Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Entwined in love

The Lourdes Novena in our Priory, Tallaght, was conducted by the Parish Priest, Fr.Dermot Brennan, OP. Fr. Dermot has given many splendid years of his ministry to the care of the sick and the dying, and this was vividly illustrated by the many moving stories he told during the Novena. One of these I wish to recount, though if you want to hear more, you may just have to look out for the next time he is conducting the Novena. See him at work, in front of his computer

The story as I recall it runs: ( for reasons of privacy, I am changing the names and other details)

John was in the Hospice badly deformed and in continual pain. It was not easy to look at him or speak to him. However, there was this lady, Margaret, who had been his teacher and trainer in the Hospice, and she made it her business to visit him every day. She would just make eye contact and speak gently and hope that he could understand.

Very often, all that would happen is that she would stretch out her hand on the bed towards the patient. She would spend long hours with him-- just being there. "But one day." said Fr.Dermot, "I slipped in and notice that their two hands and arms were entwined, which indeed seemed an almost impossible situation, as John's arm was twisted and deformed.

Something deep within me, made me think-- these two are in love!" And so things turned out to be, though no one else had noticed.

The staff and the family were brought together and all wondered at the marvel of human love and devotion that had developed in that Hospice room. When the death notice appeared in the papers, the obituary mentioned Margaret and referred to her as John's fiance.

As the preacher and gifted story-teller was coming to last lines of his tale, I can't deny that I had to wipe a tear away.

Love, human and divine is a blessing. But as Fr.Dermot himself added, "and how easily we might have missed the wonder of it all. Watch out today and in your own situation for the hidden glory that may be be around and beside you."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Celibates-Living Signs

Celibates are sign-posts, but they must be living signs. They must not be wooden signs pointing to the kingdom, but not going in themselves. We, who are led to love must lead to love.There is no other path for us. We can show no other path to others.

Those who seek Jesus as the Reconciler will place all their trust in him. He understands their particular human needs and will alleviate them through each other according to their trust in him. Sincere souls will come to understand the magnanimity of Christ and be wounded and touched by his tender compassion. They will find their needs understood in ways that are extraordinary. You will find your flesh in your spirit,if your spirit is in God. Under the guidance of the Divine Humanity, you will find fulfilment. 

Place Jesus in majesty at the deepest level of human longing and he will lead you into the kingdom. If the Word made flesh dwells in you, and that means human cooperation, you will be a companion of Jesus and you will have the courage to love. You will never do anything but what you do before his face. His command is to love before his face. Do not be negative in loving. Delight God in love and he will give you a land flowing with milk and honey, no longer barren and dry, but resplendent with life.

A Call to chastity- a Call to Love

The following are words that came to a certain lady as she waited on the Lord one day. I have embodied them and made them my own in the book, A Celibate way of Loving, published by Columba Press, Co. Dublin.

"The enjoyment of natural love is from me. Those who seek to love beyond, without or far from me, may for a time enjoy a purely physical sensation, which when shriven of its initial attraction leaves emptiness and bitterness, leaving the souls far from me. If I am sought through human loving. If I am understood and accepted as the author, giver and source of love, then my support, my tenderness and my power will give to those who love, an understanding of the true meaning of love and of human life.

I will divinise natural love between persons who seek to love through my Divine Humanity. Celibates depending on my Divine Humanity will receive support whereby they may love humanly while remaining faithful to me. They will find freedom to show great affection. Trust in me, will carry them through difficulties. By loving each other while placing all their trust in me, the love and gratitude of their hearts for me will be deepened. I will enter into your flesh and chasten it and make it sweet to love. Love without expression, if expression can help or heal another, is sterile. I have called you to love, and thus to love each other. If you do not first find me, you will be unable to love. I will be in your loving and you will find it sweet to love. Know me as the Divine Humanity.

Along the secret stair

On a dark night
When Love burned bright
Consuming all my care,
While my house slept,
Unseen, I crept
Along the secret stair.

So wrote St. John of the Cross (left) as he escaped from the dungeon where he had been imprisoned at Toledo. One can see the diminutive figure of the heroic friar, as he crept along the secret dark passages in his escape to the devoted Discalced nuns of St Teresa of Avila.

During the long lonely nights of enforced darkness and desolation, when human love had forsaken him, the great bright light of Divine Love burned brightly within him. With the little loves of this world asleep in the house of his being, his eager heart led him on to where none but the Lover of his soul awaited him.

A guide as bright
As noonday light,
Which brought me where none but he
Could wait for me
And make his presence felt.

While few of us can rise to the heights of divine love as expressed in these verses of St.John of the Cross, we can all creep along the secret stair the Lord reveals to each one of us. For myself, the sacred steps of the rosary have been that stairway.

From the basic steps of the Lord's  Prayer along the pathways of the Hail Marys and through the caverns of the blessed mysteries, I have found stillness and security, holding on to the life-line of my Rosary-beads. What is your life-line? Pray that you may find your secret stair?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Prayer for Divine Love

O! Most Holy Trinity grant your holy wisdom
to men and women, celibate and married,
that they may seek to love
through the Divine Humanity of Jesus.

Through the burning love of his Heart,
through his sacred wounds,
pour light into our souls so that all may understand
that lasting love and its true enjoyment
is only possible through Jesus, the Reconciler.

Mary, Immaculate, Queen of the Universe,
Mother of God, be with us in our love.

O Divine Humanity, I crave
for the Church and for the world
and understanding of thy unique, beautiful
and all satisfying love.
O heal the wounds of sin carried
by your children for so long.

O rhythm of Divine Love,
pulsate through all creation,
so that we may reach that fulness of love
for which you minutely designed us.

O good God, let us enjoy you and each other
in the harmony of your love.
Pulsating love of our Trinitarian God,
Sweep mightily through your expectantcreation.
Cf. Romans 8,22

The above prayer is taken from my book:
A Celibate Way of Loving,

published by The Columba Press
55A Spruce Ave.
Stillorgan Industrial Park,
Blackrock, Co. Dublin

Monday, February 2, 2009

The splendour of silence

There is an spirit of stillness and silence about this picture by Fra Angelico. The artist shows Christ being mocked and crowned with thorns. He is blindfolded, but in the silence he sees and hears all. Mary sits beneath,-- pondering these things in her heart. On the other side is St. Dominic with the Gospel on his knees, as he keeps Our Lady company, meditating on the mystery. I have already described the Rosary as so many stepping stones to silence.

Aldous Huxley remarked that the 20th century was the Age of Noise: He spoke of radio nothing as a medium through which din can flow into our homes. What might he have thought of the tyranny of the Box in the corner of the living room?

John Connell founder of the UK Noise Abatement Society noted, "noise is the forgotten pollutant in our society," Given the important relationship between silence and the ability to think, it is no wonder we live in a more thoughtless society. These days a hospital ward with its hustle and bustle, is no more immune to the scourge of noise than a panel- beater's workshop. So writes George Winterfrom whom I have been borrowed some of these lines.

George Winter continues: "It is worth reiterating what has been known for some time: Noise can induce hearing loss, delay healing, impair immune function, raise blood pressure, and increase stress.

At our JOHN MAIN meditation group in the Dominican Priory, Tallaght, one of our speakers read from George Winter's article and went on to speak of discovering the wonder of our own being, and the delight we experience, as we listen to the inner rhythm that issues from silence and stillness. We become like the infant resting on its mother's breast as mentioned in Psalm 131: I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a child at its mother’s breast; like ac child that is quieted is my soul.

Observe the active tone of those verbs—stilled and quieted. It is not a matter of things just happening by some fortunate chance. The author of the Psalm has taken definite steps to ensure that stillness and silence work their way into the mind and heart and soul. Silence is not the simple negation of noise. It is a dynamic and positive drive that lets life flourish and become a blessing to all around. How often we find healing in the haven of stillness that emanates from a person of peaceful silence. Lord make me an instrument of your peace.