May 24, 2010
On Sunday the great Easter season draws thunderously to its close. It all ends not in a whimper but in a bang: the Holy Spirit is released into the Church and into the world. Things are never the same again. One of the striking things about this event is the way in which it transforms the disciples from timid cowards into men who are prepared to die to spread the message they have heard. Another striking thing is how far that gospel message penetrates the world in such a short space of time. Without tv or the internet or even the telephone, within a few years Christians are found throughout and beyond the confines of the Roman Empire. The Spirit has indeed renewed the face of the earth.
And he continues to do so. Even a cursory glance at the history of the Church shows that the world has often been planning Her obituary when once again She has burst into new life. All this has been done through the Spirit. Our task today is to listen to what the Spirit is saying to us about where the Church must go next. If we agree then once again the Church will be renewed and confound those who think She is half dead with the fullness of life found in Jesus alone.
May 12, 2010
Nearly all Christian celebrations of worship will contain verses better known as hymns. This sort of poetry has been written for centuries upon centuries and continues to enjoy great favour with Christian believers everywhere. On Sunday we celebrate one of the greatest hymn writers of the early Church, St Ephraim the Syrian.
Ephraim was a deacon who lived in Damascus during the fourth century. The works he produced are voluminous but his best loved pieces were hymns. These celebrated the liturgy, the last judgement, and refuted heresies. But they also praised Our Lady in such glowing terms that Ephraim has been seen as a key catalyst in the development of devotion to Our Lady.
May has always traditionally been thought of as Mary’s month. We have many hymns both old and new which celebrate the importance of Mary and her place and significance in Christian thought and devotion. It might be a good idea to look at some of St. Ephraim’s hymns to here to remind ourselves of how Christians over seventeen hundred years ago celebrated their faith in the Immaculate mother of God.
May 3, 2010
There are two diametrically opposed ways of looking at work: it can be seen as a curse or as co-creation with God. Both views are present in the Bible but the general thrust of the Church’s teaching is the latter. Through work we share in the creative action of God. Tomorrow, May day, we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the worker.
We know from the gospels that Joseph was a carpenter – indeed Jesus is identified by Joseph’s trade on a few occasions. This was, and is, skilled work that needed a variety of talents. Working with natural materials the carpenter can bring useful and beautiful things into being. And that should be how we see our work – whatever we do for a living.
Work properly approached and freely undertaken can lead us to God as we realise our part in his creative action, as we undertake tasks that are useful to others, and in the words of Mother Teresa, make something beautiful for God. Work becomes a curse when we make it an idol or the only thing that matters in our lives. It also becomes a curse when men and women are defrauded of their just wages, and against that sin the Church’s voice needs to be raised loud and clear.
May St. Joseph pray for us that we through our work as educators may bring many children and young people to God.