Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hapy New Year

We wish all our readers many graces and blessings during the coming year. May 2012 -the year of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress - be a year of grace for our Irish Church in particular.

To highlight our preparation for this great event, our sister artists designed our chapel crib in a Eucharistic setting - photo here.

As we assure you of our continued prayer for all your intentions we ask to be remembered in yours. This year, 2012 is the 290th annivarsary of our foundation in Drogheda. As we give thanks for almost three centuries of prayer, we ask you to join us in praying for those young women who are considering vocations to our community and that many more may be inspired to dedicate themselves to our life of prayer and Eucharistic Adoration for the glory of God and for the needs of our Church and world.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas

We wish all our readers the peace and joy which our Saviour brings during the Christmas season and throughout the coming New Year. We remember all of you and your loved ones in our prayers and ask to be remembered in yours.

Christmas Reflection

Below is the text of a Christmas reflection given by one of our sisters.(If you prefer to listen, click the 'play' button in the box below).

“With the Lord there is unfailing love; great is His power to set us free” – Vespers II of Christmas.

The human heart longs for freedom – it is boundless in its aspirations for we were made in the image and likeness of God and are destined to live eternally with Him in love. He has made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Him. (cf Confessions of St Augustine). A glance at our newspapers or TV news demonstrates this restlessness – this past year has witnessed the eruption of violence in many parts of our world – all seeking freedom of one sort or another. Left to ourselves, we humans, seek freedom apart from God and in the wrong places. Adam and Eve wanted to be like God – yet through fear, they hid from God.

I have been very struck by the frequency of this theme of ‘freedom’ in our Advent liturgy – where we cry out to the Lord in such phrases as: “come and set us free”; Lord may your Son bring us freedom”; Come Lord, make no delay! Release your people from their bonds”. This theme of freedom resonates with the vision of monastic life as being “free for God alone”. Freedom always implies a ‘freedom from something’ and a ‘freedom for something’. We have a good example in the Book of Exodus: Moses asked Pharaoh to set the people free so that they could go to the desert to worship God. St Paul describes Baptism as dying to sin so that we might live for God. (Rom 6).

Tonight we celebrate the birth of the One who brings us true freedom – the Saviour, Jesus, who will “save his people from their sins” (Mt 1) – the freedom to give oneself away – to surrender in love to Another after the example which He has given us – the radical, reckless kind of giving which we see in the self-emptying of the Eternal Word who lowers Himself to become one of us in order to raise us up to share in the very life of the Trinity.

True freedom is not about ‘doing my own thing’ – on the contrary Jesus, who was the freest person that ever lived on this earth, was always attentive to the Will of His Father – ‘I do always what please Him’. Perhaps freedom has as much to do with the ability to listen and receive as about giving and doing. Because Jesus, and like him Mary, were always open to receive the gift of the Father’s love they also radiated that love to others. Sometimes we can be frantically trying to ‘serve’ God while forgetting the truth that “the most fruitful activity of the human person is to be able to receive God”. Mary was not inert or totally passive when she said her ‘yes’ to the Word taking flesh in her womb - rather “her entire being as a person is offered, given and handed over to the Holy Spirit” (cf Jean Corbon: The Wellspring of Worship)
As we celebrate this great feast of Christmas we pray that we may be among a great multitude of those who lay aside pride and selfishness or whatever blocks us and in stillness and emptiness will open ourselves to receive this wondrous gift – Mary’s Son who alone can set us free and teach us the way of love.

With the Lord there is unfailing love; great is His power to set us free. Stand steadfast! You will see the saving power of God.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reflection on the 'O Antiphon' - 23rd December

Below is the text of a reflection given by one of our sisters on today's Magnificat Antiphon, which invokes Christ as Emmanuel (God with us).(If you prefer to listen, click the 'play' button in the box below).

O Emmanuel, you are our King and judge
the one whom the peoples await and their Saviour,
O Come and save us, Lord our God.

Emmanuel means 'God with us'. Can we believe that God entered the womb of Mary, took flesh from her and became man? Do we really believe this? What greater thing has ever happened to all of us who believe, that Mary herself believing, received the Word concerning Him faithfully in her heart.

When we to acknowledge Him in faith and obtain forgiveness for our sins, then immediately - just as God the Word and Second Person of the Blessed Trinity entered into the Virgin's womb - even so do we receive the Word in us as a kind of seed.

Be amazed on hearing this wondrous mystery and welcome this Word with assurance and faith. (1)

St. John tells us in his Gospel, "If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come and make our home in him". (Jn 14)

If we only knew the gift that is being offered to us this Christmas night. We have a mystery in our hearts bigger than ourselves, built as we are like a tabernacle around this most Sacred Presence.(2)

The longer one gazes into this mystery the more one longs to go on gazing in silent wonder. But of course, as St. Thomas told us, there is no adequate picture of God to catch our eyes and hold them spellbound. Yet the little that we can see of the infinite perfection of God is an entrancing picture - a babe nestling in the arms of his virgin mother.

 Is there anything that can open our eyes to the Presence of the Infinite everywhere?
I think perhaps nature speaks volumes - when we look at the austere cleanliness of winter, the sharp tints of divine energy in the eager promise of Spring, "a host of Golden Daffodils dancing in the breeze", how can we doubt. Think of the minute details of natures organisation, they stagger our minds with their multitude and complexity, and so give an insight into the horizons of Divine Wisdom. We can miss little signs like the sparkle in a child's eyes at the thought of the gifts Santa will bring or the freshness of sky and countryside after a Spring Rain.

But we could say so much more and still fall short. Many mysteries remain even greater than these, for we have seen only a few of His works (Eccl 43). And the greatest of all is that God loved this world so much that He sent His only Son to redeem us and He did this with the consent of a young jewish girl. The desired of all nations knocked at your door Mary and you said your Yes. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done to me according to your word"

Dare we to say our Yes to whatever His will hold for us in the coming year, allowing ourselves to be infinitely loved by our Emmanuel, and experience in the darkness of faith this intimate, personal and tender Love that Jesus has for each one.

Come my love,
my lovely one come.
Show me your face,
let me hear your voice
for your voice is sweet
and your face is beautiful.
(Song of Songs 2)
(1) cf. Simon the New Theologian
(2) cf. Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Prayer

Reflection on the 'O Antiphon' - 22nd December

Below is the text of a reflection given by one of our sisters on yesterday's Magnificat Antiphon, which invokes Christ as King. (If you prefer to listen, click the 'play' button in the box below).

O King, whom all the peoples desire,
you are the cornerstone which makes all one.
O come and save us whom you made from clay.
Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus come.

Whom you made from clay. In Genesis we receive two accounts of the creation of man. "God said, Let us make man in our own image in the likeness of ourselves .God created man in the image of Himself, in the Image of God he created him". And again it is said "God fashioned man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life and thus man became a living being". There is therefore inherent in the very fabric of our being God’s stamp, a likeness to Him, and the very breath we draw holds the memory of whence it came and the promise of its ultimate destiny. Some call it ‘Capax Dei’, others the divine spark; a secret knowledge that we are made for more than this world has to offer imprinted in us at the moment of our creation. St Augustine’s way of putting it gives voice to what many do not even realise. ‘You have made us for yourself O God and our hearts are restless until they rest in you’.

In our age as in every age our hearts get set on lesser things. We think the restless ache at the core of our being will be satisfied by wealth, by power, by pleasure, by learning; but no particular good even the most noble, lofty or idealistic can perfectly satisfy us. Only in the vision of God can our longings be stilled. And so deep within each person expressed in our relentless pursuit of happiness is a longing for Him whom all peoples desire - Jesus who will reveal to us what or Who it is we are really seeking. He is the cornerstone come to reveal the Father’s love, and come to make possible our return to the Father. In Him we see our God made visible. In Him the loving kindness of our God has appeared and no one can come to the Father except through Him. Jesus died to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad, to share with us all his unique relationship with the Father

We have been privileged to know this and have been entrusted, as Paul was, with the task of fully proclaiming this message, which is the secret kept hidden through all the ages from all humankind, but which he has now revealed to his people. It was God’s purpose to reveal it to us and to show the rich glory of this mystery to pagans. The secret is this Christ is in us which means that we will share the glory of God (Col).

So as we look into our own hearts this Christmas and at our broken, wounded, sinful Church and world let us not see a hopeless situation but rather redemption waiting to happen and let us enter into Christ’s own desire to come to save his people. Let us, as I read so beautifully recently, hold the mission of Jesus, the Christfication of the whole universe as an uncompromised priority. Now is our time of grace.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reflection on the 'O Antiphon' - 21st December

Below is the text of a reflection given by one of our sisters on yesterday's Magnificat Antiphon, which invokes Christ as the Rising Sun. (If you prefer to listen, click the 'play' button in the box below).

O Rising Sun, You are the splendour of eternal light and the Sun of Justice.
O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

By living in Ireland I have learned to see the Sun, even if it is raining. Our whole business in this life is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God can be seen.

Each of the antiphons contains the words "O" and "COME", expressive of longing, pleading, heart-felt desire. In them we beg God to BE with us and SAVE us.

The longing for God expressed in the antiphons is the pale human shadow of God’s longing for us. They are based on words in the Bible which promise exactly that, or even state that God has already COME and delivered us.

The petition ‘’Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death’’ echoes the Christmas reading ’’they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shone’’ ‘’The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light’’(Is 9:2)

‘’God is light’’(1Jn 1:5). And every light we know, whether a candle, or sun will eventually burn itself out in self giving. Light from light (cf. Jn 1 ) ‘’God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son,so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life’’ (Jn 3:16)

Today's antiphon brings out a special aspect of the light of Christ by its use of the word Oriens / rising Sun / day-spring / dawn. It is new light, light after darkness, light which has conquered darkness.

Jesus is the dawn which we long for above all things. He is the new light that fills us with hope, putting to flight the darkness of despair, bringing us to communion with God. It is important to look at the context in which Jesus calls himself "the Light of the world" in John’s Gospel (Jn 8:1-12). "Early in the morning Jesus arrived again in the temple area…Then scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle…Jesus straightened up and said to her, 'Woman,where are they? Has no one condemned you?'. She replied 'No one, sir.' Then Jesus said 'Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more'." Jesus spoke to them again, saying "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life". This happens in the early morning. There is still darkness, the darkness of judgment and injustice. Jesus comes into this darkened world as LIGHT. His mercy enlightens the darkness.

Dwelling in the light of Christ, we are transformed by that light, so that we become what our baptism declared us to be, the children of light. By baptism we become the light within the LIGHT, who is Christ, just as Christ is "Light from Light". Once a rabbi asked his students, "How can you tell day from night?" The first student answered "When you look at a person walking in the distance and can tell whether it’s a man or a woman, it’s day". The second student answered, "When you look at a tree and can tell whether the fruit on it is an orange or a grapefruit, it’s day". The third student answered, "When you look at a string of thread held at arm’s length and can tell what colour it is, it’s day". Then the students asked the rabbi the same question. He answered, "When you look at a man or woman and recognise that person as a brother or sister, it’s day. But if you look at a man or a woman, and do not recognise them as a brother or sister, it’s night, no matter what time it is."

Love brings light and it is in God’s light we see light. Come JESUS, Come and in the midst of our darkness show us the Fathers Love.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reflection on the 'O Antiphon' - 20th December

Below is the text of a reflection given by one of our sisters on today's Magnificat Antiphon, which invokes Christ as the Key of David.(If you prefer to listen, click the 'play' button in the box below).

O come now key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home,
make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to you O Israel.

Reflecting on this Antiphon alongside today’s Gospel, (Lk.1:26-38), we have highlighted for us the Presence of God in our lives.

A few verses before today’s Gospel passage, the Archangel Gabriel, tells Zachary: “my name is Gabriel and my place is in God’s Presence. What a truly stupendous statement! Further on in the same Gospel passage, we are told of this same Archangel when he visits Mary with the tidings of the Incarnation….’into her presence the angel came’. (R.Knox translation)

Surely we are left in breathless awe, as we picture this great Archangel whose place is in the Presence of God Himself, bowing low in the presence of this humble Virgin, who never-the-less, was a creature like ourselves, as he awaited her consent to become the mother of God’s Son – the Key of David.

A key we know, both locks and unlocks - and today, we are called to pray to Christ, the Key of David, to unlock, to open wide our heavenly home and to make safe the way that leads on high, where our destiny too, is to dwell in God’s Presence for all eternity.

In the meantime, so long as our pilgrimage on earth lasts, we are so utterly privileged to have the Real Presence of Christ, the Key of David, continually with us in the Holy Eucharist. Christ dwells too in all our hearts, where in a spirit of Faith, we must endeavour to be constantly pre-occupied with him. May Mary help us to give him our loving attention in all the ups and downs of daily life, as she gave Him hers those precious nine months when she carried his sacred Presence in her womb.

Yes, as Isaiah foretold so long ago – ‘the Virgin is with Child and He will be called Emmanuel – a name which means – ‘God is with us’! Yes, he really is. Let us then rejoice in the Presence of the Lord in the land of the living, then one day as the Psalmist tells us, we too, in the presence of the angels, will bless our loving God for all eternity. cf Ps.137(138)

O Key of David, we thank you for the wonder of our being and the miracle of your Presence in us.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reflection on the 'O Antiphon' - 19th December

Below is the text of a reflection given by one of our sisters on today's Magnificat Antiphon, which invokes Christ as the Root of Jesse.(If you prefer to listen, click the 'play' button in the box below)

O Root of Jesse, you stand as a sign for the nations;
Kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim.
O come to deliver us, and do not delay.

The Holy Spirit speaking through the prophet Isaiah over 700 years before Christ said "a shoot springs from the stump of Jesse, a scion thrusts from his roots, on him the spirit of the Lord rests". Jesse was the father of King David. Isaiah must have seen in a vision a sapling springing from the apparently dead stump of Jesse. He lived about 300 years after David and the Davidic dynasty did not appear very hopeful. So it is on a future king that Isaiah sees the Spirit of the Lord come down.

This future King, whom we know to be the Lord Jesus, Son of David, is to be "a sign for the nations" but "a sign of contradiction" as Simeon prophesied about the child Jesus, which is borne out in Isaiah Chapter 53, "Like a sapling he grew up in front of us, like a root in arid ground ... a thing despised and rejected by men" - as indeed he was in his Passion. In the life of Jesus the ordinary people acclaimed him. He healed and fed multitudes but the "Kings", the authorities did not acclaim him - they were "silent before him" as the antiphon says, not acknowledging him even despising him.

In our own day his Church has come under censure and is suffering. But the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church and in the world. To give one example - he is bringing the leaders of Religions together to unite against the secularising forces at work in Europe today. Recently the British Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, spoke at the Gregorian University in Rome calling for Jews and Christians to unite to save the soul of Europe. He said "the political leaders of Europe are coming together to try to save the Euro, the religious leaders must do so for Europe's soul". Let us implore the Holy Spirit that this may come about as we cry out to the Root of Jesse, Jesus Son of David, "O come and deliver us and do not delay".

O Radix Jesse

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reflection on the 'O Antiphon' - 18th December

Below is the text of a reflection give by one of our sisters on today's Magnificat Antiphon, which speaks of Christ appearing to Moses in the burning bush. (If you prefer to listen, click the 'play' button in the box below)

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.

Today’s ‘O Antiphon’ refers to God’s coming to His people while they were living in slavery in Egypt. He reveals Himself as the ‘Holy One’, the ‘Transcendent One’ as He calls out to Moses: “Come no nearer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Yet He is not aloof from His people’s plight. He says: “I have seen the misery of my people. I have heard their cries for help – I have come down to rescue them and bring them to a land rich and broad, a country flowing with milk and honey.” (cf Ex 3:1-6)

It is this same God who approaches Mary through the Angel and asks her consent to be the mother of the “child who will be holy” (Lk1:36) and who “will save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). It is the same Holy One who is with us on our altar, under the signs of bread and wine – and the One whom we meet in the least of our sisters and brothers!

As I reflected on this antiphon, it was the image of fire and the burning bush which held my attention. Fire cannot be hidden, cannot be contained – otherwise it is extinguished. It gives light and warmth. Fire draws and consumes everything within its reach – it knows no boundaries but transforms into fire everything with which it comes in contact. It is never satisfied, for the more it consumes, the fiercer are the flames and the greater its capacity to consume more. Think of the forest fires which become uncontrollable in dry weather!

This image of fire is a very good image of our God – no wonder our innate selfishness fills us with fear of saying ‘yes’ to Him – fear that if we give Him an inch He may take a mile! “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29) – even if at times we experience this fire as darkness - while He is always drawing us into His love, so too our selfishness is being consumed in the fire of that love. Yet His message is always one of liberation – not just for ourselves but for all His people. The more we surrender to His plan for us, the more we experience true freedom.

Just as He needed Moses and Mary, so today He stands at the door of our hearts inviting us to His co-workers. Will we respond as Mary did with: “behold here I am; let it be done unto me”? Will we allow Him to possess us in such a way that we might radiate His living, loving presence in our troubled and darkened world? St Catherine said: “if you are what you are meant to be, you would set fire to the whole of Europe”.

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reflection on the 'O' Antiphon - 17th December

Below is the text of a reflection give by one of our sisters on today's Magnificat Antiphon, which invokes Christ as Wisdom. (If you prefer to listen, click the 'play' button in the box below)

O Wisdom, You come forth from the mouth of the Most High.
You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come, to teach us the way of truth.

In the Magnificat Antiphon today we begin the first of the great “O Antiphons” rejoicing in our expectation of the Saviour’s coming and asking him to come to us under the particular manifestation of each Old Testament title. In this first Antiphon we address Christ as Wisdom and ask him to “teach us the way of truth”.

In praying and reflecting on this text, I have been particularly struck by the fact that, as St Paul says, Christ is “our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1Cor 1:30). Is my search for wisdom and knowledge done as a search for Christ, done in his company, or is it a search for my wisdom, my knowledge, for my own satisfaction? As I prepare to welcome Christ this Christmas, do I welcome him as Wisdom - am I willing to let him teach me?

Christian wisdom is not simply having great knowledge but having great knowledge in Christ; so that Christ, who is Wisdom, “lives in me” (Gal 2:20) and my life involves seeing, understanding and reacting to the world around me in union with Him and as he shows us in his life and teaching. Study etc. can give me a great knowledge of Christ but unless I am living in his presence and actively seeking his guidance that knowledge will not be fruitful; it will not be wisdom. As we read in James’ Letter, “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.” (Jas 3:17)

I also think that this wisdom Christ brings is “secret and hidden” (1Cor 2:7). In fact, it is so secret and hidden that we will often not be aware that we are receiving it; it may only be seen in the fruit it bears in our lives. For as we grow in wisdom we become more and more conformed to Christ, who is Wisdom.

And so I pray that this Christmas our minds and lives will be open to welcome Christ, the Wisdom who comes forth from the mouth of the Most High.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Third Sunday of Advent

‘Rejoice in the Lord always….the Lord is near’. Phil 4:4-5.
St. Paul may well have been referring to the end times when he uttered these joyful words in today’s liturgy, but they also have a deeper meaning as we read in today’s Gospel, when St. John the Baptist says to the Priests and Levites who were sent by the Jews to question him, …’there is one standing in your midst of whom you know nothing’ Jn1:27. ***

Numerous times in the Gospels, we are confronted in the sacred texts with the Presence of Jesus passing unrecognised – surely our Lord intends us to penetrate something of the depth of this mystery – his unrecognisable Presence in our midst!

With the exception of the loss and finding of Jesus in the Temple at the age of 12 years, the Gospels give us no further details of Jesus’ life until he begins his public ministry. But we are given to understand that his life in the intervening years was a very ordinary one, so much so that when Jesus began his teaching in the synagogue at Nazareth, the people were astonished and said: ‘what is this wisdom that has been granted him and these miracles worked through him, this is the carpenter surely, the son of Mary, are not his brothers and sisters here with us?’ and they would not accept him. (Mk.6 3-4). In other words they thought they knew him well, they could not perceive anything to indicate his Divinity in their midst.

Similarly when we reflect on Jesus’ words concerning the last judgement, Mt.25 – the just ask ‘when did we see you hungry or thirsty, sick or in prison…and minister to you?’ and the unjust in their turn will ask the same questions, ‘when did we see you and not minister to you’? Jesus then gives his profound and beautiful teaching: ‘Amen, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of the least of mine, you did it to me’- and to the unjust ‘as long as you did not do it to one of these who are mine, you did not do it to me’. Here indeed is the precious jewel we must never let go of – the astonishing thing here for us to reflect on is that neither the just nor the unjust realised that they were, or were not, serving the Lord in others.

In the Old Testament too, we read of many occasions in which God brings his people to an awareness of his Presence in their midst. The Prophet, Jeremiah, cries out ‘Lord, you are in our midst…do not desert us Lord, our God’ Jer 14.9. In the Book of Genesis C.28;17, God tells the Patriarch, Jacob in a dream. ‘be sure I am with you, I will keep you safe wherever you go’. When Jacob awakes from his beautiful experience of God, he has become so aware of God’s Presence that he cries out in sheer joy – ‘truly God is in this place and I did not know it’! This was centuries before John the Baptist’s same proclamation to the Priests and Levites! And Isaiah C.45 tells us – ‘Truly God of Israel, the Saviour, you are a God who lies hidden.’.

Surely, these sacred texts and so many others in both the Old and New Testaments are a strong reminder to us that our Lord does indeed dwell in our midst and in all those who touch our lives, near and far away. Today’s Liturgy invites us, indeed, prompts us strongly, to prayerfully ponder and strengthen our faith in this great mystery, and to frequently ask ourselves ‘how many times do we let golden opportunities pass us bye, of living as fully as possible in this Divine loving Presence in and around us, and in all peoples, however unrecognisable? This precious jewel highlights for us the sacredness of every single person – no wonder St. Paul cried out – ‘Rejoice in the Lord always …. the Lord is near’.
‘I am with you always, yes, even to the end of the world’.

***Ronald.Knox translation

Sunday, December 4, 2011

2nd Sunday of Advent

HOPE is the message I garnered from today's Mass Readings.
"Console my people, console them says the Lord." This is a challenging invitation from the Lord to us all who are trying to be faithful to him in these critical times. He is placing his trust in us to reach out in whatever way we can to His people who are being starved of him.

Advent is above all a season of HOPE:
Long the ages rolled and slowly to the coming of the Word
Fervent longings grew more fervent , undismayed by hopes deferred
Weaker spirits sighed and whispered, could the Lord of all forget?
While the prophets scanned the portents and in patience said: Not yet.

Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength but on the help of the grace of the Spirit. It responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has place in every human heart; it takes up the hopes that inspire our activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of Heaven. (Catechism)

So what is the Lord asking of each one of us?
Can we by our Eucharistic Adoration and intercession stir up the hearts of our people to turn back to the Lord. Jesus is present on our altar longing to gather us and those for whom we pray into the peace, joy and blessedness of his Divine Heart; longing to set us on fire with the infinite fire of his love so that you and I can be a channel of his intimate and gracious friendship to those who have grown cold towards him. By imitating him, the Good Shepherd "feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes", we are instilling hope by our works of mercy. Through us the Lord is carrying out his promise, is being patient with all, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways. (2Pet 3:9)

Pope Benedict tells us hope, in a Christian sense, is always hope for others as well as for myself. It is an active hope in the sense that we keep the world open to God. He recalls a book of prayers that the late Cardinal Van Thuan wrote while a prisoner for 13 years, in a situation of seemingly utter hopelessness. The fact that the Cardinal could listen and speak to God became for him an increasing power of hope and enabled him after his release to become for people all over the world a Witness to Hope, by his writings. (Spe Salvi)