Saturday, 22 March 2014

calling a spade a spade...

A deacon is a servant of the priests and bishop to whom he is directly responsible.  He can baptise, he can witness marriages, he can officiate at funerals and burials.  He is to be a man of prayer and has the same obligations to pray the Divine Office that a priest has.  Deacons are there to support the faithful in charity and the fruits of the Holy Spirit must be manifest in their person and their actions.

Deacons are alowed to be exuberant and passionate about their faith.  Deacons ought to be committed to orthodoxy and uphold Catholic teaching at all times.  Deacons are at their best when they are men of the world, yet apart from the world, conscious of all its failings yet firm in their faith.  Deacons ought to proclaim the faith as revealed through holy scripture.  They must offer a message of hope and speak only about God's salvation in the name of Jesus Christ.  They must be resolute and steadfast in their proclamation of the truth, like Stephen and Philip. They will win souls.  They will help Holy Mother Church win the souls of those who dissent within her borders if they let God help them.

A deacon is not some modern day Papal Zouave armed with a blog.  ACTA are not the Risorgimento.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Sometimes....

Sometimes I'm simply ill.

Sometimes it is more complicated than that.  There is a spiritual element to all this.  It is possible to pray and to act and for the strength to "go out" of you.  It is humbling and it is also terrifying (in a good way).....  It is all very Lenten, I feel reliant on God for everything...... I have no idea of the outcomes of what I have done, and indeed, it is best not to think of self at this time.  Direct everything to God's good purpose.

I also feel the need to share some verses of St Patrick's breastplate with you.  They're not in a form that finds its way into any sappy hymn.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak to me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me, from the snares of devils, from temptations of vices, from everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a multitude.

I summon today, all these powers between me and those evils, against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul, against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of pagandom, against false laws of heretics, against craft of idolatory, against spells of women and smiths and wizards, against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Find the whole thing. Say it, say it not just for yourself but for the whole Church.  And don't ever forget to praise God. And don't ever lose a holy terror of offending God.  And remember that the laity have the ability to overcome world, flesh and devil, through the normal means (Sacraments and prayers) of the Church.  We can not speak in the name of the Church, we have no authority to do so  But, nevertheless, there is tremendous power right there, for us to use, so use it we must.

Bossy cow, aren't I?


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

He shall give His Angels charge over thee

Sunday's Gospel has Satan quoting scripture in his temptation of Our Lord, and it is a horrid thing that he does.  Let's  not dwell on his twisted logic in using those beautiful lines from Psalm 90 for his own purposes:

He has given His Angels charge over thee, and in their hands they shall bear thee up, least perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone (Mt:4.1-11)

The older rite and Office go on the offencive against this vile mistreatment of Holy Scripture.  The Tract at Mass in the First Sunday of Lent is nearly the whole of Psalm 90 and the Office keeps on quoting from it all this week.  It is as if our remembrance and recitation of this Psalm is in itself a great act of exorcism against his powers. 

It is a beautiful Psalm. It is a prayer for the whole Church and so apt for Compline.

The confident and righteous psalmist speaks first, saying how his trust in the Lord has saved him from many evils (trust that was given him by God).  He then speaks to the soul in trouble, imploring him to seek refuge in the Lord also.  Telling him the Lord will save him from fear of the terror of the night (our imaginings and evil fantasies), the arrow that flieth in the day (those sudden moments of anguish and hurt as we go about our daily business), the business that walketh about in the dark (those things we do that we'd like hidden) and the noonday devil.

Ah yes, the noonday devil.  This is the most insidious of creatures.  It has no shame, it will parade itself in broad daylight because it is not there to promote those things we are ashamed of.  It seeks to erode our confidence in God, it seeks to fill us with the glare of worldly logic and whatever zeitgeist is doing the rounds, it makes us distrust God, it makes us distrust our faith, it makes us want to do rather than to contemplate, and to "do" for our own good, rather than for God, it makes us restless in  a very bad way.  The Fathers of the Church have linked the noonday demon to that most horrendous of sufferings inflicted on priests, accedie or spiritual sloth.

Yes, when you read this Psalm, pray for priests, pray as a righteous and confident soul that our priests will trust implicitly in the Lord and seek His protection.  And then when you meet our priests, behave as if you really believe this.

Pray with the  psalmist to the angels in charge of those souls in distress.  Be confident in their protection of those you love.  And if there is someone special in your life who is wavering in the faith and who you especially care for and whose soul you seek to guard, savour Christ's words to us at the end of the Psalm, this is a great act of love for that soul and will produce many blessings:

Because he has hoped in Me. I will deliver him: I will protect him because he has known my name.  He shall cry to me and I will hear him: I am with him in his trouble: I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.  I will fill him with length of days: and I will show him my salvation.

Glory be.


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Happy Lent

Ash Wednesday's sermon was, I suppose, my blueprint for what I will for over the next 40 days.  Normally I make a "lenten bill", and try to stick to it.  This year, illness, exhaustion and lack of inspiration meant that I approached the season completely unprepared.  Therefore what the priest said, will do.  I am not inspired by the homily, but that maybe for  the best.

I will share it with you.

Firstly, he said he would give us two rules for Lent.  The first rule came after a little story about a master who couldn't teach his disciple and demonstrated this by pouring tea into a cup whilst the disciple was talking, the tea overflowed the cup because the disciple wouldn't shut up.  The master said to his young disciple "I can't teach you whilst you are full". The first rule is, empty yourself.

The second rule was the first two words that Our Lord speaks in the Gospel passage for that day "be careful".  It seemed to be about being hidden, meeting God in your heart, being silent, being careful to keep God as the priority, and letting Him order you.....

Whilst looking for something to read, "The Cloud of Unknowing" fell off the shelf, I haven't read that since I was a postgrad reprobate, dabbling into far too much eastern mysticism and very much pre my "reversion" to the Faith.  It seems to be an appropriate thing to re-read; emptiness, unknowing, reaching way beyond self with a desire for unity with God.....

I'm finding the Church far too blathery right now. Everyone in it seems to be chatting inanely and the starlings outside my window this morning made more sense and seemed more full of the praises of God than everything I'm hearing from my fellow sinners in the Church Militant. It is definitely the time to venture beyond words and sentiment.....  yes, it's time for interior silence and emptiness, and stillness and carefulness in thought, word and deed.

I'm gloriously uninspired by all of this, but maybe that is the point. Perhaps Lent is a good time to let go of the need for inspiration, a time to grasp the emptiness of the ordinary, to give in service to others by not giving anything, but by letting yourself be given to them... an emptying of that cup so that God can fill it with His grace....