Monthly Archives: April 2011

Divine Mercy Novena

Day 9 today. The lukewarm Christian is a bit of a mystery really. I get people who don’t know God, or don’t like Him. or refuse to believe in Him. But once you do know Him, – — Perhaps its those who don’t know Him but have the pink-fluffy-Jesus. Anyway, whatever the cause we are to pray for them today.

Divine Mercy Novena

I didn’t post yeaterdays’ link sorry, but today is day 8.

Divine Mercy Novena Day 6

Day 6 of the Divine Mercy Novena.

Home Education; learning hospitality.

Teaching the little ones the basics of hospitality is straightforward enough. Once they have the habit of greeting people properly and getting to grips with conversation; when to speak, when not to speak and so on; those skills are transferable to many of life’s experiences.

Although the older ones have all these skills – after all they are adults now, I wonder sometimes, if out days as shift workers has impacted on their understanding of giving and receiving hospitality. This is something I wonder about, mainly because of my days working long hours. I haven’t seen anything as such that makes me concerned, but it does occur to me that the younger three are well used to the idea of a family meal in the evenings and every Sunday we are all together (With Josh it depends on his shifts of course).

We keep “open house,” which I think I more or less always did, but it  is more so now that I am at home. Our house is the hub of a lot of activity with people here at least three times a week, if not more. So it gets busy, messy, needs stuff doing, on a very regular basis. The kids are really good at helping to get the place straightened out afterwards. And I appreciate that.

But we must all learn to receive hospitality too. For the little ones this can be as simple as teaching them not to announce, “I’m bored!” or “I want to go home now!” Or teaching them to put things away before we leave to go home. Simple.

Adults have more challenges to face. When you are ill for example, there’s the swallowing pride thing when someone kindly offers to help with things you really do need help with. You have to remember, that other mother, taking the broom and sweeping the floor for you, is doing this as an act of charity, and you need to let her.  It’s taken me a while, but I’m getting there. I remember when I first became ill a friend telling me off for my pride. “It’s not independence when you refuse help you need, it’s pride.” she said, and she was right.

One other difficult area of hospitality, which I think can only been taught through example, is receiving and giving it to “difficult” people.  These are the people who inspect the Lego on the floor with disdain, or make it clear they are only at your house because they couldn’t get an invitation to somewhere better.  The rule of hospitality is to be meek and polite in the face of their rudeness. These are the situations that cause many a gentle soul to phone Dr. Ray Guarendi about; especially as these “difficult” people tend to be relatives of some sort. Jesus insisted we love our enemies; if we only love those who love us, we aren’t much better than the pagans. He never said it would be easy. I have to say, I truly admire some of those people who call Dr. Ray – they are truly trying to be Christian and carry the cross.

Many of those corporal works of mercy, come under hospitality, but receiving the mercy from others is just as important, and often much harder to do, than giving it to others.

Giving and receiving in the Christian sense is something we all must do. However, as part of our Christian life we often find we have to give and give to people who will never return the favour. That is because we are not supposed to give to those who can return the favour. We are supposed to give freely. Those people might not be able to give back to you, but if they will very likely be able to give to someone else.  Also we need to remember that when we give we should not be expecting great grovelling thanks. Simple gratitude is enough. Jesus has made it clear that those who want a lot of thanks receive their reward and they wont get paid twice.

Day 5 of Divine Mercy Novena

Home education – teaching hospitality.

The freedom to learn and teach outside the boxed in National Curriculum gives a whole world of teaching and learning areas and opportunities that would otherwise be lost.

One area that is extremely important in any Christian home is the area of hospitality.  In the commandment to love our neighbour comes the duty to both give and receive hospitality. It is tied up, overlaps and is wound around the obligation to love God first.

For the little ones, teaching them hospitality is simply about basic social skills at first; greeting visitors properly, making eye contact, speaking politely and clearly – that sort of thing. It takes a bit of time and practice for some children, while for others it comes more easily.

Then there is table manners, saying please and thank you, asking to leave the table and so on.

For Ronan who is 8 now, part of his being hospitable to visitors is that he makes the afternoon hot chocolate for all the children. One or two of our younger visitors look forward to Ronan’s hot chocolate round as he also includes a biscuits with them. (It’s not just Iona who’s the biscuit buff). Ronan serves all the children around the table, taking care of things such as those who can’t have milk, those who need extra milk for a cooler drink and so on. He manages very well. I don’t help him at all these days.

For the older ones there are proper dinners to make for their friends or sharing foods at picnics. Iona is the one in the group who makes the birthday cakes for everyone. It is lovely to see them all growing up and learning to share what they have together.

If hospitality is tied up with “love God and neighbour” where does God come into it?

The saints have a lot to say about all of this. The theme throughout the lives of the saints was about treating people as thought they were Christ. This is nowhere near as easy as it might sound. The stories of the saint show many situations where the person at the door didn’t seem to be the sort you might want to show hospitality to at all. Sometimes the person-like-Christ was asking for something the monastery/convent/home had very little of – and it took the amazing faith of a saint (like Benedict) to ensure the sharing of meagre resources could be done.

Perhaps in some ways offering hospitality to others is the easy side of this commandment. Receiving it can be the challenge….

Day 4 Divine Mercy Novena

Easter Sunday: Heaven has won; choose your side.

Very early in the morning of the first day of the week, that is Sunday morning, three of the four women who had stood at the foot of the cross, head off to the tomb where Jesus is supposed to be.

Mary Magdalene has a jar of ointment, and possibly Mary Salome too, with Mary Cleopas going with them to assist.

Where is the Blessed Mother? Why has she not gone with them? Well, she is with John, (who is the son of Mary Salome) and the reason she doesn’t go to anoint the body of her Son, is because she has very likely already seen Him.  Tradition has it that Jesus first came to His Mother after the Resurrection. This would have been a deeply personal meeting, not to be recorded in Scripture.

I have heard some people who are apparently Christian, who insist that Jesus did not honour His mother. He did. He was without sin, and breaking the fourth commandment, the very commandment He was part of composing, was not something He did.  He could hardly demand that we honour both our physical parents, and our spiritual ones, if He did not do so Himself.

The women had waited through the Sabbath-Passover. They could not make either the Sabbath observances, nor the Passover celebration as they were unclean. They had touched a dead body, with blood on it as well. Even now they are observing the law on burial. Jesus could not receive the rituals of burial, the washing before annointing, because he was covered in blood, and he had died a criminal, and he was seen as cut off from Israel. So, no washing allowed.

You will notice the women took ointment but no water or cloths.

Jesus is risen, and the women are the first witnesses. Just as shepherds were the first witness of His birth, Jesus is overturning the legal silliness of the manmade traditions. Shepherds and women were not allowed to be witnesses in court. When you read the story of Susannah (Dan 13) you will see she was unable to speak on her own defence, the boy Daniel had to speak for her – and he did.

Those of you doing my lesson set Via Guade will get more details about all of this but I thought I would point out a couple of things here that have come up in radio shows recently. One person asked how the Law of the Sabbath was changed so that Christians began to meet on a Sunday. Well, this is the moment. The Lord’s Day is the day of Resurrection, the Eighth Day or Day of Completion/Accomplishment/Consumation. The New Paschal Liturgy of the Lamb of God, the Lamb who stands as though slain (See Rev) is done on Sunday.

That same day Jesus meets with Cleopas and his companion (probably Luke) at the house in Emmaus, where Mary, Cleopas’ wife probably served them. Then Jesus took the bread and blessed it and broke it and…vanished from their sight.

Then they knew Him in the breaking of the Bread and their hearts burned within them.

So every Sunday, on the Lord’s Day we gather to break bread, to know Him in the breaking of the Bread, and to receive Him wounded but raised- the Lamb standing- Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This is Heaven on earth.

It is not merely a symbol – although it is also a symbol. The early Fathers and the teaching of the Church from the very beginning understood the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Day 3 of the Divine Mercy Novena.

Holy Week; Saturday- the harrowing of hell.

Saturday is a silent day. We wait.

But Jesus did not rest on this Sabbath. He had flung open the gates of heaven and was welcoming Home those who had waited in the place of the dead in a firm hope that He would bring them salvation and Life. For God says “I AM the Lord of the living, not the dead.” The saints and angels in Heaven are not dead.

 Traditionally the first two people to be taken to heaven were Adam and Eve.  Icons showing what is called “The Harrowing of Hell,” tend to show Christ taking the hands of Adam and Eve as they step up from their graves. The victory is vast, but not yet complete. These sould have reached their true home but are still in spirit, seperated from their bodies. Christ will show what the Resurrection, the Life in Abundance is – He will rise again so that all of us can receive him, not just spiritually, but completely, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

There is some kind of pre-message of the bodily resurrection when many of the ‘dead’ saints of the Old Covenant, got up and walked around Jerusalem declaring the judgement of God.

When it comes to the Four Last Things, the harrowing of hell is really not part of it, as Christ didn’t go to hell as such but to Hades or Sheol as the Jews called it – the abode of the dead. This seems to have been a place other than heaven, which was closed to them, nor hell, which is for those who reject God and His commandments, nor purgatory, which is a place for heaven. It seems to have been a place of waiting. Those who were destined for heaven were then taken there.

There is still not a clear answer, that I have found, about where Elijah and Enoch are staying, who were assumed to heaven. Now, we know that Our Blessed Mother is in heaven having been assumed, so chances are that Elijah and Enoch are too. Jesus told St Bridget of Sweden that He took Elijah to paradise- which could be heaven. If anyone knows the answer let me know.

There are those who think that as Jesus died and (possibly) rose that He shut the gates of hell; that no one goes there. This is wishful thinking, and the Church has never taught this, and Jesus did not spend so much of His ministry warning about going to hell, if no one was going there.

Scripture, the words of Christ, the letters of Paul and the teaching of the Fathers, make it very clear that we “must work out our salvation in fear and trembling.” There is no Free Pass to Heaven. Every single saint in the history of the Church who has received a vision of hell has said that people are there. No one is sent there – all who go choose it. Avoid the place. Love God, turn to His Mercy.

I heard an athiest recently getting very worked up because he said God sends people to hell because they have worshipped false gods, even though they had never heard of Him. This is ridiculous of course, but he went on with even more anger about the Truth of God; that a man who has committed the foulest crimes, sitting on death row, need only be sorry and he gets to go to heaven. I was very confused by this rant – surely the fact that God forgives any sin, no matter how heinous, if we but turn to His Mercy, is a GOOD thing.

Let’s do that.

Day 2 of Divine Mercy Novena