Saturday, 31 March 2012

Fourth Station

Jesus meets his mother

Eyes, then hearts meet
Arms that held the child hold the man
My body, my blood
My son.

Third Station at Word in the Hand


Friday, 30 March 2012

Second Station

 Jesus receives the Cross

You said ‘Take my yoke upon you’
But we were too weary 
And too wary to believe
That this way would bring rest.
Our burden is yours alone

First Station at Word in the Hand


Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Lord's Prayer

St Francis of Assisi

No ritualistic gestures or long words. A simple prayer -

Dad, you are wonderful and I hope everything goes your way. Help me to care for others, even those I don't like. And look after me. Thanks

And as that's the Father God I believe in, here is my prayer

Lord, I am nothing, if I am not Yours
Yours to love with a father’s pride,
Yours to love with a mother’s care.
And here I am, an adoring child
Reckless in the security of that love.
Confident that whenever I fall
I can lift my arms to you.
Whenever I fail,
Your smile will give me strength.
Whenever I am lost
You will take my hand
And lead me home.
For I am Yours.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Feast of St John of Egypt

The saints of Egypt,  desert mothers and fathers, inspired the Celtic saints through their austere and God focused lives. From the third century, individuals were drawn to the Scetes and Nitrean deserts living as hermits either in isolation or as small master and pupil groups. Their life of work, prayer and  hospitality, whilst offering their own life to God,  became an inspiration to Celtic spirituality and monasticism.

John worked as a carpenter until he was 25. The call to God brought him to the desert where he put himself under the guidance of a wise hermit. To try his spirit John was asked to obey the most unreasonable of trials -  herding trees, moving rocks from one side of a valley to another - all this he did with patience and humility. 

When his master died, John withdrew to Mount Lycos where he lived in solitude with a desire to think only of his soul travelling nearer to God. He constantly faced the onslaught of devils and prayed continually. When he looked at his own human desires, he distrusted himself and kept away from people especially women. St Augustine tells of John appearing to a woman in a healing vision rather than see her face to face.

However, his holy joy and cheerfulness brought pilgrims to him for advice and blessing. He would speak with people through a window; healing the sick and giving blessings and prophecies to those who visited him. 

In the last three days of his life he felt himself totally devoted to God in prayer. When he died, in 394 at the age of 90, his body was on its knees and his soul was with the blessed.

Some time ago I was in conversation with someone who considered the desert fathers and mothers to be masochists - the idea of being a living sacrifice was an horrific idea. 

The definition of sacrifice is to 'set aside'  - to offer what is most precious to God. This can only be done if the person is willing; if the 'setting aside' is worthwhile. To belong only to God must surely be 'worthwhile' - but does belonging only to any 'one' require the exclusion of all others?

The odd thing, is that through this 'setting aside' - by belonging only to the One who made us - we experience this holy joy that loves all things.

But not everyone can make this level of sacrifice - or maybe we can- but in our own way. 

Perhaps it is easier to find a place for oneself in the desert; with all its physical trials but without the temptations of the world. I will admit to sometimes finding the idea of solitude and the 'apartness' so very appealing.

How difficult it is to focus only on God, only on our soul travelling towards God when we live in the busyness and distractions of the Everyday.  

This then becomes our challenge - to sacrifice the 'who we are' within the walls of the mundane - in the ordinariness of life - and to create within ourselves some 'desert' space to follow the yearning that leads us into the experience of God's loving presence and so find ourselves, at the end of the day, praying on our knees and with blessed souls. 

blessed be


Monday, 26 March 2012

I Believe

I believe in a God of Daybreak
Who impatiently rouses the dawn chorus
To gloriously proclaim a new day.

I believe in a God who ruffles leaves
And sends clothes snapping in the breeze
On whirligig washing lines.

A God whose breath is life itself.

I believe in a God lying with His head on my pillow,
Eyes wide, willing me to wake up to say ‘I love you’
In that first stirring breath of morning.

I believe in a God who sighs, laughs and cries
The day away at my side.
His presence always present.

Who catches my eye in racing clouds and dancing children.

Who fiercely wraps me in His wings when I need him
And sits bemused when I think I don’t.

I believe in a God who will let me fall
Only so that He can pick me up
And put me on the right path.

Who will shake out the mantle of night
And find a star for me to follow.

Who will call the Universe to a quiet ‘Amen’ at the end of the day.

Who closes my eyes with a soft kiss of Love
And guards my dreams with a white owl’s stare.

My love belongs to this Love.
To a God who believes in me.


Saturday, 24 March 2012

Feast of St Macartan

Macartan was a close friend of St Patrick, being converted to Christianity after hearing Patrick preach at Dromahair.

Once baptised he became Patrick's bodyguard and was known as the 'strong man'. This included physically carrying Patrick over rivers and rough ground until the time came that Macartan claimed that he was 'too old' to still be a missionary and needed a church of his own to settle down in. 

As a response St Patrick founded him a church and diocese at Clogher - far enough away but not too far - so that their friendship was able to continue. 

The Diocese is named after the Golden Stone or Cloch-Or which may have been a sacred oracle stone of the Druids. The stone, originally covered in gold,  can still be seen inside the Cathedral in Clogher village in Co Tyrone. It is said that the stone was given to Macartan by a pagan noble after being 'patiently loved' into the faith. 

After over 50 years as Bishop, Macartan died peacefully in 506.

I can't imagine that there are many better gifts of the Spirit than the ability to 'patiently love' .

blessed be


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

St Enda of Aran

Born in the late 5th Century, like many early Celtic saints, Enda was a prince of Ireland (there were many kingdoms to be princes of) and lived the life of a warrior. When his sister and Abbess Fanchea persuaded him away from a life of bloodshed, he entered monastic life and was ordained at St Ninian's Candida Casa in Scotland. 

On his return to Ireland, the king of Munster asked him to settle in the Golden Vale, but Enda chose to found his monastery at Killeany (Cill Eanna) on the remote islands of Aran which he found as beautiful "as a necklace of pearls, God has set upon the bosom of the sea,". Together with Finian of Conard, he became one of the patriarchs of Irish monasticism.

The monks who lived on the island - around 150 of them -  lived a hard life of work and prayer living off what they could harvest from the land and the sea. They were known as 'men of the caves' who were called to be 'men of the cross' and, like Francis two hundred years later, pledged themselves to the utter poverty of Jesus; sacrificing their lives to God and remembering that their Lord also had nowhere to lay his head.
The story goes that no fire was ever allowed to be lit to give heat in the cold stone cells.
But is was also a place of Christ's hospitality fed by the teachings of the desert fathers and was visited by many seeking wisdom and the spiritual life. 

Enda's reputation as a spiritual friend and guide led many famed saints to spend time with him on Aran. Brendan the Navigator received his blessing before setting sail and was said to have discovered him on the Isles of the Blest. Finian and Columba also spent time with Enda on the isles that he called 'Sun of the West'. 
He is said to have died, as a very old man, in a cave cell on the island in 530. 

I am reminded of the Lenten journey of transformation in seeing how this bloodthirsty warrior prince became a servant to the Prince of Peace.

 I wonder if the the calling that is within us all is made most real when it grows in response to a wounding of spirit. If the healing is not like that layering of a pearl - bringing something beautiful out of hurt?

Out of the bosom of this sea grew many pearls; each one responding as the oyster responds to injury; not through violence, resentment or revenge but by surrounding it with with layers of resilience; spiritual strength and prayer.

Upon such wisdom who could put a price?

Blessed be


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

St Cuthbert

St Cuthbert's Feast Day seems the best of days to begin a Blog inspired by Celtic Spirituality. The island which was home and refuge and healing place to Cuthbert 1400 years ago is still a sacred space; whether for dedicated pilgrims or mainland refugees seeking peace and quiet. The promontory in the poem juts out from the tiny islet where Cuthbert found some solitude in his early ministry. So much to say about Cuthbert, Lindisfarne and the legacy of the Celts - here's a start - 

Cuthbert's Isle

Held in the palm of Your holy place
Fled from the gravity of daily life.
I perch on sun-warmed rock.
Heavy honeyed air is
Stirred by ancient breezes.
Almost beyond hearing
Seals sing Jacob’s mantra
‘Here I am’.

Poised on the promontory of faith
Sun and wind send their might against me.
And I stand, not bowed but exulted.
Fused to this place.
Sun Spirit,
Air Spirit,
Earth Spirit
Glorious Trinity of all You are.

Your breath on me is intoxicating, incisive,
Eroding pretence and artifice.
Leaving me standing bare boned
Before You.
Eyes closed against your crimson gaze.
Daughter to the island,
Sister to those gone before.
Here I am.