Last week, the Gospel left us with Martha questioning the path which Mary had chosen, of sitting in silence and listening at the feet of Jesus. This week Jesus goes on to teach his disciples to pray (Luke 11:1). During the week, I came across the following “Our Father” in one of my emails. It was attributed to New Zealand.
Earth-maker, Pain bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven.
The hallowing of your name echoes through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth!
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trial too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever.
I then came across this reflection in this weekend’s Surfers Paradise Catholic Parish Bulletin. It was written by Helen Goldsmith, the Pastoral Ministry Co-ordinator:
Jesus taught his disciples, good Jewish men who prayed five times a day, the Our Father, which is the template of all Christian prayer. Jesus’ way of praying is more important than the words he taught us. We are personally familiar with God (“our Father”). We reverence him (“who art in heaven,” “hallowed be thy name”). We share God’s desires (“thy Kingdom come,” “thy will be done”). We ask for what we need (“give us this day our daily bread”). We beg our Father’s protection (“deliver us from evil”).
These elements of prayer cover the whole range of human conversation: sharing, experience, saying thank you, asking for help, crying out in pain, begging forgiveness, expressing love, spending time together. It means engaging God in the interactions that take place all day, every day.
Personal interaction is the opportunity to express mercy and experience the grace of God. It is to live the Lord’s Prayer in all your undertakings every day.
Allen and I were on the Gold Coast for the weekend, once again to spend time with our children and grandchildren. Ada would have turned one on Friday and so our time together really was a time of “Our Father” - sharing, experience, saying thank you, asking for help, crying out in pain, begging forgiveness, expressing love, spending time together. We simply hung out with each other, without a lot of words being exchanged but just knowing that we are family and there for each other. What a blessing we have been for each other during this year! As God knows, grief is beyond words. I felt a deep sense of pride in our children, their spouses and grandchildren who keep on responding graciously to each other at this very difficult time. We are being re-formed as a family unit.
Allen and I spent a lot of the time looking after one of our granddaughters, Ivy, who is two and a half. We took her off to Mass on Friday, the date on which Ada was born and then again on Sunday. As I have reflected before, at this young age, she was happy to be engaged, to bless herself and to hold her hands in prayer. She looked totally angelic and content, and certainly captured the eyes and joy of those who sat around us. I have no doubt that children are gifts straight from God, and without the complexity of questioning God’s existence, they just sense it, breathe it, live it and get it. And then at some stage in our predominantly secular world, it becomes hidden from them. Hopefully, at some point along life’s path, they may re-discover it. I am glad that, for me, this faith journey has been a constant, and has given me a solid bedrock for my life. I certainly desire this for my children and their children.
So when in the Gospel (Luke 11: 9-10) it says:
Ask, and it will be given to you;
search, and you will find;
knock, and the door will be opened to you.
For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.
Let’s pray and keep asking, searching and knocking, that our faith will be handed on to the generations to come. This will require us to pray persistently, with peaceful expectation and humble acceptance of God’s will.
As a woman of faith, I recall Mary of Magdala, whose feast we celebrated on Friday. She was among the women who assisted Christ and the apostles as they travelled and preached the Good News. This Mary stood at the foot of the cross with the Lord’s Mother and John, when the other apostles fled. She helped bury the Lord’s body, went to complete the burial on Easter morning, and became the first to see the risen Master. The Byzantine Liturgy says Jesus made Mary Magdalene ‘the apostle to the apostles.’ This Mary was a faithful disciple and leader in the infant church. May we look to Mary of Magdala for our inspiration and hope, trusting that God is continuing to reveal God’s self to us, our families, our parishes, our communities, our diocese, our nation and our world each day. We are not abandoned or alone and in God we trust and hope.
I hope you are logging onto mnnews.today to check out the regular World Youth Day blogs, written by Joanne Isaac from our Communications Team. These blogs are accompanied by amazing photos, taken mostly by Joanne Isaac, as well as video blogs by Baden Ellis. The story and the photos capture the mood of the pilgrims as they explore the footsteps of the saints – Catherine, Anthony, Rita, Francis, Clare…. I am pleased to see the joy in their eyes as they experience the faith of our great tradition. They now move on to Poland and the WYD week of experiences with millions of other Catholics from across the globe. We continue to pray for their safety.
Until next week, I invite you to pray the Our Father in the special context of each day.