Monthly Archives: December 2012

Humility verses indispensability.

Pride is an ugly sin and is at the root of all sins from the moment Satan said “Non serviam” that is “I will not serve,” pride has been causing bad things in God’s good creation.

Now back in the good ol’days of the Church, before life got soft sometime in the fourth or fifth century, there were no confessional boxes with nice anonymous grills. Oh no, none of that. People confessed their sins before the priest and anyone else who happened to be there. There was often some pretty public penances given as well, especially for public sins. Even kings were told to wear sackcloth and ashes and walk a pilgrimage or two.

If you’ve read Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter (a wonderful trilogy which I highly recommend) you will have seen that Kristin walks a very public pilgrimage in penance for her sin against God and her father. (See how careful I am not to put a spoiler in for those of you who haven’t read it yet :) )

So I will make a confession here. I have caught myself with a very subtle type of pride and its about being indispensable. My terrible fear of not being useful. God is curing me of the disease of indispensability by having me be really ill. So, good things do come from being ill.

I noticed this pride as Christmas came and I just hadn’t done all the things that I usually do in preparing, cooking, wrapping, getting good presents for people. I like Christmas to be just so, and very special so in the past I’ve spent hours, staying up half the night wrapping, arranging and God knows what else.  It all sounds very generous and kind doesn’t it? But in fact I got a lot out of it. People saying how wonderful I was at all this.

dys 12So this year has come as a hard lesson. I can’t do it all. In fact a lot simply hasn’t happened. Christmas cards didn’t happen until the last minute and then only some cards. I didn’t cook enough so there are people without the usual chocolates, chutney’s cakes and sauces. Iona has made a lot of really lovely things, but usually we did it together so a lot could be done quickly.

Wrapping presents defeated me in the end and I just had to cave and go to bed (pulse hit the high 130s as I tried to get the washing done as well). Iona and Josh stayed up and finished the work.

Alex and Anna have been over to help with the final preps and making the Christmas dinner. There are other people who can take up the slack in the rope. I am grateful, but also it upset me. See? It wasn’t just about getting it done – it was about me getting it all done. I have to be useful.

I wanted to be doing it all. I wanted to be the queen of Christmas, making it lovely for everyone and basking in pride. Oh dear me. Now that I can’t I am learning a new humility.

I suspect this particular form of pride is mostly a woman’s problem.  Many of the saints were hidden little people who spent a lot of time being very ill. I think I need to remember that next time I am getting frustrated over what I can’t do.

I came across a fellow ME patient a couple of days ago who said she was lucky in that her family took care of her and made sure she could both cope with and enjoy Christmas. They accept she is very ill and don’t try and force her to perform. A little ruefully she said she wished she could offer something in return. Looking at her, I thought, well you are offering something. You are offering your family the opportunity to take care of you. All those people at the last judgement standing on Christ’s right hand had been feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty caring for and visiting the sick and those in prison and so on. If there were no sick, housebound, imprisoned, hungry thirsty and naked people- how could they have done all that?

DysautonomiaPrison.comTidbits

DysautonomiaPrison.com
Tidbits

I think when it comes to us sickies and cripples when we stand (before by then we will be able to!) before God, He won’t ask us so much about all the stuff we couldn’t do, He will say, “Did you accept the people I sent to help you? Were you kind and polite and patient with them?” And of course, “All those people who wouldn’t help, left you to struggle and made life even more difficult; did you forgive them?”

So, fellow mothers out there watch for this sin of pride. Don’t learn with the holy 2×4 as I have done this Christmas. Learn from me. I like the saying that any fool can learn by his own mistakes; the wise man learn’s from other people’s.

feast of the Holy Innocents; children beg santa for a family.

Pia de Solenni writes how the Telegraph here in the UK have reported on the most popular things children ask Santa to bring them. Up there at the top children ask for a sibling. In their loneliness and innocence they ask Father Christmas to bring the child they so long for to add to their family and be the love and company they long for.

I read this only a few minutes after hearing a mother phone Dr. Ray Gaurendi looking for a way to tell her family, especially certain members, that she was expecting her fifth child. Instead of being overjoyed at another baby they would be snarly about it, as they had already been with previous children. Even though she said they were Catholic, who undoubtedly heard how Joseph, and Mary pregnant with Jesus were turned away from the Inn, they were happy to slam the door on this family because another child was on the way.

At number 10 children were asking for a father and at 23 on the list they asked for a mother. Among the horses, cars and stuff of Christmas children were asking first for a family.

Meanwhile two people phoned up who had many siblings, one of whom, lady who was one of 12, was now dying. She had her family around her for support and in turn wanted to offer something back in letters or words of comfort.

Dr Ray mentioned that he had come across many elderly people, alone and lonely because they had chosen not to have few or no children. It’s especially sad when you consider those people who can’t have children or manage only one or two pregancies and would give anything to have more.

It’s funny that some people try and undermine the historicity of the slaughter of the innocents when Herod sent soldiers to kill the children of Bethlehem in the hope that the slaughter would include the new King of the Jews. They say they can’t find other references outside the Gospel of Matthew and so Matthew must be wrong, for someone else would be bound to notice this.

We live in a world where technology is so great I can send a message to friends in America and Australia and it gets there almost instantaneously. We have more information on the internet than we could possibly deal with. News programmes saturate the airwaves with banality and politics every minute of every day in every time zone. An yet many people seem still unaware of the Gospel. They don’t know about Jesus, or even about the children in their own neighbourhood.

We have the Gospels to tell us about Jesus and there is nothing in history or tradition that would give us reason to think Matthew lied in his report on the killing of the toddlers and babies in Bethlehem.  It is most likely that the story came from the lips of Jesus or His mother themselves.

It was recently reported that babies are routinely killed in our NHS hospitals, that a baby’s life was only saved because she was weighed with an accidental pair of scissors that tipped the scales in her favour. So many stories are out there- and how many of us know those stories or care about them? I am quite sure there are many more that I have never seen or heard of.

BAPTISM OF DESIRE

The feast of the Holy Innocents is the day mothers who have miscarried babies, had still births and those who had abortions can remember their little ones and ask for God’s love and mercy for them.

Some parents are blessed to be able to baptise their baby before they die, but most of us have lost our children before they could be baptised. This often leads parents to worry about their eternity, especially in light of St. Augustine’s thought that the innocent unbaptised entered a place of limbo, an eternal happiness but not the full blessedness the saved can hope for.

The Church teaches three baptisms. The ordinary form is the baptism of water and oil that we see so often at Church. Water is pours over the baby, child or adult and the words “I baptise you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” are spoken in obedience to Jesus command in Matthew 28.

The next form is called Baptism of Blood. This is the baptism that catechumens and other’s not yet in the Church receive should they die for love of Christ as marytrs.

Finally there is the baptism of desire. That is someone who would have been baptised if they could have, but died before the opportunity was offered would be saved through their desire to do God’s will and receive baptism.

I don’t know, but I wonder if many of us who have lost babies pre-term or before we could get them baptised, can hope that our desire as parents counts as a baptism of desire for if they had lived we would have taken them to be baptised.

I don’t know – but we can trust in God’s mercy and I have no doubt at all that we will all get to meet up with our children in the end. So there is more joy than sorrow in the end.

Every single child is a blessing no matter how long or short a time we have them.

Happy Christmas!

The last of the O Antiphons have been sung and we are left with ERO CRAS meaning tomorrow I come. From Emmanuel (God with us) back to Sapientia (Wisdom) the first letter of each Latin word spells the “ero crass” promise.

Have a lovely, happy Christmas.

I also want to say a special thank you to the “friend” who remains nameless who was so generous and seems to like my blog. Thank you and God bless you.

And thank you to all of you who subscribe. God bless you this Christmas.

 

O Emmanuel (O God with us) Dec 23rd.

Isaiah went to bad king Ahaz and said “Ask the Lord for a sign.”

In a fit of prentended humility Ahaz said “oooh I couldn’t.”

So Isaiah said, “Well you’re getting a sign anyway. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and he will be called emmanual, God with us.” (Is 7:14)

Hezekiah was born and became king of Judah. At that time it seems God was calling a few men to be prophets. Isaiah and Micah in Judah and Amos and Hosea in Israel. Hosea of course was a prophet of Israel in Babylonian captivity.

Just before these events Jonah had been spit up on the shores of Syria where he had to go and prophesy to the people of Nineveh, a potential enemy of Israel, They repented and the Lord was with them.

Events were moving hard and fast in that little piece of history.  In the Pseudepigraphia we hear the story of how Hezekiah calls his infant son Manessah to his side as he dies, but even as he is to give the child a blessing the son of Isaiah Josab prophesied that Manessah would worship a demon instead of God and undo all the good that Hezekiah had worked. The faith of the people would be split apart. In horror and grief Hezekiah considers having his little son killed, but is warned against this by Isaiah even though he has forseen his own terrible martyrdom at the hands of Mannessah. Isaiah was sawn in half.

There is an addition showing the Christians saw in this the symbolism of the terrible martyrdom the Church suffered under her own Manessah in Nero (both types of antiChrist).

In the end poor Manessah, having sacrificed his own sons to Molech the child consuming burning idol, repents. Psalm 151 is one of those not quite canonical but much loved prayers of repentence. For Manessah to have come home after having run so far gives hope for us all.

The martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah

The Holy Father, commenting on today’s Mass readings asks us to behave like Mary and Elizabeth:

Let us imitate Mary in the Christmas season, visiting those who are experiencing hardship, especially the sick, the imprisoned, the elderly and children. Let us laso imitate Elizabeth, who welcomes guests like God Himself: without desiring the Lord we will never know Him, without waiting for Him we will never meet Him, without seeking will never find Him

We’ve just come home from a lovely visit with friends who are relaxed and caring and  gave us a beautiful organic lamb dinner. They had received the lamb from the farmer as a gift and took that gift and shared it with us.

I am not that well today and very twitchy and jerky. But with them it didn’t matter. I could twitch, jerk and tip over and not have to feel embarressed. I think many of us are more blessed with friends than we sometimes realise or appreciate.  If you have friends as good as this don’t forget to thank God for them :)

O Rex Gentium (O King of Nations) Dec 22nd

When Jesus stood before Pilate, He was asked, “Are you a king?” and from the conversation that followed Pilate the gentile and his gentile wife St. Claudia Procla saw that He was indeed a king.

The apostles had some understanding that Jesus, a son of David was a king by right but they were stuck in the idea that He would take a political stand against Rome and somehow bring all Israel back together. When Jesus went out to do His mission there was only Judea, the land of Judah and Benjamin with the Levite priesthood. Sometimes other tribes were noted such as Anna in the Temple who was from the tribe of Ashur. But in saving all Israel Jesus wasn’t going to pick out Israelites alone. He was calling all the nations, the gentiles too now, into the new Israel of the new Covenant. Israel was the first born son, the oldest brother of us all, but the gentiles were God’s children too.

O Oriens (O Dayspring) Dec 21st

The Light of Christ dawns and the people who have walked in darkness and the shadow of death have seen a great Light (Prayer of Zecharius. The Benedictus Luke 1:68 to 74).

The great fire of God’s Love will burn up the stubble; and yes that will include yours and mine and it will hurt. We need to get rid of that stubble to be as gold. Those who do evil will be burned up. When Christ comes as the Daystar, He comes to renew the face of the earth. He is the Light in the darkness that cannot be overcome.

This is the Light we can reach for to get us out of our self imposed darkness. It’s still a choice of course and as no one is forced to stand in the light. But the light is mercy. If we refuse mercy we will face justice. Thank God there’s mercy. Are we not blessed?

From Divine Office today:

Thus say the Lord, your remdeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I, the Lord your God, teach you what is good for you. I lead you on the way that you must go.

O Clavis David (Key of David) Dec 20

Christ comes to fulfil the prophecy that David’s throne would last forever. He holds the key of the Kingdom. Christ’s kingdom, however, is not of this world. He came and through His Passion He opened the gates of heaven that had been closed when Adam sinned.

Christ set about establishing heaven on earth. He called His apostles and said he was going to build a Church. As King He saw those who were to be His ministers in the Temple had reneged on their priestly duties. So, like King Hezekiah all those years a go, He dismissed the false stewards who had not cared properly for the kingdom and it’s people, and He gave the Key to a new Steward.  He took Simon barJonah and gave him the Keys of the Kingdom. Jesus even used very similar words to King Hezekiah who placed the keys of his kingdom on the shoulder of Eliakim. “What you bind on earth is bound in heaven, what you loose on earth is loosed in heaven.”  (Is.22:22 Matt 16:19)

Jesus takes the keys of the kingdom and passes His authority to the Church, His bride. Peter is the new Eliakim and he will pass on the keys to St. Linus, who into turn passes it on to St. ‘Cletus and then St. Clement and so on until Benedict XVI

Even as the little baby we will greet at Christmas there was an understanding that He is a king. It was the gentile Magi who brought Him the gifts for a king, gold for His kingship, frankincense for His priesthood and myrrh for prophecy.

From Lauds today:

The sceptre shall not pass from Judah, nor the mace from between his feet until the one comes to whom it belongs, to whole the people shall render obedience.

Gen 49:10. This is part of the blessing Jacob-Israel gave to his sons. Reuben had forfeited the blessing of the First Born because of the way he took revenge for the rape of his sister Dinah. Judah was the third born of Leah the first wife of Jacob-Israel.