Sunday, 27 December 2009


A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words.
You have the picture, drawn by my brother, Isidore. But what about the words?

You might think that here am I being attacked by a wildcat. And that would be far from the truth. Between me and this cat there was a beautiful relationship. I was the provider of food; this cat the provider of so much companionship and consolation for me personally.

Don't be deceived by the name, "Tiger" describing my cat's appearance, not its disposition. A truly beautiful cat. And, for the most part, so affectionate and appreciative. A cat to be proud of.

And then, for no discernible reason, the surprise assault -physically painful, emotionally devastating ...a falling out of love with a vengeance. What had I done to deserve this? What had I left undone? In this you see the howling agony of me betrayed, rejected by my trusted friend, my beloved cat.

The cartoon does nothing to boost my self-image, even though it may be a true representation of myself at that traumatic moment in my life. The picture also captures the soul of Tiger, then and there, ferocious, ugly, hostile...not the Tiger I loved and thought I knew.

In my bewilderment I am forced to ask, "What was Tiger saying to me, a benign and caring friend?" In allowing this to happen, what was God, my loving Father, saying to me? Surely not the cynicism of, "Put no trust in princes!" Nor in cats! Could it be that I must be brought to realise that I am not so lovable to people as I would like to imagine -nor to cats.

Until I find satisfactory answers to these questions I am unable to decide how I am to Reach God....mywaygodsway. There is so much I don't understand...perhaps I'm not meant to understand. Could it be that I am meant to learn constancy in friendship, even when.....
And having learned, I must teach this to Tiger.

Peter O.P.

We have marked this, our 50th posting,
with a combined effort.
Isidore has drawn the cartoon and Peter has written his comment.

Next week Isidore will meet God in a Miner Digging Deep

Thursday, 24 December 2009


It's awe-inspiring to gaze into the sky on a dark, clear night!
It's so vast. We can see myriads of stars, far too many to count, millions of miles away. Astronomers tell us there are very many more, even further away, which we can't see with the naked eye. The light from some stars has travelled such a great distance that the stars ceased to exist long before their light reaches us. The sheer vastness of the heavens fills me with a sense of wonder.

In recent yeas flight into space has given us a completely different perspective. Now cameras in space can relay pictures of the earth on which we live. From space the earth now appears like a small disk.

Seeing these photos of the earth has helped me get myself and the rest of humanity into perspective. Certainly we're so tiny that none of us could be seen from space. And there are millions of us, each with his or her own thoughts and desires, fears and longings. In comparison with the immensity of the universe we people seem so puny and unimportant -mere specs of dusts.

But then I remember Psalm 8.
"When I look at the heavens the work of your hands, the moon and the stars that you have established; what is man that you are mindful of him, mortal man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little lower than God, and crowned him with honour and glory,"
(Ps. 8. 3-5).

This psalm has led me first to be filled with wonder at the power and glory of the creator of heaven and earth. The heavens do, indeed, proclaim the glory of God!
Then I'm amazed that God should not only notice us, but that he should care about us. He doesn't see us as a shapeless, anonymous mass, like the millions of grains of sand on the seashore. To God we are individuals. He knows and loves each one of us as someone special and unique. That's even true if you are an 'identical' twin! Jesus tells us that our heavenly Father knows every hair on each of our heads, every sparrow that falls, and that we are worth more than many sparrows.

But what really shakes my complacency is that although we people must, from a distance, appear like an anonymous swarm of ants the Son of God himself has joined the human race. He has lived among us, shared our human way of life, with all its limitations. The unapproachable Almighty God of majesty could be seen, heard and touched. He could be embraced with love or nailed to a cross out of hatred. Almighty God could not have paid us people a greater compliment than by becoming one of us. Now he is forever a member of the human race, forever committed to us. Never has he written any of us off as worthless, beyond hope. He has shared our human life, so that we could share his divine life. The craziness of uncalculating love is the only reason why God has gone to such lengths.

As I gaze at the stars I realize that the heavens proclaim the glory and majesty of God. That cuts me down to size. Seeing the pictures of the earth, taken from space, has made me realize how insignificant we are in the scale of the whole of creation.
And yet, and yet God is mindful of us, loves each one of us and raises us up to share his own divine life. He has given us a dignity we do not deserve. That blows my mind and leaves me speechless with wonder and gratitude.

Star gazing has led me to the babe at Bethlehem, just as it did the Magi. There we meet Almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth, lying, helplessly in a manger. With the shepherds and Magi come let us adore him!

Isidore O.P.
Peter and Isidore wish all our readers
Every Blessing for the New Year

Next week Peter will be Lost for Words

Saturday, 19 December 2009


There is no choice. There is no other way. At this season of the year the only way I can reach God is through the birth of his Son, Jesus.

Whenever I have been writing for this blog a the back of mind has been the opening words of the Letter to the Hebrews,
"At many moments in the past and by various means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets,"
(Hebrews. 1. 1).

Over the past few years I have come to recognise many and varied prophetic moments when God has been speaking to me -many of them fanciful and bizarre. These have been moments of grace, full of insight. I have attempted to respond to what God has been saying to me.

The Letter to the Hebrews continues,
"In our time, the final days, He spoke to us in the person of His Son."

I have celebrated many a memorable Christmas when I have felt very close to God -those of my childhood, those in large communities during the years of my Dominican formation as a priest, those as pastor of several parishes. Each in its own way has quickened and inspired my spirit. I cherish them all. On a few occasions there has been a Christmas of sad bewilderment when I have mourned the death of a member of my family. Such a variety of ways in which God has been speaking to me at Christmas. It has been up to me to discern how He expects me to reach Him this year.

What, then stands out for me as something that I would want to share with you?
I think of the time I was making the rounds of the General Hospital during the Christmas season. The lights in the maternity ward were subdued. There, in a corner, sat a father and mother silently gazing at their newly-born son lying in a hospital crib. It was a spectacle of love, awe and thanksgiving. I approached with diffidence, not wanting to disturb the magic of the moment. Behold, this family tableau was one of the most moving experiences of my life.

Here I saw the beauty of Bethlehem -Joseph and Mary speechless as they looked down upon
Jesus lying in the manger. How great must have been their love, wonder, thanksgiving. Jesus was literally an adorable child.

And then I made my presence known to the father and mother, dear friends of mine. My arms encircled them in a loving embrace. Words of congratulation mingled with joyful laughter. And then I gently kissed the brow of their baby boy. Even now as I write this posting I tremble with emotion.

My thoughts return to Bethlehem. How would I have responded if I had been there on that Holy Night? Just as I did in the maternity ward, with hugs and kisses, laughter and congratulations. And of course, I would kiss the brow of the baby Jesus.

What a wonderful way to reach God...My way -letting my impulses to love gush forth upon the Tableau of my friend's family -holy in its own right -and in so doing reach out to the Tableau of the Holy Family -there in my heart, though not physically present to me.

Peter O.P.

Peter and Isidore wish our readers
Every Blessing
Chrsitmas and the New Year

Next week Isidore will meet God through Star Gazing

Monday, 14 December 2009


When it comes to money matters the times are mad, the times are bad!

Mad, because seemingly solid financial institutions have collapsed like a row of dominoes; bad, because this has not happened by chance. This has happened through those who ought to have known better...those who have speculated recklessly with other people's money, their life-long savings, their security. Highly paid people at that! I call this white-collared wickedness on a grand scale.

You see, most of us ordinary folk, being short of cash, have to be careful how we spend the little we have. Without being too formal about it we find that we have to make some kind of budget to ensure that we don't go in for extravagant shopping sprees or excessive partying. It would be mad to do this if it left us with unpaid bills!

This brings me round to this friend of mine who presented me with more than peanuts, insisting that this was "mad money." It was not to be spent on something useful, like a pair of shoes or some clothing. I was to indulge myself on something utterly enjoyable -nice but not necessary.

"Here's some mad money. Spend it madly." Was she mad in making this suggestion? For once serious me was to be frivolous -not to be practical, not to be calculating. I was to act out of character. She was reminding me how important it is to relax and not feel guilty about it.

I mention this now, when we are well into the season of Advent. We Christians have moved into top gear as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus ...Christmas. Not everybody sees Christmas in this way.

From the middle of November it has seemed that the world has gone crazy. Money is being spent madly. Stores are festooned with decorations -streamers, balloons and much else. People are being encouraged to buy, buy, spend like mad. Christmas trees are covered with glass baubles and twinkling lights. Later on, our homes will be garnished with such trivia. All these cost precious money. No need to mention how much is spent on special food and drink.

Not surprisingly, some, including preachers, suggest that all this, along with the seemingly mindless tunes about red-nosed reindeer and jingling bells, are replacing the true meaning of Christmas...a massive distraction from what is surely the central message of Christmas.

As though with fist-shaking defiance at these worldly trends Christians have come up with such slogans as, "Jesus is the reason for the season," and "put Christ back into Christmas." To them it appears that what now remains is a brightly wrapped package without content. They fear that Christ is being lost in all this glitter. For them Christmas is no time for foolishness.

And yet....? I can't put out of my mind my friend's 'hard earned money' becoming my 'mad money.' She insisted that I make a statement to myself that life is more than calculating and penny-pinching. We must take into ourselves, and not keep bottled up within ourselves, that God loves us insanely. And, dare I say it, 'Madly?' He sent his Son to be born of a woman, Mary. He wanted him to become part of the oft-times murky fellowship that is the human family.

To be loved so much by the One who is greater than the whole of creation is cause for joy that demands to be celebrated. The birth of Jesus is at one and the same time the most momentous and most joyful event in the history of mankind. And what is more Jesus took upon himself the 'madness of the cross.' He died for us...he rose for us.

If I sound hysterical, I can't help it. Our serious, faith-approach to Christmas does not have to exclude a certain light-heartedness. Why shouldn't our enthusiasm that the Son of God became flesh and dwelt amongst us be wrapped up in cheerful sights and sounds, not forgetting delicious tastes and fervent embraces. That's the way we do things.

Great events call for something 'out of this world,' out of Ordinary Time with its ordinary ways. Such is my enthusiasm for what took place in Bethlehem.

I am grateful to my benefactor for convincing me of the value of 'mad money,' and much else that is mad in my life. I think I speak for Isidore when I say that if we weren't slightly mad we could never have written this kind of blog! (I.C. says, 'Amen' to this!)

Peter O.P.

Next week Peter will reflect on meeting God through A Family Tableau.

Monday, 7 December 2009


A number of years ago I was asked to preach at a Dominican sister's Golden Jubilee of Profession of her religious vows. Nothing extraordinary about that, though she was a dear friend whom I'd known for many years. I felt privileged that she should have asked me to preach on such a special occasion.

But there was a great problem. She was very deaf. That, of course, meant that she couldn't have heard a word I said. Although I was able to give her my text afterwards I feared her deafness would have meant that while others heard my sermon she would have been isolated in her silent world. So after the celebratory Mass I told her about my anxiety.

Her reply was beautifully reassuring. She said that when she noticed my repeatedly smiling at her she smiled back at me. That, she added, had made her happy. That was enough.

I realised that if I'd talked absolute gibberish while smiling at her that would have made he happy. That certainly doesn't mean that the contents of our sermons is unimportant. It most certainly is.

But my deaf friend's remark reminded me that there's much more to communication than appealing to the mind through the use of words. We can express our thoughts and feelings through the way we behave -by a smile or a scowl, shaking a clenched fist or offering an open hand. My friend had the sensitivity to notice my smile and to recognise it as an expression of loving friendship. That was all that mattered.

Our smiling at each other led me to reflect on the different ways we communicate with God and he with us. Sometimes we do need to use words, though not too many. At other times words become superfluous and can be so inadequate in expressing our deepest feelings and longings. We're lost for words. We simply can't express our wonder at the majesty of God and the glory of his creation. Or we may be moved so deeply that we can only laugh, cry or groan. These reactions can be far more eloquent than many words. It's wonderful that Paul should tell us that the Spirit not only knows what they mean, but even inspires these non-verbal prayers, which arise from the very depth of our being, (cf. Romans 8. 26).

And there's so much in worship that is expressed non-verbally. The design of the church building and the position of the seats in relation to the altar express and influence the relationship between the congregation, what is done at the altar and the God we've come together to worship. How we dress, our postures and the way we behave in church should all express our reverence. Sadly, often they don't.

The adornment of the church, with its statues, paintings and stained glass windows can be great preaching aids as well as assisting our personal devotions. These visual aids can appeal not only to our minds but also to our imaginations and hearts. My deaf friend has taught me the important of non-verbal language.

And just as we don't have to use words to communicate with God, so, too, he usually doesn't need words to express his love for us. The letter to the Hebrews begins by telling us that at different times God has spoken to us in diverse ways, (especially through the Scriptures). But now he has spoken to us through his Son. And what Jesus did by dying on the cross was far more eloquent of his love for us than even his sublime teaching.

My deaf friend, who recognised and understood my silent smile, has taught me to be more sensitive to the many non-verbal ways in which God expresses his love for me.

My way to God must include my being able to read the signs of his love, expressed in all that he's done for me, all he has given me. And for me to smile gratefully back at God is a real, deep and loving prayer.
Isidore O.P.

Next week Fr. Peter will reflect on meeting God in 'Mad Money'

Monday, 30 November 2009


Already I'm beginning to feel guilty! As I move around the stores I see all those Christmas cards displayed for sale. It's high time I attended to my Christmas mail.

You know what it's like -the agony of making decisions. The cost factor looms large. How many cards can I afford to buy? But this should not really worry me. There's a host of people who would be happy to receive my seasonal greetings by email -especially if I've designed something myself.

Then there's a different kind of affording that troubles me -can I afford not to send a card to this person or that? There would be those who would be greatly hurt if they did not hear from me. Others would be pleasantly surprised if they did. Do I want to give them this unexpected joy? Do I need to?

Then there's the sad side to this matter of getting in touch at this time of the year. Since last Christmas dear friends have died. They were certainly on my mailing list a year ago. A line has been drawn through their names in my address book. A laconic RIP marks inexpressible grief. I draw comfort that this year they will be celebrating Christmas in Heaven, or if they have not reached there yet, my fond hope is that they are on their way there.

For me, selecting Christmas cards is no casual exercise. With its pictures and words, a cards is a means of communication. Carefully, I weigh up what message I wish to convey to this person or that. Some cards marvelously express what Christmas means to me. I am delighted when I'm certain that what is precious to me will find its echo in those who receive the greetings. Not so easy when some of my friends are not especially Christian.

Then I decide it would be a mistake for me to send them cards depicting snowmen, robins or red-nosed reindeers. They know me and would expect me to bear witness to my belief that the Son of God was born on Christmas day.

Some Nativity pictures are glorious works of art. Others can be described as religious cartoons or fall into that marvelous internet category of clip art. No matter which, in some way they are all declarations of my faith and piety. Long before printing and photocopying, sacred art was a powerful means of evangelization -statues, paintings, stained glass. It remains true that a single picture says more than 1,000 words.

At this season, then, I reach God, my way, through the whole business of sending cards. It is something I either do for myself or I don't want to be done at all. For me it is meditation.
What does the Christmas theme mean to me?
This year, where would I like to place the emphasis?
Then I meditate in an almost religious way on the significance people have in my life and what they mean to me.

At one and the same moment I am very much in touch with God and with those I love. This has just occurred to me...getting down to sending Christmas cards is something like entering into a holy communion...I'm drawing friends around me, around the babe in the Bethlehem crib. This is not time wasted. Some may trash my greetings as junk mail. I really believe that in sending a Christmas card I'm sending something of me -my faith, my love -to people of my choice...
What a wonderful phrase, "People of my choice!"
Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will meet God in a Smile

Friday, 20 November 2009


The grey squirrel has had a bad press. It's condemned as a vermin -like a rat with a bushy tail. Worse still, it's accused of being a foreigner, which has driven out our beautiful native red squirrel. Few people have a kind word to say for the grey squirrel.

And yet most of us love to see them in our gardens or parks. I was recently able to take the present picture in a beautiful avenue in Leicester. Whenever I tried to draw near to take its photo it played hide and seek with me, as it ran round the back of a tree. I got the feeling the squirrel enjoyed the game as much as I did!

As you can see from the colour of the leaves, it was autumn. At that time of the year the grey squirrel is especially busy gathering and burying nuts and acorns. These will provide it with food for the winter. Fortunately for us it doesn't find all its buried food. What remains hidden is able to grow into oak, beech and hazel trees. So the despised squirrel plays a useful part in the spread of our trees. And it's a fascinating, skilled acrobat, which can defeat the most difficult of obstacle courses in its attempt to reach food. It can run paw over paw, upside down along a washing line, and can make prodigious leaps and open food containers.
There is indeed much to admire in the despised grey squirrel, which only does what comes naturally, without any malice. I suspect that is true of all the beasts we dismiss as being evil, including wasps and snakes. If we did but know it, each one of them plays its part in the balance of nature, even if that's mainly to provide food for other animals. But much more important, in different ways each creature gives glory to God, simply being itself.

My reflections on the grey squirrel have led me to conclude that I can find much that is very positive in an animal we have come to despise. If that's true for me with my limited perspective and all my prejudices God is infinitely better at seeing the whole picture when he considers us. He sees not only our failures and faults, but also our successes and the difficulties we have had to face. God takes into account what other people fail to notice.

Reflecting on the despised grey squirrel and finding good in it has taught me to try to be equally generous with people, whom I may too readily shun or condemn. If I can look for what is good in them I will realise that they are God's children, made in his image and likeness. They are my brothers and sisters. If I'm open to them, each will provide a new and unique way for me to meet God in them.

Thinking about the grey squirrel has taught me to try and overcome my prejudices. These certainly blind me from seeing what is good in people and prevent me from meeting God in them.

I'm grateful to the grey squirrel for the way it has helped me and for the joy it has given me. I don't see it as my foe, even if it may be that for the red squirrel, which also gives me great joy. Each has it's place in the glory of God's creation.

Isidore O.P.

Next week Peter will reflect on Sending Christmas Cards

Friday, 13 November 2009


A moment of utter peace....a moment to take in the wonder-world of the Caribbean island of Grenada where I have served as a priest for many years. There was I one night, seated on the balcony of St. Martin's Retreat Centre, facing the avenue of tall palm trees. How majestic they were, against a backdrop of total darkness, gloriously bathed in the soft glow cast by a lamp fixed to one of the trees! Up and down the avenue these stately pillars receded into the blackness of the night. Sadly this avenue was destroyed by hurricane 'Ivan' in 2004.

I can't help thinking of that avenue of Royal Palms. Yet even more wondrous were the moths flitting into and out of the light. For a brief moment among the trees these iridescent creatures danced their ecstatic ballet, oblivious of their reflected glory. These silvery moths made me think of us Christians, beloved children of God. As the New Creation, we reflect the glory of our risen and glorious Lord, Jesus Christ.

For most of the time we Christians, like these moths, go about our unspectacular lives without drawing attention to ourselves. But then, like the moths approaching the source of their brightness, we Christians offer a glimpse of the radiance with which we have been clothed. Such are the times when people witness something of the beauty of Christ within us. It could also be how we see them ...for a brief moment as luminous mysteries.

The words of St. Paul come to mind,
"I live now, not with my own life, but with the life of Christ who lives in me,"
(Gal 4: 19). And,

"All of us with unveiled faces, like mirrors reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the image that we reflect in brighter and brighter glory: this is the working of the Lord, who is the Spirit,"
(2 Cor. 3. 18).
We are not very much aware of this about ourselves. Nor do we often credit this of other people. Our preoccupation is with the ordinariness of our lives, or with the dark side of our sinfulness. With faith, and with the moths, to remind me of this I recognise that this is far from being the total picture. There is about us a life that is hidden with Christ in God. Mostly hidden, and when it shows itself we are scarcely aware of it.

For me that moment with the palm trees and and the moths was one of startling grace. It comes back to me now, with all its excitement and breath-taking beauty as I prepare to celebrate the Kingship of Christ, gloriously reigning in heaven. We are touched by his glory. We re transformed by his glory. In our own small way we reflect the glory of Christ within us. We are meant to convey a glimmer to the people around us.

I really and truly believe those moths were meant to say something memorable and inspiring to me. And they had no idea that this was so!

It is St. Paul who once more expresses my thoughts,

"Since you have been raised up to be with Christ, you must look to the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at God's right hand. Let your thoughts be on things above, not on the things that are on earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed and He is in your life -you too, will be revealed with Him in glory,"
(Col. 3: 1-4).

I can only say that those moths have led me to think of myself as having a significance that I would never, never, have dared to claim for myself.

Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will reflect on how he met God in a 'Friend or Foe?'

Tuesday, 10 November 2009


In a jam, in a mess, in a sticky situation! None of these to be recommended! But I'll tell you, it was the lady who made raspberry jam who brought so much sweetness into my life, and more than that -deep friendship. You see, I love homemade raspberry jam, and was fortunate in having a friend who delighted in making it. Strangely, she didn't like eating it. But how happy she was to grow the raspberries from which she made the jam -and then to give it to someone who would enjoy it.

After tasting her jam I was full of praise and gratitude. As a result she gave me a regular supply.
But much more important, her kind gift and my grateful response drew us closer as friends. What a difference between finding a friend in a jam and finding a friend in jam! That probably wouldn't have happened if she hadn't given me the jam, and I hadn't shown my appreciation of it.

That gift of jam and my response taught me something very important about gratitude and ingratitude. People deserve to be thanked for what they've done or for what they've given. Of course, wanting to be thanked should never be the motive for their generosity...but rather love, simply love. But no one likes being taken for granted. We all like our efforts to be appreciated. There used to be a notice in our kitchen, which read, "No one notices what I do till I stop doing it." How true that is, perhaps especially in the home! Ask yourself how often you have thanked the person who has cooked your meals, tidied the house or earned the wages. And if you've done all that for others, how often have you been thanked? I bet you would welcome some sign of appreciation for your efforts.

Ingratitude is churlish. It creates resentment and tends to drive us apart. On the other hand, when we say, "Thank you" and show our appreciation the one who gives and the one who receives instinctively warm to each other and draw closer to each other.

These reflections made me realise how much we take God for granted. We owe him our very existence, as well as the fertility of our planet and the mineral resources it contains. He's given us the ability to develop technical and artistic skills, and so much more. In addition to these natural gifts God has given us his Spirit through whom we share God's own divine life and happiness. The Son of God has become one of us and has given his very life to save us from the power of evil and to grant us the fullness of life. Love for us is his only motive, and that is his greatest gift.

How easily do we take for granted all that God has done for us, all that he has given us! We are eager enough to ask him for many things, but how often do we bother to thank him? Our ingratitude prevents our responding to God's generosity with love. That distances us from him. But if we do take the trouble to thank him our gratitude will draw us closer to each other in love. And if we tell him we appreciate his gifts he will be ever more generous in loving us.

It's so easy to say, "Thank you." And yet those words mean so much. The gift of the pot of jam has taught me the importance of gratitude in helping us to draw closer to God and each other.

A final thought. Apart from saying "Thank you" the best way to show our appreciation of a gift is to use it, not throw it away or forget it. If it's a pot of jam, eat and enjoy it. If it's a garment let the giver have the satisfaction of seeing you wear it. And let's use God's gifts to express our love for him and each other.
Isidore O.P.

Next week Fr Peter will muse upon Meeting God in Reflected Glory

Friday, 30 October 2009


In the film, "The Sound of Music" Julie Andrews was seen striding down the mountain slope trilling merrily about the hills being alive with the sound of music. I know someone who saw the film over thirty times. Do you think such 'honey-sweet' music would cause young and old as much pleasure these days as it did over forty years ago?

Only a few days ago I had been searching for something, a word, an incident, anything that would get me started in writing a blog for this column. Well, there was I in a minibus in the beautiful tropical island of Grenada, waiting for it to fill up so that we could get moving. My curious eye cast this way and that . Was my prayer being answered? There on the windscreen of of the bus was written,


Now I'm not one to take offence at this slogan as being insulting to us elderly. I ponder, 'Is this a defining truth that is meant for Peter, the blogger, here in the very environment where sound is often at its most strident?' Here some youngsters, but not all of them, might ask the driver to turn up the volume, and one of my age, but not all, might beg that it be turned down. Since this situation occurs so frequently I can't help wondering if there's some correspondence between the generation gap and the breaking of the sound barrier.

The good Lord has provided a comfort zone of volume and pitch for each of the creatures to which he has given the faculty of hearing. A herd of elephants is charmed at the melody of trumpeting to each other. A swarm of bats finds joy in their choir of shrill twittering. By nature we of the human family come somewhere between these extremes. Nowadays, modern technology allows us to amplify sound almost ad infinitum or at the turn of a knob to eliminate it completely.

It's been suggested that those who continuously bombard their ears with exceedingly loud music may eventually become 'hearing impaired.' If so, such partial deafness will have been self-inflicted. I've also read that on-going loud music jangles the nerves, causing people to be irritable. it wouldn't surprise me if it's true.

What an ironic contrast that while ageing people tend to become 'hard of hearing' and have to resort to hearing aids, young people may be on course to 'deafening' themselves. As for me, at the Sunday liturgy of all places, I'm deprived of serene piety by amplified guitars, key-boards and percussion instruments. Little does the choir, ecstatic in its music making, realise the orchestra is preventing their every prayerful sound, their every inspiring word, from being heard!

Still, I'm able to cope, though with suffering and most certainly not in silence.

I would like to give some 'sound' advice to those youths to whom it may apply -that they should be more considerate to elderly people like me, in public places and especially under the family roof, where those of different generations make up their homes and seek their peace together. And I'm truly concerned about what the young are doing to themselves by subjecting their ears to greater sound than they were ever meant to tolerate...possibly doing far more harm to themselves than they would ever have imagined.

In my concern for them I hope that even now they experience the beauty of we learn from the prophet Elijah, in the passage in which I find so much solace:-

"Then the Lord went by.
There came a mighty wind, so strong that it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord.
But the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind came an earthquake.
But the Lord was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake came a fire.
But the Lord was not in the fire.

And after the fire
came the sound of a gentle breeze.
And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Then a voice came to him..."
(1 Kings 19)

Surely that's: god'swaymyway!

Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will meet God in a Pot of Jam

Friday, 23 October 2009


"The way I tell the difference between you and your brother is that one of you knows how to end his sermons...!"

With those remarks a young lady tried to make conversation with Peter, soon after we'd arrived in Grenada. But then she stopped and beat a hasty retreat as she realised she was digging a hole for herself by implying that that the other of us didn't know how to conclude his sermons. To this day, over fifty years later, neither of us knows to whom she was referring. Each of us is convinced it was his brother!

That's just one of many examples of the confusion we identical twins can cause. Then there was the occasion when I returned to Grenada after an absence of twenty five years. As we stood in the market place someone came up to us, took a hard look at me, and exclaimed, "What the hell is that!" "THAT" turned out to be me. I was also known as, "Peter again" and even, "Peter squared." Today, "Rounded" would be more accurate.

Then there was the time when Peter was examined twice for acceptance into the Dominican noviciate, and I nearly missed being interviewed. If we hadn't pointed out the mistake what would have happened if in one interview Peter had been accepted and the other rejected? And what would have happened to me? We're still wondering.

Sometimes we can use the confusion we twins create to our advantage. Such was the case when, as Dominican students, we played for the priory cricket team. Peter, who was right handed, would bowl off-breaks from one end, while I, who was left handed, would bowl leg-breaks from the other end. The poor batsmen were not only confused by the different directions in which the ball moved, but also by the similarity of the bowlers.

But there can be disadvantages in identical twins being confused. If, as happened for a short while in Grenada, we were working in the same parish I wouldn't recognise some of his friends, and he would sometimes fail to greet some of mine. Naturally they were hurt by our ignoring them.

And there's the constant danger of twins being lumped together and of each of us having to struggle to assert his individuality. Although we have so much in common, especially our Dominican vocation, we do sometimes disagree -hopefully constructively. That means we are able to work together on joint projects, such as this blog, and bounce ideas off each other. We've found the speed of emails enables us to offer instant suggestions and criticisms. We can, and have been, pretty ruthless with each other!

Being separated by the Atlantic for nearly fifty years has enabled each of us to develop his own separate identity. That has been good for us, even though we do miss each other, and it's great when every few years we are able to see each other for a short while. For us it's not true to say that twins are inseparable.

Being a twin, who is sometimes confused with his brother, made me grateful that God is able to tell us apart. Jesus has told us that he knows each of his sheep by name. Not one of them loses its identity or individuality in the vastness of the human flock. Hopefully, in different ways, each of us responds to his master's voice and follows him. So, in a special way, we identical twins reflect unity in diversity. We rejoice in what we have in common, as well as what distinguishes us.

But what is most important is that God welcomes us for what we are -identical twins, each of us being unique. I thank God I'm able to meet him in being myself, not Peter. And he must meet God in being himself, not a replica of me. That's the way God welcomes each of us. And God loves each of you as an individual, who is not confused with anyone else. You, too, must seek and find God in being yourselves, not a clone of anyone else -even the greatest of saints.

As you may have gathered from earlier postings Peter works in the West Indies, while I now work in England. Since we live thousands of miles apart there's a time difference of four hours. That means that although Peter was born three hours before me I reach each of my birthdays four hours before he does. For a little while I'm older than him. Sadly I haven't yet found a way of taking advantage of my short-term seniority.

This time difference also means that as I meet God in one way while I'm tucked up in bed, Peter meets him in another way while he's still up and about. You never know, one of us may develop this approach to meeting God. Watch this space!

Isidore O.P.

Next week Peter will meet God in the Sound of Music

Thursday, 15 October 2009


Pachyderms -rhinos, elephants
...splendid thick-skinned animals!

With their tough hides these massive creatures are shielded against the intense heat of the equatorial sun, hardened against the sharp-edged undergrowth through which they trample, resistant to the onslaught of many a foe ...magnificent in the way they are so well equipped to face the rough and tumble of life.

HOWEVER, not one of us would want to be known as emotional pachyderms -thick skinned, lumbering, insensitive, inhuman hulks, unruffled by the trauma of our own lives and those of other people.

Imagine, then, how thrilled I was when some time ago The Grenada Media Workers Association invited me to take part in a panel discussion, with the delicious subject being,

"Developing A thick Skin While Retaining Our Sensitivity."

Becoming thick-skinned, capable of dampening down the stress of personal anguish and the impact of the tragedies of others. And yet, in striving for this, remain sensitive-responsive to the heart-breaks, insecurities, fears, and even shame of others.

Media Practitioners have to cover some awful events. For their emotional survival they need something of the thick skin of the elephant if they are not to be traumatised. The same professional detachment is required of those working in the casualty ward of a hospital, or even of us priests who have to be there, supportive of those in distress. All of us must become sufficiently self-possessed so as not to swamp others with our shock and sorrow at what we see before us. Therefore, we must develop a thick skin. This surely applies to all of us at some time or other in our lives.

A closer look at the pachyderms reveals that their skins are porous. Through their skins they perspire -they get rid of the heat within their bodies. They are cooled, through and through, as they wallow in the refreshing water-holes. So they are by no means insensitive, closed to the outside world. And, you know, a pachyderm's thick skin protects its soft heart. It wouldn't function if it had a heart of hard stone.

In a sense, we are thin-skinned -emotionally -and thank God for that! We are porous and so are open to absorbing the pain of others...something like a sponge. Somehow or other we must find, acquire, develop a fine-tuned, well-balanced emotional life -at one and the same time being like leathery pachyderms, while retaining the tender sensitivity that flows from our humanity ...people familiar with tragedy but not hardened by it.

I think of Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus, shedding tears over his beloved Jerusalem. We can only guess at the extent he was emotionally drained as he ministered to the sick, the bereaved, those who had lost confidence in themselves because of their personal shame. And in Gethsemane didn't he combine great human sensitivity, as he sweated blood at the very thought of his approaching agony, together with a pachyderm-tough will as he accepted the cup of suffering from his Father?

Jesus and his followers -a herd of sensitive pachyderms
...with a difference...meeting God...mywaygodsway.

Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will meet God in Glorious Uncertainties

Friday, 2 October 2009


What moves first with four legs, then with two, then with three, then the rest is history?

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.

Isidore OP.

Next week Pachyderms will help Peter to meet God.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Meeting God through a Possible Child

"I'm not a problem...I'm a possibility."

So sang a group of youngsters at the ceremony marking their graduation from primary to secondary school.


What a marvellous self-affirmation from these children! God bless those teachers who instilled this truth into these young boys and girls!

I think of my own childhood when the Parish Priest complained to my mother, "Why has God sent me such awful altar servers? He, poor man, was referring to my twin brother and me. Between us, at different times, we had ruined his precious sanctuary carpet. One by vomiting on it, the other, as thurifer, by burning a hole in it. I wonder if we were more problematic than other youngsters. Surprise, surprise, we both became priests!

Possibilities...not problems. After more than sixty years I vividly remember the time when my eldest brother proudly showed Dad a wooden aeroplane he had carved. He eagerly waited to be congratulated. To his heart-breaking dismay Dad threw it on the fire and then gently showed him how he could do a far better job. Even now, this same brother of mine is making exquisite model planes and boats. The complacent under-achieving model-maker carried within him the seed of so many creative possibilities.

For me, this goes t the very heart and soul of the Gospel -the heart and soul of the way Jesus related to people. He saw them as possibilities rather than problems, or, perhaps saw that their real problem was that they despaired of their possibilities.

Time and again Jesus reached out to the despised, the marginalised, to those at the bottom of the pile that is humanity. And there he affirmed them. He saw them as people capable of being transformed by his saving love; people of God -given dignity, people worthy of respect and acceptance ...from Jesus himself...and from the rest of us.

Many did not admire Jesus for "lowering" Himself like this ...not even his intimate friends, the disciples. While he was never standing on his dignity, they were blustering among themselves about who was the greatest. Jesus gently, but firmly, cut them down to size.

"Anyone who wants to be first must make himself last of all and servant of all. Then he took a child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him , and said to them, 'Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me: and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me,'" (Mk. 9).

Jesus would have us know that this greatness, that his greatness as the Son of Man among men, his greatness as our Lord and Saviour, lay in his giving himself to people, welcoming them, believing in them -even children. It's so wonderful, so beautiful that Jesus should be able and willing to fulfil their possibilities...our possibilities as only he, the Son of God, could do.

The way of Jesus, godsway, was surely one of extreme optimism -possibilities, not problems. If I am to make any significant difference this must be myway.

Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will reflect on meeting God in the Questioning Sphinx

Monday, 7 September 2009


Some time ago I saw the popular film and stage show 'Chicago.' As well as having some great tunes it's a wonderful satire of 1920's showbiz, with the glamorisation of criminals and a celebrity lawyer.

Amidst the exotic characters there's an exception. Since no one notices him he feels he's become a non-person. He sings a poignant song about his being 'Mr. Cellophane.' As far as people are concerned he's invisible. He sings, 'You look right through me, walk right by me, and never know I'm there.' He thinks he's 'invisible, inconsequential.' He has no power or influence. Any views he may have are dismissed as worthless. He's thought to be of no importance. No one has any time for him. He's completely ignored.

Sadly, there are far too many 'cellophane' people in the world today. They include those who live on the fringe of society, the marginalised, the outcasts. There's the refugee, the asylum seeker, the beggar on the street. At the same time we glorify pop and sports stars. The media turns notorious criminals and their lawyers into celebrities.

All this hype is in sharp contrast to the way Jesus treated people. He mixed with sinners, whom the self-righteous shunned. Instead of writing them off as worthless he led them to find God's mercy. He died between two criminals and promised to welcome the repentant thief into his kingdom. He enabled those who had become marginalised -lepers, the possessed and sinners -to take a full part in the life of the community.

He alone noticed the poor widow putting all of the little she possessed into the temple collection box. When those who were filled with a sense of their own importance tried to prevent children and the blind beggar, Bartemaeus, from bothering Jesus he welcomed these social rejects. Jesus even said we must become like these seemingly unimportant people if we were to enter the kingdom of heaven. God certainly is not impressed by celebrities and status seekers.

Jesus identified with the under privileged, the needy and the outcast and told us that as we welcome them we welcome him and the one who sent him. He knows and calls even the least of us by name. God even knows every sparrow that falls, and we are worth more than many sparrows. As far as God is concerned none of us loses his or her identity or individuality in the vast crowd of humanity.

For Jesus no one is a cellophane person. As far as he's concerned we are so important that he has lived and died to save each one of us. His love for us has given us the dignity of becoming the children of God, sharing his own divine life.

Mr. Cellophane in the musical, 'Chicago,' has reminded me of the pain we can cause by failing to notice and value people. I've also realised God is to be found in these so-called 'cellophane people,' whom nobody notices. Our love and concern for them, having time for them, can restore their self respect and prevent them feeling they've become transparent and invisible. As we meet and recognise God in them they enrich our lives.
Or can they and Christ condemn us with the words from 'Chicago?' 'You look right through me, walk through me and never know I'm there.'

The musical 'Chicago' has taught me that if I'm to meet God I must recognise and welcome him in the cellophane people, whom nobody notices or, if they do, considers them to be of no importance.
Isidore O.P.

Next week Peter will meet God through a 'Possible Child'

Saturday, 5 September 2009


I have so many good friends....people who are good to me and people who are good for me. As it says in the Book of Ecclesiasticus ch 6, "A good friend is the elixir of life" and "A kindly turn of speech attracts new friends, and a courteous tongue invites many a friendly response." Such people bring joy, love, kindness and merriment into my life, as well as inspiration and consolation. Good friends in the deeply religious sense are exceptionally godly people.

But I find many of them bewilder me. I don't take offence because I know they mean no harm. Let me explain.
Several times a week I receive an email from one or other of such friends...something that quite literally is going the rounds...circling the globe many times over. Often it is something of exquisite beauty -a picture, a poem, a real-life story...something that moves me to compassion and prayer, something that inspires and edifies me, or gives me some much needed advice. I am deeply grateful to them for taking the trouble to send me this spiritual nourishment. Frequently I forward these messages to people I think might appreciate them.

However, it so happens that there's a point when I begin to choke with resentment. I feel like a fish that gleefully snaps up a tasty morsel, only to find that a concealed hook has become embedded in its throat. This is when these delicious messages from delightful friends are rounded off with a promise and a threat...menacing messages. This punch line catches me in my gullet. It goes like this:
"If you forward this message to a minimum given number of people within a certain time -it could be within ten minutes or perhaps by tomorrow -you'll be handsomely rewarded!" But then the flip-side to the promise..the menace. "If you don't meet these requirements you're in for a lot of trouble."

I ask myself, "What kind of person addresses a friend like that...with promises and threats?" Don't they trust me to use my judgement as to whether the message is worth sending to someone else? Have they themselves been threatened into sending these messages to me, so that if there had been no menace, generating fear, they wouldn't have bothered?

I am prepared to allow that they simply had not thought out the implications of what they were doing in sending me this material, wrapped in a package of promise and threat. I even credit them with believing they were doing me a favour and never intended to give offence.

My conclusion is that the whole process of mass distribution of the Good News through emails is being depersonalised, stripped of the basic courtesy that might incline people to welcome what is being sent and even pass it on.

As for me, if I think the message is worth forwarding I shall delete the promise and threat. No way will I use promises or threats, carrots or sticks to pressurise anyone to be an email evangeliser! Let me know what you think of myway of spreading the Good News.

Do you think it's godsway of getting it done?

Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will reflect on Mr. Cellophane.

Friday, 4 September 2009


"You must have had beautiful curls as a baby!" My prior was not paying me a compliment, but sarcastically telling me my hair was too long and looked a mess. Usually he didn't go in for such subtleties. But that day he did. In plain language he was telling me, "Get a hair cut!"

Most of us strive to create a good impression so that people will admire and respect us. We fear that we will be despised and rejected if we fail. Image making has developed into a sophisticated art. A politician is thought to stands a better chance of being elected if he looks like a film star. That's what Ronald Reagan actually was. It's been argued that one of the reasons why Kennedy beat Nixon was because on a TV debate Nixon was thought to look like a thug, while Kennedy appeared handsome and honest.

I must admit that I'm not very bothered about how I look. Perhaps I should be. But my prior certainly was right. My scruffy appearance let my community down, if not myself.

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!

Isidore O.P.

Next week Peter will meet God - Not Through Menacing Mesages

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Meeting God Through Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and Ladders was a favourite game of my childhood. You know how it goes? Each players has a coloured counter, which is to progress from the starting square in the bottom corner of the board to the winning square in the top corner. In turn we threw a dice and moved our counters forward accordingly.
However, the progress was not straightforward. On the board were snakes and ladders of various lengths. If your counter had to be moved to the head of a snake, down you went to its tail. If your counter came to the foot of a ladder, it was moved up to its top. Perversely, there was the head of a long snake just next to the winning square. When you were in the sight of victory you might find yourself making a long descent.

I have never known anyone have a clear run from beginning to end -ascending ladders, but never being troubled by snakes. This is a game of elation and frustration! The same is true of the spiritual life. But this is no game. It is serious business.

By tradition the snake represents the devil, as we find the serpent tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden. From ancient times progress in the spiritual life has been described as climbing a flight of stairs or mounting a ladder. So our own personal Salvation History can be understood in terms of Spiritual Snakes and Ladders!

There have been times when I've felt that I was making steady progress in the spiritual life. Also rare and precious moments when I have seemed to surge upwards -much like moving up the ladders of the game. This has been a good experience that filled me with confidence. I have been walking with God. He has been journeying with me.

Sad to say, I have been brought down to earth -my earthly self -not once but many times, in many ways. Often when I least expected it. I have met snakes, which have been the cause of my downfall. I really shouldn't blame them because I have my own conscience and free will. My downfall has been my own doing. I'm not like a counter, moved up and down the board of life. When I have ascended it has been the grace of God that has taken me upwards. I have wanted this to happen, allowed this to happen. When I've move downwards I have chosen to take that path.

Many have been my good and sincere resolutions i which I've persevered for a time, only to belie them. I can recall preaching what I thought was a fine sermon on loving our neighbour. Shortly afterwards, when the congregation had left the church, I was getting into a bad-tempered exchange with someone who annoyed me. Then, disappointment, disillusionment with myself, shame. Had my progress been a fanciful dream?

How I long for a spirituality of steady consistency, or, if not that, at least no sliding backwards! I am denied that luxury. I deny myself that luxury, precisely because I keep on flirting with snakes!

Being at the end of the snake's tail when I've thought I should be at least at the top of a short ladder is not comfortable. But I've come to realise that I'm not in this snakes and ladders routine on my own. It's at the tip of the snake's tail, my descent into sinful failure, that I meet Jesus -my saviour. He picks me up, sets me on my feet and accompanies me on the journey ahead.

Jesus meets me at the point of my lowliness -my failure through sinfulness. And there He inspires me to approach him with a repentant heart and seek His forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He makes me whole, fit to scale the ladders that lead to God. wary of snakes that could deflect me from him. There is sadness because of the snakes, rejoicing because of the ladders. My fond hope and determination is that I shall eventually reach the winning square -eternity with God!

Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will meet God in 'Looking a Mess.'



A number of years ago there was a fascinating TV series entitled the "Ascent of Man." This described his evolutionary development from his primate ancestors to modern man, with his rich cultures, reasoning power and inventive skill.

Jesus has added a new dimension to the "Ascent of Man."

He has healed our sinfulness, which separated us from God.
He has raised us beyond our human limitations,
so that we could share God's own life and happiness.
That is why he created us; that was the purpose of his plan to save us.

Earth-man is no longer earth-bound!


This picture shows the fulfilment of God's plan of salvation.

Already we are caught up in Christ's ascent to glory.
Through baptism we have been born from above, and so, have begun to share God's own life.
This gives us a divine momentum upwards, towards God.
Already we've begun to share in the saving power of Christ's death, resurrection and ascension.

That's why YAHWEH'S hands draw up -not only Christ -but us as well.

"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."
Jn. 12. 32

"So, if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth;
for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is your life is revealed,
then you also will be revealed with him in glory."
Col. 3. 1-4


Isidore O.P.
This posting concludes the "Y" series of pictures and comments.
I would welcome your reaction to it.

Next week, on Sunday 13th Sept, Peter will resume our "Meeting God" series.
He will tell us how he has found God in the game of Snakes and Ladders.

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.

Isidore O.P.

Next week's final picture and comment on the Ascension will provide the climax to this series.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


This picture is a reflection on 2 Cor. 1. 20-21

"For in him -Christ -every one of God's promises is a "YES"
For this reason it is through him that we say the
"AMEN" to the glory of God.
But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us."

The hands in this picture form a "Y"

This represents YAHWEH and his "YES" to his promises of salvation

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.
I have tried to express the determinaton that required, as the crucified Christ fixes his eyes intently on the "YES" of his Father's loving, supporting hands.
With and through him we say "YES" to our salvation.

In the "Our Father" we pray, "Thy will be done."
We place ourselves in God's hands, trusting in his wisdom and love.
That's the hardest prayer to really mean.

Isidore O.P.

Next week's picture and reflection will be about the Exaltation of Christ Crucified.

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

Isidore O.P.

Next week's picture and reflection will be about the crucified Christ's "YES" to his Father's will.

Friday, 7 August 2009


Why do we defy God and reject his love and his life?

Why do we rebel against God and behave so badly?

We wouldn't do so unless we thought we had something to gain by sinning.

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

Isidore O.P.

Next we will see how God begins to repair the damage caused by sin