Sunday, 29 April 2018


“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand,”  (Is. 41. 10). 
The prophet Isaiah’s comforting words floated into my mind as I lay semi-conscious in a hospital bed.  Although as a Dominican I’d spent years reflecting on the sacred Scriptures it was only in this moment of personal crisis that God’s words spoke directly to me, reassured me and comforted me in my need. What was so familiar suddenly came alive for me, took on a new depth of meaning.
What I experienced was wonderful, but not extraordinary for a Christian.   At baptism we become God’s children and share His own divine life.   We receive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. These give us a divine instinct to think and behave like God.  The closer we are to God, the more we become like Him.
The gift of understanding enables us to penetrate ever more deeply into the mystery of God and of His work of salvation. Certainly we believe in these mysteries.  But through the gift of understanding they touch not just our minds but our hearts.  That can transform our lives.
That happened on the road to Emmaus, as the risen Lord walked and talked with two disciples.  As they told Him of their distress at Jesus’ crucifixion He explained to them how the Scriptures had foretold His death and resurrection. Although they knew the Scriptures they hadn’t made the connection with His Passion.   But on reflection everything fell into place.   Thanks to the gift of understanding they exclaimed,
“Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”     (Lk. 24.32).
As a priest I’ve often marvelled at the way the gift of understanding enables devout young children and unlettered adults to go to the heart of the deepest of mysteries. Without being learned theologians they can recognise and love Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; they can talk freely with Him in their prayers. With a God-given instinct they can tell if something is against the faith, without their being able to explain how.  And the great reassurance for the preacher is that the gift of understanding can enable his listener to get something helpful out of even the worst of sermons!

Peter and Isidore O.P.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Finding Jesus in the Temple is counted as one of the Mary’s joys; losing Him as one of her sorrows, as it would have been for any parent. Who would blame Mary for affectionately chiding Him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Your father and I have been looking for you anxiously."
Astonishing that He replied, "Did you not know I must be in my Father's house?" Jesus, being not only the Son of Mary but also Son of God, thought the time had come to introduce them to the bewildering idea that He had this lofty relationship with His Heavenly Father. With His feet firmly grounded, Jesus, through the Gift of the Holy Spirit, Wisdom, was here setting His life priorities from God's perspective rather than from a very down-to- earth 'Nazareth- Carpenter-shop' perspective. (Lk. 2).
God wants His Gift of Wisdom to give all of us, both young and old, an instinctive, powerful intuition of what He intends for us and expects of us.
Through Wisdom we come to value properly those things we believe through Faith. The truths of the Christian Faith are more important than the things of this world. Wisdom helps us to order our relationship to the created world properly by loving creation for the sake of God, rather than for its own sake.
St Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians raises our understanding of the Gift of Wisdom to a much higher level – one that enables believing Christians to accept and make sense of the Crucifixion of Jesus. To Jews it was the weakness of being a failure; to the gentiles it was meaningless nonsense.
"We are preaching a crucified Christ, to the Jew an obstacle they cannot get over, to the gentiles foolishness, but those who have been called, a Christ who is both the power of God and the wisdom of God."(1 Cor 24 ).
Surely, only this Gift of Wisdom could have inspired Paul to write to the Philippians, "Because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything else as loss. For Him I have accepted the loss of all other things, and look on them all as filth if only I can gain Christ,"(Phil. 3.8).

The Gift of Wisdom enables us to recognize, appreciate and live according to God's priorities. It gives us a sense of wonder at the mystery of God, which St. Paul expresses most powerfully when he exclaims, O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and untraceable His ways! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counsellor?”    (Romans 11. 33-34).   This will all happen if we keep our sails hoisted, so that we are propelled by the breath of the Holy Spirit. 
Peter and Isidore O.P.

Sunday, 22 April 2018


In preparation for the feast of Pentecost I will post a series of meditions on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, composed by my recently deceased brother , Peter, and me.  I dedicate these postings to Peter's memory and the joy of working with him.
I shall never forget that glorious day when  my twin brother, Peter, a fellow Dominican, were  standing  on the deck of a schooner   sailing  between the W. Indian 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).  Now it has been said the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit may be compared to the sails of a boat eagerly 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  carve its way through the waves or leaving the furled on deck while their anchored boat anchored, rocking gently in  port. The obvious parallel is laid-back, lack-lustre Christians or   ones eager to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Our  Heavenly  Father want us to be activated by the Gifts of  the Holy Spirit which we received at our Baptism. It was then 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.109 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations,” (1831).
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 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!
Isidore and Peter O.P.