Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Feast Day - Christina the Astonishing

Christina the Astonishing

Christina was born at Brusthem in the diocese of Liege, in 1150.

 When she was about twenty-two Christina had a seizure, was assumed to be dead, and  was carried in an open coffin to the church. As the Mass proceeded, Christina sat up, levitated to the beams of the roof, and and sat in the rafters. 

 The priest carried on with the Mass accompanied only by Christina's elder sister. he  then made Christina come down (she had taken refuge up there because she could not bear the smell of sin that people carried on their bodies). She agreed that she had  been dead; that she had gone down to Hell  and  Purgatory and then to Heaven.

Christina fled into remote places, climbed trees and towers and rocks, tearing her clothes off in the process to escape from the smell of humans. She would carry fire and, in the coldest weather, dash into the river, or into a mill-race and be carried unharmed under the wheel. She prayed balancing herself on the top of a fence post or curled up on the ground in such a way that she looked like a ball or animal. She was given to ecstasies during which she led the souls of the recently dead to purgatory, and those in purgatory to paradise.

Not unnaturally, everyone thought she was mad or ‘full of devils,’ and attempts were made to keep her safe, but she always broke loose. On one occasion when a priest, not knowing her and frightened by her appearance, had refused to give her communion, she rushed wildly through the streets, jumped into the Meuse, and swam away. She lived by begging, dressed in rags, and behaved in a terrifying manner. I suppose if you had got as far as heaven and were sent back you'd be pretty distressed too.

The last years of her life Christina passed in the convent of St. Catherine at Saint-Trond, and there she died at the age of seventy-four.

She is the patron saint of both psychiatrists and the mentally ill. 

 St Christina's Psalm 

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.
Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; 
incline thine ear unto me: 
in the day when I call answer me speedily.

For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.
My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.
By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.
I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.
I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.
Mine enemies reproach me all the day; 
and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.
For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping,
Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: 
for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
My days are like a shadow that declineth; 
and I am withered like grass.
But thou, O Lord, shalt endure for ever; 
and thy remembrance unto all generations.


Monday, 9 July 2012

In the beginning

In the beginning

In the beginning was the darkness
and the One who held it

In the beginning was the silence 
of a Word not spoken

In the beginning was the tension
of a breath not taken

In the beginning was the stillness
of an unloved heart

In the beginning was the weight 
of an unheld embrace

In the beginning was the end of the beginning

In the beginning was 
and was not

Blessed be


Saturday, 7 July 2012

Octave of Peter and Paul - Day 7 - What?

The Fisherman and the Tentmaker

What is it to be a man?
To be bigger, stronger, louder?
To have brain, brawn, both?

What is it to be a leader?
To have responsibility, authority, right?
To see the way, to be the way?

What is it to be an apostle?
To listen, to follow, to serve?
To love, to know Love?

What is it to be a disciple?
To let go, to lose family, to find friends?
To come and see?

What is it to follow?
To be humble, meek, blessed?
To know him, to be his?

Blessed be.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Octave of Peter and Paul - Day 6 - Blessing of Paul

Blessing of Paul

Blessing of the open road
the pilgrim path 
the open door

Blessing of the open sea
the wand'ring star
the rising tide

Blessing of the cosmic heart
the starstruck saints
the certain hope 

Blessed be


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Octave of Peter and Paul - Day 5 - Blessing of Simon Peter

Blessing of Simon Peter

Blessing of the azure sunrise
over softly lapping waves
 a morning fire
of anticipation

Blessing of the noonday sun
across glittering currents of light
 the comforting somnolence 
of companionship

Blessing of the setting
in a rainbowed basin of light 
 the hands dipped
in thankfulness

Blessing of the fulsome moon
guarding dark clouds 
the shadowed waiting
of what may be

Blessed be

wordinthehand 2012

Monday, 2 July 2012

Octave of Peter and Paul - Day 4 - Stand up

Acts 9: 18

'something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up' 

There's a fine balance between fear and faith; especially in these times where the Way followers are being persecuted from all sides. We had been warned that Saul was on his way. His reputation leading the road; breathing murderous threats; reports that he held the cloaks clear of the dust and blood as Stephen was stoned to death. That a stone would have missed it's mark and found another...that Saul would be the one laying cold in the ground.

I prayed; I am not a brave man. Forgive me, Lord. That is not your way. O Abba, send your Kingdom; deliver us from evil. I prayed until I fell to my knees. And heard His voice asking me to go to this monster; to bring him both the gift of the Holy Spirit and the price that must be paid.

By myself I could not have done it; could no more have left the shelter of my own lintel than walked a pace on Straight Street.  Then the Lord shifted my yoke onto his shoulder and near dragged me the length of the way. 

At the threshhold He left me. In prayer I wrapped his strength around me as a cloak. This was my leap of faith; my moment of being the prophet; my angelic act.

A breath and I was within -  the coolness of the shadows like a blanket covering  the silhouette of a man bound in prayer as I had been not an hour since. Another step and I was at his side as a brother, holding his head against my chest.  My tears baptised him as his own tears took the scales from his eyes  and fell into the healing earth. 

In my fear, I had wished Saul dead and the Lord had taken my prayer and healed us both. Together we stood up.

In Jesus' name


Sunday, 1 July 2012

Octave of Peter and Paul - Day 3 - Stand up

Acts 2:14

‘Then Peter stood up’

The crowd thought we had been drinking - it was an easy mistake to make- in fact it wouldn’t have been totally out of the question.

It was festival after all. We had been cooped up in hiding for so long
a drink would have been welcome; and we did have a reputation
for drinking and enjoying ourselves even when the Lord was with us.

And that’s it really – that’s what gives it away – Peter - not stupid, just one of those practical men who talks with his hands – wanting to do stuff not talk about it - putting his foot in it when he does. Fishermen don’t do too much talking - don’t like crowds or people much.

And Peter was still like that, never liked the Lord being surrounded by the crowds, couldn’t cope with miracles and had barely forgiven himself for what had happened at the trial. He knew he was supposed to be the leader now – ok – as long as it’s the practical stuff. But he couldn’t do the ‘inspiring’ bit – couldn’t imagine how. Maybe he though Andrew would be the spokesman, or James or John? All better at it than he was.

But when the Spirit came down on all of us we knew that we were transformed; that the breath in us was like fire freeing our hearts.
And we all spoke; but the voice that came from us was not ours but the Lord’s. Everything he had told us before and after the Resurrection, even the things we had forgotten; now made sense, had a rhythm -had a need to be told.

And we did speak, without fear, to everyone – the feeling was fantastic.

And I knew when Peter stood up, that that was it. No fear, no trembling voice; full of authority; the voice of a witness. This was for real; the next part of the journey started here. It was up to us to make the difference - we all had to stand up.