“If you knew the gift of God…..” There is one who knew this gift of God, one who did not lose one particle of it, one who is so pure, so luminous that she seemed to be the Light itself….One whose life was so simple, so lost in God that there is hardly anything we can say about it.
Age and Understanding
Growing old is a journey into gratitude; into serenity, wisdom, empathy and into a kind of solitude – each reflecting a center like the sides of a prism. Those of us of a certain vintage are on those journeys and, like any growth journey, they’re not without pains and bruises. Of embarrassments and goodbyes, I’ve had my share along the way.
Public comment on the “Tuam babies” and Magdalen laundries (**), the cover-up and protection of clergy sexual abuse, Marie Collins’ resignation from the papal commission and the subsequent cover-up by Vatican beauracy all point in the one direction: the institutional church as we know it chronically dysfunctional and is currently unfit for purpose.
The Western Wall, or “wailing wall” in the old city of Jerusalem, is the holiest place in the world where Jews come to pray. It’s all that remains of the Temple which stood there in the time of Jesus Christ. An 84 year old Rabbi prayed at the wall twice daily for more than seventy-two years, and when asked about prayer by a priest he is reported to have said, “Prayer is talking to the Wall.”
Christianity grew out of Judaism. It didn’t replace it but, largely unknown to ourselves, we inherited much of Judaism’s biblical insights and traditions. The idea of the Sabbath is a case in point that I find to be enriching.
We readily fall victim to society’s values. People today want success more than anything. Popular religion often focuses so hard on spiritual success that most of us do not know much, if anything at all, about the spiritual fruits of failure. Failure and defeat, material or spiritual, are things we don’t dwell on.
Spring has sprung in Ireland. According to the old Celtic calendar, Irish Spring starts each year on February 1st. Indeed, the days have lengthened by almost two hours since the winter equinox almost two months ago. Flowers are budding and seasonal birds have begun to appear. Time to get out and about and celebrate brighter days and new vitality.
Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet he taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39).
In the gospel reading for the feast of St. John of the Cross, Jesus says, “The glory you have given me I have given them” – Jn 17:22. Throughout sacred scripture the glory of God is an image used to express God’s very self in terms of abundance, prodigality, extravagance and unlimited generosity.
A Sense of God
Someone was reading from Gerard Manley Hopkins on the car radio. I was struck by the poet’s description of the contrasting attributes of God’s beauty as I listened to the words “swift, slow; sweet, sour, adazzle, dim” (Pied Beauty).