Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Wrongs don't make a right.

Almost a year ago I blogged on Cardinal O' Brien and his stance on LGBT issues (see "A Right Rammy" 5th March 2012).  I noted the offensive nature of his language and wondered why someone I knew to have previously been fairly sympathetic to the LGBT community had suddenly turned so nasty.  I even preached against his position  a few months ago from an Edinburgh pulpit (go to http://www.stmichaelandallsaints.org/Sermons/archive.php - see the sermon for Trinity 13 if you are interested). Events of the last few days have suggested obvious reasons of closeted self hatred to plenty of people.  As Kenny Dalgleish so famously commented "Maybes aye, maybes no".  However, I have been quite uncomfortable reading some reactions from a variety of Facebook friends and others.  "Intemperate" is being polite. "Splenetic triumphalism" is a more accurate description.  At one level I fully understand this.  As I said at the time, the Cardinal was singularly intemperate in his language and "as ye sow so shall you reap" and all that.But even allowing for that I am not too keen on  the responses I have seen.  If nothing else, you sink to his level of vitriol and lower yourself to his stunted stature. Imitating an oppressor is not liberation, it is a continuation of oppression in a mirror form.  By insulting as you have been insulted, you proclaim not the reality of your freedom from oppression but your continuing enthralment to a cycle of spleen and anger that diminishes your God given and God loved humanity.   Not taking resentments about others attitudes to you and using them to fuel your internalised self-loathing in a destructive way is a key part of any 12 step Recovery programme and really has to be applied to every part of your life, including your online conversations and reactions.
I also have a level of human sympathy for the man.  Having struggled with celibacy, loneliness and drink myself for over a decade before getting sober, 12 stepping and meeting Rachel, I can in all honesty and with deep feeling say "There but for the grace of God go I".  I dislike his attitudes deeply, I do not excuse any wrong that may be proved to have been done (although at the moment they are allegations under investigation, not proven facts - which some are prone to forget whilst crowing) and would hope that if the allegations are substantiated appropriate disciplinary sanctions would be applied by the RC Church's authorities without regard either to the rank involved or to the howls of the mob.  At the moment, as far as I am aware, only 5 people in the World know the full truth about what really happened - the 4 complainants and the Cardinal.  All 5 need our prayers and I will be praying for all involved in this grim situation - and also for the many ordinary Scottish Catholics who will be hurt and distressed by the events of the past few days.  May they all know the presence of the God who is greater than any Church and whose love breached the gates of death to bring freedom and life to all who knew fear and pain in any form.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Stations of Revelation


We went over to see friends on Holy island today.  Lunch and gossip, which is always good.  With a bit of time to spare between tides, we dropped into see an exhibition there ( http://www.holyisland-stcuthbert.org/events.htm ) based on the Stations of the Cross.  The images (photo's) were only of hands.  Now, I have seen something similar before - painted stations of the cross in Holy Trinity & St Barnabas' Paisley.  But the texts accompanying them made the difference.  The one that struck me were uplifted hands, reflecting on the Jesus meeting the women of Jerusalem (Station VIII).  The text (which I will paraphrase somewhat) was "The women were wailing.  It's always the women who wail.  For their men, their children".

A terrible truth that.  When war or hunger strikes, it's the women who wail.  In Mali, Syria or Afghanistan.  Wherever.  But the text concluded each of the Stations by turning the agony on its head and reminding us that in Christ, even the most desperate agony and tragedy is transformed by his suffering love into Love. That is a Christian belief and truth. A terrible mystery, a wonderful if bizarre paradox to be sure.  But it also lies at the very heart of the Lenten journey - we pass through contemplating horrors which all too often are not mysterious but easily explicable phenomena to any student of human nature and history.  The mystery, the hope is the transforming love of the suffering, self offering God we encounter in the person of Jesus Christ.  Who we draw closer to in this Holy Season as we approach the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Misery is the spur???

Parson Woodforde, who would have been a blogger!

I was thinking as I made the morning tea and coffee that I blog less these days and I also (IMHO) write somewhat less interesting stuff ( a point of view easily supported by the shrinking number of comments - I delete anything that looks as if it comes from a machine from a shoe company, which thins things out).  Why, I mused groggily?  Then it slightly dawned  on me that it may be because I'm basically happy these days.

Misery and/or discontent can be a creative spur artistically or spiritually. The grit in the oyster that produces the Pearl of Great Price. It can also be purely destructive and happy people can be creative and have insights.  Possibly my musings and reflections were of greater interest to others  when they wrestled with some of the stuff that made me miserable because some of it was stuff that had made them miserable too.  Happiness on the other hand is less exciting or engaging - it enters into the realms of which Bridget Jones of the Diary described as being those of the "smug marrieds".

Actually, the blog for me is more like a diary of old.  Kilvert, Woodforde and other parsons recorded their doings and years later their jottings provided insight, interest and even inspiration for others.  In that sense, blogging isn't just a present moment thing, it's a posterity project.  So I'll carry on musing, not essentially for the great general public but for myself.  Which is why I think I started.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Lent... again.


Lent is not a revelation to most of us.  Rather, it's all too familiar - an old acquaintance we encounter periodically.  Sometimes it's a joy, sometimes a trial, mostly it's just part of the familiar annual routine.  We think about our spiritual routine and seek to revitalise it.  That can be a sad sort of "New Year's Resolution" experience - we mean well, but it really won't last very long once normality kicks in.

To be honest, that's where I am. My best intentions have been gangin' aft agley with boring speed since Wednesday.  I hope to pray as I have intended.  I am reading the Parish Lent book (and enjoying it - it's called "Joy" by Peter Waddell).  We are eating a lot less meat (none on Wednesdays or Fridays).  And I will go to confession before Easter.  Hopefully a little growth and insight will ensue.  In God we trust  - and in the grace that is always more ready to hear than we are to pray.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Our Lady of Lourdes, 11th February.

 An act of consecration to Our Lady of Lourdes.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Virgin Immaculate, you appeared 18 times to Bernadette at the grotto in Lourdes to remind Christians of what the truths in the Gospel require of them. You call them to prayer, penance, the Eucharist and the life of the church. To answer your call more fully, I dedicate myself, through you, to your Son Jesus. Make me willing to accept what he said. By the fervour of my faith, by the conduct of my life in all its aspects, by my devotion to the sick, let me work with you in the comforting of those who suffer and in the reconciliation of people that the church may be one and there be peace in the world. All this I ask, confident that you, Our Lady, will fully answer my prayer. Blessed be the Holy and Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. St. Bernadette, pray for us.

Devotion to Our Lady and her Incarnate Son apart, it is the call to work with the sick (which as a support worker with autistic adults I could be said to do) and the call to reconcilliation that makes this act of consecration so appealing to me.  Perhaps a good discipline for Lent, n'est pas?