Author: thoughtfullydetached

A Prayer to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete

pentecost virgin mary book of hours bruges 15th C


O Blessed Holy Spirit,

As a dove, pure and spotless, descend Thou upon me.
Bringing with You that peace beyond all peace.
May my angers, jealousies and impatiences flee from before You,
Never to return.

O Blessed Holy Spirit,

As a fire which burns but does not consume surround me with Your flame.
Warm me, transform me, with Your perfect love.
May I radiate it to all whom I encounter,
As Your ambassador.

O Blessed Holy Spirit,

As the bright cloud of glory, the Shekinah, fill Thou my Temple.
The cloud which reveals by concealing, the visible Presence which is hidden.
May I be your mirror in the midst of the world,
As You are in the midst of me.

O Blessed Holy Spirit,

As the blazing tongues which You sent to the disciples, alight Thou upon me.
Granting the gift of wise speech, words which give due honour to the Word.
May I praise, and thank, and glorify
My Saviour, Jesus Christ.

O Blessed Holy Spirit,

As the still, small, voice of God, speak Thou through me,
The whisper that follows the roaring, the calm which succeeds the turmoil.
May I bring Your hope,
To those who despair.

O Blessed Holy Spirit,

As my spouse unite Yourself to me,
So that we are no longer two but one,
May I, like the Virgin, be fruitful,
And bear Christ, and give Him to those in the shadow of death.

O Blessed Holy Spirit,

As pure light fill me with Yourself,
The crystal light that illumines from within and makes pure,
May I be invisible light on my daily journey,
So that only the glory of the Father is seen.

Grant, I beseech Thee, O Blessed Holy Spirit,

That You be the desire with which I desire Thee,
That Yours are the eyes through which I look upon the world,
That Yours are the ears with which I hear the Word proclaimed,
That Yours are the lips with which I speak peace to all whom I encounter,
That Yours are the hands with which I accomplish the daily tasks allotted to me,
That Yours is the mind with which I ponder the things of life and of God,
That You dwell forever in the heart of my heart,
Together with the Father and the Son,
From Whom You proceed, and by Whom You have been sent.



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The picture, from a 15th century Book of Hours, is of Pentecost.


Silent Nights (And Days)

Georges de la tour the newborn infant nativity

He will rejoice over thee with gladness,
He will be silent in His love
(Zephaniah 3:17)

Love is not obliged to speak all the time (chronos) it is only obliged to speak when the time is right (kairos.) When the Son of God entered the world, as the Son also of Mary, in His divinity He, as it were, rejoiced with gladness that His mission to redeem and save His beloved mankind had begun. In His humanity He was silent as to the the meaning and purpose of the mystery He embodied for thirty long years. The silent love of Jesus was longer by far than His spoken love, yet it was nonetheless the most perfect of all possible loves.

The whole angelic host of heaven rejoiced with gladness over this birth into the world of the Word made flesh. Yet to us, to humanity, this rejoicing was for the most part marked by silence. As a type or figure of what was to come, and because their joy could not be wholly contained even in the vast heaven, some of them appeared to a tiny handful of shepherds. These men stood as representatives of the anawim, the humble poor, those who wait with patience and hope for the dawning of a kingdom filled with peace, and justice and love. To them the angels spoke clearly as they do still to their successors the anawim in Pakistan and Egypt and China whose lives of earthly darkness are lit by a supernatural light. More obscurely the heavens spoke to the Magi through a mysterious star so that the philosophers, scientists and students of the future would have a typical representation on the holiest of nights. Those who search the world and the skies for meaning will indeed find that true meaning when they accept the guidance of God on their journey.

Apart, though, from the shepherds and the Magi the greatest event ever to have happened in human history up to that point was marked throughout the world by the deepest of silences. The time was not right for love to speak. It was the same with the Blessed Virgin. To Gabriel she spoke. To God she spoke. To Man (male and female) she was silent. It was the Holy Spirit who told St Elizabeth about the Incarnation, not Mary. It was an angel that told St Joseph about the virginal conception, not Mary. About these mysteries Our Lady pondered in her heart and was silent. The time was not right for speech.

The silence of God is not a sign of His absence. It is one of the forms of His loving presence. The time is always right for Him to love us, and so He does. For those living a grace-filled life, redeemed by the Christ, the time is always right for Him to rejoice over them with gladness, and so He does. But the time is not always right for Him to speak. St James wrote “The trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience hath a perfect work; that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.” (James 1:3-4) The Father does not annihilate imperfection in His children. He patiently waits for them to repent, to convert themselves from what is imperfect and turn in love towards Him who is perfection itself. The children of God who are called to be perfect even as the Father is perfect, are taught through his silence to imitate Him also in His patience.

Is it ever kairos for us to be silent towards God? Indeed it is. Not the silence of ignorance nor yet the silence of enmity but, rather, the silence that comes from the deep stillness that abides in the very centre of our hearts. That fixed point where we hold all that is too profound for words, the feelings and emotions for which there are, and can be, no words. In silence we open this central axis of our lives towards Him who, in silence, receives it. We do not wait for His speech, nor He for ours. We abide together in the love that originates ‘in the beginning.’ The love that belongs neither to chronos nor to kairos but to eternity. It was born there, it will live there, and through faith and silence we experience it now, in this piece of eternity which is the present moment.

In the world rejoicing and silence are thought to be enemies of each other. You can be glad or you can be silent but not both together. And in the world it is so. In God, though, it is not so. He rejoices over us with gladness, He is silent in His love. We are called to respond to Him in kind. Rejoice with gladness in our Saviour, Jesus the Son of Mary, silently contemplate Him, silently love Him, through silence become wholly united with Him such that like St Paul we can affirm ‘I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me‘ (Galatians 2:20)


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The picture is Newly born Infant by Georges de La Tour

The Christian Concept of Equality

saints peter and paul Мanuscrits du Maître aux-fleurs datant du XVe siècle

I have no mind that anybody should think of me except as he sees me, as he hears me talking to him.
(2 Corinthians 12:6)

The internal dissensions plaguing the Church in Corinth compelled St Paul to give a long list of reasons as to why Corinthian Christians should pay special attention to him when he gave them instructions. He ends, though, by saying that he would much prefer if they just took him as they found him. The point he is making is that people should be received not for who they are, Apostle, general, consul, slave, maidservant, but for what they are, a human person.

What he is asking for is a profoundly counter-intuitive thing for any person to request. He wants to be treated with less respect than his position apparently merits. Alongside this is another principle which is that other people should be treated with more respect than their position apparently merits. Or, to put it another way, we should see primarily the person in front of us and only secondarily the position which they may happen to hold in society or in the Church.

To you, who are reading this in the twenty-first century, this may seem such a commonplace idea with which you are so familiar that you don’t feel the need to stop and ask yourself why we should behave in this manner. It was not so in St Paul’s time. A huge proportion of the population were slaves and destined to be so for all their lives and their children after them. Among the free citizens a strict hierarchy was maintained based upon accident of birth and membership of an ethnic group or clan. And, of course, women occupied a predetermined second class status whichever in-group they happened to belong to. So, what Paul was proposing was a radical revolution in the way that people thought about and interacted with each other.

It is also true, moreover, that, even now, if we accept in theory the idea of equality of respect in practice we behave differently to people depending on where they stand in the pecking order and expect other to behave differently towards us on the same grounds. That is, equality of respect in personal behaviour does not come naturally to us. It is not ‘common sense.’ It is not something that children do instinctively and have to be socialised out of. On the contrary, we are an hierarchic species by inlination. Adults may, after deep philosophical reflection, come to the idea that humans deserve to be treated in ways that do not relate to their social status but to put such an idea into practice requires a good deal of conscious effort and, I would add as a Christian, a great deal of infused grace also.

So why should we treat each person with an equal degree of respect? The Old Testament (or, if you wish to be politically correct the Hebrew Scriptures) tells us that Man (male and female) is made in the image and likeness of God. The New Testament gives superadded value to that by showing how the Logos of God became Incarnate and died a criminal’s death upon the Cross in order to offer the gift of salvation to each human ever born. Therefore, each person whom we encounter is so beloved by the Creator of the universe that He shed His Precious Blood just to redeem that person from the shadow of death. That means every person is of infinite value and if we treat them as being less than ourselves we are, if effect, despising the blood of Christ.

This does not mean that Christianity proposes a political or economic programme of egalitarianism. In the course of any given thousand years or so schemes and systems of government or economic management appear, rise, flourish for a while and then vanish of the face of the earth forever. While they last they appear inevitable, commonsensical and eternal. Once they have passed away future generations wonder whyever people put faith in such bankrupt notions. It is not the business of the Church to shackle itself to a ship that is bound sooner or later to sink into the depths and be forgotten. It is the business of the Church to teach and hold firm to those things which are valid in every generation and in every way that society might be ordered in its time.

Which is not to say that individual Christians are or should be disbarred from campaigning for egalitarianism. What they should not do, however, is campaign in such a way as to suggest that what they conceive of as the most expedient and just way to solve today’s problems with today’s tools is somehow the one eternal truth for which Christ died. Any number of systems are more or less compatible with the aspirations of the Gospel and all of them are flawed. Heaven will never be a place on this old Earth because humans as a whole will not escape the personal consequences of Original Sin at work in each of them until the end of the age.

If equality of outcome or even, arguably, equality of opportunity are not specifically mandated by the Christian Scriptures equality of respect certainly is. This is something that the Church and each of her members should insistently advocate, pursue and carry out in the smallest interstices of our daily life as well as in the great matters of State. Be kind to each other while there is still time it is said. And I would add be loving to each other, be respectful to each other for each of us has been bought at a price which is infinite and eternal.

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The picture is of Sts Peter and Paul from Мanuscrits du Maître-aux-fleurs datant du XVe siècle

7 Sonnets for Advent & Christmastide


Long the journey seemed, Northward to Southward.
All but nine months gone, heavy with her child,
Weary Virgin, rich in grace, all unmarred,
Travels with her husband in country wild.

Ahead is hope fulfilled, life new begun,
Angels will rejoice, High Kings will bow low.
The child of promise, new and brighter sun.
Prophets dreamt, Mary knew it would be so.

Yet much must be endured on pilgrims way,
Winds are bitter cold, hills are hard to climb.
Tired she is, tireder each passing day.
As she draws ever nearer to her time.

Her heavy body though is light within
With a light that lights the world, frees from sin.


Short winter day drawing near to its end.
Joseph and Mary enter the city,
None will house them, neither stranger nor friend
Not for money nor for love and pity.

She has travelled so long, her time so near.
Joseph consoles the chaste bride he adores,
In dark coldness she trusts him without fear;
Love’s wings beat about him, on them he soars.

But all is not lost, a stable they find,
Poor it is and bare, no palace of kings.
Enough, though, to bring Mary peace of mind
And ease of body, here again she sings.

All now in place for the advent of He
Who is born in the shadow of the tree.

the nativity by lorenzo monaco

Unto us a child is given. What joy!
His love, sweeter than wine, our light of life.
He will set free those whom death would destroy.
This Jesus, Prince of peace, quelling all strife.

A newborn child, son of Mary so pure,
Gently she enfolds the heart of her heart.
The Son, the Mother, whose love will endure.
Joseph rejoicing does not stand apart.

But, all Rule will be upon His shoulders,
This helpless infant has a destiny,
The world’s burden and Rome’s cruel soldiers,
Pain, the Cross, a yelling mob’s infamy.

Today, though, be glad, a new life is here
Christmas joy, Christmas boy, the best of cheer!

shepherds angels christmas


Black sky bursts in sudden flame, Angels sing,
Astounded shepherds start out of their sleep,
“Glory! Sing Glory to the newborn king.”
Unveiled today a mystery so deep.

An infant you will find in swaddling wrapped,
The promised Christ has come, child of your dreams.
A poor one like you, for this is most apt.
Humble and weak yet much more than He seems.

How shall we know Him? Where shall we now seek?
Long is this night and cold has grown our hope,
Can we be sure you don’t deceive the weak?
Do you speak true or mislead with a trope?

In Bethlehem with Mary you will see
The promised child who truly sets you free

journey of the magi sassetta


Though Herod has lied the star has been true
Our far journey has now come to its close
The portent foretold the time fallen due
Christ child with His mother, the sweetest rose.

Light showed the path to the King of all light
The sign that we saw bore witness of God
From the East have we come to see this sight
Bringing threefold gifts, honour and all laud.

For a time we were lost and went far astray
Seeking among those of hostile intent
They gave us a map but they fear the way
Made fair-faced promises they never meant.

Presents we give to the child we adore
Which He will return us tenfold and more

flight into egypt holy family

Death lies behind, ahead only darkness
The sudden warning allowed no delay
‘Your foes are enraged, more than pitiless
Arise! Make haste! Be swift! Go on your way’

A child and a woman, driven to flight
With only Joseph to guard and to guide
Fear besets them as they ride through the night.
Egypt is far and the desert is wide.

But see amid fear and this cruel test
How tender the love of mother and maid
Cradling her new Son and soothing His rest
As He lies in her arms trusting her aid.

Flying for refuge, a time of great need
Will strangers be kind in word or in deed?

the innocents giotto


Bethlehem’s children, deep wrapped in their sleep.
Resting from play, surrounded by much care.
Suddenly awake feeling fear so deep
Herod’s harsh soldiers, their sharp swords they bare.

Fresh blood on the ground, sad mothers bereaved
The slaughter is frightful, cries rend the night.
Infants murdered that Herod be relieved.
Eyes see horror that blights the gift of sight.

Though Rachel weeps and will not be consoled
Bright Angels raise her young ones up above
New Saints they are, the first martyrs enrolled
The soldiers of hate defeated by love.

The child who escaped is He who is blessed
So let us all cry Christus natus est!


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On the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

immaculate conception blessed virgin mary

Thou hast prevented him with blessings of sweetness
(Psalm 20:4)

If, using only the tools of twenty-first century English, we attempted to understand the meaning that the psalmist intends to convey with this line then we would probably come up with some strange interpretations. In sixteenth century English, however, ‘prevent‘ does not so much mean ‘stop‘ as it does ‘forestall‘ or ‘get in ahead of.’  So what David (to whom the psalms are traditionally attributed) is saying is that the Lord provided blessings before the person for whom they were provided had shown up. The Church has always regarded psalm 20 (or 21 in Protestant bibles) as a Messianic song so the ‘him‘ in question is Jesus.

Upon His incarnation the first, and certainly the sweetest, of the blessings prepared in advance for Him which Our Lord encountered was Mary His mother. She was, as it were, the Father’s gift to the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit. Since God does not use humans as automatons but respects their freedom before Our Lady could become the Father’s gift she had to first make of herself a gift to the Son, which, with the aid of the Spirit, she did not only at the Annunciation but through the whole course of her life beginning in the womb of St Anne, her mother.

It is fitting that as it was with the Son so it also was with the Mother, that is, the Father prevented her with blessings of sweetness. One of the traditional prayers for the Mass of the Immaculate Conception talks of the Lord’s grátia præveniénte or anticipating grace. By this grace Mary was, from the moment she was conceived in St Anne’s womb, preserved from the stain of original sin. This was not only a singular blessing for Our Lady but a watershed moment in human history. From the beginning God held in His mind the archetype of a human child coming perfect from His hands but until the time of Mary no such child had ever existed. All children before her had inherited the Original Sin of their parents and so the perfection in Creation which God desired was marred by our human imperfection. In Mary though the first perfect child of God appeared in the flesh at the moment in which all human life begins, that is, at the moment of conception.

It is also fitting that the first child to be fully made in the image and likeness of the Creator should be a girl child. It was to woman that the promise had been made anent humanity’s incessant war against the serpent- “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head” (Genesis 3:15) Mary was the first light to breach the darkness that had overlain humanity since the Fall, she was the herald of the defeat of Satan and she was to be the mother of the Saviour who would redeem mankind from servitude to sin and fear of death.

The Church rightly celebrates the Immaculate Conception in order to give honour and praise to the glorious Mother of the still more Glorious Son and to give thanks for the salvation and liberation which the economy of God worked through them. More than that, though, like all the dogmas of Christianity it is not merely an abstract truth to be noted it is a personal truth for each of the baptised which we are called upon to make present in our own lives, to incarnate through our practice of the faith.

How can we do this? God does not change His ways, if He has prevented both the Mother and the Son with blessings of sweetness then He has done so also with us. Through the sacraments of baptism and reconciliation (confession) He has granted us the gift of being cleansed from the stain (if not fully from the effects) of Original Sin. We can be restored to some degree to the immaculate state which the Creator intended for us. Whenever we are newly baptised or shriven we are filled with grace, that is the time for us to turn our eyes to Immaculate Mary and to follow her example. That too is the time to turn our hearts and our lips to the Theotokos in prayer that she, the mediatrix of all graces and our most loving mother, may send us the gifts of the Spirit which we need to keep us in the path of purity.

Immaculate Mary is our exemplar and protectress. Most of all she is the mother of God, the mother of our Saviour. It is because of Him that she was made Immaculate, it is through Him that she was Assumed into heaven, it was in Him that she placed her hopes and it was upon Him that she poured out the purest and strongest love that ever a human creature has felt or expressed. Being Immaculate meant that Our Lady was a mirror of the perfections of her Divine Son. We honour her the most when we imitate Him to whom she gave birth.


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The picture is from a Book of Hours, fol. 97r, early 16th century. School of the Île-de-France, Paris. Language: Latin. Script: Littera batarda 

What is the Point of Virtue?

napa vineyard

If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.
(Matthew, 19:17)

My mother’s sons turned their anger on me,
They made me look after the vineyards.
My own vineyard I had not looked after!
(Song of Solomon, 1:6)

The purpose of Our Lord’s mission is that we may have life more abundantly. One of the instruments which He offers to us in pursuit of this goal is the practice of virtue, that is, the keeping of His commandments. The promise is that if we do so not only shall we enter into His presence forever at the end of this mortal existence (which, to be sure, is a great assurance itself) but that even now, in this present time, we will experience an overflowing abundance of life.

How does that work? What is the connection between virtue and a life lived in primary colours? Catholics can offer an answer to these questions on two levels, that of Natural Law and that of Revealed Truth. On the first, where we use Reason unaided by Revelation, we can argue that virtue is intrinsically good and the source of good for each individual human person. Superadded to that we can argue from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition that a person in a state of grace receives, and gives to others, a degree of good from the practice of virtue which eye has not seen and ear has not heard.

In classical Greek philosophy it was argued that the practice of the virtues was necessary in order to achieve Eudaimonia. This is a concept often translated as ‘happiness’ but it has a richer depth of meaning than that. It carries an idea of ‘human flourishing’ and ‘fulfilment’ as well. We might think of it as having life abundantly. Aristotle in particular saw virtue as the perfect mean between excess on the one hand and defect on the other. Or, to put it in Goldilockian terms, virtue is that porridge which is neither too hot nor too cold but ‘just right‘ (I’m Scottish and writing this on St Andrew’s day, hence the porridge reference.)

Since the mean is in itself a form of perfection it follows that it must be nearer to a state of eudaimonia than any form of imperfection. More profoundly than that in order to consistently pursue such a path we must previously have secured a permanent victory in our internal civil war. Aristotle saw, with good reason, each person as being a house divided against itself. Within us we have three principle aspects of our human nature which can be understood hierarchically. At the least uniquely human is the desiring aspect which we share with the animals, from this proceeds lust, gluttony and the like. Above this is the irascible aspect which combines thought with desire, from this proceeds anger, envy, malice and the like. Top of the tree is the intellective aspect which is governed by Reason and is what makes us most distinctively human in relation to visible creation (though Reason is also a characteristic of angels.)

To be virtuous, then, and thus to enter into life, it is necessary for the intellective aspect of ourselves to battle with, and gain the mastery over, our appetitive and irascible aspects. Which brings us to the vineyards of Solomon. If our mother is the earth then the sons of the mother are of the earth earthy. That is, the passions which spring up from the lower part of our nature draw us away from the cultivation of our intellect which is of its Father, spirit not matter. In tending to the passions, nourishing them and lending our intellect to justify and rationalise their excesses and defects increasingly our own vineyard becomes, as Hamlet might put it-
…an unweeded garden
That grows to seed. Things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely
(Hamlet Act 1, Scene 2)

Yet, to experience life fully we should use that which is most characteristically human in us, the intellect, to its maximum extent. We can thus control and direct our lower aspects, desire and irascibility, so that they function to their full potential as part of a creature which is rational. Neglecting the vineyard of the mind does not mean that it cannot function at all. If we cut through the weeds and brambles we can still harvest a crop from it but they will be, to coin a phrase, sour grapes. Enough to intoxicate us perhaps, or bring us to oblivion but not of a nature to gives us the pleasure of their taste or the delight of a wine which gladdens the heart. Therefore, we should direct our energies towards the vineyard of the mind so that a rich vintage can be harvested from it. One whose taste we can enjoy while drinking it and whose effect will not be frenzy and distraction but mellow pleasure shared with friends.

What does Revelation add to this picture? The Orthodox Saint Maximos the Confessor wrote-
The divine Logos of God the Father is mystically present in each of His commandments… Thus, he who receives a divine commandment and carries it out receives the Logos of God who is in it.
Which means that one who obeys the commandments for the sake of the Kingdom receives within themselves the Ruler of that Kingdom. Christ Himself dwells within those who fulfill His Will because He is His Will as He is Love and Truth and Justice and Mercy. And where the Son is so to is the Father and the Holy Spirit whose Temple we become if we do the will of the Son, as we do the will of the Son because we have become the Temple of the Holy Spirit. From Revelation we can deduce that the difference between the eudaimonia of the rationally virtuous and the abundancy of the Christianly virtuous is that the one is energised from within, by ourselves, and the other is energised from without, by the Blessed Trinity, which becomes a within by the power of the descending Holy Spirit and the indwelling Logos of God. Or, to put it another way, if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.


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The stock picture is of a vineyard in Napa

The Time is Now Past


queen esther the persians

His disciples came to Him,


This is a desert place,

And the time is now past

(Matthew 14:15)


Turn our sorrow into joy,

That we may live,

O Lord,

And praise thy name

(Esther 13:17)


To be in a desert place is to be without resources to draw upon. Neither within, in our heart and mind, nor without, in the people and things surrounding us, can we find that which we need to sustain us. We have arrived at bleakness, we live and move and have our being in bleakness. Our outward state may appear to be pleasant enough, career, family, the things of life might be going along exactly as the world tells us that they should but we do not find in them the happiness promised. Or we may have suffered loss, trauma or illness and we find that there is nothing which comes to hand that can give us the strength to escape from the legacy of despair which they have left behind in our souls.


Compounding this we look around and sense that for us the time is past. The wrongs which we have done cannot now be undone. The wrongs which have been done to us have left scars and wounds that are beyond any power that we are aware of to heal. More than that our vision is darkened by an incoming tide of blackness to which there seems no end. Night is coming upon us and we doubt that we can survive it.


Although Christians might argue that objectively this state, being in a desert place with time running out, is an accurate enough description of most people in the world most of the time such people rarely experience it within themselves as a subjective reality. Sometimes, though, they do, when events, like bereavement or war, or states of being, like adolescence or sickness, lead them to contemplate the deeper realities of being which underlie all the busy doing which makes up their normal mode of living in the world.


Such a situation faced the Jews during the time of the Queen Consort Esther. An edict providing for their destruction and the despoiling of their property was issued. Humanly speaking there was none to save them, their neighbours, after all, stood to benefit from their possessions after the act of what we now call genocide had been committed. More than that a Law of the Medes and Persians could not be revoked having once been passed. Facing this catastrophe they found that they had no resources within themselves or in their surroundings to deal with it by any normal means.


Since their was nothing possible to do they turned to two impossible things, which was really one impossible thing. That is, they prayed to God for a miracle to save them and they urged Esther who was a daughter of Zion and spouse of the Great King to intercede with him on their behalf. And the two were one because it was God, heeding the prayers of suffering Israel, who granted Esther the strength to ask for remission of the sentence, at the peril of her own life, and who moved the King to respond positively to her petition.


The disciples too recognised that they had nothing, that they were nothing, that they could do nothing and that they were soon to be overwhelmed by night. All that remained for them was Jesus, so it was to Him that they turned. He took the few elements which they did have, sorry little things that seemed too inadequate to meet the needs which they faced. And Jesus infused His power into them. He, as it were, gave them life, He multiplied them, they became pure gift not only for the disciples but for all who surrounded them. Their sorrow was turned to joy and they praised the name of the Lord.


This is the work which the Christ was sent to do. To redeem the time, to bring life into the midst of death, hope where there is despair, the gift of sharing where there is selfish hoarding, to turn base metals into pure gold. But for Him to accomplish His work in us we must first look around and see that we are in a desert place indeed and that the light around us is fading fast. Only when we both know and acknowledge fully to ourselves that we are burdened and that the burden wearies us can we accept the invitation which the Son of Mary issues to us-

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,

And I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;

For I am meek and lowly in heart:

And ye shall find rest unto your souls.

(Matthew 11:28-29)



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The picture is: Queen Esther begs King Ahasver for clemency towards the Persian Jews. Page from a Megillat Esther