Thursday, 30 June 2016


                                                      PROLOGUE 11

In Part 1 of  the  Prologue to this series of meditations you were given the names of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Now we are going to attempt to deepen our understanding and appreciation of their role in our lives. At Baptism we received these gifts. When we were Confirmed  these gifts perfected and activated so as to enable us to lead fully Christian lives.
The idea of being endowed with spiritual gifts is to be found in the writings of the Prophecy of Isaiah. The recipient of these gifts would be the One Almighty God promised sent to His Chosen People.
 “A shoot will spring from the stock of Jesse, a new shoot will grow from his roots.  On him will rest the Spirit of the Lord, the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power, the spirit of knowledge and fear of  the Lord:    his inspiration will lie in fearing the Lord. His judgement  will  not be by appearances. his verdict not given on hearsay, (Isaiah 11).
Elsewhere Isaiah tells us this person would claim to be anointed by the Spirit of God:The spirit of the Lord  is on me for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the news to the afflicted, to soothe the broken-hearted,  to proclaim liberty to captives, release to those in prison… to comfort all who mourn,” (Is.61).
These  prophesies become exciting as we realize that according to the Hebrew text of the Old Testament  “Messiah” was the word used of one anointed as king, priest or  prophet. The equivalent word in Greek of the New Testament is “Christ.”
Of  all the passages  from Sacred Scripture Jesus could have chosen to read in the Synagogue in Capernaum  He selected, “The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted...” Dramatically He exclaimed,  ‘This text is being fulfilled today  even while you are listening.(Lk.4).  Through and through His humanity was briskly alert to the impulses  of the Holy Spirit in the service of His Heavenly Father.
The Church would have us know that we ourselves are caught up in this Messianic thrust of energy – like the schooner opening its sails to the wind. After the water of Baptism had flowed over our brows we were anointed with Chrism, ‘As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.’
Loaded with such spiritual Gifts it is up to us to let God do great things in us and through us!

Peter Clarke, O.P.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

My brother, Fr. Isidore Clarke, O.P., and I have decided to do a series of mini meditations on the 7 Gifts of the  Holy Spirit. Later we shall Touch on the Fruits  of the Holy Spirit.       This project is entitled:

                       THE SPIRIT IS BLOWING!




I shall never forget that glorious day when  we  were  standing  on the deck of a schooner   sailing  between the islands  of Grenada and  Carriacou.  There, at the foot of the mast, we gazed up at the sails embracing the strong breeze that enabled   our boat to carve  its way through the waves towards our destination.

St John tells us that “the wind blows where it pleases,” and that “so it is with everyone that is born of the Spirit,” (Jn. 3.8).  It has been suggested that the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit may be compared to the sails of a boat  awaiting the breeze that would be its driving force.

In this scenario we can see ourselves as being like the crew of the schooner with the choice of hoisting the sails  so that  their boat might  be enthusiastically on the move  or of  leaving them furled on deck with their tethered  boat  rocking  gently in  port. The obvious parallel is you and I being content to be laid-back, lack-lustre Christians or  ones  eager to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Our  Heavenly  Father wants us to be activated by the Gifts of  the Holy Spirit which we received at our Baptism. It was then that  we became  Temples of the Holy Spirit – dynamic people who would lead lives that gave great  glory to God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “By the Sacrament of Confirmation the baptized are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength  of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed,” (1285).

The Catechism also tells us:

“The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations,” (1831).

More about these Gifts next week in Prologue 11

Peter Clarke O.P.

Sunday, 5 June 2016



My brother Peter and I have taken to computing late in our lives. In fact so late that a student was amazed that someone of my antiquity could teach himself this modern technology. He must have thought I belonged to the pre-industrial age and hadn't got beyond writing with a goose quill! But you would be amazed what we 'silver surfers' can do!
Peter and I are always delighted when one of us has learnt a new computer technique and can share it with each other. One of the most useful ones he taught me is entitled, 'Restoring System and Settings.' As you probably know, this is a form of crisis management, when, for some mysterious reason, the computer refuses to function properly. We've all experienced that, and it's both frustrating and infuriating. But Peter showed me a way of putting the clock back to a time when all the settings functioned properly.
Reflecting on the relief and joy that gave led me to musing on how wonderful it would be if we could put the clock back, and so undo the mistakes we've made in our lives. We've all said and done things we regret -hurtful words to someone we love, and wish we'd never spoken. We've made rash decisions, which we wish we could undo. Sadly, desperately, we fear that what's done is done. Wistfully, we may sing, "Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away..." Or we may echo the song in "Jesus Christ, Superstar," with the plea, "Can't we start again?"
Then I recalled the hope given me by the technique of restoring the settings when my computer refused to function properly. I wondered whether the settings could be restored when serious sin had caused our lives to descend into chaos. Or does that damage our relationship with God irrevocably?
Certainly it would be dishonest for us to pretend that we hadn't behaved badly, when we had. Not even God can make the past not to have happened. But he can "restore the settings" in our lives, by forgiving us when we have sinned. His mercy restores our innocence. When we've fallen he lifts us up, so that we can make a fresh start. He bridges the gulf between Him and us, caused by serious sin. That He does through the sacrament of reconciliation. Then we can function properly as true followers of Christ.
There's no pretence here. God doesn't deny that we've sinned, nor should we. Nor does He say sin doesn't matter. It does. It damages our relationship with God, often harms other people and brings out the worst in us. But God takes the initiative in extending the healing hand of peace. Without denying our sins he puts them behind Him and us. It's as though he said, "That's over and done with, let's make a fresh start together."
And the technique of restoring settings taught me what I must do if my relationship with God has gone wrong. Just as I must turn to the "Help" facility and follow the instructions, which will enable my computer to function correctly again, so, too, I must seek the help of God's loving mercy when my life has gone wrong. I have the wonderful reassurance that in his infinite power He can "restore the settings," however badly my life may have crashed.
Sadly, this doesn’t always happen when things go wrong in human relationships. To "restore the settings" all who are involved must want to bury the past and make a fresh start together. But however willing one of us may be to do that, he or she will be stymied in these efforts at reconciliation unless they're met half way.
But thank heavens God always wants us to be at peace with Him and is prepared to reach out to us, even though He's the innocent one who has been offended. He waits for us to grasp the hand of love and mercy. As we embrace, He "restores the settings" so that we can respond to each other with love.
So, to the question, "Can't we start again?" The answer is a definite "YES!" -through God's loving mercy restoring our settings when our lives have crashed through sin. This Year of Mercy has been specially dedicated to ‘restoring our settings."
I thank Peter for showing me how to deal with my recalcitrant computer. The technique for " restoring system and settings" has given me a fresh insight into the healing power of God's mercy.
Isidore Clarke O.P.