Fifth Sunday of Easter - 10 May 2020
I AM in the Father and the Father is in me - and We are in you. In the Letters page of a satirical magazine I read the following: I think it's a disgrace that we have to use capital letters when referring to God - He, Him, His etc ... He has no right to impose this on us and I'm not doing it anymore! Herbert Bethel. A week later in the same magazine, another letter appeared: Last week, a plague of luminous green frogs infested my garden, my body broke out in suppurating boils, and my house burned down. Please tell your readers, if ever they are referring to God, they must ALWAYS use a capital 'H.' Herbert Bethel. The great 'I AM who I AM' reduced to a possible typo. I read some Richard Rohr this week and then saw an article demolishing him because, amongst many dogmatic errors, he hadn't used the definite article in front of 'Trinity.' And he did it more than once, apparently. There was no point in reading further, luminous frogs and suppurating boils were just around the corner, I could see. There is a reason why many religions don't use a word for God. (When they forbid its use, that's a very different thing.) But underlying it is an understanding that language is so limited, we cannot put a label on God. Probably the best attempts were Moses' "I am who I am." 'Alpha and Omega' points in the same direction too. Most of us have long since given up the image for the Father as an old man with a long beard and a short temper, an image put there very effectively by the capital H-ers of this world. It's easier - and lazier - to retain that image. It's a psychological golden calf. The journey into the unknown, the 'seek and you will find' must happen in our lives. No mother, father, teacher, Pope, Bishop, theologian or mystic can do it for us. There is no 'out-sourcing' this one. We either do it, or we don't. It isn't anyone else's responsibility but our own. The Sunday gospels during lockdown have made extraordinary reading in this regard, opening us up to a much deeper understanding and awareness of I AM all around us, but in us too. Jesus continuously points in the direction of the Father, nothing 'is' without the Father. The birds of the air, the flowers in the field, the sun rising on good and bad alike, the rain too. It is all the Father. "And you are worth much more than sparrows ..." Jesus said. This truth is experiential, not just credal. Jesus states that he is in the Father, and the Father is in him. And We are in YOU. He says that God is Spirit and true worshippers will worship him in Spirit and in Truth. Is he deluding us when he says that we can be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect? That we can perform even greater things than Jesus himself has done? That we are all sons and daughters of the Most High? One thing is for sure, if God is a grumpy old man in our heads, all of that is very safely dismissed and filed somewhere out of sight. One mystic said that human beings are God experiencing his own creation. That certainly fits with the 'God is Spirit' and the 'we are in you' words from Christ. Another stated that when we go within, the line between who we are and who God is, becomes blurred, indistinguishable. Doesn't that fit too? If Jesus is speaking truth. But we are entering difficult territory here, especially for those who have arrived at a comfortable dogmatic definition of God. Last Sunday's gospel had Jesus offering to lead the way to the Father. He said that he (Jesus) is the gate to the sheepfold. He'll show us our inner selves in the calmness and safety of his guardianship - the only place that no one can enter - ourselves - and he will lead us out of that place of stillness and serenity into an outside world which is now full of fresh, green pasture, a place that can no longer harm us, a place which has suddenly become much richer and more vibrant and more filled with meaning than we had previously thought or experienced. Why? Because I AM is everywhere, is everything, including us. Last year I arrived in Bern, overburdened by something that was happening in my life. I had been thinking about it all the time on the train there. I missed all the wonderful countryside flowing past the window, so stuck in my head was I. Then, still suffering my imagination, I walked around a corner and saw this:
Just a cafe. But also a moment of realisation for me that God is everywhere in all things and that I have no need to worry and to be stressing over things for which I have no control. All the stress suddenly dissolved. And then, 'being in Bern' happened and it was wonderful. A plank had been removed from my eye, if you like. Or when I was sitting, mindlessly gawking at a football match on television, any match, it didn't matter, and then this happened:
Just an advert at a football match. But in that moment I realised that the sun was setting and that a magnificent thing was going on outside, changing the colours and shades of everything I could see. And suddenly boredom was dissolved completely and I became part of reality, not a screen in the corner of my sitting room. I realised that being in life is far more rewarding than observing it somewhere else. Or mechanically going from the post office to the supermarket as I've done a thousand times, never noticing what's actually going on around me until one day I saw:
Just a shop. But this time I noticed it. The mechanical, head down, movement from A to B stopped. I began to see the people in the street, yes, the ones who are worth hundreds of sparrows, those ones. A closer look even shows Saint Francis holding up one of those precious birds. An old priest once told us at the beginning of a retreat he was directing, about his first ever theology class. He said the professor entered the class, told the students to follow him then led them down the lane to the college farmyard. He took them to the piggery and told them all to look closely at the pig, wallowing in the mud. He then stated, "Theology class number one - God has either got everything to do with that pig, or he has got nothing to do with anything, at all. Class dismissed." Steve
On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings by William James: https://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/jcertain.html PRAYERS AND THE ROSARY: join us for prayers and the rosary every Saturday at 8pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86170701532 FR STEVE'S 10.30AM Mass - via Zoom on Sunday: https://zoom.us/j/828192758 MELCHIOR'S SUNDAY MEDITATION: 6pm - Awakening the Inner Child - https://youtu.be/uUnXxngUDUI CONFIRMATION MASS: POSTPONED: the Diocese has postponed all Confirmation Masses until the autumn and, regrettably, our Confirmations will not go ahead on 7 June as planned. As soon as we are given another date we will advise parents. FIRST HOLY COMMUNION MASS / FIRST CONFESSIONS: it is likely that our First Holy Communion Mass, scheduled for 21 June, will also not go ahead and certainly First Confessions, due to take place tomorrow, 9 May, are cancelled. We will keep parents informed of when we can reschedule both events.
MOTHER TERESA SISTERS' DONATIONS: thank you for your continued support of the Mother Teresa Sisters during this time of crisis. Food and other household items can be delivered to them at: Ch de la Foret 2, 1018 Bellevaux. Please ring: 021 647 3135 on arrival to let them know you have bags for them to store. Suggested items: rice, pre-made ravioli, canned beans, canned vegetables, jam, tea, coffee, milk, eggs, pasta, vegetable oil, soap, toilet roll. Online donations are also very much appreciated: Missionaries of Charity, IBAN/KONTO number: CH38 09 00 00 00 174 035 795. FR STEVE'S ANNIVERSARY GIFT: a couple of weeks left for those who would like to to make a donation towards Fr Steve's anniversary gift (the 30th anniversary of his ordination on 1 June and the 10th anniversary of his arrival at Our Lady of Faith, September 2010). Thank you to everyone who has already donated. If you'd like to contribute to the cash gift we will present to him please do so, reference: Fr Steve Gift, via: BCV Bank Account No: 10-725-4 IBAN: CH08 0076 7000 K534 3156 6 Account Name: English Catholic Mission Address: Ave de Bethusy 54, 1012 Lausanne Pope Francis ‘without beauty we cannot understand the Gospel’
Pope Francis celebrated Thursday morning Mass, the Fourth Week of Easter, at the Casa Santa Marta with special prayers for artists and an invitation to Christians never to forget they are part of the chosen people of God.During his introduction he turns his thoughts to artists saying that Wednesday 6 May he received a letter from a group of them thanking him for his prayers: “I would like to ask the Lord to bless them because through artists we understand beauty, and without beauty we cannot understand the Gospel,” he said. At the end of his General Audience on Wednesday on the theme of prayer, the Pope said, “It is artists who often interpret this silent groan which weighs on every creature and is expressed above all in the heart of men and women, for “man is a beggar before God.”A Prayer Prayers for the Pandemic: for a household in lockdown God of the indoors, who knew the confines of domestic space at a time of little comfort, help us in this time of confinement, help us to see it as an act of love, in solidarity with those who care for us and put their own lives on the line for the sake of others. Help us to ‘make room’ for each other, even if room is scarce, help us to find reserves of patience we never knew we had, to take offence less easily, to find in our hearts an easy apology when we’re petulant. Help us to be attentive, careful, and thoughtful. May we draw deeply from the well of our most loving times. Raymond Friel
We encourage you to sit in stillness for ten to fifteen minutes and open your heart to receive God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual exercise will deepen your awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in your heart and give you confidence that the Spirit will be with you in everything you do to make Christ known.
Centre yourself; sit upright, two feet firmly on the floor; breathe rhythmically with deep breaths, in and out, from the abdomen; clear your mind of all preoccupations.
Bring yourself to bodily stillness.
Now welcome in your heart this gift that Jesus has for you: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
Quietly repeat those words of Jesus and hand over to him all worries or trouble.
You may find it helpful if you name to God a specific area where you need healing or forgiveness.
Now be still for some time in the presence of God as you welcome the Holy Spirit into your heart.
As you are about to finish your time of prayer, focus again on your breathing while you relax in God’s presence.
Bring yourself gently back to your daily concerns.
May you receive that peace of Christ each day.