Rest in the Lord and Wait Patiently for Him

 

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La Sagrada Familia Detail of Door with Number Square adding to 33 in each direction

The last time I took an aeroplane I was watching the safety announcement. The film explained that if there is a failure of the cabin oxygen system, oxygen masks will fall from the overhead panel. There was a section where the film shows a mother fitting her own oxygen mask before turning to her child. It clearly makes the point that each individual should see to their own oxygen supply before helping anyone else.

Of course that makes perfect sense but, as a mother, I know I would be tempted to see to my child first. For some reason this image stayed with me for several days until it came to me why I couldn’t get it out of my mind. No one else in my family is a believer and it is particularly on my mind when it comes to my children. I had been thinking about this recently – whether there had been more I could have done while the children were younger.

However, the message came through loud and clear – look to your own spiritual journey and leave everyone else’s to God. We are only untimately responsible for our own path and we underestimate God and show lack of faith if we can’t put others into his arms and leave them there. That is not to say that we can’t pray for them and set an example but, ultimately, we have to rest ourselves and our loved ones in God’s capable care – ‘Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him’ (psalm 37:7). Easier said than done but do not fret!

Our Lady Completes the Model for the Christian Life

Blanot Our Lady
Blanot, near Saulieu, Burgundy, France

Coming from a non-conformist background in which Mary the Mother of God is barely mentioned, I found it difficult to understand her place in the Catholic life after my entrance into the Catholic Church. I understood the teachings but still couldn’t quite understand the level of reverence shown to her – so I asked the question in prayer and the answer came that explained it to me. Without Mary and her experience we would be lacking a companion to show us the way in so many areas of life. Through her we have a model for pregnancy and motherhood, for parenting and all the concerns that brings but, most of all, we have a model for the grief of a mother and parent who sees her child wrongly accused of a crime, tortured and murdered. With Mary’s experiences added to those of Jesus, no one can say that God has not gone before us in every experience of life. No one can accuse God of being distant or of lacking understanding. They have made the path and we can follow in their footsteps.

The Resurrection : Life is Stronger than Death

 

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Detail from 14th century Bishop Despenser’s Reredos, Norwich Cathedral, England

The Resurrection is the final proof that love is stronger than hate. The Resurrection proves life is stronger than death. If Jesus had died never to rise again it would have proved that death could take the loveliest and best life that ever lived and finally break it. During the Second World War a certain city church in London was all set out for harvest thanksgiving. In the centre of the gifts was a sheaf of corn. The service was never held, for, on Saturday night a savage air raid laid the church in ruins. The months passed and  spring came, and someone noticed that, on the bomb site where the church has stood, there were shoots of green. The Summer came and the shoots flourished and in the autumn there was a flourishing patch of corn growing amidst the rubble. Not even the bombs and the destruction could kill the life of the corn and its seeds. The Resurrection is the final proof that life is stronger than death.

Paul insisted that if the Resurrection of Jesus was not a fact the whole Christian message was based on a lie, that many had died trusting in a delusion, that without it the greatest values in life have no guarantee. “Take away the Resurrection,” he said, “and you destroy both the foundation and the fabric of the Christian Faith”.

William Barclay The Daily Study Bible – The Letter to the Corinthians, p149

 

The Despenser Reredos –  found in the beautiful Norwich Cathedral
Located behind the altar in the St Luke’s Chapel is a superb painted altar piece. This was a gift to the cathedral of Bishop Despenser, given in gratitude for the failure of the 1381 Peasant’s Revolt. It is among the finest pieces of late 14th century art in Europe, and depicts in 5 panels scenes from the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

When Sorrow Comes

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Unknown soldier at Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme Battlefields, France

 ‘When sorrow comes to us we must never let tears blind our eyes to glory; and we must never fasten our eyes upon the grave and forget the heavens’.

William Barclay

 

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Poppy Memorial Installation to the fallen of the First World War  at The Tower of London 2014

Who is it you are looking for?

 

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Detail from 14th century Bishop Despenser’s Reredos, Norwich Cathedral, England

 

 

 

John 20 11 – 18

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”  At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

 

The Despenser Reredos –  found in the beautiful Norwich Cathedral
Located behind the altar in the St Luke’s Chapel is a superb painted altar piece. This was a gift to the cathedral of Bishop Despenser, given in gratitude for the failure of the 1381 Peasant’s Revolt. It is among the finest pieces of late 14th century art in Europe, and depicts in 5 panels scenes from the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

The Great Law of Life – Love Can Grasp the Truth

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 The Friars, Maidstone, Kent, England

Peter and John run to the empty tomb…

‘The part that love plays in the story is extraordinary. It was Mary, who loved Jesus so much, who was first at the tomb. It was John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and who loved Jesus, who was first to believe in the Resurrection. That must always be John’s great glory. He was the first man to understand and to believe. Love gave him eyes to read the signs and a mind to understand.

Here we have the great law of life. In any kind of work it is true that we cannot really interpret the thought of another person, unless between us and him there is a bond of sympathy. No one can lecture alright effectively on the life and work of a man with whom he is out of sympathy. It is once clear when the conductor of an orchestra is in sympathy with the music of the composer whose work he is conducting. Love is the great interpreter. Love can grasp the truth when intellect is left groping and uncertain. Love can realise the meaning of a seeing when research is blind…we can neither understand Jesus or help others to understand him unless we take our hearts to him as well as our minds’.

William Barclay : The Daily Study Bible : The Gospel of John Volume 2 page 311

Mary Magdalen : the love that overcomes all

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Relics of Mary Magdalene in Vezelay Basilica , Burgundy, France

 

Relics of Mary Magdalene in Vezelay Basilica , Burgundy, France

‘It was always the custom in Palestine to visit the tomb of a loved one for three days after the body has been laid in the tomb. They believed that for three days the spirit of the dead person hovered and waited around the tomb; and that only after that did the spirit depart, for the body had by then become unrecognisable through decay. Jesus’ friends could not come to the tomb on the Sabbath, because to make the journey on the Sabbath day would have been to break the law. Sabbath is our Saturday, so it was on Sunday morning that Mary first came to the tomb. She came very early… It was still grey dark when Mary came because she could no longer stay away. When she came to the tomb she was shocked and amazed… In front of the opening there ran a groove in the ground; and in the groove there ran a stone, circular like a cartwheel; and the stone was wheeled into position to form a door. Further, Matthew tells us that the authorities had actually sealed the stone to make sure that no one would move it (Matthew 27: 66). Mary was astonished to find the stone removed. Two things must have entered her mind. She may have thought that the Jews have taken away Jesus’ body; that, not satisfied with killing him on a cross, they were inflicting further indignities on His dead body. But also one of the grimmest features of ancient crime was that there were ghoulish creatures who made it their business to rob tombs and Mary may have thought that the tomb had been broken into and the body of Jesus desecrated.

This was a situation that Mary thought that she could not face herself so she returned to the city to seek out Peter and John. Mary is the great example of bewildered love; Mary is the supreme instance of one who went on loving and believing even when she could not understand; and that indeed is the love and the belief  which in the end finds its glory’.

William Barclay : The Daily Study Bible : The Gospel of John Volume 2 pages 308/309

The crypt of Vezelay Basilica

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Vezelay Basilica, Burgundy, France