Month: May 2015


“Without the Holy Spirit”, said Ignatius of Laodicea (Orthodox Metropolitan, at the third assembly of the World Council of Churches at Uppsala, in 1968) “God is distant, Christ is merely an historical figure, the Gospel is a dead letter, the Church is just an organisation, authority is domination, mission is propaganda, liturgy is nostalgia, and the work of Christians is slave labour. But with the Holy Spirit, Christ is risen and present, the Gospel is a living force, the Church is a communion in the life of the Trinity, authority is a service that sets people free, mission is Pentecost, the liturgy is memory and anticipation, and the labour of Christians is divinised.”

The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. The feast of Pentecost is an annual invitation to the Church to look into itself and discover its soul. It is tempted, like all of us, to keep looking the other way.
In one sense it is more natural to forget about one’s inner life and to get on etc., you will not take risks or do a lot of work. A healthy person just goes to it. The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church, and there is a sense in which that Spirit likes to work unseen, undeclared. “It is not those who say to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ who will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Adapting Jesus’ words we could say, it is not those who say ‘Holy Spirit!’ who will enter the kingdom of heaven. It is those who live by the Spirit. During the 2nd Vatican Council an Eastern Bishop complained that there was little mention of the Holy Spirit in the documents. But something tells us that talking about the Spirit is not the same thing as living by the Spirit.

However, we do have to pay attention to that inner place, to see by what spirit we are being driven. If you never paid any attention to your health you would be asking for trouble. Today’s feast is a reminder.

But obviously, there is much more to it than this. Traditional images of the Holy Spirit are: Fire, Wind, Water, the Cloud, a Dove… Why such strange images? All of them (except the Dove) have indeterminate boundaries or no boundaries at all. They are reminders that we should not dare to restrict the activity of the Spirit to a few things we can understand.

O Dove, O Flame, O Water, Wind and Cloud…!
O love that life us wholly into God!

The Holy Spirit lives in us but is not confined in us. It is God; rather than being diminished in us, it “lifts us wholly into God,” as the poet said. Any soul is for expansion, not constriction. That that have no soul – sticks and stones – are restricted entirely to themselves; plants have a certain ability to reach beyond themselves, for food and for propagating their species; animals still more. But human beings are able to reach vastly beyond themselves and touch the depths of everything. This capacity is enlarged infinitely by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so that we can touch even the depths of God. “The Spirit search all things,” St Paul wrote, “even the deep things of God. For who knows the thoughts of a person except the person’s own inner spirit? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Cor 2:10).

In a daring image the same poet, Jessica Powers, wrote that silence is a sort of decoy of the Holy Spirit.  Just as hunters attract the flying birds out of the sky by placing a plastic or wooden model of them on the ground, we call down God’s Spirit by our silence.

The decoy of silence, hope’s unuttered sigh, that the Ultimate Silence drift down from the sky.

We pray that through this Mass that we are filled with the Holy Spirit of God.

A Taste of Ireland on 26th September 2015

An authentic Irish meal cooked by the “Knights” and their better halves to raise money for 2 charities.  Mary’s Meals – a charity that combines giving meals to school children in Africa, with their attendance at school which costs £12.50 per pupil for the whole academic year.  The second is CAFOD, a world-wide organisation that you all know of through Church.

Please come and and support this event and bring your families.

Everything that the “Knights of St. Columba” are involved in is “Family Friendly”.  The cost of this meal is £12.00 for adults and £5.00 for children.  The parish bar will be open.

Ascension of the Lord

Today’s final paragraph of St Matthew’s gospel does not describe the ascension, but reports some of our Lord’s final instructions to his disciples before leaving them.

The first thing about the disciples is that at least they did what he told them to do.  He asked them to meet him on the mountain, and they did that.  Like any gathering of human beings, each had his own emotions.  Some of them worshipped him, while some of them still doubted.  Jesus didn’t seem to have any great problem with that, because he knew that, when the Spirit came, all those doubts would be ended.  It would seem, indeed, that he was in a hurry to take his leave of them, so that the second part of his plan of salvation could get underway.

Notice that Jesus begins his few words by telling them that he, not they, have full authority in heaven and on earth.  In an earlier account in Luke’s gospel, he says, “I have given you full authority over all the power of the evil one.”  The full authority over everything, however, is something that he reserves to himself.  Those who go in his name, do so with his full authority.  The authority goes with the mission.  That is why he adds, “Go, therefore.”; in other words, because I have the authority, you can go wherever I send you.  My power, my promises, and my Spirit will go with you, and will see you through.  After telling them what to do, he concludes with the clear and definite promise, “and be sure of this; I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The mission of the apostles was a simple one.  It was to teach others all that he had taught them.  Just as he asked his disciples to obey him, they were to ask that others should obey his directions and instructions also.  This is like when a doctor puts you on a course of antibiotics.  The original sin was a lie.  The Spirit is a spirit of truth.  One of the rules connected with taking antibiotics is that it is essential to complete the course.  Some people begin to feel well after a few days, and they discontinue taking the medicine and, of course, their condition gets worse.  The programme of redemption and salvation must continue from generation to generation, until the end of time.  With all the changes in the church and in society, the two things that have not changed are Jesus himself, and every word of his message.  The Message and the Messenger have never, and never will change.  People who are bothered about changes in the church today should be reminded that the only two things that matter have not changed at all.

“You write a new page of the gospel each day, through the things that you do and the words you you say.  People will read what you write, whether faithful or true.  What is the gospel according to you?”

Even sharing with another something you heard here today that you find helpful is to give witness.  It must seem obvious to anyone who wishes to see, that the evidence of someone who is trying to live the sort of life that Jesus has taught us to live, must be a powerful witness, indeed.