Early Morning Thoughts

When I went to bed last night, Twitter and Facebook were full of comments on yesterday’s vote in the Anglican synod. I don’t comment on the internal affairs of other Churches, I don’t think it’s right, but I did note the despondency of many, the jubilation of others, the gratuitous rudeness of a few, and spent some time praying for everyone involved. This morning I awoke to the feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, the Dies Memorabilis of the English Benedictine Congregation, and my own clothing anniversary. The common thread? Prayer, and the reminder that God is in charge and does not see as we see.

It is easy to be so convinced 0f the rightness of our own position that we assume that we are echoing the will of God (and that holds good whatever we are talking about). In fact, discerning God’s will takes some very delicate tuning in to the Holy Spirit. We don’t suddenly become quiet and receptive, or always read the signs aright. We have to work at it and be prepared to face many hardships and apparent reversals as we begin to learn whatever it is God wants us to learn.

Our Lady’s childhood and early womanhood prepared her for the moment when she was faced with the most important decision any human being has ever faced: would she accept the role of Mother of God and thereby make salvation possible for all of us? Until that moment, she had assumed that her life would be that of any Jewish woman of her time, encompassing marriage to Joseph and children with him. The English Benedictine Congregation had but a single survivor when Dom Sigebert Buckley admitted two Englishmen to its ranks and, unknowingly, ensured its survival to the present day. At the time, it must have seemed almost hopeless, a futile gesture, ludicrous even. But Fr Buckley, old and ill as he was, saw more clearly than many of his contemporaries; and I think he saw clearly because he was, by all accounts, a singularly prayerful and devout man. When I received the habit, I was merely the latest in a long chain of women, stretching back centuries, who had lived and died as Benedictine nuns. The community I joined had known its fragile moments — indeed, one of my kinswomen, a nun of Cambrai, had died in prison during the French Revolution — and I myself had no idea that one day I would be here, in Herefordshire, my vocation taking a different shape from what I had originally envisaged. Again, prayer is the link — not so much my own prayer as the prayer of the community.

I hope that my readers will not use this blog post as a vehicle to air their views, pro and anti, what happened yesterday. There are other and better places to do that. But I do hope everyone will stop for a few moments and pray. Prayer, like love, is the one thing that can never hurt another — and never get in God’s way.

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13 thoughts on “Early Morning Thoughts”

  1. Dear Sr.,

    I found your Twitter account some time ago and being as I am on the East coast of the US and sometimes awake in the night due to health issues, I find your early morning tweets and blog postings very soothing.

    I have nothing particularly profound to say about your present post other than it does remind me of the similar behavior displayed by people during the recent election here. Mostly I just want to thank you for being a presence and a reminder of God’s presence in my life during some of these long nights.

  2. Sister, you amply sense the despondency that many of us felt yesterday evening. But prayer and a peaceful night might put some of it into perspective.

    I have to admit that I had feelings of disappointment and helplessness bordering on anger, but have now reached a relatively calm perspective on it all.

    The House of Bishops meet this morning at 0830 to discuss what can be done, if anything. To do nothing would seem a further failure to both sides of the dispute.

    I hope and pray that now, we will see some peace and reconciliation between those who are for and those who are against the consecration of Women as Bishops to enable the Holy Spirit to be discerned and God’s Grace to work in all of us as we seek to move forward.

    I hope and trust in God, that his will for the Church will be discerned and become clear to all sides to allow a decision to be made that allows all to live in harmony and respect between all and free the Church to get on with mission.

  3. Amen

    (Sister, thank you so much for sharing these words. I have never retweeted so much as I did after yesterday’s result, and your words and perspective has drawn me back to the centre; to God, seeking his spirit and learning to discern his will, and play my part where I am to somehow show and share something of God’s love for the world and everyone in it.) Thank you.

  4. Thank you for reminding us of the nuns of Cambrai, and all the nuns who died under that regime. Many went to the guillotine singing and smiling, honoured to be dying for their faith. They continue to be an inspiration to us to this day.

  5. Happy Anniversary, Sister Catherine.

    I’ve become something of a slow reader these days and am still pondering over some recent posts. Several of them have mentioned Benedictines – St Hilda, St Gertrude, D.Gertrude for example. November 13th was Oblates Day at the monastery and something you said then is really coming alive for me. It is an awesome (and I buck the current trend by refusing to use this word lightly) thing to be part of this great family of St Benedict that transcends time and place, to join this company of saints and also flawed mortals, to support and to be supported in prayer by this community.

  6. I loved your post today. Yesterday I felt despondent about the C of E vote and things going on in my own RC church. Reading your words have reminded me that God is in charge of it all and that, while I may not be able to see how God can possibly want these things to happen, God’s will can be done in spite of them. I need to acknowledge my littleness in it all. I don’t know whether you have come across Fr James Martin SJ’s reworking of the serenity prayer but it can be used very effectively in such circumstancea.

  7. @RevRichardColes “OK. Deep breath. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Everything else is secondary.”

    …seemed one of the finer sentiments last night. I hope that is the note others can take, and not bitterness or recrimination.

  8. Dear Sr Catherine,

    as always, your blog can be relied upon for words of wisdom and an inkling of what discernment might mean.

    I will pray for you on your anniversary, and I also thank God for the gift of you and your blog.

  9. Congratulations on the anniversary of your clothing sister.

    There are very many of us who are grateful for that choice which you made many years ago now. Thank you.

  10. Just a brief, belated, thank you – for sharing your thoughts on discerning and the youth of Our Lady, as well as the other aspects to this entry. And belated congratulations on your anniversary, too!

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