Taste and See: Self Gift

magi-arles-2014

My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18

Paul offers everything, and in this radical self-gift, self-emptying, knows that he will receive everything that is worth anything.

The Indian poet Tagore in his poem ‘Offering’ describes something similar – a generous surrender of all which leads to the wholeness and participation in the all, the infinite.

Time and time I came to your gate
with raised hands, asking for more and yet more.
You gave and gave, now in slow
measure, now in sudden excess.
I took some, and some things I let
drop; some lay heavy on my hands;
Some I made into playthings and broke
them when tired; till all the wrecks and
the hoards of your gifts grew immense,
hiding you, and the ceaseless expectation
wore my heart out.
Take, oh take – has now become my cry.
Shatter all from this beggars bowl:
put out this lamp of the importunate
watcher, hold my hands, raise me from
the still gathering heap of your gifts
into the bare infinity of your uncrowded presence.

Rabindranath Tagore

Magi, Arles (c) 2014, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Just One

adrians-prayer

The Lord is a judge
who is no respecter of personages.
He shows no respect of personages to the detriment of a poor man,
he listens to the plea of the injured party.
He does not ignore the orphan’s supplication,
nor the widow’s as she pours out her story.
The man who with his whole heart serves God will be accepted,
his petitions will carry to the clouds.
The humble man’s prayer pierces the clouds,
until it arrives he is inconsolable,
And the Lord will not be slow,
nor will he be dilatory on their behalf.

Ecclesiasticus 35:12-14, 16-19

The fairness and justice of God is our hope.

We do not merit this because of our fairness and our justice.

But if we know our need and place this before him, then he will not abandon us.

In quiet prayer, thank God for the love he has for you.

Calix Prayer card – text compiled by Adrian Duggan. Images (c) Allen Morris.
For information about Calix – an association for Catholic alcoholics , click here.

Speak Lord: For us as we are for others…

prayer-nantes

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

The Lord turns his face against the wicked
to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
The just call and the Lord hears
and rescues them in all their distress.

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
Those who hide in him shall not be condemned.

The poor man called; the Lord has heard him.

Psalm 33:2-3,17-19,23

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted – to those who sometimes feel no-one is with them, for them.

The Lord turns from the wicked, those who will hurt and harm others.

The Lord is not partial to this or that individual, but because God is love cannot but be ‘against’ that which harms individuals.

The Lord who simply is love, cannot love one more than another, but we can alienate ourselves from his love.

  • What about us cries out for the Lord’s balm?
  • What about us might anger him?
  • Speak with the Lord about what is in your heart.

Candles, Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of offering

st-paul-shrewsbury-avenue

My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

The first time I had to present my defence, there was not a single witness to support me. Every one of them deserted me – may they not be held accountable for it. But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

2 Timothy 4:6-8,16-18

St Paul speaks of the isolation that is his, and the focus on service that is his.

He speaks of the love of the Lord who calls him to himself, into an eternal and blessed communion. And he testifies to the anguish that has been his because of his determination to respond to that call.

Life has many challenges. And as we face them we stand in good company!

  • Pause to remember the Lord’s love for you. How have you learnt of this? What form has your experience of this taken?
  • What challenges do you face? Place these in the hands of the Lord as preparation for living your life as best you may today.

St Paul. Shrewsbury Abbey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris

Speak Lord: Of Prayer

pharisee-and-publicanJesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else: ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector.

The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.”

The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’

Luke 18:9-14

The parables that are such a significant part of Luke’s Gospel are the source of the Gospel again, this coming Sunday, the 30th In Ordinary Time.

The Pharisee prays ‘to himself’. It’s a telling phrase, descriptive of the prayer, and revealing that despite the words said the prayer is not in fact being spoken to God but simply it is the speaker, the supposed ‘pray-er’ speaking to himself. In this case it is the Pharisee who doesn’t speak to God, so taken up is he, with himself.

It is the tax collector, who knows his limits, and to his shame, who does speak, directly to God. And who is heard, and who is saved.

  • To whom do I speak in prayer? What proportion of the time is given to God, and how much to self reflection?
  • Doe the self-reflection precede the prayer to God? Or follow it?
  • How do I take responsibility for my prayer?

Pharisee and Publican: Tewkesbury Abbey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Faith

faithJesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. ‘There was a judge in a certain town’ he said ‘who had neither fear of God nor respect for man. In the same town there was a widow who kept on coming to him and saying, “I want justice from you against my enemy!” For a long time he refused, but at last he said to himself, “Maybe I have neither fear of God nor respect for man, but since she keeps pestering me I must give this widow her just rights, or she will persist in coming and worry me to death.”’

And the Lord said ‘You notice what the unjust judge has to say? Now will not God see justice done to his chosen who cry to him day and night even when he delays to help them? I promise you, he will see justice done to them, and done speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’

Luke 18:1-8

Jesus rather loads the dice in the parable we heard on Sunday, the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

The parable is about the irresistible force meeting the immoveable object. I’ve met a few of both of those in my time. Probably have been both of those in my time.

Sometimes in those situations it is not so easy to know whether who is the good guy and who the bad. But Jesus tells the story not so much to help us to reflect on our own behaviour and attitude, but to assure us that the good God will never abandon us to our own devices.

So, though there might be benefit in using the parable to consider how we are to others, the parable is intended most to help us consider how we relate to God who is entirely good, though not at our beck and call!

  • When did you last find the need to trust in God?
  • When did you last find disappointment that God did not answer your prayers?
  • What helps you to trust and have faith?

Faith. Tewkesbury Abbey. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

Taste and See: Obedience

god-the-father-nantesAlmighty ever-living God,
grant that we may always conform our will to yours
and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Collect for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time reminded us how we achieve perfection when we are fully children of God, our will conformed to his will for love.

In Gethsemane Jesus prayed, in agony, for the Father’s will to be done. Day to day sometimes this may seem ‘inconvenient’, sometimes it may seem quite impossible. When that’s so, it is going to be helpful (at least) for us to recognise if our will as opposed to the will of God we have good reason to pause and take stock!

  • When were you lat aware that your will and God’s might not be the same?
  • How did you proceed?

Bring your reflections to God in prayer.

Head of God the Father from a Trinity Carving, Musée Dobrée, Nantes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.