Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

Rev 3-20Well, it’s been a little while and you can blame half-term and a newly decorated and furnished ‘Office’ [once known as the spare room] for the hiatus.   We got so much done during the break but once you start in one room the knock-on effect can be slightly daunting; one room looking lovely can often mean that three others look like a herd of terrified wilderbeast have just trampled through at speed.

Holiday time when everyone is off can mean that my spiritual life takes a bit of a back seat.  It’s harder to find those windows of silence and the head-space when all around you is busy and requires your attention.   A lovely online friend contacted me about a book I’d mentioned on Instagram and during that conversation she wrote the line, “I have come to realise, though that, for me, all roads lead back to God. It’s like He won’t let me stray too far and pulls me back in if He feels I’ve wandered too far and for too long.”  I know she won’t mind me quoting this here.  We were sharing and discussing our journeys in faith and all the different twists and turns that happen along the way.  The things you try that don’t ‘fit’ or sit well, and the things you try that are clearly from God.  The quote above really made me think and is referring to the constant draw that God has on your soul or spirit no matter how busy you get or how hard you try to ignore it.  I’ve been aware of it so many times.  It’s like someone nudging you gently to get your attention but it’s persistent to the point where it just cannot be ignored; one way or another you have to address it. 

When I’ve stepped away from my faith for whatever reason there is eventually a sense of loss after a few weeks, a sense of something or someone missing.  An emptiness.  I think if you firmly decided to say, ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to God then He’d step back but as it says in Revelation 3:20,  Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.   Notice it says IF you hear my voice AND OPEN the door.  It doesn’t say, I’ll let myself in and make myself at home whether you like it or not, God waits to be invited but boy, can He knock loud at times lol.  There is also a sense of equality to the line, I will eat with you and you with me.  No one is serving, both are eating.  It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up just reading that.

I really like the idea of God being just the other side of the door, like He’s standing guard just in case you need Him.  I find that really comforting.  He also doesn’t seem to care how many times we stray or doubt, He’s just glad when we choose to [re]turn to Him again.  Luke 15:3-7 tells us the parable of the lost sheep and the rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  Our God is the God of second chances, of fresh starts.  He never turns His back on us no matter how long we’ve been away or how many mistakes we’ve made.  Our lives are the eternal story of the Prodigal Son welcomed with open arms, again and again.  

Never be afraid to turn [back] to God.  He is there, waiting patiently and quietly, nudging you gently to let you know that He’s standing guard over your soul, covering your back and ready to hold you in his amazing embrace whenever you need Him.   I think that’s pretty cool personally. 

Hugs

Sharon xx

 


Read Full Post »

It’s a Tuesday morning.  School run done and car parked, I hurry up the path to my house.  Key in the door whilst shoving with one foot only to be met by a happy Honey Basset blocking my way in.   Whilst fussing her I’m hit by the lovely smell of fabric softener; clothes drying in the house, too cold outside today for anything to dry on the line.  I walk to the radio left on in the kitchen for the aforementioned Basset, and hit the Off button.  Silence! 

Coat off.  Washing-up away.  Load of washing in and set to wash, all in the space of about five minutes.  I have to be careful not to get engrossed in domestics or, before I know it, they’ve become a procrastination, a means of prevarication, a distraction.  I’ve been doing domestics since 5.45am this morning so everything else can and should wait because I need to pray. 

Matches in hand I head for the lounge to light my prayer candle which sits in my plain but beautiful St Beuno’s candle holder on my altar; I only have to look at it to be instantly transported back to that beautiful place.  I grab this month’s Magnificat and begin.  I stand in front of my altar to pray Morning [Lauds] prayer.  Evening prayer [Vespers] can happen anywhere, in my bedroom, in the car outside school, wherever the opportunity presents itself.  I pray Compline [Night prayer] in bed usually, if I can stay awake.  I am lucky that I have the time to devote to this practice at the moment.  Not working might mean less money but it has the huge benefit of being able to spend more time with God.  After praying I make myself a latte and settle down with this year’s edition of Sacred Space to study today’s gospel.  It’s a time to reflect, to talk to God and just be.  Listening.  Waiting.  [eta Sacred Space for 2019 is out now ~ click the link in the side bar >>>]

Now, in an ideal world every day would be just like today.  However, some days life takes over and prayers are missed or don’t happen at all and that’s just the way it is.  But ideally I like to be able to spend time in prayer every, single day.  Even if it’s just once for a few moments. 

Pray, I hear you ask?  Why would you do that?  It’s not Sunday, you’re not at Mass so why?  And this is a really valid and sensible question and one I’ve asked myself a lot over the last few years.  Why do I feel the need to pray daily?  Have I always done so and does it do any good?

First I feel the need to explain that I am driven to pray every day, it’s a need, a desire, almost a necessity.  If I don’t do it I miss it, something just doesn’t feel right, I feel empty and a bit lost.  As I said before, prayer doesn’t or can’t happen every day, some days I’m just either too busy [not always procrastinating with domestics but running errands etc] or quite simply too lazy.  I don’t give myself a hard time if I don’t get round to it because that’s pretty pointless.  However, I have the intention to pray every day; morning, evening and night with Mass thrown in if I get there.  It’s an act of fidelity.  The definition of fidelity is:- ‘faithfulness to a person, cause or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.’  Prayer is me being faithful to God.  As I said somewhere else, it’s a bit like being married.  You are faithful to your husband or wife because you love them and you [want to] show that love through acts of fidelity which can be anything from a hug, a loving word, a gift, washing the dishes…anything done in love for another.  So, back to the question why do I pray?  Because I can’t not, it’s that simple.

Have I always done so?  No, absolutely not.  Certainly not in those early days but in the last few years it’s become a habit that I can’t break.  It ebbs and flows according to employment and commitments but it never completely stops.  It really is a way of life now and is vital to maintaining my faith and my relationship with God.  As my faith has grown and matured, so has my prayer life.

What isn’t always obvious to those ‘looking in’ is that this relationship is a two-way thing.  I am faithful to God and He is faithful to me.  “For the son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matt 20:28 NIV  I’m not sure what I feel about Christ serving me [that was actually a question in last Sunday’s gospel study] and I suspect that’s a post for another day, but in any event this is relationship of equals.  I can sense that all of the time.  I show up and God is always there, never late, never awol, constant and reliable.  He comforts, strengthens and guides me.

Does prayer do any good?  Hmm well that’s tricky and I can only answer for myself and from my own experience.  Firstly, it doesn’t do any harm that’s for sure and it can be very cathartic.  I try to keep a journal of personal intentions and people/situations that I pray for and I can honestly say that I often go back and find that 90% of them will have been answered.  I also find that during unstructured prayer or silent contemplation I often receive the answer to a problem or have a sense of peace about an important decision or difficult situation.  It’s nothing tangible but it’s undeniable and it’s happened too many times to be a fluke.

So, who can pray?  Well anyone obviously.  Those of faith or of no faith.  There are no qualifications required.  Anyone can talk to God, anywhere, at anytime about anything.  It really is that simple.  You don’t need all the structure and books that I use.  I use those things to keep me focussed and accountable but I also have unstructured times when it’s just me and God.  Prayer is not a ‘one size fits all’ thing.  It’s unique to each person to pray as they feel.  Sometimes, it’s just a word thrown heavenwards.  An arrow prayer launched towards God in a moment of desperation or difficulty.  It’s quite simply a conversation with God where you get to say what you want or just sit and listen with the ear of your heart.  

God bless. . .

Sharon xx

You might also like this previous post = “What is prayer?”

Read Full Post »

cloisters 5Awwww it’s the most beautiful day here in sunny Milton Keynes, UK.  The kind of lovely day that I’d like to wrap up in pretty paper and send to you all so you can share it.

I make no apology for banging on about prayer in my last two posts, it’s something I feel I need to, ‘get down on paper’ if you follow me.  Sometimes you just need to write things down to make them stick. 

I went to the taster session on Tuesday evening, as a forerunner to our, ‘Week of Guided Prayer’ which starts in June.  It was all I knew it would be and much more.  I signed up then and there and paid the small donation.  I came all home full of anticipation for what I’m thinking will be a wonderful week.  It’s certainly a fabulous opportunity, a bit like being on an individually guided retreat but at home.  Perfect!

I found myself craving that silent, peaceful place that a retreat provides.  It isn’t necessarily a ‘real’ place, more a state of mind really.  A silence that comes from within so that, even in a busy street, you can be silent and still on the inside.  Since giving up work in December I’ve created a lot more silence in my daily life.  I’d always been a Radio 2 kind of girl, a constant murmur of background chatter and music; but of late even that has been turned off. 

I watched, ‘The Big Silence’ [further reading] yesterday to remind myself what it’s all about and how difficult it can be for some people to just settle into the silence.  That was me a few years ago, struggling to be at peace without a TV or radio to fill in the blanks, now I crave that silent time because I know that God is there in the silence. 

We’re using a book called, ‘Patterns of Prayer’ by Eugene McCaffrey, OCD at the Carmelite contemplative prayer group that’s just started in my parish.  It’s the most wonderful little book, the kind of book that makes you want to read each page over and over to soak in all that it has to say.  It speaks to me on so many levels.  Anyway, I wanted to share a small part of it with you as it’s relevant to this post and Eugene puts it so much better than I can:~

Silence

Silence is an essential condition for listening.  Prayer is born in silence, a still receptive silence that enables one to hear the deep vibrations of the spirit.  Silence is our way of helping God so that he can help us.  We try to be still, conscious of our own poverty and of our own need to hear and to receive.  Silence is much more than an absence of words or noise, much more even than just being quiet.  Rather, it is a response to our whole being reaching out to grasp the word of life.  It is an alert and attentive receptiveness to “hear the word of God and obey it” [Luke 11:28].  Like the boy Samuel, we cry out with our whole heart, “Speak, for your servant is listening” [1Samuel 3:10]. pp28-29

Earlier in the book it says that it takes two to pray [p26] and I think we often forget that.  We are not alone in that moment, God is with us, always.  But we need to listen and in order to hear Him we need to be silent.  As Fr Christopher Jamison says in, ‘The Big Silence’, “Silence is the gateway to the soul, and the soul is the gateway to God”.

Peace and blessings

Sharon xx

 

Read Full Post »

rezar-pray-spanish-english

Lent this year was a time of huge change and transition for me.  A time of spiritual growth.  I was so lucky not to be working because this gave me the time and space to indulge in Lent completely.  Sadly, I had a flu type bug over the actual Easter weekend so missed all those beautiful services but you know what,  Lent was such a blessing that nothing could put a dampener on the joy it brought me.

So, coming out of Easter-tide [although, we’re still officially in the season of Easter until Pentecost which falls on Sunday 15th May this year] I’ve been left with my mind heavily focused on prayer.  God seems to be leading me down a prayerful path by opening many doors to prayer filled opportunities.  A Carmelite prayer group has just started at my local church, we’re meeting once a month to spend time in contemplative prayer.  This is challenging but beautiful. 

I’ve also been lucky enough to secure myself a place on a, ‘Week of Guided Prayer’ which is being organised and offered by our local church partnership.  This is such a fantastic opportunity and I feel so blessed.  I get to meet with a Prayer Guide for around half an hour each day for a week, there are no words to express how much I’m looking forward to this.

I’ve just acquired myself a copy of, Sacred Space: The Prayer Book 2016 which was suggested to me by the lovely Sister who is the Pastoral Administrator of our parish at the moment.  It’s a book I’ve considered for the last few years but have always used the online version found HERE.   When she suggested it I kind of wasn’t surprised.  God has a way of bringing these things to our attention if we’re refusing to see the obvious.  It’s just the most perfect devotional prayer book for me, very thought provoking and relevant.

With all this focus on prayer I’ve been thinking about exactly what prayer is and what form/s it can take.  It’s a question I’ve been asked a couple of times recently.  I’ve discovered this is a huge subject because prayer can be so many things, it has so many facets.  It’s also unique to each person because we are all so different with myriad needs.  I can’t speak for others so I’ll just describe my own experiences of prayer. 

Whether it be the comforting recital of the Our Father during Mass or a handful of Hail Marys during the week, structured prayers have an important part to play.  They bring me a feeling of peace and familiarity [often taking me back to my childhood] and, no matter how many times I say them, they bring something different each time.  They are a safety net when all else fails and I have no words of my own.  Also praying scripture, particularly the Psalms, can be a wonderful expression of prayer and devotion.  There’s a Psalm for every mood and every situation.

Private intentions and petitions are another important facet.  Praying for the needs of others and ourselves.  I’ve begun to keep a book of people and causes to pray for because otherwise I’m worried I’ll forget.  The list is long….and forever growing. 

There are those arrow prayers that I fire heavenwards throughout the day.  Maybe just, ‘Jesus, help me’ or ‘Bless this person, Lord’.  These are small, but mighty.  Acknowledgements that Jesus is always close, always on hand to guide and encourage.  We just have to reach out to Him.

In our monthly contemplative group, prayer is silence….it’s listening…..it’s being at one with God.  Listening is a very important part of prayer and something that people often forget.  They can be so busy with a ‘shopping list’ of people and personal needs [which are important] that they forget to just listen. . . . to just ‘be still and know that I am God’. [Psalm 46:10]  Remember, prayer is a two-way street, God also has things He would like to say to us, to ask of us.  ‘Listen with the ear of you heart.’ Rule of Benedict, Prologue.

I also do a lot of Ignatian Contemplation where you place yourself within a scene or event in the bible, usually from the Gospels, and imagine what you can hear, see, smell, taste and feel…you put yourself in that place, lose yourself in the story.  Imagine that you’re there with Jesus in the boat as he calms the waters….  It’s a truly amazing way to pray and it has revealed some amazing insights to me, and God has spoken right into my heart during some of these exercises.  As an alternative to this I sometimes just imagine that Jesus is sat opposite me at the table in my kitchen and we have a conversation.  This is a very simple act but totally mind blowing at times. We’ve had some great chats, Jesus and I. 

Back in August 2009 I wrote the words below ~ I found them today and they are still relevant: ~ 

Prayer is unique to each individual

It’s that hurried word on waking or a constant all-day dialogue.

It’s half an hour of liturgical trawling through the Breviary.

It’s that conversation with the ‘no one’ beside you at the table or in the car ~ it’s our faith that makes that ‘no one’ a someone!

It’s just a thought ‘thrown’ God’s way.

It’s a heartfelt plea on the back of despair or a word of joyful thanks at a beautiful moment.

Prayer does not have to be words, it can just be silence.  It’s a two-way street and that silence can be filled with listening.

Most of all prayer, in whatever form, is an act of fidelity to God.

On the face of it, not much has changed since I wrote this, but yet everything has changed because I have changed.  There are a lot of echoes of what I still do today but it all feels very different.  A lot more authentic somehow.  I particularly like the reference to prayer being an act of fidelity to God.  Our way of demonstrating our faithfulness to God. 

In an ideal world my whole life would be my prayer, to be ‘always in His holy presence’ and keep ‘a loving gaze on God’. [Patterns of Prayer, McCaffrey OCD p19]  It is something to aspire to.  

Sharon xx

Read Full Post »

bible_light

I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned that I’m a closet Joyce Meyer fan.  I ‘found’ her during the early years of my faith walk, the ‘non-denominational’ years if you like.  I have to confess that I’m not all that keen on the heavy approach of a lot of the American evangelical preachers but Joyce is something apart. She is a woman who exudes enthusiasm for Christ and shares a simple but loving message. 

Anyway, I’m digressing here, so the point of this post is that each year Joyce issues her ‘3030 Challenge’.  This is where she invites people to read the bible for thirty minutes each day for thirty days.  Easy huh?  You’d think so but if you’re anything like me you’re great at starting, but not so great at seeing things through to the end.  You can sign up to receive various resources and have access to teaching videos.  The best of all is that it’s completely FREE.   Here is a LINK to the 3030 Challenge page and ANOTHER to Joyce’s website.  If you look in the top right corner of her homepage you can opt for the English [as opposed to American] version of the site which does make a difference. 

I just thought I’d share this, it really helped me last year when I was struggling to find time to read my bible or pray at all.  My work life had totally taken over.  This simple little challenge really made a difference and proved to me that you don’t actually need hours and hours, you just need a few minutes and the desire to spend time with God, the rest will just happen. 

Sharon xx

Read Full Post »

Mary

Mary

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, the moment when the angel Gabriel visits Mary to tell her that she will conceive and bear a son who she will call Jesus.  The gospel [for this year A in the liturgical calendar] is to be found HERE.    This is always a good time to remember and become [re]inspired by Mary’s deep and unshakeable faith.  It is not a blind faith as she has questions for Gabriel, but on hearing what God has in store for her, she exhibits acceptance and trust.  “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Read Full Post »

Third Sunday of Lent…

It’s 7.30am and the house is in silence.  The clocks went forward an hour overnight so somehow we’ve ‘lost’ an hour and my body-clock is still saying it’s 6.30am.  It is of little consequence in any event because I have already been awake an hour and a half.  Sleep has evaded me these last two nights.  No problems drifting off but then around four or five I’m suddenly wide awake with no chance of anymore sleep.  So, today I gave up and decided to put the kettle on and welcome in the dawn on this first day of British Summer Time.

The house is always lovely at this time of the day ~ very conducive to being at-one with God.  I’m the only one up as everyone else is still on yesterday’s time frame ~  Ethan [and his spots] are still snoozing as is Si [he is without spots though ;)].  There is no sun yet, quite dull and gray out there actually.  The window by my PC looks out over the meadow but the horses are nowhere to be seen, they’re probably down the far end under the trees.

Today is going to be flapjack making, pantry cupboard tidying, ironing and sewing day.  Oh with maybe a bit of gardening thrown in.  All that inbetween playing with Ethan.  Not sure if I’ll make Mass today.  Mum has asked to come to Mass with me one Sunday which is wonderful.  Usually I only attend every other Sunday as she visits on the Sundays inbetween and [as I’ve said before] that clashes perfectly with Mass times.  So, as it’s Mothering Sunday next weekend I thought it might be nice to take her to that Mass.  This might mean I can start going every weekend which would be great.

Today’s Gospel reading is one that has had a huge influence on me and my spiritual life [John 4:5-42], it is the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar.  When I was first called to Christ [2006] I very much was this woman and the first time I read this passage it was like finding myself in the bible.  It was quite strange and, if I’m honest, terrifying and comforting all at the same time ~ it’s not always a good thing to come face-to-face with yourself especially not in a slightly dodgy bible character.  Today when I read this passage I realised how far I’d come and how much I’ve changed in these five years.  It’s quite incredible and I no longer recognise the person I was.  I look back and know it was me but [still] cannot understand how I strayed so far from the path and got in such a mess for a while there.  God showed up not a moment too soon and I’m living proof that He really does prune and tend his branches for the greater good of the vine [John 15].  I still have such a long way to go but I feel it’s appropriate to say that hey, I’m heading in the right direction with the help of a pair of heavenly secateurs……😉

Read Full Post »

Thursday after Ash Wednesday..

Well, as usual I spent some time today meditating on today’s readings [scriptural and devotional] which usually gives rise to a topic to write about on here ~ ok sometimes the link is tenuous but hey, it’s MY blog  😆 .  However, joking put firmly aside I have just been totally floored by a news item from Afghanistan about a young man by the name of Lance Corporal Liam Tasker of the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment ~ Royal Army Veterinary Corps.  He, like many of our military men folk here in the UK, lost his life last Tuesday to small arms fire whilst on patrol with his sniffer dog, a springer spaniel called Theo.  If that wasn’t sad enough Theo died later that day from a siezureI know that many precious lives have been lost in the name of this cause and it’s not my place to pass any level of judgement on the political rights and wrongs of that here.  However, I was just in floods of tears at the sadness of the whole situation as both Liam and Theo were repatriated today and will, as far as I can gather, be laid to rest together.  Too sad!!

Today’s gospel suddenly seems totally fitting…

Luke 9:22-25
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.’
Then to all he said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?’

I’ve no idea if Liam was a spiritual or religious person but he was a selfless and courageous  young man who absolutely gave his life for the sake of others and without doubt took up his cross for the benefit of the greater good every time he went on patrol with Theo.  If only all of us could show a fraction of his bravery and commitment for the benefit of others.  May God bless you Liam and may you and Theo walk together in the garden of the righteous in peace eternal.

For all souls lost in combat ~ may you rest in peace. xx
Photo of Liam and Theo courtesy of Sky News.

Read Full Post »

Shrove Tuesday….

….and so Lent is but a breath away.  So close you can smell it or is that the pancakes 🙂 ?  I am excited about Lent this year but am not sure why.  However, I do have a great sense of anticipation.  I love Lent’s simplicity and gentle focus and with those things comes a freedom and liberation.  No push to do anything other than walk beside Jesus as we journey together through the wilderness with my eyes firmly fixed on the cross…..

This was part of the little office of None today, Psalm 12 (13):6-7. . . .

‘As for me, I trust in your merciful love.  Let my Heart rejoice in your saving help:

Let me sing to the Lord for his goodness to me, singing psalms to the name of the Lord, the Most High.’

“Trust, rejoice and sing”…..what wonderful words to accompany this beautiful day with the crocus’ and daffodils blooming and the sun shining in that wonderful crispy-fresh way that confirms springtime has truly arrived!

Pax

Read Full Post »

Our lives are full of choices alot of which we make subconsciously or with very little thought ~ what to wear, what to eat, how to behave or respond to other people.  Today’s Mass readings looked at the book of Deuteronomy 11:26-28 where Moses sets before us the commandments of the Lord our God and describes them as a blessing [if you follow them] or a curse [should you choose to disobey them].

This theme was echoed in the Gospel reading taken from Matthew 7:21-27 which talks about the sensible man who builds his house on rock and the silly man who chose sand for his foundations.

Both of these pieces of scripture present us with choices.  These were not just relevant for the people of biblical times but choices that each of us face and make every single day.  We have to choose to follow the commandments, choose to follow God’s word and build our faith on a bed of rock.  In fact we have to consciously choose God numerous times during the day.   As my faith matures I find that alot of these choices are now habit but still there are times when I have to think hard about doing the right thing, making the right decision.  Ask myself “What would Jesus do?”.  I doubt there will ever be a time when I don’t have to give these matters conscious thought.

Today’s readings made me think back to the day I very first chose to follow Jesus [21/06/06].  The day He called me to Him loud and clear.  I always knew that the final choice was mine ~ to take His hand and walk with Him or say “thank you, but no” and go on my own way.  A real crossroads in my life that, quite frankly, could have gone either way as I did consider both options.  This is what I wrote on my old blog at that time…

“I knew I had two choices, embrace it wholeheartedly and run with it or ignore it and run the risk of never having the opportunity in quite the same way again.” [whole post can be read here]

It is obvious to all of you which road I chose and I have never had a moment of regret and it’s with great tenderness and love that I look back and remember those very excititng early weeks.  However, it’s also good to be reminded of those smaller choices we have to make every day.  It doesn’t mean we always make the right decisions but at least we’re thinking about the right path, the best approach, the compassionate response; doing our best to walk with Jesus.

So tomorrow when you wake you can choose to turn to Christ and try to live consciously ‘in the moment’ all day,  for the benefit of all those whose lives touch yours as you travel beside our Dear Lord……


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: