V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee;
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. And the Word was made Flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary, etc.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
LET US PRAY
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
24th November 2014 Glory be to the Father
For many people it is a custom to conclude the Angelus with the ‘Glory Be’.
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.
After having prayed about and reflected on the Incarnation, which lead Jesus to the Cross and Resurrection, the natural response for us is, ‘Glory to God - Praise to God’.
Praise is a natural response to any gift of God - to all God’s goodness and love.
We also include, as it were, all time in this prayer of praise. At this moment of time we unite ourselves to all people who praise God. People had praised you in the past (‘as it was in the beginning’). We praise you now (‘is now’). People will praise you in the future (‘and ever shall be’), and forever (‘world without end’).
17th November 2014 - May be his passion and cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection
The Incarnation cannot be separated from the Cross and the Resurrection. God’s Son took flesh in order to reconcile us to the Father and to one another. As this plan unfolded we see that it lead to the Cross and the Resurrection.
Here is where the Angelus gives us the big picture. It is another reason why I love the Angelus. The Incarnation and Redemption are together in this final part of the prayer.
Not only does this final part of the prayer sum up Jesus’ saving work, it also says so much to us about the reality of our lives.
As we go through life we experience at different times both joy and sorrow. When there is joy we are grateful and yet know that inevitably there will also be times of sorrow. When we are in these times of sorrow, we also know that this is not the whole picture. God offers us joy again - and in different and deeper ways.
In other words there are ups and downs in our lives, as there were in Jesus’ and Mary’s life. However because of Jesus’ Life, Death and Resurrection, we also know that through our crosses we, with him, will come to the resurrection. All we go through in this life will be transformed by Jesus.
No matter what happens to us in life or whatever burdens we bear, the Angelus is a prayer of joy and hope. In fact it gives us, through the course of our lives, deeper joy and hope.
10th November 2014 - That we to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by an Angel Pt2
I just want to tease out a little more how God works through others and therefore through us. I begin by quoting the prayer of St Teresa of Avila:-
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion is to look out to the earth, yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.”
What St Teresa says is very real because of our Baptism. We have been plunged into Christ in Baptism [the meaning of the word Baptism]. We have been Christened [Christ-ened] so we are one body with Jesus.
Think of how you are Christ to your spouse, children, parents, families, parishioners, peers, work colleagues, and those you serve either in work or in the normal course of your life and relationships. Let us give thanks to God for the privilege of being instruments of Christ - and pray that we will become better instruments as the years go on.
3rd November 2014 - That we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Your Son was mad known by an Angel Pt1
I would like again to reflect on how God works through others. In this case we have again the Angel at work.
A story is told of Jesus on his return to heaven. The Angels gathered around him and asked him about his time on earth and how things had been.
Jesus talked about his life and death etc. and how during his life he had helped others and brought them the Good News. He told them how he had gathered a group around him and trained them. He then sent them out to carry on his work of bringing the joy of the Gospel to others and help many people, as he did.
The Angels listened intently to Jesus but because they had an idea of the fickleness of human beings, they said to Jesus “What if this plan doesn’t work Jesus - what is your backup plan?” Jesus replied “I have no other plan”.
I leave you to contemplate this truth this week. Think of the fact that Jesus relies on you and me to bring the Good News of God’s love to others. What are the different ways we do this? He does rely on you and me, and remember as we do our part, he will certainly work through us.
27th October 2014 - Pour forth we beseech you O Lord, Your Grace into our hearts Pt2
Last week I spoke about praying for Grace. Today I would like to reflect on using Grace as a greeting.
St Peter and St Paul in writing to the early Christian communities, constantly greeted them with the salutation of ‘Grace’. It must have been a common greeting among all Christians. What a wonderful one it was!
It is interesting and inspiring to go through these New Testament Letters. Remember ‘Grace’ is the ‘sum total of God’s gifts’ and this is what Paul and Peter were wishing, and praying, for their people.
• “Grace and Peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ” (Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians,
Galatians, Ephesians & Philippians,)
• “Grace and peace from God our Father” (Colossians)
• “Grace and peace” (1st Thessalonians )
• “Grace and peace from God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ”. (2nd Thessalonians)
• “Grace, Mercy and Peace” (1 & 2 Timothy)
• “May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour give you Grace and Peace” (Titus)
• “Grace and peace be with you more and more.” (1 Peter)
• “May you have more and more Grace and Peace as you come to know our Lord more and more”. (2 Peter)
Francis of Assisi, 1200 years later, greeted people with ‘Pace e bene’ - in Latin ‘Pax et Bonum’ (Peace and every good). They are different words but with the same meaning.
We don’t have these greetings nowadays. Maybe we could take them up again- if not verbally, at least in our hearts, as we meet people throughout the day.
20th October 2014 - Pour forth we beseech you O Lord, Your Grace into our hearts Pt1
We come now to the concluding prayer of the Angelus. I want to unpack this compact and powerful prayer a little.
We are praying for God’s Grace to be poured into our hearts.
What is Grace? Grace is a beautiful word for gift. In our Faith and Scriptural language it actually means “The sum total of God’s gifts”.
When we pray for God’s Grace to be poured into our hearts, we express our trust that God knows the gifts we need and will give them to us. We also are ‘opening our hearts’ and increasing our desire for these gifts.
Whether we ask God’s Grace specifically or not, whenever we pray, whenever we spend time with Jesus, He will pour out his Grace upon us. Remember the Year of Grace? In the special prayer for that Year we prayed that as we spend time with Jesus (‘contemplating his face’) we might ‘experience a new wave of Grace’.
What a beautiful image! Any prayer time is a time when God’s Grace will wash over us. In turn, and as a result of prayer, the ‘light of Christ will burn more brightly in our lives’.
Nonetheless it is good, as I have said, to still regularly ask God for Grace, as we do in this prayer.
13th October 2014 - that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ Pt3
Here are a few more promises that Jesus made for us to reflect on, believe in and receive. These are in particularly in regard to life. Jesus promises and offers life in all that he says and does.
Some quotes are:-
“….I have come that you may have life and have it to the full” (Jn10:10)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. (Jn3:16)
“…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day”. (Jn6:54)
I haven’t heard it recently but many, and particularly young people, used to exclaim ‘Get a life’! Well we don’t have to ‘get a life’ at all because Jesus himself is offering it to us. All we need to do is open ourselves up in faith and gratitude to receive it. It is a life that not only enriches and colours our life here now, but flows over to life without end.
6th October 2014 That we may be mad worthy of the promises of Christ Pt2
There are so many promises of Jesus that we want to be worthy of - that is to truly believe and receive.
• ‘Do not be afraid’. How many times Jesus says this to us!
“So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”. (Mt10:31)
“….Don’t be afraid; just believe”. (Mk5:36)
“…Take courage, it is I, don’t be afraid!” (Mk6:23)
“Don’t be afraid; just believe and she will be healed”. (Lk8:50)
“Don’t be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32)
• “…I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt28:20)
• “…My Grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness…” (2Cor12:9)
• “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt11:28)
• “…Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink”(Jn7:37)
What are some of the promises of Jesus dear to you?
29th September 2014 - That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ
What a wonderful prayer!
God has made so many promises to us. The greatest of all of course is the promise of his own Son.
This promise was hinted at right from the first book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis 3:15. NRS “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head and you will strike his heel’.
God kept making this promise throughout the whole of the Old Testament - especially in the prophets.
God even tells us where his Son is to be born, “But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2
Isaiah is the Prophet of this great promise - of this Messiah, this Saviour, this suffering Servant.
In Isaiah 7:14 specifically said that this person would be Immanuel, God among us. “… Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear son, and shall name him Immanuel”.
Who better to ask than Mary that we may be made worthy of this promise of her Son. Who better to ask that we may truly walk HIS WAY (and encourage others to do so as well), KNOW HIS TRUTH (and promote it among people) and SHARE HIS LIFE (and spread it wherever we can)?
22nd September 2014 - Pray for us O Holy Mother of God Pt2
I want to say something else about Mary’s powerful prayer.
Mary is not just someone in an ‘i-cloud’ somewhere. She is intimately close to us in the Communion of Saints - in the Body of Christ - in the family of God.
For years I, like all Catholics and so many Christians, have said in reciting the Creed - “I believe in the Communion of Saints”.
It was only when my mother Rosa died, when I was about forty years of age, that the penny dropped and a light bulb was, as it were, switched on.
As I thought about her, in Faith I realised that she was with God. Because God is with me and us, then in Him Mum as spirit was also close.
It dawned on my then that the Saints like Peter and Paul, and all the Saints that I have learned about and prayed to, were real and live people also like my mother, and in this Communion of Saints, were close to us.
Mary who is ‘Our tainted natures solitary boast’*, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of God, is the most special of all these real and live Saints - and I repeat - her prayer for us is the most loving and the most powerful. *William Wordsworth
15th September 2014 - Pray for us O Holy Mother of God Pt 1
Many people of other Christian faiths wonder about us Catholics praying to Mary.
Of course we have many prayers to Mary, however this phrase of the Angelus shows us what in fact we are doing, even when addressing prayers to her. The Hail Mary likewise puts our approach very clearly. We ask Mary to PRAY FOR US.
Years ago a Baptist Minister I knew quite well asked to have a chat with me about something that was on his mind. He was truly puzzled about our praying to Mary.
A few weeks before this we had our Ministers Fraternal Meeting. We always pray of course, however at that particular meeting it was organised that as we sat in our normal circle, each one prayed for the other next to him. When one person was prayed for, he in turn prayed for the one next to him and so on until each one had been prayed for.
I recalled this event for the Baptist Minister and said that just as we pray for one another and ask the prayers of others, that it what we do in our prayer to Mary. We are actually asking her to pray for us.
As Catholics we know that because Mary is the Mother of Christ, the Mother of God, she is the most special and blessed of human beings (apart from Jesus of course)- and so her prayer, among all who pray for us, is the most powerful.
8th September - Mother of God and Mother of the Church
Mary’s place and role in the Church and therefore our lives, is essential and critical. This is because her role in God’s plan for saving the world was essential.
The Bishops of the Vatican Council did something quite significant. As they discussed and reflected on Mary and her role, they decided not to write a separate document on her, and instead decided to place her in the Document on the Church, Lumen Gentium, in chapter 8. In this way they taught that Mary’s role is in the heart of the Church. In fact they gave Mary the title “Mother of the Church”.
All the Bishops were doing was following on logically from our Faith of the centuries. Because Mary was the Mother of God, the Mother of Christ, she was also the Mother of the Church which, as St Paul teachers, the ‘Body of Christ’.
As Mother of the Church, and therefore our mother, Mary has a great love for each of us. What child would there be, who receiving such love, would not have a special place in her or his heart for Mary.
1st September - Pray for us Holy Mother of God
We come to the final verse of the Angelus. I am not sure if I have mentioned it already but it bears repeating, because it is such a deep mystery - Mary as the Mother of God.
This has been the constant belief of, and teaching, of the Church. In fact the Church Council of Ephesus in 431 used the Greek word 'Theotokos' (God-bearer), which sums it all up. It was an actual decree of that Council.
What the Council was saying was that any mother is the mother of a person - not just a body. So too Mary was the mother of the person Christ - not just his body. That person is the second person of the Blessed Trinity - the Son of God.
St Bernard of Clairvaux in the twelfth century pondered what this meant. He came up with two special lines:-
“You became the mother of your Creator.”
“He whom the whole world cannot contain, enclosed himself in your womb.”
Bernard’s words put ‘flesh’ on our belief. Like him we need to ponder what it means to be the ‘Mother of God’. We could do no better, I believe, than ponder his words.
25th August 2014 - Our Incarnate God in our crosses
Just before I leave this part of the Angelus - the Word becoming flesh - I just want to reflect on how our Incarnate God is with us in our crosses, both big and small.
The probelm of evil and suffering is always before us and with us. "How can a good God allow suffering and sickness and even terrible hardship among innocent people?"
So many people ask this question and puzzle over it in way or another. Recently in one of our Primary Schools the children asked me the same question.
Whichever way we turn and talk about it, it still remains a mystery - something we cannot fully understand or about which have all the answers.
What we do know though, and are certain of, is the fact that our God in Jesus and especially on the cross, embraced terrible suffering - and he was totally good and innocent.
In so doing, this same Jesus has connected to all innocent people in all they go through. He is much more than an example or an inspiring role model in the way he bore suffering. Through the Incarnation he is now part and parcel of all who suffer, embracing everyone's suffering, carrying with them their cross and being to all who turn to him, their strength.
18th August 2014 - Our Incarnate God - Everywhere
After the big Incarnation of the Son of God in Bethlehem - and because of it - our God continues to become 'incarnate' in so many other ways:-
- In us. Now through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus truly lives in us.
- In others. In his human nature Jesus identified with everyone, especially the poor. "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me". (Mt25:40)
- In the Word. It is truly Jesus who speaks to us here.
- In the Eucharist. The same Jesus is here too. Coming to us in another and most humbling of ways - under the simple form of bread.
- In creation. Created by God, all creation reflects its creator. Through the Incarnation however God, embracing our human nature, has embraced in this way all of creation.
Wherever we go then, we touch out Incarnate God - and our Incarnate God touches us.
11th August - St Catherine of Siena on the Incarnation.
On Sunday I was reading an excerpt from St Catherine of Siena (1347 - 1380) - a great Mystic and advisor to the Pope
Her words are a dialogue with God on Divine Providence. I want to quote a cople of paragraphs referring to the Incarnation.
"Moved by love and wishing to reconcile the human race to yourself, you gave us your only begotten Son. He became our mediator and our justice by taking on all our injustice and sin out of obedience to your will, Eternal Father, just as you willed he take on our human nature. What an immeasurably profound love! Your Son went down from the heights of his Divinity to the depths of our humanity. Can anyone's heart remain closed and hardened after this?"
She goes on to write "We image your Divinity, but you image our humanity in that union of the two which you have worked in a man. You have veiled the Godhead in a cloud, in the clay of our humanity. Only your love could so dignify the flesh of Adam....
4th August 2014 - What's the value of Christ's humanity?
In Canada one Christmas Eve a family went off to Midnight Mass leaving home their non-Catholic father. He said that he would wait up for them and celebrate together when they returned.
As the man read a book quietly by the fireside he heard a thump, and then another, then another. Getting up to check what had happened he saw a number of geese floundering around in front of the house in the snow. They must have been caught in a snow storm and lost their direction. Obviously they saw the house lit up and flew towards the light from the windows.
The man quickly opened the garage to offer them shelter and warmth. Try as he may, he could not usher the geese into the open garage.
He thought to himself, 'If only I could become one of them, they would trust me and I could help them'.
this illustrates in a simple and beautiful way the plan and the mystery of the Son of God becoming man.
He became one of us so that we could trust him and he could help us.
28th July 2014 - We go to God through the humanity of Jesus
In the 1940's and 50's when I was growing up, there was a strong emphasis on Jesus as the Son of God. It wasn't taught, but it was as if the humanity of Jesus was not that important.
Then while studying Theology we learnt how vitally important the humanity of Jesus was, for a number of reasons.
There is also the opposite danger of over emphasising Jesus' humanity to the downplaying of his divinity.
St Teresa of Avila, a great mystic, contemplative and Doctor of the Church, gives us in simple words, a balanced perspective. She teaches that we go to Jesus' divinity through his humanity.
Many people seek God and goodness knows how many give up the search. The key that God himself has given is to come to know Jesus, beginning with his humanity.
It is the same for us who believe in God. In order to come to know and love God more, it is important to grow to know and love Jesus the human being. It is God's way, and the Gospels are a great help to this.
Reflecting and praying the Gospels - in other words spending time with Jesus - is the way to connect to his humanity and so to his divinty.
The place and the importance of Jesus' humanity is what lay behind the special devotions to him under the tiltles of Sacred Heart and Divine Mercy.
21st July - Jesus the tangible God
In the next few weeks let's look at a few implications of the Incarnation.
Many think that, even if God does exist, it is still very difficult for us to be in conatact with God.
This is far from the truth because, in Jesus, God has reached out to and contacted us. God has become, in other words, very tangible.
As St John writes in his Letters, "Something which has existed since the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, which we have watched and touched with our own hands, the Word of life -- this is our theme. That life was made visible; we saw it and are giving our testimony, declaring to you the eternal life, which was present to the Father and has been revealed to us". [1Jn1:1-2]
All we have to do is stop and reflect in Faith and in the quiet of prayer - and we can be in touch with Jesus. We can do it in various ways - in the Rosary or in many of the Gospel scenes.
This week let us be more conscious of the power of our imagination in prayer - and use it more. We can imagine that we are there with Jesus in some scene, or some event, and it, or more importantly He, will become more tangible for us.
14th July - And dwelt among us.
When someone special comes to visit you it is a great honour. If they come to stay with you for a while it is a much greater honour.
One visit from the Son of God - and even a short stay over - would be unforgettable.
Yet we have infinitely much more than that. God's Son came to make his home with us - or as Scripture says 'Pitched his tent among us'.
When you stop and think, it is earth shattering, mind boggling, incomprehensible.
Truly were it not for the fact that it was revealed - told to us by God - it would be unbelievable.
Stop and wonder at it all for a few moments - spend a few moments with Jesus pondering this great truth.
7th July 2014 - Golden Jubilee of Priesthood
Those who have been following my thought for the week for some time know that I have been reflecting on and 'teasing out' the Angelus. Let's take it up again from the verse above.
God has always connected with our world. We know from the Old Testament how he intervened in history in various ways through leaders, prophets, judges, kings, messengers, extraordinary happenings etc.
When God's Son took flesh, God intervened in our history and in our world in a way that was like no other way. It was most extraordinary. After the marvellous work of creation, the next greatest act of God, and we believe the greatest of all actions, was redemption. This was made possible by the Incarnation - the Word taking flesh.
God's Son, while not losing or letting go his divinity, became one of us.
No other religion, not even the great ones, believe this. For them this would be impossible to even consider.
We can understand in some ways the heresies. The Arians would say that Christ was human but could not be divine. The Nestorians would say that Jesus was not really human, only some sort of appearance. In other words God couldn't demean himself by becoming human.
No - God could do this and did do it. Jesus is truly God and truly man.
30th June 2014 - Golden Jubilee of Priesthood
On Sunday 29th of June, the Feasts of St Peter and Paul, as well as the Feast of Pope Francis, I celebrated my Golden Jubilee of Priesthood.
We had a full Cathedral and a rich Liturgy of Faith, music, song and enthusiastic participation. There was an Acknowledgement of Country to the Yamaji People and a Message Stick of greeting and well-being presented to me at the beginning of Mass.
My family and a few priests came from Perth, together with Archbishop Tim Costelloe, Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey and the Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton and the Bishop of Bunbury, Gerard Holohon.
A huge brunch followed -where the joy, gratitude and celebration continued.
As I received the call to the priesthood through my family and Faith community of my Parish many years ago, I pray daily that many more will answer the call God gives to be priests and shepherds for his people.
For this Vocation and for everyone's Vocation, I include the prayer that I printed on my Jubilee card. You may wish to pray it regularly, because it is all about our Church and for the good of our Church and world.
Yours Son Jesus said:
'The harvest is rich but
the labourers are few,
so ask the Lord of the
harvest to send labourers
into His harvest.'
We all rejoice in the call
of our Baptism to be
workers in your vineyard.
Continue to enrich your
people with generous
Priests and Religious.
Help us to grow in your
service in our own
particular Vocation, be it
Married, Single, Religious
And let us support each
23rd June 2014 - The Feast of St Peter and St Paul
We have one more big Feast Day coming up on Sunday 29th of June - that of Peter and Paul.
Since Peter, our first Pope, was our first fierce leader in the Faith and Paul, the fearless Preacher of that same Faith - and both martyred in Rome - it is no wonder that on this day we think of and pray for our Pope - currently Francis.
Saints inspire us by word and example and show us how to be Disciples of Jesus.
What I love about Peter is not only his deep love of Jesus but also his weakness and sinfulness. This in turn brings out Jesus' continual love for him. I am sure we all get great heart from this.
Paul is just so keen to share Jesus with people everywhere, no matter the cost. We cannot ponder Paul's life and words without catching some of this.
Pope Francis is for us all a wonderful living example of all the above. He is conscience of being a sinner, he has a deep love for Jesus, especially in the poor of the world, and he shares the good news of Jesus' great joy.
Honouring Peter and Paul and so praising God's work in them, we ask their prayer support for our Church and world. We keep praying in gratitude also for Pope Francis who keeps asking for our prayers, so that Jesus will continue to work powerfully in him.
16th June - The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
We celebrate another special Feast Day next Sunday - June the 22nd of Corpus Christi.
While in each Mass we are graced with the Body and Blood of Christ (and so much more), the Church wants to highlight this immense gift by this special Feast each year.
The Holy Spirit is involved so closely here as well. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Son of God became one of us in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We can say the Holy Spirit brought us Jesus.
Likewise it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that bread and wine at Mass are transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. The use of the words 'body and blood' or 'flesh and blood' means that Jesus is fully with us in this way - Jesus our Crucified and Risen Lord.
The words of Jesus in John's Gospel chapter 6 are so simple, clear and profound. 'Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world'. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise that person up on the last day.' Jn 6:51.54
Many walked away at that time. Many do today. We stay, because, like Peter, all we can do is stand in wonder and awe at this great mystery. This Lord of ours goes to any lengths to be with us - and to be food for our journey of life.
Like Peter we too say 'Lord to whom shall we go. You have the Words of eternal life' Jn 6:68
On this Feast Day may our Faith grow in this unspeakable gift of Jesus which comes to us through the creative power of the Holy Spirit. In turn may it affect our lives so that we may bear the fruit that Jesus wants.
9th June - Trinity Sunday
Having celebrated the wonderful Feast of Pentecost we come to the end of our very rich Eastertime and now return to Ordinary Time, as it is called by the Church.
We return also to praying the Angelus. Before we take up the Liturgies of the Ordinary Sundays of the Year we have three extraordinary Feasts. Therefore instead of continuing my reflection on the Angelus I propose to give a thought in preparation for each of these approaching Feasts.
Next Sunday is Trinity Sunday.
The point I want to share about the Trinity is that it shows us that God is not only the Creator of the universe and all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal etc. but that God is also a 'loving community'.
We believe that God is triune because of what Jesus revealed to us. The way we phrase it is that in one God there are three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - equally and fully God.
As we ponder the Trinity we see the Father loving the Son. The love between them is so real. In fact we believe this love to be personified in the Holy Spirit. To put it simply, the love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. St Paul says 'God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.' Romans 5:5
The Trinity shows us that our wonderful God is personal, relational and a loving family.
I want to say therefore that all those who have grown up in a normal loving family would humanly know as much and even more than most theologians, about the Trinity.
Trinity also throws more light on the truth that we are 'Created in God's image'. We are called therefore to be truly relational people, growing as a loving community in our families and beyond.
3rd June 2014 The Presence and Action of the Holy Spirit
When on Sunday 8th of June we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, our Eastertime - a very special period of fifty days - will conclude.
Our time for praying the Regina Coeli also concludes with the end of Eastertime. We then resume the Angelus, right through to next Easter.
One thing that is common and present throughout the whole Liturgical Year though is the Holy Spirit.
At the Last Supper when Jesus spoke of leaving his Disciples he also said 'I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you'. Jn 14:18
At that Supper Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit. He added that it was necessary for him to go in order to send the Holy Spirit. 'Still, I must tell you the truth; it is for your own good that I am going because unless I go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I do go, I will send him to you.' Jn 16:7
How wonderful is the gift of the Holy Spirit. We appreciate God the Holy Spirit as the very Life, Love and Power of God.
The Gospel tells us more. It is the Holy Spirit who, as it were, brings the Risen Lord to us - just as it was through the power of the Holy Spirit the Son of God took flesh. It was through the Holy Spirit that Jesus came to be with us and live among us in the first place.
So how wonderful are these two prayers - the Angelus and the Regina Coeli - which span our whole year.
Much more wonderful - infinitely more wonderful - is the gift of the Holy Spirit who not only spans our whole year but also our whole life and who brings the incarnate and Risen Lord to us.
Jesus is with us now each day and each moment of each day, because of our wonderful Holy Spirit.
26th May - Asking the prayers of Mary
The Regina Coeli seems to be reminding Mary of her Son's Resurrection and to rejoice in it, but in fact it is really helping us to recall and appreciate more fully this wonderful and world changing event.
It also asks Mary to pray for us so that we will experience the joy of the Risen Lord now - as well as the unending joy of being with him in heaven.
Never underestimate the power of Mary's prayer. She is closest to Jesus her Son.
St Ignatius of Loyola always believed, though not written in the Gospels, that Jesus after his Resurrection, first appeared to his mother Mary.
Whatever about that, Mary is certainly the closest to Jesus and means the most to him. Therefore she is perfectly positioned to pray to her Son for our needs.
Some Christians of other Churches have a problem with Catholics 'praying to Mary and the Saints'. They don't have a problem though with asking others to pray for them. That is exactly what we do with Mary and the Saints. We are asking their very special prayers. Mary's prayers, of all human beings, are the most powerful and loving.
19th May Joy and sharing the Gospel
Joy is not only a sign of Jesus' Risen life within us - it is necessary for the spreading of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis is always telling us that the Gospel is spread and the Church grows by attraction and not by proselytising.
No one is attracted by Christians who are, as he puts it, 'Sour pusses or who are like bats - preferring sadness and staying in the shadows'. In fact to be like that is a contradiction to the name Christian.
The Pope spoke of the joy of the disciples encountering the Risen Lord - and the joy of the paralytic who later on was healed by Peter at the Temple Door.
Each had the joy of an encounter with Jesus Christ - and Pope Francis says that it is infectious because they want to share and cry out the message. He said:-
'It is a witness born of joy, accepted and then transformed into proclamation. It is the foundational joy without this joy, a Church cannot be founded! A Christian community cannot be established! It is an apostolic joy that irradiates and expands'. (Homily April 25th)
Pope Francis in his person is a true example of this. He inspires us to embrace our Risen Lord and, through the joy, bring him to others.
12 May - Regina Coeli - Joy
Apart from the many Alleluia's in the Regina Coeli, words of joy are used four times in that short prayer. The whole prayer, we could say, is full of joy.
Pope Francis is a man of 'Joy' and he speaks of it often. He says that it is essential for Christians. It is the joy of the Gospel. It is, as he said in Evangelii Gaudium (his Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelisation) 'A joy derived from knowing the presence of God'. No.4
At this time of Easter we know how God is present with us in Jesus our Risen Lord. This Risen Lord, who brings joy, underpins our lives and everything we do.
As Pope Francis stated in a homily on April 24th, "So often, we are either upset by this joy or fearful or we think we have seen a ghost or believe that Jesus is just a way of behaving. 'We are Christians and so we must behave like this.' But where is Jesus? 'No, Jesus is in Heaven.' Do you talk with Jesus? Do you say to Jesus: 'I believe that You are alive, that You are risen, that You're near me. That You will never abandon me'? A Christian life should be this: a dialogue with Jesus, because - this is true - Jesus is always with us, always there alongside us with our problems and our difficulties, with our good works."
Joy, being a fruit of the Holy Spirit is a sign both of the presence of the Risen Lord and of that same Spirit.
5 May - Eastertide - The Lord Has Risen Indeed!
Yes he has risen as he said. The Church has proclaimed this for centuries. People, as individuals, proclaim it often.
How can we be sure? Especially when we haven't the same personal experiences as the Apostles and early Disciples had of the Risen Lord. A few of these experiences are documented for us in the Gospels.
Well those experiences of the Apostles do really affect our Faith because they truly are a guarantee for us that Jesus is truly risen. From people that had given up and were downcast, Jesus gave hope and courage as he appeared to them. He inspired them to go out and spread the good news of this New Life - at great cost to themselves.
Likewise it is true for untold millions of Christians throughout the centuries. They were affected by the Risen Lord who changed their lives also. As a result they were able to so much good for others, some of them even suffering Martyrdom.
This for us is strong evidence of the presence and action of the Risen Lord in their lives.
It is also true of the good people today filled with Faith and Love - many of whom are known to us. They are living evidence of Christ risen and living within them.
Whenever I see evidence of goodness in others and myself I can truly whisper 'The Lord has Risen Indeed'.
28th April - Eastertide - Regina Coeli
During Eastertide instead of the Angelus we recite the Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven).
This period from Easter to Pentecost is longer than Lent. It is fifty days. It is a special time to drink in the reality and the great mystery of the Resurrection of Jesus and what it means for us and our world - a time to reflect more on my life with our Risen Lord - and so grow in Faith and deepen my relationship of love with him.
I invite you in these days to take up the daily practice of praying the Regina Coeli. It will help us focus on the Risen Lord and the joy that he brings to our lives.
Queen of heaven, rejoice! Alleluia.
For he whom you did merit to bear, Alleluia,
Has risen as he said, Alleluia.
Pray for us to God. Alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleluia.
R. For the Lord has risen indeed, Alleluia.
Let us pray:
God our Father, you give joy to the world by the resurrection of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the prayers of his mother, the Virgin Mary, bring us to the happiness of eternal life. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
21st April - Holy Week Reflection
We have been steadily reflecting on different parts and aspects of the Angelus over many weeks.
Today I suggest that in this week of Holy week, apart from taking part in all the rich Liturgical Celebrations, that we find time to quite often and especially on Good Friday to just 'be' before the crucifix.
Let Jesus crucified speak to our hearts.
The Saints tell us that contemplating the crucified Christ is the best way to get to know Him and to get to know the love of God for each of us. It is also what will convert hearts the most.
All this is possible because our God is an Incarnate God, a fleshed God.
7th April - God's Will in difficult times Pt2
Reading last week's reflection on how Jesus embraced hardship, suffering and the Cross with love, can in some way be off putting. People can think 'Yes it's possible for the Son of God made man - even possible for a human being like Mary his mother and the saints - but it's beyond us frail mortals'!
There are many examples of 'frail mortals' - or rather as I would prefer to call them 'ordinary people' - who are able to do extraordinary things. They too are able to embrace the will of God in difficult situations with love.
A recent example I know is of a couple expecting their first child which is Down Syndrome. After an initial shock, with their own Faith and big hearts as well as help from other good people, they have embraced this child (still to be born) with great love.
Many others have come to embrace and support them. We have no doubt this child, while not easy for all three concerned, will bring to the parents and all who know them, a lot of love - the greatest of all gifts. 1 Cor 12:31
No doubt all this is possible because of God's Grace working with and in them. No doubt God will also bring so much good from it. It is what God did in Jesus and in Mary. It is summed up in the beautiful verse from Romans 'We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him, who are called according to his purpose'. Rm 8: 28