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Tidings of Ty Mam Duw 2009

The clusters of bright holly berries in the garden, slight frost in the mornings and showers of gold and brown leaves with every gust of wind, are a sure sign that the time has come to look back over the past twelve months and record its events in our annual Tidings. Our account this year begins with early November 2008 when we watched the live broadcast on EWTN of the special Mass at the Birmingham Oratory for the Feast of All Saints. During it a small glass-sided reliquary, containing the few remaining articles found in Cardinal Newman’s grave together with locks of his hair preserved at the Oratory, was solemnly placed in a side-chapel with a view to his coming beatification.

His life, which spanned most of the 19th century with all its tensions, has been for so many people throughout the world, including our beloved Pope Benedict, an abiding inspiration in their own search for truth and ultimate reality. Apart from his sheer endurance amid all the contretemps of his day, he lived and worked among the Catholics in the burgeoning industrial area of Birmingham, doing all he could to help them materially as well as spiritually, teaching their children to read and write and know God’s love for them, so they could find a better future in their new surroundings. And he treasured any small gift that they gave him. One such item was a silk handkerchief which had been left at the door for him by a poor person. Some thirty years later Newman still had it, and insisted on keeping it with him when he was dying. Please God, in due course there will be the further step of his canonisation. In actual fact we ‘canonised’ him ourselves over 30 years ago in a recreation written for a Sister’s Jubilee. It comprised a This is your Life ‘documentary’ in which Newman (Mother Francesca) met up with many people who had played a greater or lesser role in his life and at the end of which he was presented with a gold cardboard halo by Pope Paul VI!

Our Advent carol service was largely based on Cardinal Newman’s words and hymns; its overall theme was that of the motto he wished to be engraved on his monument: “Ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem” “Out of shadows and images into truth”. The service was attended by about 40 stalwart friends. There had been a frost all day, and by the evening it had turned to fog, so it took some courage for anyone to venture out on the treacherous roads, and we really appreciated the effort they had made get here. The Gospel passage at the service was Luke 1:46-55, commonly known as the Magnificat from its opening words, My soul magnifies the Lord, (rendered rather delightfully in one modern translation as “I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Saviour God.)


The Church throughout the world sings it every day at Vespers, and on this occasion we interspersed its verses with carols that would have been in current circulation in Newman’s time, illustrating them with slides. After the intercessions, which were also based on Newman’s writings, we displayed a tall silk banner we had painted. It showed him in a shadowy wood representing this world, standing by a lake and casting as it were his reflection in the shining water. When the banner was turned the other way up, it revealed what was formerly seen as the reflection to be Newman clad in shining garments, surrounded by the light of the “angelic faces” of which he had written in his hymn Lead Kindly Light, and looking down on the world of shadows which he had now left behind him.

November brought the feast of St Martin, which we celebrated by going round to Marianne’s flat singing “Bright lanterns”, (this despite the fact that the ones we were carrying all blew out in the strong wind!). Sr Juliana arrived clad as St Martin in a cloak and centurion’s helmet, and on our behalf she presented to Marianne an appropriate St Martin’s supper of hot baked potatoes - a small return for all she does for us with so much love. We then took ourselves back indoors to do justice to our own share.

On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception we saw a video on St Catherine Labouré and the Miraculous Medal. We also heard how it had helped to bring about the remarkable conversion in 1944 of Claude Newman (no relation to John Henry!), and the appearance of Our Lady to him when he was on Death Row in the States. His last wish the day before his execution was for a party with his fellow-prisoners and ice-creams all round to celebrate his going to God. When there was a stay of execution a couple of hours before the event he broke down in tears, not of relief but of sorrow. When he was eventually executed the observers said they had never seen someone so radiantly happy when led to the electric chair.

Our Advent sharings, when we meet together informally in the evening to share thoughts relating to the season, included a delightful one by our Beloved Mother Francesca in the form of reflections by Saint Anne about her life . Another by Sr Yolanda on the theme of “waiting” included an amusing and true-to-life skit on the various attitudes of people in a London bus queue. Sr Beatrix spoke on the relatively new custom of having Advent calendars, and Sr Seraphina described for us the Filipino pre-Christmas celebrations, especially the Misas de Gallo (Masses of the Cock), the novena of dawn Masses leading up to the great feast.
She had made a scene with many colourful figures and a parole, a colourful star-shaped lantern, which is as much a part of their Christmas as the Christmas tree is of ours. On the strength of this we decided to rise at 4.30 a.m., an hour earlier than usual, in solidarity with the people in the Philippines. We began by reciting the rosary, then continued with Matins and our ordinary prayer schedule finishing with Holy Mass and Terce. This brought us to about 9.30 am, and so gave us a good innings with Our Lord before all the other busy events of the last week or so of Advent.

Christmas is above all a time for children, and December brought, most appropriately, the safe arrival of a baby boy to the young couple who had moved into our gate house just a few weeks earlier. Later that week about thirty children from the nearby Carlines Park Primary School came with their teachers and gave us real pleasure in singing and playing carols for us.

On the Feast of Saint Lucy we had a special Vespers, which included Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and to which we were each invited to bring a candle or votive light. During it Dear Mother shared with us some thoughts on the role of darkness (in the positive nurturing sense) and that of light in the creation of the world and in our own lives. We then gave thanks for specific people who had handed down the light of God through the ages, lighting a votive light before the Blessed Sacrament as each name was mentioned. Later in the evening after a real family-style collation with home-baked bread by courtesy of Sr Agatha, we were invited to each add some melted wax to a candle mould to form a large candle. This was lit at the crib at Christmas to symbolise the collective light of our community in the footsteps of St Clare, who was described as a ‘lofty candlestick in the house of God’.

Our home-made choir crib now comprises 32 scenes of salvation history, centred on the Nativity. They range from Adam and Eve being expelled from Paradise, to the baptism of Our Lord, and on to Saints Francis, Clare and Colette, the most recent addition being a figure of the prophet Daniel. It depicts his interpretation of the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. In it a large stone was seen breaking free from a mountain, shattering a gigantic statue and then increasing in size to fill the whole earth; This was taken by Daniel, and later by the Church, to represent the coming of the Messianic kingdom which will endure for ever, while all other earthly empires pass away and are forgotten.(Daniel 2:31-45). For those of you who cannot get to see the crib without flying or swimming, by the first Sunday of Advent this year the our crib is due to appear as a Youtube called Come along to Bethlehem!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xc3ajk8sAWs
Sr Amata and Sr Ruth constructed an unusual crib this year. It featured Christ as the Redeemer not only of mankind but of the whole world of matter, in taking to himself a human body made up of molecules and atoms, the building blocks of the material world. So their Bambino was depicted not cradled in a manger but in the heart of an atom. Sr Amata, who had studied physics before entering, waxed enthusiastic about it, reading up Teilhard de Chardin by way of spiritual input for shared reflections. Sr Ruth compiled a large poster of the periodic table of the elements, which she had not really considered since her schooldays and was intrigued to find out how many additional ones had been discovered since then, such as Europium, Americium, Californium, and Einsteinium!

Among items given for our Autumn Fair had been a game comprising 80 magnetised rods and silvery balls, which could be made to cling to each other and build up all sorts of shapes. These came in handy for ‘audience participation’ demonstrating the action of the positive and negative charges in atoms which (by the grace of God!) help to hold the world together .

Our Christmas Vigil began with the rosary at 9.15 pm, and continued with the psalms and Te Deum of Matins interspersed with carols, as well as readings from Franciscan sources; These included ones from the writings of St Joseph of Cupertino, Thomas of Celano and St Bonaventure as well as our own Saints Clare and Colette. Fr Adrian OFMCap from Chester celebrated the Midnight Mass, after which we gathered at the crib, united spiritually with the shepherds who came to the stable that first Christmas night. Like them we brought such offerings as we had - in our case ones of song, music, and poetry in honour of the Infant Jesus, who was now snugly ensconced in his manger, surrounded by what looked like a small sea of white cyclamen and cream poinsettias.

Mother Francesca had established a canopied ‘Caravanserai’ in the cloister for Christmastide on the theme of hospitality, that of welcoming others, even if they are different from oneself, and sharing not only material things like food and shelter, but also thoughts and ideas. There we met for a short time most mornings during the “coffee days” to talk, share family news and partake of the results of our Beloved Mother’s and Sr Pia’s mammoth baking the week before. We spent a satisfying time one morning stitching identifying letters on new work tabards Sr Beatrix and Sr Seraphina had made us for Christmas and doing other sewing. During it we took it in turns to read a story or share a piece of poetry, religious or humorous. Sr Juliana regaled us with an extremely gripping account of life at the court of good King Wenceslaus in the 10th century, as told by one of his pages, ending with the story that gave rise to the well-known Christmas carol. In the evening we took part in a Vespers sharing devised by Sr Elizabeth and Sr Pia at their crib, dedicated to the suffering people of Zimbabwe. It had been given an African setting, with the large figures of Mary and Joseph wearing African dress.

We ushered in the Year of Our Lord 2009 with a Vigil reflecting on the references to Our Lady in the Gospels, in the light of the Beatitudes and the Holy Father’s New Year message, “to fight poverty is to build peace”. It was followed by a midnight Mass celebrated by our friend, Fr Paul Shaw, from St Werburgh’s, Chester.

For the feast of Bl. Angela of Foligno later that week we had a time of prayer and Exposition in our shrine chapel, with reflections by Dear Mother and Sr Agatha on that remarkable saint of the 13th century. Born some twenty years after the death of St Francis, she was of a wealthy family, married with three children and leading a very worldly and far from holy life until her conversion at the age of thirty-seven.

Our Christmas finale comprised a tea-party in the Chapter Tea Room, to which we were all invited by John Henry Newman. We each attended in the guise of one of his 19th century contemporaries, clad in costumes from our TMD dressing-up department, all sizeable enough to be slipped on over our habits. In the event the Cardinal himself did not put in an appearance, being indisposed. However Florence Nightingale and Emily Dickinson did the honours, providing a first-class spread and tea in decorative china teapots at small circular tables imported from the extern dining room. During the tea we were each required to tell something of our lives, and where appropriate, read something from our writings, or, as happened in the case of Gilbert and Sullivan give a short recital from our musical works. Other guests present were Saint Bernadette and St Catherine Labouré . Artists were represented by Vincent van Gogh and William Blake. Hans Christian Andersen was one of the writers there, together with Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë.
During the tea-party Van Gogh did lightning illustrations of those present in their appropriate costumes, and at the end there were prizes distributed all round.

Afterwards we met in the refectory for a Vespers sharing on the crib there on the theme of “light” and under the auspices of John Henry Newman whose large banner adorned the wall.
It was also a crib expressing the light of conversion and the transformation brought about in people’s lives, a number of the figures having been made by a good friend who last year had rediscovered the joy of the Catholic faith.

Our annual Mass in honour of Saint Colette was well attended despite a fall of snow the night before. Canon Quigley celebrated the Mass, which was combined with psalms from Vespers, during which those present, including Canon, received the Colette blessing. Two young disabled people were brought in wheelchairs, and many people unable to be present were remembered by name in the bidding prayers. It was as always a very lovely and moving occasion.

Dear Mother keeps her feast on that of Our Lady of Lourdes. This year we have established a new Lourdes shrine in the cloister, incorporating a stone statue of Our Lady given us some years ago, which had previously been outdoors. We obtained a wooden figure of Bernadette, which goes admirably with it, and added a small fountain which recycles genuine Lourdes water given to us by friends. So the sound of rippling water accompanies us as we pass along the cloister and we can pause to bless ourselves with it, invoking Our Lady’s help and protection in all we do. The addition of the fountain gave rise to a “water celebration” led by Sr Pia and Sr Amata. They had been given a book on the ‘Water Walk’ at Lourdes, with its nine ‘wells’, each named after one found in the Old or New Testament - from Beersheba to the Well of Siloam.
We duly followed it in spirit, each well recalling a specific scriptural theme, which was related to the new and eternal life that is given us through Christ, and through His Mother, who is now also ours. At the end we renewed our baptismal promises and each partook of a small cup of Lourdes water. It was altogether a simple and lovely celebration.

For Dear Mother’s actual feastday Sr Juliana and Sr Yolanda had arranged a very lovely Vespers in the antechoir, combining pictures of icons and background music from an Orthodox service. On display was an icon of Saint Seraphim of Sarov, given us recently by Sr Yolanda’s great-aunt. On dismantling it to restore it, our Sisters found that beneath the heavily embossed metal frame was a print giving a Moscow shop address and the date 1903, the year after St Seraphim’s recognition as a saint by the Orthodox Church. Sr Juliana shared with us some information about his life and continued with the theme of icons in general, and that of man himself envisaged as an image (icon) of God. Her sharing ended on the note on which it had begun, that of Christ as He is so often portrayed in icons, blessing His people on earth below as He ascends into heaven.

During Lent we were treated to a welcome series of talks by Mother Francesca on the Old Testament prophets, among other subjects she has covered with us in the past year, the most recent being some on the Holy Father’s major encyclical on social justice Caritas in Veritate. The theme of the Franciscan Guided Day of Prayer, which we hosted in March, was that of the soul coming from God, being clothed in the robe of faith and so returning to God. It was distilled from writings by our friend Fr Herbert Schneider on the teachings of the great 13th century Scottish theologian, Duns Scotus. We had depicted it on a large banner, pictures of which were printed for those who attended, together with a meditation. It also formed the theme of the Vespers we celebrated with them. This included a simple dramatisation of the soul setting out on its journey, being clothed in the robe of faith, and like Mary surrendering itself to God, so enabling Christ to come into the world of today through its own life of faith, hope and love.

The prayer day was well attended, and later that month we also welcomed a group of 45 young people, aged 14 -16 from a Catholic school who came with their teacher to find out something about our life as part of their religious studies. She herself had come before with reluctance, thinking the visit would just be a waste of time, and had gone back full of enthusiasm and looking forward to coming here again.

Canon Quigley was able for the first time to celebrate the Paschal Triduum with us this year. Our paschal tableau in choir had a Eucharistic theme; a large chalice-shaped wicker basket served as the tomb into which we placed a shrouded figure of the dead Christ on Good Friday evening. This heightened our awareness that at every holy Mass we are brought into contact with the saving power of God’s love flowing into the world through Christ’s suffering, death and saving resurrection. All went smoothly at the Easter Vigil, though the holy fire kindled outside the antechoir for the lighting of the paschal candle attracted the attention of a police helicopter which hovered overhead for a couple of minutes, possibly suspecting an arsonist at work! Sr Juliana and Sr Yolanda had decorated the paschal candle this year with a very lovely design of a stalk of wheat rising from a buried grain. A shortened version of the Creation account was danced simply by three Sisters, and Sr Elizabeth illustrated the reading from Ezekiel with some of her inimitable cartoons on paper fastened the length of the choir wall. In the paschal tableau the chalice-shaped tomb was now revealed as empty, glowing with twinkling lights and with the risen Christ appearing in splendour to the women who had come to the sepulchre to anoint His body.

Our newest member went into retreat during Easter week. She had been made an ingenious countdown calendar in the form of a large paper doll which received an equally paper item of Poor Clare wear each morning, together with a verse from Ephesians chapter 6, about being clothed in the armour of God. The private clothing ceremony took place early on Low Sunday (Divine Mercy Sunday). In the early Church it was the day on which those baptised at Easter made their last appearance in their white baptismal robes.
We gathered outside the chapter room, and processed with Sister, who was clothed in a very lovely bridal dress with a long flowing train, through the shrine chapel and extern chapel to her prie-dieu in our choir. After clothing her in the habit and giving her the white veil of a novice, Dear Mother announced her new religious name, that of Sr Maria Ancilla of Christ the King, one which none of us had guessed but which suits her to a “T”.

The next joyful event was our dear Sr Seraphina’s solemn profession on a glorious May day, our Lady’s month at its best. Fr Sebastian of the Birmingham Oratory concelebrated the Mass together with Canon Quigley and Fr Paschal OFMCap. The ceremony took just over two hours, and was, as always on such occasions deeply moving. One elderly friend showed some consternation, announcing in a stage whisper, “She’s fainted!” when our Sister prostrated full length before the altar while we sang the Litany of Saints over her, invoking their aid as she made her lifelong commitment to God in our community.

The homily of Fr Sebastian Jones Cong. Orat. focused on Sister’s role in singing God’s praises night and day in the Divine Office. He spoke of the liturgy as God’s gift to us as a means of teaching us how to pray and praise Him, and drawing us and the Church and the whole world into the eternal life of the celestial liturgy.

The next day, in honour of the occasion, we were treated to a delightful shadow-puppet recreation. The charming figures were drawn by Sr Yolanda, scanned on to the computer and printed on transparent paper.

The following fortnight brought two welcome three-day retreats, which gave us time to draw breath after all the recent activities. During the first Br Parker, who showed us slides of the catacombs last year, showed us a further series on St Paul and the places associated with his two imprisonments and subsequent martyrdom in Rome. The second retreat, equally worthwhile, was by Mgr Atherton on Dei Verbum, the Vatican II document on Sacred Scripture.

While we were in retreat we had to give the garden a miss, but it was just as well as the weather turned very wet, and anything we had hoped to sow earlier would have rotted. Sr Pia and Sr Yolanda spent several days tacking together two 50 metre pieces of black netting, this time spreading it out evenly round three sides of our quadrangular cloister to make sure the edges matched! Then we spent a long day sowing several kilo of runner French beans , and the next one planting out celery and lettuce seedlings.

Then followed unseasonal sweltering weather, so it was all hands on deck to keep the vegetable garden watered! In early spring, our two herbalists had taken great pleasure in harvesting some of the horse radish they had been nurturing with the utmost care for 18 months or so, planting the rest out into several more pots to increase and multiply. Even the two fig trees which we have had for twelve years or so looked like perking up and bearing fruit, but unfortunately they lost heart and it came to nothing. However, at the time of writing, several grow-bags of potatoes given us by a friend are flourishing, and if they are doing as well below ground as above we can hope for a Christmas harvest.

Paschaltide ended with due solemnity and joy at Pentecost. Our two-hour Vigil began with seven Sisters lighting candles among flower arrangements before the altar and lectern, and continued with hymns and a series of relevant Old Testament readings, interspersed with hymns and psalms invoking the coming of the Holy Spirit. One of the songs was danced, and we had Exposition and several periods of silent prayer. At the end, each Sister laid her hands on the head of the sister next to her and prayed silently for her for a moment, recalling the sealing of each of us by the Holy Spirit at confirmation.

The dove may be a symbol of the Holy Spirit, but it was buzzards that held centre stage in our wildlife this year - not the bird of the same name in the States which is really a turkey vulture and has more sinister connotations. A pair had nested in one of our trees, and the battle with other birds who tried to drive them out was an ongoing saga for weeks, till they eventually managed to raise Buzzard Junior.

In June we had to move out of our choir to allow new lighting to be installed. This meant moving the Blessed Sacrament to a tabernacle in a room looking out into the garden, which we turned it into a chapel for the celebration of the Divine Office. And though with daily Mass in the parlour there was not enough room for the variety of musical instruments we use to accompany the hymns, it was lovely to be just a few feet from the temporary altar. We were delighted at the effect of the new system, which not only saves us a considerable amount of electricity, but also gives an even light in every part of choir - a real boon, as we spend about seven hours a day there all told in prayer and praise on behalf of all God’s people.

June brought not only the end of the Year of Saint Paul but the opening of the Year of the Priest. As always we are keen to encourage and support the many priests, known personally to us or farther afield, who continue to serve the Lord so lovingly and faithfully and often suffer greatly through the misdeeds of those who have disgraced their calling. We have therefore been making it our particular concern to gain the plenary indulgence granted this year which can be offered by the faithful on a number of occasions for priests. So we have been individually remembering by name all the priests of our own diocese and many others near and far, both living and dead, entreating God’s grace and lovingkindness for them in all their trials and difficulties.

July brought with it days of almost tropical weather, with some equally tropical downpours, and we spent long hours picking our blackberries, and raspberries, together with a record gooseberry harvest, which boded well for future jam-making. Sr Ancilla and Sr Elizabeth quite excelled themselves cutting back, tidying and pruning all the shrubs, bushes and climbing plants in the cloister garden, transforming it to a degree of trimness it has not known for some years, and making it a real pleasure to behold whenever we pass by.

That same month our dear Mother Damian and Mother Francesca attended a special Mass at Gyndwr University in Wrexham to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Bishop Regan’s ordination. Many civic and ecclesial dignitaries were present. Bishop Regan was the main celebrant and preached the homily and the singing by three school choirs was impressive.

Fr Sebastian Jones came some weeks later on the Feast of Saint Clare for the celebration of our dear Mother Francesca’s Golden Jubilee. As she had wished, it was a purely family affair, with just ourselves and Marianne present. Sr Juliana had completed a very lovely vestment for the occasion; the front depicted Our Lady holding her Divine Child, with various people sheltering under her cloak, and the back portrayed her as the Pieta, her holding the body of her Son after He had been taken down from the cross. Fr Sebastian spoke of Mother Francesca’s mystery, (she is ‘of the Annunciation’), as not only being a moment in time when Our Lady willingly accepted God’s invitation to bear His Incarnate Son, but also a moment when she accepted all the consequences of the choice in her own life. This included her own sharing in His Passion as she stood beneath His cross. During her renewal of vows in the hands of our dear Mother Damian, four Sisters stood on either side holding glass stands with a total of fifty votive lights.
The next day we gathered to present the various gifts we had made her, among them a complete typed copy of the annals of our community from its first beginnings in Flint in 1928, now more than eighty years ago. All told it comprises a fascinating account of God’s many blessings in all the ups and downs of our small family since its foundation here in Wales.

The next day was a busy one, moving absolutely everything out of our choir, public chapel and front hall as we were having them professionally cleaned from floor to ceiling and repainted. While work was in progress we ourselves spent a very blessed week on retreat, reflecting on the role of Our Lady in the Church as a whole and in our own lives as a community. This theme was especially appropriate to our dear Mother Francesca’s mystery. One of the tangible fruits of our retreat was the eventual production of a short Youtube on our life made of photo clippings and cartoons, which was edited by Bernadette Bevans, a friend from XT3 (Christ for the Third Millennium.)

It has been heartening to read of the warm reception in Britain of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux. It was a real witness to the love of God and His people that is awakened by the sheer goodness of such a life as hers, and of its lasting value, however brief and hidden it may have seemed in her lifetime.

Once the harvest had been safely gathered in, our working hours were largely spent making items for our Autumn Fair and we would like to thank all those who helped in any way towards it, and of course to the many people who have supported us in so many ways in the course of the past year. Your help in any form is much appreciated, whether it be donations, gifts in kind, produce from Harvest Festivals, or used jam jars for recycling. We would also like to say a heartfelt “God reward you” to all who support us by their own prayers for our community and encourage us by their appreciation of our life. You can one and all be sure that you are enfolded in our hearts before the Lord. The particular intentions we receive by post, phone or e-mail for remembrance in prayer are noted down and mentioned before we recite the Office of Terce after Holy Mass. They are then placed in the petitions box by the altar in Our Lady’s shrine, in confidence that she will join her prayers with ours for all God’s people in their special needs.

And so, as Advent once more comes into sight, we thank God for all His blessings in the past year, and look forward to those He will give us in the year ahead - not only the expected ones like the visit of the Holy Father to this country and the beatification of John Henry Newman, but also the unexpected ones He will give us if our hearts are open to receive them.

With deep gratitude and loving prayers for you all, far and near, from your Poor Clare Sisters at Ty Mam Duw

Poor Clare Colettine Community
Upper Aston Hall Lane
Hawarden, Deeside
CH5 3EN North Wales G.B.
Tel [++44] [0]1244 531029

E-mail community@poorclarestmd.org
Website http://www.poorclarestmd.org

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Christmas 2009

We had a very blest Christmas. For those who would like to visit our crib (at any time of the year) it, too, is on Youtube. There is a embedded link on the website on the page Christmas @ TMD - with a full account of the biblical scenes - and the non-biblical scenes which we omitted for want of space.

Once again we would like to thank Bernadette Bevans for her kindness and expertise. Incidentally as well as the film work of
Mary's Dowry productions, Bernadette is a superb musician and her music CD's are lovely!
Below is new code for come along to Bethlehem

http://youtu.be/Xc3ajk8sAWs

And Bernadette's professional website is at

www.marysdowryproductions.org

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Advent 2009......!
Behold I stand at the door and knock....
Rev. 3:20

In Advent we take it in turns to present an evening sharing after Vespers in Ephesus. It was a season of outstanding sharings, but we felt that his one carried of all prizes! We though you might like to share it. it is a dramatic meditation on the second coming, if not at the end of time, at least at the end of Sr E's time.....

Thunderous rap on the door, Sr E leaps up

Sister E It’s The Call!

I, er, wasn’t expecting this. I mean its a bit sooner than I’d expected!

Have I got everything I need? Should I pack something? Perhaps a bible .... and a pair of secateurs, in case. Well you never know. I could take a torch; it might be dark, I’d like to see where I am going. Perhaps I could take a bit of light reading in case there is a long queue... and there’s my crochet, I only started it a year ago and I did quite a lot while waiting at the dentists last week.

There’s rather a lot of things I ought still to finish. I really wanted to clean the dog pen before Christmas. of course, if I am not going to be here for Christmas... but I mustn’t be selfish.

And then - is it Him? Perhaps its only the milkman?

It is a bit soon. I would have really liked another 40 years or so. That would make me a hundred. We’re very long lived in our family. Grandmama was terribly old; she never let on about her age, but I’m sure she must have been over a hundred when she went !

I’m not so sure I want to go any way. Perhaps I’ll stay at home after all. I’d really like to clean our cell window; you can hardly see through It. I cleaned it a bout 2 years ago.... And I ought to tidy Jericho’s and the dog pen needs strimming, too. If I have to go, I had better leave instructions as to how to work the strimmer. Though somebody might know....

Perhaps two and two don’t make four after all. I know it has been a popular idea down the ages, but perhaps they make five. Perhaps I’m taking too many things fro granted.

What shall I say to him, if it is Him. I need the Dictionary of Useful Phrases for Special Occasions, I could take that, too. Let me look. (rustle of pages)
How nice to see you - well, I could not really say that.
I do hope you are feeling well....Well I suppose He always does.
I assure you of my most earnest felicitations..........?
Does this umberella belong to you? No?
Are you staying long? (It is more a case of will I be staying long?)
Would you like a cup of tea????????????

Will He ask me when I last went to confession?? When did I last go to confession? It’s not as long as 40 years? Wheres the little book with the examination of conscience in?

seizes book

Have you paid a just wage to your employees (if any) ?!

Have you been kind to your father/mother/sister/brother/dog? Well, er?

Have you paid the milkman, grocer, greengrocer and dustman since last year. No.
Are you habitually unpunctual, untidy and unavailable........?

Oh dear.

Please turn to page 5003 for the next section: On the Qualitative Use and Misuse of the Ten Commandments.....

Perhaps tomorrow....................?

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Friday, 13 November 2009
Welcome!

 

In our life here at Ty Mam Duw, we have over the years, and in different ways accompanied quite a number of people on their journey of faith into the Catholic Church. Many of our Sisters are also converts to Catholicism - though mostly not from the Church of England.

We want to express our deep gladness at the generous response of our Father in Faith, Pope Benedict XVI to recent petitions from members of the Anglican Communion that has culminated the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, of 4 November 2009.

To friends in the Church of England, known and unknown to us, who are considering making this step of faith we want to express a heartfelt and loving welcome.

Thank you for your trust in the Lord and in his Word, may He reward you! We are with you in prayer on your journey.

In the words of our Holy Mother Clare:
May the Lord be with you, and may you be with him always and in every place

The Church is a Mother who has many children from all walks of life. They look to her for guidance, which gives them a sense of belonging. As they enjoy her motherly protection, their journey through life with all its joy and pain ends in the finality of heaven

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Tuesday, 7 July 2009
The Year for Priests 1

Powerless and joyful

At heart, a priest is a poor; he cannot bless himself, baptize, absolve, marry or ordain himself. The power to celebrate the Eucharist is given him as a pure gift, but - even if he should be the only person present - he says the Eucharist for and on behalf of the whole Church. He is like bread; he is there to be eaten by others, his life and his time do not belong to him, he is there for others, as a servant. This is a challenge; it can be pure joy part of the time and pure drudgery for the rest. It is not about power or privilege; it is about servanthood.

To have a Year for Priests, drawn out of the image of the great evangelist St Paul in to the icon of the humble Parish priest St John Marie Vianney is a moving gesture at a time when the conduct of a few has dragged the ideal of Priesthood through the mire and when fear and a diminished identity tempt even the finest priests. We think that it is a magnificent idea of our Father, Benedict XVI - and we get to pray for him, too. A friend from Vatican Radio was staying in the guest quarters, and being contacted by Father Lombardi, remarked, casually, “They pray for the Holy Father three times a day here!” And Father Lombardi replied. “I’ll tell him!”

Living prayer

We, the little sisters, wanted to be part of this special year. For the Great Jubilee of the Millennium in 2000 we had offered the prayer for the Jubilee Indulgence, each day of the year, for people who had asked us to do so. This was not just a few words said, in someone else’s name for a spiritual end which, though apparently benevolent was not particularly well expressed or even clear, it was something that we were very concretely involved in. It felt, as one of the Sisters said at the time like going out for a walk with a baby in a pram, but as the year progressed it seemed that the baby got heavier and heavier and the road was all uphill and by the end we felt like the character out of The Mission who is hauling the symbols of his past crimes up a mountain, sliding in the mud. But they weren’t our crimes (already settled!) - but those of others who could not carry them. It was a life-changing experience in intercessory prayer. We began to take the Gift of Mercy very seriously - as part of our own history with the Portiuncula Indulgence and, like Luther as something too precious too be sold. It is worth bearing in mind that Luther kicked off his religious rebellion on the subject of indulgences, not because he thought they were useless, but because he thought, unlike an unholy Dominican called Tetzel, that they were more that money could buy!

At the root of prayer for others is our Lord’s word that what ever we agree to ask in his name we will receive. We want to do this for our Priests.

The Gift of Mercy and Love

For the Year for Priests, through the ministry of our Father, Benedict XVI we are offered the possibility of a great grace and blessing in prayer which we might claim for ourselves, or, if we wish, offer for another and perhaps, very specially, offer on behalf of a priest. That is what your little sisters at Ty Mam Duw are doing.

This gift of mercy, through prayer, is a Plenary Indulgence for the healing of the wounds that result from lovelessness and sin - or to use more formal language - the remission of the temporal punishment due to sin.

We may receive the Plenary Indulgence if we have recently availed ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, attend the Holy Eucharist and offer prayers to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest, for the priests of the Church, that he may make them completely holy and form them in accordance with His Heart. We are invited to offer, as a gift in prayer, the work which we may have done on that day, and to remember the Holy Father’s intentions before the Lord.

The Gift of Mercy may be received on the following days: the beginning of the Year for Priests; 19 June 2009, the end; 19 June 2010, the feast day of St John Marie Vianney; 4th August 2009 (it is his 150th anniversary!) and on the first Thursday of each month.

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The Year for Priests 2

FOREVER PRIESTS

Having done banners for the year of the Eucharist and the Year of St Paul, we wanted to have something in the front hall for the year of priests. Our reflections together resolved them selves into this wall hanging

In the Old Covenant, before Aaron and his sons are consecrated as priests, Moses washes them with water (Leviticus 8:6). There may be an echo of this ritual in Christ’s washing of his disciples feet at the last supper, before his High Priestly Prayer (John 17:17-19) in which he asks the Father; as you have sent me so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself so that they may be consecrated in truth.

In this picture, a silk painting, made by the Sisters of Ty Mam Duw, water pours from the wounded hands of Christ the High Priest, over a priest consecrated by the Church. He looks up, experiencing this gift of renewal with joy and thanksgiving.

The priest is no longer young, yet between him and his Master, Jesus, there is a certain resemblance.

Looking at the priest’s face, it would be quite hard to imagine him as a father of four, or even as a bank clark or a bus conductor. The Sacrament he has received and a life dedicated to the service of the People of God has marked his kind, rather vulnerable face with humility and pain, innocence and joy, self-forgetfulness and prayer. Especially prayer.

Under the waters of God’s love the priest is surprised by the happiness that comes to those who live with the Lord who makes all things new.

The Year for Priests 3

year of priests 3

Prayer and reflection

In our front hall we have left a pile of leaflets with the information and meditations in these three section. We invite our visitors - and you:

Please take a leaflet and pray for our priests, this can be our way of fulfilling Jesus’ command to love one another.
Round the dome of St Peter’s visible in letters a metre high are the words: Feed my sheep and invisibly nine miles high are the words: I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Love is the debt we owe each other, we who are all alike poor, limited, sinful, human beings.
In our Church there are hundreds of thousands of priests loyally loving the Lord and his people only 0.02% of them have ever been involved in the abuse of children. Holy and sinful, our priests need our prayers.
If you have prayed for your priest here, why not send him a post card to say so?

You are a priest forever
a priest like Melchisedek of old.
Feed my people with my body and blood,
show them my face by your life.

There is no greater love
than to lay down one’s life
for another.

Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
Forgive and bring to repentance
those who who have disfigured my face
by the abuse of my little ones.

Father, consecrate them in the truth,
your Word is truth.
TMD

Lord, fill with the gift of the Holy Spirit
him whom you have deigned to raise to the rank of the priesthood,
that he may be worthy to stand without reproach before your altar,
to proclaim the Gospel of your kingdom,
to fulfill the ministry of your word of truth,
to offer you spiritual gifts and sacrifices,
to renew your people by baptism;
so that he may go out to meet our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
your only Son, on the day of his second coming,
and may receive from your vast goodness
the recompense for a faithful administration of his ordination.
Amen.
Byzantine Liturgy

The priest continues the work of redemption on earth. If we really understood the priest on earth, we would die not of fright but of love. The Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.
St John Marie Vianney

If I were at the same time to meet some saint coming down from heaven and any poor little priest, I would first pay my respects to the priest and proceed to kiss his hands first. I would say, '’Oh, just a moment, St. Lawrence, because this person's hands handle the Word of Life and possess something that is more than human.’ These hands have touched my Lord, and no matter what they be like, they could not soil him or lessen his power and goodness. To honor the Lord, honor his minister. He can be bad for himself, but for me he is good.
St Francis of Assisi

The Cure of Ars’ example naturally leads me to point out that there are sectors of cooperation which need to be opened ever more fully to the lay faithful. Priests and laity together make up the one priestly people and in virtue of their ministry priests live in the midst of the lay faithful, that they may lead everyone to the unity of charity, loving one another with mutual affection; and outdoing one another in sharing honour.
Benedict XVI Letter proclaiming Year of Priests

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Monday, 1 June 2009
Pentecost

 

Come Holy Spirit!
We celebrated a rather early vigil for the birthday of the Church beginning at 7 pm and it was beautiful to feel the sunset merge into darkness and the light of the seven candles in the sanctuary increase as night fell. The order of the readings and beautifully apt psalms is from the Pontifical Liturgy for the Pentecost Vigil. The dance (photographed here at the rehearsal) followed the reading from Genesis which prefaced the celebration and included two long pauses for Adoration.

It came as a wonderful spiritual journey between a hectic week of gardening - and getting the beans planted and the netting up - and a hectic week of disorder while new lighting is being installed in choir and we are singing the Office in Ephesus and having Mass in the grille parlour! As Clare said we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth....

Vigil 2009

The Pentecost Vigil is the continuation of the great Vigil of Easter. Having concluded the Rosary in the light of the Paschal Candle, Music (it was the 3rd movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony) begins. Seven sisters light candles before the altar and lectern. There is a short pause for reflection between the reading and the prayer.

Prologue
A reading from the book of Genesis
Gen 1:1-5

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Prayer
Let us pray,
Lord God,
we are the wonder of your new creation.
Through baptism,
your Spirit hovers over our chaos
and makes us new creatures
reformed in your love.
We receive your light and lordship
as the eternal Day of your Son breaks into our life
through his Living Spirit,
Amen

Litany of the Holy Spirit

As the dancers retire, Dear Mother comes forward to expose the Living Presence of the Lord who gives us his Spirit in the Blessed Sacrament

Mother
Let us praise the Father+
in his mercy
and the Son by his passion
and the Holy Spirit
the fountain of peace and sweetness and love
Amen, Amen without recall.

Extended period of quiet prayer

Song: Veni Sancte Spiritus

Ist Reading

A reading from the book of Genesis
Gen 11:1-9

The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words. While the people were migrating in the east, they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, "Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire." They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth."
The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had built. Then the Lord said: "If now, while they are one people, all speaking the same language, they have started to do this, nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do. Let us then go down there and confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says." Thus the Lord scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the speech of all the world. It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God


Prayer
Let us pray,
Father of Mercy,
let your Spirit be our communion.
Do not let us unite, only to build towers of destruction
but teach us your language of truth and peace.
Through Christ our Lord

Psalm 33

Ring out your joy to the Lord, O you just; *
for praise is fitting for loyal hearts.

Give thanks to the Lord upon the lyre *
with a ten-stringed harp sing him songs.
O sing him a song that is new, *
play loudly with all your skill.

For the word of the Lord is faithful *
and all his works to be trusted.
The Lord loves justice and right *
and fills the earth with his love.

By his word the heavens were made, *
by the breath of his mouth all the stars.
He collects the waves of the ocean; *
he stores up the depths of the sea.

Let all the earth fear the Lord, *
all who live in the world revere him.
He spoke; and it came to be. *
He commanded; it sprang into being.

He frustrates the designs of the nations, *
he defeats the plans of the peoples.
His own designs shall stand for ever, *
the plans of his heart from age to age.

They are happy, whose God is the Lord, *
the people he has chosen as his own.
From the heavens the Lord looks forth, *
he sees all the children of men.

Our soul is waiting for the Lord. *
The Lord is our help and our shield.
In him do our hearts find joy. *
We trust in his holy name.

May your love be upon us, O Lord, *
as we place all our hope in you.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now and will be for ever. Amen

2nd Reading

A reading from the book of Exodus
Ex 19:3-8,16-20

Israel encamped before the mountain. And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: you have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.

And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Prayer
Let us pray,
O Lord our God,
you show your steadfast love
to the thousands who love you
and keep your commandments
and to the millions who cannot face the simplicity of your love
and do not keep your living word.
We worship you in Spirit and truth;
make us your witnesses
through Christ our Lord.
Amen

Psalm 103

My soul, give thanks to the Lord, *
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord *
and never forget all his blessings.

It is he who forgives all your guilt, *
who heals every one of your ills,
who redeems your life from the grave, *
who crowns you with love and compassion,
who fills your life with good things, *
renewing your youth like an eagle’s.

The Lord does deeds of justice, *
gives judgment for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses *
and his deeds to Israel’s sons.


The Lord is compassion and love, *
slow to anger and rich in mercy.
His wrath will come to an end; *
he will not be angry for ever. *
He does not treat us according to our sins *
nor repay us according to our faults.

For as the heavens are high above the earth *
so strong is his love for those who fear him.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning, is now and will be for ever. Amen


Third reading
A reading from the Prophet Ezekiel
Ezek 37:1-14

(With music Copeland: Fanfare for the common man)

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the Lord and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones. He made me walk among the bones in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were! He asked me:
Son of man, can these bones come to life? I answered, "Lord God, you alone know that." Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life. I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the Lord. I, Ezekiel, prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone. I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them. Then the Lord said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord God: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life. I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army. Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They have been saying, "Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off." Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the Lord. I have promised, and I will do it, says the Lord.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Prayer
Let us pray,
Father of all compassion,
breathe into the dead bones of our transgression
new life and joy.
Create in us a new heart
and fill us with your Holy Spirit.
Through Christ our Lord
Amen.

Psalm 51: 3-4, 8-9, 12-13

Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. *
In your compassion blot out my offence.
O wash me more and more from my guilt *
and cleanse me from my sin.

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, *
that the bones you have crushed may revive.
From my sins turn away your face *
and blot out all my guilt.

A pure heart create for me, O God, *
put a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence, *
nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help; *
with a spirit of fervour sustain me,
that I may teach transgressors your ways *
and sinners may return to you.

Give praise to the Father Almighty
to his Son Jesus Christ the Lord
to the Spirit who dwells in our hearts
For ever and ever Amen


4th reading
A reading from the Prophet Joel
Joel 3:1-5

Thus says the Lord:
"I will pour out my spirit on all mankind. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men see visions.
Even on the slaves, men and women,
will I pour out my spirit in those days.
I will display portents in heaven and on earth,
blood and fire and columns of smoke.
The sun will be turned into darkness,
and the moon into blood,
before the day of the Lord dawns,
that great and terrible day.
All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved,
for on Mount Zion there will be some who have escaped,
as the Lord has said,
and in Jerusalem some survivors whom the Lord will call.

This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God

Prayer
Let us pray
Father of Might and Splendour,
The grace of living in your Son’s Spirit
is a gift for the end times.
It is only in the Spirit that we can call upon his name and be saved.
Grant us constancy and trust,
You who live and reign for ever.
Amen.

Psalm 104
Send forth your spirit......

Gospel
Accompanied by the assistants and versicularians Dear Mother goes to the head of the choir where all bow to the Altar. They make their way to the Sanctuary lectern.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John
Glory to you Lord
Jn 7:37-39
On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. As Scripture says: Rivers of living water will flow from within him who believes in me."
He said this in reference to the Spirit that those who came to believe in him were to receive. There was, of course, no Spirit yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

This is the Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Mother and her assistants return to their stalls.
Schola Nun Bitten wir der Heiligan Geist (13 century)
An extended period of silent prayer follows.

Reminder of our confirmation


Mother
My dear sisters, let us pray to God our Father, that he will renew in our hearts the awareness of the Holy Spirit which we received at Pentecost.

All pray briefly in silence.

Mother
All-powerful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed us from sin
and gave us new life.
Re-awaken the presence of your Holy Spirit in our hearts
to lead and guide us.
Renew in us the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill us anew with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

In silence Dear Mother places her hands over the head of the sister next to her and prays quietly for a moment. She then says:

Mother
Sr N, remember you are sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.
Peace be with you.

Sister
And also with you.

The Sister in turn places her hands on the head of the next sister and prays in the same way.

During the second part of the Song that follows, the Blessed Sacrament is reposed
WYD o8 Receive the Power.

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Monday, 25 May 2009
Sister Seraphina's Solemn Profession May 2 2009

This is the day the Lord has made, Alleluia!
We vow to "Observe the Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience without property and in chastity", We proclaim the Word with our lives.......

 

For your interest, we thought we would give the full text of our Colettine Rite of Solemn Profession. The footnotes do not come up in the text but the sources are mainly from the Ritual of St Colette, included in the Constitutions Of Gebeunc of 1487, and from the writings of St Clare and St Francis from the early thirteenth century. The beautiful prayer of the Consecration of the newly professed Sister is from the 1970 Rite of Religious Profession and was composed by Fr Ignatio Maria Calabuig Adan, who amongst other gifts to the Church, wrote Marialis cultus for Paul VI. Although those who have helped to create the restored liturgy of the Church worked anonymously whilst they lived, Father Ignatio is now celebrating the Liturgy of the Angels personaly.....!

A beautiful touch of the Lord!

The bush from which the thorns of our Sister's crown were picked was in flower at the time and the leaves and flowers are as real as the thorns. For those of a nervous disposition, who were not there it see it, it was placed on her dear head very gently!!!!


The Rite of Solemn Profession

The Proper texts for the Mass of Religious Profession are used.

The Sister who is to make her Solemn and Perpetual Profession of Vows takes her place behind the cross-bearer and before the clergy in the entrance procession. She is escorted through the public chapel to the Choir grille of the sanctuary by her father, or other near relative or friend. She is then seated in a place in the choir from which she is visible to those beyond the grille.

After the homily, Mother Abbess comes forward. The Sister, who is to profess her vows, publicly witnesses to her free choice to do so.

Examination
Mother
Sister N of N.

Sister
Lord, you have called me by my name.28
Behold, I come to do your holy will.29

Mother
Dear daughter, what do you desire?

Sister
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I seek,
to dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life.30

Mother
Have you pondered well and really understood
what you wish to commit yourself to do?31

Sister
I have, with the grace of God.

Mother
Have you the courage to trust in God completely, that he will provide for all your needs, especially that he will give you the grace to live out faithfully what you desire to promise to him?32

Sister
I have, with the grace of God.

Mother
You have put your hand to the plough
and from this day forward there can be no looking back.
Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests
but the Son of Man, your Spouse, had nowhere to lay His head. 33
Are you prepared to follow Him completely until the end?

Sister
I am, with the grace of God.

Mother
What you hold now, may you hold forever.
What you promise now, may you never abandon,
but with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet
go forward, securely, joyfully, swiftly and prudently
on the path of happiness,
so that you may offer your vows to the Most High
in that perfection to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you.34

All stand.

Celebrant
May God who has begun this good work in you
bring it to fulfilment before the day of Christ Jesus. 35

Litany

Dear friends in Christ,
let us now pray to the Father of all good gifts,
uniting ourselves with the prayer of all the saints
that His handmaid who seeks to serve Him with the whole desire of her heart
may be strengthened in His service36
and that He may bestow on her those gifts for which she longs.

Deacon
Let us kneel.

The Sister who makes her profession of Solemn Vows prostrates before the altar, while the chantresses sing the Litany of the Franciscan saints, which is to include her own patron. The congregation join in the responses.

At the end of the litany the Celebrant alone rises and says, with hands joined:

Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God,
Give to our Sister the grace
to do for your sake what she knows you want
and to always want what pleases you,
so that, purified and enlightened and set on fire
with the love of the Holy Spirit
she may follow, until death,
in the footsteps of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
and by your grace alone may come to you Most High,
who live and reign and are glorified
in perfect Trinity and undivided unity,
God for ever and ever.37
Amen.

Deacon
Let us stand.

The Sister rises and returns to her place. Mother Abbess is now joined by the two witnesses, the Vicaress and the Novice Mistress.

Mother
In preparation for the vows which you are about to pronounce,
I invite you now to renounce all moral and actual right to own anything under heaven, 38
in the covenant with Lady Poverty
granted to our Holy Mother Clare by Pope Innocent III.39

Sister
Since I desire to belong wholly to the Lord,
I now renounce, once and for all,
the power of owning anything under heaven,
that I may in every way
cling to the footprints of Him
who became for us the Way, the Truth and the Life,

He whose left hand is under my head
to support the weakness of my flesh,
who feeds the birds of heaven,
and clothes the lilies of the fields,
will feed and clothe me, and provide all my needs
until that day when His right hand embraces me
and I behold Him in heaven.
Amen.

Profession


Mother
Be faithful unto death, most dear one,
to what you are about to promise
and you will be crowned by Christ with the wreath of eternal life.
Our labour here below is short, the glory is infinite.40

The Sisters kneel and the Celebrant and congregation remain standing.

Sister
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I, little Sister N of N.
wish to follow the life and poverty of our most high Lord Jesus Christ,
and to persevere to the end.
And I vow to God, before the Blessed Virgin Mary,
and I promise you, dear Mother,
to observe for the whole time of my life
the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by living in obedience, without property and in chastity,
in the form of life which the blessed Francis gave to our Blessed Mother Clare
and Pope Innocent IV confirmed,
And I vow to observe enclosure,41
after the example of our Holy Mother Colette.42

Mother
I receive these vows on behalf of the Church and the Order.

What you have vowed to God render to Him faithfully
and he shall reward you.
Look up to heaven, dear one, which beckons us on,
and take up your cross and follow Christ
who walks ahead of us.
For whatever tribulations we may have here
we shall enter through Him into His glory.43

The Vow Card and the Renunciation of Property is then signed by the Sister and her signature is attested to, both on the Vow Card and in the Book of Professions by the Abbess, Vicaress, Novice Mistress and the Celebrant, while the choir sing:

Be faithful unto death
and I will give you the crown of life.44

Solemn Blessing and Consecration of the Professed

Celebrant
Lord God,
Creator of the world and Father of mankind,
we honour you with praise and thanksgiving,
for you chose a people from the stock of Abraham
and consecrated them to yourself,
calling them by your Name.
While they wandered in the wilderness
your word gave them comfort
and your right hand protection.
When they were poor and despised
you united them to yourself in a covenant of love.
When they strayed from your friendship
your mercy led them back to the right way.
When they sought you,
your Fatherly care looked after them
until they came to dwell in a land of freedom.

But above all, we thank you, Father,
for revealing the knowledge of truth
through your son Jesus Christ, our brother.

When He took his place at your right hand,
He sent his Holy Spirit to call countless disciples
to follow the evangelical counsels
and consecrate their lives
to the glory of your name and the salvation of humankind.

Today it is right
that your House should echo with a new song of thanksgiving
for this Sister of ours
who has listened to your voice
and made herself over to your holy service.

Lord, send the gift of the Holy Spirit upon your handmaid
who has left all things for your sake.

Father, may her life reveaI the face of Christ, your son,
so that all who see her may come to know
that He is always present in your Church.
We pray that in freedom of heart
she may free from care the hearts of others;
in helping the afflicted,
may she bring comfort to Christ
suffering in His sisters and brothers;
may she look upon this world and see it ruled by His wisdom.
May the gift she makes of herself
hasten the coming of His kingdom,
and make her one at last with your saints in heaven.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.45
Amen

The Insignia of Profession
The Blessing of the ring

Celebrant
Lord of eternal faithfulness
bless this ring +
the symbol of your covenant
with your sister and bride, N of N.

As a circle has no beginning or end,
so too, your love is endless and complete.

Fashioned in silver,
it is a sign of the poverty you have chosen for your bride.
May she wear it in trust until the day she is united to you in heaven.

As she places the ring on the Sister's finger Mother Abbess says:

I espouse you to Jesus Christ
the Son of the most high Father
who will protect you.46
Receive the ring of faith,47
the seal of the Holy Spirit,
that you may be called the spouse of Christ.
Love Him totally who gave Himself totally for your love.48

The Choir sing

You have chosen with your whole heart and soul
a life of holy poverty and want.
Thus you have taken a Spouse
who will keep you unblemished in His love;
our Lord Jesus Christ.49

The Crown of Thorns

Mother
Receive, dearest sister,
the crown which your spouse, the only begotten Son of God, offers you,
that you may deserve to share in His passion on earth
and in His glory in heaven.

As the crown of thorns is placed on the sisters head the choir sing:

If you suffer with Him you shall reign with Him
If you weep with Him you shall rejoice with Him,
if you die with Him on the cross of tribulation
you shall possess a home in heaven
amid the splendour of the saints,
and your name shall be called glorious.50

Mother Abbess now leads Sister to the Celebrant and then to the community so that they may exchange the Sign of Peace.

The Commendation
The celebrant stands and addressing the Abbess says:

Mother,
take this spouse of Jesus Christ
under your care and direction,
and consider in what manner you may keep her dedicated
and present her spotless to God,
knowing that you must render an account
before the tribunal of her spouse, the future Judge.51
Amen.

The rite fittingly concludes with the Prayers of the Faithful which invoke the Spirit on the Church and commend the newly professed and her community to the care of the Lord. During the Offertory Song, the newly professed Sister and her Novitiate companions may bring the gifts for the eucharistic sacrifice to the altar.

When the prayer after communion has been said Mother Abbess comes forward and presents the Sister with a candle.

Mother
Receive this lighted candle,
may you be a lofty candlestick of holiness in the house of the Lord52
all the days of you life,
and may we, together, one family in love,
reflect the fire of love that Christ came to enkindle on earth.
Amen

The Celebrant blesses the newly professed.

Celebrant
May the Father almighty make you firm in faith,
innocent in the midst of evil,
and wise in the pursuit of goodness.
Amen.

May the Lord Jesus, whom you follow,
enable you to live out the mystery
of His death and resurrection in your own life.
Amen.

May the fire of the Holy Spirit
cleanse your hearts from all sin
and set them on fire with His love.
Amen.53


The celebrant then blesses the community and the congregation

May almighty God, the Father, and the Son + and the Holy Spirit
bless all of you who have taken part in this celebration.
Amen.54

____________________________________________________

Saturday, 24 January 2009
Join us for St Colette - in the Spirit

St Colette was an extraordinary woman and one of the few 14th century men and women for whom the work of the Holy Spirit was a daily reality. She ends nearly all her surviving letter by invoking the Holy Spirit on the recipient. Because the concept of a Novena - a prayer for nine days - is uniquely bound up with the Church's nine days of prayer before Pentecost, we thought that we might make a novena on the nine days before Colette's feast, using the prayers of her chaplet. For those who live nearby we will pray this Novena after daily Mass at 8.15 am.

 

THE COLETTE NOVENA
The Chaplet of St Colette

The hymn at the end of Holy Mass will be the beginning of the Novena prayers. We start by announcing the mystery and this is followed by a short reading from scripture. We then sing the Chaplet of St Colette, listen to a reading from her writings and say the final prayer together.

I
The Annunciation of the Lord
Luke 1:35-38
The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born of you will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

Chaplet for the Joyful Mysteries

Blessed be the hour
in which our Lord Jesus Christ,
God and Man was born.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit
by whom he was conceived.
Blessed be the glorious Virgin Mary
of whom the Incarnate Word was born.
May the Lord hear our prayers
through the intercession
of the glorious Virgin Mary
and in memory
of that most sacred hour
in which the Incarnate Word was born,
that all our desires may be accomplished
for your glory and our salvation.
O good Jesus!
O Jesus our Redeemer,
do not abandon us as our sins deserve,
but hear our humble prayer
and grant what we ask
through the intercession
of the most blessed Virgin Mary
and for the glory of your Holy Name.
Amen.

As God pleases*
As God wills x 10

Let us praise the Father in his mercy
and the Son by his passion
and the Holy Spirit
the fountain of peace and sweetness and love.
Amen, amen without recall!

From the Testament of St Colette

With all the angels praise God, glorify him, in him and through him, and through all his creatures in heaven and on earth: exalt him above all for his inestimable favour in creating man in the image of the Creator, and for the sovereign gift of the sacred Incarnation of our God, who is so good that, after having created all things for our sake, he himself became truly man and our loving Brother, so as to restore all by his glorious death and his passion.

Pause for silent prayer

Let us pray,
Father,
may the Spirit overshadow our hearts
and fill our lives with the presence
of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
Through the intercession of St Colette,
we place before you
all those who long to conceive new life.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen

II
The Birth of our Lord
Luke 2: 7
Mary gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Chaplet for the Joyful Mysteries (see above)

From the Testament of St Colette

O Holy Poverty, finery of our redemption, precious jewel, certain sign of salvation. It is to poverty that the King gives the Kingdom of Heaven, in full possession, lastingly and without end. After the example of Jesus Christ who had nowhere to lay his head.

Pause for silent prayer

Let us pray,
God our Father and King
We give you thanks
that your Son became one with our poverty.
Through the prayers of St Colette
we bring you all expectant mothers,
may the child they carry be surrounded
by love and come to the Kingdom of heaven
and unending joy
through Christ our Lord.
Amen

III
The Epiphany of Christ in his Baptism
Matt 3:16-17
When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and behold, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

Chaplet for the Joyful Mysteries

From the Testament of St Colette

O infinite good! O Bounty without measure! O ingratitude which forgets so great a gift! Praise him, exalt him with full voice for the great gift received in holy Baptism, that of knowing complete innocence and becoming temples of the Blessed Holy Spirit

Pause for silent prayer

Let us pray,
Loving Father,
We give you thanks
for your wonderful generosity
in making us your beloved children.
Through the prayers of St Colette,
protect the life of every child
now in the womb.
Through Christ our Lord
Amen.

IV
The Passion of Christ
Jn 12: 24-28
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour; Father, glorify your name."

Chaplet for the Mysteries of the Cross

Blessed be the hour
in which our Lord Jesus Christ
is our Passover
Blessed be the Holy Spirit
given to us from the Cross
Blessed be the glorious Virgin Mary
on whom the Incarnate Word bestows the Church
May the Lord hear our prayers
through the intercession
of the glorious Virgin Mary
and in memory
of that most sacred hour
in which we we behold Christ’s glory on the cross.
that all our desires may be accomplished
for your glory and our salvation.
O good Jesus!
O Jesus our Redeemer,
do not abandon us as our sins deserve,
but hear our humble prayer
and grant what we ask
through the intercession
of the most blessed Virgin Mary
and for the glory of your Holy Name.
Amen.

As God pleases*
As God wills x 10

Let us praise the Father in his mercy
and the Son by his passion
and the Holy Spirit
the fountain of peace and sweetness and love.
Amen, amen without recall!

From the Letters of St Colette

The straight and sound way which leads unfailingly without ever turning aside to the heavenly kingdom is one of tribulation and affliction, unjustly caused and borne with patience.
Take care to go from strength to strength in his most perfect love, remaining continually strong and virtuous in his most holy and worthy service. For to those who set out on this way is promised the kingdom.

Pause for silent prayer

Let us pray,
Father, glorify your name in our lives,
in all whom we know and love
and in every human situation
in our world.
through Christ our Lord.
Amen

V
The Crucifixion
Jn 19:28-30
After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), "I thirst." A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Chaplet for the Mysteries of the Cross

From a letter of St Colette

May your heart be filled with the blessed passion of our Blessed Saviour. bear his pains and feel them like a true child of his. Follow him wherever he goes with ardent desire and trust in his love. Praise and thank him often.

Pause for silent prayer

Let us pray,

Father of all good gifts,
you gave us your Holy Spirit
in the blood and water
flowing from your Son’s heart,
through the sacraments of the Church.
We praise and thank you
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

VI
The Laying in the tomb
Jn 19:40-41
They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid.

Chaplet for the Mysteries of the Cross

From the Testament of St Colette

The Lord most willingly deigned to let himself be shut away in a sepulchre of stone. And as it pleased him to be enclosed for forty hours, you have your holy enclosure to maintain, in which you may well live for forty years, more or less, and in which you will die. O how precious is your sepulchre, into which enter devout souls in order to obtain their salvation.

Pause for silent prayer

Let us pray,

Father of life,
The barren tomb, the place of death,
becomes the womb of eternal life.
Plant in our lives the beginning of
our resurrection in your Son
who lives and reigns forever and ever
Amen.

VII
The Resurrection
Luke 34:4b-8
Two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise."

Chaplet for the Glorious Mysteries

Blessed be the hour
in which our Lord Jesus Christ,
King and Judge will come
Blessed be the Holy Spirit
who prepares our hearts for his reign
Blessed be the glorious Virgin Mary
with whom the Incarnate Word will come again.
May the Lord hear our prayers
through the intercession
of the glorious Virgin Mary
in memory of that most sacred hour
in which heaven shall be opened to our eyes.
that all our desires may be accomplished
for your glory and our salvation.
O good Jesus!
O Jesus our Redeemer,
do not abandon us as our sins deserve,
but hear our humble prayer
and grant what we ask
through the intercession
of the most blessed Virgin Mary
and for the glory of your Holy Name.
Amen.


As God pleases*
As God wills x 10

Let us praise the Father in his mercy
and the Son by his passion
and the Holy Spirit
the fountain of peace and sweetness and love.
Amen, amen without recall!

From the Testament of St Colette

From the depths of this tomb, by carrying out the works required in accordance with our calling, our souls take flight, with the help of the three vows, soaring to the great celestial palace without difficulty, or hardly any, and without danger.
Such is the abundance and superabundance at the table of the wedding feast to which you now travel, that when a tiny part of the great and immeasurable joy and bounty of the Noble King and Spouse falls from it, it cannot but delight!

Pause for silent prayer

Let us pray,

Father of Light,
we give you glory and we praise you
that as the Paschal candle of Easter night
rises from the font,
so new life shines through us
showing the path to the kingdom of glory,
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

VIII
The Ascension of the Lord and his eternal Kingdom
Mk 16:17-19
He said, “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.

Chaplet for the Glorious Mysteries

From a Letter of St Colette

Do nothing in the sight of his Sovereign Majesty and glorious presence which you would not do before anyone lesser or greater than you. Wherever we are, we are always present to him and he sees us clearly within and without and knows us better than we know ourselves.

Pause for silent prayer

Let us pray,
Father of heaven,
We bring to you all who are sick;
all who live without hope and in fear.
May the kingdom continued to be proclaimed
and your Son’s healing ministry
remain visible in the Church
through the prayers of St Colette.
You who live and reign forever and ever,
Amen.

IX
The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Luke 2: 16-21
This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 yea, and on my menservants and my maidservants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'

Chaplet for the Glorious Mysteries

From a letter of St. Colette

The blessed Holy Spirit will watch over you and keep you in his grace and finally lead you to the glory of paradise. Amen.

Pause for silent prayer

Let us pray,
God our Father,
you gave St Colette to the Church
as a witness to the gospel way of life.
Renew our lives and our world
in the pattern of your love.
As we acknowledge:
that there is no crown without a victory,
and no victory without a fight,
grant us to grow in the gifts of the Spirit
through Christ our Lord
Amen.

____________________________________________________

This was written for The Catholic Social Networking Site XT3 as a run-up to World Youth Day in Sydney 2008

TMD would like to thank the young religious and other members of XT3 who contributed to the Witness sections.

Praying for the Spirit
A Novena for the coming of the Holy Spirit

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.” Acts 1:8

The nine days between Ascension and Pentecost were spent by the disciples in prayer, with Mary.

We want to receive your power Lord,
In the symbol of our Faith we know that the Holy Spirit is the Lord, the Giver of Life..... and he speaks through the prophets.

Give us life
Because love is life and we can’t live without it.

You speak through the prophets
not just in the Old Testament and the New
Make us your witnesses.


We set these nine days apart with the Lord in prayer. We ask for the Holy Spirit to come on the Church, to rest ever more deeply on our Father, Benedict XVI, to fill with power and love our bishops priests, deacons, consecrated men and women and all the Holy People of God. Because that is what we are!

We pray for each other, we also pray for ourselves.

The Spirit has a gift for each of us. We may know what we want to ask for daily, or we may simply ask the Lord to choose for us, holding out our open hands and waiting for his surprise. This is a risk - because the Holy Spirit never does nothing......


A suggestion for these nine days. Give yourself two times to pray. At the beginning of the day pray and ask the Father to give you the Spirit to fill your heart with his love and his gifts. At the end of the day invite the Spirit to teach you as you reflect on Sacred Scripture and pray the Lord’s prayer, the Hail mary and the Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. An outline prayer, a scripture passage (please have your bible handy and a meditation are offered here, if they should help. Read the witnesses of others and share your own if you can.......

Prayer for all Nine Days

Let us pray
Father,
Awaken in us the Holy Spirit
whom you have given us.
The Spirit is your breath within us
speaking your Son’s Word.
Give us the power
to change our lives
and to live in Jesus.

Lord,
you know the gifts we long for
and the gifts we need.
Fill us now as we ask....

Deliver us from evil
and make Sydney World Youth Day
a new Pentecost for the world.
Through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Day One
Take me as I am Lord

Witness:
I was into gangs and violence and some drugs. My emotional life was a series of messy relationships, which I won’t go into. My Father had been in Borstal when he was 14 and prison, on and off, from 18 on. His big view on life was that I should follow in his footsteps. And I would have done. But we used to pass this Church with a large statue of a woman outside. When I was younger I had thrown brick ends at her, but she was made of more than plaster and I didn’t seem to do her much harm. I can’t remember why I walked in. It was dark. There were two things in it, a small light and a large crucifix. I don’t think I’d seen a crucifix before. I’d done brutal things occasionally, but I’d never really been hurt myself. But when I saw that cross it seemed as if it were happening to me. I didn’t know who or what he was, but I was vividly aware that he was there. I hadn’t cried since I was 4. For nearly three years, I cried for about an hour every day. I was away from home by then so it was easier. When I ‘got religion’ it really upset my stepmother. The Holy Spirit who, I’d never heard of, gradually healed me and simply started me off again. Sometimes I meet priests who mistake me for a good Catholic and who say things like, “What we need for more vocations is good Catholic families”. I always reply, “What we need is the Holy Spirit!”

Hosea 2:14-23 - get your Bible!

You know the story of the Prophet Hosea. God invites him to a prophetic act and asks him to live out the tragedy of betrayal. Hosea is invited to play the part of God who loves faithfully, who even cares for the loved one who betrays him for her lovers. The Lord loves the lost one (In the story it is the prophet’s unfaithful wife, Gomer - but this is not a story about gender!) The Lord speaks; he speaks with the breath of his mouth, the Holy Spirit. The Spirit invites the lost one to start again at the point where their love began, in a wilderness of homeless hunger and thirst, where there is no noise to silence the breath of the voice that speaks to the heart.

The loved one calls on the Lord’s name, and in that love a new covenant of peace is offered. The Lord says: “I will betroth you to myself forever, in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy, in faithfulness and in the knowledge of the Lord.’

Forever - sempiternum
We are not talking about a nine to five job or seventy is the sum of our years. We are talking about beyond time.

Eternity is a word we don’t understand; but we have known moments when we wanted time to stand still because what was happened seemed to wonderful to leave behind.

Righteousness - iustitia
If only I could get it right! This gift of the Spirit cannot be prized out of the skies. It is simply a given. Ask for the disorder in your life to be put right for you. It works.

Justice - iudicio
We can’t live without justice, in Latin iudicio - right judgement - and we are not asked to. Justice is not the opposite of mercy or charity, as if God said, “In strict justice you should be shot at dawn, but I’ll be lenient just this once.” Justice is a perfect equality of rights between people. We are taken into the Spirit, together in love, in the mystery of the blood of Christ who has made us one as the children of the Father, because that is what we are.

Steadfast Love - misericordia
In the Hebrew this is ‘hesed’ - a word that has no equivalent; the latin misericordia gives it a different spin - it means mercy of the heart. Hesed is a whole story. Hesed is the brother of the one-time thief who goes to jail on his siblings behalf. Hesed is the stepdaughter who nurses her father’s second wife, paralysed after a car crash, though the woman constantly lies to the girl’s father about her behaviour. Hesed is what Hosea does for Gomer; it is the love that drives a man to forgive the wife who betrayed him. This is God’s love.

Mercy - miserationibus.
If steadfast love is love in action, miserationibus is love in contemplation; it is compassion a sharing in the depth of the heart - of God’s heart. A great twentieth century theologian - a friend and teacher of our Father Benedict XVI - Romano Guardini, said simply, “The Holy Spirit is the heart of Christ.”

Faithfulness - fide
“We may not be faithful - but God is always faithful.” Jesus is faithful to us. There is a story of the Brothers Grimm. It is about a servant who is destined to defend his master from evil but may not justify his actions. Eventually he is forced to do so and is turned to stone. The Lord is our faithful servant. He came amongst us as one who serves. He has chosen to ask for our trust in his goodness. This is the lot of humanity from day one. We are still living in a garden with a tree (It takes an endless variety of shapes and forms). We are asked to trust in God’s goodness when we are told that the tree will do us no good. And we are asked not to eat of it. There is just one prohibited tree in a huge orchard of delight; as there are just ten commandments - so few things are actually forbidden and so many good things have been laid faithfully at our feet. Make a list of the good things you have.

The Knowledge of the Lord - cognosces Dominum
Like the rest, this is a gift of the Spirit. A hidden, secret gift by which one is invited to be betrothed in love. It is not intellectual, it does not require a DVD of the Biblical Dictionary of Theology. When scripture says Adam knew his wife, it is talking about intimacy, not intellect. God invites us into his love - which is his Spirit. He invites us into his body which is the Church. He invites us to receive him in our bodies in the Eucharist. He invites us to hunger and thirst for his love that he may feed us. And learning love by loving we will, some of us, come to long to know a little of his mind - and he will teach us in his Word and in the Church.

 

Let us pray
Father of all good gifts,
you send the Spirit of your love
into our hearts to teach us to pray.
you offer us your eternity in exchange for our time,
your righteousness in exchange for our wreckage,
your justice in exchange for our oppression,
your steadfast love in exchange for our uncertain fears,
your mercy and compassion in exchange for our self destructiveness,
your faithfulness in exchange for our unfaithfulness,
and tender knowledge of you in place of our ignorant selling of ourselves.
We say, yes Lord.
We make this covenant with you,
through Christ, our Lord.
Amen.

Day Two
The Spirit is our prayer

Witness
I did not know who God was. There was nil religious input at home. There was no way of dealing with death or pain. I tried to take my life for the first time when I was nine years old. I survived that and other attempts by a series of miracles. At twelve years old I sat by the window of my bedroom, trying to read by the light of the moon. Lonely, frightened, especially of my parents, I took the book some relative had given when I was baptised, (I did not know what baptism was) I had heard that it was a good book. I read: “Weeping may last for a night but joy comes with dawn” Psalm 30. That was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. It literally saved me and led me on a journey to the Catholic Church – and to Franciscan religious life.

Romans 8:26-27 - get your Bible and read it.

These two verses in Romans 8 stand out with wonderful clarity. They say, simply, we are weak and the Spirit helps us.

We don’t know how to pray and the Spirit prays on our behalf in a love that does not need words. The Father looks into our hearts (for only God can ‘search the hearts of men’). There he sees his own love implanted, his own Spirit dwelling. And that Spirit of love intercedes, prays for us, translates the words we can’t say into the language the Father understands. The Spirit goes further.

Now read all of Romans 8 - and pray it

Let us pray
Father,
hear the prayer the Spirit makes in our hearts.
We love you.
Work for good in us;
call us according to your plan.
You knew us before we were born;
you made us in the image of you Son
so that we could call him our brother;
you have made us alive.
Lead us into glory,
You who live and reign for ever and ever.
Amen

Day Three
I am in you, if.....

Witness
It is the Holy Spirit who has awakened me at the age of 16 to a deeper understanding and experience of the love of God.
I was a good Catholic girl, loved my faith and thought I understood it then, but when people were talking about the love of God I felt really uneasy, because I did not really know this love, I had never experienced it.
One night, during a Christian youth camp, I became very angry as I was listening to someone's testimony telling us about the love of Jesus. I went out in the night, in a field, and started to shout to God angrily, telling him that if he did love me so, why should he leave it to others to tell me about this extraordinary love - why couldn't he tell it to me himself?
I put my whole faith at stake on a possible answer, and determined in my heart that if he did not answer, I would stop believing - or simply bothering - about him. The thought that this might happen already left me with a deep deep void inside, a bleak prospect. Of course, I did not hear a big voice coming from the sky. Someone came, who was concerned about me, and she just prayed for me - I let her do it, though I was very angry and upset, for the sake of getting it over and done with. She prayed that the Holy Spirit would come in my heart and my life. Nothing happened after that, and I went to bed still in tears and exhausted.
In the morning, I woke up different. I think the Holy Spirit did come and renewed and deepened in me the gift of faith that I wanted so - faith in the love of God. Whereas in the evening I had decided not to believe in this incredible love, in the morning, there was nothing I was more certain of. It was completely supernatural. I opened my bible, and everything became so clear, so sure and so certain about God, his Son Jesus Christ, and his love that is beyond telling.
From that moment my faith deepened and I grew more and more in love with God. It was then my turn to drive people crazy by telling them about the love of God. This adventure led me to become a religious, consecrated to God in the order of St Dominic - who talked only with God or about God.


John 14:15-16
The Lord says, ”If you love me you will keep my commandments.” He does not say: Here are the ten commandments: morality is good for you. He speaks of love. He has already told us in the first thirteen chapters of John that he loves us. Now he says, If: If you love me. - Yes Lord. You know that I love you - you will not find the commandments a problem because the love we have for each other will make integrity not merely possible, but easy. How could you love me and worship the idols of success, power and money? How could you love me and drag my name in the mud? How could you love me and not want to spend time with me? How could you love me and not want to respect the family I have given you, weak and human as they are? How could you love me and then involve yourself in killing and lying to people, tie yourself up in destructive relationships with people whom you know I love deeply? How can you love me and be everlastingly hankering after things and people that are simply not for you?

You can’t.

Love me - and do what you will. Because I have made it possible for you to do this I have asked your Father to give you another counsellor; the Holy Spirit of Truth.

The Spirit lived with the people of the Old Testament; he still lives with those who do not see him or know him. But for you who are made one with me in Baptism, the Spirit does nor live with you, he lives in you. This is why Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. The Spirit has always been hovering over the waters, but now he has descended on you and remains in you.

In tongues of fire
The Spirit’s tongue speaks in you. His fire warms you, gives you light and burns away your dross. You live inside me, and I live inside my Father. Because of my Spirit, when you speak and act, people can hear and see me. This is love. This is passion.

Let us pray
Father,
we are in your Son,
and he is in you.
We have come from the east and west
to sit at your table,
in your kingdom that begins now
in your Spirit.
Amen.


Day four
The Seven Gifts

Isaiah 11:1-3 (4-5)

Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, pietas and fear of the Lord.

Witness:
My family is Catholic and I am from Sardinia. When I was a child, I knew Jesus as a friend. But my dream was to marry and have children, and at University I met a boy whom I began to love and who would become my boyfriend. We had a relationship that lasted for 5 years and we were very, very happy together. I thought that my way was to marry. I was very in love with him and he loved me. It was a fantastic time of my life.

When I was 20, I began to go to Mass every days. But I found it hard to pray and to stay in silence. On one occasion, I attended a wedding, and I encountered people who did not pray at the Mass: I was very sad and I felt the wish to pray to God for the world that had forgotten him. But it was only a passing thought. One time, some people told me about a girl who had left her boyfriend to go into a monastery, the story touched me deeply. I felt there was a bigger love, that hugged God and all people, which was more free. But my life was with my boyfriend.

At the September of the 1998, I received an email from a Dominican monastery: they wrote to lots of addresses which they did not know (spamming!!) I looked for their website, and I was fascinated.

I came here to the monastery, and it was a crisis in my life; I went back home, but I had the monastery in my heart! The prayer, the intimate contact with God, the fraternity between nuns, the family air: all these things remained with me. I missed the monastery!

Once, when I was staying here as a guest, in the silence of the night, in my cell, I was looking the Crucifix in front of me: I felt his love was crazy, and I wanted to be crazy with love, like him! But I had boyfriend! It was difficult and painful for both of us. My boyfriend suffered a lot, but he said that he wanted only my happiness! Through him I learnt to love, I learnt tenderness, and the greatness of little things. I had learned to find God in all my days: in my studies, in the times I was with my boyfriend, in having tea with my mother, in sharing with friends, in swimming - which was for me like prayer. I learned to take delight in all things and praise God; but now I understood that though all this was beautiful, He was Beauty! He was the crazy love of my life!

Two years and a half years later when I graduated in 2001, I chose to enter my contemplative Dominican Monastery. My parents were against my choice, but I had strength enough to leave my family! And I used to be so timid! But God changed my heart! I had a new love and strength, that was not mine! My former boyfriend accompanied me to the airport. And from then on, we exchanged our love for a deeper friendship. God is Great!


In Hebrew, Spirit and breath are interchangeable. The Spirit is the breath of the Father as he speaks the Word.

In describing the coming Messiah, the prophet Isaiah (Is.10:33-34) invites us to see the Lord of Hosts fell the great trees of Lebanon and from the tree stump of the House of King David a branch shall grow, and on this branch the Father shall breathe his Spirit. The Church, interpreting the passage, defines the Spirit by the Spirit’s gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, pietas and the awe of the Lord.

We ask for these gifts to come alive for us in the Church.

Wisdom: I ask the Spirit, who dwells in me, for the power of discernment to choose rightly.

Understanding: About one third of my mistakes come about because I don’t fully understand the issues. Give me your view Lord. You gave me into the care of an angel who has this gift of your Spirit in its completeness. When my angel chooses something, he knows all about it. I ask you to permit my angel to help me and teach me discernment.

Counsel: The gifts of wisdom and understanding, if I cooperate with them, help me to help others. If somebody comes to me for help, teach me, Lord, to listen - really listen. And before I open my mouth I shall pray, “Come, Holy spirit, teach me what to say,” and I shall wait on your answer.

Fortitude: This is the thing I haven’t got much of. I can have the rash sort of bravery to rush in and try playing the hero - perhaps. I can be dared into doing something that looks like courage. But the ability to set my face like flint and go in and take a beating because I am taking a stand for justice or trying to protect the innocent, or simply refusing to accept the safe and popular lie, that’s different. That’s fortitude. Lord, If there is no other honourable way out, give me fortitude. Even if it’s the last thing I have the courage to want!

Knowledge: Wisdom and understanding relate to choosing. They are gifts. Knowledge is the result of trying to find out. I may not be 93 and have acquired these things by the process of time. I’ve tried to take things in and to find things out, but I don’t know everything there is to know.

Lord, give me this knowledge which is especially the knowledge of your pierced heart, the knowledge of what’s in my own heart and the knowledge of what others really need, simply by the grace of your Spirit. I promise to cooperate.

Pietas: Nobody quite likes to be thought as pious. The last Walking Rosary I met was a bit disconcerting. But Pietas is different. It is a very deep gift, Lord, and if you give it to me my life will change! Pietas is a very profound attitude, and attitude of love and service that shows itself in a deep respect for the dignity and holiness of the other, even of those who have destroyed their own humanness by the most evil choices. It is a respect for God in all things. You cannot wish it on yourself, but you can ask for it.

The fear of the Lord - Awe: The Lord loves laughter; he made it. He can take a joke (after all, he invented the Wombat, not to mention the DBPlatypus). But flippancy, at the expense of a God who could crush you like a fly with a minute fraction of his thought, is ..... unwise. God may have put on our flesh, but when he asked those who came to arrest him who they were looking for, they all took a sharp step back.

That is the negative side of awe. The positive side of awe is the biggest thing that will ever happen to you. If you ask for this gift (it is rarely bestowed without being asked for because it has consequences) it will change your life. You will discover what it is to be swept off your feet by love. Archbishop Deskur (according to Cardinal Comastri’s reminiscences of J.P.II) had the floor of his private chapel boarded with wood because JP, then Archbishop of Krakow, when he came to stay, habitually spent hours prostrate full length on the floor in front of the tabernacle. You will find out why St Paul says that human marriage is an image of the Church and not the other way round. You will find out why quite a lot of hardheaded, professionally competent saints, who fed the hungry and healed the sick, spent their nights weeping in prayer and singing in tongues. But a gift is a gift - it’s up to you.

Day Five

New Creation

Genesis 1:1 - 2:3    

The first verse of the Bible is: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit - breath - of God was moving over the waters.

Witness
The Holy Spirit? I didn’t really like him. Don’t even now, much. I find him a bit scary - always telling me things I don’t want to know.
But when I said, ‘The Father and the Son I know - a little, love a little: but you? I do not know you,” in the night a voice answered, ‘But You do. You do. You do. You hear the blackbird singing on the wall. You see the Dachshund bouncing on her four short legs, her ears flying. You know the moon, a gold-white ball in the evening sky. You know me but you do not recognize me.”

The third last verse of the Bible is, “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come”. And let him who hears say, “Come”. And let him who is thirsty come and drink of the water of life without price.

The Spirit speaks in creation and the Spirit speaks in the Bride the Church

Let us pray
Lord
Open our eyes, our ears and our hearts
to recognize that you are the Spirit of Life and Truth.
You who live and reign forever.
Amen.

Day 6
Rivers of Living Water

John7:37 -38

Witness
I am a priest. My life is divided between the service of the altar and caring for the poor, the sick and the elderly. In Latin the word for Spirit is masculine, in Greek it is neuter, in Hebrew it is Feminine - this, I think leaves us free. When I was ordained I wanted, very much, to love God and to give myself, my life and my manhood to the Lord. Later I found it defined for me by St Francis who said of the Trinity that we are sons of the Father, brothers of the Son and spouses of the Holy Spirit. I have begun to understand love more deeply especially when I invite the Spirit to come and make the Son present in the Eucharistic prayer. When I hold the chalice I am conscious of the Spirit hovering over the surface of the waters of creation; it is the cup I share with my loved one.


On the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, that is on the day of Pentecost, of the year before his death and Resurrection and the giving of the Spirit on the next Pentecost, Jesus, said, “If anyone is humble, let him come to me and let him whom believes in me drink, for scripture says, ‘out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water’”.
He said this of the Spirit that was not yet given, for Jesus was not yet glorified.

In Saint John’s Gospel, when Jesus speaks of glory, he is not talking of heaven, but of his passion. When he says, “Father glorify me with the glory that I had with you before the world began”, he is talking, firstly about what will happen during the crucifixion. He will breathe forth his Spirit and from his open heart blood and water will flow into the sacraments of the church that the Spirit’s action will make present.
The Spirit is the life and love of Jesus. Its home is in his heart. The open heart of God is the dwelling place of the Spirit; the Spirit is there to be drunk, in the sacraments, literally in the reception of the chalice, at the celebration of the Eucharist.
There is a threefold giving of the Spirit in the gospels.
Jesus is glorified on the Cross, when he breathes on the apostles and when the Spirit comes to dwell in the heart of the faithful, the church is born at Pentecost.

Let us pray
Father you love your Son so deeply that the love between you is a reality,
it is a person in your Trinity, who is all love.
Send your Spirit into our hearts
and make us a kingdom of priests to our God
to offer spiritual sacrifices of love
through Christ our eternal high priest.
Amen

Day Seven
The Spirit; our forgiveness

John 20:19

Witness
I have been living out Religious life for the past 9 years and several things have become clear to me. The one I would like to highlight here is that He has shown me that I always need the Holy Spirit. There is never a time in which I do not need the inspirations and light which the Spirit gives to those who ask for it.

Many times I have gone astray and have followed a path to a dead end, but I have always come back due to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. When is there ever a time in which we can point to ourselves and say that we have inspired ourselves to holiness? There is never a time in which we are the source of good, or a source of good to others. Only the Holy Spirit is that source of Good and is that source of good to others.

God is the only one that is good and the Holy Spirit showers down upon us everything that is for our benefit and the benefit of others. Let us always strive to be open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit and to help others be open to those gifts as well, by out prayers and sacrifices and by our obedience to what God asks of us in our respective states of life.


On the evening of the first day of the week God re-created the world.
Where at creation he had said, “Let there be light!”, Jesus now says: Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me so I send you out, like light into the darkness. Receive my breath of life in the power to speak forgiveness and to drive away the darkness.

The power of sacramental absolution rests in the ministerial priesthood; it is part of the power of the keys given to Peter. Yet it is true of all of us in the church, through the priesthood of all the faithful.

The Lord tells us our forgiveness is dependent on our forgiving others, we are asked to forgive our fellow servants and if we don’t he will hand us over to the jailers (Mt 18:35). “So my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from the heart.”

Let us pray
Lord, you have forgiven us
may your Spirit plant your mercy and trust into our hearts
so that we can forgive those who sin against us
and ask forgiveness of those whom we have sinned against.
We ask this through Christ our Lord
Amen.

Day Eight
As the tree bears fruit

Galatians 5:22

Witness
I went to a Charismatic prayer meeting once and a rather over-enthusiastic neighbour tried to ‘slay me in the Spirit’ by physically pushing me backward with her hand on my forehead. I was rather suspicious of the Holy Spirit after that and not certain it was the genuine article! Later I went on a parish retreat, my father and my mother had recently died and I was a rather withdrawn unhappy nineteen year old. The priest offered to pray over me. I wasn’t to keen, but could not be bothered to argue. As he put his hands on my head I felt the Spirit surge through me. If filled me with physical and spiritual energy and they could not shut me up!

The Spirit came into me in Baptism, I accepted the Spirit, and I confirmed my reception of that gift in Confirmation. Now I let the Spirit grow in me. Because of the Spirit I live in Jesus, in him I live and move and have my being.

The Lord will make my life a tree that will bear fruit. The list of the fruits of the Spirit (which most of us know half by heart) comes easy, too easy; try asking yourself if you would prefer the opposite?

Indifference - or love
Weariness – or joy
Restless anger - or peace
Impatience – or patience
Cruelty – or kindness
Senselessness – or goodness
Unreliability – or faithfulness
Harshness – or gentleness
Up for grabs – or self-control

The left hand list is what in varying degrees and at different times we all have. The right hand list is what we would all soberly prefer - at least in our best friends.

Let us pray
Lord let your Spirit come to flower in our lives,
so that we can bear fruit that will last
through Christ Our Lord.
Amen.

Day Nine
Pentecost

Acts 1:12-14 - 2:1-43

The day of Pentecost, the harvest festival is here.

Witness (using his name with grateful thanks)
We know perfectly well that if the Holy Spirit comes, he cannot leave everything in our existence as he finds it. He could even make us do "strange" things that we are not ready to accept. He has never left those upon whom he has come sitting idle. Whoever the Holy Spirit touches, the Holy Spirit changes! Thus, our prayer for having the Spirit sometimes resembles the prayer Augustine addressed to God before his conversion: "Grant me chastity and self-control, but please not yet." We are tempted to say, "Come, Holy Spirit, come . . . , but not right now and especially not if it is going to involve me in strangeness and singularity! Isn't God order, decorum composure and equilibrium?” If the apostles could have chosen and decided for themselves the way the Spirit, after a little while, should have manifested himself, they would never, ever have chosen to begin to speak in unknown tongues, exposing themselves to the ridicule of the people who said "They have had too much new wine" (Acts 2:13). And yet it was in this way that what happened, happened. Therefore, in the first place let us ask the Holy Spirit to take away our fear of him. Let us say, "Come, come, Holy Spirit! Come now, come as you wish. Bend, warm, cure, water, burn, renew.".......

Raniero Cantalamessa OFM Cap

1. We have gathered with Mary in prayer.
2. We are all together in one place.
3. We experience being filled.
4. We begin to speak about God in a way people can really understand
5. People who hear us are cut to the heart; they want to know what to do.
6. The message is, repent, be baptised, turn from what is dead in your life and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
7. Devote yourselves to the Word of God, to communion and community, to the breaking of bread in the Eucharist and to prayer.

Nothing has changed in the agenda this is the life of the Church.

Witness (our Father Benedict XVI)
I invite you to observe how the Holy Spirit is the highest gift of God to humankind, and therefore the supreme testimony of his love for us, a love that is specifically expressed as the “yes to life” that God wills for each of his creatures. This “yes to life” finds its fullness in Jesus of Nazareth and in his victory over evil by means of the redemption. In this regard, let us never forget that the Gospel of Jesus, precisely because of the Spirit, cannot be reduced to a mere statement of fact, for it is intended to be “good news for the poor, release for captives, sight for the blind ...”. With what great vitality this was seen on the day of Pentecost, as it became the grace and the task of the Church towards the world, her primary mission!
Message for WYD 2008


Let us Pray

Father of light, from whom every good gift comes.
send your Spirit into our lives
with the power of a mighty wind,
and by the flame of your wisdom
open the horizons of our minds.
Loosen our tongues to sing your praise
in words beyond the power of speech,
for without your Spirit
man could never raise his voice in words of peace
or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen

From the Liturgy of the Hours for Pentecost