Archive for October, 2013

“Hello, my name is Wayne, and I’m 8 years old.  I go to skool, but not this week as we are on half term.  Don’t like hols so much, not much to do, but this week should be ok ‘cos on Thursday its Halloween an’ me and me mates will be out trick and treating.  All me things are ready, pumpkin lantern, black cape and a frightenin’ old wizard’s hat.  I even thought about gettin’ a stuffed black cat to sit on me shoulder, but I didn’t bother in the end.  T’wud have made me look a bit like Long John Silver – but his was a parrot – and anyway, I’ve still got both legs.  We’ll be out round the houses, knockin’ on doors, trying to make some dosh – shud come in handy for bonfire night. Shud be kool.”

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“Hello, I’m Socius, and a little bit older than Wayne.  And, as Thursday happens to be the Eve of All Hallows (Halloween), with Friday, 1 November, the Feast of All Saints, I thought I would write just a few lines about the two great feasts that occur at the beginning of November – All Saints and All Souls.”

When we come to Halloween – the Eve of all Hallows – we are looking forward to one of the most beautiful of feasts in the Church’s year.  It is all concerned with that great communion of holy men and women who have died before us and found their way to heaven – the Feast of All Saints – a true cause for celebration. It also begins the ‘Season of Hallows’ which includes the Feast of All Souls. This occurs the following day, and here we pray for all those who have been forced to spend some time in Purgatory.  It is our belief that these suffering souls cannot help themselves and so we are asked to pray for them to help them on their way to heaven, at the earliest opportunity.  We believe that the saints in heaven also pray for the Souls in Purgatory – so the Holy Souls are being helped from two different sources – a wonderful way in which the communion of Christian souls works to the benefit of all.

I have always thought that this Community of the Church – those in heaven, those in Purgatory and those of us still living on earth, is one of the most wonderful (extended) families  in creation – that is, until one then starts to question what has happened to our most beautiful celebration as time has gone by.

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     Halloween in Dublin

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as “Samhain”.  Pronounced “Sahwin”, this is a celebration of the end of the harvest and the gathering in of crops for the winter.  The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead overlapped and the deceased would come back to life and cause havoc such as sickness or damaged crops.  The festival in most cases involved bonfires to drive the bad spirits away, and such fires attract flies; they, in turn attracted bats – another traditional ’connection’ with evil.  Masks and costumes were worn in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or appease them.  All of these come together to make up our present day traditions practised on Halloween, though most of them have been corrupted and no longer bear resemblance to their intended origins, which were, invariably, to encourage good, and drive away evil.

One of the practices, however, is of a much more recent origin, and here I refer to ‘Trick or Treating’, where young people go out visiting people, knocking on doors and then asking for treats. Originally, treats were mainly composed of sweets, biscuits, sweet meats, and the like, but these days are more likely to be about money.  The essence of the ‘Trick or Treat’ lies in the threat that if the householder does not treat the callers in some small way , then they can look forward to tricks being played on them – not too far away from demanding money with menaces – I wonder!  Now, I am aware of the fact that young children do not intend to take things that far, but I have seen evidence of older youths actually causing mischief for people refusing to give them money, and that’s a long way from what should be a Holy Night.

Of comparative recent origins, the ‘Trick or Treat’ has spread throughout much of the United Kingdom, Europe, the USA – also to many of the Arab countries of the Middle East.  In England, the police have issued warnings about such practices, simply because of the ‘illegal’ aspects of ‘Trick or Treating’.  In some parts of the USA, this particular evening is now known as ‘Beggars Night’ – again, a long, long way departed from the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls.  We begin to depart even further when one considers the costumes the young people most often wear. Halloween costumes are traditionally modelled after supernatural figures such as vampires, monsters, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils.  In my increasing years, I ask myself, just where are we going – the human race – and, in particular, our children?

Certainly, I have no wish to play the ‘Baron Hardcastle’ and come down like a ‘tonne of bricks’ on the young.  I love to see the children and the young ‘let their hair down’ and enjoy themselves – enjoy life.  However, there are many, many, good ways to create happiness and enjoyment for such young people; unfortunately, not all of them, today, are blessed in their methods, and in their intended ends.  Halloween, in my humble view is one of those occasions where both ‘sail very close to the wind’, and there are very real dangers here of the devil’s power at work.

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Perhaps, it has been out of a wish to counteract the evil influences manifestly abroad on Halloween, that in many countries, Christians practice measures designed to fight against the ‘black arts’.  Many walk in processions (e.g. Poland), praying out loud, as they walk the night; In Spain, bells are rung to ‘ward off’ the evil spirits and remind believers to remember their dead in this ‘Season of Hallows’.  Some practice abstinence (as in Canada), and in some countries, instead of meat, they resort to pancakes and colcannon. The Church, traditionally, observed Halloween by means of a vigil service, at which worshippers would prepare themselves, with prayers and fasting, for the feast day itself, an initiative once known as the ‘Night of Light’.  After the services, suitable festivities and entertainments would often follow, and there would be organized visits to the graveyards where flowers and candles would be carried and left there in preparation for the All Saints’ Day. In Finland, because so many people visit the cemeteries on All Hallows’ Eve, to light votive candles, there they are known as ‘Seas of Light’.

And, that last description says to me, very clearly, that this ‘Season of Hallows’ should be about light – not darkness; it should be about good – not evil; it should be about heaven – and not hell; it should be about life – and not corruption – it should be something like the following picture – this does an awful lot more for me than all the Halloween stuff!

All Souls Day in Dhaka

All Souls Day in Dakhar.

God bless us – everyone!


 NB. Readers of the blog may be interested to take in a quite beautiful article in November’s ‘Far East’ magazine (pages 6-7) entitled “The Holy Gathering” by Fr. Colm McKeating; in this, he describes the very special way in which the ‘Season of Hallows’ is celebrated in the Philippines – a celebration that is not at all like ours. 

The Gospel for this coming Sunday – the 30th of the year – contains the famous parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.  Both walked up the steep steps of the Temple to pray.

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It is the only one of Jesus’ parables to take place in the Temple. The Temple is where God lives and, in the new world of Jesus, the ‘Real Temple’ made of ‘Living Stones’, is where God lives – the Church.  It follows that the parable is meant for us. All of us have something of the Pharisee inside us that prevents us from being in union with God.  Likewise, we all have something in common with the Publican – and thus we need to be careful, from two quite different points of view.

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The reader would do well to look at the text of the story in Luke 18: 9-14. Below is a comment on this story from a friend, followed by some personal additions from myself (in italics).

“Two men: a just man and a sinner. That is how it is. One, a Pharisee, is perfect in observing the laws of God; the other, a Publican, is dishonest. Society categorises these two like that and the members of Jewish society in Jesus’ time are not wrong.”

Bear in mind the Pharisee came from those who followed the law scrupulously; praying regularly in the Synagogue, fasting, paying 10 per cent of his money to support the Religion, and furthermore, paying more for the many poorer people who refused, or could not afford to pay, their tithes. He is the upright, good religious man; he is the kind of man I might like to be, if I were a true disciple of Jesus, within the Church, within our own times.

The publican was a treacherous thief, and a ‘lackey’ of the hated Romans. He stole money, not only from the rich but, principally, from the poor. His job was to hand over taxes to the Romans and, as long as he paid the quota due, he could pocket all the rest – which he did. He was so hated that he was cut off from normal Jewish society. No ordinary Jew would welcome him into their home, or talk to him; he was regarded as totally unscrupulous, perhaps well compared, today, to a cruel loan-shark, who lends money to poor, vulnerable and desperate people; should they fail to repay their loan, he would use every kind of intimidation, including violent means, to regain his money with extortionate interest. According to Jewish law, by praying to God as he had in the parable, the publican was not about to get back into favour with the people. There were more steps for him to face. He would be required to repay all the money he had stolen, from every poor person, plus 20 per cent more. His appeal to God, made in desperation, was just the start of a long process. With such warnings in mind, ‘good Catholics’ need to be careful not to identify, too quickly, with the publican, as against the Pharisee, as maybe we are prone to do, on a scant first reading of the story.  There is much more to the parable than just that.

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For God, strange as it may seem, the judgement of society is wrong. Both come to the Temple to present themselves before Him, and pray.

The just man appears to pray to God, but, in reality, is looking at himself, his uprightness, his fidelity to the law. God does not truly exist for him: ego is the centre of his own world. He is trying to speak to God, and, in his own ‘tin-pot’ way, he considers himself the benefactor of God in the conversation – the one who is pouring out on God his own gifts.

The other has nothing to give – less than nothing – just his sins. He gives them to Him, without knowing that he is entering God’s heart. The good works of the Pharisee are an obstacle between him and God. The absence of good works – without reason for self-praise – in the case of the publican, allows him to establish a relationship with God. He does not dare to lift up his eyes, but God turns his gaze to him, because He sees before Him, a poor person who trusts, who is not making any demands, one who is simply abandoning himself to God.

Jesus ‘sinks his knife’ into the heart of the people – and into the structures of society; he undermines the certainties of behaviour and of conventions; he turns things ‘upside down’ and ‘inside out’, just so that they can be re-examined.  Who knows if He is always in agreement with the ‘monumental tomb-stones’ to the benefactors of the Church, or with the statues erected to honour the ‘great people’ of civil and ecclesiastical life! What would he say about the roads, or city squares, named in honour of such people, I wonder!

Finally, though we may be tempted after just a first glance, we cannot say that Jesus has ‘canonised’ the publican, because it is not a real story; it is a parable; a lesson. However the ‘good thief’ truly did exist. What’s more, Jesus did canonise him!

The real key to understanding this parable lies in its preface:

“Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else”.

If we think like that, we have failed to have a true understanding of God – a great temptation for the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, and Jesus is saying that this particular Pharisee had ‘fallen’, as probably most had. If we are like that at all, we worship a false God, something referred to in the Old Testament as adultery. Our task is to examine ourselves and ask God for his gift not to despise anyone else – or any other group around us – to become more and more Godlike.

Father Jonathan

On the 4th October, the feast of St. Francis, Pope Francis went for the first time in his life to Assisi.  This is where St. Francis was born, where he died, where he is buried. The whole town is filled with a Franciscan spirit that sometimes is strongly alive, sometimes is a little distorted.

Nothing could be more normal than that; for such contradictions exist in all parts of the Church and in each one of our own lives. Yes, we are alive, but from time to time, perhaps for some people more than others, the external living is, in reality, a ‘non life’; compare this with something like the ten lepers who were excluded from the village, on the borders of Galilee and Samaria, as described in last Sunday’s Gospel (Lk 17: 11-19). They felt ‘cut off’ from God and from people. Only God could cure them and this had not yet happened: they were ‘cut off’ by the villagers, as their disease was so contagious. Together, the lepers cried to Jesus, from a distance outside the village: “Jesus, Master, take pity on us!” Jesus did not do anything but simply told them to go to see the priests, and this they did; the priests could declare that God had cured them, and they could then return to the community. One cured leper seems to have disobeyed our Lord. He came back and threw himself at Jesus’ feet, in thanksgiving.  Jesus commended him.  It is as though Jesus needs to be close to a person for him, truly, to be saved, as this foreign Samaritan leper was:

“Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they? It seems not one has come back to give praise to God, except this foreigner.  Stand up and go on your way.  Your faith has saved you.”

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Pope Francis just before the meal with the “down and outs”

Does not our own experience teach us the same? If Jesus is too close, I may feel ‘threatened’ in my comfort zone. But Jesus, close to us, gives us true life. In fact, those village people, who cut off their fellow human beings, were those who, like the lepers, lived a ‘non-life’.  Jesus meant nothing to them and Jesus never performed miracles in the villages: in his own Nazareth, they lacked faith. These village people were content to live in their own ‘rut’. They treated their leprous neighbours as ‘non-people’, leaving them in their isolated misery, and they ignored the person, and message, of Jesus, so letting that ‘non-life’ enter their own hearts. The curing of the lepers – might have led to the curing of the villagers – I wonder!

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Pope Francis and young boy just before lunch

Returning to Pope Francis, in Assisi, it has been noted by many journalists that the Pope spent a lot of time with those on the edges of society, when he was there on the 4 October. “Papa Francesco seemed happier with disabled and poor than in the sumptuous basilica” said one. On this note, let me point you to this short two minute video on ‘YouTube’, that shows Pope Francis having his dinner with down and outs in Assisi, at . These people are regularly fed by a kind group of caring people. One man ‘collars’ the Pope and seems to dominate him!

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 Pope spies this one month old baby just before lunch in the Holy Land

Pope Francis spies a lady with a young baby in her arms and enquires how old the baby is: “one month”, is the reply, and the Pope gives her a loving smile of recognition. Then he says grace, and thanks them all for inviting him to lunch with them.

With Pope Francis, those living ‘on the edge’ are more important than the tombs of the dead, and the stones and frescos in the basilicas. He is not forcing his views on us, but Pope Francis’ actions speak a lot louder than his words.  Maybe all of us could ask the Lord to enliven us, to give life to those parts of us where there is ‘non-life’, and then, maybe, we will show the presence of Jesus to this world of ours – a world that is searching so hard for meaning and sense.

Father Jonathan

Fr. Mark Knowles, a priest of the Leeds diocese, died on 18 September 2013, after a brief illness. He was important for us in Leyland and Ampleforth Abbey, for various reasons. Firstly, (as Fr. Ignatius), he had been a monk of Ampleforth Abbey for 30 years, and Fr. Stephen was roughly his contemporary in the novitiate – always a bonding time for monks; secondly, he served here in Leyland, with Fr. Rupert Everest as Parish Priest, in the 1980’s. Thirdly, he had been very important in my life as a young monk. As a young man in the monastery, called Brother Jonathan, it was not always an easy time for me. The greatest difficulty was loneliness and feeling misunderstood, despite living in a lively community of young contemporaries and older men. Ignatius was someone a little older and more experienced, to whom I could release these ‘demons’, and have them, quietly and gently cast aside, as I came to realise that here was a very good friend.

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Fr. Mark Knowles, born 18 January 1935, died 18 September 2013

On Wednesday 2 October, the feast of the Holy Angels, I was able to witness the work of angels. Our Parish Mass, at 9.00 am, was offered for the feast of the Guardian Angels, and our challenge then was, that by 11.00 am, Fr. Stephen Wright and I, from Leyland, were to be at St. Joseph’s Church, in Pudsey, for the funeral of Fr. Mark. The ‘Sat Nav’ indicated it would take 75 minutes to journey from Leyland. We left at about 9.50 am and so I was dubious we would arrive in time. In the event, the M61 was marked as being slow moving, so we went by different route, and, without any dangerous driving, it must be said, we did not dawdle. We arrived on the dot of eleven o’ clock – how I am not quite sure – were the angels clearing the way?

On arrival, our first ‘concrete’ angel appeared. The Church was beside us, but there was nowhere to park, except down a nearby side street. As I pulled up to let Fr. Stephen out, and join the concelebrating priests, a man appeared from a house on the road, and said: “Hello Father, I know all the priests in St. Joseph’s and if you park here you are certain to obtain a ticket from the traffic wardens as it is residents’ only. But tell you what! I will let you have my resident’s permit for guests.” I thanked him profusely, but then asked him a further favour. “Would you let me visit your bathroom and have a wash and brush up?” His reply: “Of course Father”, and I ran into his house, as two elderly ladies eyed me up from one of the rooms at the side; I took the stairs, two at a time, forgetting in my haste whether I had my alb to concelebrate Mass with me or not …. and, I just made it, across the way to a parish hall, where a kind lady – another ‘angel’ – was just locking the door on all the priests’ jackets and bags. Thus, I got to the Church on time, and I thanked God for sending me one angel after another, on this great feast day!

We then experienced a quite astonishing Service, full of joy and happiness in the funeral of Fr. Mark, (always known to us in the monastery as Fr. Ignatius). It was a purely divine moment; the angels were also there, along with Jesus and Mary, and many saints. The church was packed with priests and people; Bishop David Konstant, the Bishop Emeritus of Leeds was there; he had no role other than to concelebrate and his humility impressed me. I chatted to him later and he was so friendly and affable. Fr. Theodore Young (resident with us in the Leyland Priory house) considers Bishop David his friend as he was his Bishop when Fr. Theo served in Knaresborough. Bishop David also confided that he used to teach our Abbot Cuthbert Madden when he was 14 years old – another angel!

The congregation from different parts of the diocese, lay and priestly, included a good ‘scattering’ of former pupils of Ampleforth College, also good friends of Fr. Mark (Fr. Ignatius).  I was to find out that Fr. Mark had been a friend of all; in his life, many confided in him, laity of all types, inadequate young people, revered priests and others. All were so pleased – even eager – to be present and give their particular friend a farewell fitting for him. In my mind’s eye, it was a congregation very like that of the Early Church, described by St Paul as “saints”. The liturgy was simple, inclusive, prayerful and devout, with lovely singing by a cantor, leading without any pretensions.

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 Fr. Richard Carter, Parish Priest of St Joseph’s, Pudsey

At the beginning of Mass there was an appreciation of Fr. Mark, by Fr. Richard Carter, the parish priest of St. Joseph’s Pudsey, who, as a layman, had been with Fr. “Ignatius”, as he was then, here in Leyland. They remained good friends all their lives. He explained:

“Mark’s father was a Brigadier General in World War II and Mark often looked back with pride on his dad’s achievements.  Mark’s family sent him off aged just seven, in 1942, to Gilling Castle, the preparatory school for Ampleforth.  At that time his family were living in the Welsh valleys.  Mark used to say he left for school speaking with a strong Welsh accent and returned at Christmas saying ‘Hello, Mummy’ in his decadent ‘Radio 3′ voice, as he used to call it.  There are just so many stories to tell of his exploits in Gilling and Ampleforth. He ran away from Gilling with another friend, and was found in the evening of the same day. Also, aged 10, he was studying books on Antique Furniture, and he pre-dated ‘Harry Potter’ with his two pet owls, ‘Aristotle’ and ‘Plato’.

Mark always wanted to be a priest – even from an early age. His uncle, Gervase, a monk in the abbey, persuaded him to enter the monastery taking the religious name of Ignatius.   He was later ordained priest on the 28th July 1965.  Mark often reflected, with no blame on the monastery, that this decision to become a monk was a mistake.  He later managed to undo the mistake, by being incardinated as a secular priest, in the Leeds Diocese, and he felt he had come home then to his real vocation to be a priest.

Everyone here will remember something special about Mark’s character – from his dry wit to his charm; above all, from his compassion, to his love for all things and for people.  He was also the only person I have met in life that could ask you to do something for him, yet make you feel he had done you a favour.”

I wonder how many people in Leyland can remember Fr. Mark, in this vein, from those few years he was here in the 1980’s?

Fr. Simon Lodge, another good friend of Fr. Mark’s, preached a beautiful homily in which he pointed out the spiritual background to the greatness of this loving priest. His words sprang from an awareness of Fr. Mark, of his own weaknesses, and his own demons. He knew his need for God and his love. Fr. Simon explained that Fr. Mark had, in some ways, the single-minded compassion of the Curé d’Ars, a saint that Fr. Mark admired. But, also, he had the gift of creating friendships and so was likened to St. Aelred of Rievaulx, the medieval English Cistercian, who wrote a famous treatise: “De Amicitia” (“About Friendship”), and whose abbey, Rievaulx, was well known to Fr. Mark, as its impressive ruins are only 5 miles or so from Ampleforth Abbey.

Fr. Mark also had a breadth of mind and heart, which was described by Fr. Richard Carter as follows:

“Mark had too many interests. He would draw you into the joys of reading, collecting memorabilia, music, art and his garden, just to mention a few.  He had a great love of plants and animals, and had an innate ability to communicate with them. I remember, one summer, a bird accidentally flew into the house and ‘froze’, on the floor with his big German Shepherd dog, ready to deal with this unwanted intruder.  Mark gently moved onto the floor, held out a finger for the bird to climb on and released it out of the window.  Mark had that kind of affinity with all living things.

In later life, he became interested in Buddhist teachings and, in particular, found a new prayer-life, in the art of meditation.  He reflects, in his diary – shortly before his death – how this brought him great consolation.  Also in retirement, he could pursue in more depth, his constant quest for knowledge and wisdom. He was a great one for jotting down extracts from great writers, writers that, he thought, captured the essence of life and existence, and he would burn with excitement, to share these finds with you.  His constant thirsting quest is summed up in a simple jotting from the Book of Ecclesiastes that he recently recorded: ‘No man can say his eyes have had enough of seeing, his ears enough of hearing’.”

Our time at his funeral was brought to a conclusion with a beautiful lunch, to which we three Ampleforth monks were invited by the Vicar General of the Leeds Diocese.  From all that I heard, it was evident that those of the diocesan priests felt Fr. Mark had been one of their most remarkable priests, from all down their history, and were filled with gratitude for the gift they felt they had received from the monastery of Ampleforth. At the same time, and as commented on above, Fr. Mark had felt that he had discovered his true vocation and happiness – that he was ‘at home’ – in the Leeds Diocese. With no attempt to put Fr. Mark onto a pedestal, I can say that, probably, he was carried up to God, by many angels – and deservedly so.

“Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”

Father Jonathan



Father Jonathan in his ‘Special Blog’ of last week made reference to Pope Francis and the long conversation he had held recently with Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ.  It was entitled “A Big Heart Open to God” and was addressed to the Jesuits, an order of which the Pope is a member.

The following is a small extract from that conversation:

“At the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis repeatedly declared: “God is real. He manifests himself today. God is everywhere.” These are phrases that echo the Ignatian expression “to seek and find God in all things.” So I ask the pope: “How do you seek and find God in all things?”

“What I said in Rio referred to the time in which we seek God,” he answers. “In fact, there is a temptation to seek God in the past or in a possible future. God is certainly in the past because we can see the footprints. And God is also in the future as a promise. But the ‘concrete’ God, so to speak, is today.”

Reading this, I was reminded of one of the most famous pieces of advice on how to lead our lives: it comes from St. Augustine of Hippo:

St Augustine Hippo


“TRUST the past to the mercy of God

The present to His love

The future to His providence”

(St. Augustine of Hippo)

These sage words of advice say quite clearly to me that God, Our Father in heaven, is a God of love and mercy – a God who will always take care of us, then, now and always, if we try to love Him in return, if we are truly sorry for the times we have offended him, and trust ourselves to His benevolence.

The Pope’s conversation, (as referred to by Father Jonathan), began by referring to the fact that we are all sinners.  Apart, that is, from Jesus and his Mother, Mary, it is true that we human beings – the rest of us – have all done – committed or omitted – things that have earned God’s displeasure.  Thus we do not deserve to be admitted as God’s friends to paradise, to live with Him in happiness through all eternity.  But, we believe God is merciful.  Firstly, he gave us his only Son as a means of redemption, and, secondly, if we are truly sorry for our sins, God will show us His mercy and forgiveness, thus showing us the promise of salvation, if we then try to do better and to love him, have faith in Him – especially when all of this is wrapped in hope.  John Bunyan put this beautifully:

“I would say to my soul, O my soul, this is not the place of despair; this is not the time to despair in. As long as mine eyes can find a promise in the Bible, as long as there is a moment left me of breath or life in this world, so long will I wait or look for mercy, so long will I fight against unbelief and despair.”  (John Bunyan (1628 – 1688))

So much for the past: as for the present, I think we can do no better than to ‘live’ and ‘breathe’ St Teresa of Avila’s Bookmark:

“Let nothing disturb you,

Let nothing frighten you,

All things are passing;

God alone is changeless.

Patience gains all things.

Who has God wants nothing.

God alone suffices.” 

None of us can ever comprehend the majesty and greatness of God – his infinite power – or the extent of his never-ending love for each one of us.  Once we begin to have faith and belief in a Father who loves us to this extent, then the words of Jesus (and many others who tell us not to worry) follow automatically.  Jesus said:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  (Matthew 6:25, 26)

When we look to the future, only God knows all that is still to come.  We do not know what is going to happen, in the next minute, the next hour, or the next day – let alone next year, a thousand, or even a million years from now.  Time expressed in such terms is a frightening prospect and so, in my humble opinion, it is better left to Him.  Certainly, it is of no use, no value at all, for us to concern ourselves with it.  We cannot influence it, cannot change it, for better or worse, only accept what comes – though we can trust in the goodness and love of God.

That latter thought is the saving grace, I think, for we must leave the future to God and his benevolence.  This means belief in him and hope that he will always help us in good times and in bad, and as I write these words, the thought crosses my mind as to how those who do not believe in a benevolent God, manage to go about their lives, without the reassurance of God’s presence and love.  The thought of a future without God’s help would surely drive one to depression and despair.  The future, with our God who loves us, gives us cause always for hope, and a belief that we can continue to cope.

“He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,

He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;

To added affliction he addeth his mercy,

To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.”

Annie Johnson Flint (1862-1932)

(An American poet and hymn composer who led a life of heartbreak and triumph, but who viewed all life from an eternal perspective)