Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Douai Martyrs

The Lord will not abandon his people
  nor forsake those who are his own;
for judgement shall again be just
  and all true hearts shall uphold it.

.   .   .

Last year at this time, we were remembering the Douai Martyrs with the community gathered at Ushaw College, founded here in the northeast of England from the English College at Douai. This year, Ushaw has closed (Lucy was baptized in the chapel at Ushaw in June), and the memorial becomes just that much more melancholy. Universalis has this to say: 

The English College at Douai was founded in 1569 to educate English Catholics, and in particular to act as a seminary training priests to enter England covertly, minister to English Catholics, and attempt the re-conversion of England to the faith. Simply being a Catholic priest was high treason in England at this time, with the penalty of hanging, drawing and quartering, and more than 160 of the priests from Douai were thus executed. Each time the news of another execution reached the College, a solemn Mass of thanksgiving was sung.

I am humbled by the reminder that, however much I find the way of discipleship a challenge at the moment, I 'have not yet resisted to the point of shedding [my] blood.' I am grateful for the witness of the Douai martyrs and all those who have given their lives for the sake of the gospel. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

monday in ordinary time

Blessed day by day be the Lord,
who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation.
God is a saving God for us;
the LORD, my Lord, controls the passageways of death.

(Psalm 67 LXX)

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
"Woman, you are set free of your infirmity."
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.

(Luke 13)

.   .   .

Standing up straight has never been my strong suit. Not because I can't, but because it requires an attention to my body, the was I carry myself, that I just haven't practiced. I suspect that standing erect came as a delight after eighteen years of stooping. The next day, though? How did she do? Did she stoop out of habit? That's what I find, at least, after moments of revelation, of healing: it's living out of the newness of life that's difficult. Habit pulls me in the opposite direction, and I stoop. I forget that the one who heals also remains; he 'bears our burdens' so that we can walk upright. 

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
 Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; 
And by night, but I have no rest. 
Yet you are holy, 
O you who are enthroned on the praises of Israel. 
In you our fathers trusted; 
They trusted and you delivered them. 

.   .   .

By happy accident, I read the wrong bit of Psalm this morning. (I should have read Psalm 24.1-6, but never mind.)

The astonishing thing, though, is that I read it at all. For the last couple of months, I haven't been able to approach the Scripture: the darkness had become that dark. But in the life of the soul as in the cycles of day and night, it seems that the night is darkest just before the dawn. 

It is a happy accident, because for eighteen months or so, I have been utterly bewildered by this age old question: 'why have you forsaken me?' Why is it that our forebears trusted and were delivered? Why were they not disappointed? 

Slowly, though, the light has been creeping back into my soul. And today I find, to my surprise, that the sun shines. The sun shines more brightly than I thought it ever would again. 

The shadows persist, to be sure, and the road ahead still looks like a rocky climb. But I know that the light still shines, and I am not afraid.