One Minute Reflection – 22 April – Monday of Easter Week, Gospel: Matthew 28:8–15
And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Hail!”...Matthew 28:9
At dawn you were mourned
By women bearing spices,
Grant that my heart may also shed
Tears of fire for your burning love.
By grace of the angel’s tidings
Shouted from the pinnacle of the rock (Mt 28,2),
Let me hear the last trumpet sound
Proclaiming the resurrection.
With your body born of a Virgin
You were raised from a tomb, virgin and new,
You became for us the first-fruits
And firstborn from the dead
As for me, bound by the Foe
With the evil of bodily sin,
Set me free once more
As you have freed souls in the dwelling of the dead (1Pt 3:19).
You revealed yourself in the garden
To Mary Magdalene,
But have not consented to approach
One who is yet part of a fallen race.
Show yourself also to me on the eighth day,
At the great and final dawn
And graciously grant my unworthy soul
To draw near you at that time.
St Nerses Chnorhali (1102-1173) Armenian Catholic Patriarch
PRAYER – Lord God, grant that Your people may hold fast in life to the mystery of new birth, which they received in faith. May Your glorified Son, Jesus our Hope, who broke the power of hell, destroying sin and death, stay ever with us in our struggles against temptation and guide our steps along the path that leads to a holy earthly end and to You in everlasting life. Mary, holy Mother, please help your children. Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with God The Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen
Lenten Reflection – 12 April – Friday of the Fifth Week, Year C
Jeremiah 20:10-13; Psalms 18:2-3A, 3BC-4, 5-6, 7; John 10:31-42
Again they tried to arrest him but he escaped from their hands...John 10:39
Odes of Solomon
(Hebrew Christian text from
the beginning of the 2nd century)
As the wings of doves over their nestlings…
So also are the wings of the Spirit over my heart.
My heart continually refreshes itself and leaps for joy
Like the babe who leaps for joy in his mother’s womb.
I trusted, consequently I was at rest;
because trustful is he in whom I trusted.
He has greatly blessed me, and my head is with him.
And the dagger shall not divide me from him,
nor the sword .
Because I am ready before destruction comes,
and have been placed in his incorruptible arms.
And immortal life embraced me and kissed me.
And from that (life) is the Spirit which is within me.
And it cannot die because it is life.
Those who saw me were amazed,
because I was persecuted.
And they thought that I had been swallowed up,
because I appeared to them as one of the lost.
But my defamation became my salvation.
And I became their abomination,
because there was no jealousy in me.
Because I continually did good to every man
I was hated.
And they surrounded me like mad dogs (Ps 22:17)
those who in stupidity attack their masters.
Because their mind is depraved and their sense is perverted.
But I was carrying water in my right hand,
and their bitterness I endured by my sweetness.
And I did not perish, because I was not their brother,
nor was my birth like theirs.
And they sought my death but were unsuccessful
because I was older than their memory.
And in vain did they cast their lots against me.
And those who were after me
Sought in vain to destroy the memorial of him
Who was before them.
Because the mind of the Most High cannot be surpassed
And his heart is superior to all wisdom.
Daily Meditation: Set us free.
On this Friday before Good Friday,
it might be most appropriate to make the Stations.
Our desire is becoming more focused and more intense.
After our weeks of reflection, we know that our selfishness has placed us in ruts,
has made us slaves to some very unhappy and sometimes death-dealing patterns.
The celebration of our freedom and healing is close at hand.
Jesus carried our sins in his own body on the cross so that we could die to sin and live in holiness; by his wounds we have been healed.
The Communion Antiphon – 1 Peter 2:24
Most forgiving Lord,
again and again You welcome me back into Your loving arms.
Grant me freedom from the heavy burdens of sin
that weigh me down
and keep me so far from You.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Our Morning Offering – 12 April – Friday of the Fifth Week, Year C
Love By George Herbert (1593 – 1633)
Love bade me welcome
yet my soul drew back,
guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
“A guest,” I answered, “worthy to be here”
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord but I have marred them, let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
Lenten Thoughts – 5 April – Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent, Year C
And now, my heavy laden soul, what will you do? You call with your lips and voice to God most high, God, who cares only for deeds and is not taken in by words. You, my soul, with a heart always turned toward Egypt, how can I describe you?
Am I a Sodom, to be punished likewise with destruction, or the prosecutor of Ninevah, who was struck dumb?
Am I more cowardly and barbarous than the queen of the south, lower than Canaan, more stubborn than Amalek, incurable as the city of idols, a relic left behind from the rebellion of Israel, a reminder of the broken covenant of Judah, more reproachable than Tyre, more shunned than Zidon, more immoral than Galilee, more unpardonable than faithless Capernaum, maligned like Korazin, slandered like Bethsaida?
Or am I immodest as Ephraim as he prayed, or a dove, whose gentleness seems due to feeblemindedness and not to inner calm, or an evil serpent born of lion’s cubs, or the serpent’s egg filled with decay, or like the last blow against Jerusalem?
Or am I in the words of our Lord and the sayings of the prophets, an abandoned tabernacle about to collapse, the unlatched doors of the stronghold, my speaking edifice stained again, having given up my rightful inheritance, my home built by God, as Moses, David and Jeremiah prophesied? My thinking body now consumed by disease, afflicted with carping counsel, rehabilitated by the law, anointed with the clay of mildness, incapable of finding my own salvation, torn away from the maker’s hand, expelled as just punishment by order of the Almighty, to an unholy place, rejected, exiled, greatly shunned, nothing spared, having buried my gift in the ground, like the one chastised in the Gospel by losing his inheritance.
But You, God, Lord of souls and all flesh, in the words of one divinely graced, You are long-suffering and abounding in mercy. In the voice of blessed Jonah, grant that I finish to Your delight this book of prayers, now begun. And having sown these words with tears and set forth on this journey toward the dwellings You have prepared, may I return joyfully in the time of harvest with the bounty of atonement, with sheaves of goodness and the fruits of delight.
St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Fathe & Doctor of the Church
“If you elevate yourself, God distances Himself from you. If you humble yourself, He leans towards you.”
Lenten Reflection – 17 March – The Second Sunday of Lent, Year C
Genesis 15:5-12,17-18; Psalms 27:1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14; Philippians 3:17 – 4:1 or Philippians 3:20 – 4:1; Luke 9:28B-36
And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him!”
By Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
They were talking to Him about resurrection,
about law, about the suffering ahead.
They were talking as if to remind Him who He was and
who they were. He was not
Like his three friends watching a little way off,
not like the crowd At the foot of the hill.
A grey-green thunderhead massed
from the sea
And God spoke from it and said He was His.
They were talking about how the body, broken or
could live again, remade.
Only the fiery text of the thunderhead could explain it.
And they were talking
About pain and the need for judgement
and how He would make Himself
A law of pain, both its spirit and its letter in His own
and then break it,
That is, transcend it.
His clothes flared like magnesium
Daily Meditation: Listen to Him.
It is wonderful to begin this week
acknowledging that we need God’s help in listening and hearing.
It is so powerful to ask for the “gift of integrity” –
to express our desire for wholeness.
And, we humbly ask for light in the midst of whatever
might “shadow our vision.”
This is the God who allows Jesus
to be transfigured before His disciples,
to prepare them for what they were about to face.
This is our God, who can give each of us
the change of heart we ask for.
Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage, yea, wait for the Lord!
there is so much darkness in my life
and I hide from You.
Take my hand
and lead me out of the shadows of my fear.
Help me to change my heart.
Bring me to your truth
and help me to respond to Your generous love.
Let me recognise the fullness of Your love
which will fill my life.
Free me from the darkness in my heart.
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life.
Saint of the Day – 11 February – St Caedmon (Died c 680) is the earliest English (Northumbrian) poet whose name is known. An Anglo-Saxon who cared for the animals at the double monastery of Streonæshalch (Whitby Abbey, in Yorkshire, England) during the abbacy (657–680) of the Founder, St Hilda (614–680), he was originally ignorant of “the art of song” but learned to compose one night in the course of a dream, according to the 8th-century historian and Saint, The Venerable St Bede (673-735) Father & Doctor of the Church. He later became a zealous monk and an accomplished and inspirational Christian poet.
The sole source of original information about Cædmon’s life and work is St Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica. According to Bede, Cædmon was a lay brother who cared for the animals at the monastery Streonæshalch, now known as Whitby Abbey. One evening, while the monks were feasting, singing and playing a harp, Cædmon left early to sleep with the animals because he knew no songs. The impression clearly given by St Bede is that he lacked the knowledge of how to compose the lyrics to songs. While asleep, he had a dream in which “someone” approached him and asked him to sing principium creaturarum, “the beginning of created things.” After first refusing to sing, Cædmon subsequently produced a short eulogistic poem praising God, the Creator of heaven and earth.
Ruins of Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire, England— founded in 657 by St. Hilda, the original abbey fell to a Viking attack in 867 and was abandoned. It was re-built in 1078 and flourished until 1540 when it was destroyed by Henry VIII.
Upon awakening the next morning, Cædmon remembered everything he had sung and added additional lines to his poem. He told his foreman about his dream and gift and was taken immediately to see the abbess, St Hilda of Whitby. The abbess and her counsellors asked Cædmon about his vision and, satisfied that it was a gift from God, gave him a new commission, this time for a poem based on “a passage of sacred history or doctrine”, by way of a test. When Cædmon returned the next morning with the requested poem, he was invited to take monastic vows. The abbess ordered her scholars to teach Cædmon sacred history and doctrine, which after a night of thought, Bede records, Cædmon would turn into the most beautiful verse. According to Bede, Cædmon was responsible for a large number of splendid vernacular poetic texts on a variety of Christian topics.
After a long and zealously pious life, Cædmon died like a saint – receiving a premonition of death, he asked to be moved to the abbey’s hospice for the terminally ill where, having gathered his friends around him, he died after receiving the Holy Eucharist, just before nocturns.
Bede’s narrative shows that Bede, an educated and intelligent man, believed Cædmon to be an important figure in the history of English intellectual and religious life. He, however, gives no specific dates in his story. Cædmon is said to have taken holy orders at an advanced age and it is implied that he lived at Whitby, at least in part, during Hilda’s abbacy (657–680).
Cædmon is one of twelve Anglo-Saxon poets identified in medieval sources and one of only three of these for whom both roughly contemporary biographical information and examples of literary output have survived. St Bede wrote, “there was in the Monastery of this Abbess a certain brother particularly remarkable for the Grace of God, who was wont to make religious verses, so that whatever was interpreted to him out of scripture, he soon after put the same into poetical expressions of much sweetness and humility in Old English, which was his native language. By his verse the minds of many were often excited to despise the world and to aspire to heaven.”
Cædmon’s only known surviving work is Cædmon’s Hymn, the nine-line alliterative vernacular praise poem in honour of God which he learned to sing in his initial dream. The poem is one of the earliest attested examples of Old English and is one of the earliest recorded examples of sustained poetry in a Germanic language. In 1898, St Cædmon’s Cross was erected in his honour in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Whitby.
St Bede’s Latin version of St Caedmon’s poem runs as follows:
Nunc laudare debemus auctorem regni caelestis,
et consilium illius facta Patris gloriae –
cum sit aeternus Deus,
omnium miraculorum auctor exstitit,
qui primo filiis hominum caelum
pro culmine tecti dehinc terram
custos humani generis
Now we must praise the author
of the heavenly realm,
the might of the creator
and His purpose,
the work of the Father of glory –
as He, who, the almighty guardian
of the human race,
is the eternal God,
is the author of all miracles,
who first created the heavens
as highest roof
For the children of men,
then the earth.
Our Morning Offering – 25 January – The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul
Lead, Kindly Light By Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on.
Keep Thou my feet, I do not ask to see
The distant scene, one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Should lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path but now
Lead Thou me on.
I loved the garish day and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my wil, remember not past years.
So long Thy power has blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone
And with the morn those Angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since and lost awhile.
Lead, Kindly Light is a hymn with words written in 1833 by Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890) as a poem titled “the Pillar and the Cloud” – it consists of 3 verses, anything after that is not by John Henry.
As a young priest, Newman became sick while in Italy and was unable to travel for almost three weeks. In his own words: “Before starting from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bitterly. My servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could only answer, “I have a work to do in England.” I was aching to get home, yet for want of a vessel I was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to visit the churches and they calmed my impatience, though I did not attend any services. At last I got off in an orange boat, bound for Marseilles. We were becalmed for whole week in the Straits of Bonifacio and it was there that I wrote the lines, Lead, Kindly Light, which have since become so well known.”
Why this for St Paul? – this time in Bl John Henry’s life was a time of internal “conversion’ – after, his well-known “Sicily providential illness”, he started to turn towards “Rome” – although first the Oxford Movement had to happen and then some more difficult years before his final conversion but once he had put his hand to the plough, there was no turning back in his journey towards Truth.
I am sure you will agree with me that the words of this most beautiful prayer/poem/hymn, fit the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul perfectly.