Co-operating with God: Reflection on the Transfiguration

Dear Friends

“He will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body.”

This is the great promise which is held out to us. That the glory which Christ has, the perfection and beauty, is being offered to us. We are looking forward to Christ’s redemption – to spending eternity in heaven with God, utterly transformed from our present state to be like God. When we contemplate that present state this can seem, to say the least, highly improbable – but it is the promise of God.

It is also his work – we cannot transfigure our bodies into glory, however hard we try. What we need to do is work with God – it is his work to be done in us. But he invites us to be co-operators in this work. This is why S. Paul also tells us to follow a rule of life, to take positive steps to work with God. This is the heart of our Lenten observance, focusing more on God and on how we can co-operate with his work of transforming our lives.

It may seem like a struggle at times, but considering that glorious prize can give us the incentive to keep striving towards it.

Blessings, Fr Thomas.

    CTS materials to take you through Lent

    With the ‘Penance and Pancake’ tomorrow, Lent is well and truly upon us. There will be two options for Lent groups this year with the parish of Christ the King: one following on from the Advent course, continuing to look at the Lord’s Prayer and another one, using group materials at St Joachim. However many people also like to have their own materials for devotions. The CTS site has many options. Here are four books which may pique your interest.

    This booklet focuses on the Passion of Christ by looking at parts of a Crucifix. Written by Julien Chilcot-Monk who restores crucifixes, there is an interesting blog post and podcast explaining how this Lent booklet is to be used.

    Calvary through the eyes of Mary also focuses on the Passion, but uses a format of the Stations of the Cross. The author, Helen Pepper draws on her experience of walking the Via Delarosa in Jerusalem and her reflections on becoming a mother to meditate on Mary’s experience of walking the way of the cross with her son.

    By Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, this book uses Lenten readings from the lectionary to meditate on the journey through Lent. Wansbrough draws on his extensive Biblical scholarship and there are actions linked to each meditation.

    Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week is the second in Joseph Ratzinger’s (Benedict XVI) three books, in which he seeks to investigate and encounter the real Christ. A result of his own personal devotion and his lifetime of brilliant theology, Ratzinger takes the reader through the whole of Holy Week drawing on his insights and synthesis of tradition and scholarship. This is a profound book to take you through Lent.

    Whatever you choose private study, prayer and devotions deepen our walk with Christ, through the desert and on to the Passion in Jerusalem.

      Words reveal the contents of our heart.

      Dear Friends,
      James’ writes in his epistle, “No human being can tame the tongue…with it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God.”
      James is only stating what has been known since ancient times.

      Our readings today are wisdom sayings all related to the speech and the tongue. Our speaking reveals something of the nature of our heart and Jesus tells that “for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks,” be that good or evil.

      Gossiping and spreading rumours blights the life of any community and the Church is no different. Social media can makes the damage done to a persons life and reputation worse. Words can encourage, console, and bring life to the hearer or can equally bring down, deflate, discourage and can be deadly.

      Jesus points out that a heart full of bitterness, resentment or jealousy is unlikely to produce life giving words and conversation. We are all aware that some spoken words are sugar coated and appear compassionate but all to often end in just thorns and brambles.

      We can put on the imperishable, that St Paul speaks about, by the surrendering of our hearts to Jesus through confession and conversion in an act of faith. By doing so we invite the Word, who is life, within us and can in him over come the sting of death.
      Blessing Fr Neil

        Mgr Edwin’s funeral

        Tomorrow is the funeral of Mgr Edwin Barnes, at St Osmund’s in Salisbury. As some of us have just been away in Bournemouth we were able to chat with some of his old group, who are travelling up. For those unable to be there in person, the service will be live streamed at the church’s live stream

        A few years ago we had another group time away, this time in the New Forest. Mgr Edwin came to visit us during that week and gave two talks during the day. One was on the peace during mass. The shifting of the position of the Peace, from our Anglican days, was something that some of us were finding challenging. Although Mgr Edwin made a point of saying that he knew very little about it, it was obvious that he had looked in much depth into the subject and it was a significant moment for many of us.

        Edwin managed to hold together both an image of the elder statesman for the Ordinariate and well as a grandfatherly figure for many individuals. May he hear the words of Our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

        During our week away in 2014

        During our week away in 2014

          The gift points to the giver.

          Dear Friends,

          Our readings are beginning to turn our attention towards Lent. In the old Calendar this Sunday is referred to a Septuagesima, reminding us there are 70 days until the end of Easter week and 3 Sundays before Lent begins.

          This is a time to prepare for the gift of the season of Lent. We are asked to focus especially on prayer, fasting and almsgiving during this season so that our minds are turned towards the needs of others and to remind ourselves that our lives are not made secure in material things alone.

          The created world is God’s gift to us that points us to his wonderful creativity and generosity which in turn should lift our hearts in praise of our glorious God. However, too often we have treated this gift as an end in itself and lost sight of the giver. It is so easy to build our security and trust in material things themselves and to think that they define who we are.

          This week Jeremiah and Jesus both, in very stark language, remind us that our focus, trust and identity is to be found in God alone and not in what is ‘here today and gone tomorrow.’ St Paul tells us that Christ’s death and resurrection are proof of the triumph of the eternal over the temporal, life over death and divine love over sin.

          Blessings Fr Neil

            My eyes have seen the King.

            “What a wretched state I am in! I am lost… eyes have looked at the King, the Lord of Hosts.”

            These words are uttered by the prophet Isaiah in response to the glorious vision of heaven he received. He saw the angelic host sing what we call the Sanctus and they sang with such powerful voices that the sanctuary shook and the smoke of incense was everywhere. In the midst of this vision was the majesty of the Lord of Hosts that filled the sanctuary.

            Isaiah had encountered the holiness of God and became only too aware of his own unworthiness and the sin of his people. He was not however consumed by the holiness of God as he feared but was cleansed of his sins by a coal taken from the altar so that he might continue to stand in God’s presence.

            Simon, who will become Peter the rock, also encounters the holy presence of God in the person of Jesus. His response is similar to Isaiah, falling on his knees saying, “leave me, Lord: I am a sinful man.” Yet again though God doesn’t banish but heals, purifies and calls. Who will I send? And I will make you fishers of men.

            The word they are to proclaim? St Paul tells us “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Ce’phas, then to the Twelve.”

            Blessings Fr Neil