Thursday, 25 July 2013


The male lion - what a magnificent, noble beast!  The ‘King of the Jungle’ -his roar strikes terror into his prey.  What a powerful image of Israel’s fear of its enemies, ‘Their roaring is like a lion, like young lions they roar; they growl and seize their prey, they carry it off, and no one can rescue it,’ (Is. 5. 29). No wonder Amos exclaims, ‘The lion has roared; who will not fear?’ (Amos 3. 8).    Its paws can tear its prey apart; its powerful jaws can readily crush and devour anything it fancies to eat.  Clearly, a lion should be approached with great caution!  Mess about with lions at your peril. The same is true of the devil, as St. Peter warns us, “Discipline yourselves; keep alert.  Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour,” (1 Peter 5. 8).

 But I have had to modify this terrifying image of the fearsome lion. While searching the internet, I stumbled across a beautiful picture of a male lion with its cub.  I was immediately struck by the tender bond between fearsome father and  vulnerable child.  The normally unapproachable, intimidating male lion could so easily have made a meal of its tiny, defenceless cub. And yet he welcomed it with gentle tenderness. The head of the pride of lions seems to smile with such pride!

 As for the tiny cub, I’m amazed at its trust.  It dared to approach the handsome, powerful male lion, to rest its nose tenderly against that of the Lord of the Jungle. That’s something I’d never dare do –even though I’m much bigger than the cub.  And the simple reason for its confidence –the cub dared to recognize him as his ‘father.’  And the father acknowledged the cub as his child.

 What a wonderful image of our relationship with God!  The King of the Jungle powerfully expresses the unapproachable, awesome majesty of the Lord of Heaven and Earth. We must never lose sight of that. And yet we dare to draw close to Him, without fear of being destroyed. And the simple reason for our confidence? Almighty God has shared His life with us.   He recognizes and welcomes us as His children.  That gives us the trust to approach the awesome God of Majesty –not the King of the Jungle, but Lord of Heaven and Earth. Because He acknowledges us as His children we dare to call Him ‘Father.’  That gives us the confidence, the trust, the love to presume to approach Almighty God without fear of being destroyed.

The picture of the relationship between the lion and his cub has given me a beautiful insight into a new way of meeting God.  This combines respect for His awesome majestic power, while daring to approach God, who is full of tenderness and love.  The reason for this confidence?  -the bond of love between our heavenly Father, and us, His children.

Isidore O.P

P.S. I would like to thank the photographer -unknown to me -who took the magnificent picture which inspired this posting.  Please send me your name, so that I can publically express my gratitude.
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Thursday, 11 July 2013



They don’t make them like that anymore –strict, no-nonsense priests who ‘tell it as it is.’ The one I have in mind would each month remind his country village congregation of eight different ways they could get themselves excommunicated from the Church. (I suspect that few of the present generation have a clue what excommunication is all about!)

No surprise, then, that this gruff cleric would advise priests of recent vintage that there’s no need to tell people about love. ‘They’ve had enough of that already. Tell them about the Last  Judgment!’

All the same, as a host he was a most considerate man. There was a time when the bishop visited his parish. After lavishly dining the Most Reverend Gentleman this pastor suggested it might well be time for him to sleep off his meal. Now, who told the parish cockerel to start crowing at that very moment?!!?

The poor bird did not live long to bewail its folly. “Off with its head,” bellowed our priest to his house-keeper, with all the authority of an eastern potentate.  Problem solved. The bishop slept soundlessly.

You might well conclude there's small chance of a priest’s life becoming boring. Let me tell you about the desperate  love-stricken young man who sent distress signals to this priest I’ve just been describing to you. 'Father, come to my rescue. . I'm going crazy. I'm in despair!'

This was an excellent fellow - handsome, talented, jovial, popular, the heart and soul of any gathering.  He could stand tall in any company, confident in the knowledge that the ladies were leaping fences to grab hold of him. Also he had a flashy car – I vital requirement of ‘him who would a wooing go!'

Already he had made his choice. The time had come when he longed to claim this adorable girl of his dreams as his own, not simply as a ‘steady date’ but as a partner for life.  In many ways, for many days, she had been signaling that she was well-satisfied with him.

And yet, such is ‘the mystery of love,' at the very moment he was about to lay bear his heart to her and plead his cause he’d lost his nerve, lost his voice. His whole being had collapsed into something resembling a wobbling jelly.

Who better, then, to be his advocate than the one man who had never been known to be at a loss for words; the one man who did not know what it was to be timid or shy; who better than this same most intimidating of priests? In the crazy world of sweet romance it was easier for him to ask, beg, this holy terror,  to speak to his lady-love on his behalf than for him to approach her himself.

Wouldn’t most of us think he was out of his mind to ask this rough-spoken priest to do for him the serenading and the wooing? My mind boggles at the thought of what words this crusty priest would have found, what cooing sounds he would have made, to persuade this ‘Princess’ that this young man was just the one for her?

What would his lady-love think of him for being too timid to speak for himself? Wouldn’t she despise him for this? Did he really expect the good Lord to work a miracle that would cause honeyed words to flow from this hard-as-rock ‘reverend?’  And yet, with God all things are possible.  Hadn’t He made honey  flow from the rock for the sake of His people in the desert?

I’m guessing our priest welcomed this outrageous challenge. Anyway, having groomed himself as befitted the occasion he went down on his knees and raised his hands to the heavens. He charmed  this bewildered girl into joyful submission as sweet words flowed from his most-times sour mouth.

And wasn’t she relieved! She had been agonizing about how much longer she would have to wait before her boy-friend ‘popped the question.’ Would she have to propose to him? At that moment she so much admired  her young man's resourcefulness in seeking the assistance of someone who had a ‘gift for words.’

With ecstatic joy she encircled  this proxy-suitor within her arms and placed a juicy kiss upon his cheek. A passer-by might have concluded that, wonder of wonders, this most off-putting of priests had somehow gained himself a wife!

Coward that I am, I’m leaving it to you to tease some spirituality out of this grand saga. I ask myself, ‘What does this say to my approaching the Lord of Lords in prayer? How do I stand in comparison to the ‘wooing ways’ of this priest?’

I dare not think what would have been the outcome if I’d had to assume  the priestly role in this drama?  Mywaygodsway?...No way!!! Please God!!!

Peter Clarke, O.P.