Monday, September 29, 2008

Micheal and all the Angels

Known as Michealmas this day recalls the fact that we dwell in "this vale of sorrows" a place of spiritual conflict between the Kingdom of God and the powers of darkness.

Micheal along with Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel, is one of the four archangels revered in Christian tradition.

Michael the Archangel is no sweet cherub. He is traditionally known as the commander-in-chief of the heavenly host, a strong warrior and a presence who presides from on high.

Often depicted with sword in hand, subduing a dragon or with a snake under foot, Michael represents divine strength and courage in the face of evil. In Church tradition he is seen as a champion of the weak and sick, a defender of the oppressed and the righteous.

We find him in the Book of Daniel in chapters 10 and 12, where he is referred to as “the great prince, the protector of your people” (Daniel. 12:1). In the last book of the New Testament, Michael figures prominently in the great war in heaven: “And war broke out in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.” (Revalation. 12:7)

Possibly because they are close to the skies, high places have been seen by Christians through the ages as strategic places to claim or capture. Hills mountains and churches at high altitude are often named after or deicated to Micheal. In the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany, various high places are dedicated to St. Michael—Mont St. Michel off the northwest coast of France, for example.

His intervention is called to mind at the time of dying, carrying the soul saftley " a cross the river hard to see". This idea of Micheal as the ferryer of the dying soul is also reflected in the American spiritual "Micheal row the boat a shore". Milk and honey on the other side, Hallelujiah.

Among the Celtic peoples there was a clear awareness that, even though creation is good and comes from God’s own goodness, evil is in the world. They understood the patristic teaching that God’s gracious gift of freewill, allows room to choose life or death, bringing with it the risk of our choosing evil. Michael and the host of heaven were called upon in the face of “spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God,” and “the evil powers of this world.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 302)

The prayers from the Hebridean tradition of Scotland invoke Michael’s protecting presence:
O Michael of the angels
And the righteous in heaven,
Shield thou my soul
With the shade of thy wing;
Shield thou my soul
On earth and in heaven;
From foes upon earth,
From foes beneath earth,
From foes in concealment.
Protect and encircle
My soul ‘neath thy wing,
Oh my soul with the shade of thy wing. (Carmina Gadelica III, 149)
As an angel of God, Michael rides the winds of God’s creative goodness, serving Christ, the living Word through whom all things seen and unseen have come into being. He accompanies us through the twists of life’s journey and the passage of death.
compiled from several sources
Graphic: Russian Icon. The Archangel Michael. 16th century

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cadoc (?- 570)

St. Cadoc one of the great Welsh saints, Cadoc was born around 497 in Gelligaer he began life under a cloud of violence. His father, Gwynllyw the Bearded, was a robber chieftain and one of the lesser kings of Wales.

Cadoc's father stoled a cow belonging to the Irish monk, St. Tathyw. When the monk came fearlessly to reclaim the animal, Gwynllyw asked him to baptise his son and surrender him to the monks care. Cadoc was raised at Caerwent in Monmouthshire by Tathyw, who later became a hermit.

In adulthood, Cadoc refused to take charge of his father's army and instead founded a hermitage at Llancarfan that grew into a Monastery. The monastic community near Cardiff became a famous center of learning in Wales.

He proselytized over a large area of his own country and went as a missionary to Brittany coast in France.

Cadoc went on pilgrimages to both Jerusalem and Rome and was distressed that the Synod of Llanddewi Brefi was held during one of these absences.

Returning to Britain he was martyred near Weedon, England by the occupying Saxons.

Cadoc's story appears in a
Vita Cadoci written shortly before 1086 by Lifris of Llancarfan. He came into conflict with king Arthur, who is mentioned twice in the vita, as great and bold but willful. The reference is important as one of seven sources mentioning Arthur independently of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae and adds credance to the historicity of Arthur.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Henri Nouwen ( 1932-1996 )

Henri Nouwen was a writer, teacher, spiritual guide and Roman Catholic priest who was pastor of the L'Arche Daybreak community from 1986 until his death in 1996. Henri's desire for community and passionate conviction that those rejected by society have essential and prophetic gifts to offer took shape during the 1960's through his involvement with the American civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Trained in psychology, his career took him to a variety of teaching positions at Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard, and ongoing involvement in American peace and social justice movements. Henri constantly looked for ways to help people deepen their spiritual foundations and cultivate community. He is one of the most popular and prolific spiritual writers of the later twentieth century.
In 1985, Henri spent a year at L'Arche in Trosly, and in 1986 the L'Arche Daybreak community became Henri's home. As a member of L'Arche, Henri continued to travel and speak. He usually travelled with members of his L'Arche community.

for further reading go to

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mystery of the Mundane (part 1)

11And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 1Kings 19:11-13

Between keeping ourselves distracted and waiting we miss a lot in life. Waiting for when I grow up. Waiting to get that job. Waiting to find that special person. Waiting to retire . Waiting to that buy new whatever. We live in anticipation of some future fulfillment.

In evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic circles in particular much of life is projected into the future and taken up with just passing time, waiting for something to happen. Waiting for the fire fall. Waiting for the earth quake to shake our lives. Waiting for that revival. Waiting for that miracle. Waiting for the next move of God. We anxiously await the big thing to unfold in our lives, passing time till I die and go to heaven.

Most of the “big moments” in our lives tend to take place in the ordinariness of daily life. God is to be found in the ordinary and mundane. We are often so busy we can’t see the forest for the trees. We miss the miracles unfolding before our eyes. We miss God’s immediate presence in the wonder of the ordinary.

Nick Cave captures this thought so beautifully in these lyrics from his song “Get Ready for Love”
Nothing much really happens
And God rides high in his ordinary sky
Until we find ourselves at our most distracted
And the miracle that was promised
Creeps silently by.

God is present in the now, my life is unfolding now. The miracle is in this present mudane moment.
photo: b culver

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mother Teresa Speaks

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

Kind words may be short... but their echoes are endless.

Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.

Good works are links that form a chain of love.

God doesn't require us to succeed; he only requires that you try.

I do not pray for success, I ask for faithfulness.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.

Intense love does not measure, it just gives.

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.

Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus.

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home.
taken from a variety of sources

Friday, September 5, 2008

Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)

Born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Macedonia, on August 27, 1910. Her family was of Albanian descent. At the age of twelve Agnes felt the call of God. At the age of eighteen she left her family home and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India.

After a few months' training in Dublin she was sent to India. On May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun.

From 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta. The suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948 she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta.

Trusting in God's provision she started an open-air school for slum children. As voluntary help grew so did financial aid enabling her to extend the scope of the mission.
On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Pope to start her own order, "The Missionaries of Charity". The orders primary task was to love and care for the "other" nobody was prepared to look after. She spent her life serving the poor and dying of Calcutta until her death in 1997.