And the tempest-tossed Church all her eyes are on thee;
They look to thy shining, sweet star of the sea.
This weekend is the fourth after the Epiphany and we have two Sunday Masses:
11.00 a.m. Sacred Heart, Broughton Hall, Skipton
12.30 p.m. St. Joseph's, Pakington Street, Bradford
It is fortuitous that this weekend's Gospel recalls Christ's sleeping on the boat when a great storm arose which petrified the disciples - the embryonic first bishops. Admonishing them as faint-hearted, men of little faith our Lord then proceeds to calm the sea. The See of today's Peter is also not currently calm. Whereas in Paul's epistle to the Romans, which is the epistle of Sunday's Mass, Paul repeats the Commandments citing adultery first before murder.
We are, I fear, living in uncharted waters in the Church at the moment with many strange and dare I say diabolical events at large abroad. Things are in a mess, a terrible mess and there is no sign that things are going to get better anytime soon. Opacity would appear to be the order of the day, attacks on the Church continue to grow from within and without. There is of course nothing new in any of this and the Church survives and continues, yet it is not a stroll in the park. In fact it's very hard and it is a cross which the faithful have to carry.
The Truth will survive - we are never given a cross too heavy to carry and we have Christ's own assurance that the gates of hell shall not prevail. We have our collective and individual parts to play to save our souls from damnation. We must hear God's word and keep it, we must love and live the Gospel message but nobody ever said it would be easy. The forces of darkness are at large and growing increasingly darker and rebellious.
So what do we do? As the now famous iconic meme says, we keep calm and carry on, even with gathering and raging storms which only add to the struggle. We carry on hearing Mass, accessing the Sacraments - all seven of them, offering our rosaries and prayers without losing faith, hope or charity.
I have always found great consolation in the following (which I've lifted from the internet instead of typing it):
Cardinal Mercier wrote this prayer on the back of a holy picture while on pilgrimage at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. In 1926, while preaching a retreat, he offered a little commentary on it:
"I am going to reveal to you a secret of holiness and of happiness. Every day for five minutes, silence your imagination, closing your eyes to things of the senses and your ears to all earthly sounds so as to withdraw into yourselves, and there in the sanctuary of your baptized soul, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, speak to that Divine Spirit, saying:
Holy Spirit, soul of my soul, I adore Thee;
If you do this, your life will flow along in happiness, serenity, and consolation, even in the midst of sorrows, because grace will be proportioned to your trials, giving you the strength to bear them, and you will arrive at the gates of Paradise laden with merits. This submission to the Holy Spirit is the secret of holiness."
enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me;
tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it,
I promise to be submissive in everything that Thou shalt ask of me
and to accept all that Thou permittest to happen to me,
only show me what is Thy will.