2018

9 DAYS TO PENTECOST

DAY ONE

WE ARE WAITING IN HOPE 

If Pentecost is the ‘birthday’ of the Church then perhaps we can call this novena  a ‘pregnancy’ not of 9 months but just 9 days.

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Pregnancy is a time for being carried, for hopefully receiving what you need to survive and a forming of closeness in the first relationship. Pregnancy is also a time of waiting and growth.

So our ‘spiritual’ pregnancy begins, our souls carried in the ‘womb’ of the Trinity, we wait to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit which will strengthen the bond of our knowing and intimacy with God.

When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.  (Acts 2:1-4)  

FOR THE DAY OF BIRTH

 

DAILY PRAYER

Lord, I give you all the space in my heart, in my life, in my future, so that you can give me your gifts.

Help me to empty myself each day, each hour, so that there can be more of your Spirit, in my life.

Thank you.

 

DAY TWO

I CAN DO ANYTHING!

We sometimes need courage to take the path that God has marked out for us. We can have a great desire to do good but we still need fortitude to carry it out.

Life can sometimes be a bit like one of those challenging army assault courses. We can get stuck in the mud, we can approach an obstacle in the wrong way and make a mess of it, or we can simply run out of strength.

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St Paul says in the letter to the Philippians that he can do anything.

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:13).

 

And just in case you’ve missed out on his story he summarises his army assault course experiences in the letter to the Corinthians.

I’ve worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death’s door time after time. I’ve been flogged five times with the Jews’ thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I’ve been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I’ve had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I’ve been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I’ve known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather. 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.

I hope you’ve never been shipwrecked or betrayed by your friends.

Perhaps our desire to help our neighbour got shipwrecked because we wanted to put our feet up instead? Or maybe our desire to live in truth was betrayed by a little white lie because we didn’t want to look stupid?

The gift of fortitude helps us to be strong in the Lord. Lets ask the Lord to help us walk the straight path into his heart.

IN THE LORD IS MY CONFIDENCE AND PEACE

 

DAILY PRAYER

Lord, I give you all the space in my heart, in my life, in my future, so that you can give me your gifts.

Help me to empty myself each day, each hour, so that there can be more of your Spirit, in my life.

Thank you.

 

DAY THREE

LIVING LIVES TO THE FULL

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St Francis was one of life’s high fliers, he was aiming for the greatest glory and young man could wish for in his time, he wanted to be a big brave knight. Suddenly ‘thwack’ he threw it all up and took up with Lady Poverty, he had fallen in love. God had showed him the vanity and emptiness of earthly things. He fell in love with his Lady because she led him to God.

 

St Francis received the gift of knowledge. It helps us to see what is empty and vain in our lives and what is of God.

The gift of knowledge helps us to see that it’s better to have a friend who is there to listen to you when you’re having a crisis and who is genuinely concerned about you - than having 2k followers on facebook who don’t really know you at all.

The gift of knowledge reveals intuitively to us the meaning of the different events of our lives.God has a plan for each one of us, just as he had for St Francis.

The gift of knowledge helps us to see what that plan is, each day and to trust in that plan. 

COME HOLY SPIRIT

 

DAILY PRAYER

Lord, I give you all the space in my heart, in my life, in my future, so that you can give me your gifts.

Help me to empty myself each day, each hour, so that there can be more of your Spirit, in my life.

Thank you.

 

 

DAY FOUR

DIDN’T WE FEEL OUR HEARTS BURNING

After living with someone, a spouse, a sibling or in our case a sister in the community, for 20 years plus, we are perhaps tempted to say we know all there is to know about this person.

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But in my experience we can still be very surprised!!!! 

In the relationships we value we never stop seeking to understand them, including God.

We can read the same scripture passages over and over again. Most of us would consider the parable of the Good Samaritan like an old friend that we know so well.

And yet suddenly we see something new that we’ve not seen before - it strikes a chord within us. Like the disciples on the way to Emmaus we feel our hearts burning within us. Perhaps because it speaks to us in the place we are at in this present moment.

When the Holy Spirit gives us this understanding He gives us a little of God Himself, we become more united with Him in love.We will always be limited in our understanding of the truths of the faith. We can only talk about the Trinity using earthly language - and however we describe the Trinity we are always left feeling that our description is a bit inadequate - we need heavenly language to do the job properly!! Yet we understand very clearly, I think, that the Trinity and therefore God has a unity beyond anything we experience on earth, and that this unity is love.

The gift of understanding is one of the gifts of contemplation. The more we ‘listen’ to scripture, to the priest’s homily, to our own spiritual reading, alongside what is happening in our own personal life and in the world around us, the more we come to trust in God, and in his justice mercy and love.

WITH HIS LOVE AND MERCY?

 

DAILY PRAYER

Lord, I give you all the space in my heart, in my life, in my future, so that you can give me your gifts.

Help me to empty myself each day, each hour, so that there can be more of your Spirit, in my life.

Thank you.

 

DAY FIVE

SACRED FEAR

If we truly love someone we will go out of our way to make them happy and we love to be with them as much as possible.

The gift of the fear of the Lord helps us to keep close to God and to be pleasing to him. 

 

Sin is anything which separates us from the loving embrace of God. 

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Sometimes we find it quite easy to avoid temptation to sin. We can be astonished occasionally by how patient we may be in a difficult situation which on another day would have caused us to lose our temper for instance. 

Perhaps we had been showered with the gift of the fear of the Lord.

The holier we became the more we develop a dislike for sin. The stories of many saints show us that they lose sleep over the tiniest of sins. If only we could be as good as them!

John the Simple was so determined not to fall into temptation that he followed St Francis around and imitated him, even to the point of sneezing if he sneezed.

The fear of the Lord brings about in us a reverence for all that is sacred. It brings to mind St Francis who constantly preached to his brothers about the respect they should offer the priest because he had held the Holy Eucharist in his hands at the altar.

St Paul in his Letter to the Colossians tells us to set our minds on things that are above. 

SACRED LOVE

 

DAILY PRAYER

Lord, I give you all the space in my heart, in my life, in my future, so that you can give me your gifts.

Help me to empty myself each day, each hour, so that there can be more of your Spirit, in my life.

Thank you.

 

DAY SIX

DIVINE COUNSEL

We very fond of organising our own lives, choosing our own friends, making our own decisions

 

There’s a time for speaking and a time for listening. We’ve all been in that situation where someone takes the floor and doesn’t let anyone get in edgeways, oblivious of those around them. We’ve all been grateful to that person who spent time with us just quietly listening.

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There’s a time of sitting tight, to stay in the security of the same routine, there’s a time for change, for the courage to move on. We’ve all met someone who’s dithers; seemingly constantly discontent but not having the courage to move forward. We’ve all been perhaps envious of someone who’s had the courage to change direction in their lives to the good.

Without this gift of divine counsel we remain trapped in our own limited way of thinking, our own ambitions, our own way of doing things, maybe even our own prejudices.

This gift gives us the freedom to act with dignity and courage, confident that we are in God’s hands. 

At times the gift of counsel comes to us through others, sometimes God enlightens us to the right way to speak, behave or way to go. Its like looking into the divine mind of God to discover the proper thing to do or say.

Even the saints asked for counsel. St Francis couldn’t decide whether he should continue a life of preaching travelling to different places or whether he should take up a life of solitary prayer in a hermitage. Two such differing options. He didn’t just take the one he fancied! He asked St Clare and one of the brothers to pray. They came to the same conclusion - St Francis was to keep on walking, which he did! They helped bring light to Francis’ heart with the gift of counsel.

DIVINE CONFIDENCE

 

DAILY PRAYER

Lord, I give you all the space in my heart, in my life, in my future, so that you can give me your gifts.

Help me to empty myself each day, each hour, so that there can be more of your Spirit, in my life.

Thank you.

 

DAY SEVEN

SEEING THROUGH THE EYES OF GOD

 

We’ve already spent time thinking about the gifts of knowledge and understanding - there is a third gift related to the mind; the gift of wisdom.

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The gift of wisdom doesn’t pinpoint or focus on a particular event in our life, a particular relationship or a particular piece of scripture - it invites us to look through God’s eyes and from that vantage point see the whole perspective.

We see through the eyes of the Beloved, with the eyes of God, we see things in a divine and holy manner.

The gift of wisdom is closely related to charity because it stems from God who is all love and leads back to God who is all love.

The gift of wisdom draws us to become more Christ like.

St Francis was so imbued with this gift that it has often been said that of all the saints he was the most like Christ himself. 

Near the end of his life, as we know, Francis received the stigmata. His love for Christ had brought him to the point where he lived as Christ lived, and shared in his suffering. This was not a gift of cold, painful, excruciating suffering but a gift of intense divine love. They were the wounds of divine love that saved the world from death. 

St Francis desired to share in that suffering because of his love for Christ, because of the love he had received from Christ.

We are not all called to carry the wounds of Christ in our own bodies, but we are all called to be more Christ-like. What a great gift to receive just a little of the wisdom St Francis received, that we may understand and experience that transforming love that God has for us and to participate in that love.

EVERYTHING IS LOVE

 

DAILY PRAYER

Lord, I give you all the space in my heart, in my life, in my future, so that you can give me your gifts.

Help me to empty myself each day, each hour, so that there can be more of your Spirit, in my life.

Thank you.

 

DAY EIGHT

LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR PASSION AND PRAYER (Matthew 22:38)

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We belong to God, first and foremost, our relationship with God is the most important, it is the relationship which gives our lives meaning. 

 

The gift called piety helps us to nurture that incredible bond with God, He is our Father and we are his children. He is constantly drawing  us to him and inviting us to enter into communion.

It is with confidence in that communion that we come to God freely in love, that we enter into prayer and praise with a joyful spirit.  

It is with our confidence in that communion and love that we are able to love others with the love that we have already received from God. 

St Francis was given this gift of piety in superabundance when he found himself embracing a leper, Francis had, until this point, rigorously avoided lepers, he couldn’t bear to be near them. Oh, and what a gift: when he embraced the leper, not only did his fears dissolve, but he experienced a profound sweetness. He then understood he had an obligation to love all whom God had created even those of whom we may feel afraid or are repulsed by. 

St Francis could not have loved this leper as he did without loving God first. The gift of piety puts our relationships in right order and makes them a source of glory and honour to God.

Let us ask the Lord that everything we do today may be for his glory. Praise God by your life.

PRAISE GOD BY YOUR LIFE

 

DAILY PRAYER

Lord, I give you all the space in my heart, in my life, in my future, so that you can give me your gifts.

Help me to empty myself each day, each hour, so that there can be more of your Spirit, in my life.

Thank you.

 

DAY NINE

THIS IS FOR YOU!

We have journeyed through the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit accepting the invitation to ponder on what our soul needs to live a divine life to the full.

We are offered the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit at confirmation, but they can lie dormant within us if we fail to nurture them.

We need to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit never forces the gifts upon us, the Holy Spirit is a gentle Spirit who waits to be invited into our hearts and souls.

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The Holy Spirit penetrates every aspect of our being, our thoughts, our words, our actions, our decisions, our priorities…..

The Holy Spirit can transform us, giving us 

 

Certainty, Confidence, Joy, Peace, Security

Allowing us to become the loved child in the arms of an immensely awesome Father. 

The gift of the Spirit allows us to become powerful witnesses to this Love.

Pentecost is the ‘birthday’ of the Church and it’s our birthday. The Lord has given us 7 gifts to choose from. Which box would you like to open today?

Remember, inside this box is something precious that will change your life. You will never be the same again, when you unwrap your gift it may rise out of it’s packaging like a song of fragrance and light, or it may sock you on the jaw like a Jack-in-the-box! 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

 

 

DAILY PRAYER

Lord, I give you all the space in my heart, in my life, in my future, so that you can give me your gifts.

Help me to empty myself each day, each hour, so that there can be more of your Spirit, in my life.

Thank you.

 

MYSTERIES OF SURRENDER

INTO HIS HANDS (TRUST)

INTO HIS HEART (COMMUNION)

IN MANUS TUAS                

IN CORDE TUO

1. Matthew 19:21-22 The rich young man.

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.

Surrendering like every aspect of the Christian life is a journey. The rich young man turned up at what he thought was the finishing post with all his boxes ticked, done that, done that, that’s done. Great, says Jesus, now sell all you’ve worked for and give it to the poor. 

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There’s a subtle shift from being asked to live an honourable, comfortable life that everyone respects to doing something rather reckless!!!

 

He couldn’t continue the journey, he went back the way he had come. Did he even hear about the treasure in heaven?

Jesus’ journey to Calvary, to the tomb, through to the Resurrection was a journey of surrender. 

Surrendering can sometimes be a dying to the familiar, to what you’re happy with, to what you’re good at, even or comfortable with - in order to find the new.

We have to let go of the treasure of our own lives to find the treasure in our life with Jesus. 

 

INTO HIS HANDS (TRUST)

INTO HIS HEART (COMMUNION)

IN MANUS TUAS                 

IN CORDE TUO

2. Mark 12:43-44  The poor widow.

And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.”

Everything she had. Wow, now that is surrender.

 

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There’s a yearning perhaps to know what happened next. Was she rewarded for her generosity, did a rich widower meet her at the bottom of the street and whisk her off into a new life of wedded bliss or did she get home and find the neighbours had popped in with a week’s worth of food for the freezer? But wait, we’re missing the point.

Everything she had, all she had to live on, wow, now that is surrender, All she had left was God. She had all left. She was literally in God’s hands.

Let’s not be like that basketball spinning on top of the finger, showing off our worth, let’s be firmly grasped in His hands so that He can ‘shoot’ us into the ‘basket’ of his heart.

INTO HIS HANDS (TRUST)

INTO HIS HEART (COMMUNION)

IN MANUS TUAS                 

IN CORDE TUO

3. Matthew 18: 21-22 Forgiveness

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.

 

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It’s easier to forgive someone who has acknowledged their sin and is standing contritely and humbly before us asking for forgiveness. It satisfies, the unsettling revenge inside of us. It shows us that the person standing before us has done their bit of suffering too. The true surrender is getting to the point of forgiveness before that person turns up to apologise and instead of settling our inner revenge we find ourselves instead wanting to reach out to them.

It’s harder to forgive someone who not only doesn’t acknowledge their sin but as we experience it, regularly causes us pain or distress. Jesus understood this one only too well when he topped Peter’s generosity of 7 with 77. The true surrender is to chalk them up, not with an increasing sense of injustice or anger even, but with a share in the supreme generosity of Jesus. “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”

Choose to forgive. Choose to reach out and be generous. Choose to surrender.

INTO HIS HANDS (TRUST)

INTO HIS HEART (COMMUNION)

IN MANUS TUAS                

IN CORDE TUO

4. Mark 14:64-65 The condemnation of Jesus.

 

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You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

Mark describes the condemnation of the Sanhedrin and the mockery that follows. This is just the beginning of the painful journey to Calvary.

What is a more usual reaction to such injustice, being condemned for something you are not guilty of, being condemned for who you are and being physically abused. We might expect an attempt at defence, a lot of anger and noise, bewilderment and distress. But we are met with Jesus’ silence. This is not the paralysing silence of someone in the throes of terror or fear or the arrogant silence of a superior being. This is the silence of free surrender. This is the silence of the Beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased.

We too can experience, being misunderstood, our opinions and ideas not being valued, being ignored, being put down, being wrongly accused, not being accepted for who we are, being intimidated, being misjudged, being bullied - the list gets longer - maybe we even caused them to be so for others. 

These are all a condemnation of death, for the dignity of a person - of a beloved child of God. We can ‘suffer them in silence’. Yes, so long as our silence is not full of resentment. The silence of Jesus was a silence of peace and dignity.

Jesus was seeking not to conquer the Sanhedrin but the death that resulted from their actions. We can share in that victory over death if we truly understand our dignity as the beloved children of God.

INTO HIS HANDS (TRUST)

INTO HIS HEART (COMMUNION)

IN MANUS TUAS                 

IN CORDE TUO

5. John 13:8 Washing of the feet

Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.”
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This event in the life of Jesus touches at the core of the Christian life - Jesus washing the disciples feet immediately speaks of humility - the All powerful, mighty God choosing as man to carry out the action of a slave - washing away the dirt. That’s the physical dirt on the bottom of the disciples feet - but he also washes away the dirt in our souls as the suffering servant on the cross.

 

He tells Peter he can have no share in the life of the resurrection if he does not accept his role of service, of slave, of servant to humanity. Our God is a God of surrender. 

We share in that surrendering every time we help to wash away the dirt of sin in the lives of others by our example of humble service.

Let us surrender, let us serve. Let us surrender. Let us imitate him, so as to be like him.

INTO HIS HANDS (TRUST)

INTO HIS HEART (COMMUNION)

IN MANUS TUAS                 

IN CORDE TUO