Michæl McFarland Campbell

Always telling the story

Archive for August, 2020

St Laurence, deacon, martyr at Rome

without comments

Jesus said to his disciples:

I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest. Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life. If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him.

—John 12:24-26

Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com

Today’s Gospel is for the Feast of St Laurence, Deacon, Martyr at Rome. St Laurence has a special place in my heart for he is the patron of the Church of England parish church in the parish to which I moved in Oxford back in September 2004. Sometimes, it is hard to believe that it is so long ago. In the intervening time, so much has happened, but I will never forget the people and church of St Laurence in South Hinksey. They taught me so much about being church in a particular locality.

On reading, and re-reading the passage above, I am struck by the words of the Lord:

If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too.

Following the Lord, is what He calls us to do, but following Him means we become servants. Whatever we do for the body of Christ (which is the Church) we do for Him. He is where the Church is. The Church can be represented by where two or three are gathered. At this time, this is likely to be on an online call as much as in some church building in a particular locality.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

August 10th, 2020 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Christianity

Tagged with ,

The Memento Mori Rosary

without comments

This is great, I love this new form of the Rosary.

The Memento Mori Rosary

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

August 9th, 2020 at 7:59 pm

Posted in Christianity

A healthy prayer life is what matters most

without comments

Prayer matters most

At the beginning of today’s Gospel, St Matthew tells us that Jesus went up into the hills by himself to pray. He had just finished a very long day teaching the crowds, healing the sick, and peforming the miracle of the multiplication of the laves. At the beginning of that day he had heard the news about the death of his cousin, St John the Baptist. At the time, he had wanted to go off alone to reflect, to pray, and to mourn the loss of that great prophet, his cousin. But the crowds didn’t let him. Now we see that although he delayed his time of prayer out of compassion for the crowds, he didn’t skip it, even though he must have been exhausted. Now, as the sun sets, he climbs up the mountain to pray. And he doesn’t appear again until about three o’clock in the morning – six hours later.

We know from other Gospel passages that our Lord Jesus Christ frequently went off alone to pray.

Is that not kind of strange? After all, Jesus was God, true God from true God, as we profess in the Creed. Why would he have to dedicate large chunks of His time to pray? Because He was also true man, the Word made flesh, born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus had two natures: divine and human. Because He was human, he needed to pray. As humans we are not meant to go it alone. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us,

Man was created to live in communion with God, in whom he finds happiness.

CCC 45

No one can have communion with God without a life of prayer.

Today, our Lord is teaching us to keep first things first. If He who is the Son of God needed time alone in prayer, only an arrogant fool would claim not to need some as well.

Following the example of Elijah

The same lesson is reflected in today’s First Reading. This is one of th emost memorable and beautiful passages from the Old Testament.

The Prophet Elijah has just had a run-in with the pagan prophets that have allied themselves with the evil Queen Jezebel. Elijab came out victorious in that encounter, and it made Jezebel furious. She threatened his life, so he escaped to the mountains of the desert to pray.

He did so for two reasons.

Firstly, he needed to renew his strength. He has been worn out byhis efforts to protect the faith against the evil Queen, hwo has all the power and wealth of the nation at her beck and call. He is tired. He feels discouraged. He wants to give up. What does he do when these feelings come upon him? He goes of to a sacred place to pray.

Secondly, he needed to find light. He doesn’t know what to do next. His options seem to have disappeared. He doesn’t know where to turn, how to proceed, he is unclear about what God is asking of him. What does he do when these feelings come upon him? He goes off to a sacred place to pray, he goes to Mount Horeb.

Mount Horeb was where Moses had received the Ten Commandments, establishing the Old Covenant of the Law.

It was a sacred place—just as every one of our churches is a sacred place, because the Mass is celebrated there—the holy sacrifice of the new, everlasting covenant.

Like Elijah, when we need to renew our strength and find light, we need to pray.

When we climb the monutain of prayer with living faith, we find new strength and light. The storms of life fade away, and the ‘tiny whispering sound’ of God’s eternal wisdom reverebrates in our heart.

The Eucharist: our secret weapon for a healthy prayer life

Most of us do not live in monasteries, so what can we do to make sure our prayer life keeps growing, to make sure that we pray better at age of 40 and 50 than we did at the age of 10?

Our Lord has himself given us a secret weapon for growth in prayer: the Eucharist. Prayer is spending time with God, speaking to Him about what matters to us, and listening to what matters to Him. The Eucharist is the real presence of Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity.

In the hustle and bustle of our busy, twenty-first century lives, we need a time and a place where we can be sure to find Christ, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week—something that is objective, not dependent upon our feelings or our moods.

That is the Eucharist: the rock-solid foundation for a healthy life of prayer. When we receive Holy Communion, physically or spiritually, when we gaze upon the Host at Mass, when we come and kneel before the Tabernacle containing the Blessed Sacrament, or when we pray in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament solemnly exposed, we are doing whtat Peter did as he stepped out of that fishing boat. We are fixing our gaze on the Lord. We are cultivating our personal relationship with him. We are praying to the one whose love and grace gives meaning, direction, and strength to our lives. This miracle of Jesus walking on the water takes place right after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Both miracles have to do with bread and with Christ’s body—just like the Eucharist.

Today, as Christ recommits Himself to us in the Mass, let us recommit ourselves to a healthy life of prayer.

Let us promise Him that we will never let a day go by without coming to visit Him, to speak with Him, heart-to-heart in the Eucharist, even if only for a minute, so that we can keep deepening our soul’s communion with God, in whom alone we will find happiness.

Readings for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

  • First Kings 19:9, 11-13
  • Psalm 85:9-14
  • Romans 9:1-5
  • Matthew 14:22-33

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

August 9th, 2020 at 7:00 am

Posted in Sunday Relections

Looking back you cannot see where you are going

without comments

Every single day, it is important as Christians to stop and have a conversation with God. Real conversations are not one way. Real conversations, between friends, are very much two-way communication. Taking the time to listen to what he says as well as to bombard God with our petitions and thanksgivings is vital to a healthy spiritual life.

Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is told by a man on the road,

I will follow you wherever you go.

Luke 9:57-62

The Lord responds that

Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.

Another responds to the Lord’s “Follow me”, with “Let me go and bury my father first”. The Lord responds

Let the dead bury their dead; your duty is to go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.

Another asked the Lord if he could go and say goodbye to his family at home, but the Lord replied:

Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

The phrase that stood out in this passage for me when reading it earlier today was “no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Looking forward is where we need to be. Looking forward is how we move forward towards God.

We may want to follow the Lord wherever he goes, but if we do not keep our eyes on Him, we will not see the obstacles in our path.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

August 8th, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Posted in Christianity

For the love of God, don’t sacrifice the poor.

without comments

Some great thoughts about the future of the Church of England. How much can this be applied to the Church in Ireland as well?

For the love of God, don’t sacrifice the poor.

Written by Michæl McFarland Campbell

August 2nd, 2020 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Sunday Relections