Showing posts from June, 2013

A gaze of tenderness

Today the Church celebrates the feast of our Lady of Perpetual Help. For the occasion I wanted to share with you a short reflection I had prepared on the icon of our Lady of Tenderness. The Virgin of Vladimir is the most venerated icon in all Russia and has escaped many fires and plunderers. The Virgin is shown inclined in an attitude of contemplation while the Child rests on her arm with His cheek against hers. This attitude expresses not so much the maternal tenderness of Mary as her power to elicit tenderness in her Son as she intercedes with Him for the human race. Her eyes look neither toward the Child, nor at the viewer, but rather inward to the heart of God and outward to the heart of the world. The meaning of Mary's gaze is further enhanced by the bright stars on her forehead and shoulders. They indicate not only her virginity before, during and after the birth of Jesus, but also speak of a divine presence that permeates part of her being. She is completely open to the Spi…

Who do you say I am?

"Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"  They said in reply, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, 'One of the ancient prophets has arisen.'" Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said in reply, "The Messiah of God." He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. "
Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 9:18-24.

This is the question Jesus wants to have the disciples wrestle with: "Who do you say I am?" Now that they have been with Him all this time, seen and heard so much, who did they think that He was?  For some reason, their automatic response is to compare Him to someone else like John the Baptism, Elijah, Moses. Conventional wisdom suggests if you want to be happy you shouldn’t compare yourself to other people. However this isn’t always realistic. We seem to want to always c…

The Psalms: A song for the Beloved

From the Office of Readings for today:
Second Reading: A commentary on the Psalms by St Ambrose "I shall sing in spirit, and with understanding."
What is more pleasing than a psalm? David expresses it well: Praise the Lord, for a song of praise is good: let there be praise of our God with gladness and grace. Yes, a psalm is a blessing on the lips of the people, a hymn in praise of God, the assembly’s homage, a general acclamation, a word that speaks for all, the voice of the Church, a confession of faith in song. It is the voice of complete assent, the joy of freedom, a cry of happiness, the echo of gladness. It soothes the temper, distracts from care, lightens the burden of sorrow. It is a source of security at night, a lesson in wisdom by day. It is a shield when we are afraid, a celebration of holiness, a vision of serenity, a promise of peace and harmony. It is like a lyre, evoking harmony from a blend of notes. Day begins to the music of a psalm. Day closes to the echo o…

Celebrating Father's Day!

This Sunday, in some parts of Europe and in Northern America, we celebrate Father’s Day. Father's Day is a time for all fathers to reflect upon their duties as responsible and well-integrated men.  Dare I say I have many special ‘fathers’ in my life that I remember with gratitude on this Father's Day. No, I haven’t gone mad or become a crack pot (see my last post!).

My Dad, Ray, as he was known to most people, left us to go home to God in 2006. We still miss him so much. When someone close to you dies, you get a hole right through you, a hole in your life and your experience. You always miss them, and you are never the same. So Father’s Day is a bitter sweet day for me. It is filled of memories of Dad which bring our past into our present and manage to connect us to a future where one day we will meet again. But until then in our lives there is still a gap that cannot be filled and never should be. Emotions are frightening little creatures who have the capacity to creep up on…

Blessed are the cracked!

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” (today’s First Reading).
Sometimes our work as Christians isn’t the most wonderful-looking thing. But from God’s point of view, that’s not important, for there’s something much greater at stake. And that’s the question of who gets the credit. Our appearance of success isn’t important; what really matters is whether outsiders can see if our work is the work of God. And to this end, God fills our hard-pressed lives with his power and l…

St. Joseph the Hymnographer and the Happy Band of Pilgrims!

Today the Roman Catholic Church honours Saint Joseph the Hymnographer ! I already hear you say, who!? He was a monk of the ninth century. He is one of the greatest liturgical poets and hymnographers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is also known for his confession of the Orthodox Faith in opposition to Iconoclasm and is often called "the sweet-voiced nightingale of the Church". His feast day is celebrated on April 3 among the Eastern Christians. He reportedly possessed the "gift of discernment" because of which Photius appointed him the spiritual father and confessor for priests, recommending him as, "A man of God, an angel in the flesh and father of fathers." He died peacefully in great old age on the eve of Holy and Great Thursday in either 883 or 886 AD.

 Joseph composed numerous canons and hymns for many saints, and is credited with approximately 1,000 works. His hymns are still sung, not only by Eastern Christians, but by Western Christians as wel…

Waiting for miracles

In today’s liturgy, we are presented with two different miracles. One in the first reading from the First Book of Kings and the second in the Gospel according to St. Luke. Baker's Dictionary of the Bible defines a miracle as "an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God." It goes on to add that a miracle occurs to show that the power behind it is not limited to the laws of matter or mind as it interrupts fixed natural laws. The origin of the English word goes back via Middle English and Old French, to the Latin miraculum, from mirari, to wonder at, from mirus, wonderful. We also get the word ‘mirare’, ‘to look upward’ in Italian. Since the end of my lectures a few weeks again, I have had a little bit more time to ponder and to wonder at the smaller details of life. C. S. Lewis tells us that “miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large f…

Breaking stereotypes about nuns!

“Why is it in popular culture -- and even in some Catholic circles as well -- we like our nuns buttoned up, predictable, and contained? Why is it that we don't mind outbursts of singing and giddiness, but we have a problem with normal, accurate displays of strength, balance, relationship, compassion, and zeal for God's mission?” (from a Nun’s life, 6th of June 2013).

When I read today’s blog from A Nun’s Life, it really got me thinking. Recently a friend said to me that I break the stereotypes of a nun/sister, probably something to do with my recent rollerblading!

People have varying opinions about me being present in the big world of social media. It is important for me to be present and as a younger religious to be able to dispel many of the stereotypes that there are out there about sisters. I am surprised by the many people, from so many different walks of life who make contact, be it through Facebook, twitter, email and even through this little blog. More than often, w…

Counteract a culture of waste: live simply so that others may simply live!

Catechesis from Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square on the 5th of June 2013, World Environment Day.

"Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today I want to focus on the issue of the environment, which I have already spoken of on several occasions. Today we also mark World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations, which sends a strong reminder of the need to eliminate the waste and disposal of food.

When we talk about the environment, about creation, my thoughts turn to the first pages of the Bible, the Book of Genesis, which states that God placed man and woman on earth to cultivate and care for it (cf. 2:15). And the question comes to my mind: What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it? The verb "to cultivate" reminds me of the care that the farmer has for his land so that it bear fruit, and it is shared: how much attention, passion and dedication! Cultivati…

Blind to our blindness

Today is a research day so I am trying to make progress on my seminar paper. It seemed that even the liturgy today was giving me a little ‘kick’ to get motivated. Listening to the readings at Mass today and found myself thinking about my paper.

 “On the night of Pentecost, after I had buried the dead, I, Tobit, went into my courtyard to sleep next to the courtyard wall.  My face was uncovered because of the heat.
I did not know there were birds perched on the wall above me, till their warm droppings settled in my eyes, causing cataracts. I went to see some doctors for a cure, but the more they anointed my eyes with various salves, the worse the cataracts became, until I could see no more. For four years I was deprived of eyesight, and all my kinsmen were grieved at my condition. Ahiqar, however, took care of me for two years, until he left for Elymais.” (Book of Tobit 2:9-14).

How is this connected ? Well, my topic for the seminar paper is actually based on Canon 930.
Canon 930 §1 A p…