Easter 6

apostles

Dear Friends,

Next week sees three Rogation Days. Rogation days are days set aside to observe the change in the seasons and are tied to spring planting. The ones which fall next week, known as the Minor Rogations, are celebrated on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday immediately before Ascension Day, which falls on Thursday.

Rogation days are intended to be days of prayer, which also used to include fasting, and were instituted by the Church as a time of penitence for our sins, to ask God’s protection against calamities and to pray for a good and bountiful harvest.

The word comes from the Latin “rogare”, which means “to ask”; and the primary purpose of Rogation Days was, and is, to ask God to bless the fields and the Parish that they fall in.

Rogation Days used to be marked by the recitation of the Litany of the Saints and, after Our Lady had been invoked, the congregation would walk the boundaries of the parish (Beating the Bounds) whilst reciting the rest of the Litany, sometimes with the addition of verses from the psalms.

In this way, the entire parish would be blessed, the boundaries of the parish marked, and the procession would end with a Rogation mass.

Although this tradition has largely lapsed these days, it is good, nonetheless, to remind ourselves of how the Church’s liturgical year is tied to the changing seasons.

You may like to celebrate Rogation Days by yourself, by reciting the Litany of the Saints and, although be might be too much to walk round the whole parish, you could perhaps have a prayer walk round a portion of the boundary, or simply by remembering all who live in that area and praying for good weather and a fruitful harvest.

On Friday 14th the Church remembers St Matthias. He was the disciple chosen by lot to replace Judas Iscariot, but apart from that very little is known about him. Like many of Christ’s followers, he was not famous, so his Feast is an appropriate day to remember all unsung faithful followers of Christ and give thanks for them.

Matthias is also the patron saint of alcoholics, so please pray for all who are suffering from this illness, for their families and friends, and for the work of AA and Al Anon.

My love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

Easter-6-Readings

(Download the Scripture Readings)

Reflection

Easter-6-Reflection

(Download the Reflection)

The image is a medieval (12th century) Byzantine fresco in a Cappadocian rock-cut church at Göreme depicting Jesus Christ with the twelve apostles. Creative Commons CC0 License

Easter 5

Dear Friends,

As part of the C/E prayer series I mentioned last week, a question was raised which seemed to speak into the way a number of people have told me they’re feeling at the moment. The question was, “How do I pray when prayer seems impossible?”

Given the year we’ve had, it is not surprising that some people are in this place. Some have described feeling as though God has let them down, or has even abandoned them. Prayer has become impossible or even pointless. It feels empty, with familiar words and rituals losing their comfort.

Although these experiences are dark and painful, I’d say they are also normal and inevitable. All the great spiritual writers speak of times like these as “desert experience”, and are part and parcel of the Christian journey.

If this is true for you, I’d say “Hang in there”. When I was going through a time like this many years ago, a wise spiritual Director said two things which I have always remembered. The first was, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t”, and “Take the body along and the soul will follow”.

When you journey through the desert, what you look for is an oasis: a place where you can quench your thirst. The oasis will be different for each of us: it might be a familiar prayer; a verse from scripture; a piece of music; a photograph; or even some symbolic action. Discern what it is – no matter how small and seemingly insignificant – that still connects you to God, and then hold onto it tightly through the desert.

I have personally found it helpful to have something physical to hold onto. Whether it’s my rosary beads, or the holding cross made from one of the original crosses at Walsingham, I can get a sense that, as I hold onto these items, God continues to hold onto me, no matter what I’m feeling like, nor whether I recognise Him or not.

Sometimes, the opening words of Ps 130 can be a comfort, “Out of the depths I have cried to you O Lord; Lord, hear my voice”. At others, simply saying “Come, Lord Jesus”, over and over again.

If you can do any of these things, then you are a person of prayer, in community with God and held by Jesus. As you hold onto him and cry out to him in whatever way you choose, he is holding you.

In the Bible, the desert is always a place of discovery. The prophet Isaiah says, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom.” (Isaiah 35.1)

May this be true for you, too.

With my love and prayers,

Deacon Corinne

Scripture Readings

Easter-5-Readings

(Download the Scripture Readings)

Reflection

Sunday-Reflection-to-come

(Download the Reflection)

The image is of the Eastern Orthodox icon of Jesus Christ as the True Vine. It is to be found in the Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens, Greece and dates from the 16th century. Creative Commons CC0 License