Fr Aidan Kieran: Why I find fasting so darn hard!

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Following my Little Way of Fasting article, Clare asked me if I would write a follow-up, to give an update on my progress, and all the graces that have poured into my life because of my fidelity to fasting.

Oh dear!

When I read the request, my face went the colour of Palm Sunday vestments!

The things is, I found it a struggle to do any fasting for a few months. My first reaction to the request was that it would be hypocritical of me to write such an article, having become a bit lax on the fasting front. But, for better or for worse, here is my reflection on my recent experience (or lack thereof) of fasting.

So what stopped me fasting? I can answer the question with one word: stress. I’ve been facing a couple of stressful situations in my life over the last few months. It became more difficult to pray, and it felt as if it was impossible to consider fasting. I just wanted to distract myself from the pain inside. The internet, sports on TV and food were my favourite distractions. In the middle of all this, I certainly had no appetite for depriving myself of even a cup of tea in the morning and offering it up to the Lord. I was being deprived of a large part of my sense of self-worth, so He wasn’t getting any more sacrifices from me. It was almost as if I was empty inside, and so had nothing to offer.

One thing I was managing to do, occasionally, was to expose the Blessed Sacrament in the church for a while after Mass and spend time with parishioners in adoration. However, when Lent drew near, I realised I had to make some effort to get back onto the wagon from which I had fallen. It was time to try fasting again.

And the truly amazing thing is that fasting began to work (little) miracles almost immediately. Almost as soon as I began doing without my morning cup of tea, I felt a little spiritual strength come back. I began to get a new perspective on the trials I was experiencing. I began to pray a little better, and I was a little stronger in the face of temptation to sin. It was as if even the minuscule sacrifice I was making was creating just enough room in my soul for the Holy Spirit to get to work. Remarkable! It was a most generous payback on what felt like such a small effort. It’s as if I had deposited some money in the bank, and received a lot of interest almost immediately.

It illustrates for me how generous Our Lord is to me, and to us all. Sometimes it feels like he asks to work long hours in the vineyard. But He rewards us so generously for the efforts we make for Him, even if they seem small to us. He can even use our half-hearted attempts as occasions of grace.

What I have learned in the last while is how we must draw from all the channels of grace in the spiritual battle in which we are engaged. Reading the Word of God, Receiving and Adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, Praying the Rosary, Going to Confession and Fasting are important channels through which grace can gush into our souls.

The Church encourages us to fast during Advent and Lent, and on Fridays throughout the year. What I have learned recently is that even the smallest effort of fasting, done with love and with prayer, is enough to open the endless channel of God’s grace into our lives. However many times I fail or give up, it doesn’t matter. Jesus is never going to give up on me, so I guess I will just keep joyfully trying in my little sacrifices, to show my love and gratitude for the big sacrifice He made for me on the cross.

We have just 1 week left before lent ends, so lets summon up all our strength and offer that one cup of tea, that one cigarette, that one biscuit. And lets offer it to God as little imperfect children would to a loving Father – with all the love we can find in our hearts.

Mary Magdalene and Jesus – it was all wrong.

Appearance of Christ to Mary MagdaleneWell we’ve reached that time of year again where the Christian hating media feels compelled to acknowledge Easter but doesn’t want to; so they find an angle which hints at academic interest but which really intends to knock the faith. Of course there is the yawningly awful annual Jesus/Magdalene affair/marriage story. I guess the fact that Jesus rose from the dead isn’t sensationalist enough?! Better throw a bit of forbidden romance in there to keep everyone interested right?

Well I’ve been thinking about this very deeply recently and have unwittingly unearthed a rather uncomfortable truth about my own relationship with Jesus.

Me and Maggers have the same problem – we are both obsessed with Jesus to the point where we both want to posses Him. We are clingy. This aspect of the relationship is all wrong.

In John 20:17 Mary encounters the risen Jesus for the first time: “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father…'” The word translated “touch” is a Greek word which means “to cling to, to lay hold of.” This wasn’t just a touch; it was a grip. She was literally clinging onto him. If Jesus was the rock, Maggers was the barnacle. There was no way anyone was gonna pries her off!

I have to say I would have done exactly the same thing. Mary desperately clings on to the love of her life whom  – only a few days earlier was crucified right in front of her. She was ecstatic her Lord had returned. She was terrified of losing Him again. She wasn’t gonna let go – no way!

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A barnacle.

But you see, as with all possessive relationships, it was centering around the one doing the possessing. In effect, Maggers wanted to keep Him under her control. She wanted the relationship to be on her terms.

Ouch. How many of us are doing that in our relationships with God? Quite a few of us right? I have been. Just like Maggers, I have basically been using God as a comfort blanket. And there was no freaking way I was ever gonna let that false notion of God go! No sir! I was comfortable.

We do it all the time. In prayer, in the liturgy, in our relationships with other people. We want to be in charge. We want to posses God. We want to posses Him because He is beautiful and wonderful and He is love. We want to posses Him because we are afraid of letting Him be in charge. It comes down to our lack of trust.

Maggers relationship with Jesus was all wrong. What she didn’t realise of course was that clinging onto Jesus would actually prevent their relationship from becoming even deeper. When He told her to let Him go, it was because He wanted to be with her in an entirely new, closer and more personal way than He had been before.

You see, the relationship that Jesus wanted with Mary Magdalene – the relationship He wants with you and me – is like no other relationship that is possible with another human being. Jesus has instructed us to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:53).

What sort of a relationship is this?!

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The closest relationships I have in my own life are with my husband and children. Obviously I have a sexual relationship with my husband in which I let him into my body. And obviously my children have also been within my body as they grew in my womb. But Jesus is offering me something quite different here:

He wants to physically dwell within me – His creation – on a permanent basis. This is of course a sort of foretaste of heaven – but He desires for that relationship to begin now – here on earth. He desires to be so ultimately close to me that he wishes to be physically absorbed into my cells and float around in my blood stream. He wishes to penetrate my soul and literally posses every part of my being. He must posses me! Not the other way round! It has to be this way round because He is the creator and I am the created.

I believe that so many of us get this aspect of the relationship wrong. So many of us are having a relationship with Christ based on our terms – just like Mary Magdalene did.

It’s so sad that the Christian hating media simply cannot fathom that relationships can exist without some sort of sexual aspect. They will just never understand that there is a deeper relationship available here – much, much deeper and more intense than a sexual one. But for them to understand that, they would have to understand Christ, and the Mass, and Love. And sadly, they clearly have no idea about any of those things.

 

Some nice gifts for Easter!

Those lovely people over at Holy Art were kind enough to send me some fabulous apricot jam and some lemon sweets for the kids.

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You may notice that the jar of jam is already half empty. That is because I ate it already. Oh C’mon… it has whole halves of apricot in it! How is any normal human being supposed to resist that? (I ate it all on a sunday btw – so as to not ruin my strictly stricter than strict lenten fast 😉 )

The apricot jam is made by the Vitorchiano Trappist nuns – so it is really holy jam, and the Lemon sweets are made by the monks at the beautiful Finalpia Abbey. Legend has it that the lemon sweets are made with such piety that every time you consume one, you gain a plenary indulgence (I think 😉 Don’t quote me on that!)

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Finalpia Abbey – where they make holy sweets.

Anyway if you are looking for some nice gifts for Easter then go and check out the Holy Art website. It is really worth a look – and they ship worldwide.

I’ve just realised that I could have used that apricot jam on my Easter Simnel cake. Have to get some more…

 

 

When God’s Love Hurts.

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Fulton, before the accident.

When God’s Love Hurts – By Cassandra Poppe

“On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses. . . . We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for,whatever we do, the cross holds us tight — we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses and make use of them to take us to Heaven? But, on the contrary, most men turn their backs upon crosses, and fly before them. The more they run, the more the cross pursues them, the more it strikes and crushes them with burdens. . . . If you were wise, you would go to meet it like Saint Andrew, who said, when he saw the cross prepared for him and raised up into the air, “Hail O good cross! O admirable cross! O desirable cross! receive me into thine arms, withdraw me from among men, and restore me to my Master, who redeemed me through thee. “ — St John Vianney

Crosses. Suffering. The human race has been plagued with hardship ever since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve desired more than the goodness God had already given them. And from that point on, most viewed suffering as a punishment from God – until that first Good Friday when Our Lord transformed punishment into a blessing. It seems natural for us to try to alleviate hardships when they come. A painkiller, a massage, an adjustment to the thermostat. How many little things do we do each day, each hour, to tweak the comfort level around ourselves? As these first 2 paragraphs were written, I have already adjusted my posture, scratched an itch and taken a sip of my drink. All actions taken almost without thinking and all done to increase my comfort.

But what happens when our discomfort becomes full blown suffering? Suddenly our pleasure and comfort seeking instincts are challenged and no matter what remedies we try, our suffering is not eased. Cancer. The loss of a loved one. Crippling persecution. An accident. These crosses do not refine and perfect our souls in little ways, as the everyday annoyances in life can. No. These crosses are life changing, redirecting our souls directly towards Calvary, to bring about in us a profoundly holy transformation. But only if we are able to see the love that is hidden within the cross.

While we may not cheerfully embrace our crosses, our Catholic faith teaches us of the immense value in suffering. We have Crucifixes to remind us of Our Lord’s suffering and sacrifice, inspiring us to mortify ourselves for love of Him. We understand that suffering is a part of life and a tool we must use well for the sanctification of our soul. Others avoid suffering, seeing it as either a punishment or from Satan.

And while this view may be correct in certain circumstances, we must always remember that all suffering is allowed by Our Lord. If He allows it to happen, we must treat it as an invaluable opportunity to grow in holiness, and give glory to God. No matter what. I do not say this lightly, as it is indeed both a joy and a burden to be trusted by Our Lord. He requires much of those He loves – sometimes more than we think we can handle. But we may rest in the fact that as long as we remain firmly at His side and under the loving watch of Our Lady, all things are possible.

When Our Lord redirected our lives that fateful January morning, I felt it more than I heard it. That deep percussion-like boom one hears when a firework is sent skyward, before it explodes. This was immediately followed by my husband’s unintelligible cry. Flying to the kitchen window, I saw what will haunt me forever. My four year old little boy was slowly moving away from the burn barrel, completely engulfed in flames from his waist to his head. His hands were clenched at his sides, moving them up towards his face in slow motion, pieces of his fleece jacket peeling away and falling behind him.

What followed could rival the goriest scenes in a horror movie. Grey, cadaverous forehead. Deformed ears. Skin still bubbling from the heat trapped within. Long strands of flesh hanging from little hands and arms like a partially unwrapped mummy rising from its tomb. Shrieks of pain. Tears of terror. As my son was laid at my feet on the kitchen floor, I collapsed before him, unable to do anything for him before the ambulance arrived. And so I prayed. The two prayers that came to me were, “Mother of God, be with us,” and “Thy will be done.” And looking back, I understand why.

From that moment on, Our Sorrowful Mother took me as her child, showing me that sometime God’s love looks very ugly on the surface. I had gotten a taste of this truth before, when my husband and I struggled to make our marriage work, and again when I cared for my father in his home as he died of cancer. But this by far was the most crippling form of suffering I could have endured. I wanted to take on Fulton’s burns as my own. “Lord, let me suffer these pains for You!” I prayed. “He is too little!” But I see now how that would have been the easy route for me. I already understood redemptive suffering, binding physical pains to the wounds of Our Lord on the Cross as an offering of love. But I could not do that for my son. This emotional anguish was new – and so instead of suffering with Our Lord, I suffered at the foot of Fulton’s cross with Our Lady. If she saw the love hidden within the Our Lord’s Cross, surely I could find the love in Fulton’s suffering. And that is what I needed to find. Otherwise, his suffering made no sense. I did not want to be a bystander on Calvary, disgusted by the scene before me, or to be one to rage against God amid the pain.

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I have known far too many bitter souls in my life who, do not take the time to examine their crosses and embrace them for the gift they are. Help me find the gifts, Sweet Mary. Help me find the love! And what love there was! Just as word spread of Christ’s suffering and brought about conversions, so too did Fulton’s suffering inspire others to the faith. I received letters from people who have returning to a life of prayer because of Fulton’s powerful story. Some grasped for the first time what it means to ‘offer it up’ and embraced their own crosses with a new found love for God. They saw through Fulton’s and my experience, that love cannot be complete without some form of willing suffering or sacrifice, choosing to participate in God’s plan through the cross laid upon their shoulders, even when they could not yet see the love.

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Truly, His call to take up our crosses and follow Him was a call to suffer for Him that others may be saved. And for the first time I understood the words of St. Paul when he said, “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Col. 1:24) when hearts previously unmoved by Christ’s Passion were moved by the sufferings of a little boy. Praise God!

Two years after the accident, the love continues to reveal itself. Patients in the hospital are learning Fulton’s ‘brave breath’ techniques to help them get through the pain. His burn cards, a social reintegration solution we invented together, have given confidence to other burn patients who are struggling with re-entering society. And his mere presence in restaurants or the mall have brought people to tears, once they talk to him and see how strong he is. He has brought hope and healing to adults who suffered various crosses in silence, inspired for the first time to face their own past hurts. His scars show them their own woundedness, and come to realize their scars are proof of their strength, not their weakness.

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Fulton, through the cross he carries and the scars he bears, has touched far more souls than he ever could have before the accident. And only in Eternity will we know how many hearts he helped return to the Church and into the loving arms of Our Father. Please Lord, may I be numbered among them, for I have learned so much.

My trials have taught me that every crisis forces one to redirect his life. We are handed a cross, designed especially for us, and asked to choose. We cannot choose whether we will take the cross. No. The cross is ours to bear no matter what. But we can freely choose how we respond to it.

Do we accept that cross and prayerfully carry it to its completion? Do we give hope to others along the way? Or do we curse our cross as it grows in weight and model for others how to stumble and rage against the One who gifted us?

I have tried both responses to the carefully chosen crosses Our Lord has sent me in my life. I can assure you that while cursing those things in our lives that cause us to suffer may feel more natural, embracing our suffering is by far the easier response, for it is the only response that coincides with God’s will.

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My prayer for you this Holy Week is that you open your heart to the cross God has given you and cherish it as a priceless gift. Just as Christ’s Passion draws hearts to love Him more, may you draw others closer to Our Lord through your suffering. Praise His name through your pain. May God be glorified through you!

“Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:3-4

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Fulton’s next big surgery is coming up on April 14th 2015. Please pray for Fulton! Come and see his progress on his Facebook page ‘Pray For Fulton’

Cassandra Poppe’s blog is Let us kneel

The Little Way of Fasting – A Mothers Perspective.

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My 3 beautiful kids often draw me pictures.

Alex 8, does some pretty good stuff now. He is Mr Logic, and doesn’t care much for creativity (bless him!) but he is pretty good at technical drawing and copying cartoon characters.

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Annabel 5, is the complete opposite and loves to draw emotional things like friendships and love and butterflies and princesses.

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Angelica 1, likes to do stuff like this:

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Now the thing is that when they come to show me their drawings their little faces all beam in exactly the same way! They draw stuff with great effort. And then they give it to me because they love me! My little darlings! I’m not sure what moves my heart more – seeing how hard they have tried, or their beautiful beaming faces as they give me all their hard work.

Now here’s a question:  Which picture do I value the most? I suppose that is as silly as asking which child do I love the most? I love them all the same, and all 3 pictures will be going up on the wall because each one of them is my favourite! Even though Angelica’s lovely scribble is just a mess on a page – I can see that she has put everything into that scribble, and at this point in her development I would not expect any more of her. She has given her all, and it is perfect.

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Isn’t this the exact same way our Mother Mary looks at us with our fasting and prayer?

Some of us are like Alex and can give a pretty good, neat, logical effort. Some of us are like Annabel and pray and fast emotionally and randomly. And some of us – most of us, are like little Angelica: doing our very best with the little skill we have. We are just babies in our spiritual development and we can’t manage too much just yet! But our Mother knows this and she delights in our messy, scribbley, prayerful fasting efforts! Whether we are fasting on bread and water for 40 days, or only giving up 1 cup of tea each day, she loves all our efforts the same, and is incredibly proud of each one of us.

I’m not sure what moves her heart more:  seeing how hard we have tried, or our beautiful beaming faces as we give her all our hard work. But I know this… A mother who loves her children, will cherish all these little things in her heart forever.

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The Little way of Fasting – by Fr. Aidan Kieran

Fr Aidan Kieran

The Little way of Fasting – by Fr. Aidan Kieran

The season of Lent is almost upon us, it begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. During Lent, we are asked to take on three traditional Christian disciplines: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Today I want to share with you a new insight into fasting which I gained recently.

I’ve generally always dreaded the idea of fasting during Lent. It always seemed to me like a test of endurance, and I never thought I had all that much endurance. Typically I would decide to, say, give up biscuits for the whole of Lent. It would last about ten days, I would have a biscuit and Lent would be over for me. And no matter what people would say about ‘beginning again’ it would never feel the same once failure had set in.

Now, I have learned a new approach to fasting, and it has become a much more appealing prospect.

St Therese of Lisieux teaches us that the “Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ… On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness.” These words made me realise that the way I had been approaching the Lenten fast in the past was wrong. Lent is not a test of endurance. It is not even a test of discipline (even though we gain discipline as a by-product). Lent is a little test of LOVE. It is quality the Lord is interested in – not quantity.

I can describe this new approach to fasting – the little way of fasting – with an example. Here is a fast I recently undertook:

At breakfast time I didn’t have my normal cup of tea. I had a cup of hot water instead. It’s not much of a sacrifice is it? But this is the important part: fasting must always be accompanied by prayer. You may remember from the Gospels that on one occasion Jesus told the disciples that a particular evil spirit could only be driven out by prayer AND fasting. The two must be always occur together.

So while I was having my cup of water, I prayed.

I spoke to the Lord Jesus and told him that I was denying myself this 1 cup of tea as an act of love for him. I was doing this so that I might grow in my love for Him. I prayed for others. I asked Him to grant my intentions, but above all I asked him to help me grow in faith and love of Him.

It didn’t matter that it was only a small sacrifice. That’s not what matters to the Lord. What matters is that the sacrifice is accompanied by prayer and offered with a sincere and open loving heart. Fasting must always be accompanied by prayer, and must be done as an act of love for the Lord.

Perhaps you would prefer to go through Our Lady. While fasting, we can also pray through the intercession of Mary, our blessed Mother. I can tell her I am offering my fast as an act of love for her, and ask her to bring me closer to her son Jesus. We give Mary the title ‘mediatrix of all graces’ so we can of course pray through her intercession.

With this approach, fasting has become a wonderfully joyful act. Rather than a miserable endurance test, it becomes a joyful act of offering a sacrifice for the good of others, the good of the Church and above all the good of my own soul. I can have a smile on my face, knowing that the small sacrifice I have made has had a powerful effect in the spiritual life. Since I started this little way of fasting, I have prayed better and I feel I have drawn closer to Christ.

It’s just 1 cup of tea. A little thing, done with great love.

During Lent, I won’t totally deprive myself of other drinks, because I know I would find that too burdensome. My aim is to give up my first cup of tea each morning. On some days I may give up my second cup of tea too! – a definite sacrifice, but one I can realistically sustain.  And each time I am conscious of foregoing a drink I would like, I will pray. I will offer my sacrifice to the Lord with a joyful heart and a smile on my face.

I will offer my Lenten fasting for your intentions, for the people who read this blog. In particular I will pray that those of you who need to do so will make a good confession in preparation for Easter, because confession is so important.

And if any of you would like me to pray for a particular intention of yours, please contact me through this blog in the comments section below. I’d be happy to offer my fasting on a particular day for your personal intention.

I hope you will find these words about fasting helpful during the coming season of Lent.

Fr Aidan.

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Seventh Sunday in Easter – The Ascension

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First Reading: Acts 1:1-11

…While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father.

“This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

 

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Fr. Sam…

‘Come follow me!’ is the cry of the almighty master echoing in my heart as I reflect on this Sundays Gospel of the Ascension of the Lord. For the second time in a few weeks our Saviour is ‘lifted up’ – firstly on the Cross on Good Friday, and now as He ascends into heaven. No longer with a crown of thorns but the Sun as His crown. No longer the splintered cross that sustains Him but the clouds of heaven. No longer supported by nails but with the earth itself as His footstool. Through His suffering, His glory has been restored. And what of us? Where are we? How are we to follow? Well we are there gazing upward. We are stood right there with the apostles, experiencing fiery wonder deep within, a wonder transforming fear and tragedy, insecurity and tension into a bright peaceful certainty that floods our hearts with the warmth and love of God. We are called to soar to the heavens as Christ did. Here, we are surrounded by challenges, darkness, and trepidation; the cross. Yet now we are also bathed in the light and hope of the glory of the Lord forever. Darkness never conquers light. Light overcomes darkness. He has won. ‘Come follow me, Alleluia!’

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A Parents Perspective…

Any good Father steps back to allow his children to grow. Jesus completed His work on Earth, and now it is time for His Church to carry on that work. While He is still physically present in the Eucharist – we must become His voice, His hands, and His loving gaze. Sustained by His Body and Blood we can do this. We must be Christ to those around us, and witness to the truth and hope of Jesus Christ – Resurrected, Triumphant and Glorious. The time for us to proclaim the Good News is now, before He returns for a second and final time.

Thought for the week…  

The time for us to proclaim the Good News is now.

 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.

 

Download this post in A4 Newsletter format to use in your school or parish: Easter 7th week – Ascension.doc   Easter 7th week – Ascension.pdf

Third Sunday of Easter, Year A – The Road to Emmaus

Luke 24:13-35

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”

He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Then He said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about Himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

A Family Perspective…

The two disciples were ‘looking sad’. Obviously – they had just witnessed the events of Good Friday. But they had also been there for Easter Sunday and had heard the reports of Jesus’ resurrection from the women – but quite plainly did not believe it.

When Jesus joined them on the road they did not recognise Him. All day they did not recognise Him, until He broke bread. It was only looking back that they began to realise that Jesus had been with them the whole time.

When bad things happen in our life, we become like the two disciples. We let ourselves become overwhelmed by events and very often fail to recognise any sense of hope. It is sometimes almost impossible to see Jesus walking alongside us on our journey. It is only when we look back that we can recognise him in the love and kindness of the people close to us, who walk alongside us in our trials. As Christians we are also called to be the character of Jesus in this story. We are called to walk alongside others in their day to day trials and tribulations, all the time revealing Christ to them through our love.

The road to Emmaus is a symbol of the Christian life. This story is about ordinary despair, and ordinary Monday-morning drudgery. It enables us to see that the risen Lord gives hope and joy, when all we see is disappointment, discouragement and despair. It enables us to see the world, not as a place of death, decay, and defeat, but as a place waiting, groaning toward God’s final victory. It is the joyful, hopeful meaning of Easter that overcomes our despair.

The change that took place within the two disciples has been described like this. “Their lives prior to this moment were like a smouldering fire that gives no light, just smoke to cloud things up. But once they came into the presence of the Risen Lord their hearts were ablaze! A burning fire gives light for all to see, and they saw, understood and believed! All because of the Risen Lord! Jesus’ victory became their restoring hope. It became the anchor of their lives” – Author unknown.

Thought for the week…  

The Resurrection offers us Hope and Joy.

 

Dear Jesus…

Help me to recognise You in my ordinary day to day trials. Restore my hope and my joy.

Thank You, I love You Jesus. Amen.

 

Download this newsletter to use in your school or parish: Easter 3rd week.doc    Easter 3rd week.pdf

I have a bunch of new toys.

I have a bunch of new toys.

I got so many massive graces over Easter, but now it’s like God is sitting back saying nothing. I have a Rubik’s cube of graces with no instruction manual. I hate that! 

I guess it’s like when I downloaded Minecraft for my son, switched it on, and then left the room. I could hear him working out how to play it all morning, how he was getting frustrated and then squealing with delight as he realised he finally knew what he was doing. He shouted for me a few times but I just ignored him. If I told him how to do it if would have been ‘the wrong way, Mummy!’ because it is his new toy and he knows best 😉 
Anyway part of the fun is the learning right? I delight in watching him learn.

Same for me. I have new toys. I don’t know how to use them, but they have been switched on and God has left the room. He delights in watching me learn. He smiles at my mistakes and frustration. He waits in the background keeping quiet because if He did tell me how to use them it would be ‘the wrong way’ due to my ridiculously strong will and stubborn nature.

I am His child, He is my Father. He loves me with a perfect love.

My God loves me
His faithful love endures
And I will live like a child
Held in love secure…

Are you ready to meet me in my humiliation?” “WHAT???”

We had a really beautiful Maundy Thursday mass, and afterward I stayed to ‘watch’ at the altar of repose. We had another of our little chats:

“You’ve met me here in the Garden many times.”
“Yes, all those nights in my early 20’s, I never would have coped with the terror unless you were there. And then after the babies were born, you taught me how to suffer the sleepless nights alongside you in the bottomless depths of anxiety and post natal depression – many mothers have known that agony.”
“And you’ve met me in my scourging.”
“Yes, it’s taken me a while, but I now understand  that my body is not my own. It is to be used as God sees fit.  I have given my body up 3 times through pregnancy and 3 home births – I know what pain is! But You know this already… Our eyes have locked: you gave up your body and I gave up mine. A mutual gaze that screamed ‘I really don’t want to do this’ and at the same time whispered ‘I’m here. I’m gonna go through this with you’. I’ll never forget that…”
“So, are you ready to meet me in my humiliation?”
“WHAT???”
“Are you ready you meet me in my humiliation?”
“Errrr…. Ummm…. No?”
“Go home and think about it.”

And that was it.

To say I was a little surprised doesn’t really cover it. But then the penny dropped: I’ve been saying the sorrowful mysteries for long enough to know what comes after decades 1 and 2…!

That night we spoke more:

“What do you mean meet you in your humiliation?”
“Let them see your relationship with me.”
“Can’t we just keep that private? Please…? You know i’d die for you – isn’t that enough?”

“Clare, let yourself be stripped bare of the defences, the walls you have built up over the years and allow yourself to be hung outstretched naked, defenseless, for all the world to see. They will spit at you, they will taunt you, they will judge you and jeer at you. You will be mocked. Your friends will abandon you, afraid for their own reputations. Your burden will be heavy. Will you do this for me?” 

“*gulp*…Ok, Yes. I love you. I trust you.”

It has left me feeling not very comfortable.
But I realise this is what separates Christianity from other religions.

To be a martyr has a certain romance to it. We see this regularly now in the tragic acts of young Muslim men desperately wanting to achieve heroic martyr status, with all its glory and reward in the next life – or so they have been led to believe. Perhaps I feel the same to some degree? But to accept abandonment, mockery and humiliation – that has little glory or reward.

You would only do that for someone you truly love…