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Showing posts from March, 2019

Motherhood and God

St. Vincent Pallotti speaks about being “immersed in an immense sea of Divine Mercy.” One of the words the Bible uses to define Mercy is rechem which is a Mother’s womb, indicating that God’s instinct is like that of a Mother for the child in her womb, though God’s instinct is of course infinitely greater and all perfect.  Hesed also expresses the tender, faithful, loving mercy of God, which is described as the feeling a Mother has when she leans over her baby to feed him or her.  “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or lack compassion for the child of her womb? Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15) Pope St. John Paul II uses this phrase in a meditation on how Jesus experiences the Fatherhood of God. The Pope says that the Fatherhood of God is often expressed in terms of Motherhood in some of the prophecies of the Old Testament. “As one whom his Mother comforts, so will I comfort you.” (Isaiah 66:13) and our attitude in the presen

Saying It Is Half The Victory

The first day of springtime breaks with heavy clouds as I set out along the A27 from Hastings to Crawley for a meeting of priests. I used to dislike this road intensely but I’ve become accustomed to it now and take it as it comes, take the traffic as it is, though this morning it’s not bad at all. On the radio they’re talking about “The Terrible Sonnets” of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the 19 th century English Jesuit priest and poet whom I became quite fond of when still at school. The Terrible Sonnets were written in Ireland, a place where he felt exiled and suffered from depression, a condition I have struggled with for many years, maybe even since I was a child. “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day” he wrote. I know this feeling well. But I smile at the thought of exile, living away from one’s homeland which for Hopkins was like oppressive captivity whereas for me I feel free. This is what I think in the silence after the radio has been turned off. Along the way I

TWO MEN IN A SHELTER: The Story of a Brief Unexpected Friendship

“ But at the centre of his own faith there always stood the convincing mystery - that we were made in God ’ s image. God was the parent, but he was also the policeman, the criminal, the priest, the maniac, and the judge…and God ’ s image shook now, up and down on the mule ’ s back, with the yellow teeth sticking out over the lower lip, and ...he pressed his hand with a kind of driven tenderness upon the shoulders of God ’ s image. ” (Graham Greene, ‘The Power and The Glory') It's midnight and Liam is asleep, wrapped in a duvet, his head resting on Ivan’s shoulder. A Buddhist and a Christian. That piece of information was shared when they exchanged names more than three hours ago. The concern that brought them together has now become inconvenient as the cold bites and the rain has long since penetrated to the skin. Ivan feels odd in these situations and wonders was it a mistake to have gotten involved in the first place. He is a private, solitary man who likes to walk

SOUJOURNER & STRANGER: I Found Myself Again

Moses named his firstborn Gershom because, he said "I am a stranger in a foreign land." Another translation uses the word sojourner, which I prefer. It's what happens to us in Lent - we go deeper as sojourner into the foreign regions of our soul, that part of us that we do not normally inhabit because it is essentially solitary and silent. Sometimes  it's more painful than we can bear. And there too we encounter fears that tell us lies to keep us as far away as possible from our true selves and from God. But as Jesus was led by and filled with the Holy Spirit, so are we. Our foreign experiences, our deserts are filled with the same Holy Spirit. A song that has echoed in me since I was a child - "this world is not my home, I'm just a passin through" - expresses the reality that I have always to some extent experienced myself as a stranger sojourner, a reluctant inhabitant of this earth with a sense of unbelonging.  That is not to say that I a