What do we mean when we want to become “channels” of God’s mercy to others? We’re going to look in the next weeks at four different aspects: 1. Becoming “windows” to God; 2. seeing people in a different light; 3. the power of forgiveness and 4. becoming different people. Firstly: Becoming windows to God – People today want to see God in us. The greatest treasure that people should find in us is hopefully God. We are all called, each in his own specific and individual way, to be “transparencies” of God’s love. If we don’t do this, then it is very hard for other people today to believe in God and to see the relevance of believing in God. So many people have lost their way and they cannot find “everyday bridges” that will lead them to an experience of the Transcendent. One such “bridge” is, without doubt, the role of parents and family in the home. When people experience the real love of a father, and the real love of a mother, then that builds a living connection to God, and makes faith in God much easier. But this reason, it is so important that modern-day parents take this mission seriously: They are called to live out and represent the merciful love of God the Father in their own homes. Their motherhood and their fatherhood towards their children should become like “windows” of God’s love for other people. When children look at their own mum and dad, then they should be able to imagine who God is and what he is like. When children experience a mother’s or father’s love towards them, then they can imagine how much God loves them. When children experience that their mother and father will always be faithful to them and never leave them no matter what, then they can understand what it means when we hear that God is eternally faithful to us, and will always keep his promises. The way we encounter each other, speak to each other and live with each other is the normal way of how we bring the compassion, the love and the mercy of God to others. Our daily living should reflect God’s love and mercy in our lives. Fatherhood and motherhood in the family are essential and their lasting value cannot be calculated. Every father, for instance, should measure his fatherhood on God’s fatherhood. Every father has to realise that the way he lives with his children, and the way that he loves his children, determines, to a great extent, how they will see God, and what their image of God will be, not only in their childhood, but also in their adult lives in the future. An example of this is in the life of Saint Therese of Lysieux. Her parents have recently been canonised by Pope Francis. In the thinking and in the experience of Therese there was no separation or division between her biological father and her heavenly Father. She once wrote: “I look at my father, and and I know that my father is looking at God, and in this way I learned to look at God”. She understood very quickly the merciful love of God and it became for her an easy road because she could experience in the love of her own father, how good and tender God must be. “If my father is like this towards me, and loves me and accepts me like this, then God must at least love me in the same way – although, in actual fact, I know he loves me much more”.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis has urged us to develop a culture of encounter so that we increase our support for one another and those on the edges of society. He has said that Marriage and Family is one of the main schools for such and encounter. Throughout this year we have been looking at Marriage and Family from the point of view of our mission. From Philadelphia we hear: Our Mission is Love: Family fully Alive. Our Covenant Mass is this Saturday 18th July at 7.30pm celebrated by Fr David and prepared by the St Michael’s Group. The Mass will be at the Shrine with procession to the Mosaic and Shrine afterwards. You are invited to stay for light refreshments. We look forward to seeing you. Please bring a donation of non-perishable goods which Sandra Borg Fenech will pass on to the Brothers of Charity.
It’s a conundrum. As citizens and conscientious Catholics, we want to (and should) keep informed of current events. That’s not easy. When our news overflow with examples of immorality, religious persecution, heinous crimes and devastation, we can feel discouraged, fearful, and even hopeless. But if we lose hope, we lose everything. Hope leads to apathy, and apathy leads to inactivity. Inactive Christians become monuments – they display nice words about God, but don’t carry those words into the world around them. We must not become monuments by succumbing to hopelessness. It’s human nature to feel overwhelmed from time to time, but it’s God’s nature to uphold you in his grace. Never forget that. No matter how bad things look from your point of view, God sees the world from an entirely different perspective. In that respect, there are three things to remember when you’re feeling hopeless. 1. God will not desert you. Oh, it may feel like it at times, but it hasn’t and isn’t going to happen, no matter what. True, Jesus instructed us to live and speak his message in the world, which means being a part of the world rather than hiding away from it. However, he also promised that he’d go with us. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28-19-20) Our Lord will not abandon you, no matter how tough things get – until the end of time. 2. You are a child of God. You received that gift at your Baptism, when you were incorporated into Christ, configured to him, and sealed with an indelible spiritual mark (character) of belonging to Christ. It’s a mark that can never be removed (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1272). You’re loved and cherished by God beyond your human comprehension. Jesus has assured us of that. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Mt 10-29-31) Fear not, therefore, Jesus tells us. 3. God has overcome the world. The headlines may scream mayhem, but that doesn’t mean God’s lost his grip on you. He never turns his back on you, even when you turn your back on him. What’s more, there is no power greater than his. “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33) Even in the worst of tribulations, you have reason to be at peace in our Lord. Yes, pay attention to those worrisome headlines, but don’t become obsessed by them and slide into hopelessness. There may be reason for concern, but there is always a reason for hope. [From Marge Fenelon, USA – Picture: “Angel of Hope” by Carlos Schwabe]
You are invited to our Taste and See Family Mass at the Shrine this coming Sunday, 12th July at 3.30pm followed by input for adults and a programme for children. We will conclude with a shared meal. The theme is our topic preparing for the Synod on the Family: Our Mission is Love. Family fully Alive. The topic for this input will consider Marriage as a Sacrament – Living in faithfulness and fruitfulness a new life in Christ. Our Taste and See team invite you to come along and bring your friends with you. Please bring a contribution of non-perishable foodstuffs which we pass on to the Brothers of Charity for their work caring for those in need.
Welcome to Schoenstatt Hearts Afire, the second unit in July, on Wednesday 30th July at 7.30pm at the Shrine, St John Fisher’s Kearsley. For evangelisation to be successful and to remain vibrant, it needs to draw strength from the “roots”. The deeper and stronger the roots are, the more alive the tree will be, and the healthier the tree will be. In a certain sense, you could say that the roots are the most important part of the tree. It is so important for our spiritual lives and for the process of the new evangelisation, that we have clarity what our “roots” are, as sources of life. In this unit of Hearts Afire we will look at the roots of our life of faith in the spirituality of Schoenstatt, especially in our Covenant of Love, the Shrine as a place of grace and charism of Father Kentenich. Please put this date in your diary. We look forward to seeing you on the night and encourage you to bring a friend.
I always used to ask God to show me how to live faith. It’s already a few years since I had a very significant dream, which is vividly imprinted in my mind and in my heart forevermore. No doubt it was an answer to my prayers and it made me feel so deeply cared for and loved! The dream: “I climb up a rather high mountain together with many other people. We walk in silence on a narrow path, in a row. I understand that we are pilgrims, when I see a church far away high up on the mountain, beautifully “set” on the horizon. I am full of expectance. I love the mountains and I enjoy the view and the peaceful climbing. When we reach the church and when everybody is inside, I immediately notice a priest who shuts all the doors in what seems to me a definitive manner. He blocks the doors nailing pieces of wood on them. Instantly I feel claustrophobic and ask the Priest to please open the doors again. I don’t like to be closed in, I feel uneasy, I want to go outside again, but there is no reply from the priest. I look around and there I see a staircase. I run up the stairs and indeed I find a little door which opens to a balcony and I step out: What I see in that moment is so immensely moving! I see a beautiful green valley stretched before my eyes (it does not seem the same valley we have come from). At the end of this valley there is a golden city. Everything is so extremely brilliant and beautiful that my heart fills with a longing so strong that I can hardly bear it. I’m overwhelmed and stand there in utter awe for quite a while. Then I do not resist anymore. I cry out, I want to go there, I feel within my heart that the Place is like Paradise. It’s as if from the shining town a voice called me, “come, come, here is beauty, here is love, here is peace”. Then I hurry downstairs shouting: “How can I reach the place I’ve seen from the balcony? There is a golden city! Please open the doors…” Nobody answers and I feel deeply frustrated for being closed in. Then I find myself standing right in front of the Altar with a little golden Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is beautifully decorated. While gazing at the Tabernacle I suddenly become silent and I feel at peace. In that moment I hear a beautiful voice saying “You know the way, I am the way, there is no other way to reach the place you’ve seen… come through the Tabernacle, this is the only way”. The Voice vibrated softly in my heart. My reaction to the “invitation” was strange. I thought “the Tabernacle is too small to get through, I’ll never manage”. The dream ended and I woke up just in that moment when I was doubting to make it “through” the Tabernacle. I remembered vividly everything and finally, my heart strongly pounding, I understood. JESUS had told me that HE WAS THE WAY! HE IS THE WAY to perfect joy! And I remembered the words He said to His disciples during the Last Supper “Do this in memory of Me”. The Holy Eucharist! The Tabernacle! Since I had this wonderful dream I approach the Holy Eucharist in much deeper awareness that JESUS TRULY IS THE WAY. [by Margherita Rueger]
One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slippy. Suddenly, my daughter, Sarah, spoke up from her relaxed position in her seat. “Dad, I’m thinking of something.” This announce-ment usually meant she had been pondering some fact for a while, and was now ready to expound all that her six-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear. “What are you thinking?” I asked. “The rain!;” she began, “is like sin, and the windscreen wipers are like God wiping our sins away.” After the chill bumps raced up my arms I was able to respond. “That’s really good, Sarah.” Then my curiosity broke in. How far would this little girl take this revelation? So I asked… “Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?” Sarah didn’t hesitate one moment with her answer: “We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us.” I will always remember this whenever I turn my wipers on. In order to see the rainbow, you must first endure some of the rain.