Wednesday, 1 April 2009


More Catholic than the Pope; more English than the Queen. Such was a venerable priest whom I accompanied him to a convent where they were celebrating their patronal feast day. Firstly, the very High Mass – this was many years ago, so I can use such language – and then the very special meal. Now this community was American and German in its membership. No surprise, then, that we were served huge T-bone steaks and that on the side-plates jelly was nestled in lettuce leaves. I suspect that our revered cleric was fretting at the unEnglishness of our meal. The limit to his English martyrdom was reached when he exploded, ‘You only serve pancakes on Shrove Tuesday!’

I thought of the dire consequences of breaking the Law of the Medes and Persians and of the fraternal contempt meted out to the one who intoned an Alleluia during Lent. Life becomes so much simpler when it is totally predictable and is governed by inflexible rules and customs. There is the security of being in control and the relaxed freedom of not having to make decisions. Here the luxury of living with ‘the given’ which dispenses with the agonizing over what to take. What bliss to live with the certainty that you will not be eating pancakes on Wednesday…certainty, because in this kind of world of conformity ‘should not’ equals ‘will not.’

We come now to what prompted these reflections. Fr. Isidore emailed me across the Atlantic that he regretted we could not publish one of our features because we were running out of weeks in Lent. We would have to save it till next year. Rather than this being a ‘No Problem’ situation it proved to us to be a delicious call to devise a ‘Blog Mission Statement.’ I’m working this out even as I type these words.

In truth and in fact life does not fit neatly into the ‘Pancakes only on Shrove Tuesday’ format. Neither does the liturgy. Look at how the whole modality of Lent was interrupted by the celebration of the Solemnity of the Annunciation – conception-parenting-birth thoughts in the middle of our organizing crucifixion-death-resurrection thoughts. In the midst of Christmas festivity there will always be families experiencing intense and immediate bereavement. There is no logical sequence about the flow of life. And thus it is with the flow of the Holy Spirit,

‘8The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit,’ (John 3.8).

You can’t predict when and where the Holy Spirit is going to blow, how often, how strongly. The thing is that we have to take the Spirit as and when he comes. So it is with this blog. There will be ‘windy’ times when it seems the Spirit is pushing for a more than once a week blog – as seems to be the case during Holy Week . Our one commitment is to provide something at least each weekend – which should not be too difficult with the two of us being on the look-out for gusts from on high!

In fact most of the ideas appearing in the blog have come unexpectedly and at inappropriate times and circumstances. Seldom have they come during intense sessions of trying to meet a date-line for the diocesan newspaper which I used to edit -the original rock-face from which this blog is now being hewed. ( I suggest you refer to our Welcome to you on this very site).

We shall not allow ourselves to be confined to the ‘Once Weekly’ programming nor to the ‘Pancake on Shrove Tuesday’ syndrome. We shall strive to be receptive to the fickle puffs and gusts of the Holy Spirit. As long as there is life he will be blowing somehow, somewhere, someway. Unpredictability is our watch-word.

On Friday Isidore will post a reflection entitled, ‘Meeting God in a Braying Donkey.’

1 comment:

  1. Fr Isidore, I'd first like to wish both YOU & Fr Pete a very Happy Birthday!!

    May God continue to bless you both with good health, peace, love and prosperity.

    Thanks to the 2 of you for your articles, you touch more lives than you can imagine. They give us hope, increase our faith and build our relationship with our Saviour.

    Your article entitled, "Meeting God in a Braying Donkey" is very interesting. It has never crossed my mind that indeed a donkey was present at the birth and passion of our Christ. What special animals!

    Through my life experiences, and the words of guidance of many, it's so evident that ONLY God can help us carry our crosses. Without Him we would be defeated by the devil, lost and self destructive. We must be grateful for life's hurdles/heartaches because they get us so much closer to God -- they save us from the fires of hell.

    Love, Raquel