that annoying!) and to have compassion on our fellow servants; to feel for them and to build them up. (Matthew 18). So now, as the Year of Mercy ends, go out through your local door of mercy and get at it! (Your door of mercy is the one you have the key to and where your letters and visitors arrive; your front door.)