Sunday, 27 December 2009
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Monday, 14 December 2009
Monday, 7 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
Friday, 20 November 2009
Friday, 13 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Friday, 30 October 2009
Friday, 23 October 2009
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Friday, 2 October 2009
So asked the questioning Sphinx. It's not by chance that I always have my dog-headed walking stick close by me -even when composing these blogs. I gaze at my beloved dog-head as I search for inspiration. Its vanity will only be satisfied when I have given it blog publicity. Bingo! The answer! Me and my stick! The answer to the Riddle of the Sphinx:
As babies we crawl on all fours.
As healthy adults we walk on two legs.
And when we become aged and frail we get around on two legs + a walking stick
Such are the stages in our lives.
Well, I've reached the stage of requiring a stick -hence the picture of the handle. As you can see, it's far from ordinary. In fact it's very splendid and I'm inordinately proud of it. It depicts a St. Bernard's dog, complete with brandy barrel, which unfortunately is empty. A friend, visiting the Pyrenees, brought me back this beautiful present.
I'm not the only one to admire my stick. In fact complete strangers in trains and restaurants look at it with wonder and start talking to me about it. From this introduction we sometimes get into conversation, especially on long train journeys. Young people offer their seats to this frail old man who needs a walking stick. I always accept, since it would be churlish to refuse such a thoughtful and caring gesture. If, out of pride, I were to reject their offer they might be reluctant to show someone else the same kindness. They might think, "Once bitten twice shy."
As I reflect on my dog-headed walking stick I thank God for moving my friend to give it to me. This not only enables me to get about safely, but also proves to be a wonderful ice-breaker. It sparks off a spontaneous friendly reaction in complete strangers. They obviously want to be friendly with me and welcome my warm response.
All this could be dismissed as being trivial and transient. I think that would be a mistake. In these passing encounters we meet God's children, and they meet us. That's mywaygodswaytheirway of establishing communication. More than this, we meet God in each other. And as we exchange pleasantries about my beautiful dog-headed walking stick both of us feel a warm glow, which enriches our day. We seem to want to reach out to each other, but are afraid of being intrusive and clumsy. My dog stick has provided a way forward.
Far from being humiliated by needing my walking stick to steady me, I rejoice that it has opened new and unexpected doors, not only for me but also for other people. Anything that breaks down the barriers, which isolate us, is a gift from God. That goes for my walking stick! Take another look at it. It deserves more than a passing glance.
Next week Pachyderms will help Peter to meet God.
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Monday, 7 September 2009
Saturday, 5 September 2009
Friday, 4 September 2009
But certainly a good impression goes way beyond how any of us looks. What people think of our behaviour is much more important. That's where the real problems begin. Before couples get married they strive to do their best not to reveal any defects, which may put off the one whose love they want to win.
But no one can keep up the appearance of being a paragon of all that is desirable. We all have faults. These will become apparent over years of marriage, or of Dominican community life. At times we will behave badly. We will be moody, selfish and unforgiving. We will be petty and reveal irritating habits. We may be seen without our teeth and our normally well groomed hair may be a mess first thing in the morning. People only discover what we're really like by sharing our lives for a number of years. Hopefully we will still take them and ourselves by surprise.
These musings came to me during our community prayers. As we sang the Divine Office I realised that while some of the psalms expressed respectable sentiments of adoration, praise, thanksgiving, joy and repentance, other psalms reflected the ugly side of human nature -anger with God and with life, bitterness, revenge and self pity. Some people have wanted to remove these psalms from the Prayer of the Church.
But wisely, the Church has retained them. Why? Certainly we are not meant to imitate these ignoble reactions, but to copy the psalmist in praying with absolute honesty. As he does so he brings before God what people actually feel. As we pray these ignoble thoughts we ask God not to confirm them but to heal them. Sometimes we will need God to heal what is wrong in the way we react or feel. And if the Prayer of the Church doesn't express our present sentiments it certainly sums up how other people are feeling. So, then we stop thinking about ourselves and turn our prayers towards our brothers and sisters who are going through a rough time.
With great honesty we exposed to God the side of us and them that is ugly. That takes great trust that he won't reject us. We are prepared to make ourselves vulnerable by stripping away the mask of pretence. We stop trying to create a false, good impression. Any way God already knows us better than we know ourselves, so there's no point in trying to deceive him.
And yet we are convinced that he will always love us, with all our faults and failings. His love for us is utterly unconditional. But he can only heal whatever is wrong in our lives if we are prepared to be absolutely honest with the Good Physician. As we bring our unworthy thoughts before God he is able to heal them and bring peace and order to our lives when they are in a mess. As he loves us as we are he helps us to become what we should be.
God's unconditional love for us is the model of how we should love each other. We will need great courage and trust to reveal our true selves, warts and all. We may well fear we will be vulnerable to contempt and rejection. So, too, will our loved ones as they make themselves equally vulnerable. But if we have the courage to welcome each other unconditionally we will not only grow in love, but also help each other to become better people. Loving mercy and compassion can help to heal the messy, ugly parts of our lives.
True. I do look more respectable and younger when shorn of my unruly grey locks. But far more important, God's love doesn't depend on the tidiness of my life, or even of my hair!
Next week Peter will meet God - Not Through Menacing Mesages
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Monday, 24 August 2009
The crucified Christ raises his hands triumphantly at his victory over the forces of evil
He has successfully completed the task given him by his heavenly Father.
The couple raises their hands as they welcome the salvation Christ has won for us on the cross.
The large hands represent the Father, drawing his Son and us upwards to enter his glory
In this picture there's a repeated "Y" formation. This signifies:
The Father's "Yes" to our salvation.
The Son's "Yes" to his Father's will.
Our "Yes" to the salvation the crucified Christ has won for us.
I've deliberately emphasised the Exaltation of Crucified Christ, rather than that of the cross on which he was crucified.
Next week's final picture and comment on the Ascension will provide the climax to this series.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us."
The hands in this picture form a "Y"
The "Y" formation is repeated in the crucified Christ's body,
with its raised arms, as he says, "AMEN," "YES"
in obedience to his Father's will.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will oversahdow you; therefore the child to born of you will be called holy; the Son of God...And Mary said, 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word'"
Lk. 1. 34-37
This picture shows Mary's will in complete harmony with God's
Her whole body, with its extended arms, parallels Yahweh's 'Y' -his 'YES' as she agrees to cooperate with his plan for our salvation.
Her 'YES' to God reverses our rebellious 'NO'
Her docility to God's will is the model for redeemed humanity
This picture is Trinitarian
The Father, who sent his Son into the world, is represented by Yahweh's hands
The dove represents the Holy Spirit, through whom Mary conceived our saviour.
As Mary reaches to welcome the Spirit the Son joins the human race.
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, full of grace and truth."
Jn. 1. 14
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive adoption as children."
Gal. 4. 4-5
Next week's picture and reflection will be about the crucified Christ's "YES" to his Father's will.
Friday, 7 August 2009
In the Biblical account of the Fall Adam and Eve sought to be equal to God and independent of him. In spite of his warnings they thought they had nothing to lose by disobeying him. Pride in thinking we know better than God lies at the heart of all sin.
Sadly, we discover that our rebellion brings discord into our relationship with God, with each others and even with the environment. That was the experience of Adam and Eve, who, instead of walking with God in the cool of the evening were no longer able to face him or even themselves in their naked humanity. They quarrelled with each other. The very environment, which God had entrusted to their care became arduous and hostile. Far from gaining through sinning they had forfeited what was most precious to them -being at peace in a loving relationship with God.
In the subsequent chapters of Genesis and the rest of the Bible we see the ripple effect of evil spreading throughout the world. We are only too aware of that in our own lives and in the world in which we live. Our behaviour affects other people, for better or for worse. We use each other to our own advantage, forgetting that they are our brothers and sisters, with the same dignity and rights as we claim for ourselves.
But instead of writing us off as worthless, God sets about repairing the damage our sins have caused.
This is suggested by his opens hands in the present picture, and will be developed in the subsequent illustrations. They form a brief approach to some aspects of salvation history.
While the man in the picture shakes his hand defiantly at God, the woman gives Yahweh the contemptuous 'V' sign. Both of them are starting to turn away from him.
There's a sadness in Yahweh's open, empty hands, as the couple turn their backs on him and he pleads for them -for us -to return to him.
But, even though sinful man may reject Yahweh's loving hands, they always remain open, ever eager to welcome back the repentant sinner. God's love for us, is of its very nature steadfast, not fickle or brittle. That means that he owes it to himself to be merciful in welcoming the repentant sinner back, if that's what he or she really wants.
"If we are faithless, he remains faithful -for he cannot deny himself"
2 Tim. 2. 13
Next we will see how God begins to repair the damage caused by sin