Monday, March 14, 2016

Saint Gobnait - Musings about an Ancient Irish Holy Woman

A white stage, inspired by St. Gobnait's story....

"Gobnait" (pronounced GAWB-net) is the Irish version of Abigail - In Hebrew Abigail means "my father is joy".  And I cannot help but think about these verses:

" your presence there is fullness of joy..."
Psalm 16:11

"...You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy..."
Psalm 45:7

"... the joy of the LORD is your strength..."
Nehemiah 8:10

St Gobnait is one of few women Irish saints we have and she lived around the 5th– 6th century. She is known as the saint for bees and beekeepers. She is also the patron of the sick and it is likely that she used honey as a healing medicine (which is considered to be one of the three great Celtic healers - the other two being water and labor).

Gobnait was born in County Clare. She fled from Clare and took refuge in the Aran Islands, where she encountered an angel who instructed her to go on a journey. The angel told her that when she came upon nine white deer, that would be her "resurrection place".   She wandered through Waterford, Cork, and Kerry in search. At first she saw three white deer in Clondrohid and followed them to Ballymakeera where she saw six more.  Finally, when Gobnait arrived in Ballyvourney, where there was a small rise overlooking the River Sullane, she saw nine white deer grazing all together just as the angel had promised, so she settled there and founded her monastic community.

Christine Valters Paintner writes: There is a deep and rich tradition among the Irish monks to seek out the place of one’s resurrection. This was done through the practice of peregrinatio, a setting sail without oar or rudder to let the currents of love carry you. (This happened in metaphoric ways as well.)

In Christian iconography, the stag/buck is a representative of aspiring to be closer to God (consider Psalm 42:1). It is a symbol of thirsting for purity (this plays into the color white, too) and union with the Holy Spirit. The stag is also a symbol of solitude and going within to connect with spiritual wisdom.

St Gobnait shows us to listen to our hearts to find our home and once there do all in your calling to love and protect it.  (Jean Wise)


Monday, January 11, 2016

5 Tips to Find a "Prayer Sanctuary" in the Home You Have

  The first thing we need when we have decided to commit to listening and praying to the Lord is to find that special place that will invite us in, to beckon us to pause, to seek, to listen...

As you use this space, meeting with the Lord there, 
it becomes a haven
a sacred spot where you of calm retreat 
because the anointing of the Lord is tangibly felt there; 
a sanctuary of peace and rest for your heart... 

and ultimately this sanctuary will become the structure 
WITHIN your heart in which the Holy Presence of God resides...

Let's begin today by finding that special spot in your home that will be your "sanctuary" with the Lord.

I know your heart is already questioning:
"What should this space be?"  
"Where should it be?"

1. Begin by simply, slowly and intentionally, walking through your home.  

2. Focus your inner being to already "tune in" to the leading of the Spirit.

3. Ask the Lord to show you where He would like to meet with you.

Is there any place that is drawing you?

It may be a place you are already using.

Or it may be a space you would never thought of before.
4. When you have found the spot, consider: I need to rearrange it?
...add some things to it? can I make it special? 

Make it attractive and appealing, someplace you look forward to enjoying.  This doesn't need to take any money.  Move things that you like or even cherish into the spot.  Make a little "still life" arrangement.

5. Ask yourself what you might need, physically speaking, in order to set time aside to "rest in Him".  (A timer?)  A fine teacup that you reserve for special occasions?  A soft throw to signal you mind "this is a restful space".

When you have this space set up and set aside...
                  celebrate a job well done!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

20 C + M + B 16 - Making Ephiphany A Personal Tradition

Do you observe Epiphany?

Coming from a liturgical church foundation in childhood, I miss some of the ways the church year marks is Epiphany,  a day that we can learn more about and how to use it to be more aware of Jesus in our is the time when Christ is revealed to the world!

Epiphany is the day that liturgical churches observe the visit of the wise men to baby Jesus...their simple desire to worship the King is the precursor to  serious outbursts in the hearts of those who should have been lovers of God, but weren't.  Epiphany celebrates the fact that Jesus came for all people as the Holy Family accepted the worship of Gentiles/foreigners.  Foreigners bowing before the new king shows that God offers the Messiah to the whole world, not to just one race or nation. 

Read Matthew 2:1-12 to get the full story!

(Another interesting fact - the 12 Days of Christmas is really the 12 days from Christmas Day to Epiphany...the song itself was a code which persecuted Christians used to continue to worship and adore their King and can be used to remember to pray for the persecuted church in today's time.)

In modern times, some people observe a tradition passed on since the second century.  It is called "Chalking the Door".  Over the main entrance into the home, a designated member of the family writes the first two numbers of the new year, then C + M + B, and finally the last two numbers of the new year.  For this year, if you want to adopt this simple practice, you would write:

20 C + M + B 16

Finally, all gathered pray a prayer of blessing over each person living in the home and entering in during the year...

The letters C, M, and B are the first letters of each word in the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat—"Christ, bless this home". We want the blessing of Christ, the peace and joy and love of the God-Man— to fill our home, to fill our hearts, to be the very air we breathe as we go about our daily work.

The letters are also a call—because C, M, and B are the initials of the Wise Men whose names, according to tradition, were Caspar, Melchior, and Baltasar. These men left all they knew and held dear to follow a star—because they believed that what they’d find would surpass all they were leaving behind.  The initials over the door remind us to be like the Magi—so we write their initials on our door to remind us, each time we come into our house, of our desire, our intention to follow the Light.

Here is what other have said about their "chalking the door" tradition:
When I see those letters (and I confess, I often pass beneath them, oblivious of their presence, their call), but when I remember to pay attention and I actually see them, I say a prayer: “Help me, Jesus, to see you.Help me to hear you. Help me to follow you.”

In this daily following, we become the magi, answering the call of the star in our small way—and so, by the grace of God, we become the answer to our prayer that Christ would bless our home and all who enter.

Around the world there are different ways to observe the tradition.  Many wear crowns, carry stars, and sing and pray as they move through their neighborhoods, chalking the doors.  In Germany celebrants sing Segen bringen, segen sein (Bring the blessing to be a blessing). 

How can you make this tradition your own?  Consider the wise men and their journey...take different aspects of their story and personalize it:

1.  Stars are used to navigate at night.  Is there a place of darkness, of not knowing, in your life that needs the light of Jesus to shine into it?  Is there already a direction that you have been pointed in, but the journey must be all by faith?

2. Take the journey, even amidst the unknowns. The star speaks to a need to trust that the end will be good and full of His presence!

3.  Be open to joy and wonder, even (especially?) in the dark times.  The wise men were full of joy when they saw the star (Matthew 2:10).  What treasures of joy and wonder might the Lord be trying to give you when you are journeying in the darkness?

4.  Give out of your gifts that you carry with you!  The wise men's gifts represented that they understood who Jesus was.  Each gift reflected different aspects of Jesus' ministry and personhood...the gold represented His deity, the myrrh represented His anointing as the Messiah, and frankincense represented His priestly intercession for all mankind.  How can you give out of your gifts and reflect Jesus to those you come across?

What other insights for your life can you gain from the visit of the Magi?

Resources for Further Insight
Abbey of the Arts Newsletter

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Blessing for a New Year {2016}

I read this beautiful blessing by Rabbi Frederick L Klein and wanted to share it with you for this new year...

Blessings for a New Year

May you be blessed with sudden insights and inspiration.

  May you be graced with quiet moments 
of simplicity and reflection.

May you be supported by your loved ones when you need them.

May you be a source of strength to those around you.

  May you received embraces from parents, 
children, and long lost friends.

  May you cry at a good movie with a person you love.

  May you read a newspaper and react to injustice- 
both in mind and deed.

  May you pick up a hobby that you have always wanted to do.

May you say goodbye to habits and thoughts 
that have become a burden for you.

  May you forgive those who have hurt you.

  May you travel to new places inside yourself.

  May you build the world you have always wanted 
for yourself and others.

  May you have late mornings with a good cup of coffee,
and enjoy the fresh air.

  May you feel healthy- physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

May you hear the joy and the sorrow of this great universe 
in which we live.

And may you –and us all- be blessed with peace.

Rabbi Frederick L Klein

Thursday, December 17, 2015

An Advent Credo (by Daniel Berrigan)

Advent Credo
 Daniel Berrigan

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss—

This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction—

This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever—

This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world.

This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers—

This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—

This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

From Testimony: The Word Made Flesh, by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Orbis Books, 2004.